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Student-Led Conferences a Hit at A2 Charter School

Creativity and invention took center stage on Tuesday, February 17 and Thursday, February 19, as students at A2 Charter School guided their families from one activity to the next demonstrating the evidence of their learning over the past several months.

Called "The Invention Convention," the student-led conferences gave students the opportunity present their inventions and other works to their family members.

Students also identified their individual learning strengths and revealed their goals for the remainder of the year.

"It is wonderful to see the unique way the students are being challenged," said one parent.

Different than traditional conferences where teachers and parents discuss a child's learning, the student-led conference features students speaking about their own progress, using different pieces of their work to demonstrate growth in a wide variety of reading, writing, listening and speaking tasks. Unlike past practices when letter grades were awarded in subjects like reading, math or language, students now articulate their progress in very specialized tasks like reporting research findings, recognizing points of view in historic events, predicting the chain of events that could occur in the case of a power failure, or understanding and applying geometric formulas.

"There is a depth of understanding that goes far beyond the usual classroom experiences," said another parent.

A2 students are learning Spanish and had the opportunity to act as instructors in that language for their parents in the presence of Spanish instructor and PACE teacher, Sandi Fessler.

Students also presented the results of the research and invention that had taken place in recent months, giving parents a first hand look at what only their teachers and classmates usually have the opportunity to observe.

Refreshments added to the celebration atmosphere at the school as students became guides, showing off artwork, computer presentations, demonstrating inventions, and reviewing their work in "Table Talk" sessions with their family members.

Teachers, Sandy Spatt and Kathy Nelesen circulated among the families providing clarification and anecdotes to round out the information presented by the students.

Parents responded favorably to the experience. "I am confident the conference will prove to be a lasting fond memory of the Sheboygan school system and, of course, my son. His enthusiastic perspective revealed how the A2 curriculum wonderfully co-mingles life, the 16 Habits, and academic lessons," one parent commented.

All the hard work was worth it for the students. "On the way home, my mom and dad said they are very proud of me," one student said.

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
March 3, 2009