The conferences are going well. Students enjoy sharing their good efforts and signature learning events with family members. As I listen and observe, I continue to think that it's a great idea to have children attend their own conferences and take the lead in the presentation. Then they own their learning more.
In the situations where students had the time to complete a script the conference has been a bit more organized so next year I want to make sure that everyone has time to complete their scripts. We put a more time into the portfolios this year, and the notebooks are mostly well organized too which helps students to present their good work. My teaching colleagues wrote terrific notes to each child, and parents and children have appreciated those notes.
As my previous post suggests, slowing down the classroom program will result in better portfolios too since we'll have the time to reflect on each big learning event and then add those reflections to the portfolio with photos, study pieces, or projects related to the event. It might be a good idea to take a photo of each family-child group at the conferences too so that we can include evidence of this signature learning/communication event in the portfolios as well.
In the end, the portfolio serves to tell the story of a child's fifth grade year, and remains an important, reflective and storytelling part of the teaching/learning program.