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Making Parent Teacher Conferences Meaningful


Are You….....
  • Tired of always talking about grades at parent/teacher conferences? 
  • Tired of feeling like nothing is ever accomplished during the allotted time? 
  • Are you having problems with a student, but don’t know how to tell the parents? 
  • Do you want to be specific and to-the-point? 
When I taught middle school and/or high school, these were the items that really discouraged me. I knew I had to come up with a better plan if I wanted parent/teacher conferences to be worthwhile and effective for both the student and the parents. I created a a checklist that I could follow, use during conferences, and then give a copy to the parents at the end of the conference.  It contained nine, brief, succinct checklists which were written as a guide so that during conferences I could have specific items to talk about besides grades. I found it easy to complete and straight forward plus it provided me with a simple outline to use as I talked and shared with parents.

Since other teachers were able to use it successfully, I took that checklist and turned it into a resource called Parent/Teacher Conference Checklist, Based on Student Characteristics and Not Grades. Nine different categories are listed for discussion.  They include:
  1. Study Skills and Organization 
  2. Response to Assignments 
  3. In Class Discussion 
  4. Class Attitude 
  5. Reaction to Setbacks 
  6. Accountability 
  7. Written Work 
  8. Inquiry Skills 
  9. Evidence of Intellectual Ability 
To get ready for conferences, all you have to do is place a check mark by each item within the category that applies to the student. Then circle the word that best describes the student in that category such as "always, usually, seldom". (See example above.)


Finally, make a copy of the checklist so that the parent(s) or the guardian(s) will have something to review with their student when they return home.

Now you are ready for a meaningful and significant conference.




A Go Figure Debut from a New Yorker Who Is New!

Jillian has been an educator for over 11 years. She has her bachelor’s
degree in Childhood Education and her Master's in Mathematics. Before starting her career as an educator, she worked for a nutraceutical marketing and sales company which was geared towards selling all-natural vitamins and supplements. Shortly after being hired in sales, she became the training manager for the company which gave her invaluable experience in the business world! She has taught grades 1-3 as well as 6-8 grade math. In addition, she has had the privilege of being a technology consultant where she gained extensive knowledge on how to train teachers and administrators on how to use various types of technology. She is currently on maternity leave, taking care of her amazing daughter. She also has two fur babies, Rambo and Debo who are the best big brothers ever!

Jillian’s Teachers Pay Teachers store called Count on Me contains 361 resources, with 15 of the
FREE
items being free. She offers a free template for a square cover to TPT sellers. If you are just starting out on TPT or if you want to give your products an awesome update, use this template. The template has a clean and chic look that will make your resources stand out to your buyers. It's like going to a store and seeing a familiar brand - you are going to be more likely to buy the brand you've seen before than one you haven't. Branding yourself is the best way to get repeat buyers who know the quality of your resources. The template is easy to edit right in PowerPoint. You can change the fonts, colors and formatting to meet your needs. The best part is you can use this template over and over for all your resources, so you don't have to start from scratch every time!

Jillian’s featured paid resource is a math bundle entitled 7th Grade Math Puzzle Piece Matching Games Bundle. These super engaging low prep matching games will help your students practice 7th
$15.00
grade math concepts in a fun way! This bundle has a review of all 7th grade math concepts! Jillian’s students really enjoyed these puzzle pieces and making all the matches. The answer keys and recording sheets are included to keep students on track.

While she is out of the classroom, she is fortunate to be able to work from home creating engaging and fun resources for Teachers Pay Teachers, as well as designing digital resources on Etsy! When creating resources, you will find her either creating engaging math games or products geared towards TPT sellers to help grow their businesses and brands. Her husband is a small business owner with five well established and extremely successful businesses. He has been the inspiration behind her taking the proper steps to grow her business and taking charge of her own destiny. She feels fortunate to have his guidance.

This is why Jillian has ventured into coaching and consulting some AMAZING people looking to grow their brands and businesses. Teachers Pay Teachers is a wonderful way to make money, but it can be super overwhelming to get started. Plus, it can be difficult to understand ways to market yourself if you have already opened your store! Jillian has a passion for helping people and seeing others become successful. She is incredibly proud to see the people she has coached thriving and making huge growth in their stores and online presence. She would love to be that person to help guide you, help you stay accountable, and help you understand how to take that next step on the path of growing your brand and your business. For more information, you also might check out her Instagram account and her website

The Dreaded Math Curse - Linking Literature and Math

I love books that link math and literature, and one of my favorites is Math Curse by Jon Scieszka. Published in 1995 through Viking Press, the book tells the story of a student (I’m not sure from the illustrations if it is a boy or a girl) who is cursed by the way mathematics works in everyday life. It is a tale where everything is a math problem, from tabulating teeth to calculating a bowl of corn flakes. Everything in life becomes a math problem.

First you see the math teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci, (don’t you love that name?) declare, “You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” Then you watch as the student turns into a “raving math lunatic” since s/he believes “Mrs. Fibonacci has obviously put a math curse on me.”

From sunrise to sunset, the student anxiously mulls over the answers to countless calculations such as: How much time does it take to get ready and be at the bus stop? (a problem the reader can solve.). Estimate how many M Ms you would eat if you had to measure the Mississippi River using M Ms. There is even an English word problem: “If mail + box = mailbox, does lipstick – stick = lip? Does tunafish + tunafish = fournafish?” (silly, but funny.) A class treat of cupcakes becomes a study in fractions, while a trip to the store turns into a problem of money. The story continues until the student is finally free of the math curse, but then again Mr. Newton, the science teacher, regrettably says, “You know, you can think of almost everything as a science experiment.”


Math Curse is full of honest to goodness math problems (and some rather unrelated bonus questions, such as "What does this inkblot look like?"). Readers can try to solve the problems and check their answers located on the back cover of the book. The problems are perfect to get students’ minds working and thinking about how math really does apply to their everyday life.

The illustrations by Lane Smith are one of a kind. They are busy and chaotic to reflect the “math zombie” this student becomes. Many resemble a cut and paste project, with some images touching or overlapping others. Mostly dark colors are used especially when the student begins to dream s/he is trapped in a blackboard room covered with never-ending math problems. (a nightmare for many) Smith’s art work makes Scieszka's words come to life and helps to paint a picture of what is going through the mind of the main character as s/he deals with the dreaded math curse.

John Scieszka does a remarkable job of breaking down the typical school day into math problems while also adding some tongue-in-cheek and light hearted humor which every mathphobic needs. The math is perhaps a little advanced for elementary students, but the problems are perfect for middle school or high school students.

Math Curse also demonstrates how a problem may seem difficult, but if you are persistent, you can find the solution to the problem. The book teaches not to fear or be anxious about math or for that matter, any other subject in school. Despite the fact the main character is completely overwhelmed by mathematics, it allows students who struggle with the identical feeling to know they are not alone. Any student who has ever been distressed over numbers, fractions, word problems and the like will certainly identify with the main character.

As a math teacher, I think this book makes math fun as well as interesting. Although I recognize math is everywhere in everyday life, I never realized just how much until I read the Math Curse and mathematically saw the day of a typical student. I believe what sets Math Curse apart from other books is that it accurately illustrates and explains how math is actually used and applied in day-to-day life. I love the story, the message, and especially the content.

October - Is It "Fall" or "Autumn"?

It's finally October, one of my favorite months of the year. October means football (Ohio State, of course), cooler weather and gorgeous leaves. (It is also when my husband and I were married.) In October, we see the leaves turning colors, and the deciduous trees shedding their leaves.

Another name for fall is autumn, a rather odd name to me.  Through research, I discovered that the word autumn is from the Old French autumpne, automne, which came from the Latin autumnus. Autumn has been in general use since the 1960's and means the season that follows summer and comes before winter.
Fall is the most common usage among those in the United States; however, the word autumn is often interchanged with fall in many countries including the U.S.A. It marks the transition from summer into winter, in September if you live in the Northern Hemisphere or in March if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.  It also denotes when the days are noticeably shorter and the temperatures finally start to cool off. In North America, autumn is considered to officially start with the September equinox. This year that was September 23rd.
With all of that said, the leaves in our neighbor's yard have already begun to fall into ours which aggravates my husband because he is the one who gets to rake them. Maybe focusing on some activities using leaves will divert his attention away from the thought of raking leaves to science investigations.  
Remember ironing leaves between wax paper?  We did that in school when I was a little girl (eons and eons ago).  Here is how to do it.
  1. Find different sizes and colors of leaves.
  2. Tear off two sheets about the same size of waxed paper.
  3. Set the iron on "dry".  No water or steam here!
  4. The heat level of the iron should be medium.
  5. Place leaves on one piece of the waxed paper.
  6. Lay the other piece on top.
  7. Iron away!
You can also use this activity to identify leaves.  According to my husband who knows trees, leaves and birds from his college studies, we "waxed" a maple leaf, sweet gum leaf, elm leaf, cottonwood leaf (the state tree of Kansas - they are everywhere), and two he doesn't recognize because they come from some unknown ornamental shrubs.
Leaf Investigation

Maybe you would like to use leaves as a science investigation in your classroom.  I have one in my Teacher Pay Teachers store that is a six lesson science performance demonstration for the primary grades. The inquiry guides the primary student through the scientific method and includes 1) exploration time, 2) writing a good investigative question, 3) making a prediction, 4) designing a plan, 5) gathering the data, and 6) writing a conclusion based on the data. Be-leaf me, your students will have fun!

(A preview of the investigation is available. Just click on the title under the resource cover.)