It was so great to talk with each of you about your kids.   Some conferences had similar content and suggestions, but not all of them! I thought I would put a collection of ideas that came out of our discussions:

Spelling:  Checking spelling is really a hard task; checking in the dictionary proves to be impossible if you already don't know how to spell a word.  There are spelling correctors that are sold in a pocket size that are really useful for checking spelling. If a student types in a word that they have spelled phonetically (for instance befor) the spelling corrector will give suggestions that closely relate to the work entered (before).  I bought mine on amazon for about $15. I have two in the classroom that students are welcome to try before you invest any money.

Reading Fluency:  This one is all about practice, as you know, but there are some gains to be made by letting students listen to themselves read.   Remember when it used to be such an ordeal to record? You needed a tape player, blank tape, mircrophone... I know my phone has a recording device in  it, and I think many of the models do.   Record students reading a specific passsage and then let them listen to themselves.  They may notice important things about their reading that they aren't able to access while the actual reading is going on.  It'd be great to model this first and talk through what you notice about your own reading.

Reading Vocabulary:  This suggestions might be a stretch, but I'm throwing it out there anyway.  :)   I have loaded a few books on my iPad and have really enjoyed the feature where you can click on a word in the text and get the definition.  I know this feature is available in other readers (such as Kindle or Nook). If it's something you've been even remotely thinking about for your student, it might be worth it. It's somewhat unrealistic to expect kids to get a dictionary when they don't understand a word (I wouldn't), but if it's right in front of them, I think they would be more inclined to look it up.

Math Computation: I can't say enough about IXL.  If your child is struggling in a specific skill, there is probably a match for that on IXL.  If you're not sure which ones would be appropriate, please ask! Also, there is a list of skills on our website that coordinate with what we have learned so far (IXL Mastery List).

Assignment Calendar/Checklist: Your student needs to be proficient in the use of one of these.  The middle school uses both an assignment calendar and an online assignment checklist. The system we have here in our room sets the kids up perfectly for success in middle school. Kids need to be in the habit of checking online and recording their assignments in their calendar.  If you're not sure if your kids is using the calendar, ask them!  We write in it every day!

Check in with your kids:  I know you already do this, but I think we have a tendency to assume that 5th graders are "old" and have things under control. In reality, they are still little (I'll deny it if you tell them I said it!!).  They are 10 and 11, and just really figuring out how to be a student, a . Please ask to see papers, know when the tests are and be in conversations with your students about their school work and their friendships.

Thanks for the great conferences. Happy Thanksgiving!!

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