The Importance of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Rebecca Segal

Parent-teacher conferences often happen in the fall and are usually the first form of contact that parents and teachers make. Teachers and parents may see each other at other points during the year – at school plays, choir recitals, or spelling bees – but these times are not optimal settings for discussing a student. The conferences are crucial in allowing parents and teachers to exchange information about the student so that they can be most successful in school.

(Image source: Innovation_School)

Governor Dave Heineman from Nebraska emphasized the importance of parent attendance at parent-teacher conferences in a letter to parents.

I want to encourage parents to attend their children’s parent-teacher conferences. One of the most important things we can do for our children is to attend these meetings. They provide an opportunity to meet teachers and administrators, to ask questions and to hear about how each child interacts in the classroom is an opportunity to gain valuable feedback about the development of individual students. Most importantly, it sends a powerful message about how much we as parents care about the education of our sons and daughters.”

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (Image Source: Miller_Center)

What are some ways teachers can provide feedback to parents? They can show grades, charts, exams, or other data.

What if there were a tool that could help you to better communicate with parents to show how a student is doing? If a teacher uses Gradeable, parent-teacher conferences can become far more effective.  Gradeable allows for more specific discussions of a student’s performance; teachers can show parents the student’s exams or analysis of how the student is doing in class. Teachers can communicate more effectively and parents will leave with a better feel for how their child is doing.

When parents and teachers communicate effectively, they set up the student for success. Gradeable can help make that happen.

Rebecca Segal is Gradeable’s awesome intern for the summer. She is currently a student at Brookline High School.


Formative Assessment

These days, it seems like education is overrun with the words ‘assessment’ and ‘accountability.’ It can feel overwhelming, exasperating, and intimidating. Sometimes, all three at once.
But, imagine, just for a minute, that none of the institutional machinery of schools existed. None of the politics or policy. That it was just you and your students, and your only job was to help them become as successful as possible. What would you do to teach better? What would you do to ensure they were successful? That they reached their full potential?

And then, what if I told you that the single most effective tool for success is feedback. Consistent, timely feedback. Research backs up this simple fact. The faster the feedback, the better. The more individualized and personalized, the better.

‘Well, I already knew that!’ you might say, ‘but how do I do it for thirty students? Or sixty students? Or one hundred and fifty?’ The answer is formative assessment. All that means is regularly checking for student understanding using simple, repeatable tasks to make student learning visible. The old adage “show, don’t tell” brought to life.

Formative assessments are feedback for you, the teacher, to let you know if you’re teaching effectively and if students are getting it. And it allows you to give quick, targeted feedback to every individual student, focused on what they know right now, and where they need to go next. They don’t need to be averaged into a final grade.

At Gradeable, we’re building software optimized for formative assessment. We make it easy to give quick, targeted assessments that can be graded quickly and analyzed immediately. You’ll know how every student is doing as soon as you’re done grading, and you’ll be able to make informed decisions about what to teach (or re-teach) next.


Further reading:


Meditation Education

Infographic: Meditation in Schools Across America (Image Source: Maili Holiman)

Meditate on this!


Summer of Freedom

It’s summertime.  The tumult of your classroom has faded and you’ve gotten in at least one good beach day and an afternoon (or three) curled up with a long neglected book.  September seems far away… but not that far.  

You don’t want to think about the kids running around, endless bulletin boards, diving into lesson planning, or most of all the piles of paperwork and grading awaiting you in September.  Or do you?  

What if it could be different next year?  

What if grading was a pleasure, instead of a chore?  What if you didn’t have to manually enter all those scores into your gradebook afterwards?  What if you automatically got reports in your inbox or on your phone that helped you decipher what your students understood and didn’t understand, without any additional work on your part?  What if exit tickets were easy — and free?

We think summer is the perfect time to try a new tool.  That’s why Gradeable is free for the summer.  Sign up for our beta and try it out.  The secret handshake (also known as the invite code) is “SummerOfFreedomBL”.  If you know a summer school teacher, be sure to let them know that Gradeable could be perfect for them too.  

Enjoy your next iced tea, your next tennis game, your next nap on the beach.  Do some summer dreaming.  If nothing else, just daydream about the idea that next year could be different…. just planting a seed.  Enjoy your summer!

High Fives!

From the Team at Gradeable


Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (Resung by Science)

LOVE this, for a whole number of reasons.  A great reminder of small – and big – ways to encourage girls in STEM areas is a big one.


Ebony Oshunrinde


Amazing 16-Year-Old Girl Created a Beat for Jay-Z’s New Album

Canadian teen Ebony Oshunrinde, who aptly goes by the moniker WondaGirl in the studio, has just finished the 11th grade. She’s also just been credited as a producer on “Crown,” a track on Jay-Z’s new album “Magna Carta Holy Grail.”

Her story is insanely inspiring and impressive: after watching a video of Jay-Z and Timbaland working in the studio together at age 9, she began to download music software and teach herself how to use it by watching YouTube tutorials. “I wanted to do the exact same thing that [Jay-Z] did,” she recently told the Star. When she was 14, she made it to the quarter-finals of Toronto’s Battle of the Beatmakers. (FOURTEEN. I didn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese when I was 14.) She won the title the following year, because she is incredible, and went on to sign an exclusive management deal with Black Box.

According to Ian Stanger, a representative with Black Box, “It’s amazing to see somebody with that much talent working as hard as she can to make the most of it at such a young age. It’s her work that people should be paying attention to, not the fact that’s she 16.”

And her work is exactly what people have started to pay attention to. Earlier this year, Oshunrinde sent the beat to her friend Travis Scott, a young rapper and producer. He happened to be in the studio with Jay-Z when he received it — and when he told her that the cut had made it to the album, she thought he was joking.

“Usually that kind of thing doesn’t happen to 16-year-olds,” she explains. No, Ebony, it usually does not.

Yeah!  Awesome story and so good to hear about this inspiring teen from Canada.


Start here.  What #technology do you plan to use in your classroom next year?

Here are 10 questions to help you navigate all the new #edtech out there.

Fostering Critical Thinking With Technology – Ken Bain