10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

At the beginning of the year, when we get the school calendar, I immediately circle two dates: Meet the Teacher Night and Parent Teacher Conferences. After teaching for 18 years, I still get a bit nervous for both!

I do love parent-teacher conferences, even though I get a bit nervous! I love meeting with parents and families and working together to make the school year one filled with goal setting, accomplishments, and growth. After many years of planning and prepping to make parent-teacher conferences run smoothly, I have compiled a list of 10 must-do tips to help make any parent-teacher conference a success!

Try one or all 10 of these tips to make your next parent-teacher conference a success!

1. Create a warm environment.

Dim the lights, turn on a lamp, and play soft music to help set the mood for your conference. I have found that meeting at a table in the room is a great way to be a bit more personal versus sitting at your desk. I always have a hot water pot on and offer parents and family members a cup of tea to welcome them and help them feel relaxed before beginning our conversation.

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

2. Celebrate your students and their work.

Display recent student writing, work, and projects around the classroom. Parents love to take a few minutes to see their child's work in action! Don't forget to snap pictures throughout the year of students working in your classroom. Display those for your parents to see, too! The pictures and work you display will show how much you care for your students and give you some great talking points, too.

3. Create a class collaborative book.

I love to create class books and leave them in the hallway for parents to read and look through as they wait for their conference time. it can be a collection of student writing or a simple photograph introduction book. To do this, I simply take a photo of each student, and then they write a few sentences about themselves. This is always a hit! Parents love to see their child's classmates. When conference time is over, this class book earns a permanent spot in our classroom library.

4. Be prepared and organized, and start with a positive.

Use forms and data sheets to be prepared and organized. Sort your paperwork in the order of your conferences so that each child's conference folder is at your fingertips at the start of each conference. Starting with a positive comment about each child is a great way to show parents what an important part of the class their child is. You can start by celebrating any aspect of the child, no matter how small the compliment is, parents are always excited to hear something nice about their child. A simple, your child's smile brightens the room, is enough to kick off the conference on a positive note.

5. Use student-completed forms to kick off your conference!

Keep student work and student-completed reflections in your conference folders. I love kicking off each conference by reading and sharing student reflections about the year, their work, and their progress. There are so many positive talking points that help us start off the conference on the right foot. 

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

6. Be honest.

Always be honest with students' academic and behavioral progress, sharing any concerns that you have.  If there is an area for improvement, be sure to share that with parents. You will want to start with a positive, but then be sure to share your concerns.

7. Take good notes.

Be an active listener during your conference and take notes on the discussion that you have. The notes you take will come in handy as the year progresses and can be referred to the next time you meet about that child. If you do not want to write your notes while the parent is there, be sure to record the notes and thoughts that you have as soon as they leave. Grab these FREE parent forms to keep track of parent communication throughout the year.

8. Invite a colleague.

I always invite support staff to attend the conferences of students who receive support.  It is nice to have another staff member on hand to help answer questions and offer additional insight into the student's growth and areas for improvement. Having an additional staff member attend is also good because they serve as a witness to the conversation. Ex: If you have a student who receives reading support, invite the reading specialist. 

9. Be sure to follow up!

I love sending thank you notes to parents and families who attend the conference. You can send just a quick thank you with any follow-up information that they requested or you can simply just write your own personal message about the conference. If you do include information about a question that parents asked during the conference, be sure to make a copy of the letter that you send home for your own records.

10. Relax, you are done!

Now that conferences are done, celebrate! Enjoy your favorite cup of coffee or treat yourself to something you have been eyeing...you deserve it!

These easy-to-implement tips will make your parent-teacher conferences run smoothly and help you to set the tone that working with parents and families to help students succeed is your number goal. Whether you try one or all ten of these tips, I wish you a happy parent-teacher conference season!

Grab the Parent Teacher Conference Pack HERE.

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

Love these ideas? Pin to save them!

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)


8 Gratitude Picture Books and Stories for Upper Elementary Students

8 Gratitude Picture Books and Stories for Upper Elementary Students

When it comes to gratitude, there is no better way to bring it into your classroom than with some picture book read-alouds!

As the calendar flips to November, you probably pull Thanksgiving-themed books from the shelf and prepare to read them aloud as part of your Thanksgiving lesson plans. I do that, too!

Recently, I have been making sure that read-alouds and lessons about gratitude have an equal place in my classroom right alongside traditional Thanksgiving read-alouds each November.

Bringing gratitude and kindness into the classroom is an important part of how I set up my classroom community, build relationships, and help my own students make a difference in the world. While we discuss these important topics all year long, November is the perfect time to make them the focus in our classroom environment.

The following list includes 8 of my favorite books that are perfect to teach students about gratitude, the season of giving, and to celebrate the Thanksgiving season

Be sure to grab the free printables to use with these books at the end of the post.

Gratitude is My Superpower written by Alicia Ortego

gratitude activities for kids

This sweet story follows a young girl as she learns the meaning of gratitude. Once she has her gratitude stone she begins to appreciate everything she has, and not focus on what she does not have. With easily relatable examples of gratitude in action, students will understand the true meaning of being thankful. Grab some smooth stones and give each of your students a gratitide stone, or take them outside and have them find one of their own!

Grow Grateful written by Sage Foster Lasser

gratitude read aloud for kids

Grow Grateful is a powerful book about gratitude that can be read at any time during the year, as it is not holiday or season specific. this book follows Kiko, the main character as she "grows grateful" throughout the story. She learned to focus on the small things and not focus on the scary things or things she felt she was missing. Students will easily relate to Kiko! This is a great introduction to what being grateful means.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves written by Julia Rawlinson

fletcher and the falling leaves

This one is perfect for the autumn season as Fletcher, the main character works hard throughout the book to protect the tree from losing its leaves. While the word gratitude never comes up in this story, it is definitely a theme to discuss with students. Fletcher tries to catch and return all the leaves that fell from the tree to his friend the tree. The gratitude that Fletcher has for the tree comes through and is a focus of this read aloud and students can reflect on how they are grateful for their own friendships.

Thank You, Omu written by Oge Mora

Thank you omu activities for kids

I love this book for any time of the year, but with its themes of giving, community, kindness, and gratitude, it is just perfect for November.  This story follows the day of Omu, a beloved community member who spends the day cooking stew. The reader meets different characters who pop in for a bowl of Omu's stew. Just when it is time for Omu to sit down and enjoy her stew, she realizes that there is none left because she gave it all away! The community members come together to do something special just for Omu! Your students will love to predict what the community will do. This is a must read in your upper elementary classroom!

Knots on a Counting Rope written by Bill Martin Jr.

Knots on a counting rope activities for kids

This story is perfect for November, especially because this one read-aloud will help you celebrate Indigenous Peoples Month and gratitude at the same time. This story follows Boy, as he listens to the story of the day he was born from his grandfather. As the story goes on, your readers will need to use their inferring skills to figure out that Boy is blind. Once that is inferred, discussion begins about being grateful for the things we take for granted like vision. Definitely a must-add to your library collection! Bonus, you can revisit and repurpose this read aloud for lessons on questioning and inferring as readers!

A Chair for My Mother written by Vera B. Williams

A chair for my mother activities

This sweet story follows a small family after their home is burned down, causing them to lose everything. They work together to save their pennies to be able to afford a comfortable chair for Mama to sit on after a long day of work. With the themes of family, community, kindness, and gratitude this is a must-read for November.

The Scarecrow written by Beth Ferry

The Scarecrow book activities for kids

This is one of my favorite read alouds for the fall season and just perfect to tie into discussions and lessons about gratitude. This book follows the scarecrow and his budding relationship with an unlikely friend...a baby crow. The scarecrow protects and cares for the young bird, growing a deep relationship with it until it leaves and migrates for the winter. One spring day when the bird returns, the scarecrow is happier than ever. This book is perfect to discuss appreciation and gratitude for friends. A fun follow up activity is to have your students write a letter or note of gratitude to a classmate!

The Giving Snowman written by Julia Zheng

being grateful read aloud for kids

Get ready for winter while discussing gratitude and kindness with this read aloud! This sweet story tells about Snowman who gives away literally everything he has to help others,like his hat, carrot nose, and stick arms. After the snowman has given everything away and melts, the rest of the characters work together to rebuild him. This book pairs perfectly with Thank You, Omu as they both have similar themes and storylines.

Grab the free coordinating gratitude activities to use with these books!

When it comes to bringing gratitude into your classroom, start with a book! Students will love the ideas they hear from these books and from discussions, you have about these characters and before long you will see a difference in your students!

Looking for more meaningful Thanksgiving and gratitude activities for your students, like these I wish PoemsTake a look here

gratitude writing activities for kids

Love these ideas? Pin to save them!

8 Gratitude Picture Books and Stories for Upper Elementary Students

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)


Using Reading Strategies to Help Readers Grow

Reading strategy activities for 3rd 4th 5th graders

Do you want to help your students grow as readers and truly understand what they read as independent readers? That is always my goal each year, too!

That is why I focus on reading strategy instruction.

Reading strategies and reading units are quite different. 

Often times the teaching of reading strategies gets lost in the mix of teaching reading units. While teaching reading units such as character development are important, I have found that explicitly teaching students how to apply reading comprehension strategies to be the most effective tool to  help students grow as independent and self-monitoring readers.

Reading strategy instruction can be overwhelming at first to plan and implement, but it is important to teach students how to use reading strategies they read independently. It exposes students to multiple techniques to help them truly comprehend the text at hand. 

When students apply a variety of reading strategies as they read, it helps them become active readers. When students are active readers and apply multiple strategies as they read, they are able to understand the text at a deeper level. 

By teaching reading strategies with explicit instruction, you will help your students:
  • see reading strategies in action multiple times
  • learn how to apply them to their own independent reading
  • have the opportunity to practice the strategy in isolation
  • build their reading strategy repertoire 
  • learn how to apply more than one reading strategy when reading complex texts
  • understand the books that they read at a deeper level

Not sure how to get started?

I can help!

I have compiled tried and true teaching strategy resources that I use with my own students into convenient print-and-go packs to make planning, teaching, and practicing easier!

Each reading strategy pack includes:

  • anchor charts
  • graphic organizers to scaffold instruction
  • student practice pages
  • task cards and reading passages
  • independent reading tasks
  • many sets have modeled examples
  • and so much more in both print and digital formats

Which reading strategy set will you use today?

reading strategy activities for 3rd 4th 5th graes

Take a closer look at each reading strategy set by clicking the images below.

making predictions activities for upper elementary kids

"I have now purchased a few of these reading strategies from this seller and have been very happy with the package and how it is so easy to use in my classroom. I really appreciated the read aloud suggestions - I love using story books in class, they still love to be read to!"

questioning activities for kids

"This was a great resource for my questioning unit. Very thorough and well laid out. The graphic organizers were great for independent practice. Thank you!"

making inferences activities for kids

"This resource was awesome! I couldn't believe all that was included. It has everything you need to teach inferencing in a simple and inviting format. The practice activities are great!"

summarizing activities for 3rd 4th 5th graders

"Wow, I had to reteach this strategy {summarizing} and using your product has made a great difference in my students' success. I reduced the size your poster for summarizing and the summary vs retell and taped them to my students' desk.
Love IT!!"

visualizing activities for kids

"Very helpful tool for teaching envisioning during reader's workshop. Great scaffolded worksheets for written responses."

context clues activities for kids

"I love all of your products. They are easy to use and implement in the classroom. I use them in reader's notebooks and in small groups with my students. Thank you."

nonfiction summary activities for kids

"You have literally thought of every activity to help kiddos understand summarizing in both fiction and non-fiction. This resource is gold! Can’t wait to use it with my students this upcoming year! Thank you."

background knowledge activities for kids
"Extremely satisfied! I have a lot of English language learners and this is very helpful to them as well as an excellent review to the class as a whole. Thank you."

reading strategy activities for kids

Using Reading Strategies to Help Readers Grow

LOVE these reading strategy sets?
Be on the lookout for new sets being posted here!

Using Reading Strategies to Help Readers Grow

Back to Top