Friday, February 8, 2013

My inquiry into conferring

I have read a bit about conferring, I have been to some trainings, and I have tried it out in my own classroom....BUT I don't think I fully got it until I did an inquiry into it.   I wanted to know how to better utilize it in my own classroom. 

Here are the resources I used:

This is a great book for setting up a literature rich classroom, understanding reading workshop and beginning to confer in your classroom.  If you are reading just to find out the nitty gritty then head right to chapter 10.

A Reading Conference: Assessment-Based Responsive Teaching to Support Comprehension ( K-2 ) from TC Reading and Writing Project on Vimeo.
This video showed the steps perfectly.  Sometimes you read and read but until you see it in action you don't quite see how all the pieces fit together.

This post was so very helpful.  She shows her readers the way she codes books with teaching points and keeps them handy to pull out during conferences.


I then created a list of teaching points and created my own conferring bag.  The teaching points were based off of  Conferring for Readers,  I Do, We Do, You Do 's post about Conferring and Common Core State Standards.  You will note the standards and then my county's learning progressions to meet the standard. 
Then I used all that I learned and put it to use:
I started by buying a composition book and tabbing the students' names every 5 pages.

I decided the more simplistic my notes were the better.  I really want to practice my language and become effective.  Of course notes help us along but I didn't want to get too bogged down that I didn't leave myself enough time to actually confer.  So I write the date, the student's self selected text, the reading level of the text, the compliment (+) and areas to work on (-).  I focus on the one point and write myself a quick note of what strategy/skill I taught them.  So below I saw the child sounding out but we know that doesn't always I focused on chunking sounds we know then rereading for meaning.
 In the front cover, I have a list of students and I will put my conferring dates next to their name.

I selected text from every level that I have in my classroom (C-K).  Then one lovely evening I searched through them for teaching points.  Our units are broken up by literature and informational so my books will change when we get to informational.  I also wanted strong characters and a story with a problem and solution.  

Here are the tabs for Farm Alarm
 and Biscuit Goes to School
 On this page, I have tabbed 'Punctuation.'  So I might teach one child to take breaths at certain points, another to bring their voice up at the end of the question and another to talk like the character using picture and punctuation clues.
So I completed my first week!  I love it <3  Now the only thing that I found difficult and probably will not follow through on is losing guided reading groups and only conferring.  My team and I discussed that our Title 1 students just do not have the schema or language needed to get by on conferring when they are at levels A-F.  Most of my class is above an F, so I am conferring with all of them but my students that are lower are still in a small group (luckily it's only one).  If you have thoughts on this point that I haven't considered please share :) 
Here is a little scenario that occured during a guided reading group today.  I think it shows why I can't stop guided reading for some students.
We were previewing Little Chimp and Baby Chimp
Me: "Tell me what you thought Little Chimp was feeling about Baby Chimp by just using the clues on the cover."
Student: He took a while and said, "Happy." 
Me:  "How do you know that?"
Student: "Reading."
Me:  "We haven't read the story yet.  I want you to use what you see on the cover to tell me why Little Chimp is happy."
Student: "Book."
Me:  "Yes, the book gives us clues.  How can you tell Little Chimp is happy?  Look at the cover (direct point to Little Chimp)."
Student: Uhhhh. (shrugs shoulders)
Me:  "I want you to think about what you do when you are happy."
Student: (slowly smiles)
Me:  "You are showing me you are happy with your face.  How are you doing that?"
Student:  "Mouth."
Me:  "Yes, you are using your mouth.  What is your mouth doing?"
Student:  (student shrugs)
Me:  "You are smiling to show you are happy.  Look at Little Chimp, he is smiling to show he is happy."
Enjoy your weekend fellow bloggers and blogees!


  1. Fantastic! It takes a great teacher to put the time and effort into researching this stuff to figure it out. I agree with you about guided reading - I still do both. I love reading workshop and conferring, but I do still pull groups at another time in the day. Thanks for the link!

    Teaching Ace Blog

  2. Jen,
    This post is just awesome! The download is a great resource! You are such a thoughtful teacher, and I really appreciate the time you put into your resources! Thank you!

  3. Amazing. Great post and wonderful information you've shared here. Your students are so lucky to have you!

    Tales From a Traveling Teacher

  4. Hi Jen,
    Just wanted to let you know that I thought this blog post was great, so I shared it in my Thumbs up Thumbs down post (as a Thumbs up of course:).
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  5. Hello!

    Thank you for this post! I want to work on my conferring/small group for next year, and I liked how you did yours. I appreciate your expertise and sharing.