First things first, I would like to thank Cathy, Jill, and Laura K for hosting this blog book chat around Patrick Allen's Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop. It's been in my to be read pile for some time or I should say my Kindle wishlist and their idea made me take the plunge. Splash!
I couldn't put the first two chapters down! I find author's hook me by sharing tidbits about the personal life. I feel like I had a friend in Patrick by the end of of Chapter 2 and was ready to get to the nuts and bolts about conferring for Chapter 3. I found the first two chapters to be soothing and reassuring, just like I feel when I read books by Debbie Miller or hear her present. I enjoyed reading Patrick's reflections and I didn't feel rushed to read more pages to find out more answers. So far, the book feels more like a journey in helping me wrestle with an internal struggle of mine.
I have missed regularly conferring with students. I have missed...
-"Purposeful conversations that provided me with meaningful instruction-rich in strategy, inquiry, vocabulary, and skills.
-"...conversations that stretched my thinking and monitored my understanding."
-"Purpose is uncovered during the reading conference,..."
-"Conferring helps me find out new things about the reader and provides an intimate opportunity for a shared "coming to know"
-"Conferring helps me uncover a reader's learning in a manageable, thoughtful way while leading to documentable data..."
In kindergarten, I am still trying to find my groove and balance the organization within reading workshop with guided reading groups and conferring opportunities. I think guided reading is essential for emergent readers. I don't think it's the end all be all for emergent readers. I miss the amount of conferring I did with third graders. I am wondering and want to keep reading to see what Patrick might suggest for emergent/young readers/teachers.
I think the the first thing I've taken away from reading Part 1 is the guidance and need our students have to make a workshop model a success within a classroom community. Patrick is very explicit at the beginning of his year. In kindergarten, we have to be very explicit with everything to establish our routine, community, and learning. Patrick is explicit as he starts his year with conversations about stamina, trust, respect, endurance, and responsiblity. He provides questions to help you dig a bit deeper with your students during conferencing. He provides mentor text for endurance and gradual release. I think it's important and I've found it successful to explain to students what we are going to do in various parts of reading workshop. There are teacher expections and student expectations and Patrick shares them with students. I think it helps the students understand how they can use and interact within a workshop model. To quote Patrick, "learner's perception of who they are and what they can do has the greatest effect on what they learn." Patrick provides the reader with many of examples for nudging, guiding, and increasing independence. I know I learn more about a student by conferring, I know conferring is invaluable to help a student grow, I know I need to find a way to do both conferring with individuals and and strategy instruction in small groups with five days of attendance over two weeks.
If you, my readers have any thoughts, please let me know. Your thinking will help mine.