I would like to thank Jill for hosting Part 2 of this blog book chat around Patrick Allen's Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop. I finished reading Part 2 this morning and felt I needed to let my mind wander longer with my thinking. I purposefully haven't read anyone else's thoughts from my Conferring Book Blog Chatters in hopes to share my own original thinking. I know I will agree with everything they say but how can I apply Part 2 to my world.
As I read Part 2, I found myself easily applying every word to my third grade classroom from my past. However, that's not where I am now and I had to remind myself to focus on what could I take from Patrick's thinking into my room of emergent readers. As I was reading, I realized part of my struggle with my shift to kindergarten is missing the conferring piece that was easier with transitional readers and students that came daily. These ideas from the text helped me with my thinking.
-"The ritual of conferring is consistent, but there is a fluidity and flexibility of thought that continues to develop as we confer."
-"Your conference notes are solid testaments to the kind of formative assessment that can inform reading instruction."
-"Conferring allows me to gather written evidence as my students move along the gradual release model; conferring happens in the moment and so does assessment."
Hmmm, I first realized my conferring needs to be more consistent and yes balanced with small group instruction. I've struggled with wondering if they are as effective with emergent readers. My kindergarteners are babies and I say that with all due respect and affection. I've had kindergarten conferring sessions that have just taught me so much but they've been far and inbetween. When Patrick wrote, "Bringing the think-aloud into the conference is a technique to use when you first start conferring", I made this note...think alouds may need to be done much longer in a kindergarten classroom. Then Patrick quotes Lev Vygotsky, "What a child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow." Tomorrow does not need to mean the next day. This all returns to the notion of slowing down.
So far, I've planned daily for small group instruction. I did a better job of conferring a little bit the second year but I'm thinking for the third year I need to know when I can/will confer and make it happen daily. I did it with every other grade, it only makes sense and I feel encouraged it's important with all readers. With two classes of children coming through my doors I need the one on one, side by side time to truly know individuals. I've known I've needed a Reading Conference Check Off form but seeing Patrick's with an official title just stared me in the face and I wondered why didn't I do that before? Every bit of organization is crucial in my world of two classes. I also love the idea of thinking about conferences as side-by-side and touchstone.
I'm also thinking I am going to have two binders for reading workshop (per class). One for conferring and one for small group instruction. Previously, I've put all that information on the same format for a recording sheet but now I think having a thinner binder focused on one type of documentation will be easier to use, manage, and think about. I loved Patrick's willingness to share his forms, share how a conferring session went in written form, and then show what his notes consisted of for that session. I might dabble with Patrick's conferring form as he suggests the reader does and I loved he asked his readers to include adapted from on their own pages.
I'm sure other's have shared about Patrick's RIP format, his thoughts on rigor, assessment, and 3 cheers for the section, How Might We Make Note of What We See and What We Learn, all in the name of data and children. I can't wait to see how Part 3 is going to impact my thinking.