Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday's Teaching Tip - Making Conferring Work

Wouldn’t it be great if you could sit down with all of the wonderful experts in reading and get quick tips from them?  While we can’t sit down personally with the likes of Richard Allington, Debbie Miller, Kathy Collins, Lucy Calkins…and all the other great teachers, we can share tips from their many books and conferences.  That’s what Tuesday’s Tips are about this year and we hope they give you some great ideas from the experts.

Today’s tip is from Kathy Collins in her book Growing Readers. Do you use conferring as part of your reader’s workshop?  It can get crazy trying to manage it at times and to ensure that your teaching points don’t get loosey goosey, right?  Two of the most prevalent problems we deal with are letting the conference go too long so we don’t get to all of our students in a timely manner, and making sure that our teaching point is targeted and intentional.  Kathy’s conferring steps helped me to keep conferences humming along smoothly and effectively when I was starting out, and we hope they will help you, too. 

Step 1:  No more than 3 – 5 minutes long. Set a timer if you need to.  You should meet with all of your students once a week and more often for your struggling readers.

Step 2:  Sit alongside the student and glance at your notes from last time.

Step 3:  Observe the student as she reads. Jot down what she already can do, and the very next thing that she needs to work on.

Step 4:  Compliment the student on what she is doing well.

Step 5:  Tell the student a quick strategy or skill that she needs to work on.  Model it for her, then watch as she tries it. 

Step 6:  Restate the teaching point and remind her to use the strategy or skill from now on.

Kathy also suggests that when choosing the teaching point, it can be overwhelming to observe students for what they can’t yet do.  Instead, start by observing what they can do and it will be easier to choose the very next step from there. 

Want to read more from the amazing Kathy Collins?  We highly recommend her book Growing Readers.  It’s available on Amazon. 

Happy Teaching!

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