Sunday, December 4, 2011

How is Conferring Going?

My conferencing/conferring is going well. I have been able to meet with 12-15 students a day. I've currently put small groups on the back burner so I can focus on practicing and improving my conferring skills. After winter break my plan is to incorporate both conferences and small groups.

Even in the past two weeks I have seen tremendous growth with my students, especially in their ability to select good fit books and defend how they are good fit books. Good fit books (not too easy, but not too hard) are the crucial element to independent reading and conferences have allowed me to have meaningful conversations on how to select such texts.

On a good day, my class completes four rotations. I've noticed that most of my students do read to self in either the first or second rotation. This has made it harder for me to meet with more students, especially because this means in the fourth rotation I normally only have one or two students doing read to self! Without interrupting my students' choice, what can I do to more evenly balance the number of students doing read to self?

My second struggle is the few conferences where I am not really sure what to suggest for the student to work on! In these cases I've either picked a comprehension strategy that I feel the student would benefit from more practice or told them I'd be back in a couple days to do more research. What do you do when you are unsure of what to suggest for the student?

Scheduling conferences in a way to see who I need to work with each day is one last area I'd like to work on. It is very easy to sort by student name and see when I met with that student, their goal, etc. However, it can be a lot to go through all the data before I meet with anyone to see who I've said I need to meet with that day. Does anyone have a great calendar app on the iPad that has helped them with scheduling?

The google form I created for my conferencing is very useful. I am able to reference it during a conference, at home, and can sort the data in meaningful ways very easily. I added behavioral goals (from our I-chart) because many of my students need to focus on these before we venture into other strategies.


  1. I love reading your blog post because I have some of the same struggles. I have those few students that I am not sure what to suggest for them to work on also. I have also been trying to do more conferring one on one with students since the Daily 5 workshop. I have just been doing this as I finish working with my guided reading group. Rather than move around the room I am having them read their different books at the table for a while and listen to 2-3 from that group and confer one on one with them. It seems to work well so far. I made a google doc form too but I am using my iphone since I don't have an ipad and have lost info after typing a few times from hitting the wrong area of form. I wish I had an ipad but even if I did have my own we are not allowed to connect to our wireless internet. The sisters cannot get their app done soon enough. Curious to hear others suggestions when you don't know what to recommend to a child on the CAFE menu.

  2. Hi Karyn,

    What a great topic to discuss. I kind of mentioned on Twitter some of my own thoughts but I think I will expand here, since 140 characters sometimes isn't enough.

    I wanted to add, yet again, how much I like your conferring form. I have modified it a bit but just in the placement of where I type the book they are reading, it was too far down the page for me. I showed it to a good friend who teaches grade 3 and she also loves the conferring form.
    To answer you question regarding interrupting their Daily 5 choice and getting them to read to shelf during other rotations. I don't know if this will help you at all but it's what has worked for me this year.

    I've tried a number of things, from randomly having the students pick, although they ALL have to Read to Self everyday, and I try to meet with them when I can and keep track of it. This didn't work so well because it always changed. To scheduling a time with them and they knew what day it was. I find if they make the appointment, they remember and keep me on track. Also, because I post it on the Smart Board, I am held accountable for meeting with them.

    I am finding that having them select the day they want to meet with me to work the best. For example, I listen to Katie read on a Monday, I don't need to see her again until close to the end of the week, she picks the day and the round she wants to meet. I then pencil her into my calendar (actual paper copy) and add a star to the sign in board on the Smart Board so she knows that's our appointment. She picks Read to Self for that round. This way I do not interrupt her writing, or other choices. She is reading already so it's easy to just listen and confer with her.
    I keep spots open for kids to sign up. I can only get three kids done per round. So this means on a day where I have 3 rounds, I see about 9 students. Way better than before. If you go to
    it will show you how I organize the sign-up process on the Smart Board.

    I am noticing the same issue with regards to not knowing what strategy or goal they should work on or what should be recommended. I have had this happen this week and I am tending to lean towards thinking the book they've picked is too easy and they read it without any difficulty or it's way to hard and there are multiple strategies which need to be focused on. I think what I'm going to do is watch more closely the books they pick on Fridays and offer up some suggestions. For some of them, they are playing it safe and picking books they know how to read well, so they 'impress' me. If the book doesn't challenge them in anyway, they are not able to practice their strategy. I think I need to do several mini-lesson on moving into harder books to challenge them. I think reading some of these harder books during my lesson will help peak their interest in the books and help them pick harder books.

    Thank you for sharing your learning. It's wonderful to read about other peoples struggles along with my own.

    Ms. Brown's Grade 2 Class

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful comments Anita and April! I have loved learning with both of you!

    The idea of having students sign up for a conference time is very appealing, especially having them sign up for a specific round. Thank you April for sharing your wiki and your sign up process.

    What a great point that the kids could be ready books that are too easy for them. Normally my kids struggle with books way over their heads, but I rarely have kids choosing books that are too easy for them.

    Thank you both for taking the time to respond and help me continue to grow as a teacher!

  4. I love the Daily Five! So glad I came across your blog today and read about how conferring is going in your class. My students really struggle with not interupting every five minutes so conferring has not been going perfectly in my class, but we're working on it :) Thanks for the great ideas :) Have a happy Sunday!

    Lisa :)
    Made in the Shade in Second Grade

  5. Just found your blog from Laura Komos. Can't wait to read your past posts and stalk you a bit. I struggle with the same stuff as you.

    First in Maine