“Reading conferences give me an opportunity to model strategies a student needs to use independently….I make it happen regularly enough to remind students that their thinking is at the heart of what’s important in reading.” (Book Love p. 89-90, Penny Kittle)
“Teaching is the art of changing the brain. I don’t mean controlling the brain, or rearranging it according to some ‘brain manual’. I mean, creating conditions that lead to change in a learner’s brain. We can’t get inside and rewire a brain, but we can arrange things so that it gets rewired. If we are skilled, we can set up conditions that favor this rewiring, and we can create an environment that nurtures it.
An art indeed! (James Zull, 2002)
The former quote shows the importance of conferring. See below for a teacher’s goals as a conferer :
- Create conditions necessary to help readers adapt and develop their own skills and strategies as they explore text.
- Nurture students to think through text using strategic problem solving.
- Create the situations necessary for learners to think about the metacognitive moves they make as they grapple with the intricacies and nuances of text.
- Help students understand the importance of ‘reading with meaning’ by developing specific skills that allow fluent readers to adapt their flow depending on their purpose for reading.
Goals for your students:
- To become readers that understand more clearly.
- To become readers that remember more completely.
- To become readers that extend meaning more consistently.
- To become readers that make their reading experiences memorable more often.
“…reading is more than just barking at print, getting each word correct, being fluent without attaching meaning to text….students…know that choosing books should be more about their purpose than mine…students…depth of thinking inevitably makes them better readers, writers and thinkers.”(Conferring The Keystone of Reader’s Workshop, Patrick Allen, 2009)
What does it mean to be a WISE reader?
Patrick Allen suggest that student’s need to learn how to become ‘wise’ readers not ‘good’ readers…”All readers can make wise decisions about what they read, about what they’re thinking about as they read, and about the choices they can make to get better.”
Collaborate with your students to create a poster about what it takes to be a wise reader and post it in your classroom.
What Does it Mean to be a Wise Reader?
- A wise reader always pays attention to the text.
- A wise reader writes responses to remember what she read.
- A wise reader makes sure the text they are reading is the right text.
Assessment of Students-Triangulating the Collection of Evidence
As a result of conversations with students during conferring, teachers can collect evidence about what they know, understand, and are able to do..
I use the following questions for Reading Conferences. The questions are taken from Penny Kittle’s book, Book Love:
Sample Conferring questions, Patrick Allen:
- What is the book mostly about?
- Was the story easy to read? Why or why not?
- What part did you like best?
- Tell me the main things that happened in the story. What events were most important?
- Where does the story take place?
- How did you feel when you were reading the book?
See below for Patrick Allen’s video conference with an elementary student: