After meeting with Dustin, the 7 C’s strand I chose to focus on this year is “Confer,” for Reading Workshop. I have one goal for myself and one goal for my students in regards to Reading Workshop conferences.
For my Kindergarteners, I decided to bump conferences up a notch and do something I haven’t really done before; create a “tool” where students can keep track of their learning which would help lead the discussion during our conferences. This tool will be kept in their book box and students would have access to it every day. I need to find or create an artifact that holds my students accountable during independent and partner reading time (sometimes they like to roll around on the carpet), but also show me what they have learned…student evidence/documentation of learning. Kindergarten is a different kind of beast and getting them to keep track of anything is difficult at best, so this should be interesting (and awesome). Management and procedures will be key in the beginning.
Now for my goal. I love to confer with my students to check-in and see what they are doing day to day, but I struggle to consistently document those conferences. I have seen, created, and implemented many different approaches to documenting conferences, but none of them have kept my interest long enough to use consistently. Therefore, I have a hodge podge of sticky notes, computer notes, and mental notes in disarray. I feel totally unorganized. If I am going to hold my students accountable for their learning, I must to hold myself accountable to document what they have learned in an organized and consistent manor.
With my 2 goals in mind, I need to come up with a tool for students, and a way for me to document my conferences that integrates the student’s tool. (Each new unit will yield different tools) I decided to start some research.
What better way to start researching than to ask other teachers what they use for documenting conferences and holding kids accountable for their learning. Being a Sunday night, what would the best place to access thousands of teachers in an instant be??? You guessed it… FACEBOOK! I took to the TCRWP Units of Study in Reading Facebook page and posted this message:
“Hi All! How do you document your reading conferences? I have not found a system I will consistently use.
Also, what do your students have with them that shows they are in control of their learning during independent and partner reading? I am going to start with this (attached picture) and see if it works. Wondering if anyone has a creative way to merge THIS picture with a conferring sheet for documentation. I am extremely visual.”
The response was quick! 280 comments from teachers on what they use to confer with their students. Most of the comments were actually from teachers gushing over the picture I posted and wanting to know how I created it. Of all the suggestions, one stood out above the rest. A teacher suggested the App called Literator. This is a reading conferring app so I decided to try it out! It is fabulous for some aspects of conferring, but……this app is not IT. So far I am consistently using it to document conferences, but I am still searching.
Note on the picture: I finally learned how to shrink all of the anchor chart pieces for the unit and put them in a strip on one page, in 3 easy clicks! In the past I have done this with the archaic method of shrink, copy, cut, and paste. Not fun! My thinking is that during independent and partner reading time, students will have this and other little anchor charts of strategies “tools” in their book box. Each day they will choose a strategy to work on and either clip or circle it with marker. When I confer with students I can see what they are working on and they can SHOW me how they are using that strategy in the book they are reading. Then, I will be able to document our conference to show their learning. Sounds great right?! But how am I going to tie all of this together in something I will use every day?