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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