One of the greatest tools that helped us hone our skill of conferring was creating a "Conferring Toolkit"
What is a conferring toolkit?
Why create a conferring tool kit?
Last week, I met with a student (online!) to confer one on one. She was a fourth grader reading a graphic novel on a digital platform, Epic. I found the book and her spot, shared my screen with her and she read out loud to me for a little bit. As she was reading she was giggling to herself about the way the main character reacted to the villain. This was a place I wanted to have a conversation! When we found a good stopping point, I asked her about it. She was clearly understanding enough to find the humor in the scene, But I wondered... what is the next thing I could teach her to move her comprehension along.
I was able to grab my conferring notebook, tab over to the reading progression on Character (printed from the Reading Pathways) and skim over the "Inferring about Characters and Other Story Elements" I read the paragraph " I know that a character action will sometimes seem small, but will actually signal a deeper meaning. BINGO! This was what I could teach her!
If I hadn't had my toolkit with me, we likely would have had a lovely conversation, but I wouldn't have been equipped with something to push her thinking about this text. Having the progressions within my reach gave me a quick guide and she was able to learn about symbolism from a 5 minute conference in her beloved graphic novel.
How should I create & organize my tool kit?
A conferring notebook could be created in many formats, depending on what you will use!
You can either do a hard copy with a composition notebook like mine on the right. You could print out your resources and put them in clear plastic sleeves in a three ring binder. You could create digital notebook with google slides or padlet.
My personal preference is to have a hard copy so that I can touch and feel and find what I need more easily.
Part of my toolkit includes a sketchbook of mini-charts that I’ve created to enhance my conferences and small group instruction. The chart provides the teaching point (what, how and why) and often a place to model and practice the new strategy.
Many of the charts are an outgrowth of teaching points and ideas from Lucy Calkins Units of Study and J. Serravallo’s Reading Strategies. My conferring notebook is categorized by reading goals (stamina/volume, vocabulary, Determining Main Ideas, responding to text, etc.) so I can find what I need quickly. Here are a few photos of the charts and progressions in my kit:
It's never to late to begin!
We know it will make a huge impact in your teaching!