Amazon, any day now. I have read all that I could of the online preview on the Stenhouse website . . . foreword (written by Debbie Miller), prologue, introduction, and chapter one.
When I first spotted this book months ago, I thought it was about conferring with writers, not readers. (I'm guessing I skipped right over the MOST important part of the title.) I'm so glad that I didn't skip over it again when this opportunity was shared on Twitter. Conferring with readers is not a new idea for me, but I do believe that I need to create more time to confer and make that time more meaningful. In the past, I believed that the heart of the reading workshop was the small group/guided reading instruction, but Patrick has changed my thinking. Conferring keeps the reader's workshop pumping strong. Purposeful conversations must become a daily ritual and become as automatic as our heart beats.
This last year, I made an effort to meet with my students to check in on their reading. The research explicitly states: good readers read and read more, while developing readers don't. I work with developing readers and my motivation for meeting with students was to encourage students to read, find good fit books, and fall in love with characters, books, and authors. Students L.O.V.E. to get all the teacher's attention! Through this additional attention and encouragement, students take notice that I think they are important and so is reading. They were surprised to be meeting with me again and again, and this provided enough motivation to get kids reading. I'm going to be honest here and I'm not proud of it. One of the reasons why I began conferring: I was checking on AR points. I'm not a huge fan of AR, but teachers in my building rely on it. It is one gauge to check on reading. Unfortunately, my developing kids were honest: "I don't read." That broke my heart and I knew I had to do something to change their thinking about themselves as readers and about books.
It was my goal to find out why my developing readers were not reading and help them solve those dilemmas. Usually, as I meander through the library, I overhear a classroom teacher squealing, "You need to be reading. You don't have any AR points. So go find a book and read." These are KIDS were talking to -- they need guidance, support, direction, ideas. That's our job! It seems we have lost the love of reading and enjoying books.
As I'm reading this book, I'm also thinking about The CAFE Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. The "2 sisters" go into great detail about conferring with students, but now reading Patrick's explanation and merging his insights creates a light bulb moment: Ah-ha, now I see how my conferring can be more powerful!
I'll also admit, just like many of you, that I was making excuses as to why conferring didn't take place in my classroom. My two biggies: fear and time. Now I'm wondering why, but here are some questions that have crossed my mind: What am I afraid of? What if I don't know what the student needs to work on? What if a student needs help in everything? Why can't I make the time to confer? How can I monitor every strategy for every student? What about record keeping? How can I keep the conferring time quick and manageable, but effective? It does seem quite overwhelming, but with a new perspective, I see how conferring is the keystone of the reader's workshop.
Patrick challenges the readers to answer this question: What emerges in a conference?
My first thoughts I jotted down in my reader's notebook:
- Conversations: talking about books, likes, dislikes, authors, series
- Strategy use: Connections, confusions
- Strengths as a reader
- Sharing thinking: What are YOU thinking?
- Book choice: Good fit? Author/series. Abandon?
- Encouragement: Continue to build a love of reading through encouragement and belief that every student is a reader
- Goals: What to practice to improve as a reader?
- Reading: Reading aloud, share thinking, check fluency, fix-ups, miscues
- Vocabulary: new, unknown, confusions
- Listening: Less teacher talk
- Rapport: This is SO very important!
- Records/notes: Also very important because I can't remember it all so I need to document.
More thoughts to come when the book arrives in the mail!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Want to join in the Cyber PD? Check it out:
Part I: What Brings About a Good Conference, Anyway?
Hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine
Part II: What Are the Essential Components of Conferring?
Hosted by Jill Fisch at Primary Passion
Part III. What Emerges from Our Reading Conferences?
Hosted by Laura Komos at Camp Read-A-Lot
Join us for the final conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.