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solsc.2012: a wise question 11/31

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Kids can be so wise.

As an intervention teacher, I'm balancing the expectations of the school and district, yet trying to put into place effective practices and what I know is best for kids.

I must progress monitor my students two times a month -- my students read aloud to me for one minute and I record the number of words read correctly and the number of errors.  Quick, easy, and somewhat painless.

But this isn't real reading.  No pictures, no choice, no motivation.

So, in addition, I also confer with students and scribble some notes.  Conversations tell me so much more about my readers.  Taking time to just listen.
     What book are you reading?
     Why did you pick this book?
     What's it about so far?
     I'd love to hear you read a little of it.
     Tell me what just happened.
     What do you think will happen next? Why?
     What have you learned about yourself as a reader?
     Tell me how you figured out this word.
     What were you thinking when . . . 
     I can't wait to hear more about your thinking!

A conversation about a book - real life, real reading, real choice.  Just like you and me, if we were sitting at the local coffee shop.

I was trying to cram it all in:  progress monitor, confer, check independent reading.  The time was ticking . . . and finally, I thought out loud:

How can I do all of this better?  Faster?

Nancy, a fourth grade student, nonchalantly replied, "Well, what's most important?"

Hmmmm . . . You are so right, Nancy. That's a great question to ponder.  These kids never cease to amaze!

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  1. As a classroom teacher I find that I learn the most about my students when I confer. We, too, progress monitor with pre-selected text. It's important data, but I learn so much more from conferring. Time is always the thing that gets in the way, there never seems to be enough. I love how you brought in Nancy's question. We must ask ourselves that all the time.

  2. "How can I do all of this better? Faster?"

    The pressure that seems to get worse at this time of the year.

  3. Nancy is quite the intuitive thinker. I think her question is the one we need to keep in the forefront of our brains at all times - what really is important? That says it all.

  4. Love Nancy! We are required to use guided reading in fifth at my building, and I don't have any real problem for it except I wasn't able to do both GR and conferences in my block of time. Until I decided that I could have GR Monday, Wednesday, Friday and conference Tuesday/Thursday. I became much happier immediately. :)

  5. Authentic reading, why can't we honor that instead of artificial snippets? Love Nancy, she nailed it and it is a question I ask teachers all the time.

  6. I've discovered lately too that conferring can and probably should drive my grouping. It is so wise to step back and ask, "What is most important?" It's all good, but we just can't do it all as my wise mentor once said to me.

  7. P.S. I love that as a reading teacher you confer with your students!

  8. Nancy is one smart girl! "What's most important?" If we asked that every day as we taught, I think we would have miraculous things happening....

  9. Nancy is so right, if only we could convince others that the most important most important! Good luck to you as you balance all those pieces of information and get to know your student's reading potential!

  10. Trying to balance everything and do what is best for the students, is indeed a daunting challenge. To me the most important thing is focusing on your students - if only you could get everyone on the same page with that thinking. That Nancy's a very smart girl!!!

  11. Dear Michelle,
    Nancy asked a very difficult question. Do we always know what is most important? This reminds me of Mimm when she said that her best advice for me is: think for yourself. So that's what we do in life and in writing - figuring out what's most important. May be it is looking beyond ourselves and making a change in the lives of others as Julie thinks in her post
    If in addition to that we could figure out how to create more time ....
    Thank you for the quote today.

    1. I am not sure why one line stretched out and the link doesn't work. Oh, well.

  12. Of course the best questions come from kids... I've only met smart ones! :) Wish we could convince the teachers that ALL of them are thinkers. I will make it a goal to progress monitor quickly, then spend more time conferring. Time to make a calendar!

  13. Michelle,
    I think Nancy might be onto something. Maybe that is the question that should hang in all of our classrooms. It is hard to keep a balance and do what we feel is most important for kids. Sometimes kids have a simple way of getting to the heart of the matter.



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