Conferring Part II Reflection

I just finished Part II of Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop by Patrick Allen.  Thank you to Cathy Mere, Laura Komos, and Jill Fisch for hosting this wonderful book chat.  I probably wouldn't have read this book had I not seen all the talk about it on Twitter.
I started this a little late so my first post came after most everyone had posted their second post.  I wonder what you were thinking as I grappled with the idea of conferring in kindergarten.  You already knew what I'd discover when I read the second part. The first part didn't have me convinced that I could do this in K.  What would it look like? What do I say?  Thankfully Part II cleared a lot of things up for me.

In this part of the book Patrick gets into the nuts and bolts of conferring.  The first thing he talks about is his RIP model for conferring.  This makes so much sense to me!  I like that there is a structure for every conference.  Kindergartners need structure and need to know what to expect.  I definitely think that the P part will be the part I will need to focus my thinking on. 

Next he talks about organizing your notes.  I'm just getting ready to start my third year of teaching and I can name at least 5 different ways I've tried to organize notes so far.  I laughed when Patrick talked about the computer labels, I can imagine myself with labels stuck or piled everywhere.  I won't be trying that.  I will have an iPad in my classroom this year and I think that using a program like Evernote will help keep me organized.  I also plan on recording my conferring so that I can revisit what I talked about with the student to add to my notes and also improve upon what I'm doing.  The idea of not having paper either in a binder or folder laying around is very appealing to me.  Hopefully this is the system that works for me.

I like that he talks about "conferring vs collecting".  I am guilty of having a lot of stuff about kids without any rhyme or reason to it.  I also have a lot of "the D word" (data) from district assessments and "snapshots" taken of children.  Adding conferring notes as another piece of data will guide my teaching and also help me better reflect on my children and their needs.

I loved that Patrick went into great detail about three of his conferences.  I felt myself wanting to know what happened next with these three children.  Did Haley learn to balance her note taking?  What did Cole think about Ida's mom?  What was Jaryd's next book choice and how did he know it was right for him?  Then it dawned on me that these are the typed of conversations I can be having with my kids and I'll be there for the next conference to know how they grow and learn. 

I already know that doing the right about of listening will be a challenge for me.  It's something that my literacy coach and I have been working on when I ask questions during other parts of my day.  It will be easy to keep this in the fore front of my mind since it's already something I'm conscious of.

As I was reading I was wondering to myself about reading every book in my classroom library.  Most of the books I've purchased myself but there is a good number that were left for me or purchased for me when I started.  Patrick answered my question before I could ask it.  He says that you don't have to read every book in your library and to use those conferences as a "lets figure this out together" time.  I'm so glad he said that, I was starting to panic over having to read that many books all of a sudden.

I stopped when Patrick talked about Deborah Meier and her view that kindergarten is "the one place--maybe the last place--where teachers are expected to know their children well".  I feel like I really know my kids, I spend a lot of time making sure that I get each and every one of them but why in the world have I not been getting to know them as readers?!?!  This was like a light bulb but also made me feel guilty.  If I wasn't convinced before this was the last nail I needed to make sure that conferring becomes a priority in my classroom this year. 

I couldn't be happier that I joined this book blog chat about conferring.  I have looked at teaching in ways that I've never done before.  Now I'm off to read everyone's responses to Part II.

Comments

  1. Nicole,

    Just a quick note: I was also wondering what happened with Patrick's 3 students - especially Cole. It think hearing stories like that just brings out our natural curiosity.

    Jill

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  2. Nicole,
    I love the way you have been reflecting on your reading as a kindergarten teacher. I can tell you've been thinking a lot about what this will look like in your classroom. I think Part 2 really helped us to see what conferring looks like in Patrick's classroom, and perhaps envision what it could look like in our own rooms. It will be interesting to see where this conversation takes each of us as we being sitting beside children in the fall.

    Cathy

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