Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Components of Conferring
"Conferring" Blog Bookchat ~ Part 2

We are in the middle of our discussion of "Conferring" by Patrick Allen. Last week we discussed the learning environment necessary to be successful with conferring with students. It has been very interesting to read all of the various reflections and think about all of the different viewpoints. Thanks to all who have joined the discussion. This week we will talk about the various components of conferring. You can join in this conversation, too. Here's how:
  1. Leave a comment at the end of this post.
  2. Write a post about your reflections, and place your link in the comments below. I will then update this post to include a link your blog.
  3. Comment on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.
  4. Visit other blog reflections and comment.
I was very anxious to read this section of the book because I wanted to really learn more about the ins and outs of conferring. While I did pick up some new ideas, I think the most important thing I gained was a sense that maybe I am better at conferring than I give myself credit for. I always feel like I should be doing more with each conference than I currently am. Reading this section made me really think about how beneficial it is for students to do less but to think about it more deeply.

Reading the conference scripts in this section made me reflect on exactly what my purpose is when conferring with a student. I have decided that the main purpose is to notice where the student is and help them grow a bit in their thinking. I often felt like since I couldn't meet with each student every day that I needed to make the most of this short time with them and pack as much as possible into the conference. I will be trying to slow myself down during my conferences in the future and focusing on one thing at a time.

The other topic that I was very anxious to learn about was note-taking and/or record keeping. I, too, have used many, many different types of record keeping but I noticed that I really didn't refer back to my notes. After reading the section Conferring Versus Collecting (pages 107 and 108), I realized that I need to stop taking notes just to have notes and that I need to think about exactly what information I would actually use if I recorded it. I haven't quite figured this out yet but I know that I will be thinking about it a lot as we get closer to those first few days of school.

One thing that I have noticed about my conferring in the past was that when I did get frustrated with my various note-taking systems and just gave up on them, my actual conferring was better. I wasn't distracting myself with thinking about what I was going to write down at the end of this conference. I think that if I create a plan or list of notes that I will actually use, it will also free me up to really listen to the student I am conferring with and not be collecting a series of notes that I won't use. So before my first conference this year I need to generate that list so my students will get my full attention.

One quote from this section that I just loved and I think pretty much says it all (for me) was by Bev Bos:
What your children take home in their hearts is far more important than what they take home in their hands. (p. 139)
Today's Discussion
The Schedule of our Discussion:

July 6th
Part 1: What Brings About a Good Conference, Anyway?
Hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community

July 13th
Part 2: What are the Essential Components of Conferring?
Hosted by me at My Primary Passion

July 20th
Part 3: What Emerges from Our Reading Conferences?
Hosted by Laura Komos at Camp Read-A-Lot

To Be Announced
Twitter Chat


  1. Well, I guess since I missed posting last week altogether, it only seems appropriate to be one of the first to post this week. :) Thanks so much for hosting us this week, Jill!

    My reflection: http://literatelives.blogspot.com/2011/07/conferring-reflection-part-2.html

  2. I am glad to know I am good company with Karen! My post is up at Primary Perspective http://deb-frazier.blogspot.com/ Looking forward to reading the post this week!

    Jill~ I havent read your post yet.. will stop back tomorrow or later today to read! Cant wait!

  3. Jill,

    I too felt a little better about my conferring after reading this section about the book. I still have a ways to go before I feel really good, but I imagine I will feel that way the last day I confer with kids. I also love the Bev Bos quote you put into your post. I didn't seem to fit with the Ramones. When you read my post http://keeferto.typepad.com/blog/2011/07/learn-to-listen-cyberpd.html you may understand what I mean.

    Thanks again for hosting,

  4. Jill,
    Thanks for hosting this week's conversation about "Conferring". These chapters were very important for me as I have been struggling with my conferring in Reader's Workshop, and haven't been able to figure it out. Having time to reflect on the structure, content, and conversation of the conference has helped me to see some ways I might change. My post is here:


    I'm looking forward to reading the conversation as it grows today.

  5. Hi, Jill!
    Thanks for hosting us this week! I picked up on that same quote by Bev Bos. It really reminded me of the impact we have on students minds AND hearts.

    Here are my thoughts for this week:

    I wonder what everyone else is thinking this week!
    ~Laura :)

  6. Jill,
    I enjoyed your post and also felt much better about my conferring! I also love the Bev Bos quote and desire that parents "know that my focus is not on "stuff" but on their child". That whole section of Chapter 5 stood out to me.

    Here is a link to my reflections:

    Thanks for hosting this great conversation!

  7. Jill,
    I too am done with taking notes just to be writing something down. I am going to do as Patrick Allen suggested and work on the routine (RIP) first before starting to fine tune my notes and system.

    Here are my thoughts:



  8. Hi Jill -
    Thanks for hosting this week! I'm glad you've realized that you're already doing a great job conferring with your students. I'm glad I've taken the time to talk one-on-one with students, and now I'm looking foward to using the RIP model (and a new organizer!) to keep track of our conferences.

    Here's a link to my post:

    Now, off to read everyone's ideas.

  9. Hi Jill,
    I missed last week, but here's this weeks post (better late than never). Thanks for hosting. I'm anxious to read everyone's thinking.



  10. Jill,
    Thanks so much for hosting. So, so, so much to think about again this week.

    Like you, I'm struck by Patrick's comments on conferring vs. collecting. I have struggled for most of my career, with developing a system that really helps me document where kids are and also enables me to be thoughtful and effective with my instruction.

    And like you, I loved the Bev Bos quote! So, so, true!

    Can't wait to read what everyone has to say.


  11. Jill~
    What a great way to end a fabulous day, reading all these wonderful post! Thanks for all you work here, I hope you are feeling better! The Bev Bos quote just may need a tweet! I am a BIG believer in process v.s product so this is so going up our classroom!

  12. Great posts today everyone. I have really enjoyed reading them all. Hearing so many different takes on just two chapters has been very interesting. Thanks so much for participating.


  13. Hi Jill, I'm just getting my writing done, it's never too late to join, I'm sure.


  14. Mandy,

    We are glad you are joining us again. It is never to late to join. Thanks for adding your thoughts.


  15. Jill,

    Your ending quote is one I loved, too. I think it will hang somewhere in my classroom for a reminder to myself and parents. Your reflection shows thoughtful practice. Thanks for hosting.

  16. Jill,

    You are so right on! I also felt like my time is limited with each student, so just cram as much teaching as I can and move on. It's so important that we take the time to focus on "ONE high quality thoughtful question." That's a goal of mine as well.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  17. Jill,
    Thank you for hosting this week. Like so many other people the Bev Bos quote really stuck out to me. I will be posting in my room as well.

    Here is the link to my post

    Thanks for sharing!