How To Make Your Conferring Instruction More Effective

Good teachers collect and use data effectively, and that's the role conferring plays in the reader's or writer's workshop. Use these tips to keep your conferences and strategy groups running smoothly and effectively.

How To Confer Efficiently and Create a Conferring Toolkit by A Word On Third

Keep it simple.

The best conferences and strategy groups follow a predictable formula, and they are quick and short!! We have a tendency to over-talk even though students should be doing the majority of the talking and work. Here's the typical formula for a conference or small strategy group:
Research: 1-2 minutes, Discuss goals, strengths, and challenges with the student and listen to him/her read. Ask some meaning-based questions. Use what you learn to teach. End with a compliment. *This step is only needed in a conference--in a strategy group, you already know what you'll be teaching based on data you've collected! 
Connection: ~20 seconds, Grab the students' attention.
Teaching Point: ~20 seconds, Name exactly what you will teach.
Teach: ~2 minutes, Model the strategy (or use another method, like a mini-inquiry).
Active Engagement: ~1 minutes, Let the students try the skill.
Link: 20 seconds, Send the students off with an ending thought about the skill they learned.
Strategy groups need to be short and pointed so that you can fit as many as you need into your week. Aim for 5 (maybe 7 minutes for a small group) and no more. Shoot to meet with each student at least once per week. Getting the timing down will be an adjustment. Use a stopwatch if you need to. Click the picture below to be taken to a great one online.

Provide students with tangible tools.

I like to teach with a quickly drawn anchor chart on a piece of printer paper. It helps to have a visual aid, and creating the charts can even clarify how I'll teach each skill in my mind. Students need to hear and see the teaching point over and over again. Notice how the example I made below is super clear.
How To Confer Efficiently and Create a Conferring Toolkit by A Word On Third

It's also critical that students have a piece of tangible evidence of learning. Send them off with a smaller version of your anchor chart to glue into a notebook or keep with them while they work. Even jotting the teaching point on a post-it note can be a big help for keeping students mindful of the skills they are practicing.

Create a toolkit to save time.

Keeping a pencil pocket full of post-it notes, writing utensils, and other materials you use during conferences is a time-saver! Put that in your toolkit so you always have it.

How To Make Your Conferring Instruction More Effective by A Word On Third

When you know the students and your curriculum, you can predict the majority of the skills you will need to teach. When you create the tangible tools you will use during conferences--whether it's in the moment or ahead of time--SAVE THEM! It takes so much time and work to do this--if you don't save it, you're wasting instructional or planning time. You can use them several times throughout the year and then over again in future years. I will admit that this does take some time, but it's totally worth it when you see your student's skills improving daily. So what if it takes you a few years to develop your personal toolkit?

If you're not up for the hard work it takes to create your own toolkit, or you want to experiment with one before committing, I recommend checking mine out. I created a toolkit to help you launch reader's workshop effectively. You can use it to create the reader's workshop culture you wish to see in your room and teach into effective reading behaviors, partnership work, and comprehension strategies. It's also $10.00 in my store for today only! Click here or on the picture below to check it out, and make sure to download the free preview with some goodies in there for you.

If you happen to read this a day late and miss the discount, you can also enter a giveaway on my Instagram account to win it for free along with a $10.00 TeachersPayTeachers gift card. Make sure to go enter!

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