Category Archives: Conferring

Upcoming Webinar Series: Reading Conferences

"Researchers have calculated that teachers engage in literally thousands of oral interactions with children every day. What we say and the way we say it shapes children's understanding more than any other pedagogical tool we use."

Ellin Keene in To Understand: New Horizons in Reading Comprehension (2008)

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Back and Forth: Using an Editor’s Mindset to Improve Student Writing

Back and Forth: Using an Editor’s Mindset to Improve Student Writing by Lee Heffernan

Editors are the crucial, unseen collaborators of published writers. In her new book, Back and Forth: Using an Editor’s Mindset to improve Student Writing, Heinemann author Lee Heffernan describes adopting that role in her classroom and how it helps student-authors dig in and produce dramatically better writing. Lee relies on both student-centered pedagogy and the experiences of numerous professional writers and editors. On today's podcast, we started our conversation with why students can be reluctant to revise.

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How to Set Up Reading Partnerships to Maximize Literacy Learning in Your Classroom

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Adapted from "What Are The Rest of my Kids Doing?" Fostering Independence in the K–2 Reading Workshop, by Lindsey Moses and Meridith Ogden


Partner reading is important for many reasons. Literacy is a socially constructed activity involving reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing. Reading together and talking about books can provide partners with enriching experiences, thinking, and conversation that would not take place while reading independently. In addition to the motivation, engagement, and social aspects, Rogoff (1990) documented interactions between partners that led to each child achieving a higher level of understanding than working by themselves. This could be due to the type of talk surrounding partner reading. Brown (2006) found five major themes of talk occurred during partner reading time in second grade: organizational, disputational, word strategy, meaning making, and personal talk. All of these, except personal talk, supported partner reading.

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9 Types of Reading Conferences: A Jumping Off Point

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Adapted from Reading Projects Reimagined: Student-Driven Conferences to Deepen Critical Thinking by Dan Feigelson

Yetta Goodman (2002) reminds us that there are no substitutes for careful kid-watching and good listening. Nonetheless, a reading teacher can become more confident and able to adapt to students by having umbrella categories, or types of conferences, at his or her fingertips. Carving out time in the day for conference-based reading projects provides teachers with important opportunities to listen and assign readers work that is personalized and rigorous. The fundamental tenet of a conference-based reading project is that the direction should come from the student. Developing conference-based reading projects involves listening carefully to what students say about a text, and then helping them name an idea worth following.

The following nine umbrella categories are intended as a work in progress and is by no means definitive. The best use of this list would be as a jumping off point for educators to add to, revise, and refine.  It’s important, always, to remember that the specifics of a good conference should come from what the individual student says and does. With that disclaimer in mind, here we go.

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Using Pre-Assessment to Ease into Reading Differentiation

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The research is compelling: When teachers differentiate reading instruction, students learn more. But teachers are too often given the expectation of differentiation without the details on how to make it work. In No More Reading Instruction Without Differentiation, Lynn Bigelman and Debra Peterson offer a framework that adapts instruction based on individual students' needs and interests.

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Heinemann Fellow Tiana Silvas on Fostering Empathy and Understanding Among Students

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From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.—Cesar Chavez

After a long day of teaching I walk around the classroom picking up pencils and scraps of paper. Some pieces of paper have scribble notes that make me smile. Students exchange jokes or attempt to create meaningful emojis. Other times the scribbles make me stop, wonder, and worry. One note shows two stick-figure drawings with one image’s face scratched out. Other scraps of paper have words like “I don’t like . . .”  What did I miss today? How will I handle this?

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