The Teacher's Tool Kit For Literacy
Transformative Tracking: The Reading Conference
Literacy experts Sharon and Phil Callen talk about how teachers can assess literacy development through conferring with their students.
How can teachers effectively understand where students are at in their literacy development?
There's testing and running records, which have benefits and limitations, and the Reading Conference, which is a powerful process when done the right way.
This is the art of conferring with kids, which is easier said than done. So how do we plan for a highly effective Reading Conference and what tools do we need?
Start by asking: What is conferring?
The Reading Conference is an assessment for teaching and learning. It’s for turning learning into actions for students (Transformative Tracking). The teacher tries to learn as much as they can about the students, including:
- Reading interests
- Reading processes (monitoring strategies and cueing systems)
- Reading comprehension
- Reading fluency
- Reading vocabulary
- Decoding knowledge
- Learns what makes the student a reader
- Helps them move forward into a range of reading texts
- Uses it as an intentional part of their Independent Reading
- Uses it to inform teaching, especially Mini Lessons
What actions are we looking for?
There are five really good questions to ask (not all at once, but when appropriate): Use the Conferring With Reader Prompts sheet, which can be glued into their Reader's Notebook (aka Reading Journal).
- What strategies do they use to help them with their reading?
- What do they know about comprehension strategies?
- What do they do when they come to a word they don’t recognise?
- How do they clarify the meaning of a word?
- Do they self correct to clarify the meaning?
What are the highly effective elements of a Reading Conference?
- Planning. It's not just out of the blue, plan for it to happen every day - who you need to check in with (some more than others). Maybe have a day set for students. Know who to confer with when and what the focus is.
- Referring to previous goals and information. Reflecting on the student's goals, providing feedback to each child around their goal.
- Decide/Teach. Decide on a new strategy that will really help them. Then demonstrate to the student how that works in the student’s text., and when they should use it. Have the student practise the new strategy with you to check on understanding.
- Goal Status. Ask the student to articulate the new strategy and record this as their goal. Record their current goal status - is it early, on the way, solid.
- Other: During Independent Reading they have their Reader's Notebook (aka Reading Journal) open so that they look at their goal whilst they are reading. The Reading Conference Notes page process is the same process as in a Mini Lesson.
Tools to have on hand, or actions you need to take:
- A Good Reader Anchor Chart on display as a class
- The Reading Conference Notes page in their Reader's Notebook (aka Reading Journal) to write notes about the student.
- Have the student articulate what they are going to do and have them practise doing it in front of you
- Students should come to the Reading Conference with a lot as they have come across the same things in the Mini Lesson
- The teacher can also use Roving Conferences during Independent Reading. Each student has their goal/s in front of them in their Reader's Notebook, along with their Reading Log. In this way the teacher can check in on reading goals as students are reading and quickly catch up on most students.
- During the Reflection/Share Time of the Reading Workshop, it’s a good time for students to look back on their goals and do a ‘Turn and Tell’. Then they are showing how they are using the strategy with a peer. So it's not just the teacher conferring - it’s the students supporting each other in an ongoing way, every day.
- In other words have the children actively choose and use the strategies in the Reflection/ Share Time or whilst you are conferring with them. Model what this looks like in the Reading Conferences with them and in the Mini Lessons. In this way children have practised these actions with the teacher, with enlarged text or during the Read Aloud when the teacher and students are reading/ listening together. Then the Reading Conference helps the reader with further actions to take.
The Reading Conference Notes page includes: (Picture or record of what child’s doing):
- Goal Status- early, on the way, solid
- What text they are using
Enjoy the episode!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
JULY ONLINE WORKSHOP
'Reading Like a Writer' Years 2-6
with Sharon Callen
July 5 and 6th 10-11.30am, Adelaide time
A specialised workshop for motivated years 2-6 teachers and leaders of literacy who want to equip themselves with the skills to use quality children's texts and a workshop model to develop students as powerful writers.
Two 1.5 hour online workshops over two days in the
July holidays, facilitated by Sharon and Phil Callen
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The Teacher’s Tool Kit For Literacy is the free podcast for motivated teachers and school leaders who want the latest tips, tricks and tools to inspire their students and school community in literacy learning.
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