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Tomorrow I get to meet with a book study group. We’re going to read Conferring: The Keystone to Reader’s Workshop by Patrick Allen. Deb Gaby, an incredible reading coach for my district is leading the study and asked us to reflect on a few questions before tomorrow.

Write down what you hope to gain from this book study.

  • New insights into conferring.
  • A deeper understanding of the connections between reading and writing instruction.
  • To become stronger at conferring.

Write down a few statements about what you think and/or believe about conferring.

  • I believe conferring is the cornerstone of workshop.
  • I believe I can always improve at conferring.
  • I believe conferring is the heart of differentiated reading and writing instruction.
  • I believe keeping conferring notes is essential.
  • I believe we sometimes make conferring more complicated than it needs to be.

What is difficult about conferring?

  • Meeting with every student in a week or two.
  • Choosing the best teaching point.
  • Settling the chaos in my mind, focusing, and listening, really listening, to students.

What makes it difficult?

  • I’m busy and am constantly thinking about the things I have “to-do.”
  • There are lots of kids in a class.
  • Often there are many teaching points and it is difficult to figure out the one that will have the biggest impact.

Why do you think conferring is important?

  • It provides an opportunity to meet individual needs.
  • It gives students a voice and attention.
  • It ensures no one “falls through the cracks.”

What works well for you?

  • Going to a student and sitting close.
  • Giving ample wait time.
  • Pausing to consider what a student said.
  • Jotting potential teaching points and choosing the one that seems most appropriate.

How about you? Will you take a few minutes to pause and consider this essential component of workshop teaching?

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

2 thoughts on “Conferring. Leave a comment

  1. I am new to conferring – as writing (via a picture journal) is a fairly new enterprise in my early childhood world. But I am loving it! It took me a year to get some systems in place – (the part of being with every student in a week!) This year, I’m able to focus on the “get close” part, and the thinking – what will be the best thing to be doing with this student, at this time. The kids are producing amazing stuff – and remembering it over time – which is huge for preschoolers!


  2. I loved this book. When the TOSA at my school that is pushing in reading support this year asked for a suggestion of a conferring book, I recommended this one. She borrowed mine and loved it so much she had her husband pick her up a copy when he was at a bookstore shortly after. It sounds like your staff will have a great discussion!


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