Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Conferring Tools for Literacy

A few days ago I posted info on how I organize my Writing Workshop Conferring notebook.  Click HERE if you want to read about it.  Once I was finished updating my Writing Workshop forms I decided to update my Reading/Literacy Workshop Notebook.  I created a file that you can use in your conferring notebook here or click the two pictures below.  I hope it's useful!  I have more details below.
Over the years I've been working on refining how I assess and record my notes about students.  Two books that have changed my teaching in HUGE ways has been the Daily 5 and Cafe (click here for links to the books) from the 2 Sisters; Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  As stated on their website:
The Daily 5 provides the structure and The CAFE Book details teaching strategies that foster independence and stamina, and accelerate progress.   
I know lots of you use their approach to literacy and its so fun to learn from all of you out there.  I've been using it for the past 6 years.  I love that it fosters their independent skills and that there is an opportunity for students to make choices and own their learning.  
A wonderful colleague of mine brought it to our school and I initially began using components of Read to Self and the I-Pick lessons first.  I introduced the concept mid-year actually, which I thought was going to tricky, but I found my students were so OPEN to it.  
They did such a great job with it and quickly built stamina.  I saw a drastic difference in my Workshop hour.  Students were on task, choosing just right books more often, and were generally more engaged in becoming independent readers.  What I love most about it as a teacher is that you can add as many pieces as you want at a time.  Every year I've incorporated a new piece.  Last year my focus was working on meeting with my students more often and having the students become more involved in creating the Cafe cards.  As I introduce a new strategy the students create the cards and have a bit of ownership in the process. This makes our thinking visible as we work through the strategies throughout the year.  I wrote another post with details of other materials I use in my Literacy Workshop here.  
Well on to the point of this blog post (I get sidetracked sometimes :)) My Reading/Literacy Conferring Notebook.  I created the following sections: 

1.  Individual and Group Conferring Planning Forms:  This is where I put my calendars so I can plan who I'm going to meet with individually and what strategy groups I will meet with.
2.  Assessment Data:  This is where I keep my school's assessment benchmarks and class assessment's results.  
3.  Individual Conferring Notes:  This is where I keep notes about individual students in my group.  They each have a tab containing general reading conferring notes (observations, book titles, levels, next steps/goals), running records, and all the other assessment materials I use (DRA, Sight Words, Phonetic Elements (nonsense word lists), Reading Interviews)
4.  Guided Reading Log:  This is where I keep track of what Guided Reading books I have used.  I started doing this a bit more each year since I often go back to using some of the same trade books with my students.  I adapt the books for the group I'm working with based on our genre study and the strategies we are introducing.  It's helpful to have a list with the name of the book, level, vocabulary/words to know, discussion questions, and even the "gist" of the book.  It makes it much easier to choose a book that will work with my groups.  
5.  Cafe Materials:  This is where I keep "Ready Reference Guides" and the Cafe Menu that I can pull out when I'm meeting individually with students.  The 2 Sisters have TONS of videos and Ready Reference guides that help you with teaching any strategy you can possibly think of.  For instance, if you are teaching the strategy "Flip the Sound" (under Accuracy-flipping the vowel sound), there is an explanation of the strategy, suggestions for how to teach it, books that go with it, parent letters (parent pipelines), and other tips.  Each student has a copy of the Cafe Menu in their Reading Notebook as well so they can keep track of their goals.

6.  Student Strategy Sheets:  As I work on new strategies with students there are sometimes materials that help to boost their acquisition of that skill.  For instance when I'm working on Fluency specifically reading smoothly or pacing I have a sheet that gives students a visual of what they are working on.  I love Amanda from One Extra Degree's Fluency Sheet (click Fluency Sheet to get a copy).  It's a place for me to keep all the great strategy sheets that I can pull out for students when I'm working with them.
6.  Parent Pipelines:  The last section is where I keep copies of Parent Pipelines.  Parent Pipelines are a one page sheet explaining the strategy that you have taught your student that week.  They are guides so that parents can work on those same strategies at home.  It's often overwhelming to receive several different suggestions for strategies to work on at home.  This helps the parents to know what we are ZOOMING in on for their child.  I just started using them last year and I have found that parents were so grateful for the extra materials to help focus how they support their child at home.  I can't thank the 2 Sisters for all the work they've done and how efficient they've made it for us as Literacy teachers.  Can you tell I'm a HUGE fan?  :)  
That's about it for my notebook.  I have a few other things in there, but that's the GIST!  :)  Hopefully you find the information useful and if you want to use any of my forms they are at Teachers Pay Teachers here.

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