This Week’s Quote, July 15, 2018

“Whether you’ve known a student for six minutes or six months, the goal of every conference is the same: you’re there to harness your curiosity in the service of better informed teaching decisions.”  –page16

 

If you want to read more, you can visit the Stenhouse website to order your own copy of our book, To Know and Nurture a Reader; Conferring with Confidence and Joy.  If you’d like to be part of the conversation, come on over and join our To Know and Nurture a Reader Facebook Group. If you want more content like this delivered right to your inbox, click the Follow button below and  you’ll never miss a post.

We’re so glad to have you with us on our learning journey.  – Kari & Christina

What are you noticing?

This post is part of our ongoing series called Power Language for Conferring.  To learn more about the series and find a quick link to previous posts, please visit our Power Language page on this site.

Today’s power language for conferring: What are you noticing?

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When do we use language like this?  

This is a question we often find ourselves using in the early stages of a conference while we’re using the WONDER move to help ourselves understand what’s going on between this reader and this book.

Sometimes we use the question in its simplest form, What are you noticing? to provide a wide open invitation for students to let us in on their thinking. After all, thinking tends to remain invisible if students do not volunteer or if we do not ask. When we ask this question, students often take us in wonderfully unexpected directions. Continue reading “What are you noticing?”

This Week’s Quote, July 8, 2018

“Every book choice tells a story, about both the reader and their book-finding skills.”  -page 76

If you want to read more, you can visit the Stenhouse website to order your own copy of our book, To Know and Nurture a Reader; Conferring with Confidence and Joy.  If you’d like to be part of the conversation, come on over and join our To Know and Nurture a Reader Facebook Group. If you want more content like this delivered right to your inbox, click the Follow button below and  you’ll never miss a post.

We’re so glad to have you with us on our learning journey.  – Kari & Christina

This Week’s Quote, July 1, 2018

“At its best, conferring is the daily choice we make to give our wholehearted and undivided attention to one reader at a time, intentionally noticing, celebrating, and moving their reading life forward.”  -page 2

If you want to read more, you can visit the Stenhouse website to order your own copy of our book, To Know and Nurture a Reader; Conferring with Confidence and Joy.  If you’d like to be part of the conversation, come on over and join our To Know and Nurture a Reader Facebook Group. If you want more content like this delivered right to your inbox, click the Follow button below and  you’ll never miss a post.

We’re so glad to have you with us on our learning journey.  – Kari & Christina

May I join you?

At its simplest, a conference is a conversation between two people: a conversation aimed at understanding, affirming, and extending what students are doing in their learning lives. But what makes some of these conversations almost magical while others fall flat? We believe the magic is in the language we use. Strategic language choices allow us to initiate, expand and elevate conversations with our learners in purposeful ways. So, in each post of this new series – Power Language for Conferring – we offer ideas of language we wouldn’t want to be without as we work to know and nurture the readers beside us.

Since this is the opening post in the series we begin with our favorite opening question for conferring . . .

Today’s power language for conferring:  May I join you?  Continue reading “May I join you?”

Why Confer with Readers? 10 Compelling Reasons

Our wish for every reader is that they are supported by a teacher fiercely committed to conferring. Why this passionate commitment to conferring?  Today, we share ten of our favorite reasons.

We confer because we want to . . .

  • KNOW readers.  We confer because there’s so much we want and need to know about what goes on in the heads and hearts of the young readers we care about. So, the first reason we confer is to better know each and every child as a reader and a person. Knowing who a reader is, what they love, what they hope for, and what gets in their way is the foundation on which we help students build sturdy, vibrant reading lives.  We show up first to learn and only later to teach, offering our wholehearted presence to one child at time, in a ways that say, “You’re important to me. Knowing all about you and your life as a reader will help me be the best possible teacher I can be for you.”

 

  • NURTURE readers.  We confer because it is the truest way we know to meet the needs of each and every reader in our classrooms.  Because we are committed to helping students build reading lives that flourish and thrive in the classroom and beyond, we need to consistently peek in on them while they engage in self-directed reading. There we can pair what what we know about individual readers with what we know about how to nurture reading growth, moving each student forward with personalized, just-in-time, bite-sized nudges.  In a conference are both intentional and responsive, as we follow precisely where a single reader may lead. By doing so we say to readers  “As we talk and think together about how things are going for you as a reader, we can find ways to keep strengthening your reading skills, habits, and love of reading.”

Continue reading “Why Confer with Readers? 10 Compelling Reasons”

Some of my students just hop from book to book! What can I do to support them?

Question: A few of the readers in my class just seem unable to stick with a book from beginning to end. What can I do to help them commit?

Daniel, a fourth grader, seems to have picked up and put down more books than almost any other student in his fourth-grade class this year.  In fact, his teacher worries that he may not have finished a single book all year aside from the ones read in small groups or with book clubs. Daniel’s ability to read is on par with his grade-level peers, but he just doesn’t ever seem to find a book that he really wants to commit to. His teacher knows Daniel needs support with this, so she decides to investigate the issue a little further through conferring… 

We all know those readers who have a difficult time committing to a book. In fact, as readers ourselves, we both know we’ve sometimes been in Daniel’s shoes; buying or borrowing a book we couldn’t wait to dive into, and then later finding our interest or attention waning. In reading as in poker, knowing when “to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em” is a very real challenge. Students like Daniel, who abandon book after book, are sending a definite signal for help. Offering a series of focused conferences can be a lifesaver for these students.  Today, we offer some ideas about how you might structure a series of conferences to support readers like Daniel. Continue reading “Some of my students just hop from book to book! What can I do to support them?”

How can I use conferring to connect with students who are very new to English?

Since arriving in the country with her family just a few months ago, Renata’s days are filled with new and sometimes peculiar settings, people, smells, tastes, and expectations. Because Spanish is the language she’s grown up with, there are added layers of complexity that she must navigate in her new school as she tries to find entry points into conversation, social structures, and the academic curriculum of her second grade classroom. Since Renata isn’t yet reading or understanding much English, her teacher worries about how to help her make the most of independent choice reading each day and feels a bit stymied about what to say and do in a conference, since the two of them have so few words in common.

With an estimated 5 million English learners (ELs) currently in US classrooms (US Department of Education, 2015), roughly 1 out of every 10 students has a home language other than English. Embracing the presence of these immigrant, refugee, and US born language diverse learners into our classrooms is an opportunity to welcome world in, modeling for all students what it means to be a member of a culturally and linguistically diverse world. In today’s post we offer a few simple entry points for using conferring with English learners to build relationships, help them grow as readers, leverage their interests and strengths, and help them to help them become thriving members of the classroom community. Continue reading “How can I use conferring to connect with students who are very new to English?”

How can I support readers who pick the same types of books over and over again?


Question: I have some readers who pick the same book or types of books again and again. Shouldn’t I be pushing them toward more variety?

Juan is on a mission to know as much as he can about outer space. Day after day in his second-grade classroom, he immerses himself in books about space. Every single informational book he’s read in the past month has been about space. When he reads fiction, he prefers books that take place in space. If he can’t find a new book about space, he chooses to reread one he already spent time with. When Juan’s teacher suggests it may be time to move to a different topic, encouraging him instead to try out an ocean book or something from the sports bin, his interest in reading takes an immediate dive. It seems as though if Juan can’t be reading books about outer space, he’s not that interested in reading at all. 

Sometimes students fall so in love with a topic, a series, an author, or a genre that it seems nothing else will do for them as readers. As teachers who know the importance variety can play in developing well-rounded readers, it’s not uncommon that we try to push students in another direction and in doing so, unintentionally create disengagement. 

We worry less about about what many perceive as a reading rut – reading the same topic, book type, or title over and over again – and more about the level of engagement we see in a reader. Because Juan is so intentional and committed to his book choices, we don’t think he’s really in a rut. We think of a rut as a place we get stuck because we don’t know a better option. Students in true ruts look very different. They are students who aren’t truly engaged or excited about their reading. They are simply choosing the same types of texts over and over because they haven’t found or don’t know how to find a better or different option. These students will definitely benefit from our use of conferring time to support book choice. Continue reading “How can I support readers who pick the same types of books over and over again?”