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Thanks for all of the feedback! I’m cooking up a little something to support teachers in strengthening their conferring time. You’ve all helped me a ton!
Oh time is my issue too! I want to see everyone every day! And the struggling writers need to be seen often. I suppose the real issue for me has always been keeping the kids who need me (or think they can’t move on without me!) busy while waiting for their turn to confer. My most recent class had never done any sort of writing workshop. They were used to “Write 5 sentences and then you are done!” (grade 2 and 3) so getting them to write instead of standing in line to show me what they had done was a real challenge. It took them quite a while to catch on. I would sometimes look up from a conference and find I had a line of 6 or 7 kids waiting for me. When I sent them back to their desks to wait, they truly didn’t know what to do with themselves (except to pull out a book and read, which isn’t horrible, but also isn’t writing!) Their writing notebooks were full of drawings. Oh, they were a challenge for sure!
I love to confer when I am in classrooms teaming up with teachers. Teachers that I work with don’t want to confer, because they think it will take too long and then they won’t be able to confer with everyone. They want to confer with everyone. Of course that is impossible in a hour workshop session. But it is possible to touch base every day and work with several and try to work your way through the class slowly but surely. Some are afraid to try because they think they won’t be able to sustain them through the long haul. I’m trying to get my friends interested in Evernote and keeping the notes in one place. There is some excitement around the possibilities…especially not lugging around the notebooks.
My biggest fear is that I have 5 one-hour classes of 5th and 6th graders with a total of 106 kids! Yikes! When will I be able to do that? I’m hoping I can use Evernote this year to help me organize it. Sounds like I’m not the only one with this challenge!
I am glad to see that I am not alone in the time crunch problem! I will teach approximately 120-130 8th graders this year. Finding a system that works has eluded me. I may start off okay, but I have yet to find a system or schedule that ensures that I will have quality time with every student on a consistent basis. I want to find time to confer about reading and writing this year, and would appreciate any ideas/suggestions on how to do this within a 47-minute class period.
For me, one of the most difficult obstacles in the conferring process is making sure to reach all writers within a writing cycle. Often times, it’s the students that have the most glaring writing deficits that receive the most attention.
Katherine, Anita, and Michelle have all hit the nail on the head! Time is the big concern for me and my colleagues. Notes and record keeping is also a concern. Hopefully, as we get into the school year, we’ll be able to share ideas and learn from each other. Thanks for initiating this conversation!
I think the part I struggle with most is the note taking portion. I hate carrying around a big binder, I feel like a clipboard or sticky notes type of note taking is too easily lost. I don’t have a good system yet and it is frustrating. I’ve been reading more and more about Evernote and I just signed up for an account last night so I’m hopeful that I will be able to use that as a tool successfully this year. Time will tell! I’m open to suggestions though…
Simply building the habit of doing so. When I do confer with students, I feel like I made a huge difference in their writing and their reading but . . . just building it in as a routine. I made some plans and commitments to myself this year. Reading will be a bit easier — I’m going to have each child come read with me for a few minutes at the start of the school year. Once that’s done, I’ll have a better understanding of where they are as readers. My next step will be to go over their reading notebooks with them when I call them up. It will help establish better habits at the start rather than realizing someone is missing the thinking part of reading later in the year. I’m hoping that I’ll see such results that I’ll be motivated to keep conferencing.
As for those who are feeling that they don’t have time to confer meaningfully. I think what I realized is that even a poor conference is better than no conference at all. I’m tired of doing end of the year assessments, seeing a deficit in a child and realizing that I could have helped if only I’d . . . you know . . . talked to them about it.
I’d love tips to help me figure out a plan about the writing that is as clear (to me!) as my reading plan. I’ll probably just start with going over their beginning of the year writing one on one to see where they are.
Anyway, that’s my plan. Hope I can stick with it this year!
Time. I confer each day but trying to reach all 26 kids in my class, not to mention the 54 in my other two classes, in a short time span is tough. I had decided I needed to check-in with each child once a week – but some conferences seem to take longer than others and then I end up frustrated that I didn’t meet my goal.
Time and Focus. Good conferences take time. Certainly, good note taking makes it easier to remember what a student is writing but it still takes a dialogue and time to acknowledge what a student is doing and offer teaching feedback to strengthen the writing in a zillion possible ways. It also requires a teacher to focus is on supporting writing rather than editing for publishing. It’s hard to find the balance.
My difficulty is finding time to confer and being able to get to more students. I teach middle school, so conferring with multiple students in multiple classes can be challenging. How do I confer with all of my students in a meaningful way?
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