Thursday, July 21, 2011

Conferring The Keystone of Reader's Workshop by Patrick Allen reflection III

 This is the final post in our #CyberPD book chat, Conferring the Keystone of Reader's Workshop by Patrick Allen. The post and conversations have been a great experience. If you have missed our previous chats you are in luck! 
You can follow our #CyberPD on Twitter
Cathy of Reflect and Refine Part I:What Brings About a Good Conference Anyway?
Jill Fisch of My Primary Passion Part II:What Are the Essential Components of Conferring?
Laura Komos of Our Camp Read-A-Lot Part III:What Emerges from Our Reading Conferences? 
This book chat has been such a great way to connect and learn. In fact, it has been so much fun that I am typing this while on my beach vacation! Ok, I did wait until the sun was down for the night, I do have priorities! All day I have been dying to dive in and read all the wonderful post on part III, but I am waiting, I have to write first.
 I don't do "activities." My goal is to be authentic not cute
 This quote plays over and over in my head. Cute projects in the hall and in the backpacks grab attention. But if you talk to the creator of these projects will she be able to tell you what she learned, why she learned it and how this learning will help her in other parts of her learning?
 I want my reader's to be authentic…
  • Have authentic reading experiences
  • Understand book selection and practice choosing books
  • Develop fluency and expression
  • Talk about their thinking 
  • Have authentic reading responses
  • Practice using strategies
  • Find enjoyment in reading and engage in reading as a choice
  • Share books with others
  • Build a rich vocabulary
  • Understand how strategies support reading 
  • Understand the difference between reading a book and understanding a book
If I want my students to become life long reader's I need to allow them time to just be readers. To take time to browse, choose, read, share, think and talk about books! This is what readers do! This is what we are doing here in our book chat, this is where we learn and grow. I am not taking time out of my vacation to create a diorama of the book because that's what reader's do. I am taking time to think about my reading, share my thoughts with others because it deepens my understanding. I want my reader's to enjoy their reading and learning so much they step off the beach to talk about a book.
It's not just the final understanding, but the process of seeking what understanding is throughout the process that's important. (pg. 173)
This quote spoke to me old and clear! I have always been a process person. I find the greatest value is in the process. Why would conferring with readers be any different? The act of conferring is where we gain the information we need to nudge the reader forward and assess their learning. Patrick makes it clear that the value of conferring is in the conference not after. Often when I confer with reader's I am tempted to fill the quite spaces with my thinking, as a way to spur some thought in the reader. Patrick suggests we allow the reader to take the lead and do most of the talking. Patrick explains we need to just listen, allow the reader think time, time for the readers to just be readers. (pg127) We need to observe the process of the reader and use this information to build further lessons, note misunderstandings, the reader's thinking and set goals for the work we will do between conferences. Reflecting on my conferring practices I have planned a few changes to improve my conferring process and the reader's think time:
  • Planned ignoring- give the student my undivided attention
  • Set goals for the work WE will do between conferences
  • Focus on the learner
  • Let the reader lead
  • Encourage the reader to take the learning deeper
  • Confer with all readers
In an earlier post I wrote my tentative belief statements. Tentative in that I wanted more time to read, think, observe, and confer with colleagues before making them My Belief Statements. After reading Patrick's thoughts on conferring I looked back at my tentative belief statements and found each one in line with the thoughts and ideas Patrick writes about in Conferring The Keystone of Reader's Workshop.  I am getting closer to removing the word tentative and changing it to My Belief Statements as I work to build better conferring practices in my workshops. 
I have to be flexible; I never know what a learner might say I have to be prepared to listen. I have to be open to each reader's thoughts and actions, and I have to think about how to respond wisely. (pg. 176)


  1. Deb,

    I love last quote you mentioned about being flexible. That is so hard for me sometimes. Often later I think about a better way I could have handled something. It is all about having time to think and process. The more we do it, the better we will get at thinking and responding on the spot.

    I also loved you tentative belief statement post. I have seen you living out some of those statements so I think you are ready to take out the word tentative.

    Enjoy the beach!


  2. Deb,
    I found myself shaking my head and agreeing with you out loud as I was reading your post! I love your list of ways you want your children to experience authentic literacy. I share many of those same hopes for my first graders! It made me giggle a bit to imagine all of us reflecting on Conferring by creating our own dioramas to show what we learned. HA! Providing students with an opportunity to become real readers and writers is what it's all about!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts from the island beach! :)