Conferring is the single most important part of the instructional day...in my opinion!
This part of the instructional day is filled with students receiving individualized and differentiated instruction based on their immediate needs.
Conferring is a "one-man roadshow"! So, you must be prepared!
Packing your conferring toolkit or 'suitcase" must be thoughtful and intentional.
It’s important to be prepared for most instances when conferring with your readers and writers. Your readers and writers need to be prepared as well.
Readers & writers should receive the expectations for requesting a conference and participating in a conference within a minilesson. It's important to take this time to discuss the expectations as well as model for young learners what a conference looks and sounds like.
What is a Conferring Toolkit?
A conferring toolkit is a place for the teacher to collect the tools and supports that may be needed when meeting with individual readers and writers.
What does a Conferring Toolkit look like?
This point is entirely up to each individual teacher. One teacher’s toolkit could look different than their teacher bestie’s conferring toolkit. It’s all based on preference, teaching style and personality.
Some possibilities are:
A composition notebook with tools and supports sectioned off inside
A binder with different tools and supports enclosed in plastic sleeves and easy to find
A folder containing organized tools and supports
A box, bucket or bag filled with tools and supports that can be easily carried as the teacher moves around the classroom for conferring
What tools & supports go into a Conferring Toolkit?
The tools and supports are listed below following the gallery.
These are possibilities that could be included in your conferring toolkit.
✅Conferring Log & Schedule:
This conferring log will be a visual plan of which students will receive conferences on which days during the week.
This will ensure that all readers and writers will receive some one-on-one time with the teacher to address their immediate needs.
Gather a few familiar texts that you have shared with the entire group, such as read alouds, books used within minilessons, etc.
Mark these texts with different teaching points and skills that your readers will need at some point during the school year.
You will be able to quickly find a familiar sample of text for teaching the student during the conference.
These guides will provide a snapshot of what a reading, writing or testing conference will look like. You can grab this freebie right here.
✅Conferring Language Charts:
A chart of language stems to use during each part of the conferring cycle. This will provide a good point of reference for keeping the conference moving.
✅Previous Conferring Notes:
Have previous conferring notes and teaching points ready to access and review before you meet with a reader or writer.
This record keeping will prompt continuity in the teaching points with each individual student. You will be able to connect the new learning to each individual's prior learning.
✅Strengths & Needs for improvement:
Have a list of strengths to build on with each reader and needs for improvement. This will be an ongoing and ever-changing list as the year goes by.
✅Conferring Notes Form:
This could be a conferring notes page you design or could be a pad of post it notes or index cards to take notes during each conference.
A personal preference is to have one conferring notes page for each student so that it can be kept within their individual Literacy Portfolio. This individual conferring record will provide a quick reference to the teaching points previously taught to the student.
An individual record will also provide a point of confidentiality when sharing a student's progress within various meetings with parents, guardians and/or other educators.
✅Mini Anchor Charts or Content Stuffed Bookmarks:
Begin a collection of mini anchor charts or content stuffed bookmarks to use during conferences.
These teaching and conferring tools could be organized by teaching point and reading or writing goals for easy access as needed.
A comment card is a short little note to compliment the reader or writer on work that you noticed. As well as being a little place to write down the focus for the conference that day.
When comment cards are left with the student at the conclusion of the conference, it will provide a reminder and nudge for your learner to stay focused on the new learning point.
When do I put together a Conferring Toolkit?
Any time is the perfect time to put together a conferring toolkit, whether it’s before the school year begins, the beginning of the school year or the middle.
Grab your teacher bestie, your grade level team and make it an afterschool party! Set a date, gather your supplies and meet up with everyone to put together conferring toolkits.
Until next time...
You may be interested in this Conferring Toolkit to get yours started.
You can find it here