Doctors and Conferring

Dec 13, 2011 by

I’ve been struggling with some neck pain for a little over a year.  Several weeks ago I finally went to see my doctor about it.  As I was waiting for him to enter my exam room, I was thinking about conferring with our students.  Weird, I know, but follow my line of thinking here.  I heard my doctor in the room next door and knew he would be coming to my room next.  I heard the door close, but it was several minutes before he came into my room.  Why?  You know the answer—he was taking notes about his previous patient.  Conferring notes! Think about what doctors do when they meet with their patients: Research: They ask questions and run diagnostic tests. Decide:  Based on their research, they make decisions. Treat: They prescribe a...

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Do Conferring Notes Really Matter?...

Dec 2, 2011 by

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked this question.  Teachers who ask this are not questioning the value of conferring itself, just the notetaking that comes during/after the conference. Typical reasons I hear against notetaking: “If I spend time writing notes, I end up conferring with fewer students.” “I don’t know which is the right form to use or the right way to do it.” Even before I was immersed in workshop teaching, I always believed that it was important to keep anecdotal notes on my students.  That doesn’t mean I was good at it, but I did do it.  I am here to tell you that there is not one right form or method, but I do believe that notetaking is a non-negotiable.  Here are a few of my...

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What is the Best Order to Teach Minilessons?...

Feb 14, 2011 by

I work with many teachers who have a strong desire to improve their literacy instruction.  They have committed to teaching reading and writing through a workshop approach and have set aside time for their students to spend extended periods of time reading and writing.  But then they get stuck because they don’t have the resources for teaching the minilessons they know they should be teaching.  Many of them are in districts that have no formal program or are using strictly basals or scripted materials that don’t offer much depth or richness.  This leaves them to fend for themselves and either create materials or pull together units of study from a variety of sources.  For many years, that’s what I did.  I have loads of professional books from which to pull ideas. (You can see...

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Ask and You Shall Receive

Dec 17, 2010 by

In order to teach reading using a workshop approach, you simply MUST have a classroom library.  Richard Allington recommends at least 500 books, but I think we need even more than that.  If you do not have a well-stocked library, where do you begin acquiring books?  Here are a few suggestions for getting books into your classroom for little or no money: Friends of the Library Used Book Sales: Friends of the Library love to give teachers materials for free or at greatly reduced prices. Garage sales: Ask if the seller will consider donating unwanted books to your classroom or giving you a discount. Bonus Points from Book Orders: As children read more, they purchase more books, contributing more bonus points which can be used to buy more books! Ask parents to donate unwanted...

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Status of the Class

May 17, 2010 by

Status of the class is a technique that I borrowed from Nancie Atwell.  When I first read about this technique in her book In the Middle, I wasn’t convinced that it was one I wanted to adopt.  But after trying the technique for just one week, I realized how much valuable assessment information it allowed me to gather.  Here is how status of the class works: 1.  Photocopy the status of the class form.         Status of the Class Form 2.  Record each student’s name on the form, duplicate multiple copies, and place on a clipboard or in a 3-ring binder.  Click to enlarge pictures.       I keep mine in my assessment notebook. 3.  At the beginning of Reading Workshop I have all of my students assembled in front of me for a a...

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