Hello! My name is Kate Slattery. I hold an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education from SUNY Broome, a Bachelor's Degree in Childhood Education from SUNY Cortland and I am pursuing my Master's Degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology at SUNY Albany. I am currently a second grade teacher in the Vestal School District, which is located right near Binghamton, NY. Right now, I am in my third year teaching second grade and have previously taught fifth grade and third grade!
My Topic and Purpose
At the elementary level, teachers are often expected to confer either in small groups or individually to check in with students and monitor their reading progress. Conferring is a great way to build relationships with students, while also serving as a method to assess those who may not be very vocal in class. With so much on a teacher's plate, it can be difficult to make time to meet with each student, and record data that will later be meaningful to teachers to inform instruction. This mini course will aim to provide teachers with a knowledge base of how to maximize conferring time, give ideas on what to say, explain how to record and organize data, and finally how to utilize data to plan future learning experiences.
- How do I start a conference? What do I say?
- What is worth writing down?
- How can I get my teaching point to stay with the child?
- How can I organize data in a way that is meaningful and useful for future instruction?
- When is there time to fit each child in? How often I should I be meeting with each child?
Upon successful completion of this course, participants will...
- explain the general structure of a reading conference
- choose/utilize conferring prompts to build a grade level appropriate conferring toolkit
- create a conferring schedule that can be used in their classroom at least 4/5 days per week (if desired)
- identify different note taking methods and match them to a specific purpose
- analyze conferring notes to plan a mini lesson for further instruction
- create individual or small group lessons (teaching points) based on their own conferring notes
Intent of Mini Course
In the latest reading curriculum programs, conferring individually and in small groups with readers has become a major practice among teachers. While conferring gives a lot of insightful data, many educators struggle with effective conferring and what to do with recorded data. In this course, participants will essentially create a tool kit comprised of strategies for planning conferences, structuring conferences, and gathering meaningful data or record notes. In addition, participants may have a greater understanding of what questions to ask and how to create a meaningful teaching point or further instruction based on conferring notes and experiences. Although the course is open to all, ideally, this course will address the needs of K-5 teachers, who use conferring with students on a daily basis during reading workshop or ELA time. Because the course is being designed using an online platform, participants should have a computer with internet access and the software to download PDF or Microsoft Word resource documents. Much of the content will be addressed through readings, videos, lecture videos, and potential interactive activities.
In order to best meet the needs of participants who may encounter this course, I created a survey to for K-5 teachers to share their knowledge of reading conferring as well as a space for teachers to post their “burning questions” about K-5 reading conferring. My hope with this survey was to gain a general understanding of where teachers are with their knowledge of conferring and to find out what questions they have that can be used to design this mini-course. This survey was sent to 23 teachers in my K-5 school. The teachers included general education teachers (grades K-5), special education teachers, ENL teachers, and AIS reading teachers who have been introduced to conferring.
A link to the survey can be found below, but survey results are not published:
Analysis of Survey Data
As of March 10th, 2019, no more survey data will be analyzed. Please click the following link to view the published results of the survey.
Revised Intent and Goals
After surveying several elementary school teachers, there is now a more clear focus on topics that this mini course will address. According to survey data, teachers are concerned with time management, how to record notes, and then how to use notes to create effective teaching points and instruction for individual students and small groups. Within the mini course, participants will be exposed to different methods of note taking and determine the one that is right for them, that will best fit their needs based on what the notes will be used for. In addition, participants may view several strategies for time management or ideas on how to schedule conferences with students. Again, this course will be open to any participant interested, but will best address the needs of teachers who teach K-5 reading. Participants will need a computer, internet access, and the ability to download PDF or Microsoft word documents. Content in this mini course will be provided through readings, videos, actual scenarios/case studies, and resource documents.
Analysis of the Learner and Context
The needs assessment of this course was a survey of several K-5 teachers who use reading conferring in their daily classroom.
The course is open for all, but is primarily targeted for elementary teachers.
This course will be conducted fully online.
- Given sample conferring schedules and blank templates, participants will create or adapt one conferring schedule that can be used in their classrooms 4 out of 5 days per week.
- After viewing several example videos, participants will identify the essential components of a reading conference with 90% accuracy.
- Given a case study of a real conference, participants will provide feedback on the conference and follow up teaching point.
- Given a case study of a real conference, participants will create 2 possible teaching points that fit the study.
- After viewing several note taking templates, participants will justify which note taking method best fits their needs using their purpose (what they will use the notes for) as evidence.
- Given leveled text characteristics and comprehension questions, participants will build and organize a tool kit to use as a resource when conferring based on the grade level / appropriate needs of their own students.
In this mini course, participants will construct a reading conferring toolkit composed of strategies to be utilized for structuring conferences, organizing data, and maximizing data usage to create meaningful teaching points and future lessons.
Participants may find the following experiences, skills or knowledge helpful when completing this course.
- Ability to download and open PDF and edit Microsoft Word Documents, and PowerPoint Presentations.
- A general idea of a reading conference.
- A classroom reading block or ELA block that would allow time for conferring daily.
- A brief understanding of the Fountas and Pinnell Text Characteristics for book levels (appropriate to grade level).
- A brief understanding of skills/strategies that students are exposed to/are essential for current grade level.
End of Course Objectives:
Upon successful completion of the course, participants will
- Create a conferring schedule to be used daily in classroom.
- Be able to explain and demonstrate the essential components of a reading conference.
- Record anecdotal notes during a conference.
- Develop an effective teaching point based on anecdotal evidence and observations.
Unit 1: What is conferring?
- Given sample conferring schedule templates, participants will create or adapt one conferring schedule that can be used in their classrooms 4 out of 5 days per week.
- Participants will explain the structure and essential components of a reading conference
Unit 2: Questions and Data
- Given several varied grade level text characteristics, and comprehension questions, participants will build and organize a "tool kit" or quick reference guide to use as a resource when conferring based on the grade level / appropriate needs of their own students.
- Given note organizers/models, participants will explore what data is meaningful to write down during a reading conference.
Unit 3: Planning Further Instruction
- Participants will use whole class data or individual notes to look for trends and determine a meaningful teaching point or future small group lesson.
Unit 4: Application
- Participants will record an individual conference and use the research and teach structure with the sticky teaching conferring strategy.
- Participants will upload an audio, or video file or a transcription of their conference and discuss why they chose the teaching point in the video.
Below is a map of the sequence for all course content.
Lesson 1: MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Girl watching movie with popcorn. Retrieved from
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Kids sitting on books. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/book-images.html
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Reading center on rug . Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/reading-center-clip-art.html
Serravallo, J. (2019). A teacher’s guide to reading conferences grades K-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann
Serravallo, J. [Jennifer Serravallo]. (2014, October 30). Coaching conferences [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6M4pR7iZdE&t=109s
Serravallo, J. [Jennifer Serravallo]. (2014, October 30). Compliment conferences [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GKTU2PsKEc
Serravallo, J. [Jennifer Serravallo]. (2014, October 30). Read-decide-teach conference [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g9vk07JkFs
Lesson 2: MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Teacher holding books. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/teacher/teacher-holding-books.html
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Clock on the hour. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/clock/clock-on-the-hour.html
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Boy student at teachers desk. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/teacher/boy-student-at-teachers-desk.html
Serravallo, J. (2019). A teacher’s guide to reading conferences grades K-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann
Lesson 3: Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G.S. (2007). The continuum of literacy learning, grades K-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Retrieved from https://marcy.mpls.k12.mn.us/uploads/fpcomprehensionquestionstems.pdf
Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G.S. (2007). The continuum of literacy learning, grades K-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Retrieved from http://schools.cms.k12.nc.us/corneliusES/Documents/Fountas-Pinnell%20Guided%20Reading%20Text%20Level%20Descriptions.pdf
Rolera LLC. (2011). Kay: Tool box clip art. Retrieved from http://www.clker.com/clipart-tool-box-2.html
Slattery, K. (2019). Personal Conferring Binder
Burns, T. (2019). Conferring Templates [Personal Communication].
Goldberg, G. & Houser, R. (2017). 4 ways to use conferring notes like a pro. We Are Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.weareteachers.com/ways-to-use-conferring-notes/
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). School notebook. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/school/school-notebook.html
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Pen. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/school/supplies/pen.html Slattery, K. (2019). Conferring Templates
MyCuteGraphics.com. (2019). Kids directing behind movie camera. Retrieved from https://www.mycutegraphics.com/graphics/movie/kids-directing-movie.html
Slattery, K. (2019). Personal Conferring Binder.
Wahl, O. (2018). Sticky Teaching [Personal Communication]. Retrieved from https://www.oliviawahl.com/