Just last week I wrote about some of the things I had learned about conferencing (or conferring, whatever you feel like calling it). Friday I started walking around to conference with some bookmarks in hand. It was fabulous. I think the past four days I have been conferencing I have been able to get to at least 4 students to chat. Something magical has happened with our independent reading time and the kids can sustain the reading atmosphere for almost 30 minutes. It is beautiful. just beautiful. Anyways, I have been passing out a lot of bookmarks. (get the freebie here) The kids love them.
In the process of the last couple of weeks I have noticed some patterns developing in what kids are working on for their reading.
I have a group that are still really working on using their reading strategies to decode those words. They are past the point of using one strategy but need to realize they are using all the strategies, almost all the time.
Another group is beginning to build that fluency in their reading, but they aren't always reading for meaning. They figure out the words, but don't really know what they just read.
The third group is at the taking off in their comprehension, so we are working at building that detail into a good retelling)
FINALLY, I have figured out where to go with our strategy groups! Basically, the kids are not grouped by level (though it is similar) but by the strategy we are focusing on. (ie. they all have the same bookmark! ;) )
My template for the lesson is pretty basic, and I will stick with the same theme for a couple of days.
They are more to remind me where to go... you can get my template here.
Group one pulled out their decoding strategies bookmarks (you can find those here). They used their reading telephones with a book of their choice until I "radio" in to read with them. Throughout the time, they marked with counters what strategies they used.
My "Click or Clunk" (reading for meaning) and retelling groups chose any book from their bag to read, and then we would stop every so often and do a quick check or retell and then get back to reading.
We usually did some sort of phonics/sight word warm up, but then got right to reading, and I told them I would continue checking in during independent reading time...
It was the first time in a long time that I have felt like we accomplished alot during our small group time. It felt more purposeful for the kids too because they were able to practice with books they already had, so we didn't spend too much time having to introduce a new guided reading book. Will I sometimes give all of them the same book and do a more "guided reading" lesson? Yes. Of Course. But these strategy groups allowed me to work more with some of the data I have been collecting during my conferences, and the instruction between that one-on-one conference and the small group time was so much more purposeful.
It feels so good to see some of these pieces come together. I look forward to figuring out how to use this during workshop more to truly have that time more differentiated according to their needs!