My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

July 6, 2011

Conferring Book Club

I'm so excited to be part of the #cyberpd book club. We are a group of people, connected mostly by Twitter, that decided to read the book, Conferring, by Patrick Allen. Here are my thoughts after reading part 1:

I really want to make conferring a non-negotiable part of my classroom routine. I'm a resource teacher, so I see small groups throughout each day. My students come from a variety of classrooms with very different environments, but my students and I do build our own mini-community. Allen reminds us that we must begin each year by building a strong foundation and culture of thinking. This is the most important work of the year.

As I reflect on Allen's five ashlars, the third, "a clear and defined purpose and audience," becomes my area of focus. I always drive the students to work on specific reading skills and strategies, but I'm not usually clear about sharing the purpose for reading a specific text or the audience. I will be referring back to chapter 3 as I make plans for the fall.

Reading this book along with my Twitter PLN is motivating me to keep a notebook and really be more reflective as I read. (I'm usually a great skimmer!). I hope to encourage this practice with my teen children as well as my students. We don't always need to take careful notes each time we read something (purpose! audience!), but keeping track of your thoughts leads us to become mindful readers. I love Allen's thoughts on page 46:
Giving learners a chance to jot down their thoughts and sharing those ideas teaches children three things:
1. My thinking is important enough to write about.
2. My thinking can lead to rich conversation.
3. My thinking is valued.

I'm looking forward to all the other comments from my fellow #cyberpd learners!
Want to join in the Cyber PD? Check it out:
July 6th:
Part I: What Brings About a Good Conference, Anyway?

Hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine

July 13th:
Part II: What Are the Essential Components of Conferring?

Hosted by Jill Fisch at Primary Passion

July 20th:
Part III. What Emerges from Our Reading Conferences?

Hosted by Laura Komos at Camp Read-A-Lot

July 21st: 
Join us for the final conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.


  1. Chris,
    I really hadn't thought about how we are setting up the very environment Allen talks about in his book. His ashlars are important to our conversation as we think about his work. Like you, I am finding I am much more thoughtful about the reading knowing I will be sharing with this community. Knowing this thinking is being shared with other colleagues makes the learning meaningful. I am looking forward to reading everyone's reflections.

    Your post also speaks to the power of recording our thinking as we read (especially when it will be shared with others). This was another point in Allen's book, and a great reminder for classroom communities.

    Thanks, Chris.

  2. Chris,

    Participating in this conversation has also motivated me to be more organized with keeping track of my thoughts as I read. I am one of those people who just can't mark up a book as I read. I can see how it would be helpful but I just can't bring myself to do it. So while reading this book I kept a stack of sticky note flags and a notepad by my side to mark important passages and to record my thoughts.

    I totally agree that keeping track of our thoughts leads us to become more mindful readers. Now I have to remember that and try to find ways to use it with my first graders.


  3. Hi, Chris!
    What a great statement about conferring being a non-negotiable part of the day! I do believe I'm going to adopt that as well. It will help keep me on track and grounded in my belief that I need to confer with my first graders! Thank you!!

  4. Hi Chris,
    Loved your comments about being a great skimmer. Think I am sometimes more of a "grazer" with professional books. I read a little of one, put it aside, read a little of another, put it aside, etc. Or there is my fiction life where I am a book "gobbler." I'm doing the #bookaday too, and those I am just racing through. Doing a book club is pushing me to read a little more closely and thoughtfully and yeah, write stuff down. Probably should not admit that I am not always great about keeping a r/w notebook, huh? Maybe it's because I don't think enough of my thinking is important enough to write about! Hmmmm.

  5. I took noticed Patrick's mentioning of writing things down in his notebook to be more reflective. I think your plan to write more down is a great one and an important action to take to cause more reflection.

  6. Chris,
    The importance of a culture of thinking is so, so big. In my experience, students who come into my room with having prior experiences with lean ring how to reflect and think about purpose quickly become the role models for students who have lacked that experience. I am not sure what your teaching role entails, but imagine the possibilities if, in your k-5 resource room the younger children having 2 or more years with a teacher who is helping them to think deeper about their reading and writing.

    I loved the honesty in the skimming line. Thankfully, like you, I did not skim this book.


  7. Chris~
    I JUST received my book today so I have not started reading, but I am sure my thoughts will be more focused and thoughtful, as I have started with the blogs! (Cheating? No, building background and setting purpose!)
    Looking forward to the @cyberPD!

  8. Chris,

    "Giving learners a chance to jot down their thoughts and sharing those ideas teaches children three things:
    1. My thinking is important enough to write about.
    2. My thinking can lead to rich conversation.
    3. My thinking is valued."


    I NEED to have my sixth graders do more 'thinking out loud' when they read...writing reflective notes...being 'mindful readers'.

    Thank you for reminding me of this!