Hi All! Thanks for stopping by for our last post of the “Diggin’ into” Series.
Today I am “diggin’ into” how to organize a conferring, strategy group, and guided reading group note-taking tool. For me personally, the time spent in conferences and small groups with my students is where the magic happens. Mini-lessons, read-alouds, and independent activities are all so important, but the small group and one-on-one instruction is where I see the students truly internalize what I am teaching them. However, as we all know, feeling like you have enough TIME to meet with your students in groups/individually frequently enough is the hard part. I have found as system that works for me, and I think it could be helpful for any K-5 teacher. In the past, I have kept separate reading/writing conferring binders and a separate guided reading binder. I have learned that it is easiest for me to have it all in one place.
My conferring binder is much like The Café book suggests based on the research of Joan Moser and Gail Boushey ,“The Sisters.” However, I have made it my own and this is what works best for me. All in this one binder, which my students have come to know as our special book of notes about all the good things they do, I keep the following:
Calendar: I list the date in the form of a check sheet/grade sheet. This helps me see who I have seen lately, how often I have seen each child, and who I need to see next.
Strategy Groups: I keep a page that has boxes for key information to form strategy groups. Sometimes my strategy groups are pre-planned and ongoing and other times they are more spontaneous based on formative assessment following the mini-lesson.
Data: I keep a class reading sheet. This helps me check-in with them during a conference to see if they are reading “just-right” books that are near their level. It also is handy for planning guided reading groups and tracking growth. We used the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System and guided reading levels.
Guided Reading: Next is my planning sheet from guided reading so I can plan and keep track of guided reading instruction.
Individual Conference Section: I have a tab for every student! That seems like a ton to put in one binder, but it actually works out well. I can flip to that child’s tab, and in that section, I find their reading conference note sheet, writing conference note sheet, and a word collector page. The word collector is a tool I use with some students as an individual word wall or tool for expanding vocabulary. Anything individualized that I might need for a student would go in this section.
Things that stay the same from last year is having a tab for every student. This helps me be quick during my conferences and all have everything in one place for parent-conferences and data meetings. This tool helps me be prepared, be time efficient, and have effective small group and conferring instruction.
Please see my conferring binder set if you would like to set your binder up this way too!