Ok, so my title is deceiving; it would indicate I actually posted a part 1 which I didn't. :) However, in the spirit of my new #cyberPD PLN on twitter, I thought I would get on the same page as everyone else, which brings me back to "part 2."
I have so enjoyed reading Patrick Allen's Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop. As many people posted last week, he writes in such a personal way; I feel like I'm sitting at the kitchen table or in the family room with Patrick as he talks. I imagine we have coffee (ok, Patrick does; I probably have a Pepsi) and some wonderful treats we enjoy as we converse. The book has a very welcoming tone.
This week's focus was the 2nd section of Conferring which deals with the essential components of conferring. In chapter 4, Patrick describes the R.I.P. model of conferring. I loved this section. For those of you who haven't read this book, R.I.P. is an acronym for the structure of conferences:
- R = review, read aloud, record
- I = instruction, insights, intrigue
- P = plan, progress, purpose
**Taking a slight detour here: In this same chapter, he shares much about his friend and colleague, Troy. The two of them are often found in each others' room after school. Patrick says, "It is good to have a person with whom you can share your frustrations and successes, risk free and without judgement." As I read this section, I couldn't help but reflect back on my first years (back in the mid-80s) in my current school district. I had the same relationship with another newcomer to the school district, none other than the incredibly bright Mary Lee from A Year of Reading. From day one, we talked almost every day after school about what went well, and what really bombed. We talked about workshop, good mini lessons, conferring, small groups. As I read this section, I realized how important the Troys and Mary Lees of this world are to us -- we need them to support us and help us grow and hopefully, we do the same for them. **
As I read the assigned section for this week, the word "thoughtful" came to my mind frequently. This is a true professional at work here. Patrick has recorded hours of his conferences with students, and has honestly critiqued what he's heard. He has meticulously recorded and documented what has happened in conferences with his students; the forms he shares are incredibly helpful for a visual learner like myself. He is such an inspiration, and I find that I want to push my thinking while conferring with children. More importantly, I want to hone my conferring skills. I want to make it an "art" form, in much the same way Patrick has.
The conversations Troy and Patrick have on an ongoing basis reminds me of another point. In one of their conversations, they were discussing the difference between a photograph of a child versus a video. Troy says the following:
"I look at a picture and immediately make a judgement... I make a decision based on that one single moment. It's different when I watch a whole video. I get to experience more, think about more..."
Later, Patrick says that this is what happens when we confer. How true -- we get to know our students over a period of time, not necessarily looking at a video, but most definitely looking at multiple moments in the student's reading life. This is a point that will keep me motivated to confer on a regular basis. I'm going to want the "video" of each student to help better inform my instruction and their learning.
So much more to share, but since this post is getting long, I'd like to wrap things up with Patrick's idea of developing an intimacy and scholarly relationship with the readers in his room. To do that he has 3 important questions he asks:
- Who does the talking?
- Who owns the text?
- Where do I sit?
Thanks so much to Jill Fisch for hosting the conversation about Part 2 today at My Primary Passion!!! I look forward to reading what my #cyberPD group had to say this week.