Reading Conference Outline:
Reading Conference Philosophy:
- Students perform better when they are given choices in their learning instruction.
- Students perform better when they are able to work within their natural learning style.
- Students enjoy challenge in design of assignments.
- Students enjoy being challenged by higher order thinking activities.
- Active learners develop positive attitudes about the learning process.
When we acquire language we do not acquire it in isolation. We learn to talk, read and write by using our sensory skills; sight, sound, touch, taste, smell. With this concept at the forefront, reading conferences will embrace the concentrations of reading, writing and oral communication skills, but take these skills to new levels in regards to critical, creative and reflective thinking. Reading conferences will also address the learning style of each student and allow for student choice when selecting book genre.
The Conference Process:
Each student will come to a reading conference once a week. Reading conferences are small heterogeneous groups designed to allow students with a variety of ability levels on the learning continuum to work together. When students come to a reading group, they will learn to summarize their reading by identifying three important concepts; main characters, main events and the sequence of the events. Students demonstrate reflective thinking as they make personal connections with the events in their books or with the character’s actions. Many higher thinking levels are developed and easily identified as student’s dialog about their books and as they respond to peer questioning. Reading conferences allow students to support their thinking using key information from the story, organize their ideas and communicate them within a comfortable and safe learning environment. A significant benefit to this approach is that students do not have to match any particular conclusion when discussing their books; as long as they can justify their thinking logically, all responses are considered accurate.
Students may only share the same book three times even if they are not finished reading the book. Each time they come to a group, the facilitator scribes what is being said. Students must continue their discussion from their last point when continuing a book. This approach allows students to read at their own best learning rate without pressure to read stressfully and creating hated reading attitudes. Students who read at faster paces are certainly allowed to share a new book each time during their conference and this allows them to continue their own personal momentum.
Every participant of a reading conference has an active role. When one is sharing their book, one needs to come prepared to summarize their reading in three minutes or less. They also need to prepare to answer questions each group member will ask them after they finish. This approach fosters the development of questioning skills and moves students beyond basic concrete learning into higher, abstract levels of thinking. Students also become more flexible thinkers because they are responding to and developing ideas around changing and expanding content.
Every student will also receive a follow-up assignment to work on over the week. These assignments are designed to do one or more of the following: develop identified missing skills, enrich the student, and promote student individualized instruction. Students need to come to their reading groups with their completed follow-up assignment to share. Students will receive two grades that are posted inside the student folder; one for their shared summary and the other for their follow-up work.
Student folders are a way for parents to track assignments, see student grades and relate to the student learning process.
Reading conference expectations:
- You need a book ready to share on your scheduled day.
- You may share a book three times only.
- Come with your follow-up assignment complete and ready to share with the group.
- Be an active member…you will be required to ask questions after each group member shares their book.
During the Reading conference:
Summarize your book. Include the following things during your summary:
- Main characters; (name(s), something important about each one.)
- Main events; (usually a problem, holds the chapter or book together.)
- Feelings; (character’s feelings, your own feelings/judgments/opinions.)
After the conference:
- Work hard to complete the follow-up assignment, give a lot of time and effort to your assignment.
- Complete the follow-up assignment exactly as it is written inside your folder.
- Take your folders home so that your parents know your grades and assignments each week.