Leap Into Literacy 5th Grade


Using Charts as Conferring Tools

Sometimes we’ve found the right teaching point in a conference, but we need the right tool to bring our teaching to life. Tools can make an abstract idea more concrete. Alissa Reicherter ran a session about conferring tools at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Saturday Reunion in March. She shared some ideas for mining resources we already have to create tools that can help us with conferring. Alissa said, “Having something in your hand brings clarity; visuals help us understand.” Another thing these tools can do is leave a visual reminder to encourage our students to try a strategy when they are not with us, and they are reading or writing independently. Some of the most effective tools we can create come from the resources we already have in our Units of Study and not from, Alissa joked, " a deep, dark Pinterest hole”.

The first place we could look for tools to assist us in our conferences is our charts. Having the right chart in front of us during our conference can bring clarity to conferring and small group work. To make these charts more manageable and helpful in planning conferences, you can print charts on one page. You can use these pages to see your year at a glance. Think about a chart you used in September. It could be useful for one of your students now in April or May. Alissa said that it’s important to remember that, “If you hand the same one to everyone, it's not what you need. It won’t be tailored to you.”

To access the charts, go to the online resources on www.heinemann.com. If you haven’t already made an account, you will need to and register your units. Once your units are registered, open up a unit. All of the anchor charts for the unit will be listed on top. Printing all of the charts on one page can give us a unit overview (what do I need to teach my students in this unit?). It also lets you plan strategy groups. You can list the names of students under the charts that would be most helpful to them.

Here is how I printed all of a unit’s chart on one page:

  1. Select “print using system dialogue”
  2. Choose printer
  3. Preferences
  4. Layout→ choose 6 or 9 pages per sheet
  5. OK, Print


More Conferring Hints

Looking for a way to streamline your conferring notes? A recent post on the Units of Study Reading TCRWP Facebook group talked about using the Learning Progressions to take notes during conferring. The progressions are available at the Heinemann website for both narrative and informational reading. It is suggested to have one form per student and make your notes right on the forms. Just date each comment. You can keep track of who you meet with and offers a quick way to see students’ progress.