My overall reaction to the first part is a feeling of relief and optimism. Relief that Patrick says the art of conferring takes time; optimism that I can (and will!) be able to do this! That being said, here are my "A-ha" moments for Part 1 of our Conferring #cyberPD.
*"Learning to confer is an art; we know that. It's not easy; it takes practice. But it's one of the most important and beneficial instructional moves I use with my students." (Allen, p.8) I believe this! I need to post it somewhere where I will see it often to encourage me to keep going.
* I need to do more exploring with the Confer app for iPad. I've attempted to use all sorts of recording tools while I've conferred with small groups and individuals, but I haven't found anything that works well for me! One challenge for me is going to be to use the Confer app for iPad to hold me accountable for information I gain from my conferences.
*The Don Graves quote on page 21 really struck me. "If you have even one colleague with whom you can share ideas, readings, and questions, you can draw from that enough energy to maintain your motivation and ability to grow professionally." I cannot say enough about the power of Twitter in doing just that! I have hundreds of colleagues that have stretched my professional thinking and have taught me about tools I never would have considered!
*Patrick talks about his four ultimate goals for his students. I think they are very powerful and would definitely agree with them. In my first grade classroom, I need to think about the beginning readers I'm entrusted with. Ultimately, yes... I want them all to be thoughtful, deep readers. My challenge is to get them to that point! For me, I think I'd have to go back to the Cafe model by the Sisters. I've adapted it to fit my style so it has become CAMP! I think my goals to create those thoughtful, deep readers would start with the components of camp. Those would be:
Comprehension (I understand and remember what I read.)
Accuracy (I can read most of the words.)
Make reading fluent (I can read accurately with good expression.)
Practice new vocabulary (I can find and read interesting words.)
By sticking to the menu I created and the format, I think it will help drive my conferences and will guide my conferring in the right direction.
*Patrick asks us to take a deeper look at our classrooms. I really do love the layout of my classroom! Now, that's not to say I won't change or improve things, but overall, I am very happy with the image it portrays. I love walking in to my room when the lamps are casting off a soft glow, the main llghts are off, and the nature music is playing. Seeing twenty-something first graders curled up with good books in my classroom puts a smile on my face. When Patrick talks about significant physical aspects of the environment, I loved the part about personal touches. This is what has led me to create my "Camp Read-a-Lot." Not only does it create a warm, friendly, comfortable environment, but it also portrays something that I love and enjoy sharing with students (reading AND camping!) I have stepped outside of my classroom and tried to see what a newcomer would see if entering Camp Read-a-Lot for the first time. I think they'd like what they see!
*I love the idea of charting what stamina means. We do talk about this at the beginning of the year when we're practicing the Daily Five. But I never considered defining exactly what stamina looks like and feels like, as Patrick suggests. Talking about what builds and what breaks down stamina might help to put it into more definite terms for my firsties. I do love the book Superdog: The Heart of a Hero for talking about building stamina. A good fit for first graders! Then, following up that discussion with the term "endurance" would just bring it to a new level and make my students more aware of what exactly we need to be doing during D5/RW.
*Patrick suggests recording a conference that we have with a student. What a great idea! I think I would see growth in my conferring skills if I did this at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. I wonder if there's a way to do that on my iPad. VoiceThread maybe? Might need to investigate!
*I absolutely LOVE Ellin Keene's quote on page 81. It reminds me of a quote my dad often said which was, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest till you're good is better and your better is the best." That is what really drives me! Yes, what I'm doing is good. But how can I make it better? Is this the best I can do for my firsties? This, to me, is the key to why I'm reading this book and working on my conferring skills.
*I really liked Patrick's planning guide for strategy studies. I like the way in which it really focuses on the gradual release of responsibility. Too often, I tend to introduce a skill or strategy... and then just come back to it sporadically. There isn't a rhyme or reason to what I'm doing. I think I need to update my CAMP (CAFE) menu and plan more effectively.
More to come next week (July 13) for Part 2, hosted at Jill Fisch's My Primary Passion! We'll be reflecting on the Essential Components of Conferring.