Tag Archives: Conferring with Readers

9 Types of Reading Conferences: A Jumping Off Point

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Adapted from Reading Projects Reimagined: Student-Driven Conferences to Deepen Critical Thinking by Dan Feigelson

Yetta Goodman (2002) reminds us that there are no substitutes for careful kid-watching and good listening. Nonetheless, a reading teacher can become more confident and able to adapt to students by having umbrella categories, or types of conferences, at his or her fingertips. Carving out time in the day for conference-based reading projects provides teachers with important opportunities to listen and assign readers work that is personalized and rigorous. The fundamental tenet of a conference-based reading project is that the direction should come from the student. Developing conference-based reading projects involves listening carefully to what students say about a text, and then helping them name an idea worth following.

The following nine umbrella categories are intended as a work in progress and is by no means definitive. The best use of this list would be as a jumping off point for educators to add to, revise, and refine.  It’s important, always, to remember that the specifics of a good conference should come from what the individual student says and does. With that disclaimer in mind, here we go.

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How Jen Serravallo’s Books Work Together

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Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book is out now. In today's video, Jen discusses the intersections and sequencing of her Heinemann titles.

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Jennifer Serravallo: Focusing on Conversation

As we wrap up our month-long conversation around Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers, it’s appropriate to note that the last lens is conversation. We started with engagement, covering some of the methods of assessing engagement in students and classrooms. After engagement we covered the different aspects of fluency, including automaticity, intonation/expression/prosody, phrasing/parsing, emphasis, and pace. After fluency we talked about print work, including running records and the three cueing systems all readers use (meaning, syntactic, and visual). Last week we touched on the importance of comprehension, as well as ways to assess it in your classroom.

Each lens is important on its own, but you will get the clearest sense of a student by using all five lenses together.

CONVERSATION

Conversation is a skill. Student conversations about reading, whether with a reading partner, book club, or during a whole-class conversation, can give teachers a window into students’ understanding. It is essential that we provide opportunities across the day for our students to engage in meaningful conversation. These conversations should be about topics of importance to the classroom community, about books read together as a class and independently with partners and clubs, about writing, about math, and so on. As students speak and listen, it is just as important for teachers to listen and assess. You can take notes during whole-class, one-on-one, and small-group conversations. Use your notes to develop teaching and learning opportunities for students.

Talking well—especially about books—comes naturally to very few children. When students have time to talk about their books, they grow in many ways. Listening in as students talk can help you determine what reading skills they are and are not using, as well as how proficiently they are using those skills. An oral text, these conversations provide a window into what children are thinking about as they read and discuss their books. It is also important to listen for conversational skills as children talk.

“Great conversations can invigorate children, spark new thinking, encourage laughter, and teach healthy debate. They can help students come to new insights and even increase motivation to read.” —Jennifer Serravallo

How often do your students have opportunities to be social around books? What is your role when students are talking about books?

We have created blank versions of some of the engagement and fluency tools we have discussed in previous blogs for you to download and use in your classrooms. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.

For more tips, examples, and strategies from Jennifer Serravallo, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Conferring with ReadersTeaching Reading in Small GroupsThe Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K–2 and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Jennifer Serravallo: Focusing on Comprehension

We are going to continue our conversation around Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers. Three weeks ago we discussed engagement, including methods of assessing engagement in students and classrooms. After engagement we covered the different aspects of fluency: automaticity, intonation/expression/prosody, phrasing/parsing, emphasis, and pace. Last week we talked about print work, including running record and the three cueing systems all readers use (meaning, syntactic, and visual). Each lens is important on its own, but you will get the clearest sense of a student by using all five lenses together.

COMPREHENSION

What is comprehension and why is it so important?

“Comprehension is at the heart of what it really means to read. Reading is thinking and understanding and getting at the meaning behind the text.
–Jennifer Serravallo

To read is to uncover meaning within a text, to understand what the author is saying, and to have your own reactions and responses.

In an educational context, comprehension is often used as an umbrella term and includes several skills. In their book Mosaic of Thought, authors Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann cite proficient reader research and explain seven comprehension areas. It is important to be aware of these areas to better support readers’ deepening understandings of text.

  • Activate Prior Knowledge: Proficient readers make connections to a text/topic before, during, and after they read.
  • Determine Importance: Proficient readers understand the most significant events in fiction, and the main ideas in nonfiction.
  • Visualize: Proficient readers don’t just visualize, but also hear, see, smell and feel what is described in the text.
  • Infer: Proficient readers form judgments, make predictions, and determine the theme or message of a story.
  • Question: Proficient readers read with curiosity. They question the text and their reactions.
  • Retell and Synthesize: Proficient readers can figure out how parts of a text fit together, and understand cause/effect.
  • Monitor for Meaning: Proficient readers monitor their own understanding, fix confusion as it arises, and understand new vocabulary.

Teachers can use these seven areas of comprehension to see where students are strongest, and where they need the most support. Instead of looking at skills as yes or no, consider how deep a students’ work is within each skill, and work within the skill to deepen.

How can you assess comprehension? Try to sample student understanding in a variety of ways. Often, running records are the first piece of data about students’ comprehension, and can be tools to inform earliest teaching. A running record can offer some insight into comprehension. When conferring around comprehension, you can start with questions instead of asking a child to read aloud. If you don't know the book, check the back cover blurb and skim the page the child is reading. Ask students to retell and to answer some literal and inferential questions. Have students keep track of their thinking on sticky notes. What they write can connect to what you taught in conferences and small groups. As Jen writes in her upcoming The Reading Strategies Book, “Regardless of how you choose to collect samples of your students’ thoughts about the characters in their books, you’ll need a rubric or continuum against which to judge their responses. I find that understanding expectations for comprehension aligned to complexity of the level is most helpful.”

What systems and structures are already in place in your classroom to make your students’ comprehension visible?

We have created blank versions of some of the engagement and fluency tools discussed in previous blogs for download and use in your classrooms. Scroll to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.

For more tips, examples, and strategies from Jennifer Serravallo, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses.

WORD PDF
Blank Reading Log D-I WORD Blank Reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Log J-M WORD Blank Reading Log J-M PDF
Blank Reading Log L+ WORD Blank Reading Log L+ PDF
Blank Rereading Log D-I WORD Blank Re-reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 PDF
Blank Engagement Inventory WORD Blank Engagement Inventory PDF

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Conferring with ReadersTeaching Reading in Small GroupsThe Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K–2 and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Jennifer Serravallo: Focusing on Print Work

We are going to continue our conversation around Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers. Two weeks ago, we discussed engagement, including methods of assessing engagement in students and classrooms. Last week, we covered the different aspects of fluency: automaticity, intonation/expression/prosody, phrasing/parsing, emphasis, and pace. Each lens is important on its own, but you will get the clearest sense of a student by using the five lenses together.

PRINT WORK

Let’s dive into print work/decoding, focusing on running records and the three cueing systems readers tend to use.

Running records were made mainstream by Marie Clay as a way to record what students do as you sit and listen to them read. A running record can help you gain insight about a student’s miscues, fluency, and comprehension when reading a text that is just right and reading a text that is at an instructional level. Jennifer also recommends that you take a running record using a text one level above a student’s just-right level to give you a window into what readers do when they encounter difficulty.

We touched on using running records to help you assess fluency last week. When you take a running record, you are collecting data that will help you understand exactly what a student does as they read. To take a running record, record what you hear as a student reads. Record when words are read correctly and when a child says something different from what is on the page. This could include insertions, deletions, sounding out behavior, appeals for help, repetitions, and alternate pronunciations.

When you take a running record, you are collecting data that will help you understand exactly what a student does as they read.

There are three cueing systems all readers use: visual, meaning, and syntax. Running records offer numerous opportunities to assess children’s use of these three cueing systems as they read. Print work is best assessed and taught in the context of meaning, so that a reader is constantly practicing their ability to integrate what they know about letters and sounds (visual), with what is happening in the story (meaning), and how language works (syntax). To determine which of these three cueing systems a student is using and not using, you can ask yourself three questions.

  • Does that mistake/self-correction/error look right? (visual)
  • Does that mistake/self-correction/error make sense? (meaning)
  • Does that mistake/self-correction/error sound right? (syntax)

While a student reads, count the number of times the student uses the meaning, syntax, and visual cueing systems. To analyze each miscue, you’ll read up to, but not beyond, the point of error. Each miscue can be analyzed to see which of the cueing systems a student uses consistently, inconsistently, or never. By recording and analyzing each miscue, you’ll be able to look back and notice patterns that can help determine what you teach. Seek out some of the work of Marie Clay for more in depth coverage of running records and miscue analysis.

Do you currently take running records in your class? As you consider print work/decoding, what resonates?

We have created blank versions of some of the tools Jennifer talks about to help assess readers. These are for you to download and use in your classrooms. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.

For more tips, examples, and strategies from Jennifer Serravallo, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses.

WORD PDF
Blank Reading Log D-I WORD Blank Reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Log J-M WORD Blank Reading Log J-M PDF
Blank Reading Log L+ WORD Blank Reading Log L+ PDF
Blank Rereading Log D-I WORD Blank Re-reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 PDF
Blank Engagement Inventory WORD Blank Engagement Inventory PDF

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Teaching Reading in Small GroupsConferring with ReadersThe Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades K–2, and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Jennifer Serravallo: Focusing on Fluency

We’ve been talking about Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers online these past few months. Each lens is important on its own and can provide you with a piece of the puzzle, but by using these lenses—engagement, fluency, print work, comprehension and conversation—together, you will get the clearest sense of a student.

FLUENCY

Let’s take a look at fluency. Fluent reading both communicates that the text is making sense, and helps readers make sense of the text. To read fluently, students need to understand what they are reading. Some argue there is a chicken-and-egg relationship between fluency and comprehension. As Jen writes in her upcoming book The Reading Strategies Book, “There are exceptions to this rule of fluency and comprehension being inextricably linked. Have you ever met that child who reads a text sounding like he is reading lines for a Broadway audition, only to stop, be asked a simple question about what he just read, and have him tell you he doesn’t remember a thing? It’s important that in our attempts to teach children to read fluently, we don’t send the message that reading is just about performing.”

There are endless opportunities to assess and teach fluency. You can take notes during a whole-class or small-group shared reading, listening for how students use (or don’t use) punctuation. When conferring, you can listen to see how fluent or expressive a student’s reading sounds. Listen as students talk during partnerships or book clubs; do they choose text to support their thinking? Use warm-up and transfer groups to give children a chance to practice in a book that is easy for them, and immediately transfer the felt sense of fluent reading to their independent books. You can also take a fluency record or a running record in the context of any oral reading.

​There are a few parts to this goal of reading fluency:

  • Phrasing or parsing – putting words together into meaningful groups within a sentence.
  • Expression or intonation or prosody – reading to match the feeling of the piece, paying attention to ending punctuation and dialogue marks.
  • Emphasis – emphasizing words in the sentence to match the author’s meaning. Paying attention to text treatments (bold, italics, all caps).
  • Automaticity – reading known words automatically
  • Pace – reading at a pace that mirrors how we talk, not racing through words or reading at a labored rate.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the tools you can use to help you assess fluency. Running records were made mainstream by Marie Clay as a way to record what students do as you sit and listen to them read. We’ll discuss running records more next week when we focus on Print Work. A running record of a child’s oral reading can give helpful information about fluency. Listen as students read aloud, recording their pauses and instances of expressive reading. You can then go back and evaluate the number of words in a phrase group, where the pauses were and whether they were syntactically appropriate, and how often the reader paid attention to punctuation. High-frequency words are those words that appear most frequently in text. You can start with the most simple and most frequent words  (found by doing an internet search for “Dolch” or “high-frequency words”).

We wouldn’t expect readers at the lowest levels (A, B, C) to read with fluency, as their focus should be on one-to-one matching (reading one word aloud for each word in print) and pointing under the words – reading smoothly and this goal cannot live side-by-side. However, by level D we should expect some phrasing, and a by E intonation as well. Keep fluency in mind when matching students to Just Right Books. For readers J and above, look for level 3 or 4 on this NAEP Oral Reading Fluency Scale.

Have you ever thought of teaching shared reading as a small group? How are you a model of fluent reading in your classroom? As you consider the two lenses we’ve discusses so far (engagement and fluency), what resonates? We have created blank versions of some of Jen’s suggested engagement and fluency tools for you to download and use in your classrooms. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.

For more tips, examples, and strategies from Jennifer Serravallo, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses.

♦ ♦ ♦

Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Teaching Reading in Small GroupsConferring with ReadersThe Literacy Teacher’s Playbook K–2, and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

WORD

PDF
Blank Reading Log D-I WORD Blank Reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Log J-M WORD Blank Reading Log J-M PDF
Blank Reading Log L+ WORD Blank Reading Log L+ PDF
Blank Rereading Log D-I WORD Blank Re-reading Log D-I PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey K-2 PDF
Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 WORD Blank Reading Interest Survey 3-6 PDF

Blank Engagement Inventory WORD

Blank High-Frequency Word List WORD

Blank Engagement Inventory PDF

Blank High-Frequency Word List PD