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.
Welcome to the sixth week of the Heinemann Summer Sessions! Each week throughout the summer, we will feature an article, video clip, or new professional book chapter from the Heinemann Digital Library on the topic of student engagement. Today, we look at a video clip from Reading Projects Reimagined by Dan Feigelson.
In his recent release, Reading Projects Reimagined, author Dan Feigelson shows us how conference-based, individual reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. He raises an important question about the larger goal of reading instruction: while it’s our job as reading teachers to introduce students to new ideas and comprehension strategies, should we not also teach them to come up with their own ideas?
In today's video blog, Dan visits with 6th grader Liam. Their conversation was about "back in time breadcrumb parts."
Liam was reading Lemony Snicket’s All the Wrong Questions, a mystery book. Dan and Liam talked about how Liam paid attention to certain parts in order to narrow down the suspects, and Liam observed that readers need to connect these parts, “like breadcrumbs.”
Dan agreed that the most important breadcrumb parts were those which connected back to things that happened earlier in the text – synthesis! – and that paying special attention to such parts was important, not just in mysteries, but in any type of book.
Liam’s assignment, aka reading project, was to notice these "back in time breadcrumb parts" and reflect in how they helped him to understand.
In his new book, Reading Projects Reimagined, author Dan Feigelson shows us how conference-based, individual reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. He raises an important question about the larger goal of reading instruction: while it’s our job as reading teachers to introduce students to new ideas and comprehension strategies, should we not also teach them to come up with their own ideas?
In today's video blog, Dan visits with Kaila and looks at how we can make good connections while reading.
by Dan Feigelson
We often talk to kids about the importance of making connections to our own lives as we read, to facilitate comprehension. The truth is though that not all connections are created equal. Some connections do in fact help us understand, but others can distract us from what is going on in the text. Skilled readers are discriminating; they pay attention to the connections that actually help them make sense of the text, not just any old connection that pops into their head.
In this conference, Kaila and I talk about the difference between connections that help us understand and those that are not so helpful.
In authorDan Feigelson'sbookReading Projects Reimagined, he shows us how conference-based reading projects can help students learn to recognize, name, and extend their own ideas about text. It is helpful to think of such conferences as opportunities to match a child's thinking to a particular comprehension strategy.
In today's post adapted from the book, we see Dan conferring with 6th grader Ella. In response to her ideas and noticings, Dan and Ella agree on an assignment to help her practice reading like a writer.
In author Dan Feigelson's new book Reading Projects Reimagined, he shows us how conference-based reading projects help students learn to think for themselves. In today's post adapted from the book, Dan describes the common perception of "reading projects" and how conferring focuses student thinking.
The term “reading projects” conjures visions of dioramas, posters, and shoeboxes, and (often) work that looks suspiciously like it was done by parents. In the end, we get a product that may be beautiful to look at, but does little to make the child a better reader. Worse, all those hours spent choosing the right marker or the most attractive font takes time away from actual reading. If we accept Allington’s assertion that “Kids need to read a lot if they are to become good readers” (2006), it follows that any activity they spend time on in reading class—other than reading—had better be worth it.
So what is the difference between conference-based reading projects and those more traditionally assigned in reading classrooms? Probably the most common work assigned to children learning to read is answering questions from a teacher or a program. While skillful questioning is certainly important, true comprehension instruction involves students coming up with—and extending—their own ideas.
It’s not as if the importance of students tracking their individual thinking has gone unrecognized. In many classrooms, students jot their thoughts on sticky notes as they read and stick them on the relevant page. This has the dual advantage of providing the reader with a concrete way to record and connect his or her thoughts, as well as giving the teacher a window into what the child is or isn’t understanding (Tovani 2011). The problem is that in many classes students get carried away, to put it mildly. Some readers end up with more sticky notes than pages in the book they are reading. Consequently, their thinking becomes unfocused or lost entirely.
A conference-based reading project prioritizes students’ emerging thinking and helps them focus on a particular idea. It not only pushes them to go deeper, but also gives them work to do to practice following and extending a line of thinking.