Saturday, March 13, 2010

Posting Series: Reflections on That Workshop Book #4- Conferring

Samantha Bennett suggests small steps for helping classrooms transform to purposeful workshops. Things like making time for students to read, write and talk.  Things like sharing reading lives, saving student work overtime, anchoring student thinking and making time to confer with students.  A few weeks ago, I shared an important conversation with one of my readers that has impacted how she previews and chooses books on her own.

I approached R for a conference after a mini lesson where we were talking about how questioning helps us understand the stories we are reading. After the shared practice we were doing with a book (in a series of  four) called  Upstairs Mouse and Downstairs Mole, she shared that most of the books she was reading were not stories that made her think, in fact she said "I already understand what I am reading."  Knowing that she was reading many of the Rainbow Magic books (and that I had tried many times to show her some other reading options), it was this small moment where she (on her own) realized that thinking was an important and euphoric part of reading.   This moment was a moment I could guide her to finding some stronger choices for reading so I met to confer.

Before I sat down with R (who I had talked to and shared ideas for other reading options), I thought about how this moment was big. How was I going to approach the conference differently than the last time? How (other than bringing new and different books) was I going to help her with where to go next?  I decided to pull together two other girls (A and G) who were having success independently finding books that basically made them think.  The conversation that unfolded when I asked them to share their strategies with R was brilliant. 

Girl A shared a few books that she was loving like the Franny K Stein series and then G shared books she had read that she loved like Toys Dance Party and Piper Reed.  R was resistant to their suggestions at first saying that the books didn't look like books she wanted to read. G said that she felt that way about some books too but she started to read the first page instead of  just the flap.  A jumped in and said she didn't think she would like Franny K Stein and it took her the whole first chapter before she loved it.  R started to listen. She sat digesting  how much A loved Franny K and hearing her obsession with the series as A explained the character and her adventures.    The rest is history.

Just Friday, I heard R sharing with another reader new to the the Franny K Stein series, what she loves about the books. You see R has read them all and has even decided that the next (#11) in the series should be called Attack of the 50 Foot Tall Santa. She has started a blog post of her ideas for how she would start the next book with her title.  I would dare to say she is loving something new and thinking!!

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