I was thrilled when Vicki Vinton (check out her amazing blog, To Make A Prairie) gave us 5 quick DOs and DON'Ts in her C session at the Dublin Literacy Conference. I've given these a try in the last two weeks and they work like charms!
(First of all, Vinton's metaphor for a reading conference was brilliant. She likened it to "parachuting into a text" and having to find your way around.)
DO focus on the reader's thinking about the book.
DON'T focus on the plot.
DO begin by asking the reader what they're working on as a reader. (What are you wondering about, trying to figure out…)
DON'T open the door to a retelling of the book. Don't even let them get started with it!
DO ask the student to read a little right where he left off.
DON'T ask the student to re-read something they've already processed. (In one of the first conferences I did when I put this into place, I was thrilled that the reader anticipated the times when she would need to stop and explain things to me! Is that comprehension, or what?!?)
DO read a few paragraphs or page alongside the student.
DON'T take a running record as the student reads.
- As you read alongside the student draft your own understanding:
- What have you been able to comprehend?
- What did you have to do to do that (infer, connect details, make a connection, etc)?
- Have you picked up any clues about possible themes or big ideas?
DO ask the student to SUMMARIZE what you just read together.
DON'T ask the student to summarize or retell the whole story. After all, you want the conference to last about 5 minutes so that you can get to 3 or 4 more students that day and every child in the room every week!
What Readers Really Do: Teaching the Process of Meaning Making
by Dorothy Barnhouse and Vicki Vinton
(I'm thinking I need to re-read this book.)