Last week I blogged about how I have implemented a modified version of The Sister’s Daily 5 literacy model. Read about my two hour Literacy Block here. It is still a work in progress and I will continue to review how things are working to meet the needs of my students.

Last week we introduced the strategy “Check for Understanding” and this week we covered “Cross Checking”. The explicit teaching of these important strategies worked really well. Hearing the students use this language and independently demonstrate the strategies has shown me what a great model CAFE is. Having a specific focus during reading sessions is so important, otherwise the message just gets lost.

This week my students enjoyed working in their reading groups completing the following activities:

- Read to Someone: Students paired up and read to each other. The reader asks their partner questions about the book once read.

- Listen to Reading: Students listened to a StoryHome story on the iPod while visualising and drawing the story in scrapbooks. (At the beginning of the year we asked parents to purchase a pair of headphones/earphones for their child).

- Work on Writing: Students wrote blog comments on our class blog, often replying to comments we had received.

- Spelling: Students practised their spelling words writing them on the mini whiteboards.

- Word Work: Students used the blend cubes in their group. They roll 2 cubes and if the prefixes/blends they roll make a word, they get a point. I had my student teacher work with this group.

While all of these groups were engaged with their activities, I spent the time conducting individual conferences. It was quite refreshing to spend one-on-one time with my students, rather than a group setting like Guided Reading, in which some students dominate and the learning needs are often varied.

During Independent Reading time I conferenced with two students and I read with about five students during the group activities. During my conferences I:

- Asked each student what their individual reading goal was. I was very pleased that all my students were able to tell me their goal straight away!

- I had them read their Independent Reading book with me. I thought this was best because then I could see whether they had chosen a “good fit” book. Most of the books were at an appropriate level for the students, however a couple of students were reading books that were a little difficult. We used that time to go over the process for choosing a “good fit” book and then began conferencing.

- The student read a few pages, while I noted their strengths and weaknesses on my individual recording sheets. Like The Sisters, I have organised a “pensieve”, a binder which holds all of the documents needed for my individual conferencing.

- At times it was difficult to just focus on the reading goal I had assigned for each student, but it is important to have  “big picture” of each child as a reader, so I monitored other reading behaviours too.

- I recorded what the “next step” for each student was and told the students what we would be working on next time. As I’m just beginning the process, all students will continue to work on their current goals.

When I read The Daily 5 and CAFE books by The Sisters, they often referred to their “pensieve” as their bible for collating and recording information about their students’ reading. I have set up a folder with tabs to separate each students’ recording sheets. The goals are also there for me to glance at quickly, and I have a checklist in which I note down the date that I see each child.

 Individual conferences folder

It was a successful beginning to my conferences and the students really seemed to enjoy the individual attention they received. The next step is to set up strategy groups for students with like needs. I will identify which students have similar goals/learning needs and we’ll work together at specific times during the week on the relevant reading strategy.

How do your individual conferences work?

How do you document your findings during your conferences?