Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Favorite Conferences

A seventh grader in reading workshop

Each year I start the school year with reading conferences.  In these first conferences, my goals are to learn something about who each of my students is as a reader and to help them set a first quarter reading goal.  In order to prepare for these conferences, I have students complete some sort of reading survey or interest inventory.  Over the years, I have used a variety of surveys from a variety of places, but this year I used Nancie Atwell's September Reading Survey from the resource materials that came with her DVD Reading in the Middle.  I really liked this particular survey, mostly for the way the questions were worded.  It was fairly short, so it wasn't intimidating to the students, but it gave me the information I needed to find an entry point into my conferences.

This year I'm discovering that I have a group of great readers.  Many of my students have read at least 4 books already in the first three weeks of class, and they are writing and talking about what they're reading.  They can identify and discuss their strengths and weaknesses as readers, and have been coming up with great goals for first quarter.  Many of my students have identified "Reading in a wider variety of genres" as a first quarter goal, which is fun for me as a teacher, because I get to booktalk many different kinds of books to help these students broaden their reading horizons.

I find I start with the reading conferences for one main reason:  they're easier.  They're easier for the kids, because I find kids are more confident in talking about who they are as readers (or non-readers) than who they are as writers.  They're easier for me because as a voracious reader, there's nothing I like better than to talk to other readers about the books I love.

Eventually I'll have to start those writing conferences (hopefully this week!), and I have the September Writing Surveys all ready to go!