Strategy

Individual Reading Conferences

Reading Conferences, One-on-one Meetings, Fluency Conferences

UDL 5.3

Individual Reading Conferences are a one-on-one meeting between the student and teacher that allows the teacher to provide personalized feedback (e.g., specific goals, next steps, book selection) to support individual reading instruction. A teacher begins a conference by noticing a behavior that is positively influencing a student’s reading abilities (e.g., “I noticed that you are re-reading the parts you do not understand!”). During each conference, a student has the opportunity to read a selection of a text with support, answer comprehension questions given by the teacher, and/or discuss reading behaviors and book selection. At the end of the conference, the teacher uses observations of the student’s reading abilities to provide targeted instruction to improve the student’s reading skills (e.g., one or two helpful reading strategies provided on a sticky note or written in a reading journal). The student takes this feedback and practices applying the strategies independently.

Implementation Tips

Track Goals
Use a “tracking sheet” ([[ http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/wp-content/pdf/readingconf.pdf | print this version ]]) to maintain on-going notes during individual conferences (e.g., strategies used, skills/challenges in reading, notes and observations). Prepare for future conferences using previous notes to prepare next steps and plan for possible area(s) of focus, but be prepared to change focus if needed.
Determine Area of Focus
Use notes from tracking sheets, reading levels, and lists of reading strategies to determine what skills to cover in conferences. Students may need additional strategies not tested in their current level in order to move on to the next level (e.g. metacognitive strategies are necessary for many fourth grade tests).
Conference Structure
Focus the structure of your conference on the needs of the reader. If the student needs to work on decoding and/or fluency, listen to the student read a section of a text and provide support. If a student needs comprehension support, ask comprehension questions and review entries from reading journals.
Support Independent Work Time
Provide supports for students to work on the strategies independently. Make sure that students have access to supporting materials (e.g. reference charts, graphic organizers) throughout their independent reading time in order to continue to work on the strategies discussed in their reading conference.
Recognize Growth
Recognize student growth in conferences through praise and tracking in order to make sure that students feel that they are an empowering, positive experience. Provide specific feedback on reading behaviors rather than general praise (e.g. “I can tell that you applied the reading-through the word strategy to figure out this word!").
Schedule Conferences
Schedule conferences in order to ensure that you are able to meet with each student on a timely basis. Longer, formal conferences (10-15 minutes) are useful to assess reading and introduce new strategies. Shorter check-in conferences (under 5 minutes) are useful to provide informal checks on a student’s progress toward a goal.
Differentiate Conference Schedules
Organize conference times in order to provide the correct amount of support to each reader. More confident, independent readers may be able to handle larger goals and meet less often for conferences (e.g. one conference every two weeks), while struggling readers may need more specific, chunked goals and more frequent conferences (e.g. weekly conferences).
Build a Routine
Communicate with students between conferences by using reading journals. Students can work on the strategies suggested in their journals throughout the week (e.g. draw pictures to help visualize the text) and the teacher can provide quick feedback through notes or questions in the journal (e.g. “What did you learn about the setting by drawing that picture?”)

Examples

Formal Conference to Provide Decoding Strategies
A teacher initiates a conference with a student by praising the student’s ability to use pictures to figure out unknown words during reading. The teacher asks the student to read the independent level text aloud, and makes a notes of errors. The teacher notices that the student is not reading word endings. The teacher discusses reading through the whole word, and together they practice some words in the text. The teacher draws a quick picture of this strategy in the student’s reading journal and asks the student to practice this strategy until next week’s conference, using the picture as a reminder.
Formal Conference to Provide Comprehension Strategies
The teacher begins the conference by reading an entry in a student’s reading journal. Then the teacher asks the student follow-up questions about the book the student is reading. The teacher notices that the student is able to recall main ideas, but is unable to provide details to support comprehension of the text. The teacher gives the student at least three sticky notes and demonstrates how to use them to mark ideas in the text. The teacher asks the student to mark at least three pieces of supporting evidence in the text for each idea while reading and writing about the text independently.
Changing Focus During a Conference
After reviewing notes from previous conferences, a teacher determines that a student is unable to comprehend the main idea of a text. The teacher plans to discuss this and suggest that the student practice with a graphic organizer during the next conference. However, as the student is reading aloud at the beginning of the conference, the teacher realizes that an issue with fluency is impeding understanding the text. The teacher models fluent reading for the student and has the student repeat her example. The teacher then suggests that the student listen to examples of fluent reading at the listening center and reread those texts orally during independent reading.

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