Simplify Reading Conferences Using a T Chart and Google Forms

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If I’m working harder than my students, I’m doing something wrong.
— Burned-In Teacher

This post was inspired by a conversation that I had with a teacher about challenges she’s been having at school, during a Burned-In Teacher Small Group Program Call. She voiced that a struggle she was currently having was not feeling good about how reading conferences were going. She felt strong about conferences with her 6th graders during writing, but not reading.

So, I shared with her what I did with my third graders during Reader’s Workshop when I was in the classroom, but put a new twist on it to help her be more efficient with her time: Using Google Forms to record her conferences while using a T chart that students were using to record their thinking to lead the conference conversation.

 This book got me so excited about teaching the LOVE of READING!

This book got me so excited about teaching the LOVE of READING!

The T Chart below is not of my creation. I took that little nugget from a book called, The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. I highly recommend it, if you’re also struggling with cultivating a love of reading and comprehension in your classroom.

When I was teaching third grade, I was obsessed with using this T chart to lead my conferences with my students. It was during this time in my teaching career that I made this realization:

If I’m working harder than my students, I’m doing it wrong.

Therefore, they did the work and all I did was ask questions and offer a place where we can learn from the book or their mistakes.

 Students have a Reader’s Notebook where they record their thinking while they read. Then, when you confer with them, use their thinking to guide your conversation.

Students have a Reader’s Notebook where they record their thinking while they read. Then, when you confer with them, use their thinking to guide your conversation.

Step 1: Teach them how to record their THINKING, not the amount of pages they read.

DO:

  • Begin by modeling the HECK out of what this looks and sounds like. Read a book as a class and you record the text and your thinking on a large piece of chart paper with the class. Gradually release the responsibility to them.

  • Teach them how to draw the T chart themselves… Don’t do it for them. Make this about their individuality, not about being a perfect Pinterest post.

  • Allow them freedom to record any thinking they have, even if it isn’t the comprehension or decoding skill that you’ve taught for the day.

  • Be flexible. Allow kids to put their own spin on their thinking recording, within reason. Don’t kill the freedom of this by requiring straight lines or color codes.

  • Set goals for writing about their thinking. Don’t make requirements per book or per class time.

 As you travel around the room and are conferencing, record your conversation via Google Form so you have something to come back to the next time around. Not to mention, you have all that data and evidence for meetings and report cards.

As you travel around the room and are conferencing, record your conversation via Google Form so you have something to come back to the next time around. Not to mention, you have all that data and evidence for meetings and report cards.

Step 2. Use Google Forms to Record Your Reading Conferences

DO:

  • Take this FREE Force Copy of Reading Conference Form that I’ve already created and make necessary changes for yourself and your students.

  • Create a spreadsheet and use the information to inform other conferences and for grades that you enter during that quarter or trimester. Don’t wait until the end to analyze all of the data.

  • Make a copy of the form each quarter or trimester and choose “Add to Existing Spreadsheet” when you begin adding conferences to it, just for organizational purposes.

I hope this is helpful to you in your efforts to be more effective and engaging as a teacher who blends technology with good instruction not just for student success, but for your sanity and well-being!

BURN ON!

Amber Harper