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Conferring Tool Kits 101

Does conferring intimidate you? I know it intimidated me for the longest time, but now it really has become the heart of my reading, writing, and math workshops. One thing that has helped me is having a well-stocked conferring tool kit. This is what I have with me at all times when I confer.

I use a simple caddy that you can find anywhere. I share a kit for reading and writing and I have a separate one for math. Inside, I have everything that I could possibly need for effective conferring!

-Markers, pens, pencils, etc..
-Wipe off boards
-Index cards
-Sticky Notes
-Extra reading tools that have been taught (think marks, speech and think bubble sticks, pointer fingers, alphabet charts etc…)
-Transparencies for writing conferences (you can put a transparency over their writing piece and model your teaching point without writing on their work since that is a big no-no!)

Inside the binder, I have: 
-Word Lists 
-Writing mentor pieces at various stages (a bare bones piece, pieces with blatant errors so that I can model how I might edit my writing on the spot). I keep these stories in sheet protectors so that I can write on them with a wipe-off marker. Then they can be used with different kiddos. Also, the mentor pieces that I write are swapped out when the unit changes. 
-Student mentor pieces from years past. Students always do better when they can see how other kids did with the writing assignment. 
-Copies of anchor charts from current and past units 
(bare bones piece) 

(This piece has no punctuation, only a period at the end)

(This piece is where I show students how to show what happened, not tell what happened. Also, there is a piece where I misuse lowercase and upper case letters.)
And the most effective tool in my kit is a series of progressions, continuums, and rubrics.  These are usually made in class during a mini-lesson and turned into an anchor chart that stays up during the unit of study. I then make a condensed version of it and stick it in my binder. I keep past units’ anchor charts and progressions as well because a lot of times my students need to refer to something that was previously taught and the charts are usually taken down at the end of a unit. 
Also, I am always trying to find a better way to collect anecdotal notes. I’ve done the sticky note system most effectively. Basically, I have a sheet with 30 labels on it. The goal is to get all of the sticky notes peeled off by the end of the week. I write all of my students names and the weekly dates on them and then any extra labels I have go to my lowest readers and writers so that I can attempt to meet with them twice in a week. Each student has a blank white sheet of paper and I just stick the label on their sheet in chronological order. 
After reading some work by Jennifer Sarravallo, I’ve been using a conferring template that has been really nice. I created it at the end of last year, so I haven’t had time to use it for a long period of time. But, feel free to check it out…click to download! 
So, that’s it! It is ever-growing and changing. And I’m sure that I’m missing a ton of items that could help me with my conferring- but  here is the gist! Happy Conferring! 


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