|Classroom Environment||Lesson Structure||Assessment||Sample Comprehension Lessons|
When we confer, we have to assess instantaneously, so we can give immediate feedback. Some suggestions:
- Keep the goals of the lesson clearly in mind and focus on what the child is doing or trying to do to meet them.
- Recognize that some children may need to master various skills before they will be successful with the goals of the lesson, and support them in reaching those. For example, when a child who rarely speaks articulates his/her thinking, an important milestone has been reached and should be acknowledged to the child.
- Notice and acknowledge when children have made creative or advanced applications of the strategy. In the sample lesson on Noticing New Learning (Build and Activate Schema module), some children recorded their thinking through diagrams and another expressed his new learning metaphorically. The teacher showed enthusiasm for these approaches and asked the children to share with the class.
- Begin prompting with the least amount of support (“So what are you thinking?”) and gradually increase support as needed (“Do you have a question in this part?”). Reteaching and modeling would be even higher levels of support. By not stepping in too soon, we lessen students’ dependency on us, get a better understanding of what the child actually knows and can do, and are more likely to teach what they need.
- Notice, teach, and reinforce behaviors that generally accompany thinking, regardless of the specific strategy. For example, we know it is always helpful for children to refer back to the text to support their thinking, or to recognize the kind of thinking they are using so they can repeat it in other situations. Build a repertoire of prompts that encourages these types of behaviors. (See Supporting Document: Conferring Moves and Language below for suggestions.)
For more on conferring, see Lesson Structure Module: Collaborative or Independent Practice. The “Questions to Consider before Viewing” for the Collaborative/Independent Practice segment of each sample lesson suggests ways to examine conferring in that lesson.
Supporting Document: Conferring Moves and Language