About Reading & Writing

Reader’s Workshop Conferences

My students love the part of Reader’s Workshop where they get to choose their own books and read silently for half an hour every day. Most of them are good readers, and the rest are at least competent. Not all of them love reading, but they can do it.

Part of the workshop format is to conference with students. I enjoy meeting one-on-one with my students in writing conferences, but I found reading difficult to conference about. I can SEE what they are writing, but I can’t SEE what they think about as they read. Nonetheless, together with each student we chose an area of reading to focus on for the near future.

Today I met with my people. These are the kids who can read all the words fluently and understand what they read. They have chosen to focus on vocabulary. Their first strategy was to pay attention to new or interesting words, or familar words that were used in unusual ways.

Yesterday, one of these students came up to my desk during reading time, thick book in hand, eyes wide. She said, “Mrs. Ulleseit, read this paragraph!” The book was The Hobbit, by Tolkien, and the paragraph was a descriptive masterpiece. While I was reading, the student said, “Look at all those wonderful verbs!” Yes, this is why I teach.

So today, I met with her and the other twelve students in my class who are proficient readers. I had a new strategy for them that I knew they’d love. No binders needed, I told them. They wouldn’t need to take notes on this one. They waited expectantly, some of them with all four books they are currently reading on their laps. I told them if they were truly going to be able to experience language, they needed to read voraciously. That’s the strategy. I repeated, READ VORACIOUSLY. They smiled. I knew they’d like it.

This group represents almost half my class, and I am proud of what they are able to read and how they are able to discuss their reading. It’s a nice boost to meet with them while I am struggling to figure out how to reach the readers that are less proficient…but more about those readers in another post. Today is about celebrating proficiency.

So go read voraciously!

On my Kindle: Trickster’s Choice (Aliane) by Tamora Pierce

28 thoughts on “Reader’s Workshop Conferences”

  1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:27 am

    Reading is great, and I don’t think I could live without it. Reading helps you understand life in different ways. I do read voraciously, as it is my reading strategy. I love to find out about new words and then use them in my new stories. 🙂 I think this strategy, Voracious Reading, is right for me. 🙂 I also like the way you do conferences, although sometimes it IS a little short, but once we get to choose a strategy, I get something to focus on doing while I am reading. Most of the time I like to talk about a book I’m reading, what I should change about my reading habits, and how I should improve my reading so that I will understand the story.

  2. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:30 am

    I love the reading conferences because we get to tell you about all of our emotions that we are feeling while reading a good book. On the other hand some kids, who don’t read as much, could feel like they have nothing to say. This might be because they don’t feel or think of anything when they read. To them reading might just be looking at a bunch of words! This is why we should have reading conferences every so often. So that you know who thinks when they read and who just looks at “Big Words.”

  3. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:55 am

    I think that instead of reading a half an hour a day we should read an hour a day because it will expand our vocabulary a lot and some people in this class(me) get lost in there reading and just don’t want to stop.I think you should talk to us about reading more books and maybe suggest some books if we want to read more. Please consider the reading time to be expanded!

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:01 am | In reply to Catherine.

      i agree, when you read more books you expand your vocabulary. i want to expand the time to an hour too because I know many other people that like to read and would like to read with more time.

      1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:06 am | In reply to jacob.

        I’m one of those people who read a lot but have bad vocabulary. I think reading is important because it helps expand your imagination and vocab.

      2. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:07 am | In reply to jacob.

        See, a lot of people want to read with more time. This would help a lot of us with our writing description and details. Some people think reading is boring but by reading more they will get lost in the time and will start to like reading and would want to read more.I think that reading helps with writing and takes you on wild adventures. As you have on the wall of our classroom Light up your imagination…READ!!

      3. Submitted on 2011/09/22 at 10:50 am | In reply to jacob.

        I have, so far in my life, read around two hundred chapter books, one hundred twenty picture books, and around fifty comic books.
        This is, in my opinion, quite impressive for one of my age. Now, you probably think I’m jesting. But whatever you choose to believe, I have, and I know a few things.
        For one, it does aide your vocabulary very much. But, unlike when you learn it by hard writing, you may forget it due to no practice or repeats.
        This has happened many times to myself.
        Also, you do not know the NAME of the rule. For example, I know I know that I need to capitalize I, but I don’t know WHY, the NAME of the rule.
        Be careful with reading vocabulary.

    2. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:05 am | In reply to Catherine.

      I sort of do agree with Catherine. But we probably can’t do that because this is sixth grade and we will be having a lot more work to do in class and homework. Sometimes I long to read at home, but rarely have even a few minutes to spare.

    3. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:08 am | In reply to Catherine.

      One hour is good but a lot of times I read all the time. I have freetime after I’m done with homework so I have 3 hours.

      1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:10 am

        You shouldn’t have to read all day just like everyday for a hour is good. Don’t try to read like really fast take your time and look at the details. 😀

  4. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:07 am

    I like the idea of reader’s workshop conferences. So far, they haven’t helped me much. I suppose it’s just too soon to tell. I think reader’s workshop conferences is a good idea because it lets you really think about what you’re reading.
    To some, reading means just to rush through a giant book of random words.
    To me, it means making predictions, and finding new vocabulary, as well as listening to a most interesting story.
    Reading conferences willhelp me stop once in a while to check that I know what I’m reading, and learn some big, juicy words to use when I’m writing.

  5. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:22 am

    Maybe you should put post it notes for where you think there are interesting words! 😀 You could use those for writing!

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 3:53 pm | In reply to Catherine.

      My vocabulary in writing has improved ever since I read and my reading literature has improved too.

  6. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 1:32 pm

    An hour of reading a day? I have no problem with that! It’s awesome that you have all started this subversive movement to increase class reading time. I am so proud! Let me fiddle with the daily schedule and see if we can make it work. That means an hour of writing, too, including a mini-lesson….

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 3:47 pm | In reply to mrsulleseit.

      That will be awesome Mrs. Ulleseit. But reading at home for 30 minutes or so will help us too. The thing about it though is that you wont know if we are actually reading or not. So I thought if you can call us up every day and ask us what we read about that is a similar thing to the letters. It is like a mini conference but you can call us during dol time and reading time. Just a quick check to see if we read or not. It is totally up to you but i thought you might want to hear my suggestion. Hope to here from you soon.

      1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 3:59 pm | In reply to Rheya.

        That’s, like, such a cool idea to have; talking about reading instead of writing about writing

      2. Submitted on 2011/09/21 at 8:25 am | In reply to Rheya.

        Yeah. In my old school, we were required to read thirty minutes a day on a minimum, then acquire a sign from a parent; It was no problem for me, but for others, not so much.

      3. Submitted on 2011/09/21 at 10:04 am | In reply to Rheya.

        Rheya, this may seem hard to believe, but I have a life outside of school. I canNOT make 31 phone calls every night! 🙁 I used to do reading logs, but found that parents would just sign them without making sure students were actually reading. The point, after all, is to think about your reading, not just read. And if you want to read for an hour or more at home you certainly can!

      4. Submitted on 2011/09/21 at 4:14 pm | In reply to Rheya.

        Mrs. Ulleseit I understand but I did not mean to say call everyone by phone but in class. I am sorry I phrased that a little wrong.

      5. Submitted on 2011/09/28 at 9:51 am | In reply to Rheya.

        (obviously sarcastic voice) Really, Mrs. Ulleseit? I never knew you did anything apart from reading, writing, teaching, typing, eating, sleeping, and paperwork!

      6. Submitted on 2011/09/29 at 7:40 pm | In reply to Rheya.

        lol duh. I’m glad you didn’t mean to take up all my evening hours. 🙂 Albert, you are learning sarcasm from me all too well.

  7. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 1:58 pm | In reply to mrsulleseit.

    I hope we can read more too! Reading is so fun!

  8. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 2:06 pm

    Yes, reading does boost your vocabulary, but the dictionary has something to do with it to right? For example: Reading The Ring (Translated version) really did boost my vocab. in 4th grade, but i had to look it in the dictionary to.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 4:03 pm | In reply to julia.

      Yea that is right; when I was reading some new word came out so I started to search on the vocabulary and I then started to use it in sentences

      1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 4:33 pm | In reply to Valerie.

        Yeah, Valerie, it does help. That is probably how most people boost their vocabulary skills. Most of the time, I don’t look up words, but I use context clues which could also help, too.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/27 at 7:17 pm | In reply to aline.

      Yea reading workshop is just so great there is no way to describe. Reading Conferences are good too they help you and your teacher to find your good points and bad points in CAFE.

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