Jennifer S.: Each conference type I discuss in A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences has its own purpose and structure. For example, a goal-setting conference is the sort of conference you would conduct to help a student reflect on their work and set a goal, with the teacher as a coach/support. By contrast, a compliment conference is a conference where you offer a student positive feedback by naming something they are doing that will be helpful as they work on their reading goal. The goal-setting conference usually takes about five minutes because there is some time spent looking at a student’s work together while the teacher offers guiding questions for reflection, then once the goal is set the teacher provides a strategy and gives the student a chance to practice with some feedback. The compliment conference is really quick—usually just 90 seconds or so—because in that type the teacher spends a short amount of time checking in to see how the student has been doing with their goal, offers some feedback, and then moves on. No new strategy, no guided practice. What I want teachers to do is to feel like they have a repertoire of ways to work with students so that they can be responsive and flexible—matching what a student needs to the strategy they choose to teach as well as the method they use to teach it.
Dr. Sam: Your extensive support materials are one of the things that makes all your works so popular. What support materials will be available online for use with this book? How do you see this book being used in conjunction with your other books, e.g., The Reading Strategies Book and Understanding Texts & Readers? Where can we go to get a copy of your book?
Jennifer S.: As I mentioned earlier, there are videos featuring children in grades K-8 to show each conference type discussed in the book, as well as written transcripts of all of the conferences in case you prefer to read along or read instead of watch. I think the support materials that folks will get most excited about are the note-taking forms. There is one note-taking form for assessment conferences that has questions and prompts that go with each of the 13 goals that form the framework for The Reading Strategies Book (i.e., Emergent Reading, Engagement, Print Work, Fluency, Plot and Setting, Main Idea, and so on) and then thirteen note-taking forms unique to each goal with a skill progression right on it. This way, once the teacher has identified a goal for a student, she can then use the corresponding note-taking form and have the skill progression right in front to confer. This will simplify decision-making and help keep the conferences focused. I have been using these forms with teachers in some of my study groups and they are absolutely loving them and finding them so helpful.
For those who have The Reading Strategies Book, they know that the book is set up by goal. I intended teachers to figure out a goal, then flip to the chapter that corresponds to the student goal. So with the note-taking form that is goal-based with a progression, and The Reading Strategies Book in their lap, they can easily identify the next step for a reader, flip to the corresponding chapter, and find a strategy. Understanding Texts & Readers offers more detail and depth around leveled texts, and in that book I use the same goal categories in The Reading Strategies Book. So in essence, they all work together (though they also each work individually so if you don’t have the other books you can still get everything out of each individual book that I intended).
You can order a copy of A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences wherever you get your books – Heinemann, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. The book came out on January 31, 2019, and orders that are placed with HEINEMANN directly always ship first, and there is usually a 1-2 week delay with third-party resellers.
Jennifer Serravallo is a literacy consultant, speaker, and the author of several popular titles including the NY Times Bestselling The Reading Strategies Book and The Writing Strategies Book
Her latest publication, Understanding Texts & Readers connects comprehension goals to text levels and readers responses.Her newest publications is A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences (January 2019) Soon to come is a Complete Comprehension, which is a revised and reimagined whole book assessment and teaching resource based on the award-winning Independent Reading Assessment (due out in Spring 2019). She was a Senior Staff Developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and taught in Title I schools in NYC. Tweet her @jserravallo.