When you confer with a reader, you are determining what he/she has learned and what he/she needs to practice. Then you will provide suggestions for targeting instruction that meets that particular student’s needs. During this conference, you will:

Research the student’s use of skills through questions and observations

Compliment to support and build upon successes

Follow-up on prior instruction for accountability and depth of understanding

Explain a reading strategy by providing an explicit purpose and context

Model the strategy to make the invisible brainwork of reading more visible

Guide the reader in practicing the strategy

Link the strategy to independent reading

Taking time to confer with readers offers opportunities to accomplish the goal of fostering lifelong readers. It also offers opportunities to make instructional decisions that match the individual reader and to choose methods that grow and change along with students. Finally, it is an opportunity for you to open up your reading life to children and show them the power of reading.

Fostering Independence
The first step is to set-up conditions, such as expectations and responsibilities. Teacher needs to be clear with expectations that every student will learn to read, therefore setting aside a lot of time for reading each day and encouraging students to be problem-solvers by themselves as they encounter difficulty. Students need to be held accountable for the specific strategies taught in mini-lessons and in conferences. Students are responsible for what they’ve been taught and are supported less and less as they apply strategies they’ve learned to independent reading. Students should be expected to make their best attempt at applying new learning to their reading each day as their teacher(s) supports and mentors them as they read with greater independence. During reading conferences, the teacher asks questions and observe readers closely to find out what they are securely doing and what they are trying to do securely. The teacher chooses compliments and teaching points to support students as they develop reading behaviors, processes, and strategies that build toward independence.
Note: “It is important that each conference isn’t teaching something brand new; instead many conferences follow-up and build on what readers learned in the past.”
(Jennifer Serravallo & Gravity Goldberg, 2007)

Helpful Resources

Fountas and Pinnell A-Z Leveled Conference Reference Sheet

  • Types of Conferences

  • Templates
Small-Group Conferring Template

One-on-One Conferring Template