Monday, July 29, 2013

Minds on Math Chapter 9 - Conferring

When I taught ELA, conferring was just something that we did.  It was a common practice to have a quick conference with students about what they were reading or writing, and the conversations were often very informative.  You could tell who was reading and whether or not they student understood what they were reading.  For writing, you discuss ideas with students and help them further develop those ideas.

When I started teaching math, though, it didn't seem as important to conference with students....until I read this book.  As I read, I thought often of my days in ELA and it dawned on me that, just like in ELA, we also teach reading and writing.  To be successful in math, students have to be able to "read and comprehend" a problem.  Students also must communicate (or write) their thinking and solutions to a problem.  With this ah-ha! and Ward Hoffer's book, I came the realization that I was doing my students a disservice by not conferring with them about their math thinking.  

Ward Hoffer offers three steps to conferring with students.  First is research.  Conferring can be used as a tool for "finding out" what students know, are stuck on, are thinking, etc.  Second, conferencing can be used to coach students.  This entails walking a student through a problem without giving them answers.  Third, help the students reflect on their thinking.  

As I think about my classroom last year, I know that I conferenced with students, but usually when the student came to me.  I was not intentional about conferring with students on a regular basis.  I realize I need to change this.  Time will always be an issue.  Obviously some students need more assistance than others, however, even the "advanced" students in our classroom can benefit from conferencing.  After all, we don't want those students to get bored and lose interest.

I think the list of "Conferring Questions" on page 147 will be helpful.  Maybe I'll put some of these lists/reminders together and spiral bind them so that I can have them with me to easily reference.

Good luck to you all as you get ready for the coming's going to be fabulous!

1 comment:

  1. I had lots of the same thoughts that you had Melanie. I did some conferencing with students, but not as purposeful as I plan on doing this year. I too think those questions will be great in helping to guide our conversations with students. I look forward to being able to connect with each individual student personally, even though it may only be every few weeks. The info I gain will be invaluable. Thanks for sharing.


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