At PLC a while back, when Michelle offered several articles from her padlet, I chose to read "The Difference Between Conferring and Touching Base" by Debbie Miller. I often struggle with the appropriate amount of time to spend conferring with kids. Do I stay with each kid until they have that "ah-ha" moment? Do just check in to make sure they are reading a just right book and enjoying their time with it? I'm not sure I will ever come up with a perfect system, but this article soothed any woes I had that I was doing injustice by just touching base.
I had been thinking a lot about that particular article and my conversations around it at PLC. I was wondering a lot about how get the biggest "bang for my buck" with conferring, both in reading and math. When Jeff suggested we use the padlet articles as a basis for a post, I didn't think I had much to connect. I was already using the thinking strategies as the basis for my conferring, making sure to assess the student's use of the current strategy that was the focus of our study. It hadn't dawned on me that conferring was also a place to incorporate the thinking routines.
We were already using "What makes you say that?" and "I used to think...now I think..." as the basis for some of our reflection time at the end of workshop, so those seemed like a natural place to start.
The results were so astonishing, I felt a bit silly I hadn't been using these stems to scaffold thinking during conferences all along. "I used to think, now I think", was a quick an easy place to see into the depth of a student's thinking about their book or behind a math concept. A conference that may have begun with the purpose of checking in, could be pushed to a higher level by asking the student "What makes you say that?" I've found both of these routines to be incredibly helpful for my informal assessments and anecdotal notes.
On an even happier note, the kids have now begun to use these same stems during our read aloud conversations with each other!