Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let's Talk Conferring

In my last post I spoke about using Evernote to record student conferences. I made a comment that I was able to meet with all of my students twice that day. What I didn't say was that I met with some of them three or four times that day. One might think that this is an anomaly, but it is a regular occurrence. And while Evernote makes note taking easier it is not the sole reason for me having time to meet with all of my students numerous times throughout the day.

One thing that makes it possible for me to meet with all of my students is cooperative learning. My students work in partnerships and/or small groups eighty five - ninety percent of the day. Cooperative learning provides many student benefits, but one unintentional teacher benefit is the ability to meet and confer with multiple students at once.

Technology in the classroom is spectacular for many reasons. Some of which I have written about in this blog, including student and brain engagement. Did you realize how much it helps teachers? During those workshop times that I am unable to meet with all of my students, I can quickly check what they have done online during snack and my prep time: blog posts,Glogster,etc. After checking I make a note of who I need to check in with and do so the vey next moment I can.

Time. I know we all want more time in the classroom, and I used to be one of those people. In the last few years I have eliminated timed schedules and base time limits on how my students are progressing. If it takes my students ninety minutes to complete something, so be it. The way I look at is: they are engaged. A high school principal recently visited my classroom and was amazed at how long my students were attending to a complex hypothetical question without reminders to stay on task. Sometimes letting go of rigid time schedules not only develops persistence, but provides me with a great length of time to meet with all of my students.