Setting Up a Conferring Notebook

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It is fun to treat ourselves to a new notebook when school supplies go on sale, but our favorite divider tabs have lasted for years and still look brand new. As you can see in the photo, we like to use a label maker for the names. They are easier to read and remove as needed.

The following setup helps us be organized and efficient. The notebook is divided into four sections. The first three serve as guides for instruction and the fourth is for materials.

Section One: Whole-Group Instruction

Section Two: Small-Group and One-on-One Instruction

  • This section contains a current monthly calendar. We put names here during conferences to make follow-up appointments with students. For example, “Ayush, you have a great start on this story. You said it is going to take you two days to finish it, so I will meet with you again on Wednesday. I can’t wait to hear the rest!” We write Ayush (w) on Wednesday’s calendar space to show that we are having a follow-up writing conference with him. An (r) after a name indicates that we have scheduled a follow-up reading conference. Before dismissing a small group, we let them know when we will meet again and put the group name on the calendar. 
  • If we don’t have a conference scheduled with a student or group, we look at the next sheet, which is where we keep track of our daily conferring. Because we have recorded the date of each conference, we can tell at a quick glance who we need to meet with. This is where “fair is not equal” really shines. We meet with students who need a lot of support every day. We might meet with students who don’t need as much support every three days or so. This sheet lets us provide that exact level of support while making sure no one falls through the cracks.
  • A strategy group sheet helps us plan for groups and keep track of instruction.

Section Three: One-on-One Instruction

  • Individual conferring forms for readingwriting, and math are where we record student goals, strategies, and keep track of observations, teaching points, progress, and next steps. A few students have a behavior form for behavior goals.

Section Four: Materials

  • We keep extra CAFE Menus, conferring forms, and strategy group sheets here for easy access. 

If you have embraced the power of technology, then we are not exaggerating when we say you will love the CCPensieve more than your firstborn child (okay, that might be an exaggeration). We are so sure you’ll love it that we are letting you try it for free! It does everything a paper-conferring notebook does, with the added benefit of real-time sharing with other teachers, which makes curricular coherence an efficient and possible reality!

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