1st Edition

Conferring The Keystone of Reader's Workshop

By Patrick Allen Copyright 2009

    In his years of teacher workshops, author Patrick Allen has heard it all: 'I don't have time! 'I don't know what questions to ask! 'I don't know what to write in my notes, it's too hard! In his book Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop, Allen argues that the benefits of conferring outweigh the challenges and that teachers must put forth the effort of learning how to do it well. Inside, he shows teachers how to overcome their perceived obstacles and shows them how they can make conferring tangible.' Conferring lays the groundwork for effective reading instruction. Conferences with students are purposeful conversations that scaffold reading comprehension strategies to guide the reader's progress. Ultimately, through the gradual release of responsibility, you will create engaged and independent readers. Starting with what conferring isn't, Allen unpacks the essential components of the process: Intimacy: the social context of conferring Rigor: the cognitive context of conferring Inquiry: the analytical context of conferring' With his guidance, you will be able to set goals for student conferring and elevate student reader conferences from start to finish.

    Introduction: Why a Keystone?; Part 1: What Brings about a Good Conference, Anyway?; Chapter 1: Counterfeit Beliefs About Conferring; Chapter 2: Conferring Goals and Guiding Principles; Chapter 3: Building the Environment for Conferring— Five Requisite Ashlars; Part 2: What Are the Essential Components of Conferring?; Chapter 4: The RIP Model—Bringing Thoughtful Structure to Our Conferring; Chapter 5: Cultivating Rigor, Nurturing Inquiry, and Developing Intimacy; Part 3: What Emerges From Our Reading Conferences?; Chapter 6: Conferring Walk-Aways; Chapter 7: Conferring Ain't Easy; Conclusion: Adieu


    Patrick is the youngest of ten children--five boys and five girls. My parents were wonderful role models of literacy and learning, hard work, and humility, he says. His mother was a cook and owned a restaurant, and his father, a bricklayer by trade, helped run the restaurant and served as a night cop in their hometown. I became a teacher because I enjoy learning and spending time with kids. My parents were always learning and encouraged all of us to get our education. From the time I was a little boy, I wanted to teach. Patrick received his bachelor's degree in communications disorders and his graduate certification in elementary education from the University of Northern Colorado. He received his master's degree in curriculum, instruction, and pedagogy with a mathematics and science emphasis from the University of Colorado at Denver. He is currently a teacher at Frontier Valley Elementary School and a staff developer/lab classroom teacher at the Public Education and Business Coalition. He has over twenty years of teaching experience. Patrick is intrigued by the process learners go through as they become thinkers. I love helping children develop their passions. I am always trying to hone my craft and welcome the challenges that professional inquiry brings to my learning and the classroom. He believes that for effective professional development, participants have to understand their own learning process and make professional growth as authentic as possible. Patrick and his wife, Susan, love spending time with their four children: Graham, Anneke, Jens, and Lauryn. He says, My busy family certainly puts parenting to the test, but it's the best test of all!

    "This concise book provides valuable instructional support to all teachers… It is the perfect book for use in developing reading conferences with individual students. Patrick Allen inspires." - Education Review
    "Right from the beginning, I knew that this book would become a benchmark text for helping teachers think about children, reading, and thinking. I even found myself nodding my head in agreement as Patrick discussed the importance of knowing your students and developing an intimate classroom environment. Throughout the book, he both validates and stretches your thinking as he leads you, step by step, through the components of effective reading conferences." - Write Brained Teacher blog