In a recent podcast I listened to (and am mentioned in!), Jennifer Serravallo mentioned that she believes classroom libraries should have between 1,500 and 2,000 books. During workshop time, students can be reading any number of those thousands of titles and as we confer and refine our own instructional skills, conferences can seem overwhelming or like we’re not doing it “right,” especially if we haven’t read the book the student we’re conferring with is reading.
But, honestly, that’s OK. Conferring is tricky when you’re conferring with students who span grade-levels in their reading lives and are all working on different goals. I’m only in my third year of teaching and I’m just starting to sometimes-maybe-a-little-bit feel comfortable when I’m conferring with a student. I take notes in my super-organized binder and hope that they’ll help me make instructional decisions later that will benefit the learning progressions of my students.
I started using book pockets in my classroom this year to give my students more independence and practice with writing about their reading (and when I say writing, I mean video recording, conversing, jotting notes, creating pictures, making diagrams…whatever!).
These book pockets help my students and me in several ways. When I sit to confer with students, we can check the front of the book and see if there is a book pocket. If there is, we may choose one and discuss the question that appears. This conversation revolves around the student’s thinking and then we draw evidence from the book.
Right after this conversation, if the student is ready, I may ask her to publish her thinking somewhere. This may be a note or video on Seesaw, it may be a jot in her reader’s notebook, it may be a diagram on an anchor chart that we can hang up on the wall. Sometimes, it’s even me saying, “Go tell your peer that information!” or “Your classmate read this book, go see if he shares the same thinking as you!” Sometimes I even ask them to record this conversation so I can confer with another student and listen to what happened in the other corner of the room later on in the day.
The book pockets revolve around the characters of the book, author’s purpose, the setting, metacognitive work, and the plot of the story. Students must infer, draw evidence from the text, and explain their thinking using their own schema to answer the questions within the book pocket.
As the weeks go by and I build my own classroom library, I am adding these book pockets to a GROWING BUNDLE. As I create and add more book pockets to my own library, I will add them to the growing bundle. If you have this resource, you will just redownload the file and get all the new book pockets as they are added. They are easy to assemble and I tape the pocket right into the front cover the book they belong in.
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