Saturday, July 27, 2013

Minds On Math: Chapter 9 "Conferring"

Problem of the Day:  How can you get to know your students individually as math learners, promote their confidence and growth?

This chapter discusses what teachers can do while students are busy during work time-meet with students.  Two things really stick out about this chapter, one is the need to really organize and plan how you will confer with students and the second is teaching students how to confer with you and how to act when you are conferring with others!

Starting off with the plan of attack, according to the author, we should be doing three things:  finding out exactly where the student is in the learning process, guiding the student towards the learning goal and making notes about the progress/meeting (p 145-146)  I absolutely love the list of questions for each stage provided on page 147.  This would be a good thing to laminate and attach to my clipboard as I go around to students.

Next, this process is a routine that will need to be introduced and explained so that students don't feel like they are being put "under the spotlight" and so that other students learn to respect others' time.  Students need to learn what the purpose of the meeting is and how it will help them.  They need to buy into the fact that it will benefit them.  They also need to learn that individual meetings must be respected. This will definitely be one of the procedures I will start the year off teaching.

Hoffer points out that it will take time to learn how to confer with students and at first you might only get to meet with 1 or 2 students per class.  I am wondering if I can confer with groups at a time.  I still haven't decided how I am going to group my students for work time yet, but I am thinking if I have a preset group, I can make record sheets for each group which might make it easier to meet with more students and record/reflect.

I really think meeting with students to discuss their learning is important.  Students need to receive meaningful feedback and feedback other than grades.  In the "How to Learn Math" course I am taking there is a big emphasis on learning from mistakes but most of my students have to learn that mistakes are good, this would be a great time to teach this to them.


  1. This sounds like such a great idea, but it will take time to implement. You are right, "buy in" will be important for them to take it seriously. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I loved those questions you referred to, to help spark conversation when conferring. I love the way she split the focus of conferring into three distinct categories: research, coach, reflect/record. I think following that will make the conferring time more meaningful. I tried conferring with students last year and sort of felt myself flailing around. This chapter has really helped me to conceptualize what I should be doing with students during this time. Thanks for sharing. Hope you can chat with us Tues night!