Sunday, September 20, 2015

Keeping track of Student Reading Conferences and Assessment Data - The Confer App

Here in New York we had a slow start to school.  Tomorrow will begin the 4th week of school.  But due to many September holidays tomorrow will only be Day 11.  I use to stress about the choppy September schedule, thinking that my students would struggle to develop stamina and get their learning mojo going.  But over the last several years I've become more zen about the whole September schedule.  I enjoy the slow start and having a few extra long weekends.  It gives me time to build my teaching stamina and I'm sure it helps the students too.

One challenge of this slower beginning is the fact that TONS of assessment data is due.  Some that is helpful and some that is meaningless to me.  But I won't be going into the meaningless stuff today.  I try to keep it positive here on the blog, or mostly positive.

Since I'm thinking about assessment today I thought I would write about my tracking method.  For the last 3-4 years I've use the Confer App to keep track of my reading conferences and assessment notes.  But I will admit to falling behind once late winter or spring comes and "forgetting" to log in my notes. One reason I think this happens is that the app wasn't always working for me, especially when we started to do more book clubs.  And sometimes I forgot my ipad at home. Using my iphone is a pain because I often need to take my glasses off, even thought I do have progressive lens.  So I started to think I might start recording the old fashion, paper and pencil way, again.  But then I thought, Yuk, I already tried that many ways. So, back to the Confer App.  I decided to go back and read all the directions. I like simple and it is a simple app, maybe I missed something.  And wouldn't you know, reading the directions helped.  There were things I could do that I didn't know. (or they are new to the app)

Here's some things that I liked and learned by rereading the directions;

You can customize the note categories!  I didn't know that.  I thought I was stuck with only strength, teaching point and next step.  So I added "text" so that I could enter titles or other text the student is reading.  I also added a "concerns" category.  Sometimes I wanted to note a concern that wasn't related to next steps.

I also figured out how to create groups.  This will be so helpful when doing book clubs or even strategy groups.  I was never clear on this before.

Other things you might like;

There is a section to enter benchmark level.

You can sort students by categories.  For instance you can sort them by date of last conference.  That is helpful for making sure you conference with all students and don't miss anyone. Sorting students by "next steps" is also helpful for forming strategy groups.

You can set up multiple classes.  You could keep your writing and math conferences on the app also.  I only use it for reading.

If you are looking for a simple way to collect your conference and assessment information this might be a great tool for you.  It's not fancy or colorful, but it gets the job done.

INTERESTING NOTE: The same company that  makes the Confer App is developing Snapfolio App.  If you go to the website, you can watch the video.  If you have used Snapfolio I would love to hear your thoughts.

How do you keep track of your reading conferences and student assessment data?