In every grade I have taught I have always been amazed at how much differentiation is needed and how much growth is possible in one year. It is awesome when that struggling student becomes a top student. Today I wanted to share with you a tool that has helped me the last 2 years keep track of differentiation, the Confer app.
The Confer app has helped me so much in my planning, conferencing with students and meeting with parents because I can take notes quickly during Reading and Writing Workshop on individual students, small groups or even whole class lessons. I even track behavior with Confer. The Confer app is for iPods, iPhones and iPads and can be found at http://www.conferapp.com/. I have no affiliation with the app or its maker but love that he is a teacher sharing something that he created for his classroom.
Here's what you can do with Confer:
- take notes on individual students and small groups
- view your students by the "tag", "strength", "teaching point", or "next step" in your note
- view your students by date, level, group or flag
- search through student notes
- create flexible small groups
- upload your data to your gmail account as a spreadsheet
- export and import your data on any iOS device via email
I started with the free Lite version then upgraded to the paid after I saw what I could do with the app. With the Lite version you are limited to 2 subjects, 10 students per subject and 5 notes per student. You can export data through email but not import so it really is just to see what the app can do. When I used the Lite version I found 2 ways to make it work since I had 20 students. The first way was to track 10 students in subject 1, the other 10 students with subject 2 and export the data each Friday. I would then copy and paste the data into a new excel sheet to look at all the data of all the students. This gave me the data with a few extra steps. The second way I used the Lite version was to track small groups and whole class lessons.
After a few months cutting and pasting I decided to upgrade and it is much easier :) I have all my students and can take as many notes as I like. I use the CAFE approach to notes based on The Sisters' work you can find at http://www.thedailycafe.com/. My Tags are Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Vocab. For Strength I list what the student is doing well on and the Teaching Point is the CAFE Strategy the student is working on. I often fill out Next Step after conferencing with students as I sort the data. With the paid app I usually sort data during lunch or in the evening during commercials because all I need is my iPhone :) I can quickly see who needs to work on the same skill, who I haven't met with in a while, who is ready for a new skill, which groups are working, which groups need something new and what needs to be taught whole class again. It is also great during parent conference week because I can show parents the notes for their student.
If you want a visual of all that Confer can do here is the video about the app :)
I hope that some of you can see that Confer is an easy and fast way to track during and after Reading and Writing Workshop and give it a try. If you do decide to purchase the paid version read on.
Be sure to comment and let me know you downloaded the file and let me know what you think :)