Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Teacher Tech Tuesday-Confer


 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 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 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.

Ok now that you are back and excited about Confer I have a goodie for you :) Click here for my Confer file with my Tags, Next Steps, ext based mostly on The CAFE by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  I also have included my Behavior file based on a clip chart system and Whole Brain Teaching rules. You can import this file on Confer Lite or Confer :) To import the file email it to yourself and open the email on your device, taps the attachment icon, and then select “Open in Confer.” This will automatically open up Confer and import the attached data, which contains all of the subjects on my device. 

Be sure to comment and let me know you downloaded the file and let me know what you think :)


Jennifer on September 19, 2012 at 5:51 PM said...

Wow. This is great. You have convinced me I have to have this app. I downloaded your file. I have a question hough. In Reading CAFE you only have groups. Do you list individuals also?

Grade 2 Happenings

Mrs. Toler on July 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM said...

I could not get this to download - any suggestions?

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