Conferring Notes & Student Data (Paperless) with the Confer App – created by a National Board Certified Teacher!
Confer: The app that organizes your conferring notes and student data
Though I’m considered to be a ‘tech-savvy teacher,’ I still struggle with letting go of certain paper systems I’m use to. I feel like I’ve mastered the perfect templates and spreadsheets for so many of my note taking strategies and record keeping binders. In fact, I’ve gotten so great at being so organized that I even have templates and checklists to organize my binders. Scary, right?
As a former interior design major, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was that function must outweigh form. No matter how aesthetically pleasing the design is, if the purpose is not functional, the concept will fail. For example, we’ve all seen the perfect outfit on the hanger only to try it on and realize the awkward fit and uncomfortable design. Similarly, I will not shop at some of my favorite stores simply because the parking structures are so very inconvenient. Living in Michigan, with snow and two small children, I avoid such places that make it difficult to get in and get out regardless how wonderful the store and products are.
My point: though my binders and templates are fantastic, I’m finding that they are becoming cumbersome when trying to access during instruction. After all, if the point of all of these notes is to drive my instruction and to be able to differentiate activities, I should have an improved system that allows me to view my notes quickly in an organized manner.
My current system of templates, composition notebooks, binders, and clipboards looks great. To the observer, I’m sure I appear to be quite committed, detail-orientated, and organized. For me, I love my hand written notes. I grab my clipboard and sit alongside a student to start conferring away. At a quick glance, I can see who I need to meet with and later I can review my notes. In my head, I know which students have similar needs and strengths. However, to group these items requires time and high lighters.
Our literacy coach sent out an email about a conferring app. I decided to check it out only to delete the email after seeing the high price of the app. How could one charge $14.99 for an app. To me, this was crazy! After all, this could buy two pizzas on the way home one evening.
Later that day, he (the literacy coach) stopped by my room. Jason (also my husband’s name) and I have a similar background and agree with many of the same instructional practices. He and I are both alumni of the National Writing Project and follow the work of the authors of Comprehension Going Forward very closely. He asked what I thought about the app he sent. I was honest and told him that I didn’t really check it out because it was insanely priced. He suggested I give it another look.
I had to have this app! As I was pulling out my iPad to go to the app store, I noticed the contact tab on the website. I wondered if I could contact the app developer to do a review of the app in exchange for a free download code. Usually, I receive several emails a day from people wanting to give me a free code in exchange for a review on my blog. I typically turn these offers down as they often don’t relate to my second grade practice. This was one of the first times I actually contacted a developer to reverse the process. It worked!
David, the Confer developer, wrote back:
Thanks so much for your interest in Confer!
I’d be honored to have you review it. I’ve copied two promo codes
below, but just let me know if you need any more. Thanks again!
Of course, I used one of the codes to try out and shared one with Jason, my literacy coach. I’ve spent a bit of time playing around on the app. So far, I’m impressed.
I love apps that are simple and user-friendly. For example, though there are many IWB apps available, I use Educreations – it’s easy, free, and works well. I prefer it to Explain Everything, Show Me, and all the others.
Sometimes, more is not better. I think David, the developer, understands this. He is a National Board Certified teacher. He gets it. The app is not overloaded with jazzy features that make it difficult to use. It’s simple… just like your binder! Only, you can use the information more effectively.
In the end, yes – I would pay for this app. After all, I spend about $7 per large binder and even more for the divider tabs, Sharpie markers, highlighters, pens, etc… I think it’s worth it. If you’re use to using an iPad, want to go more paperless, or are looking to try a new system, I’d give it a try.
It really is easy to set up and use. I’ve created a brief, informal video to show you…
My favorite feature is the ability to view students based on the overall student, student groups, strengths, teaching points, and next steps. These are all of the key points I include in my observational paper notes, now I can sort and view them easily. This will certainly help when I call a small group for a table conference during workshop or strategy/skill mini meeting for guided reading.
One New Year’s Goal of mine is to become more paperless. Thanks to Claco and Confer, I know this will be an easier transition!
Would you like to try the Confer App?
David mentioned to let him know if I needed any more codes, so I’d like to offer two codes to Kleinspiration readers! If you have an iPad and think this is an app you would use with your students, please click here to follow Kleinspiration on Facebook. Leave a comment on Facebook under this posting on Facebook. I’ll post the winners on Facebook on Saturday evening (est). To make it fun, the first two to guess the year I started teaching will win the two codes.