WHAT ARE WRITING CONFERENCES?
There are hundreds of great resources on the web about Conferring in Writer’s Workshop. Here are some basics:
WRITING CONFERENCES ARE
- Conversations about the work the child is doing as a writer
- Conversations about how the child can become a better writer
FIRST THE STUDENT IS IN THE LEAD ROLE
- Student: You set the agenda for the conference by describing the work you’re doing as a reader or a writer.
– Teacher: I listen carefully to what you’re saying about your reading or writing work. I will ask you questions to clarify what you’re saying so that I can totally understand what you’re working on.
THEN THE TEACHER IS IN THE LEAD ROLE
- Teacher: I will share an assessment of your reading or writing work based on what you told me at the beginning of our conference.
– Student: You listen carefully to the assessment. You should ask me questions if you aren’t sure of what I’m saying to you.
- Teacher: I will give you a strategy to help you doing better reading or writing work.
– Student: You try to figure out how to do better work. You should listen carefully to what I’m telling you about how to do better work. You may often have the chance to try out the strategy I’m presenting to you in front of me so that I can see how you’re doing with what I taught you on-the-spot.
THE TEACHER’S ROLE IN A CONFERENCE
In the first part of the conversation the teacher will:
• Invite the student to set an agenda for the conference
• Get on a line of thinking about the student’s writing work by asking research questions and reading the student’s writing
• Decide what to teach the student
In the second part of the conversation the teacher will:
• Give the student critical feedback
• Teach the student
• Nudge the student to have-a-go
• Link the conference to the student’s independent work
THE STUDENT’S ROLE IN A CONFERENCE
In the first part of the conversation the student will:
- Set the agenda for the conference by describing her writing work
- Respond to her teacher’s research questions by describing her writing work more deeply
In the second part of the conversation the student will:
- Listen carefully to her teacher’s feedback and teaching
- Ask questions to clarify and depend her understanding of her teacher’s feedback and teaching
- Have-a-go with what her teacher taught her
- Commit to trying what her teacher taught her after the conference
Thanks to MSU English Education’s presentation on their Wiki and “Two Writing Teachers” for their excellent blog. I would recommend that anyone interested in learning more about conferring should check out Carl Anderson’s work on the topic.