CONFERENCING

Conferencing is one of the most important ways for teachers to provide individualized feedback and instruction to student writers. Conferences usually take place during the independent writing time of the writer’s workshop. It does not need to take a lot of time, sometimes as little as four or five minutes per student. The idea is not to spend the conference time going over an entire piece of writing, rather, isolate an area in the content of the writing that needs work.

Try to give student writers the kind of support that will allow them to grow as writers. Asking questions is an effective way to structure the conference. The purpose is not to provide answers, but to guide and support students as they explore possibilities.

conferencing questions.pdf

Download sample comments/questions.


Conferring helps with ongoing assessment of learning. What do you notice that your students need help with? Would a mini lesson be helpful? Your observations can provide you with mini lesson topics based directly on the needs of your students.

PEER CONFERENCES

During peer conferences, students share drafts of their writing with a partner. The partners focus on positive aspects of the piece, ask questions and make suggestions for clarity. It is up to the writer to decide what to revise.

Teachers need to teach students strategies for peer conferencing so that it is a positive and supportive resource. Effective peer conferencing is a learned skill that needs to be modelled and practised in order to be effective.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Education World - Conferencing with Young Writers: Time, Content, and Purpose. Read more here.

Conversations Among Writing Peers offers concrete suggestions for teaching students effective conferencing skills and includes a 30-minute video showing examples of students of various ages engaged in peer conferencing. The video also gives ideas for how to prepare students for successful conferences. In the resources, Responding to Writing: Peer to Peer" and Peer Conferences: Strategies and Consequences” (below) by Jack Wilde, you will find some concrete suggestions for teaching students effective, non-threatening conferencing skills. The complete workshop series - Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 is available here.

Teacher-Led Conferences: Secondary teacher Penny Kittle offers video examples writing conferences and use of conferencing questions in her blog.

In the artilce Student-Led Conferences, you will find ways to harness conferences to encourage students to own their writing.

peer_conferencing_article.pdf

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