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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.
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.
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.