Conferring with student writers

One to One: The Art of Conferring with Young
Conferring with Student Writers
RESEARCH the writer
DECIDE what your teaching point will be and how
you will teach it
TEACH the writer something, following the
architecture of a minilesson
LINK: Rearticulate what you’ve taught and
encourage the child to do this often as he writes
RESEARCH the writer 
Begin with an open ended question that invites a
student to talk about writing work
“How’s it going?”
 “What are you doing as a writer today?”
Ask a question (and follow up on the response) to learn
more about his writing work
“Show me where you’ve done that?” Look at the student’s
writing to gain a deeper understanding
Learn what the child is planning to do next
Aim is to understand what the child is trying to do and
has done, and to ascertain how you could be most
Name what the child has already done (or has
gestured towards doing) that you hoe pthe child
continues to do always.
Make this a very clear, personal, intimate
Make a whole paragraph out of your compliment.
DECIDE what your teaching point will
be and how you will teach it 
Choose 1 teaching point & stick to it
Will you demonstrate? Engage the child in guided practice? Provide
an explanation and an example? Support the child in shared
Ask “Based on what I’ve learned so far in the conference and
in my work with this child, what can I teach that will help her
become a better writer?” Remember your goal is not to just
improve the writing, but to improve the writer
In some conferences you’ll decide:
To lift the level of what the child is already doing or trying to do.
Or acknowledge what the child is trying to do but recruit his
working in a different direction & then help him get started on
the new work
TEACH the writer something
Connect: Acknowledge what the child has been doing.
Tell the child what your teaching point will be.
“What I want to teach you is…” Be explicit and be sure you
are teaching something that will help not just today but also
Teach: using one of four methods (demonstration, guided
practice, explicitly telling or inquiry) to teaching the child
something that writers do often
Active involvement: often you’ll nudge the child to get
started trying this while you are there, or at least to
talk-through how he or she might get started
Jot your conferring notes as you go
LINK: Rearticulate what you’ve taught
Restate the strategy you’ve just taught by saying,
 “Today,
and everyday, whenever you are writing, you
can…” or, “This is something writers do all the time…”
Use fragments of a conference rather than a whole
conference – at times
Circle the room to touch base with table of kids,
simply give compliments
Stop talking and teaching for a bit & simply pull up
next to children to research and decide future
teaching points for individual writers or small
groups – at times