<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=940171109376247&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Dedicated to Teachers


Inviting Students to Talk About Their Writing

WritingConferencesBlogOne-1Begin conferences by asking students an open-minded question that invites them to talk about what they're doing as writers. Don Murray (1985) made the question, "How's it going?" a favorite way for teachers all over the world to begin their writing conferences. You can also start conferences with one of the these questions:

  • What are you doing as a writer today?
  • What's up with your writing today?
  • Could you tell me more about the writing work that you're doing?

Students learn quickly that these questions are cues for them to talk in one or more ways about what they're doing as writers.

Download a sample chapter from A Teacher's Guide to Writing Conferences

After you ask the opening question, it’s important that you are quiet and look at students with a sense of expectation that they will respond. Don Graves (1983) recommends that teachers wait as long as ten to fifteen seconds after they open a conference for students to respond. While this may seem like an eternity, the silence gives students time to think about what to say. And it communicates a message that they have a responsibility to hold up their end of the conversation and that you have faith that they can do so.

 

 

When students talk about what they’re doing as writers, they:

  • give us insight into what they are trying to do. What a child says helps us answer the question, "What do I teach this student today?"
  • set the direction of the conference and take responsibility for their own learning. Conferences give students agency as writers and learners.
  • think about what they are doing as writers and, more importantly, why. They become more deliberate writers and become more aware of what they're doing, both in the moment, and over time.
  • learn to ask the question, "How's it going?" themselves and use it to self-monitor how they're doing with a piece of writing.

•••

Learn more about A Teacher's Guide to Writing Conferences at Heinemann.com

Download a sample chapter from A Teacher's Guide to Writing Conferences


carlanderson-1Carl Anderson is an internationally recognized expert in writing instruction for grades K–8. He works as a consultant in schools and districts around the world, and is a longtime staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Carl is the author of numerous books on teaching writing, including the best-selling How's It Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers.

Topics: Video, Writing, Carl Anderson, Conferring, The Classroom Essentials Series, A Teacher's Guide to Writing Conferences

Comment on this post:

Related Posts

How I Got Hooked on One-on-One Math Interviews by Marilyn Burns

Listening to Learn is an exciting K–5 digital interview tool from highly respected educators Marilyn Burn...
Jul 30, 2021 10:39:30 AM

Planning Instruction with Mentor Texts

The following is an excerpt from A Teacher’s Guide to Mentor Texts by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Del...
Jun 2, 2021 9:16:49 AM

Take a First Look at The Listening To Learn Math Interviews and Join The Conversation!

Listening to Learn is an exciting new K–5 digital interview tool by highly respected educators Marilyn Bu...
May 14, 2021 8:30:00 AM

Starting Small with Mentor Texts: Studying Craft and Punctuation

The following is an excerpt from A Teacher’s Guide to Mentor Texts, Chapter Three: Learning About Craft a...
Apr 27, 2021 8:45:00 AM