Yetta Goodman (2002) reminds us that there are no substitutes for careful kid-watching and good listening. Nonetheless, a reading teacher can become more confident and able to adapt to students by having umbrella categories, or types of conferences, at his or her fingertips. Carving out time in the day for conference-based reading projects provides teachers with important opportunities to listen and assign readers work that is personalized and rigorous. The fundamental tenet of a conference-based reading project is that the direction should come from the student. Developing conference-based reading projects involves listening carefully to what students say about a text, and then helping them name an idea worth following.
The following nine umbrella categories are intended as a work in progress and is by no means definitive. The best use of this list would be as a jumping off point for educators to add to, revise, and refine. It’s important, always, to remember that the specifics of a good conference should come from what the individual student says and does. With that disclaimer in mind, here we go.
Like many English teachers, grading essays remains the part of my job that I enjoy the least. It isn’t just because of the time it consumes or the drudgery it involves. It’s because I’m afraid I’m going to do harm to a student writer under my care.
Years ago, my oldest son was in my sophomore honors English class filled with many of his friends. These were kids I had watched grow up since the second grade, kids who spent time at my house, played in my backyard, making crazy zombie movies that disturbed the neighbors, and now traveled with us to debate tournaments early on Saturday mornings. Perhaps because of my long connection to this group of kids, I put extra effort into grading these students’ essays, spending many Saturdays marking errors and giving copious feedback while I waited to judge rounds at debate tournaments. I knocked myself out for these kids.
This month we focused on the craft of teaching writers—not the writing. Revisit your favorites or find one you missed in the below collection of posts, content and other related links that supported our thinking this month.
Welcome to a new year of content and conversation in Heinemann's PLC Series. This month we focus on the craft of teaching writers—not the writing.
When we provide time and space for our students to be writers, they can immerse themselves in creating something of incredible value: a writing identity.
In this clip from Introduction to Writing Workshop by Stephanie Parsons, we have the pleasure of hearing from a few students about what it means to them to be a writer. There are few things more enjoyable than hearing children share their voice so please enjoy this short clip from her On Demand Course!
Welcome to a new year of content and conversation in our PLC Series. This month we focus on the craft of teaching writers—not the writing.
One of the most overwhelming pieces for teachers in a reading and writing workshop model is managing all of the moving parts. If writing workshop is new for you, it is likely that fears swirl into questions in your mind: Can they write on their own? How do I release control? How do coach my writers as individuals when there are so many of them?
Teacher and blogger Betsy Hubbard (@Betsy_Writes) shares her wisdom in this article, available for download below, from the Heinemann Digital Library. She describes the roles of monitoring and conferring with writers, as well explains how these practices support each other. Reflecting on the notes that emerge from monitoring and conferring provide valuable information that inform both you as the teacher and the students as they work to build independence.
Looking for more PD on this topic?
Online: This article is one of many available to you with a Digital Library Subscription. Find out more here!
Off-Site: Which authors are coming to your area for one day workshops? Click here to browsethe list by region, author, or state.
On-Site: Take a look at school-based seminars, and consulting authors and speakers available to you by clicking here.
Betsy Hubbard (@BetsyWrites) Betsy Hubbard is a kindergarten and first grade teacher. She is a co-author at the blog Two Writing Teachers and also blogs at I Think in Poems, Teaching Young Writers, and I’m Living My Words.