Writing conferences, talking one-on-one with students about their writing,
can help teachers encourage students to reflect about their writing as well
as support them as they continue to grow as writers. Conferencing can be done
during any stage of the writing process and may not be necessary for every student
at the same time in the process. They may be formal or informal and may last
as long as 20 minutes or as little as two minutes. Several different types of
conferences are described below:
Process conferences may be held any time
during the writing that the student needs individual teacher input. These conferences
may be teacher or student initiated and may involve things like refining the
essay topic, working through a particularly troubling piece of the writing,
or discussing how to eliminate unnecessary elaboration. The focus of these conferences
is generally on content, organization and style rather than conventions, although
that aspect certainly may be addressed if appropriate. The student should be
given the "lead" as much as possible during these conferences so
that it becomes a conversation about issues that matter to the student as a
writer rather than a list of recommended changes given by the teacher with no
real "thinking" on the part of the student. The teacher should ask
probing questions or make comments that engage the student in talking about
A teacher may find it helpful to grade
a student's paper aloud with the student present by reading it aloud without
making written comments on the paper until the end. In this way students have
an opportunity to see areas of confusion and better understand the teacher's
expectations as revealed by the comments made during the reading of the paper.
A teacher may meet with a student
after grading a paper to discuss comments and suggestions made in writing on
the paper. After being given a chance to review the paper, the student then
has a chance to ask about things that still confuse them, summarize their overall
concerns about the writing, and make plans for future assignments.
A student may meet with the teacher
after receiving a graded essay to make plans for revision, ask questions about
comments on the paper, and make a "contract" for the content of
the revision. Students should be encouraged to go beyond mere editing and truly
revise the essay.
At the end of a quarter or unit a teacher
may wish to conference with a student by looking at the writings that have been
collected over that period. This gives the teacher and student a chance to discuss
patterns in the writing, areas of concern, or goals for future writing.
In Journalism I, students participate in portfolio conferences at the end
of each semester as the teacher meets with them individually to discuss writing
collected, with two pieces being fully polished, over the semester. Student
and teacher discuss setting a goal for the next nine weeks or semester.
In Early Childhood Education II, students participate in process conferences
as they work to develop a curriculum for a preschool founded on the Montressori
philosophy of education.
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