Tips for Conducting Writing Conferences

  • I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.

    Open the conference with a leading question that will get the student to open up such as:

    • How is your writing going today
    • What are you working on as a writer today?
    • How are you working on applying the mini-lesson to your writing today?

         Give the student ownership in the conference by providing an opportunity to talk about what he/she wants to talk about during the conference:

    • Is there something in your writing that you’d like us to look at together
    • What do you want to focus our conference on today?
    • What do you need help with in your writing?

        Select one teaching moment after reading a section of the student’s writing (Remember at this point that although many students will have several places you can take them, pick one place.  You are not trying to fix the entire piece of writing; you are trying to make the student a better writer, arming him/her with one new understanding at a time that he/she will be able to apply independently without you there.  Fix the writer, not the writing):

    • After reading your writing, I noticed that ______________.  Let’s talk about this… (Go into teaching a specific skill within the writing based on what you notice.  Ground your talk in evidence from the writing and actively engage the student to ensure that they are able to apply what you are trying to teach him/her independently.  Your teaching point could be centered around something you notice about the students’ conventions, ideas, writing organization, word choice, sentence fluency, adding descriptive language, etc.)
    • Make the learning generative/Encourage Self-Reflection and Intrinsic Motivation:
    • As a writer, how will you use what we talked about during our conference today as you continue to work independently?
    • What is a goal that you are going to continue to work toward as a writer?