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Transcript of Conferring
Jen Frish, Erica Jaastad, Sierra Strattner, and Alicia Troncoso Who Started Conferring? Lucy Calkins worked extensively with Don Graves in developing the concept of process-based writing, Lucy Calkins, Amanda Hartman, and Zoe White are credited with establishing the architecture for a writing and reading conferring. This is the primary method for advancing student growth in writing and reading used recommended by the TCRWP.
There are many other "experts" in the field of conferring including: Carl Anderson, Donald Murray, and Jennifer Serravallo. Research: "How's it going?" "What are you working on as a writer?" "Can you take me on a tour of your notebook?" "How is this unit going for you?"
Compliment: "I noticed you did ____ really well...keep doing ____
Decide: "Can I give you a tip?"
Teach: "Let me show you how..."
Active Engagement: "Are you ready to give it a try?"
Link: "Today and every day..." What is the Architecture of a Conference? Conferring has long been regarded as a precious opportunity for a teacher to spend one-on-one time with a student. The teacher is able to ask the student about their writing, compliment an area that the child is excelling in while simultaneously finding a bite-sized teaching point.
Conferring is a valuable few minutes where a teacher can step away from the needs of his/her class and focus on the progress on one child. As Carl Andersen eloquently stated, "Conferring is not the icing on the cake; it is the cake." The Why Behind Conferring Conferring is about teaching students the kinds of questions they need to ask themselves as they write.
The Teacher's Talk...
Context embedded and context driven
Side- by -side
Use of cognitive academic language "name the skill for the student"
The Student's Talk...
Speak fluently about the writing process
Name what they are thinking about as writers
Engage in a conversation What Does Conferring Talk Sound Like? What are the teaching methods within a conference? Demonstration: This is when you show rather than tell the student how to use the strategy or practice the skill.
Guided Practice: The teacher provides scaffolds for what the students will be doing - gradually removing them towards independence.
Explicit Instruction with an Example: The student walks away with a clear example of what is expected through gestures and talk, like giving a small speech that is memorable.
Inquiry: The student takes part in participating with the teaching in studying a skill and extracting what he/she will apply in their writing. Show me Some Examples When we Research we Ask Multiple Questions E: Good morning Rose, how’s your writing work going today?
R: Good, I’ve been working on my essay I’m trying to go from boxes and bullets to my draft.
E: Hmm, that’s hard work. How’s it going?
R: Pretty good. But I’m trying not to just copy my boxes and bullets, I’m trying to add on and make it like better.
E: Great! You are so right, when you go from generating and planning your ideas to drafting them you always want to add more and make it your best work yet. Can you tell me some specific things that you are trying to do to make your draft better?
R: Uh huh. I’m trying to show how important my topic is. I want people to really know how important it is to save animals.
E: Great! Can you show me a spot where you did this?
R: Yes! In my second paragraph on my boxes and bullets I wrote, “I hear a dog whining.” Now in my draft I said more I said, “I could see dogs whining and I could hear them whining. I felt so sad for them I just wanted to cry.” Show Me Some Examples We Compliment in a Meaningful Way T: Well Justin I have to say I am VERY impressed with what you’ve done so far in your draft! In your first paragraph, your lead, you did something I almost NEVER see any other writers in this class do right away in their drafts, which is getting the reader hooked! Right from the very beginning, you grabbed my attention and pulled me in by giving me an important detail about the specific action of what you were doing. For example, you wrote, “I was finishing a bag of chips from snacktime as I went outside in the front yard of school.” And not only that, but you kept me reeled into your story by your last sentence as well, “I didn’t know what he was going to do to me.” It was hard for me not to gasp to myself because that evoked such curiosity of what you were going to say on the next page, and I was really nervous for you! I can tell this is already going to be such a great story! Listen to an "Expert" Teach S: Um. Well, it is one of my opinions.
T: Okay, so what is this story, how is this going to support the idea that it is fun? Because this is your opinion, yes, Mind Craft is fun. So how is this story going to show me that? What you are trying to do is give me evidence that Mind Craft is fun. Connecting to the server doesn’t sound like too much fun, how are you going to make this show me that Mind Craft is fun?
S: Oh, I know what. I’m going to show how to build something really big with two people and with one person you cant do the biggest stuff, like I’m going to show how we made one of our houses and I’m also going to show how we made a mine we crafted.
T: Okay, so what I am hearing you say is that you are going to zoom into a specific time that you were building something with another player. Is that what I am hearing?
S: Basically yeah. Challenges Jennifer: Conferring has been a big challenge for me as well for many reasons. First, I find it very difficult to have the ability to think on the spot. Even though there aren’t that many components to the actual architecture of a conference, there is a lot that go into implementing each of them.I struggle with choosing what to teach. Having that short one-on-one time with a student is so valuable, yet it’s hard to make such important decisions all at once in a short time. I’ve also found in my teaching experience that with a large class of 30 students, it’s a constant struggle to stick to a schedule that will ensure I meet with each student as much as I would like.
Erica: The most challenging part of conferring for me is making sure that my conferring sticks. When I compliment and teach I feel like students get it and I see immediate progress in their work. For me, the link and truly establishing the transferability of this skill to "today and everyday" has been a challenge.
Sierra: Conferring has been a challenge for me mainly because of time. I teach in a very structured environment with only 35-38 minutes of writing 4 days a week. This makes it very difficult to balance whole group teaching and in the moment small group re-teaching with one-on-one conferencing. I also haven't found a system that has worked for me in terms of keeping track of my conferencing notes. I have tried notebooks, post-its stapled into folders etc. but nothing seems to stick. I either lose pieces or it never gets pulled out again.
Alicia: Conferring has been a big challenge for me as it is on the spot and you need to fish for compliments and a teaching point right then and there. The most challenging for me is coming up with a valuable compliment for the student and a teaching point that makes the students work stronger and better. What did We do? 1) We researched and read up on best practices and methods for conferring.
2) We tried out some conferences.
3) We reflected, discussed, and tried some more.
4) We listened, watched, and read more about "expert" conferrers.
5) We reflected, discussed, and tried out even more! Resources Anderson, C. (2000). How's it Going? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Calkins, L., Hartman, A., White, Z. (2005). One to One: The Art of Conferring with Young Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Calkins, L. (1994). The Art of Teaching Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Active Engagement and Link
E: Wow Rose- look at you! This is great work. Let’s try one more together and then you can go work by yourself. Can you think of another counter-argument?
R: Well – I bet some people feel like they don’t have money to save animals.
E: That is a very important reason. What will your arguments be again that?
R: I could write, “Saving animals isn’t that expensive. Cat and dog food is a lot cheaper than people food. Plus, animals can’t make money to take care of themselves while people can.”
E: That’s excellent! I think you are really getting the hang of this. So Rose, remember that one way writers can make their writing even more persuasive is to think about counter-arguments and then argue against those reasons. It is like you are poking holes in their arguments and showing how they don’t work in the end. T: So what I like that you are doing is that you are being very detailed in the way that you are planning what you are going to write. What I want you to think about, before you continue, is if this story going to help show how Mind Craft is fun. What you are doing is you are showing me how you connect on the server, which is great because it is one of your reasons you connect to the server to play with other people. When we are writing our evidence everything has to support our opinion. So, Mind Craft is fun [points to opinion], how are you going to show that in this story that you are going to write? How is this story that you are planning right now going to show how Mind Craft is fun? How Does Conferring Connect with what we've Learned in Literacy in the Early Years? Conferring is about teaching into and from strengths.
Conferring is about allowing students to pursue their own interests and passions.
Conferring is about meeting children where they are, assessing their needs, and teaching upon that.
Conferring, like many aspects of good teaching, is a journey and a process. The more you practice conferring the more natural it will feel and the better you will become at using conferences to move your students forward in their reading and writing! Here are some conferring resources... An example of a teacher's conferring record keeping.
In the box there is a specific skill that she is working
on with the student. She uses a post-it note to jot
the teaching point and other important notes. Each
note is dated and is kept with the collection of other notes on that same student. This system works because it is slim and easy to care around during conferences. This second example showcases a more complex
system. The teacher cuts and pastes specific skills on the
student's level from the continuum. The teacher jots down
notes underneath each indicator when she teaches them. This example shows keeping track of a student's growth over time. At the top I wrote the goal for this group of students. As I met with each student who was working with this goal I tracked their progress over time. This also helped me form strategy groups. More conferring resources... Another example for record keeping. This is an effective way of keeping all the conferences together by having multiple sheets inside where you an easily follow the students progress by turning each page and reading about each conference. Using this sheet you can track the date, compliment, notes (including teaching points and observations), and write goals for the student. By tracking the compliments you give the student you prevent repeating previous compliments. Additionally, by adding a goals column you can have conversations in upcoming conferences about how they have worked out for the student.