Port Huron Writing support 2015-16
Elementary writing support focusing on conferring and using teacher notebooks.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Port Huron Writing support 2015-16
Focus: Conferring / Notebooking
Assistant Director ELA
St. ClairCounty RESA
Teaching Point Feedback
Writer’s Workshop Format
( 5-10 min.)
* Every student should have their own
(K-1 might use a folder
system or a series of mini-
* Students should write in their
notebooks every day.
Start with Notebooking
"A writer's notebook works just like an
incubator; a protective place to keep
your infant idea safe and warm, a place
for it to grow while it is too young, too
new, to survive on its own."
Teacher needs to have their
own writer’s notebook and
commit to using it!
Share your drafts and notebook
entries with students to make
your thinking transparent.
Method of Instruction
narrate the step-
by-step process a
to do the work
what you hope to
walk the students
process of using a
prompts to coach
Inquiry: using a
example, pose an
inquiry question to
your students to
look closely at the
writing to try to
figure out how the
student did this
When instructing with your
notebook, show students how you
use checklists to monitor your
• Check a writing on demand
sample or example from your
notebook for evidence of
components from checklist
• Site evidence
• Hold yourself accountable
• Honestly identify current status
• Clarify steps to mastery
• Determine next steps to mastery
Notebook Demonstrations for
• Are done during whole class mini-
• Are done during individual
• Are done with partners
• Are done in small groups
Conferring works. With some planning, record-keeping, and organization, we can make
sure this crucial teaching construct remains in its rightful place at the heart of reading
and writing workshops.
In study after study, students all feel that the conferences were the most valuable form
of instruction to improve their learning.
As Lucy Calkins delivered the keynote address at theTeachers College Reading and
Writing Project Institute at Columbia University, she shared that she was reminded of
the importance of holding on to our truths, our values, in our instruction. Even as
initiatives change and expectations rise around us, we must hold fast to what we know
works best for students. Conferring works!
Goals of aWriting Conference
When you confer with a
student, it isn’t your job to fix
or edit the student’s writing.
Rather, it’s to teach the
student one strategy or
technique he can use in a
current piece of writing and
continue to use in future
Independent Practice with Conferring
When choosing your teaching point think: “Of all the options I
have, what can I teach that will make the biggest difference
for this writer?”
Students work independently while
the teacher meets with small
groups or individual students.
•Conferring Talking Cards – What are you
working on as a writer?
Getting to KnowYourWriters
Beginning conferences can seem like conversations where we get to
know our students’ writing habits and behaviors and begin to create
profiles of our students to help us plan instruction:
During these conversations we ask:
• Why did you choose to write this story?
• Do you like to write?
• Do you share what you write with anyone at home?
• Why do you write?
• When do you like to write?
• Where is your favorite place to write?
• Tell me about one of your favorite stories you have written. Why is it your favorite?
• Is there a type of story that you do not like to write?
• Do you have a favorite author you like to learn from?
• What do you like best about writing?
• What is something that is hard for you when you are writing?
Reading Conferring Guidelines
• First, determine what stage of the
writing progression the student is
• Next, identify what characteristics
of the stage the student is doing
well and using but confusing.
• Be sure the student is focused on a
specific area of need by asking an
open-ended question such as,
“What are you working on as a
writer?” Writer shares his
application of current thinking
strategies he is using.
• Cultivate Rigor: teach the thinker
• Become an expert at asking
follow-up questions based on
your observations and what the
student tells you.
• Have the student read and
discuss a brief passage with
you. Discuss something that
you both noticed during the
• Nurture Inquiry: use
• Focus on the learning
progression to help the student
grow as a writer.
• Give appropriate feedback.
“The most powerful single influence enhancing
achievement is feedback”
Much of the
are more likely
to use it to
level is far
than on the
What Must Feedback Include?
1. Recognition of
the desired goal.
2. Evidence about
understanding of a
way to close the
gap between the
Feedback must meet its purpose
A class was working on paragraphs, and the teacher
assigned her class to write a paragraph to answer the
question “Do you think dogs or cats make better pets?”
The teacher gave written
feedback – good;
However, the feedback was all
about the convention errors the
student had made – not the
focus of the assignment which
was a complete paragraph with
a clear topic, at least 3
supporting sentences, and a
This feedback approach does
not match the criteria for the
learning target, and since the
only feedback the student
received was about mechanics,
the message is to fix those
errors. Recopying by route may
result in a mechanically free
paragraph with no learning
involved and still without a clear
You know your feedback is good if you get the
• Your students do learn – their work improves.
• Your students become more motivated – they believe they can learn, they want to
learn, an they take more control over their own learning.
• Your classroom becomes a place where feedback, including constructive, is valued
and viewed as productive.
• Students need to understand that it isn’t the teacher’s job or their classmates’ job
to make them a better writer. It is their job. You are in charge.
• It starts with you saying to yourself, “This matters to me, and I have to get better
at it.”Then assess yourself and plan your next steps with the help of the checklists.
• Use the checklist as a tool for self-assessment and goal-setting.
• Your success in helping a student grow as a
writer in a conference depends on your skill
as a teacher. The checklists reflect your
instruction as much as student growth.
• Start by naming and defining the specific
craft, skill or technique that you together
have determined is a need. Explain why it’s
important for the student to learn.To help
the student understand the skill or
technique, you might show an example.
• Most importantly, explain how the student
can use the skill or technique in his own
• Commit to the idea all children can think at
• Try it – be sure to have the
student try it and explain
their thinking before you end
• Link it – help the student to
connect how they will
continue to use this skill or
technique to help them
improve their writing and
accomplish their goal.
• Next steps – be sure to have
the student explain what
their next steps in working
with this skill or technique
How Often Should I Confer?
• Everyday, everyday, everyday for both reading and writing
• Each conference will take about 3-10 minutes
• Try to get to every student at least once a week; strugglers will need more
Using the Checklists
2nd Grade Checklist
Principals of Conferences that Move Students along a
Trajectory in a Learning Progression
1. Begin by looking back at old conference notes, checking to see what was taught
previously and how the student is advancing toward those prior goals.
2. Research your student’s work, asking questions such as “What are you working on
as a writer?”
3. Don’t limit your research to one area - gather information about what the student
is doing as a writer in many areas of the progression.
4. Use appropriate feedback, complimenting the student in a way that will allow her
to do more work, naming it clearly, and showing the student an example.
5. Differentiate by using the appropriate checklist below, at, or above grade level to
meet the need of the student.
6. Incorporate the use of checklists into what you already know about good
7. Help students see checklists as a source of goals writers can use to grow in
substantial ways instead of a “checklist mentality.”
8. Guide students to understand the reasons behind each aspect of the checklist, for
example, why a writer would add dialogue.
How Can I Help My PartnerWith Goals?
Ask Questions • “What are you working on?”
• “Can you show me where you
• “How can I help you?”
Be a Cheerleader • “I love the way you…”
(Be specific and show your partner the
parts you admire.)
Give Feedback • “ Maybe you could try…”
• “ If you want I could help you
• “ I’m not sure this part is working…”
Goal Setting Chart
Designate a portion of their notebook as “Goals, Plans, and Reflections.”
Record Keeping Examples
Conferencing Form :
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