Conferencing with young or inexperienced writers can be challenging. For them to become writers, it must become personal. How can we help students discover that writer within through our conferencing time with them?
Good conferencing requires clear instruction beforehand. Once that happens, the teacher can become a coach. Fred Shoemaker, an experienced golfing instructor, says a coachs primary role is to help students achieve awareness." Its no different in your class. Become a mirror; teach students to reflect on their own writing.
What does strong conferencing look like?
The single most important element children need to grow into writers is the belief that they are writers."
~ Lucy Calkins
Strong conferences guide, focus, and explore possibilities. They do not give one right answer. Writers always have choices. If the writer is stuck, what is the problem? If he is finished, what is missing? If she is confused, clarify with a thoughtful statement or question such as:
Dont try to solve every writers every problem all at once. Aim at one component the student is ready and capable of successfully addressing. Seek out the one portion of the writing with the most potential. Nancie Atwell, author of In the Middle, tells us students learn best the mechanics of writing through the context of their compositions."
The longer I myself write, the more I realize the power language has. Plan your conferences as a potent way to help students communicate their message.
Article by Cathy Puett Miller
Copyright 2008 Education World