Chapters 5-7 in Welcome to Writing Workshop, left me thinking about the power of a writing conference. Creating space to observe and listen to our students is critical to gathering the information we need to scaffold their next steps as writers. Stacey and Lynne provide tools, checklists, videos and record keeping systems. Chapter 7 is filled with so many resources for conferring - an area in which every teacher needs to continually explore and learn. I love how Stacey and Lynne explain the role of different types of conferences within a unit of study and within the gradual release of responsibility.
The compliment-only conference is a type I have been playing with over the past year. Students need time to solidify new learning. I worry that we don’t give them enough time to learn a new strategy and truly understand how to use it flexibly and in many situations. if we continually layer on new goals before students have time to truly own the previous goals, they never get to independent practice with any strategy. The compliment-only conference is a great way for teachers to notice and name the work students are doing without adding a new goal. It feels good to be successful and experiment with trying a strategy out in many ways. This motivates and engages the writer. Who doesn’t love to hear that things are going well?
If you want to see one in action, check out this video with Melanie Meehan:
I also love the ideas they shared about conferring toolkits. This checklist and the blogs series they share from the Two Writing Teachers have so many great ideas.
Summer is a great time for teachers to think about their toolkit. This inspired me to try out two different kinds of toolkits. One is a 10-Pocket Folder. Since I worked in K-6 classrooms, I have one for K-2 and one for 3-6.
I left one tab blank. I am envisioning putting some materials to create anchor charts, micro-progressions, goal sheets and shared writing. Here are some other tools I want to have on hand:
And then I had to decide what I would carry it all in - what would be my “toolbox?” I decided to go with a vintage bag I love. It has voice and style. It is a bag i enjoy and I want kids to see that revision is joyful. Here is my toolbox:
I also decided to make a digital toolkit. I am in so many schools now that have Airplay and 1:1 devices. The technology does offer some great opportunities to organize tools and allow kids to access tools as they needs them. i made my digital toolkit in Evernote and synced it with Penultimate. This gives me the ability to organize student writing, mentor texts, video, voice notes, photos, and PDFs. I love that Penultimate has different paper options and allows me to “write” and “draw.” I love the Apple Pencil. It makes it easy for me to share the pencil during a shared writing lesson. Everything in the digital notebook can be displayed during whole class lessons using a LCD projector and shared with students in small group lessons on my iPad. I can even send students tools for them to add to their writing notebooks. The digital platform makes it so easy for everyone to share resources with each other and for me to show the writing process to students since I can save each version of my writing. Here is my digital toolkit:
I look forward to using my toolkit in September and revising it along the way. I would love to hear what is in your toolkit? Do you have a digital and paper toolkit? What system works best for you?