Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Conferencing in Writing.

This is one area I really want to improve my skills in this year.  As well as reading Day by Day I have been reading Lori Rog and various web sites. 

One insight, long overdue, that came to me is that I shouldn't follow one person's recipe. I can read around and then decide what I will do.  I don't want to make someone else the guru!  I guess we are fortunate in New Zealand, generally we don't have anyone saying 'you must do it this way.'  As  well at our particular school we have a Principal and staff who are open to each  teacher exploring their own pathway.

At this point in time I think I will use a notebook with a pages for each student.  I need to record the date, compliment, and teaching point.  Also the topic and genre.  I think I will need a one page at a glance sheet as well where I can check that I have met each student for some type of conference each week. I think some conferences will be more check in, quick ones, so this would be a way of recording that. I do not want to tie myself up in knots! 

Ayres and Shubitz discuss the choice of words spoken by the teacher in conferencing.  I think they have a point, and once I get going I am going to reflect more on that.  At this point I think I will need to record myself to check up on what I am doing well and what I need to develop.

The other part of conferencing is the peer conference.   I want to make this useful and meaningful. I will take it slowly but will start it off in the first unit.  The unit I think I will start with is a routines and organisational unit, maybe two weeks long, that will get these things set up.  I think I will partner the students, (dicey!) and perhaps to begin with have them stick to the same partner for a month.  I will need to do the partnering, otherwise leaves it up to friends choosing friends.  I think I will have three peer conferencing places, so if they are being used, others will need to wait.  They can do something else in the meantime.  At another time I will think through how to model this for the students. Mainly I think it needs to be kept simple, and go with the compliment, possibly asking a question, and giving one idea for developing the writing.

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