Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday- One to One

Hello from Lansing, Michigan!  I mentioned last week that I'm here to sit on the bias committee for the Interim Test for K-2.  It is a test option for school to use with grades that are not covered by the Smarter Balanced assessment.  I'll share more Thursday about the process.... very interesting!

Although this work is keeping me busy, there is some down time (and we cannot use our phones or internet- confidentiality and all that!).  This week I'm reading....

Click HERE to go to Amazon.
 Last year, I was focusing on Writers Workshop as my goal for development.  I've always been more confident in reading.  I won't bore you with rehashing old information about my journey.  You can check them out at your leisure :)

Conferring is the heart of meeting a writer where they are and supporting them in their journey.  I highlighted the poor thing short of coloring book status!  The book starts by giving an overview of the workshop model, management implications (questions to ask yourself), and record-keeping ideas and thoughts.  Another chapter introduces the purpose of conferring and the different types of conferences that we have with writers.  

There are four defined parts of the teacher-writer conference:
  1. Research: When the teacher approaches the writer, the first thing is to ask about their work and get them thinking about the process, as well as the content.  One can start with a question or a request like: Tell me about your work as a writer today.  The teacher may need to restate their answer, providing the language that writer’s use.  Asking the child to be specific to an area of their work is also helpful.
  2. Decide: By using the information gathered in the research, the teacher will then decide what will help the writer solve their problem/ issue or make it better.  The lesson or suggestions should be one that will carry over into many other works, not just the current piece that the child is writing.
  3. Teach: There are a few different ways to teach, based on the work needed.   
    • Demonstration, by using a portion of the child’s work or even the teacher’s own writing.  This is best for basic skills, such as stretching out the sounds in words or adding punctuation.   
    • Guided practice, where the teacher talks the child through the steps of the skill or technique.  The teacher listens to the child talk through the process and then they will try it, with the teacher close for support.   
    • Inquiry, using a mentor text that shows the child exactly what the successful “writer move” looks like.  The teacher then names it and the child can try it in their own work.  The final method is similar to a straight lecture-format lesson.  This may include an anecdote of a teacher-written story or even just directly telling the child how something is done (like punctuation).
    4.  Link:  In this portion, the teacher gives a name to what the child has tried and/or learned.  The     
         important part of this step is that it is something that can be applied in other pieces, not just the 
         current work.

The next few chapters dig deeper into each part of the conference.  Then, special circumstances are addressed, such as: English Languish Learners, Kindergartners, and transferring this technique into other areas of the curriculum when writing.

The coolest part of the book is the section of transcripts (REAL conferences with students).  They are organized by the different units in the Primary Units of Study.  These were very helpful, as I can actually see these types of conferences taking place in my room.  

Happy reading about writing!


  1. As a fellow Michigan teacher, what in the world is going on with our state and CCSS? Hopefully, the work you are doing is a sign it will truly happen. I find our lawmakers dragging their heels to be very embarrassing! Also, as a 1st grade teacher, I am very curious about the interim test for K-2. First I'd heard of it!

  2. Thanks Melissa! I am able to post more info tonight or tomorrow. I cannot talk content, specifically, but can share the process of development. It is pretty incredible. I was able to be here in March to review the passages for reading, now I get to review the questions. So interesting!