Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Teachers College, Writing Conferences, and a New Look For Me

I am EXTREMELY lucky to be a participant in training with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project from New York!
Of course I would rather be in New York, but spending the week with Natalie Louis (one of the kindergarten co-writers of Lucy Calkin's new units of study) is definitely a privilege.

Natalie is quite the presenter.
She has made us laugh.
She had made us cry.
Not a bad cry of course...
A touching cry.

Click the image below to learn more about the Teachers College

One topic that we spent a lot of time on was conferring.
I loved it when Natalie said that even Lucy Calkins says you can spend your entire life learning how to confer.
It isn't easy!
And it definitely makes me feel better to hear Lucy say the same.

We discussed, in depth, the components of a conference.

In Lucy's words, "All the power to get a person to learn something is in the research."
The key points to remember during the research component are to connect with the learner and ask more than one question.
Sample questions:
What are you trying as a writer?
Can you show what your trying in your writing?
Is there another place in your writing where you tried that?

Give genuine compliments.
Don't say things like...
You're a good writer!
This is a great piece!
Key points to remember in the compliment component are to name the specific thing you notice the student doing well, tell where you noticed it in the writing, and tell why it matters.

Based on the research, it is time to make a decision about what to teach during the conference as well as how to teach it.
Key points to remember during the decide component are to think about area of growth which you noticed during the research or stretch a strength that you mentioned during the compliment.
"A student's growth is in the stretch." - Natalie Louis
Quick jump from Teachers College to Matt Glover-
Think of one thing to nudge the writer.  Yes we know there are many things we can teach, but choose one thing which the writer will most benefit from.

Teach the writer what the can and should do.
Teach the writer not the writing.
Key points to remember during the teach are to one way or another, demonstrate or show a good quality of writing and then give the student a chance to try it out in front of you.
Also, take notes.
In Natalie's words, "There is no expectation for how good your notes need to be.  They are for you!"
You are the one who needs to use these notes to help stretch your students' writing.  So write down whatever you need to help your students grow from conference to conference.

This is what you leave the learner with, based on your teach.  The goal the student will work on independently as a writer.  What you will watch for as you monitor and assess the student in the day-to-day writing.  You could do this in a variety of ways.  You could ask the student what they think their goal should be.  You could jot it down for them on a post-it note.  The students can write it down in their journals.
Whatever way you decide to go with, the key points in the link component are to keep track of the goal in your notes and monitor the students progress toward mastering the goal.

My goal this year as a Teaching and Learning Coach is to confer with students more when I am observing in a classroom.
I want to give the teachers the opportunity to watch and learn from my conferences (the good and the bad).

Now on to a COMPLETELY different topic!
Me!!! LOL
I have been itching to chop my hair off and finally took the plunge!
After 10 inches which will be donated, here is a pic of my new look!

Hope you found this information useful!  I am loving all the learning I am receiving from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

What does your conference look like?  Let's learn from each other!

Antoinette :)

1 comment:

  1. I really like the structure TCRWP gives for conferences. Without it, I think I would be completely overwhelmed!! I love Natalie-I was in a session with her in NY this month. She has great ideas.