And so- the students will almost always be working on different writing pieces. An easy way to track this is to create a Google document that all students can access. Create a table within this document and have the students update their current projects and their specific goals for each conference. This allows for quick reference for the teacher and encourages accountability for the students themselves. The Google document is easily and quickly updated and so remains current. If technology is unavailable, this could easily be done using sticky notes and a poster board.
So, what does a teacher do while students are writing?
- At least part of the time, students should see the teacher writing and working on his or her own project. Teachers emulate the process of writing for the students, and if at all possible, the teacher should project what he or she is writing onto a screen. Allow the students to see the struggle and the inevitable start and stop of writing. This helps to affirm the students' own struggles. They usually find this encouraging.
- Mini-conference with individual students. These conferences should last about five minutes, and it is a good idea to keep a notebook of your interactions. This one-on-one time is powerful and impactful. In many ways, I believe it is the most important teaching and encouraging I do. Students tell me this time, as short as it, makes all the difference to them. You are differentiating and affirming in a way that is impossible to do in a group. These phrases may be helpful.
- "How is your piece coming along?"
- "Tell me about what you are writing."
- "Read me a little of what you have written."
- "How can I help you?"
- 'What are you going to do next?"