I use to be the worst at conferencing. Honestly... I didn't like it. It was a struggle because I never knew what to do. So instead of actually pulling conferences and guiding students, I would pull small strategy groups or work on something else. I realized that the students were never finding out if the things they were doing were correct. I came up with this conference form and hopefully this will help your writing instruction as much as it helped mine.
When should you conference?
Honestly… it will be very difficult at first.
I struggle with pulling conferences at first,
but once I get into the groove- then I am good. You should be able to pull 3-5 students PER DAY. That way over a week you will see each student at least once. Are you going to do this as soon as you start the school year? NO! I had to put timers on my phone to help me stay on track. The first week, I got through 8 of my 20 students. The second week was 10, then 14, then finally I got through all 18 in one week. It took me four weeks to get my rhythm. I did keep track of which students I saw and made sure the following week that I targeted the students that I missed.
How do you conference?
It is so easy to say “fix this- and this-
and this.” As teachers, we need to get out
of this terrible habit. Okay-so what do you do?
First- Always welcome and say hi to them.
Ask if you can read their story. Don’t just take
their story. This is special moments to them
and it’s not your place to be rude about
Second- Give them something to compliment
them on. Don’t worry there is a page in
the file that has a list of things you can
compliment them on.
Third- Now tell them what they need to work
on. Only give them one item to fix. The reason
why??-because they can’t remember everything! One thing will be sure to get done. When they come back to you, you will be able to see if they completed the task. Now, you are probably going to see 20 things that they need to work on. If you are OCD like me you can write errors on a sticky note and refer back to that later.
Last- Write it down!!!! My first year I made the
mistake of never writing it down. I kept repeating
myself to the kids on everything they needed to work on.
I had no way of monitoring their growth or to
check back to see if they completed the last task.
On the document, you will see that there is a section for compliments. You can keep track of the last compliment that you gave them so you don't repeat yourself. The next line is the teaching point. What did you just teach them to do? It's kind of like a reteach but in writing. The last line is the next step. I always ask them what they are going to be working on next. Then I fill it in. For my students who are strugglers, I will have them sign it because then they feel like they are being held accountable and they HAVE to do what they signed. I hope this helped you with conferencing notes & guiding the conferences. If you want to purchase the K-2 conference guide you can click :here.