Strategy

Writing Conferences

One-on-One Meetings

UDL 5.3

Writing conferences are a part of the writing process in which students meet with the teacher in a one-on-one setting at specific times in the writing process (e.g., when a draft is ready for revision, when a student feels stuck) in order to receive feedback and support in a timely manner. Before meeting, the teacher should review a writing draft and develop a specific objective to guide the conference (e.g., Does the textual evidence in paragraph #2 support the thesis statement?). The focused nature of the conference provides the student with individual attention and encouragement, which motivates the student to reflect on his/her writing and confidently pursue the next step of the writing process. During the conference, the student and teacher discuss a draft, possible revisions, and/or relevant writing strategies for improvement. After the conference, the student independently revises work based on feedback.

Implementation Tips

Teach Writing Strategies
Teach writing strategies relevant to the student’s conference objective or issues that arise during the discussion. The teacher identifies 1-2 relevant strategies and teaches a short, focused mini-lesson (e.g., transition words and phrases, increasing sentence variety). After the lesson, the student applies these strategies to his/her writing.
Manage the Classroom
Create routines and procedures for the rest of the class to work independently while the teacher is meeting one-on-one with a student in Writing Conferences. Communicate that while the teacher is meeting, other students must be working independently and quietly and should not interrupt the teacher.
Prepare Conference Objectives
Prepare a goal-planning sheet for students to develop an open-ended question based on the provided writing task and rubric. Students can also reflect on an accomplishment or area of growth exhibited in their writing. This preparation guides the conference and supports a student’s ability to dialogue about their writing progress.
Select Resources
Select resources (e.g., exemplars, rubrics) that illustrate qualities of good writing. Use these examples during the conference to reinforce the strategies discussed in response to the student’s guiding question or objective. By providing relevant examples, the teacher guides and motivates the student in concrete ways.
Stay Focused
Keep conferences short and focused, ideally around ten minutes. The purpose of the conference is not to edit or revise an entire student draft, which will overwhelm the student. Focus closely on part of the draft and specific strategies and areas of improvement.
Provide Revision Time
Provide time for revisions immediately following the conference. Students will leave the conference with a checklist of 1-2 action items or strategies to guide their revisions. Support independent work time by providing resources (e.g., graphic organizers or revision checklists) that allow the student to work effectively.
Scheduling and Sign-Ups
Schedule writing conferences to allow periodic check-ins throughout the writing process (e.g., before/during revision) in order to allow for timely feedback that can be implemented immediately. Allow students to take ownership of their writing growth by signing up for a conference when they need feedback or extra support.
Maintain a Log
Maintain a [[http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/wp-content/pdf/writing/conference1.pdf | conference log]] to track student progress over time. A log helps teachers reflect on general patterns in feedback and implementation of strategies. The log can be used to guide mini-lessons, to reinforce content from a previous conference, and analyze student growth.

Examples

Developing a Thesis Statement
In the planning stages of writing a literary analysis essay, students may choose to sign up for a writing conference with their teacher to support the pre-writing process. Prior to the conference, students prepare and develop 1-2 potential thesis statements (e.g., In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude’s blind loyalty to King Claudius demonstrates her inability to think of anybody beyond herself.) During the conference, the student and teacher discuss ways to narrow or expand the focus of the thesis statement.They might also plan ways to organize the essay and analyze which textual evidence would best support the thesis statement.
Final Project Reflection
At the beginning of a unit, students set specific writing goals (e.g. citing relevant evidence, achieving a formal tone in writing). After students submit final drafts of writing, students conference with teacher after the assignments is assessed. During the conference, teacher and student reflect on the student’s initial writing goals and use a rubric to assess measurable growth in the student’s writing; they could analyze growth in several writing samples from throughout the year. Finally, teacher and student determine writing objectives to apply to future writing.
Elementary Writing Conferences
The teacher reviews a student’s work and begins the writing conference by pointing out the strong character description in the student’s narrative. The teacher then asks the student what questions the student has. The student says, “I am supposed to revise my writing, but I do not know what to revise.” The teacher shows the student the writing rubric and an exemplar, and together they discover that student has not used any dialogue. The teacher and the student highlight some places where dialogue could be added. The student leaves the conference and works independently to add dialogue.

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