Today I spent a considerable amount of time meeting with my students individually about their writing. While I was doing this, the rest of my students were walking through a checklist making sure they had everything they needed before handing in their final draft for grading. For the last four years I have dedicated a lot of time to making sure I meet with my students one on one about the major writing assignments they have throughout the year. I firmly believe my students grow as writers with this instructional practice I have put into place.
Depending on the assignment, the students come prepared to talk to me. The conference should focus around the student talking about their writing. Now, I want to provide constructive feedback to my students, but the focus is for the student to talk about their writing. Purdue Owl provides a good resource for teachers interested in starting one on one writing conferences.
Below are the basics for my writing conferences with my students.
- Conference shouldn’t last any longer than 3-4 minutes TOPS
- Student finds one specific area in their writing that they want to discuss with me (This may vary depending on the assignment)
- Student discusses their strengths in the piece of writing.
- Student discusses their weakness in the piece and what they are doing to improve their weakness.
I am in a unique situation where I get to teach both 7th an 8th grade English, which means I see the students for two years. Writing conferences take time for the students to learn. On most occasions when I begin writing conferences, the students expect me to do all of the talking. Modeling the procedure is something I would suggest so students start to understand what their expectations will be during the meeting with them. Unfortunately, it takes time and for my students it takes 3 or 4 times before they completely have a grasp on the procedure.
Taking time to talk one on one with my students about their writing not only helps my students as writers, but it helps me to build a trusting relationship with my students when it comes to their writing. In addition, my students and I are talking and they are learning conversation skills that are a crucial life skill.
I am looking forward to seeing the amount of growth in this year’s 7th graders like I am seeing in the 8th graders.