“Like a good music teacher, the writing teacher endures the bad melodies and shaky rhythms, stays patient, and picks out moments when the writing works well.  It might be but a sentence… It might be but a single phrase.  Even in a ‘bad’ piece of writing, the mentor reaches into the chaos, finds a place where the writing works, pulls it from the wreckage, names it, and makes the writer aware of this emerging skill with words.
Careful praise of this kind can fuel a writer for a long time.”
-Ralph Fletcher, What A Writer Needs

“…every child deserves to start where he or she is as a writer 
and to be challenged to go farther.” 
–Lucy Calkins
Writing Conferences
Keeping Conference Records (Class)- Sample Form

Keeping Conference Records (9 kids)- Sample Form

Keeping Conference Records- Sample Form With Goals

Sample Conference Cheat Sheet

This FREE poster pack from "Teaching That Makes Sense" will make a great addition to your "teacher conference tool-kit" but can also be used to generate ideas for mini-lessons, strategy groups, and anchor charts.

Writing Conference Principles

Coaching Reluctant Writers

What Do I Need to Start Conferring In My Classroom?
  • Established writing community
  • Daily Writers Workshop
  • Mini-lessons
  • Clear Expectations
  • Writing toolkits for groups of writers
  • Classroom resources (word wall, anchor charts, ABCs)
  • Teacher Conference Toolbox
  • Mentor Texts
  • Teacher & student writing samples
  • Teacher Conference Notes
  • INDEPENDENT writers!

How Do I Create Independent Writers? 
Common Problems & Possible Solutions…

“I don’t know what to write about.”
Think about important people
Think about important places
Think about the last day or two
Look around the room
Re-read your work
Think about… What have I done recently?  What is   
     important to me?

“How do you spell…?”
Stretch out the words and write the sounds you hear
Use your ABC chart
Use the word wall
Quietly ask someone who is near you
Give it a try and go on

“I’m done!”
“When you think you’re done, you’ve just begun.”
Writers are never done… Look at Dr. Seuss
Read over your work and add to the words or pictures.
Start a new piece

Classroom Management for Conferring
  • Model how to ‘try your best and move on’
  • Celebrate and recognize students who work independently
  • Think of today’s problem as tomorrow’s mini-lesson
  • Create anchor charts that are relevant and kid-friendly
  • Use mid-workshop interruption to redirect
  • Have materials available for students
  • Model how to self-manage and share materials
  • Model how and when to use classroom resources
  • Use the teaching share to recognize independent writers
  • Move around the room while conferring
  • Set-up ‘non-negotiables’
  • Build stamina
  • Celebrate writing

Types of Conferences
Compliment Conferences
  • Getting to know you as a writer
  • Sets the tone
  • Begins the process of conferring

Rehearsal Conferences
  • How to get started
  • Finding ideas
  • Choosing paper
  • Planning 

Expectation Conferences
  • Expectations & classroom procedures
  • How to solve problems independently
  • Managing writers tools
  • Stamina
  • Good writing habits

Content Conferences
  • Develop a story
  • Staying focused

Convention Conferences
  • Stretching words & other spelling strategies
  • Using classroom resources
  • Writing for readers

Conference Language
  • How is your writing going?
  •  How can I help you with your writing?
  • Tell me more about…
  •  What do you plan to do next in your writing?
  • How do you feel about this piece of writing?
  • Do you have any questions/ concerns about your writing?
  • Is this easy/ hard for you as a writer?
  • Last time we talked about… how did that go?
  • We’ve been working on.. can you show me where you tried that?
  • I’m trying to picture it like a movie in my mind…

  • My writing is about…
  • I am working on…
  • I need help…
  • I am not sure how…
  • I think the strongest part of my writing is…
  • I think the part I need to work on is…

My Video Disclaimer 
These are imperfect videos, in imperfect classrooms, taught by an imperfect teacher, with nearly perfect students.  These videos are here to show one way a writing conference COULD go.  There are infinitie possibilities.  Often, when I go into classrooms, I do not have the opportunity to work with the same students and develop a relationship with them.  As you confer on a regular basis with your students, you begin to know them and their stories and they begin to know your expectations and their role in the conference.  Writing conferences are like everything else, you get better with practice!
Writing Conference Resources: