Monday, March 8, 2010

how's it going?

how's it going 
"It should be noted that this phrase is not only used in by english speakers of all nationalities and dialects but by speakers of many different languages across the globe
2) A question used to inquire about the status of an on-going process or event. In this interrogative state the sentence carries a question mark. "

"How's it going?" is the phrase we ask ourselves over and over as we write, and if we are lucky enough to be in a writer's group, it's the phrase we ask each other when we gather.
"The act of writing we have in common with our students puts us on the level of them and them on a level with us.... because each writer, no matter how experienced, begins again with each draft."  (First half a paraphrase of Don Murray(1985) by Carl Anderson and the last a direct Murray quote from Anderson's Chapter 1, "Conferences are Conversations" in How's It Going?: A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers. 

"... allowing students to respond to an early teacher-written draft does pay dividends for students and teachers.  ...students see that even experienced writers need to revise their papers, sometimes extensively, to clarify their writing and to achieve quality final copies." is one of the foundations Ronald Barron shares in writing about his use of Peer-Response Groups.  He shares additional benefits including better writing, self confidence on the part of students that they can support other writers, reducing initial judgment, and producing more interesting writing.

Barron and Anderson challenge us to be vulnerable with our students by authentically sharing our work. The importance of interacting with other as we write through peer reviews, teacher-student writing conferences or in peer cooperative groups as shared by Zimmer is the source of creating writers and deeper learning and thinking.  Created simultaneously in conversation based conferences are connections that build relationships.  That getting to know our students and they us, that allows for motivation and growth based on authentic communication, commitment and the shared goal of better writing.

Anderson insightfully writes. " Writing, after all, is an individual act that occurs in a social context." "It's the members of that circle (of mentors and friends) after all who listen to us while we are in the process of writing, not our future audience."  Peer conferences, writing in cooperative groups and conversations in writing conferences provide that listening and reflection that supports us as writers, together.


  1. As I was reading your post, the whole social piece of conferencing was going through my mind. It reminded me of Vygostky's theory that all learning happens socially. What a powerful tool conferencing becomes with that frame of mind!

  2. I love this quote about the "circle of mentors" who listen more than the intended audience. It is such a powerful reminder of the power of writing groups (in particular, adult writing groups)