No excuses...just completely forgot I had to blog until this morning when I talked to Kim and she reminded me. UGH!
After doing all my readings last night I found myself really excited about Carl Anderson's article, Conferences Are Conversations. Partly because I felt like this was the first article that I have really had a strong connection with so far in this class and also because I thought the author was talking directly to me! I own and use all the Lucy Calkins curriculum on a daily basis. I think she is great and has many wonderful ideas...my struggle has always been with the conferencing portion of her method. It isn't that I don't believe in it, it is more than I was not quite sure exactly how it should go. I read her books a few years ago and needed a refesher. This article provided me with. I often find myself walking around the room, working hard to get to as many kids as I can (refer to my pinball metaphor!) during our writing time. As I think about one little boy in particular, I can see myself looking at his writing and thinking "AH! We have to work on your printing!"
Anderson quotes Lucy Calkins in the book The Art of Teaching Writing, Our decisions must be guided by " what might help this writer "rather than "what might help this writing." I think I should write that down on a post-it and stick it to my notebook where I jot down notes about kids. Most of the time, I completely look past the actual writing content and my time spent confering with him revolves around his letter formations (or lack there of) and spacing. How frustrating that must be to him! Here he is working hard to develop this piece of writing and I am not even looking at that. Anderson's review of what questions a teacher should use to lead a conference help me to understand how to get the students talking about their writing, rather then me talking to them about their writing.
I have never taught my students how to have a writing conference. When I think about any other skill we have learned (independent work time, how to participate in a reading group, how to play a math game, how to be part of our community) it is always a step-by-step process that takes time, practice and modeling. Using Anderson's chart as a large model, I think we should spend a large portion of time, at the beginning of the year when we set-up our writer's workshop, learning how to do that. I need to teach my students the language they need to discuss/share their writing with me rather than assuming they know what I want them to say.