Following Up After Writing Conferences

Last week, I blogged about writing conferences in the primary classroom.  We talked about how to set it up, what to conference about, and how to manage #allthekids.

Today, we're chatting about what to do after a conference!  You've done a great conference.  It was focused, short and meaningful for the kid... NOW WHAT???

The Power of the Post-It

At the end of each conference, I write down a specific goal based on our conference point on a sticky.  For my emerging readers, I add a visual or example, like writing CAPITALS in all caps.

We go over the point we charted about and I use a highlighter to help us find mistakes to correct.  I use highlighter because I don't want it to be erasable.  We aren't ashamed of mistakes in our classroom because we learn from them and are better people because of our mistakes! Plus, even after it's corrected, it helps mom and dad see what we worked on when the writing goes home.

Then, we stick it on the inside of his writing folder.  The kids learn that when they begin independent writing time, the first thing they do is open the folder and review their conferencing goals.    It's a reminder for them on their specific goals, and it also makes them feel like they've had their own little conference that day--even if I didn't meet with them.  Plus, this routine just pushes them to take ownership of their own writing!

Sure, I could make a cutesy printable to laminate to the inside of the folder.

But sticky notes are WAYYYYY cooler to first graders.  Believe me.

Sure, I could make pre-printed sticky notes so I wouldn't have to write the same thing every. single. day.

But you should see those sweet faces when we make a post-it note sized anchor chart all for just one kid.  It's a precious moment, ya'll.  For real.  Besides, research tells us that preprinted anchor charts have less impact than building and making it WITH kids.  The same goes for post-it sized anchor charts.

Once kids have at least one sticky note inside their folder, I can review that with them the next time.  Like this...

"Let's read over the goals you've been working on during your independent writing time."

Then, when I read over their writing, if I see the same problem again, we revisit it and rework the post-it as needed to help them remember!

Using Conference Points for Share Times

For share time in writers' workshop, I choose 1 or 2 friends from my back table to share whole group.  And I use their conference points to teach the rest of the class.

If I have a kid I had to reteach the mini-lesson to for their conference point, I will automatically share this writing.  This gives me a chance to reinforce what we already learned to day and see how it works in the context of a peer paragraph.

Then, I may or may not choose one more to share with a conference point that I conferenced a lot about that day or that week.  This gives me the opportunity to visit and revisit mechanics skills and other common issues that come up all year long!

As I'm conferencing throughout the week, I also make notes of common conference points.  Then, I use these to plan out our mini-lessons for the next week.  When peer editing becomes a weekly routine later in the year (read more here), I will use the most common conference point from that week as our mini-lesson on our peer-edit Fridays.

Hopefully, you've become as much of a believer in writing conferences as I am!  15-20 minutes each day can change your kids' writing for the better and help direct your planning to be more effective for your kids!

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