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By Suzanne Klein on 1/24/2014 2:54 PM

I’m reminded of author Frank Herbert’s advice, “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story,” as I begin the third and final installment of the writing conference blog series.  This won’t be the last time I address conferencing, but it’s the end of the series highlighting conference challenges teachers face.

So far I’ve shared tips on how to combat the challenge of the old-fashioned English teacher mindset and what do to when you’re not exactly sure what to conference about.  Let’s take a look at tips for when your class gets too loud on conference days. 

Class is Disruptive During Conference Time 

Solution — Re-Teach Routines & Display Guidelines
Inappropriate behavior need not interrupt conferencing time. The early WriteSteps lessons are intentionally short to allow time for establishing expectations and classroom management techniques. If you’re dealing with interruptions, noise, etc. after beginning formal conferencing, use our Self Reflection Checklist. It provides 14 tips to help teachers prepare lessons, materials, and behavioral expectations. Be consistent.
 
Tip: Be sure students know what to do when they finish writing. Some teachers allow students to get up and get a book; others do not want them walking around. Whatever you decide, be clear. Display your class expectations using the What to Do When I’m Done Writing poster to support good classroom management.
By Suzanne Klein on 1/2/2014 12:34 PM

In part one of this blog series, I shared tips on the conference challenges of the old-fashioned English teacher mindset. Keep reading to learn about another common conferencing challenge I hear from teachers during coaching.  

I Don't Know What to Conference About

Solution — Use Organizing Tools to Stay On Top of Student Progress
Keeping good notes for each student conference will help you choose teaching points wisely. WriteSteps provides a conference sheet you can staple to the inside back cover of each student's writer's notebook. This is a handy way to record the date and teaching points for each conference. Checking these dates regularly also helps you ensure that you're conferencing with each student regularly.

http://edu.writestepswriting.com/writing-conference-sheet
By Suzanne Klein on 12/12/2013 3:35 PM

Conferencing lies at the heart of effective writing instruction. Why? 
 
Because, unlike math or even spelling, writing offers no single correct answer. In some ways, it is like playing a sport. You have to put a variety of skills together to hit the target. As teachers, we demonstrate the “rules of the game” and then guide our students in strengthening their “performance.” It’s a step-by-step process. Like the coach who offers personalized advice to help each athlete improve, we give individualized feedback that helps students discover their power as writers.

In this three-part blog series, I discuss the most common conferencing challenges we hear about when coaching grade-level teachers on professional development days:

  • The Old-Fashioned “English Teacher Mindset”
  • I’m Not Sure What to Conference About
  • My Class Gets Too Loud on Conference Days!   

Continue reading to look at solutions for the first bullet point.

By Suzanne Klein on 6/20/2013 1:44 AM

We all need a superhero to swoop in once in a while to change the outcome of history and give us hope for a better and brighter future. On the last national writing assessment, less than a quarter of elementary students, and less than a third of 12th graders, could write proficiently. This is a terrible and disheartening statistic. American education needs a superhero right now. This superhero may not be dressed in blue and red, wear a cape, and have the ability to fly, but she does have a special super power that will change the world. Her name is Common Core Standards, and it is exactly what America needs to turn around writing in our schools.

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