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Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5

Program 10: Teacher-Student Conferences

This program features extensive footage of three effective student/teacher conferences in one fifth-grade and two third-grade classes. These conferences demonstrate how teachers use conferences to focus on instruction for individuals while helping students feel ownership of their work.

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Watch the 30-minute video “Teacher-Student Conferences.” Apply what you have learned in “Conversations With Student Writers” as you watch the extended video of classroom examples.

Answer the questions that follow each segment, jotting down your answers in your notebook or using them as discussion starters.

Silvia Edgerton’s Class

Silvia Edgerton is engaged in a formal conference with one of her students about developing a descriptive lead for the student’s personal narrative. (You will find this image at the beginning of Silvia’s lesson, approximately one minute into the video.)

  • Silvia asks the student what she wants to talk about during the conference. What are some benefits of this approach?
  • Although Silvia makes suggestions, the student maintains ownership of the piece. Describe the ways in which Silvia keeps the work in the student’s control.
  • Silvia asks the student several questions about the event described in the piece. Why do you think she encourages the student to talk about the event itself rather than what she has written about it?
  • What types of questions does Silvia ask to get the student to open up about the details of the event?

Mark Hansen’s Class

Mark Hansen calls the writing conferences in his classroom “conversations.” In this particular conversation, he is talking with a student about her audience and the arguments she plans to use in her persuasive letter. (You will find this image at the beginning of Mark’s lesson, approximately 14 minutes into the video.)

  • How would you describe the difference between a “conference” and a “conversation?” Do you see a place for both in a writing workshop? If so, how can each be used?
  • What kinds of questions can you ask to facilitate conversations during conferences?

Mark Hansen: Lesson Background (PDF)

Latosha Rowley’s Class

In the final classroom example, Latosha Rowley shares a piece of her own writing with one of her students. (You will find this image at the beginning of Latosha’s lesson, approximately 18 minutes into the video.)

  • What are the benefits of Latosha showing the student her own writing and discussing her writing process?
  • What are some additional benefits of talking to students writer to writer, rather than teacher to student?

Latosha Rowley: Lesson Background (PDF)