I was in the middle of a conference with Angel, a second grader. Every single centimeter of his paper was filled with drawing and writing. He had squished the last couple words into and around a corner to get it all onto the page.
I like to keep my writing toolkits pretty plain and simple. I don't want a lot of extraneous stuff in there cluttering up my folders. So, in order for something to make it into my toolkit, it has to be helpful for a lot of kids, for a lot of reasons.
Too often we find ourselves in the midst of workshop without the right tool! Hasn't this happened to you? Trying to be proactive can help your conferring not only become more efficient but richer as well. Let me unpack my conferring toolkit for you and give you a peek at what my "must haves" are when I confer.
There are three teaching methods that most writing workshop teachers use regularly. The star of these is the demonstration method. "Watch me as I do this helpful/interesting/important thing in my own writing. I'll show you how, and then you can give it a try," says the teacher.
To be honest, I never created an official Conferring Toolkit when I was a classroom teacher. I didn't know there was such a thing (but sure wish I had known)! What I did have was a clipboard which I faithfully carried around the room as I conferred.
I have streamlined my conferring toolkit over the years, partly in an effort to be more effective and productive during those time-challenged sessions when I have just a few minutes to convey an important teaching point, and partly in an effort to maintain my sanity.
Detailed records of small group and 1:1 conferences are one of the most important items in your conferring toolkit. Why? Keeping records: Helps distribute your time equitably amongst students. See the tracks of your teaching and monitor student growth. Helps you determine next steps with each student, small groups, or the whole class.