Writing Conferences, Calkins Style

When I originally began teaching, I taught a writing workshop class for 7th graders. Using much of Calkins theory regarding writing conferences, I developed a conferencing system for students based around one weakness in their writing. I built the conferencing system based off the TN Core Writing Rubric, which is very similar to traditional writing rubrics.

When I conference with students, I give them one area for improvement. It’s extremely helpful for students to have one area to focus on when revising their writing. I’ve seen too many students overwhelmed and frustrated by the revision process, and this is a way I’ve aimed to streamline the process in the past.

I have five focus areas for students (based around the TN Core Rubric I use to grade writing compositions.

TN Core Rubric

Within each of these categories, there are more specific issues that are common misunderstandings for students. After conferencing with students, I give them a specific area of weakness that has a “code” in the resource binders that are in my classroom. The student goes over to the resource binders and pulls a review sheet for their weakness. This review sheet includes both notes and practice problems. After they complete the review sheet, they are able to use the skills the learned to revise their piece of writing.

I have a very formalized process when conferencing where students. This ensures students have thought about the conference by reflecting on their piece of writing and identifying a weakness that they want to work on improving. This allows for a common language at the conference and a fair evaluation of the student’s work. To facilitate this process, there are two key documents I use throughout the year: a conference workbook and a rubric I evaluate students on during and after the conference.

For a look at all of my conference materials, including the conference workbooks and resource binder pages, click here.

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