Sunday, July 14, 2019

Weaving a Thread Through Our Workshop: Week 2 #cyberPD

This week the #cyberPD community has been reading and reflecting about chapters 5-7 in Welcome to Writing Workshop.  (It's not too late to join us.  More information can be found here.)

  • Chapter 5 Whole Class Instruction:  Setting a Positive Tone and Building Enthusiasm
  • Chapter 6  Independent Writing Time:  The Importance of Giving Students the Time to Write
  • Chapter 7  Conferring:  Individualize Instruction, Build Community and Set Goals

Connecting Our Teaching
When I began taking conferring notes with Evernote, I realized I finally found the best way to connect teaching for the writers I was sitting beside.  Thanks to Evernote's way of displaying snippets from past notes beside a new note, I discovered the perfect way to make sure I was connecting writing conversations for students.  Before that, it was easy to realize I was having "popcorn conversations" that likely focused more on the writing than the writer.  

These chapters from Lynne & Stacey really brought to mind the importance of connected teaching for young writers.  Whether connecting across the workshop from the mini-lesson to the share, connecting conferring conversations for writing, or connecting teaching across a unit of study, I was continually reminded of the importance of these intentional moves that support writers as they continue to grow.  

Three Big Ideas
  1. Mini-lessons connect conversations for writers.  The mini-lessons we teach reflect the curriculum writers need to grow, but also are responsive to what we notice about our students' writing.  Following "the basic architecture - connection, teaching, active engagement, and a link" can enhance the lessons for the writers in our learning community.  
  2. The workshop allows us to differentiate support for our writers.  Stacey and Lynne refer to the "I do, we do, you do" sequence that I first learned from Regie Routman.  This is a delicate balance as we want writers to find their own way and too much support can leave them trying to replicate our work instead of making applying the strategy in new ways and connecting it to their work.  I'm reminded of the work of Fountas & Pinnell which creates a framework that utilizes community writing (shared an interactive writing), small group guided writing opportunities, and conferring to support students toward independence.  Additionally, these ways to adjust support allow us to follow the lead of our students with greater ease and help move from differentiation to personalization.
  3. Writing workshop allows students to find their own path.  Speaking of personalization, giving students consistent opportunities to write allows them to shape their own learning.  I appreciated the many ways the authors shared we can support students in a conference.  

Two Questions to Ponder
  1. What are some of the ways we can help students to have more ownership in a writing conference?  We've all walked away from a conferring conversation we thought rocked only to find the writer not hang onto the move we were trying to teach.  The more ownership students have in this conversation the greater the impact on their writing.  
  2. How do we nurture stronger peer conferring?  I'm thinking this has to do with two important pieces students need.  They need to understand the language they can use to best support a partner, but also how to hear comments from peers.  For example, I know when I am in writing groups I listen to everything everyone says.  Some comments open my eyes to new other possibilities, yet others shed light on challenges the reader is having in understanding my message.  Personal preferences can also be a part of someone's conversation so students need to know how to listen and search for the information they need.  

One Next Step 
  1. Begin to collect (and organize) mentors that I might use across grade levels as I work with writers.  Particularly, I want to find mentors that show the varied ways writers make intentional craft moves to enhance their message.  

Next week we take a look at the final chapters in Welcome to Writing Workshop.  Please feel free to join us at anytime.  Here's our schedule: 


  1. I love your format of 3-2-1! I realize I need to do a better job in teaching into peer conferring to make them more useful. My post is even later than yours, so there is that, too!

  2. I like your format too! Easy to follow and read. Peer conferring is tricky. I like the suggestion of PQP from the book. Little steps forward for us all to learn and grow!