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Effective student to student conferencing is the weakest part of my writer's workshop program. Realizing that I need to train the kids to conference effectively, does anyone out there have some activities or lesson plans to support conferencing/peer discussion skills. What kind of accountability measures work to keep it from being off-task or a waste of writing time?

I would REALLY love it if someone out there would create some videos of students talking together about their writing (and share them on this site). I think good modeling is what my kids need the most!

Any other tips on setting up the workshop environment would be great as we plan to launch another school year.

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There are some great suggestions here. The third grade classroom teacher and myself (Lit. Coach) did a fishbowl demonstration for knee to knee conferencing for revision. After listening in on some conferences, I was pleased with how they did. I love the idea about then doing "side by side" for editing and the timing works for trying it tomorrow, but here is my question. How do you manage the peer conferencing? Our students are all in different places and need a peer conference for different reasons at different times. Short of the teacher in the room orchestrating who conferences with who or kids roaming around the room looking for someone they could interrupt or with the same need , Does anyone have a good way to manage this? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
Last year I started having kids put their names on the board when they were ready to edit and then I would call 4-5 kids to the back table to conference as a group. (Is that what fishbowling is?) Students then read their stories and the other students comment on their piece. I kept a running list on a sticky. When all students were finshed commenting, I then added my comments. Each student left the conference with ideas and suggestions to take back for revising and editing. This not only gave each student a variety of ideas from peers, but gave the other students at the table a chance to hear other's writing for ideas while being in a conference that was productive. Before the students go back to their seats, I ask each on what they learned and how they plan to change their piece. My kids really liked it and the quality of their work definately improved.

Karen Drexler said:
There are some great suggestions here. The third grade classroom teacher and myself (Lit. Coach) did a fishbowl demonstration for knee to knee conferencing for revision. After listening in on some conferences, I was pleased with how they did. I love the idea about then doing "side by side" for editing and the timing works for trying it tomorrow, but here is my question. How do you manage the peer conferencing? Our students are all in different places and need a peer conference for different reasons at different times. Short of the teacher in the room orchestrating who conferences with who or kids roaming around the room looking for someone they could interrupt or with the same need , Does anyone have a good way to manage this? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
My understanding of 'fishbowl" is when student and teacher or student w/student conference together and the rest of the class or group listen in to the conversation ~ as a form of modeling. Thanks for your suggestion. I like it! and I am going to try it so the classroom teacher can decide if that will help us.


(Is that what fishbowling is?)
"Talking About Writing" is an excellent professional development DVD published by Stenhouse Publishing. http://www.stenhouse.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=9046&idc...
It focusses on teacher/student writing conferences and has a section on peer conferences. I have used it with with teachers in my network and found it to be a very good resource.
I like the idea of the post-its. I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to do both the verbal response and the written response. If students had a chance to verbalize the answers to the "wonderings" before writing them in their paper then it might help them to organize their thoughts before they commit them to paper. What do you think?

Leslie said:
I like to give each member of the conference a post-it note to write down open ended questions about the reader's piece. The BIG rule is that the reader cannot answer the questions outloud. Instead, they must answer the question IN their paper. Similar to the "I wonder..." questions from another post. The writer leaves with post-its full of open ended questions to help them elaborate. I find it to be very helpful.

HOWEVER, I do have a lot of trouble with peer editing in 6th grade.
I use a protocol sheet with my students. they follow a guide sheet that has them reading their story to the listener 2 times. The first time they are listening for when the movie in their head is really clear. They share this with their author. In effect it is the 'what they have done well part fo the conference'. The second reading the listener is noticing places where the movie stops, where there is confusion, and wonderings. This is all recorded and given to the author, who in turn takes the advice and revises for improvement. I would love to send you the forms I have made but I am not sure how to do that.
Thanks Jerri, that would be great. My e-mail is SRoot@CarsonMontessori.Com Thanks for sharing! Sally

Jerri Walker said:
I use a protocol sheet with my students. they follow a guide sheet that has them reading their story to the listener 2 times. The first time they are listening for when the movie in their head is really clear. They share this with their author. In effect it is the 'what they have done well part fo the conference'. The second reading the listener is noticing places where the movie stops, where there is confusion, and wonderings. This is all recorded and given to the author, who in turn takes the advice and revises for improvement. I would love to send you the forms I have made but I am not sure how to do that.
I really like the idea of having the students sit with their peers differently when they are focusing on different aspects of the workshop. This is an idea I am going to try.

Shawn Voelp Ogrodowski said:
Make time for two types of peer conferencing during your Writer's Workshop. Knee to knee peer conferencing encourages good listening for content and clarity. Side by side peer conferencing encourages more technical editing and revision.
I like the idea of the "wonderings". I have just begun to model this for my students. I hope soon my students will be able to ask "I wonder" questions to their peers.
I would like to try this in my first grade room. Right now we are doing peer editing whole group. The child reads the writing to the class and we give three things we liked about the other child's work. Ex. they may like their neat handwriting, or that the child used punctuation. Then we give some ideas on what we would like to see them do to fix- this could be could you go back and tell me more about that- add more details... etc.
I currently walk around and help edit their work when they are ready for me to see it. The child reads their writing to me. We talk about what I really liked and what I would like them to add. I need to try the at the knee editing and by the side. I will need them to have an editing buddy to start and do lots of modeling to show them how it should look and sound.

Shawn Voelp Ogrodowski said:
Make time for two types of peer conferencing during your Writer's Workshop. Knee to knee peer conferencing encourages good listening for content and clarity. Side by side peer conferencing encourages more technical editing and revision.
Could I please have a copy of this, too? My email address is rask4@hotmail.com. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm really excited to give this a try with my fourth graders!

Jerri Walker said:
I use a protocol sheet with my students. they follow a guide sheet that has them reading their story to the listener 2 times. The first time they are listening for when the movie in their head is really clear. They share this with their author. In effect it is the 'what they have done well part fo the conference'. The second reading the listener is noticing places where the movie stops, where there is confusion, and wonderings. This is all recorded and given to the author, who in turn takes the advice and revises for improvement. I would love to send you the forms I have made but I am not sure how to do that.

I am teaching summer school to rising third graders and we just finished 2 days of peer conferencing.  These kiddos need a little more structure/guidance on how to conference.  I would love to have copies of your protocol sheet.

If you are willing, please send that to:cbaldinelli@wcpss.net

Thank you so much!

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