If you are helping a student in kindergarten through second grade to learn how to write, you might want to check out Conferring with Young Writers by K. Ackerman and J. McDonough.
These primary grade teachers decided that they could have the most impact by changing the way they conference with student writers. Here are some of their tips.
Establish trust with the student before trying anything else. How? Let students see you writing and encountering problems. Focus on the meaning of the child’s words and ignore sloppy spelling and punctuation. Compliment students on their writing, focusing on particular things they do well. Listen when the child talks about the writing process. Get to know students as whole people first and as students and writers second.
Establish a routine for writing—a set time and place with pencils sharp, erasers in reach and plenty of paper.
Focus on one writing goal per lesson or unit. The goals should include choosing good ideas, structuring the writing appropriately, using conventions properly, sticking to one main point, writing in a natural voice, and providing details. Teach those goals, model them, practice them and discuss with students how they can do them better.
Follow up on the points which they should have shown in their writing. The book shows several assessment tables, rubrics, and checklists which can be adapted by parents or classroom teachers.
Encourage students to choose their own writing topics and genres. Students will be more engaged and cooperative if they have choices.
Let students know it is not only okay but good if they talk to one another about the process of writing. Encourage them to read their writing aloud as they work.
Help students find good ideas to write about. Deciding on topics is one of the hardest things for some children. Conferring with Young Writers offers several approaches to helping students identify what they might enjoy writing about.
Conferring with Young Writers offers a three page bibliography of books about teaching writing to children as well as an index. At 144 pages, it is a quick but rich read for parents and teachers who don’t know how to begin teaching writing to primary grade students. For more information, go to http://www.stenhouse.com.
Thanks so much for sharing our book!!