Using Audio Tools to Provide Feedback to Student Writers
by Jen Ward
I’ve pulled out back issues of the English Journal, dusted off my copies of Kelly Gallagher’s work. In the course of my research on using digital tools to provide students access to audio versions of writing conferences, I have reviewed what compositionists from Peter Elbow to Ralph Fletcher have said about the need for supportive, verbal feedback during the writing process. Lucy Calkins and Nancie Atwell, two gurus of conferring in the classroom, strongly advocate for face-to-face writing conferences with students over the more traditional written evaluative feedback. Verbal feedback is powerful. And although technology has certainly changed how we work with practicing writers in our classroom settings, there are a few things that remain constant. Read more
By Andrea Bensusan
I recently rediscovered one of the great joys of teaching – the writing conference. A grade level change to 4th – after 16 years in 6th – hurled me for the first time into the world of “teacher of everything.” Increased specialization at my 5/6 building had me teaching only Social Studies, and now I found myself in a self-contained classroom. It was a strange feeling being a veteran and a rookie at the same time. Every day has brought challenges and joys, and the return to a role as teacher of writing has been one of those joys. Read more
"Managing 20+ 4th graders during Writer’s Workshop was nightmarish at best. Everyone wanted my attention NOW! I never felt I spent enough time with any student, some students never seemed to conference with me, and when given “editor’s checklists,” they always checked everything as great, when it most certainly was not."
By Jolene Borgese
I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe people come in and out of our lives for a reason and a few stick around forever. I am most curious about the people who come in and out our lives and then return years later. I haven’t figured out the reason, but I suspect I never will.
This semester I have been teaching graduate school and presenting professional development (for the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project) at two very different schools. There seems to be an invisible thread running through all these very different teachers I’ve met. They are young, old, privileged, struggling, working at stellar schools, and schools that lack sufficient books. All of these teachers have a common need that I had first addressed 30 some years ago – writing instruction strategies, specifically revision strategies. Read more
by Tricia Ebarvia
Conferring with students can be exhausting. Sometimes a single conference can take 10-15 minutes, and if you have 100+ students, conferring is also incredibly time consuming. Time spent conferring with students is time away from whole class instruction, curricular planning, and much-needed grading. But feedback from conferring is invaluable. When I was in the Writing Institute two years ago, I emailed Penny Kittle for some advice. I was struggling with how to fit all the elements of the workshop model outlined in her book Write Beside Them. When I mentioned reducing time for conferring, her response was unequivocal. “Conferring is our most powerful teaching time,” she responded. “Everyone learns best in the context of their own writing piece, so we have to work it into practice.”
Still, time is always the issue. Read more
by Gaetan Pappalardo
The writing workshop is fluid. The currents and tides are in constant motion (literally and figuratively) because it’s fueled by the human element. I’m not going to lie. It’s a mess. I know this sounds like a headache. It certainly can be, but kids need this “mess” to find the gold. Barry Lane, author, speaker, and musician, states in his book, But How Do you Teach Writing?, that real writing needs time, space, and freedom. Read more