1st Edition

Conferring with Young Writers What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

    If you've ever sat down to confer with a child and felt at a loss for what to say or how to help move him or her forward as a writer, this book is for you. If you are a strong teacher of writing but are not seeing results from your students, this book is for you. Authors Kristin Ackerman and Jennifer McDonough have been teaching writing for several years and know that conferring can be a murky and messy process-;perhaps the hardest component of all. Written from the lessons they've learned through hard-won classroom experience-;their mistakes and challenges-;Conferring with Young Writers is based on what Kristin and Jen call the three Fs-: frequency, focus, and follow-up. They've created a classroom management system that offers routine and structure for giving the most effective feedback in a writing conference. This book will help writing teachers-;and students-;learn to break down and utilize the qualities that enable good writing: elaboration, voice, structure, conventions, and focus. The authors also provide the knowledge and skills it takes to confer well, which will help you improve as a writing teacher and give your students the confidence to think of themselves as writers.

    Introduction; Chapter 1: The Elements of Conferring Well: Building Trust; Chapter 2: Overview: The Three Fs; Chapter 3: Frequency: Maximizing the Time We Work with Students; Chapter 4: Focus: Keeping Specific Goals in Mind; Chapter 5: Follow-Up: Making Our Teaching Stick


    Jen and Kristin have been learning from young writers for more than thirty years combined. As classroom teachers and literacy coaches, they have worked in K–5 classrooms and learned how to help kids navigate the messy process of writing. They work as presenters and consultants, and they contribute articles to various websites and blogs. When they aren’t teaching, writing, presenting, or chasing after their own kids, Jen and Kristin can be found drinking wine, eating chocolate, and training for half marathons. 

    “Jen and Kristin unpack the essential questions about teaching writing that we all have. . . .This book is written with a clear, accessible writing style, and steeped in wisdom and years of classroom practice.”
    —Georgia Heard
      Have you ever sat next to a child during a writing conference and wondered what to do, or struggled to find ways to support them which go beyond merely improving conventions? Jennifer and Kristin have a deeply rooted personal philosophy that children don’t have to fall into the categories of either “good writers” or “not-so-good writers.” With their approachable and down-to-earth style, this book provides the specific ideas and strategies to help us become more confident and successful when conferring with writers.
                                                                                                                    --Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, “The 2 Sisters"
    Kristin Ackerman and Jennifer McDonough's Conferring with Young Writers: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do (9781625310392, $28.00) is for teachers of grades K-5 and any interested in helping a child build early writing habits. The authors have been teaching writing for several years, and though their classroom experiences and lesson plans they've created a structured program specifically directed to writing teachers. Visual reproductions of student papers accompany extensive notes from common core state standards to creating and keeping writing goals at the forefront of creative assignments.
    The Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review
    Education Shelf
    November 2016
      Conferring with Young Writers: What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do is for any adult who has wanted to offer words of wisdom to a struggling child to help them overcome their literacy challenges, and comes from authors who have been teaching writing for several years. Fellow teachers are given the tools for helping students understand how writing is put together and why it succeeds or fails. This structured teaching approach includes ideas for encouraging young writers by choosing writing examples better matched to their interests and skills levels.
    Chapters also come with plenty of case history examples of 'voice' and conferences between educators and kids on various approaches to creating more effective writing, offering specific insights on how to change focus and conversational interactions to better reinforce writing efforts.
    The result is more than a key to writing more effectively. It's a key to better communications about the overall process, filled with real-world examples that parents and educators alike will appreciate.
    Donovan’s Bookshelf
      This book is a result of two teachers, Kristin Ackerman and Jennifer McDonough, working together to improve the quality of their writing workshop in their lower elementary classrooms. They begin by discussing their concerns about their young writers. These concerns centered on conferring time with writers, the most important time when they were face-to-face with individual students. Ackerman and McDonough point out that a relationship of trust is essential in a writing conference. This means looking past a page of errors and truly seeing who students are as writers, listening to what students are saying during a writing conference, noticing and connecting with student-writers as they develop, and finding joy in the process.
    The book is structured around three Fs: frequency, focus, and follow-up. The authors delve deeply into each F as they provide practical and sound insight into maximizing time with students, keeping specific goals in mind, and making teaching stick. In the chapter on frequency, Ackerman and McDonough write about the importance of routine, choice, organized materials, and partner time. In the chapter on focus, they provide a structure to help teachers focus themselves and students on one goal at a time. Using elaboration as an example, they walk through the process from looking more deeply into the standards, to sharing what transpires in student conferring sessions, to examining student work over time. They not only shed light on focusing student conferences, but also on how teachers can focus during conferring time as well. The last chapter deals with the third F: follow-up. Here, the authors discuss ways to be sure that students use the strategies they are taught. The authors provide supports for assessment, sharing examples of observation forms, checklists, rubrics, and reflections, all designed to help teachers scaffold young writers.
    This practical book is packed with examples from the authors’ own classrooms, support from research, short vignettes, and student work that bring their writing to life. Kristin Ackerman and
    Jennifer McDonough provide a solid foundation for effective early elementary writing conferencing.
    Michigan Reading Journal 2017 Vol. 49, No 2