One Sunflower

conferring with preschool writers

on January 18, 2010

Just before the December recess, I assigned each student a conference day.  The students are divided into two groups for monitoring, Maestra has 7 students in her group and they need Spanish support.   I have 8 students. If we’re able to meet with at least 2 students/day, each student will have a conference at least once a week.  It has been a bit problematic because we don’t always use our journals each day.  But we do write every day so Maestra and I are trying to stay on schedule with our conferences.

We sit next to our conferees during the writing session and although other students might be at the table, we focus our attention on our assigned writers. This is a new process for the class and other  students often interrupt our conference  to show us pictures or ask for help.  Now that a month has gone by they are beginning to understand the turn-taking in this system.  They are also learning how they can participate as writers at the table but not necessarily be the focus of Maestra’s and my attention.

The day that I was conferring with Rose Red about her birthday party story, (see “Birthday Party entry,) every other girl at the table heard and watched as the two of us processed her illustration and edited the details she intended in her work.  All of their pictures reflected my intervention even though it was directed at Rose Red’s work. 

# 1 Rose Red’s picture – circular table, cakes with candles. 

Notice the mouths in Rose Red’s figures.  Initially, all her figures were in orange marker and the mouths were straight lines.  (They looked pretty sad for being at a party!)   I showed her how we could make the mouths look “happier” and I used a red marker to draw the scoops under her lines.  Rose Red went on to add the black and color in one whole figure in red.

The next day, her figures looked like this:


When Maestra did some coaching with a student that wanted to draw the owl from The Mitten story, another student benefited from her suggestions.  A session spent doing some hand over hand assistance to draw race cars, modeled the process for a friend.

Seeing this kind of progress affirms the systems we have in place to make sure it happens for each student.  I think I’m going to have to make a chart to keep track of the dates we meet with each student so that I can be sure we aren’t missing students and to keep track of how our conferring impacts each student’s writing.


4 responses to “conferring with preschool writers

  1. kiri8 says:

    This is inspiring. We are going to be launching writer’s workshop in my preschool class in the next weeks, so I will refer back to see what you all are up to!

  2. Vanessa says:

    We also do Reading and Writing Workshop in our public school pre-k program. Have you read Already Ready by Matt Glover or About the Authors by Katie Wood Ray? I highly recommend both books for teaching young children to write. I have two pages about writing in preschool here:

    • onesunflower says:

      Thanks for your resources. I encourage my blog-readers to explore them. Our district is a “workshop” district and in our goals for birth-8 alignment, our preschool teachers are in the process of learning how to do this model with our young students. I have read Already Ready – happened to read it just before our district teamed with David Matteson and his work so it dove-tailed nicely. I would like to loop back and explore it again – hopefully with a colleague book study – now that we’ve been involved with the journal work for 2 years. I’ve heard a lot about Katie Wood Ray so I’ll check out the book you recommend.

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