by Lower and Middle School Literacy Coach Sharon Libront
“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” – John Jakes
As a Literacy Coach, I have the privilege of conferencing with and enjoying writers of all ages and at all stages of development: emergent, transitional and sophisticated writers from grades Pre-K to five. Whenever I am about to conference one-on-one with students, I feel great anticipation about what I am going to learn about them as writers. The writing conference is powerful; it empowers the student to recognize what they already do well and through teaching and coaching, the student is able to learn and apply new strategies to their writing that day and in the future.
Writing conferences tend to follow the same format and we typically start off by asking the student, “How is it going?’ or “What are you working on as a writer today?” These questions enable the student to talk about their work. I use this time to research what the child is already doing as a writer and think of possible ways to lift their level of writing even further.
After researching, it is important to compliment the writer by specifically pointing out what they do really well. Using a grade level rubric or checklist, I then search for the most crucial writing tip I can teach that student next in order to lift the level of the writing skills even further. Once the teaching tip is given, I coach the student on how to apply the strategy to their writing piece. I often use my own writing or use a short text, such as a picture book, which clearly illustrates the effective use of that particular strategy.
Side-by-side with me, the student tries out the strategy and we create a work plan to follow once they go back to writing independently. At the final part of the conference, I link the writing strategy to future writing by stating that this is another tool they can add to their “writing toolbox” and use over and over again.
Seeing and facilitating the growth in all the writers at Pike is truly a highlight of my role!
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.