Encouraging Deeper Writing Conversations With Students
When students begin talking about their writing, they usually want to tell you what it is about, not how it is written. Sharing subject matter is important, but we want to encourage students to talk about their writing in more sophisticated ways.
Over time student writers can be encouraged to talk about their purpose as writers, their audience for each piece of writing, and the techniques they use as writers in order to reach their audience.
We also need to teach children to have similar conversations with each other about their respective writing pieces. In order to encourage this sort of “writing workshop conversation,” you can set up specific paired sharing times for students to share their writing in the way you have modeled in conferences.
You can pose specific questions or tasks for the sharing sessions, such as: ‘I want you to talk with your partner about why you are writing your story—what feelings do you want the reader to feel?’ or ‘Try to find as many elements of style as you can in your partner’s piece and label them with post-its. Be ready to name the elements and give examples.’
Once children are experienced at this sort of writing conversation, you can leave the conversation agenda up to them! Teaching how to have good writing conversations is well worth the time and energy—children soon teach each other and routinely go through revisions with every piece of writing!