A common practice in today’s primary-grade classrooms, teacher-student writing conferences are considered a vital component of instruction by accomplished writing teachers and advocates of process writing. Moreover, what teachers say and how they say it shapes those opportunities for student learning that are possible in classrooms. As such, building an understanding of the talk that ensues during primary-grade writing conferences, those purposes that such talk serves overall, and the significance of its pedagogical appropriateness is essential. Findings from a multiple-case study of conference enactment in both a kindergarten and a first-grade classroom illuminate the varying degrees of authoritative and dialogic discourses made available to child participants during conference interactions. These findings range from enactments that empower students to co-construct ideas and meaning with their teachers as dialogic partners (e.g., conferencing as verbal rehearsal, conferencing as criterion-specific collaboration), to those more indicative of traditional recitation patterns in which students are given little space to contribute to the conversation (e.g., conferencing as transcription activity, conferencing as find-and-fix correction). Findings also suggest the importance of conference purpose and writing-process phase in determining the role child writers are invited to assume within a given conference interaction.
Hawkins, L. K. (2019). Writing Conference Purpose and How It Positions Primary-Grade Children as Authoritative Agents or Passive Observers. Reading Horizons: A Journal of Literacy and Language Arts, 58 (1). Retrieved from https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/reading_horizons/vol58/iss1/3