Students sometimes find their most powerful or delightful sentence and explain why they chose it – what they like about it. Have you ever written a sentence, and upon rereading, you think to yourself, “Wow! I wrote this!” Sometimes it comes down to a word – sharing a gem word – perhaps, the perfect word in the perfect place! Finding gem words in writing pieces and talking about them is one way to grow vocabulary in a meaningful way. Writers love words!
Students may also share what they have learned from their favorite authors – they are, in fact, the most influential writing teachers our students have! Students can talk about what they have noticed while reading books (nonfiction and fiction) and poems written by these authors. Of course, middle school and high school students may share noticings from newspapers, essays, plays, advertisements, and magazines. All writers benefit from reading widely and studying authors who are writing in the format and/or genre that they will use in their current or future writing.
Conferences can occur every day in order to give all your student writers a voice and an opportunity to share. Roving conferences, a few one-on-one conferences, and peer conferences (peer response groups) are ways to share writing each day. Younger students can use a read-retell-respond structure and older students can offer praise and polish. Sometimes, students will hold an "ear" conference for revision purposes, while other times an "eye" conference (editing) is most needed!
Reflection at the end of writing workshop may only take three or four minutes. In that time, writers can offer their thoughts about the work they are doing, what has proved to be the most helpful, problem-solving strategies they have used, or what they are noticing about how their writing is changing. At first this reflection may not come easily, but with practice at a designated time in workshop (and tucked in to other places throughout the day), students will become skillful reviewers of their own writing and process.