Currently a department co-chair and co-director with the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project, Brian Kelley has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade for over twenty years.

Positive Feelings About Writing

Positive Feelings About Writing

A conference with a student does not have to be long to deliver a rich experience for the student. This example with Sallie, an 8th grade student, illustrates the difference between teaching writing skills with an encouragement mindset as opposed to a correction mindset. I am not correcting Sallie's writing. I am encouraging her to talk about it--to tell me what is going well, to tell me where she needs helps. Even the way Sallie speaks about these skills tells me as much as what she points out.

When I ask Sallie what she has learned about herself as a writer, she reaches back to a positive memory from last year when she learned different strategies for writing leads. She remembers the specific possibilities for her leads. She even says, "I feel good." I love that. I love the positive feelings bubbling up for Sallie even as she talks about something that it has taken her time to develop.

Sallie identifies that leads were a weakness for her in 6th grade but that she improved as a 7th grade student. She acknowledges that it has been a process.

When you play the podcast (below) notice that I ask Sallie to think about how her leads are even stronger this year--what makes them stronger. And even though Sallie struggles naming her writing moves, I step and give her the language for the moves she described.

I think of this as flipping the rubric. Clearly, by talking about leads we are discussing Organization. But instead of my hunting for errors and reminding Sallie of what she is doing wrong in isolated stages of writing, I am modeling a belief that Sallie will continue to grow as a writer and that my primary concern is Sallie and how she grows as a writer.

We end with a quick reflection on Sallie might do next. She tells me what she is ready for and why. She also tells me some decisions she has made to help her with her goals.

When I replay this conversation I get a good feeling about the attitude Sallie and I are sharing about writing. This sharing of a positive attitude means everything to me because I firmly believe that our attitude impacts each student's attitude.

If my attitude is that everyone can grow, then they each will adopt an everyone can grow attitude.

Flipping the rubric provides many opportunities for differentiated conversations, reflection, and goal setting. If you have questions about flipping your rubrics or using conferring as vehicle to flip your rubrics and classroom, please reach out to me at bjk925@gmail.com or on Twitter @_briank_.

Can Students Blog to Teachers About Teaching?

Can Students Blog to Teachers About Teaching?

Flipped Rubrics Explained

Flipped Rubrics Explained