Ever since I took Carl Anderson‘s course, “Assessment-Based Writing Instruction: Use a study of Student Work to Generate Goals and Systems for Recording Progress Towards Those Goals,” I’ve been thinking a lot about student goals for writing and record-keeping. While everyone (likely) has writing goals for their students, I wonder how often we use two or three specific writing goals to guide the conferences we have with students. And, to that end, I wonder if most people track when students meet the goals and then make new goals for them to focus on. Let me be honest, I didn’t record all of my students’ goals in my conferring notes when I was teaching in the classroom. In fact, I used a simple three column chart, for each student, to track the date of the conferences I held, the compliments I gave, and the teaching points I administered. I was able to track students’ writing goals if I inserted them into the teaching point column, but I didn’t have a dedicated place to track writing goals across time.
Carl Anderson uses a simple two-column chart for his conferring notes. In one column, he tracks the dates of his conferences, observations of the student, teaching points, and interesting things students say. In the other column he tracks students’ goals. That’s right, one whole column for student goals. And this makes really makes sense if you’re going to confer strategically with your students once you get to know them (i.e., after you get through the first month of the school year by doing on-the-spot conferring). Therefore, I updated the three-column conference record sheet I used in the classroom. I added a column for goals. While Carl doesn’t have a column for compliments, I like the idea of tracking compliments I give to students across time so that I’m not repeating the same compliment over and over. I believe varied compliments are important, which is why I have a whole column for them. That being said, feel free to use the new sheet I created (which you’ll find below) or adapt it so it works for you.
Finally, I believe everyone needs a form to track which kids they’ve seen in the classroom in a given week. Therefore, it’s important to have something like the Class Conferring Manifest that appears in Day by Day. If you’d like a free downloadable copy of the Manifest, then view the article I wrote about student-initiated writing conferences for the Stenhouse Blog or click here to go directly to the PDF of the Manifest.