What Do You Want to Know- Question #5

Today’s question is from Natalee.

Scheduling is an issue for me- our classes are only 45 minutes long and I have a hard time getting in everything I need and want to do.

One area that I failed at with implementing workshops this year (my first year doing workshops) is conferencing. I’d love some tips on conferencing.


Right now, scheduling is not an issue for me, because I see two classes for two hours each.  But next year I foresee scheduling being a problem- I will see four classes for 55 minutes each.  I can’t even imagine how I am going to include everything that I do now.  I see each part of my reading and writing workshop as essential, so it’s going to be tough.

So far, I have sketched out a very basic schedule.  I’m sure this will change 100 times between now and September.  And probably 20 times after that!  But here’s what I am thinking so far….

55 minutes total:

10-15 Minutes:  Independent Reading

25-35 Minutes:  Mini-lesson and Independent practice (in reading, this could be combined with independent reading for some lessons)

10-15 Minutes:  Read Aloud

At this point in time I am thinking of doing a 3 day cycle- 3 days of reading mini-lessons and then 3 days of writing lessons.  Grammar would be incorporated into writing, which I already do.  Vocabulary would be incorporated into reading.

I already foresee this being insane!  I know I am going to have to work very hard at keeping my mini-lessons condensed to actual mini-lessons.  No more going off-topic!  And no more rambling.  I know I am going to have to work very hard at making my workshop work next year.  But I am prepared for that.

As far as conferencing, I already admitted that this is my weak point. A lot of my conferences are informal, off-the-cuff meetings with students.  However, I still keep track  of their reading and writing after these conversations.  I just don’t worry about conferencing as much as I should.  That’s one of my goals for this summer- read more about conferencing and figure out how to make it an integral part of my workshop.  Right now, my letter-essays do serve the same purpose as more formal conferences once a month, with my informal conversations taking place the rest of the month.