Imagine being able to conference with all of your student writers before they hand in a paper? With revision stations, it’s possible. While students circulate through a variety of other stations, teachers can meet with groups of students at a time and, over the course of a few days, conference with every student in the class.
Here are four tips for making ten minute teacher conferences happen: 1. Set up revision stations for students who are not conferencing with you.
While I conference with students at the teacher conference station, the rest of my students are working at one of the other five stations: peer conferencing, improving the introduction, adding details, organization station, and the powerful language station. All of my students are engaged and working independently, which allows me to focus on my conferences. I teach 40 minute classes, so I always set up six, ten minute revision stations for students to work through over the course of two days. Ten minutes is not a lot of time to conference with students, especially in groups of 2-4; however, it does allow me to meet with all of my students and give each one some very specific feedback. 2. Use a timer.
It’s easy to get sucked into one student paper for too long; however, I’ve found that limiting the time I spend on each student’s paper forces me to focus on a few specific skills and goals for each student. When students receive one or two very specific skills to work on improving, its more manageable and meaningful for them.
For example, I might find that a student was very literal in his or her analysis of quotes in a literary analysis paper. I can give that student feedback and suggestions for strengthening the analysis, and the student can focus on improving that skill throughout his or her writing.
3. Focus your conference. When I conference with students, the first thing I ask them to do is to fill out a teacher conference form. On the form, I have two requests: 1. Look at our rubric and choose one area you need help improving. 2. Choose one other area you would like help with. It’s simple, but the teacher conference form allows me to help students with something that they identify as a need, and it allows me to look at student writing through one specific lens. In a short conference, I can give feedback on one section of a paper or one skill that a student can later apply to their entire piece of writing. 4. Use Google Shortcuts. The latest versions of Google Classroom allow teachers to post an assignment which students can create in Google Docs. When the teacher is viewing the students’ papers, the latest version has a comment bank. You read that right—A COMMENT BANK. The comment bank is easy to use, and it’s a huge time saver! To use, add an assignment to Google Classroom. Students will create their writing by clicking on the assignment and creating a Google Doc. Once created, you can access the student writing through your teacher account.
When commenting, you can add any comment by clicking, "Add to Comment Bank."
Your comments will appear in the bank. You can use and reuse your comments from one student's paper to the next. The comments will remain in your bank unless you choose to delete them.
To pull a comment from your comment bank, open the comment bank. Click on the tab to the right of the comment you wish to use. Click on "Copy to Clipboard." When you open a new comment on your student's paper, paste the comment from the bank into the comment box (see below).
With a few useful tools and strategies, ten minute teacher conferences can help you to meet with each one of your students before they turn in a final paper. Students will receive meaningful feedback, and you will save grading time by giving the bulk of your feedback ahead of time.
Use these tips to create your own revision stations and ten minute teacher conferences or save time and grab revision stations that are already made for you by clicking on the image below. Enjoy!