Lifting the Level of Student Writing through Goals and Feedback Institute: Tap the Power of Small Group Work, Conferring, Mentor Texts, and Grading Grades K-8

Thursday, February 21 - Saturday, February 23, 2019

Grade: K-8
Featuring: Kristin Smith, Celena Larkey, Lucy Calkins, Shanna Schwartz, Laurie Burke, and Meghan Hargrave

Growth in writing can be hold-your-hat dramatic, and it can be that for all of our students. The key is that we first need to create environments in which kids will take the awful risk of putting themselves on the page, we need to invite kids to work on writing projects that matter to them, and then above all, we need to give them crystal clear and ambitious feedback. Often that feedback will include showing students mentor texts that are within grasp for them.

To teach in ways that dramatically lift students’ progress, it is important for you to be able to see what a writer can already do so that you can then teach the writer to progress, one step at a time. The writing learning progressions are one potent source of this insight, and the institute will help you to mine them in ways that inform your one-to-one conferences and small groups. Learning progressions can help you get to know one child’s work in depth and they can also help you thin-slice data so as to form a quick snapshot of your class as a whole (or your grade-level as a whole). Many of you know the checklists that have been built around on-demand writing assessments but you may not know the writing process trajectory, and we’ll be sure to direct your attention to that and to help you use that as well to inform your conferring and small group work.

Part of this institute will focus on conferring and small group work with young writers. You’ ll hear the TCR WP’ s best knowledge for how to do both of these, and will watch demonstrations of both. You’ll have the chance to practice conferring and small group work, and to get coaching in lifting the level of what you do. You’ll hear ideas for how your small groups can get kids actively engaged, maximize opportunities for practice, and coach students toward greater independence.

As part of this, the presenters will demonstrate a handful of replicable conferences and small groups that you can revisit again and again, regardless of genre.

Mentor texts will help you ensure you don’t go into your small groups and conferences empty handed. Presenters will share their top tips for choosing mentor texts and highlight some of their all- time favorites. You’ ll learn how to mark up a mentor text, using what you notice naturally using the learning progression to guide you. You’ll also hear ways you can use that mentor text within your small groups, so that you’re buoyed up by a co-teacher as you teach. You’ll also learn how you can get students to interact with mentor texts, so that they’ve got a teacher they can draw on when you’re not by their side.

You’ll leave ready to lead more efficient and powerful small groups, leaning on mentor texts and learning progressions as tools.


$650/$600 NYC DOE


This institute will take place at the Teachers College campus.
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W 120th Street
New York, NY