Tag Archives: Matt Glover

The Importance of Talk #sol16 11 of 31

Natasha, the Early Years teacher at my school, and I have been reading Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover in our curriculum planning meetings, as she is new to writing workshop, especially with 3 and 4 year olds. I absolutely love Matt, and have had the privilege of seeing him speak at the Literacy Institute in Hong Kong three times. He is so inspiring, and I always leave learning something I didn’t know, rethinking my stance on teaching writing, and feeling motivated to try out a new technique or strategy with my teachers and/or students. That being said, I knew this would be a great book study for us and would encourage much discussion.

Tuesday’s meeting began with a discussion of our reading that we completed at home. I shared that I was particularly moved by the section entitled “The Importance of Talk,” in which Matt says “Basically anything that a child can talk about is something she can write about. If they can talk about it, they can write it because for young children, talk is an important form of prewriting. The reverse is true as well: if a child can’t talk about a potential writing topic, then it’s likely that she’ll have much more difficulty writing about it. It’s also important to remember that in most cases children’s talk is going to be much more detailed than their writing. In fact for many authors, the challenge of writing is the attempt to narrow down talk and ideas into written text.” We both had a rich discussion about how this could play out in the classroom, and how it made sense, since young children are much more verbal than they are with writing or drawing.

During this discussion, I began reflecting on my own writing for the Slice of Life. I shared with Natasha that I have wanted to write the story of meeting Maurice in Rome, and my wonderful experience, but despite having orally told that story half a dozen times, I worried that my written version wouldn’t come close to capturing the essence of my day. “Oh, yeah, you’ve told me that story! It’s a great one!” Natasha said. I know it is, but again, I felt like writing it would take much more time, and the story might lose its charm. Thinking aloud, I wondered, “But what if I said my story aloud right before writing it? I could record myself telling the story, then write it, and then listen to my recording to see if I missed anything.” Suddenly I had a plan for how I would write my story.

Last night, I tried it out. I recorded myself telling the story of my 18 hours in Rome. My recording lasted 18:36. And I talk fast! Energized, I got to work, putting my thoughts into words. I revised as I wrote, taking out the parts that weren’t essential to the story (the fact that I was ripped off my the taxi driver on the way to my hotel and that my first Italian pizza experience was rubbish). My slice was just over 1,000 words. Over 18 minutes of talking turned into only 1,000 words. I reread my writing, made a few minor revisions, and hit publish. I was proud of my story. I had done it justice and captured its essence. I contemplated listening to my recording, as I had planned, but I didn’t need to. The act of orally telling my story before putting it into writing was the important bit. I didn’t need to find missing parts and add them in. I was happy with it just as it was.

The next time I am having difficulty putting my thoughts into writing, I’m going to try out this strategy. Maybe you can, too.

Conferences that Nudge Writers Forward- SOL #17

SOLS button 2013

Here’s yet another post where I share what I learned from “The Art of Teaching Literacy” workshop in Hong Kong. This session was presented by Matt Glover and it was called “Conferences that Nudge Writers Forward.” Matt Glover is an author and presenter who focuses primarily on teaching our youngest writers, grades preschool to first grade, how to write. If you missed the other posts, you can check them out here and here.

– “Conferences are in the moment teaching.” ~Matt Glover

-Nudge vs. Push

  • It’s your job to find out what they can already do to determine the next small step.
  • A nudge is something they can do that is within their zone of proximal development.

-Writing Conference Structure

  • Research– ask questions to figure out what you need to teach, this is where you decide what the student needs, allows you to differentiate
  • Name Strength– identify what they are doing well as a writer
  • Decide on ONE Teaching Point
    • You many see many things that the writer needs to improve upon, but it’s important to narrow it down to just one teaching point.
    • Choose between a focus on composition or conventions, not both.
    • Teach
      • “What can I teach you that will help you down the road?”
      • Teaching means I’m going to show you how to do something that you don’t know how to do.
      • Don’t confuse reminders, telling, or correcting with teaching.
      • Tools to have with you during your conferences:
        • Mentor texts (picture books mainly)
        • Your own writing
        • Another child’s writing
        • Matt carries around mentor texts and notes in a folder to make it easier to confer.

-Conference Viewing Form: A form to use when observing a conference or watching a video of a conference.

  • Conference length- suggested time 5-7 min, increase efficiency
  • Research- Look at types of questions asked (open-ended, filler, shifting ownership, positive presupposition, questions I already know the answer to), how many questions
  • Strengths- identify and name students’ strengths
  • Decisions- teach to their strengths or areas of need
  • Teaching Point
    • Generating a teaching point
    • Narrowing down to a teaching point
    • Sticking to a teaching point
    • Generate both composition and conventions teaching points
    • Which mentor texts to use and why
    • Do I teach to the minilesson or something else?
    • Invitational or directional teaching point?
    • Tone, language, and word choice in a conference

– Conference Tips:

  • Say “book” not “story” because when you call their writing a “story” you are implying that they are writing a story when they may be writing an informational text, list book, etc.
  • Need more time to decide on a teaching point? It’s helpful to slow down the conference by asking more questions to figure out more information.
  • Use writing samples and videos to improve skills at conferring.
  • Conferring notes should include:
    • Name/Date
    • Strengths
    • Teaching point
    • Next steps
    • Take notes AFTER the conference so the kids aren’t distracted during the conference.
    • You’ll never know if your teaching point was the best one to teach or not. You only have once chance to teach. Then you can reflect and get better next time. So don’t beat yourself up about it.

-Book recommendation- Sit Down and Teach Up by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover- an ebook that contains videos of 15 conferences with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students as well as notes, charts, and explanations of their thinking. You can purchase it on iBooks or download a PDF version from Heinemann’s website.

I love learning from Matt Glover. Even though he makes conferring seem effortless, when he’s presenting, he slows down the process for us, revealing his thoughts and reasoning behind the choices he made. If you haven’t read his work, you should definitely check it out! Engaging Young Writers and Already Ready (co-written with Katie Wood Ray) are great reads for teachers of young writers. And if you ever get the chance to see him present, jump at the opportunity! You will not be disappointed!

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Matt and I at the conference. I was a little starstruck!