OHMIGOSH. I am having one of those teaching moments where I am totally like hitting myself in the head for not realizing something important much, much sooner. Of course one-on-one writing conferences are super valuable. My students' writing is improving in leaps and bounds and the daily focus lessons are a big part of this, as well as the time we devote to writing each week. But my one-on-one conversations with them are like the leaven of the whole bakery of writing time. I'm blown away by how much they have to say and by how well (with a little shoulder to shoulder guidance) they are able to say it. A student of mine that we'll call DeShawn had this outstanding story about a girl he knew whose mom was in prison and so she moved to California. He ran into her over the summer and was stunned by how much she'd changed. Her high heels, he particularly noted, were not something she ever wore when he knew her before. And she had a baby.
In addition to the value of conferences I'm also developing my very own understanding of this point Lucy makes about writing being a powerful way for children to author their own lives. This little DeShawn is seeing the real tragedy of this girl who lost her childhood so quickly. It's important to see. It's important to think about what we see. It's important to record the way we see things.
At the end of our one-on-one conference today, with no prompting or idea that I expected it (cuz I absolutely didn't), DeShawn said, "Thank you, Ms. Simbe."