How`s It Going

How’s It Going by Carl Anderson is an effective strategy
guide for teachers of any grade level working with a
writing workshop style classroom. The book is written in a
conversational style similar to that of Lucy Calkins and
discusses what teachers can do to be better at not only
holding conferences with their students, but making their
students apart of the process and accountable for being
productive while the teacher is holding conferences with
other students. Anderson defines effective conferences as
conversations that are dictated with purpose and have a
clear structure. He gives examples of conference
transcripts with elementary and middle school students
that offer insight on how to apply his techniques so that
you too can hold effective conversations with your
students to progress their writing without doing it yourself or
simply saying “this looks fine to me.”
Carl Anderson is the lead developer at the
Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project at
Columbia University.
 He is a nationally recognized education consultant.
 Before working at the college, he taught
elementary and middle school at The Bronx,
Kentucky, and Illinois.
Keep it casual and relaxed, yet still structured with purpose.
 Make sure your students feel comfortable.
 Include these types of questions:
1. How’s it going?
2. What are you doing today as a writer?
3. What work are you doing as a writer this period?
4. What do you need help with today?
 Ask research related questions that aren’t leading but have
students think more deeply about their writing.
 Example: Could you say more about that? What do you
mean by…? Could you explain what you mean by…?
Management skills that help make the workshop successful:
Have students envision the workshop
When students know exactly what to do in the workshop,
teachers can work solely on conferencing
Have a routine in the classroom
Move around the room before conferencing to nudge workers
in the right direction
Activities to do : study model pieces of lit, peer conferences,
compose/revise/edit drafts
2. Teaching independence to the students
 Work independently for 30 min or more
 Find ideas, write fluently, and know what to do
after completing a piece
3. Developing a repertoire of diagnostic questions
 Remind students of writing manners (being quiet while others
are composing)
 Make sure the students are invested in their writing
 Teach students to make plans and set goals for their writing
Get them involved in the conference conversation
In mini-lessons, directly teach them about their role in the
Use conversational strategies to teach students how to talk in
conference and about their writing
Use your time speaking with students wisely; you will not get to
talk to every student every day.
Make the conference a conversational tone; don’t make it
stressful rather relaxed and use open ended guided questions
to help their thinking about writing.
Teach students to be independent so you can talk with
others and not worry that they’re not being productive. Set
up a good working environment.

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