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NESA Fall Leadership Conference 2019

Carl Anderson

Literacy Consultant

Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University

CARL ANDERSON is an internationally recognized expert in writing instruction for grades K-8. He works as a consultant in schools and districts around the world, and is a longtime staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Mr Anderson is the author of numerous books on teaching writing, including the brand new A Teacher’s Guide to Writing Conferences, the best-selling How’s It Going?: A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers, as well as Assessing Writers and Strategic Writing Conferences. He is known for his keynote addresses, PD workshops, school-based residencies, and webinars.

2-Day Institute

Individualize Writing Instruction by Conferring with Your Student Writers

Connect & Engage

Carl will begin the workshop by asking participants to complete a "Where am I with writing conferences?" needs assessment survey, and then asking them to discuss their responses with the group to help identify the most important struggles and challenges they are having with conferring. We will then discuss five reasons why writing conferences are the most important teaching in the writing workshop.


This part of the workshop will begin with a discussion of the qualities of a good writing conference. Then participants will learn about strategies to help them navigate the three parts of a writing conference:

(1) Discovering what kind of work a student is trying to do as a writer;
(2) Assessing and deciding what to teach the student about her writing work; and,
(3) Teaching the student how to do her writing work more effectively.

Finally, we will discuss how to use conference record-keeping forms to track student progress across the school year.

Across the two days, participants will watch and analyze video of Carl conferring with students in different grade levels, and read and discuss student writing samples to practice the kind of assessment that will help them confer powerfully with students. Participants will also practice conferring strategies by role-playing with each other.

Reflect & Apply

The workshop will end with participants creating a plan for how they can apply what they learned in the workshop when they return to their schools. They will write about which aspects of conferring they will focus on improving first, and which aspects later on.

They will also write about the kind of support they need to improve their conferring, e.g., co-confer with a colleague who also attended the workshop, enlist the aid of their literacy coach, form a study group with colleagues and read a book about conferring, etc.


Participants will:

*understand the reasons why writing conferences are such an important teaching method.
* understand the qualities of good writing conferences.
* develop a repertoire of conversational strategies to help them discover what students are doing as writers in the first part of a writing conference.
* sharpen their ability to assess students effectively so they make the right teaching decisions in conferences.
* learn about four methods for teaching students in conferences.
* become familiar with several methods for taking conference notes, and understand how note-taking can help them confer more effectively.

NOTE: - Participants should be familiar with the writing workshop model, or be interested in teaching writing using this model.
- Recommended reading (not required), A Teacher's Guide to Writing Conferences.

Target Audience:

Teachers in Grades K-8, literacy coaches, curriculum specialists, administrators.

Continuum Levels:


Learn more about how NESA plans Professional Learning
NESA'S Learning Continuum:


Save paper and effort where possible!

For your convenience, and to support our efforts in being "green", all handouts/files posted here have been notated with an A, B, C or D indicating the following:

(A) hardcopies needed at workshop
(B) electronic version on laptop is sufficient (for viewing during the workshop)
(C) required reading PRIOR to the workshop
(D) file not needed for workshop itself, but simply material of additional interest/reference


Updates to handouts may be made until shortly before the start of the conference.