How can a teacher confer with a child who speaks a different language? How can teachers confer with many children speaking many different languages, all in the same classroom? In Write from the Start: Conferring with Young English Language Learners, Andie Cunningham and Ruth Shagoury confer with five-, six- and seven-year-olds in Andie’s kindergarten writing workshop. Daily conferences are an essential element of the literacy curriculum, helping students see the links between their home language and culture, English, and making meaning through print.
The nine conferences on the DVD feature boys and girls with first languages of Spanish, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hmong, and Russian. The children are at different stages in their language development – from confidently verbal to silent. The writing the children produce is a mix, too – with a range from strings of words with conventional spellings, to drawings and individual letters labeling pictures.
The print materials on the companion Workshop Guide CD provide step-by-step instructions for sixteen different workshops in a variety of formats. Workshop topics include basic conferring principles, understanding the “silent period” of English language learning, assessment to track writing growth and development, and analyzing boys’ writing through drawing. Student writing samples, practical explanations of literacy and learning theories, and recordkeeping tools are all provided.
You can watch a brief preview of the start of the video below. (Please be aware that the quality of web video is significantly lower than that of the published DVD):
Andie Cunningham and Ruth Shagoury are the co-authors of Starting with Comprehension: Reading Strategies for the Youngest Learners (Stenhouse, 2005). Andie was a kindergarten teacher for five years at Harold Oliver Primary School in Portland, Oregon, and currently works as an instructor at Lewis and Clark College. Ruth holds the Mary Stuart Rogers endowed chair at Lewis and Clark College.
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