Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writing Partner Conversation Table

This summer, I wrote a post about A Quick Guide to Reviving Disengaged Writers by Chris Lehman and shared some ideas that I wanted to implement in my classroom this year.  One of the many ideas I have tried so far is creating a "Partner Conversation Table".  This is a designated spot where writing partners can meet to talk during writing workshop while others are writing.  In chapter 3 of the book, Chris Lehman shares ways to set up this routine and area in your classroom as well as a recording sheet partnerships can fill out if they use the partner spot during writing workshop. 

 In my classroom, writing partners have always met at the end of writing workshop to share and talk with one another, but they sometimes wanted to talk during writing workshop too.  So I had writing partners sit near one another while writing in case they needed advice or had a question for their partner.  However, some writing partnerships took advantage of this privilege and did more chatting than writing.  Some writers who needed a quiet space to write, were distracted by nearby conversations.  So when I read the idea that Chris Lehman shared about having a specific spot in the classroom for writing partners to meet while writing, I loved it

So this summer, I went on a hunt for the "perfect" partner conversation table and stools and found them at Ikea (I love that store by the way for classroom furniture!).  I set up the table, stools, clipboard with recording sheet, a timer, and sign that says "partner conversation table".  So now, in writing workshop, if a partnership wants to confer with one another, they go to this partner spot to have brief five minute conversation.  They set the timer for five minutes and begin their conversation.  Before leaving the "partner conversation table", they complete the recording sheet on the clipboard where they write their name, date, purpose of conversation, and where I can see benefits of the conversation.  This recording sheet holds the students accountable for their conference and also helps me form small groups and/or plan for conferences based on similar needs students have.  This "partner conversation table" has cut down on the chattiness throughout the room during writing workshop when students are independently writing, reinforces the purpose of a partner conference, helps students who need a quiet space to write, and holds partnerships accountable for purposeful talk.  The students love using this table to talk with their writing partners and feel "grown-up" when they ask their partner if they can confer with them at the table.  They also love using the table at other times during the day, other than writing workshop to work with partners.  
Partner Conversation Table 
Recording Sheet at Partner Conversation Table

Happy Writing and Conferring! :)


  1. I would want to work with a writing partner at a spot as lovely as that! We only do this type of partner talk towards the end of our writing cycles...but you've made me think that I need to have this occur more frequently.

  2. You have given great idea with your partner conversation table, I think it will work well with group of kids I'm training. Thanks and good luck.