Face-to-Face, On- and Off-Line: Writing Conferences with Boys — Delia M. Turner, PhD, The Haverford School, United States

  • Writing (2009-10)

Most guides to “writing workshop,” a common method of teaching writing in the USA, advise teachers to set aside several uninterrupted hours a week for writing, and emphasize the need for sit-down teacher-student writing conferences. This time requirement often discourages teachers in departmentalized schedules from adopting the workshop approach. However, the asynchronous and collaborative nature of 21st century social networking tools offer opportunities for student contact and conferencing that are not wholly dependent on time in class. Adopting both face-toface methods and on-line methods in a modified writing workshop setting, the researcher asked how on-line and face-to-face writing conferences could be structured to help boys be more prolific, powerful, and confident writers.

By the end of the school year, the boys in this study were writing more, using more effective language, and were more confident as writers. The research called into question some of the researcher’s assumptions about boys as writers, about the meaning of writing workshop for boys and their teachers, and about the interaction itself between a boy and his teacher. The research suggests that writing conferences may act as catalysts to improving the written work of purposeful writers, rather than opportunities for transfer of expertise from teacher to student. 

Read the full report.