Using Writer’s Notebooks as a Diagnostic Assessment and Teaching Tool
If a mini-lesson has been taught and a child is still not using the skill or strategy correctly, it is time for a one-on-one conference. I have found it effective to use my students’ writer’s notebooks for conventions and craft conferences. The pieces written in their notebooks are not taken through the entire writing process; that is, they are not edited and revised for publication. Instead, I use the notebooks as a diagnostic and teaching tool for language conventions and writer’s craft. When I collect notebooks, I make anecdotal notes on the student’s evaluation form in my assessment notebook. In the second column I record skills the child demonstrates s/he is consistently using correctly. In the third column I record skills that I need to teach or re-teach. When I meet with that child for an individual conference, I select 1-2 teaching points from that third column and work with the student on just those skills. I then ask the student to proofread a page in his /her notebook, looking for and correcting only the targeted skill/s. If there are other serious errors on the page, those will become the focus of a future conference.