Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peer Conferencing & Summarizing

As we move forward in the writing process, today we discussed how to peer conference in our room. I prepared a student sheet that gives students guidelines of what to discuss in a peer conference. Changes made to a draft during a peer conference will be done in purple marker. The colors allow me to see students' strengths and areas for growth in terms of drafting (gray), revising (red), editing (blue), and peer conferencing (purple).

After I modeled the process with one of our student writers, I put students in pairs, gave them a pink peer conferencing sheet, and off they went to try it out themselves! I was fairly impressed with how on task students were! I tried to keep the peer conferencing sheet simple so that student tasks during a peer conference would be manageable for all students.

During reading today, we continued using the mentor text A Drop of Water by Walter Wick. Our mini-lesson today was on pulling out the main ideas and summarizing what we read in non-fiction texts. Before we read one of the chapters in the book, I wrote down a few words in my word predictions column that I thought I might see in a chapter about water. Then I read the chapter about water, which ended up being more about ice. As I read, I checked off any word prediction words that appeared in the text and also wrote down new core vocabulary from the text that I thought would be important to capture the main ideas of what I read. After I read the chapter, I closed the book and used only my checked off word ('drop') and my new core vocabulary to orally put my words together into a summary of what I read. After I had figured out the best order for my thoughts, I wrote down my summary.

For guided reading today, we practiced this summarizing strategy, using leveled readers about the land and climate of the Southwest (which is what we studied earlier in social studies today). These leveled readers were perfect non-fiction texts to practice our new summarizing strategy while also enhancing our learning about the land and climate of the Southwest.

One group was given the focus word 'desert'. Students wrote down 5 prediction words first, and we shared our schema with the rest of the group. We also discussed a few hard words that they would encounter while reading, and then they set off to read their three pages about deserts in the Southwest while I listened in and took notes. For the first read through, students checked off any words in their word prediction column that appeared in their text. Next time we meet, we will discuss the core vocabulary from each paragraph of their assigned reading.

One guided reading group read about dams. Here you can see Ana's word predictions prior to reading about dams. After students read, we decided as a group as to what the core vocabulary was from each paragraph. Tomorrow we will begin to use the core vocabulary to help us write a summary of their pages about the dams in the Southwest.

Another group was given the focus word 'Southwest' as a way to activate their brains. It was awesome to see that so many of the things we had discussed in social studies earlier in the day had appeared in students 'word prediction' columns. This group discussed the core vocabulary after they read and each student wrote his/her summary at the bottom.
1. Reading - 15 mins., Pizza Log
2. Math - 10 mins. facts, Ch. 5 Review
3. Spelling - Test Fri.
4. Library - Bring books tomorrow!


  1. Thanks! This is a great strategy for summarizing non-fiction text. I have been struggling to get my 6th graders to summarize and not retell everything! :)


  2. We've been doing peer conferences for our personal memoirs this week (went very well - whew!). Tomorrow they are editing on their own, and then they will publish. Can't wait to read the final products!!!

    Runde's Room

  3. can you post the pink sheet - peer editing guidelines

  4. Anonymous - Email me, and I'll write ya back! :)

  5. Would you be willing to share your vocab organizer? I love your blog! Lots of wonderful reading and writing ideas.