In my January post, I wrote about conferring in math and my challenges in putting together a system for conferring regularly with my students. Now, I think that I am trying too hard to try to create a routine that may work better for literacy than math. Lately, my student teacher and I have agreed that we will have a set group that he meets with daily and I will have an invitation group that I meet with to meet with those kids who need a second look. We have a very simple recording sheet where we keep track of who we have met with and which skills we are working on. My thinking has stayed the same here, conferring is an important time of our workshop where we can hold kids accountable for their thinking and is a good time to evaluate kids' progression toward understanding.
The other routine that I am really focused on is our reflection time. I am carving out 10 minutes at the end of the lesson so that students can verbalize and synthesize their thinking after the lesson. I put a prompt on the board for students to write about. The prompt is usually related to their thinking and a thinking strategy. An example is, "How did you determine which strategy was best when ordering fractions?" They write and then we listen to several students share their thinking. I have found this time to be a good one to check in with students' understanding. It is also a good time to emphasize the focus on understanding, rather than on production. I have found that student writing has improved with this routine, and I have also been impressed with student thinking during this time.
My question at this point is: How do I translate this conferring time and reflection time to productive math writing time? Should production be a priority? Is it important that we do formal math writing, or is it enough for students to do smaller math writing pieces that reveal their understanding as they explain thinking and strategies?