Thursday, October 5th

Day 14 - Thursday, October 5th

Lesson Objectives

Rather than meeting for class today, you will conduct individual conferences. Conferences should last about 10 - 15 minutes each and should focus on students' progress in Portfolio I - Part C.

What to cover in conferences:

During conferences you should see that students understand the purpose for this portfolio and that they are developing a constructive framework or direction for their paper. You might begin by looking at each student's P2A Annotated Bibliography as a way to get the conversation started. How did they go about locating their sources? Do they have any questions about the research process, library databases, etc.? (It can be useful to have a computer handy during conferences so that if questions come up about the databases or Writing Studio, you can look up the answers together.) Make sure to check their annotated bibliographies for correct MLA format, and ask them to point out particularly interesting or important points they made in their summaries and responses. Feel free to ask questions that prompt critical thinking, (i.e. "I wonder if there's anything about this author's context that's influencing this article? Or, "What did you think about the credibility of this source?). The point here is not to take over the research or thinking process, but to encourage them to move beyond a surface reading of texts and guide them to an appropriate topic for their P2B Inquiry Essay.

Once you've spent a few minutes discussing the P2A Annotated Bibliography (which you can grade using a check sheet during this portion of the conference; or, if you prefer, you can do this at the end of the conversation), ask the student which particular issue they want to research further for their Inquiry Essay.

This is an important point to address in the conferences. Try to guide students to narrow, debatable topics rather than "umbrella" topics like "the war in Iraq" and "the death penalty", which are too large to effectively research in the time the students have for this project. Encourage them, too, to choose topics that have multiple viewpoints available in the conversation about the issue - topics that are too polarized, like the pro-choice/pro-life abortion debate, don't work well for this project because students aren't likely to find a range of viewpoints to explore in their Inquiry Essay.

Try to end conferences by making sure that all of the student's questions have been answered and reminding them about upcoming due dates.

You might also return P1B during this time; though make sure to let students know that you need to focus on P2A & B in the conference. They should look over the comments on their P1B and ask questions after conferences have been completed.


  1. Begin researching your chosen topic. You will need to find a total of six sources for your Inquiry Essay. Make sure to print or save copies of your sources as soon as you find them so that you can easily refer back to them later. A good goal would be to have found three solid sources in time for the next class.