For this week, I read chapters 5 and 6 in Penny Kittle’s Book Love. She had some amazing things to say about both book talks and writing conferences. For me, the two practices are so interconnected that it is difficult to separate them in such a manner, but I understand that she was differentiating for a reason. Therefore, for the purposes of this post I will do so as well before discussing their synergy.
Book talks, in my opinion, are one of the most important things a teacher can do in the classroom. To clarify, I mean this as not only presenting new books to the class, but also letting students do so and speaking to the students on an individual basis. This creates a sense of give and take between the students and the teacher, and it lets them know that you care about their interests, likes, and dislikes. The camaraderie can only be supplemented with the individual meetings because you are getting to know your student personally and are taking the time to hear their thoughts and opinions. This shows that you respect the students on an individual level and proves to them that you care about their identities.
Writing conferences work much in the same way. Without writing conferences, there is a large chance that the subtle nuances of meaning injected by the student into their work will be lost. When you take the time to speak with them and listen, you get valuable context that helps you to understand their work and their thought processes on a deeper level. This aligns with the book talk points as you are getting to know their identities and individuality and thus have an insight that is priceless.
In essence, both book talks and writing conferences give you the chance to demonstrate that the students are more than just faces in a class. They allow you to show that you see their individuality, you hear their voices, and you care. Understanding, companionship, connection, and community are all ideals that I wish to encourage in my future classes through the utilization of book talks and writing conferences.