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Record-keeping for Reading/Writing Workshops

Keeping track of what each of your students is doing during Reading/Writing Workshops can be challenging. Here are four tools that might help you get the job done.

Student reading list

Writer's conference record

Peer conference record

Status of the Class

Student reading list

The student reading list can be used by the teacher for on-going assessment. Periodically reviewing a student reading list yields information regarding the types of independent self-selected reading that are taking place. Teachers can encourage new genres or authors based on the reading list.

The lists can also be used by students as a form of self-assessment. Students can reflect on their reading based on quantity, quality, variety and depth; and they can set goals for future reading using their reading lists.

Reading lists can be used to communicate with parents. The lists provide evidence of growth and risk-taking. Risk-taking in reading should include trying new genres or authors, attempting longer books, and increasing reading rate, fluency, or quantity.

Reading lists can also be used for administrative purposes. They can document student achievement, effort and work habits. A typical reading list might look like this:

Name:                                                     Reading list




Date started and ended




























Writer's conference record

Students record notes on their skills and strengths from teacher conferences, comments on papers and peer conferences. These records can be used for on-going assessment because they summarize a student's strengths and skills to master. Students can use them to discuss their growth and set goals for further writing.

Writer's conference records can also be used to communicate with parents or administrators about student progress.

One format for a writer's conference record looks like this:

Things I can do as a writer



Skills to work on






















It is best not to overload students with teaching suggestions. Pick one or two strengths at most and one or two skills to teach. Once recorded, expect student to become independent with a given skill.


Peer conference record

An effective way to structure student-to-student conferences is to use the following protocol. The writer reads the piece aloud to a partner. The partner (listener) records what is heard. “I heard you say” in the first of two columns. A variation of “I heard you say” is to write “This seems to be about.” This is more challenging as it requires the listener to summarize what is heard. The writer then reads the piece a second time. This time the listener asks questions about the piece of writing. The template below is a simple way to capture a peer conference and to ensure that the listener offers useful feedback. It is up to the writer to decide whether or not to revise in response to the questions asked. However, if the listener hears something entirely different from what the writer meant, revision is definitely in order.

This simple T-chart can be used for peer conferences:

Listener's name:
Peer conference record for:

This seems to be about…
OR I heard you say…

  I wondered…


Status of the Class

Nancie Atwell in her acclaimed book, In the Middle (1987) wrote about her Status of the Class as a way to keep track of independent reading and writing. At the start of every independent reading or writing session, Atwell rapidly asked each student to state her or his plan for that session. She recorded student intentions in her own shorthand system.

Below is a typical Status of the Class template. Create a binder, date each week, and once again, you have evidence of progress for multiple audiences, parents, administrators, students, and for you to determine ways to assist student growth over time.

Here is an example of one teacher's Status of the Class Record at the beginning of sixth grade:

Status of the Class 5th Hour Dates: 9/3-9/10








Babysitter Club Martin
p. 174

Cay p. 34

draft 1 “The Accident”

writing conference,
Cay p. 93

draft 2


Tall Tales

p. 29

p. 59

draft 1
personal narrative

draft 2