When making determinations about how to teach students, educators often give thought to the content of their talk. However, the ways in which they deliver that content, or the talk itself, receive considerably less attention. Yet how talk functions is of critical importance to the success of the teacher–student writing conference as a pedagogical tool in primary-grade settings. In this article, four illustrative writing conference cases are shared from one veteran writing teacher’s first-grade classroom that showcase how teacher talk, and especially teacher talk in relation to overall conference purpose, greatly shapes the nature of work young children are able to accomplish within a particular conference. Recommendations for implementing purposeful talk when conducting writing conferences in primary-grade classrooms are also offered.
Keywords: Writing, Writing Conferences, classroom discourse, teacher talk, genre