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The Heart-Art of Conferencing: Latino Adolescent Students and the Co-construction of Transformative Writing Conferences


This is a study of adolescent Latino students as writers, grappling with the complexities of memoir writing alongside their writing partners. The context is a middle school writers workshop classroom where I simultaneously taught as I conducted research on these new peer and student-teacher writing conferences.

Sociocultural theory provides a framework for understanding how writing conferences are spaces where students and teacher co-construct social and cultural models for writing in a writers workshop. This study is also informed by an interdisciplinary exploration into the significance of relationships in classroom settings. It examines adolescents’ need for belonging and explores the naming and reframing of emergent bilinguals, who are the subjects of this study. In addition, it includes autoethnographic reflections on pedagogical shifts in my teaching, which emerge as I push myself to take risks, allow myself to make mistakes, and in the process, grow to trust my students in writing partnerships and myself as a writing teacher.

Data include verbatim transcriptions of peer and student-teacher writing conferences, corresponding student writing samples, and field notes, all stemming from a memoir writers workshop unit. Following the interpretivist qualitative research model, analytic inductive reasoning yields findings that reflect how Latino adolescents and their teacher authentically engage with each other to shape the conferences over time, transforming both writing processes and writing products.

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