Reading and writing volume matters
I read Readicide years and years ago, but this was the first time hearing Kelly Gallagher speak. He talked about how we need to repurpose our middle and high school classrooms away from 4 big novels and 4 big papers to something different so that kids are reading and writing in crazy quantities.
His schedule looks like this:
2 min Book talks
10 min Reading and Conferring
10 min Daily writing to launch units
8 min Mentor Text Study
20 min Writing Workshop and Conferring
3 min Debrief and sharing of beautiful words
This was so reaffirming to me. I try and emulate the experts - Gallagher and Penny Kittle (they are co-authoring a book together due out next November!) and so now I have some ideas to tweak my schedule further. If he can do this with 53 minutes, I can definitely get down to biz in 88!
Our district is awesome and sends so many people to IRC, so we had to get a picture with the Selfie Stick:
And then I had him sign my book and I got to sit down and talk to him a bit.
He is seriously such a great teacher, I feel so blessed to have met him!
Authors Speak: Jordan Sonneblick & Laurie Halse Anderson
I had never heard of Jordan and am now super excited to read one of his books. His session was so great - about how your kids who drive you bananas need you to be there for them, and you might even turn them into writers! Jordan spoke these beautiful words, "Your writing feedback needs to be anointing and appointing - writing is a person's soul on paper." So so true, we can't rip our kids to shreds when we look at their writing or go nuts with a red pen. Read for ideas first, hear your writers!
And Laurie Halse Anderson has amazing books, my favorites to date are Speak and Twisted, but I saw a new side of her this time with her historical Thriller Series, Chains, Forge, and Ashes. I had always wondered how she writes books so different - realistic fiction with Speak and Twisted in Young Adult about sexual violence and then historical thrillers centered around slavery, so it was great to hear her stories. What really stuck out to me was when she said something along the lines of "keep pushing to learn about white privilege" if you have been thinking about that lately. (I have.) The current state of our country goes way back, back even further than slavery, back to when people took land from Native Americans. We have a long road ahead to fix the difficulties we face here in 2016, but it can start with books and conversations.
Enchanted, yet again, by Ralph Fletcher
Ralph Fletcher has easily been one of the most impactful researcher-teachers on my career. I would not be who I am as far as a workshop stance without him. So to have him reaffirm what I already know as a writer - that children need to play with writing to develop not only a love for it but also to be effective at it was so wonderful to hear.
We have to make time in our writing workshops for students to have choice and voice, and when our writing workhops work, we are like a hot air balloon flying away with energy. Our students' writer's notebooks should be a playground and hot house for ideas!
So with all the mandates we have from outside our buildings and our state departments, let's remember to keep writing joyful for our students!
Kyleen Beers and Bob Probst
These two are quite comical and super smart, sharing about their books Notice and Note. These books focus on close reading strategies in both fiction and nonfiction. What I am walking away with her is relevance. We have to make the work we do with kids relevant, and one way to do that is through an awesome strategy called Possible Sentences and then using Notice and Wonder.
Next time you're going to read an article with your students, pick out 15 - 20 words and phrases from the article and list them. Have kids, in pairs, write possible sentences that could be in the text. Then, kids share their sentences and teacher scribes them on the board. Next, teacher asks kids to look at one sentence and wonder about it - what questions do you have? what do you wonder? Kids turn and talk and then share out.
These wonderings create relevance for our readers, big time. When we did this exercise, we all wanted to read the article afterward! This pre-reading strategy is so powerful for our readers, highly recommend.
More learning experiences
I heard a lot of other great sessions, too: about dyslexia, about content-area writing tips, CRAFTS, the hot new lit for Young Adult, and an awesome presentation from a great friend and colleague about blogging with kids. I can't wait to get my students going on blogs!
In addition to learning so much wonderful information that can be brought back to my classroom on Monday, it's just so fun to be around amazing friends from work. We laughed and had so much fun and geeked out taking selfies with our literacy celebrities. On the way home, we sang songs from Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Who does that? Which brings me to...
So many things to be thankful for:
- A district who gets that ongoing professional development is such a must for our teachers and kids; thank you for sending me to IRC and allowing me to continue my training so my students can continue theirs:
- Friendships built around selfie sticks and reading and writing workshop!
- Cute bags from the conference! (You guys: chevron!)
- "ELA Squad" t-shirts, that were the brainchild of a #D100chat one Tuesday evening. Thanks Cap!
- for teachers who teach with a firm, loving insistence so that our students become readers and writers who can powerfully interpret and interact in such world where news, advertisements, informatoin is usually skewed one way or another.