Slice of Life: Some Slices from #NCTE15
NCTE always sends us home exhilarated and exhausted –this year was no different. As we reflected together on our flight home we noticed some patterns around engagement, acceptance and joy in many of the sessions we attended.
We joined a session on the importance of creating authentic connections for all readers with diverse books. It was a session that celebrated and advocated for acceptance. Donalyn Miller started the session off by calling us to action to put diverse books in our classrooms because our students need them. “It’s not enough that authors write books with diversity if we don’t buy them and put them in the hands of our students.” Jeff Anderson, author of Zack Delacruz, shared that in writing this book he wanted to focus on the threads that hold us together as a community. “I didn’t want to write a book about diversity. I wanted to write a book about kids who just happen to be from different backgrounds. I focused on the unity in community.” Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, shared that books with diversity are great stories first, diversity is just part of the story, not the point of the story. He challenged us to buy diverse books so students have the opportunity to read them. While this session was certainly about acceptance it was also about supporting students in engaging in books that reflect our community and if you have ever heard Jeff or Tim read their books aloud…you know this session was about joy!
We joined Jennifer Serravallo’s session and we all know that if Jennifer is involved… we’ve got engagement!!! Everything she discusses, shows and models is infused with engagement. She shared an engagement inventory to help us get to know our readers. We have used it many times and it never fails us. She has samples of these in her new book as well! She emphasized how to break goals down into actionable steps so that students can own these strategies. Colleen Cruz, author of the Unstoppable Writing Teacher, inspired us to transform every problem into an opportunity. Colleen shared a protocol to solve a problem:http://www.colleencruz.com/blog.htm?post=1013609. Although she described herself as a pessimist, she inspired us to remember to accept everyone and find joy in problems!
The many ways to use technology to create accepting, engaging and joyful classroom communities was AMPLIFIED in our next session. Franki Sibberson, Katharine Hale, Katie Mulhtaris, Kristen Ziemke, Ruth Ayers, Colby Sharp and Pernille Ripp shared purposeful, authentic ways to use technology as a tool to assess, differentiate and engage students in authentic response. We left the session really thinking about technology as a tool to scaffold our students and assess where they are in terms of the gradual release of responsibility on the strategies they are learning. These presenters focused on the “playful” use of these tools and first time we truly connected the use of digital tools with the constructivist theory. Here are some of our favorite tweets from this session:
We then heard an amazing panel on the joy and power of reading. Kylene Beers facilitated a conversation with Kwame Alexander, Pam Allyn and Ernest Morell. The message of the power of reading was loud and clear:
“We must put joy in reading or we will lose a nation of reader. Becoming a nation of readers is becoming a nation who wants to read.” Kylene Beers
“Books are like amusement parks –sometimes you have to let the kids choose the rides.” Kwame Alexander
“Being a reader is something you do, being a reader is something you are.” Ernest Morell
“Literacy is a human right – reading belongs at the center of our instructional experience. It needs to be the center of our curriculum not the supplement.” Pam Allyn
“I believe reading is a core ingredient to find the joy, thrill and wonder of their world.” Kwame Alexander
JoEllen McCarthy, Trudy Ludwig, Marissa Moss and Kathryn Otoshi shared texts that foster empathy, kindness and acceptance in their session. They invited us to think about books as our co-teachers, as well as mirrors, windows and doors. They shared many books, in addition to their own, and resources to ensure we are creating a culture of joy in our classrooms.
@caitlin_haacke founder of Positive Post-It Day
There is so much to share, but we will end our first post on #NCTE15 with this slice from Kylene Beers:
“Do we teach with joy? If we do, kids learn that joy. If we don’t, then what emotion are we showing, what emotion are they learning?”
…Stay tuned for more reflections on #NCTE15!!