Session I (Opening Session)
The first speaker was Donalyn Miller. I read her book several summers ago and have been a follower of her on Twitter. I was really looking forward to hearing her speak. Her slideshow from her presentation should be up at http://www.slideshare.net/Donalynm/. There were several important points that she made that hit home to me.
- The single factor most strongly associated with student achievement is independent reading.
- "Kids who don't have parents who read out loud have missed out."
- 56% of unenthusiastic readers have teachers who are non-readers.
- 64% of enthusiastic readers have teachers that read.
- "A lot of kids don't know what kind of books they like because they haven't read many."
- Reading "inspires you to write and try on an author's clothes."
- That I need to evaluate my own reading experiences and commit to reading more.
- Donalyn also spoke about the power of Twitter. If you do not have a Twitter account, I highly encourage you to consider getting one. It is the BEST professional development.
The first break out session I attended was "You Can Build Community with Writing" presented by Tony Keefer. I chose this because as a teacher, writing workshop is something I am constantly working on refining in my second grade classroom. I enjoyed listening to him speak and his passion for teaching was evident during his presentation.
- I need to work on establishing a positive tone for how my class verbally communicates. He encourages his students to NOT raise their hands.
- "Commit to create a place where all writing is valued. --regardless of where or what level they are on."
- That choice is important in writing and even with the new common core standards we should be able to give students choice in their writing.
I presented during the session. My presentation included an overview on using Wonderopolis in the classroom. I shared how Wonderopolis.org can be used in many different content areas. I also shared ways it can be integrated in and out of the school day are endless. Feel free to check out my Dublin Literacy-Wonderopolis Presentation.
Session II (After Lunch)
Sharon Draper spoke after lunch. She has written the wonderful book, Out of my Mind. She was a very inspiring speaker for teachers, especially in this ever changing educational world of testing and data. My take aways from her were:
- "If we wish an elephant to grow, we feed it, not measure it." She said this in regards to testing our students.
- "Never ever, EVER give writing as a form of punishment!" I personally think this is true for reading too. If we want children to enjoy reading and writing, they have to see it as enjoyable activity. What better way to squelch that, than to use it as a form of punishment?
- A final quote from Sharon Draper that evoked reflection in me was, "you have to read enough books so you can offer something that will resonate with them."
During the last session I went to see Ruth Aryes. I've read her book and saw her speak last summer at the AllWrite! Conference in Indiana and gained lots of practical ideas. Once again she didn't disappoint me.
- I loved that she said, "Mini lessons are about finding a need and filling them." Sometimes I get in a rut of focusing my mini lessons around the standards and forget that I need to plan my mini lessons based on my students needs.
- She also shared that we need to Tell+SHOW. Seems simple enough, but again as educators we often forget that students need repeated exposures and we need to show them, not just tell them. In addition, this made me reflect that I need to also give lots of time for guided practice and practice.
- Ruth also gave a practical idea of including our goals and how we will get there. ________________ by _________________. For example, my students will write interesting leads by ________________________.
- Finally, Ruth shared about her Slice of Life March Challenge. She talked about this being a great way to practice our own writing. She shared how this makes you reflect on yourself as a writer. I am very busy in my life right now, but am strongly considering taking the challenge.
As I drove the two hours home last night, I had lots of time to reflect about the day. I felt so fortunate to be surrounded by such awesome educators and listen to some amazing educators share about what they do in their classrooms. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday and am looking forward to going again next year.