The general session that began Monday’s learning at #ILA15 was notable! Stephen Peters shared that “My teacher thought I was smarter than I was, so I was!” To learn more about him, check out his biography here.
And then Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer was interviewed by a panel that included two freshman students from a local high school who asked her questions about how to prepare for a career and even whether parents should have to answer questions from their child. Smart, witty, fun . . . and on the importance of reading as Octavia shared that she struggled with reading and dyslexia.
Game Changers: Using Sports and the Power of Adolescent Literature to Transform the World
Sharon Draper and Chris Crutcher
Laughter, long and constant, emanated from our conference room as Sharon and Chris answered questions from the audience. Here are some of the quotes that I captured from these YA authors who have also been classroom teachers.
Chris – “The only people who are ruined by their experiences are the people who allow it. I’ve seen people stand up under pressure, when I would have folded.”
Sharon – “Leave a door open, without being Pollyannish (not everything is going to be ok). I have to leave hope, not desperation and despair at the end of the book!”
Chris – “I would have failed Ms. Draper’s class but I would have still learned from her class. I ailed other classes, but I still learned something!”
Sharon on Diversity- ” Students, whether Black or Latino, need to see themselves in books and others as well! Classroom library needs to be diverse regardless of the makeup of the class!”
Chris on language (curse words and the F bomb)-“It’s the language of ‘anger/rage’ so it’s natural. I want to hear your story in your native tongue.”
On writing, rejection, and editors:
Sharon, “I sent out 25 letters, 24 were no, 1 yes from Simon and Schuster. When you turn in a manuscript, you know nothing. Find your own path. Just because you know how to climb Mt. Everest doesn’t make it any easier the second time because you have done it before. Still hard, just know what to expect.”
Take Away: Authors that write REAL books for kids, write from what they know and the kids that they see on a regular basis. It’s hard work to craft a book so the content and details are still relevant 10 years later.
Transforming Understanding Through Informational Read Alouds
Seymour Simon and Linda Hoyt
What a star-studded ending to the conference with Linda and Seymour and a room packed to overflowing for the last session of the conference! I was excited to meet my “Science Guy” as we evaluated the credibility of Seymour as a science expert during a TCRWP workshop earlier in July! And yes, he fit our EXPERT category!
Seymour Simon began by showing the craft techniques that he uses in his many books:
- Action words
- Engage senses to set the scene
- Ask questions
- diagrams and photographs
- Descriptive Detail
Seymour also shared a sample of the work that he has done as a publisher at Star Walk Kids. 500+ ebooks are available with more than half as nonfiction. I loved that he worked in a shout out to Mary Ehrenworth, Teachers College (TCRWP) and Twitter, “a unique opportunity for teacher to talk about education in a universe of teachers interested in the same work”.
“EVERY teacher should read aloud daily! Every book I write, I have to read aloud.”
And then pearls of wisdom from Linda Hoyt:
How do we make time for Informational Read Alouds?
“Shorten fiction read alouds. Put short informational Read Alouds into science and social studies to load up the heads and hearts of students. Make time. Informational Read Alouds do not need to be boring. Be picky about what you read.”
Qualities of great informational texts for Read Alouds:
- beautiful language
- high quality visuals
- test language – Does it beg to be read aloud?
- Is it projectionable? (so kids can see the text)
- You do NOT have to start reading on page 1 and read until the end.
We practiced with some text. Be cautious in saying all text should be a Read Aloud. This should be GREAT text. Teach kids that read alouds vary and where, why, and when we adjust them. Brian Cambourne’s Seven Conditions of Learning were included as well as a study of university students who are being read to at the University of Woolangong in ann adult study of the effect of Read Alouds on adult learning.
Linda shared a fourth grade persuasive PSA from Mrs. Fitpatrick’s class, “Pulling over for emergency vehicles”, as an example of student work after learning through Read Alouds.
What are the connections between Read Alouds and writing?
Build Capacity for Deep Thinking and Memory
Recast Conversation Patterns
Pause to sketch, to think, to visualize and talk . .
“Lester Laminack advocates for seven Read Alouds each day. I go with three – only 1 is interactive – so students can FEEL what happens! ( Fiction, NF, and writing craft – ex. lead)”
Take Away: A mix of fiction and informational text Read Alouds needs to be thoughtful, planned, practiced, and executed multiple times each day for ALL students!
What do you want to remember from this finale post?
What will linger with you?