#SOL16: #NCTE16 Friday Takeaways

Bookended by our Thursday and Friday evening dinners . . .

are over 16 pages of notes, hundreds of storified tweets, pictures galore and thousands of words.  Words Matter.  Words matter whether spoken or written.  Words in the heart matter as well. As a #TCRWP aficionado stunned by the passing of Deputy Director Kathleen Tolan this weekend, I celebrate my learning about small group reading instruction last summer with Kathleen even though I still yearn for more.  That gritty, passionate, talented, brilliant and sometimes “pushy” Deputy Director would want us to carry on . . . Make the students in front of you YOUR PRIORITY! FOCUS on students!

FRIDAY at #NCTE16

The Heinemann Breakfast on Friday honoring the Legacy of Don Graves was a star-studded celebration.  I felt like the red carpet was rolled out to recognize the literacy superstars in the room who all had stories to tell that encouraged us to roll up our sleeves, pay attention to students and get to work.  From Penny Kittle’s, “When Don asked me to do something, I did it!” to her credo “NCTE is a place to settle your soul” we were entranced!  Katherine Bomer reminded us that “Writing to discover what we care about is brave and that writing is a way a student’s voice comes into power and reminds us that we are all human.”  Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell shared that their “mentor text drop box – a way to organize and access mentor text – represents the generosity of Don Graves.” This breakfast was a family breakfast that reminded us of who we are and where we are going together. ( Heinemann Podcast Link)

Charts as Tools for Conversation, Advocacy and Action (Martinelli, Schwartz, & Luick)

The focus of this presentation was on the purpose of charts, ownership and environment, reflection and action.  The two words that I heard over and over were “purposeful planning”!  This is embodied in sketching out the steps to check clarity, the vocabulary used, and the ability of the chart to act as the teleprompter for the teacher.  Of course, a crystal clear teaching point helps!

One caution was to make sure that students’ voices were included in discovering learning together . . .students could contribute definitions, examples, and even make their own tools to use.  Tools that begin in the minds of teachers become ideas that can eventually be handed over to the students. (Isn’t that what transfer is REALLY all about?) I’ve heard many, many, many TCRWP staff members say that when we introduce a tool, coach and provide support for a tool, we MUST have a plan for the tool to go away. Graphics in a chart are really meant to be replaced by pictures or names of your own students. Or even better, by students who make their own charts because they know the purpose and that’s good for teachers, students, and LEARNING!

Vocabulary Matters!  – Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow and Char Shylock

How do students ever learn enough words to improve their vocabulary?  How do students become invested in their OWN learning?  Who’s really doing the work in vocabulary learning?

Step 1.  Listen carefully.

Step 2.  Wait.  

Too often when students say things that are untrue or unbiased, teachers jump in. Instead of the teacher teaching 24/7, maybe students should teach us so that they have the skills that they need for the rest of their lives!  

Step 3.  Think.   What do we know ( or What do we think we know) about …”

Step 4.  Audition what you know.  Try it on.  Is this idea never true? Sometimes true? Always true?  (or True for me? True for us? True for you?)  Set up a place or way for students to go do this!!!

Step 5. Revise and rename.  What assumptions changed?

Step 6. Spread the word.

This presentation included opportunities for us to think about shifting our beliefs, taking note of vocabulary words, increasing our word curiosity and consciousness and “settling our souls in teacher church”.  Shana Frazin told us that “English is her superpower and Hebrew is her kryptonite.”  If  we think of a word in another language, how does that add to our repertoire? How does working with “categories” help students access MORE words.  And then Katy  illuminated some FUN, JOYOUS ways to find a few minutes to incorporate vocabulary work. . . in a closure – share, in a mid-class tip, in spare 5 minutes before the bell rings or even a simple conversation like . . .

“Wow guys,  you are doing such fascinating work with characters… let’s talk about…. which would you rather be, character A or character B and why?”

Some activities take time:

  1. Sentence game
  2. Grid game  – person and question
  3. Play with words –  Beck’s Bringing Words to Life  (Would you rather?  How much would you like to ?  Which is more important to ? When/ how should you?)
  4. Word sorts – content words for open or closed sorts
  5. Other work – paintings or artwork.

Vocabulary work that has student learning and ownership as the goal WILL stick with students.  Vocabulary work that has “correct answers on the quiz” as an end goal . . . NOT so much!

The Power of Low Stakes Writing with Ralph Fletcher 

Fun

Laughter

Advice from students

“Use top shelf adjectives and verbs”

Metaphorically

Like a big balloon…

Real choice

Audience (beyond the teacher)

A sense of fun and adventure

Teachers  who value

Invention, originality and voice

So what happened to the big beautiful balloon?

Student Choice increases energy and excitement to make the balloon soar.

Test prep brings the balloon back to the ground.

There is a battle between freedom and discipline

But teachers do have choice and must be

BRAVE to bring choice back with any of these . . . (and also low-stakes)

  • Free Choice Fridays
  • The Writer’s Notebook
  • Class Writer’s notebook- Students inspired by what others write
  • Classroom blogs
  • Slice of Life Challenge
  • Open Cycles – where students chose the topic and genre
  • Need writing green belts – tap into the writing Ss are doing
  • FERAL writing
  • Study Driven Writing (Source  Katie Wood Ray)

Recklessly wonderful writing.

Students choose to work on writing because

The ideas of writing give them energy.

Multiple Layers of Literacy Learning – 

(Amy Brennan, Dani Burtsfield, Jill DeRosa, Kim Gosselin, Jennifer Hayhurst, Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson, Marissa Moss, Stefani Nolde, Erica Picarole, David Schultz, and Kari Yates)

What do you think of when you hear professional development?  Who is it for?  This session included conversations about learning for teachers, parents, and students. Learning, fun, and choice are necessary ingredients for multi-dimensional opportunities for all to grow! Summer school included learning for teachers and the students!

Advocating for Revision in Reading: Meaning Making as a Journey, Not a Destination  – Ellin Keene, Matt Glover, Dan Feigelson and Kathy Collins

Students who are reading and writing A LOT know a lot.  Ellin had an example of a six year old who understood the use of metaphor.  Students who read and write have the tools to share their thinking at deeper levels than we may have considered.  How do we help them revise their thinking?  Sometimes it means the adult must close his/her mouth in order for the student to take the lead!  Students need to learn to be comprehension decision makers! Students have to be flexible thinkers and not seekers of “right” answers.  Building a “Reader’s Identity” is a desired outcome, not a letter of a level! What are the characteristics of a reader that you admire?  That’s a different question than those that are typically part of a story inquisition! Product and process do matter so

“Privilege all texts”

” Our attention shows what we value!”

“Show reading identities.”

“Elevate the book.”

“Elevate the readers of the book.”

Dear Reader, Are you still here with me?

At this point we were off to the #HeinemannPub reception for the #TCRWP Reading Units of Study Libraries, the #StenhousePub reception for authors, and then dinner with #G2Great Voxer cousins!  Many miles of words and ideas heard, considered and studied!

So what caught your attention on this overview of Friday’s learning at #NCTE16?  

When were you nodding your head and saying, “YES”!

slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

And a “Paul Harvey – the Rest of the Story” video here . . . How Friday ended!

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13 responses

  1. Loving this FULL recap of a FULL conference. The loss of Kathleen is heavy on my heart and I find myself reaching out to hug and hold our TCRWP people warmly and gently. Thank you for this post, Fran. I need to spend more time on it.

    Loved Shana’s line about superpowers and kryptonite.

    1. So much living, loving, and learning at #NCTE16! Writing about the sessions makes it easy to say thanks for all that I learned!

  2. So many sessions, so little time. Thanks for sharing your learning.

    1. You are welcome, Margaret! So much fun to share! ❤

  3. Fran, It’s on my bucket list to attend this conference…it sounds so amazing. Love what Ralph Fletcher said about low stakes writing and got some wonderful ideas and my brain going for vocabulary ideas. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. NCTE is an amazing conference. Next year it is in St. Louis so start planning!

      The practicality of Ralph Fletcher’s work around low-stakes writing intrigues me as not all writing is equal. Somehow most “real” student writing has become marginalized and has often been run “underground” because it doesn’t fit the pattern of “expected school writing”. I find that to be so sad!

  4. Wow, Fran. So many great ideas and things to think about. Loved the section on Vocabulary Matters. Waiting is hard and so often we jump in when we just need to sit back and let learning happen.

    1. So true! Loved going deeper into the Why with Vocabulary! Always, always more to learn and sometimes we must also “work” at that learning as we tackle doing something different – like waiting! ❤

  5. A whirlwind of learning and community…which is a small consolation now hearing the news about Kathleen.

    1. Tara,
      All the more reason to celebrate all the living and truly be in the moment when we are with “our family” learning together.

      You had a beautiful message, my friend! ❤

  6. Wow! Thank you, Fran for highlighting sessions I missed. I shared your link with my staff. (Katy and Shawna’s session is one I wished I’d gotten to!)

    1. Julieanne,
      With 50 sessions per time period choices were incredibly hard. I think you were presenting with Jan and Kim during that session as I know I originally had five marked for that time period. However, that’s another great reason for sharing!

  7. […] I gained an even deeper understanding of vocabulary at #NCTE16 with a presentation by Valerie Geschwind, Shana Frazin, Katy Wischow, and Char Shylock summarized here. […]

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