#CCIRA20: Thunderous Thursday

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Thursday Line Up:  George Couros, Matt Glover, Colleen Cruz, Kelly Burns, and Stan Yan were presenters on my schedule for Thursday at CCIRA20.  However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the fact that I  learned from other participants – during turn and talks, standing in line for restrooms, and over dinner!

Here are some key take aways from my Thursday sessions!

George Couros:  The Core of Innovative Teaching and Learning

Two questions to ask at the end of a professional learning day:

  1. What did you learn today?
  2. How will your students know and benefit?

What questions do you ask at the end of a professional learning day? 

What questions might you begin asking?

Matt Glover:  Increasing Engagement in Writing Through Choice

Matt had us thinking about three different types of units:  genre, craft and process! Often the genre studies are more specifically tied to writing standard. The key is that you will need some of all three types managed in a planful way so that a student does not have the exact same units year after year after year after year after year. There are too many choices to have that repetition.  And yet, there needs to be some repetition in order for students to have enough practice to both increase engagement, competence, and confidence!  Matt provided lists and tips as he reinforced the need to address choice of topic for students the majority of their writerly lives. More about the three types here.

What do we think about to make writing units Easier?

  1. Have a stack of text  (know what it looks like)
  2. How to organize text in process or craft study?   Is your text too narrow? Showed personal narratives and told them they could write any genre. Showing is more important than “telling”.  Was MORE than one genre represented? The text does not have to be the genre students are writing. Teachers need to teach into the goals of unit NOT the genre. It’s a perfect time to choose units from earlier in year or later in the year.
  3. Caution:  Do not confer into the genre. Have transferable skills in your conferring.


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How many units of writing do you teach per year?

How many of each of the three types: genre, craft or process?

Colleen Cruz – From Clever Writers to Critical Readers:  By Teaching Powerful Writing Skills First, We Can Equip Students with Robust Tools for Today’s Reading Landscape

Colleen Cruz’s presentation was different than her keynote. Yes, it was about writing but it was not about mistakes.  It was about how “Writers Make Better Readers.”  When we need a craft piece for our writing, we can go find it in our reading in order to strengthen our writing.

One area that is neglected and that needs to be taught is Media Criticism.  Instruction needs to include these elements.:

Media Criticism

Master narrative – Reluctant hero – struggling in life (Did they work hard enough?)

Counter narrative – Paperback princess, Frozen (writers in Brooklyn in Colleen’s neighborhood)  sister love

Weight – more space on page or minutes of film; what we see most (repeat, repeat. repeat)

Source and perspective – Who wrote this and what do they want?

Manipulation – (dogs) always actively present

Power – who has / has not

Voices heard (or not) – Frozen 2 (Indigenous Scandinavian song that came back in 2.)


What parts of media criticism do you teach?

What parts of media criticism do you need to add into your instruction?

Kelly Burns – Wild Wonder:  Reconnecting to Lead

Our connections matter.  I immediately thought of Jody Carrington and her work with “attention-seeking” or “connection-seeking” children.  Julie presented a framework of connection-building based on four Ws.


  • Nature
  • Play
  • Sitting down with our fear
  • Reclaimiming our hijacked consciousnes


  • Present moment
  • Listening
  • Stillness (an invitation to slow down)
  • Curiosity
  • Kinship


  • Awareness
  • When we are selfing (ego)
  • Nervous system and our somatic response
  • Tendencies and propensities
  • Cognitive distortions
  • Privilege
  • Socio-political identity


  • Radical self acceptance
  • Compassion
  • Re-evaluation. (Trash or meaningful)
  • Respect (systematically)
  • Efficacy

Which of the four would you begin with?

What small steps could provide more balance in your life?

Stan Yan –  Cartooning for Writers  (stanyan.me)

This session was totally out of my comfort zone.  Drawing?

I had an awful year in first grade where I was repeatedly told what to draw and what not to draw with many pages ripped up in front of me when I used colors differently than peers or the teacher. In this session we drew and drew and drew! Five minutes on a quick sketch with a marker seemed possible. Drawing as a way to connect to writing and to better understand graphic novels and cartoons seems a very natural expectation.

Why cartooning?

  • Multi-aspect learning tool
  • Character development
  • Story structure and writing
  • GAMES!!!

What we saw:

  • Interactive monster drawing demo
  • Daredoodles
  • Exquisite corpses
  • Accordions
  • Opposites
  • Improv Comic Strips

I have to admit that the Daredoodles were fun even though the idea that I would draw around a shape, number, series of numbers, letter, or word given to me by my neighbor was a leap of faith at that moment. It was a fun challenge!

But my actual learning about cartoons came from the structure explanation. Structure?  Yes. Better than the secret location of a pot of gold!

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What do you know about cartooning? 

How do you help readers better understand cartoons and/or graphic novels?

If you were to pick just one idea from above, what would it be?

How, when, and where will your plan be implemented?


How do you celebrate a day of learning?

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