By Sunday the air is bittersweet. Farewells begin. Last conversations are passionate pleas to capture frantic final minutes. Choices are final. Options are few. Time races. No second chances to catch folks as flight departures begin before the sun is above the horizon.
And yet, gems . . .
“What is Authenticity?
Is it the same when viewed with a student lens?
How do we know?”
L. 30 Prioritizing Student Voice: Honoring Independence, Identity, and Advocacy as the Cornerstones of Learning
And from the #G2Great family:
- Samuel Fremin @The Sammer88
- Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson @kkht6912
- Susie Rolander @suzrolander
- Justin Dolcimascolo @jdolci
- Kara Pranikoff @pranikoff
Sam Fremin began with asking us to not constrain student’s creativity! He told us the story of having a two page limit to an assignment that meant he had to cut almost everything out of his original seven page response.
What is the purpose of a two page maximum assignment?
What is your response to a “page limit”?
Is that indicative of the teacher’s attention span?
Sam contrasted that with this year’s AP Lang course where they were to “Write about something important to us” as they compared and analyzed two essays. As a 15 year old, Sam, who likes The Onion wanted to write a satire about “Discrimination not really being that bad” and through multiple conversations with his teacher, worked out the details and “used a display of writing that I will never get to write again. I displayed my need to try that voice.” And the teacher, even though she wanted a tight rein on the expectations, did participate in a two-sided discussion that allowed Sam to write his satire!
And then Sam’s role (as a high school junior) was to continue to introduce each of the panel members. Such poise and great presence for a high school junior and one of the #BowTieBoys! (Sam blogs here.)
We also learned that advocacy for Native Americans is important because Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson shared a US map with reservations marked although only 22% of Native Americans live on reservations. Kathryn teaches at an Ojibwe school so she is very cognizant of appropriate language and respect for cultures. Awareness may be a great first step but Kathryn also encouraged us to be aware that work barely scratches the surface of working with folks who have different beliefs and values. How do Ojibwe students want to be named? When do we ask?
Susie Rolander shared that we need to let student input drive our work. This means we need to revise and renew our professional practice. (A plug for Coppola’s book – Renew!) It’s a Journey! But for students who are struggling there does need to be a Sense of Urgency! And that this meant as an interventionist, Susie wanted her students to be independent. “I don’t know what I would do without you!” from a student was not what she wanted so one big action in her productivity plan was to move to student goal-setting so the students themselves would know if they were meeting their goals. Their goals. Not teacher goals.
Justin had us begin by completing this statement: “I am _____”
I am a:
Am I real? Do my students know my many roles? Do other staff know our roles? Justin shared a “I am” board created in his school.
Justin’s parting challenge was to consider equity and how we build our identity every day of our school lives so that we are not just working on career education in high school. Instead of “What do you want to be?” in terms of a career, Justin said we need to shift to “What great problem do you want to solve?”
Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation, closed out the presentation with thoughts on how to use talk in the classroom to increase student engagement and agency. And also, “Deep thinking takes time, we’ll wait. Take your time.” Students set the pace. As an instructor at Bank Street College, Kara and Susie routinely invite their students to Twitter chats!
M. 24 Rekindling Our Teacher Hearts and Minds to Reclaim Our Sense of Agency and Purpose
(Ellin Oliver Keene, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman)
What is the purpose of education? Which of the four statements matches your thinking?
What do you value?
” We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.” ~Lillian King
Shout out to Regie Routman:
Resources will often dictate practices. (from Read, Write, Lead)
“However, we NEED to begin with Beliefs first, then our Practices, and then choose Resources that align LAST!”
Beliefs and Practices – Donna Santman @dsantman
What made your current school a match for you?
When Trouble Starts:
What do you do?
What flexibility will be required of me here?
And how will I respond when trouble happens?
Our core beliefs about children;
Our core beliefs about ourselves.
We are humbled in the face of children;
We are humbled by our children.
There has been a huge language slide in our country.
How do we convert deficit language to asset language?
Check out the asset mapping resources on Ellin Keene’s website Mosaicliteracy.com
N.O8 Redefining Authenticity: Empowering Student Ownership
(Do you know their Twitter names? @acorgill @katiedicesare @ruth_ayres @coloreader)
I was expecting to be blown away by Ruth Ayres because I can’t stop talking about her new book just out, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It’s an amazing personal heart-wrenching narrative about her children who struggled with life and then also a “how to” deal with teaching writing. And yet all three of the other panel members complemented that presentation.
Skills and dispositions for writing are the same for real work. We have to get the heart right. Students need to write. Yes, kids are afraid! Writing is where I can help kids see the different ways a story can go.
If we have authentic writing projects, teachers cannot make all these decisions. Students need some choice and voice. This is NOT a free-for-all! You don’t have to leave ALL open! But you must leave SOME open!
How do you ensure that students have an authentic voice?
How do you know that students REALLY believe that they have a voice and some choice?
What did you learn on Sunday at #NCTE17?
Keynote: Jimmy Santiago Baca
Jimmy Santiago Baca’s said that reading and poetry saved his life in the NCTE opening keynote filled with his stories as well as a call to action for teachers: “If not teachers, who should be teaching our kids to take action!” He also shared a deep appreciation for teachers and the work they do. Jimmy told of teaching reading to kids even if it meant bringing in pizza to first meet their physical needs. He also spoke about the need to involve parents and communities in our work and that would mean meeting them where they are. . . not always waiting for them to come to a school event. You can learn more about him here.
A45. Conferring as a Path to Help Students Develop Voice and Agency: Today, Tomorrow and Forever
(Christina Nosek, Jennifer McDonough, Kristin Ackerman, Patricia Vitale-Reilly, Lisa Eickholdt, Kari Yates)
What a start to the conference. Some friends in real life, or from books, blogs or Twitter chats. These six each offered round table sessions where you could choose three 20 minute sessions. Here are a few of my key take aways.
Patricia Vitale-Reilly How to Make Conferences for those who struggle REAL!
R – Relevant
E – Engaging
A – Authentic
L – Lasting
Each part of the acronym was supported with items from her toolkit. (And a few were even marked up as figures from her books.) It was great to see her mentor texts and some examples of her student tools and checklists.
Kari Yates – Four Ways to Know and Nurture a Reader
These characteristics are NOT hierarchical but Book Choice can and will impact all the rest. In order to have confident and competent readers book choice will often be the first area for teachers to begin their conferring work. Kari shared some key questions that teachers would use to focus their conferring work.
Christina Nosek – The Language of Conferring
Enter as a gracious guest
Step it Up
Make it Stick
If you are following along on Twitter, you saw those five!
Christina’s videos of her conferring work with students from her fifth grade classroom illustrated each of the five points above. (Extra bonus: Watch for the book, currently in publication, from Christina and Kari that will be out in early 2018.)
B. 36 Reading as a Personal Art
(Anne Atwell Merkel, Nancie Atwell, Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle)
Seats were scarce on the first floor and both balconies of the Ferrara Theater as Anne Atwell Merkel began with some basic information about the status of readers, reading in schools, and a deep appreciation for her mother’s gift to their school. Passion and activism as themes continued in Nancie Atwell’s speech. “Activism is a teacher’s right and responsibility. What do you do and why?” Kids are readers when they leave her K-8 school but they come back to share that they don’t read in high school. why not? Because in high school reading is often still about whole class novels, usually chosen by a teacher, with packets and/or art work that is wasting students’ precious reading time. Blunt, practical, and yet Nancie continues to be an advocate for student choice and voice in order to have a reading life.
Check out this quote from Nancie Atwell:
“Inexperienced unenthusiastic readers NEED workshop, not strategy instruction or digital platforms. Give them time to read.”
And then Kelly and Penny stepped to the podium. The cover picture of their new book (February?) has been on Twitter this week, so it was no surprise to me that their duet was a perfect mixture of their classrooms and their thoughts as they easily highlighted their main points. Flipgrid videos literally showed us how they were working together as well as with a class of college students for two purposes: to build connections to help students be more successful in college and to challenge each other, respectively, to think deeper about the ELA work they are doing in their classrooms. Secondary folks, you will want this book just for their thoughts on HOW MANY whole class books, scheduling, and the amount of independent reading time that literally will help craft the citizens of tomorrow that we need today. (HINT: New book also coming soon!)
C.37 Learning Process and Craft Strategies from Authors
Jennifer Serravallo – Learning Process and Craft Strategies from Authors
A series of actionable steps
Break down the skill (How to show not tell)
Make the way I say it generalizable
Authentic – show what I do
Something to outgrow
How to develop writing strategies
- Spy on yourself.
- Notice what writers do in mentor texts
Kate Messner – 15 yrs. as a MS teacher before moving to full time authorship
Structure is Kate’s niche. She found a structure for Over and Under the Snow. Then she used that text as a mentor text to write more texts. I’m looking forward to the “document” format in Breakout.
Sarah Weeks – Beginnings
“That’s my favorite part of writing. Haven’t messed up anything yet!”
“Ideas come from unusual places.”
“Always have my eyes and ears open.”
“When working with young students and grad students, photo prompts let us see what happens. Start with talk— what do you notice?
“What are you thinking?”
“How does it make you feel?”
“Let your emotions come out your pencil – not your mouth!”
Kat Yeh – Find the Emotions
“When you write from an emotional truth, the fiction that you put around it becomes believable for the reader.”
“No matter how ridiculous something is . . . there’s a way to connect them so even in the not working, you will have something to add to your story.”
“Write without lifting pen from paper. . . .Start writing. Cannont stop and cannot lift your pen.”
“What are you feeling?”
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater @amylvpoemfarm
Amy shared that Poem Farm began as a poem for every day for a month and then expanded to a poem every day for a year. Since then she has gone on to catalogue the poems. Amy’s advice included:
“In order to write, do stuff in the 22 hours away from your desk. Not just watching shows but up and moving around.
Use photo prompts. Take pictures when you see something that strikes you.
Varian Johnson – Author of The Parker Inheritance
Look for inspiration in:
Other people’s work
Two examples of real life events were the: Uke Medical Varsity team – 1944 North Carolina College Eagles and a secret tennis game in 1957.
And is that was NOT enough, check out some of the books generated by this panel.
D.18 Choice Matters: Perspectives of Students and Teachers
(Lester Laminack, Jason Augustowski, Linda Rief and the #BowTieBoys: Ryan Beaver, Sam Fremin, Ben Hawkins, Ryan Hur, Joseph O’Such, Sean Petit, Kellen Pluntke, Jack Selman, and Dawson Unger.
If you haven’t seen the #BowTieBoys, then it has totally been your loss. In this panel session, Lester Laminack quizzed the two teachers and the gentlemen students. Ranging from eighth graders to juniors in high school, they were:
with thoughtful responses,
provided suggestions and solutions to add MORE choice the day!
E.12 The Secret of Crafting Engaging Nonfiction
(Alyson Beecher, Candace Fleming, Deborah Heligman, Melissa Stewart)
With 190 published books to her credit, Melissa Stewart drew my attention in this session. Some gems that I gathered:
“Concept books: what is the Concept? What is the connection for students? What is my emotional commitment in order to work on this book? (Hear the backstory for Can an Aardvaark Bark?)”
“Where do my ideas come from: What I see, What I hear, and What I experience. How do we “teach” this to students?”
“If you write broadly, you are not going to get good research.”
“”Research is like a treasure hunt. Research is fun. What interesting facts can you find? How can you find a community person to interview?”
“Have students use sources they can’t copy during research like watching a webcam video of animals.”
Did you have a great learning day Friday at #NCTE17?
What else did you learn?
Check out Margaret Simon’s blog “Reflection on the Teche” for additional #DigiLitSunday posts here!
A favorite quote of mine is this:
Relationships are critical for teachers and students. Relationships are critical for increased learning. Relationships are critical for grounding students in a community of learners working together.
But are relationships enough? Are they the end goal?
Learning classrooms with teachers and students working in tandem to curate, innovate, and create require a great deal of trust and autonomy. That trust and autonomy is not created in a vacuum. It is also not created without a great deal of hard work. The relationships are important, yes; but they are not the end point.
Learning that beats the odds and exceeds the possibilities requires a community of committed learners, choice, and trust. A teacher will be the director or facilitator of the learners and the community, but should not always be “at the helm” directing every single minute.
How important is community?
Communities are important because they allow people to bond together through common interactions, experiences, and work to meet a common goal. A community can be physically together in a classroom or even together on a Twitter or Voxer chat. The goal of a community is to bring people together to achieve that common goal. Valued relationships keep communities together. Perhaps some communities outlive their usefulness but the value of shared experiences helps them deeply understand each other. That community can also come from books. Books that show “me”. Books that show “people like me”. Books that show people “who are NOT like me”. Books that help me understand people “who are NOT like me”.
How important is choice?
Name the last three things that were JOYOUS for you? Were they required? Did they include elements of choice? You can read about the benefits of “Choice” from many of the #BowTieBoys blog posts referenced in Jason Augustowski’s blog. Jason writes about the fact that education is one of the few fields of work where the customers are NOT routinely consulted about and given input into their work. Why not? Why are students assigned mindless task after task instead of being given respectful choices about how to share their learning? Where can choice be included? Providing choices to the students where only two “pieces” are read by everyone in the class. The rest of the books, stories, articles, songs, or videos are student-selected from a list curated TOGETHER in the classroom community.
How important is trust?
Trust is a two way street that is so dependent on relationships. It may well be that I will trust you solely on the basis of our relationship. However, in times of stress or confusion that relationship may falter if respect for the individual or his/her beliefs becomes an issue. Will the trust hold? In the presence of community and choice, trust will be maintained. In the absence of trust the community will slowly wither away. Without choice the trust vine will begin to shrivel up as well. How is trust maintained? Within a community the possibilities of positive interactions and sincere communication allow trust to flourish and doubt to die off. Trust that students will do the work that they need to in order to provide evidence of their learning. Trust that students will build upon choice learning within their community to extend trust to others outside their own circles.
Relationships between teachers and students are critical for learning environments but relationships alone cannot be expected to maintain sole responsibility for the benefits that will come from a well-developed culture of community, choice, and trust. Teachers benefit. Students benefit. The research shows that relationships are critical. Please provide time to nourish learning by building strong communities with choice and trust!