Last Friday morning at this time I had dashed off a post (out of Poetry Friday pride, mostly--"I can get this done before my full day at NCTE") about feeding my inner poetry chickens. Julie Larios commented that she would be interested to hear what I heard at this annual Convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, and feeling thankful for the experience, I will now get down to business and talk turkey about some details.
I saw Emily Smith of Austin, TX, winner of the 2015 Donald Graves Award, talk about teaching, as a white woman, as though black and brown lives matter. "I can’t change the color of my skin or where I come from [...] but I can change the way I teach." @HiveSocietyATX
I saw Alison Bechdel, cartoonist and graphic memoirist (Dykes to Watch Out For, Funhome) speak about learning to read from her father, learning to write from her mother, and creating her own mode of expression as a way both to distance herself from and honor them and her countercultural lesbian feminist experience.
Then I hung out with Laura Purdie Salas, Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, and met Susan Marie Swanson for the first time. We ate and drank and yukked it up at the Ivy Hotel and its restaurant, Monello.
I heard some teacher-researchers talk about the effects on kindergarten writers of explicit growth mindset lessons in a writing workshop. What the presenters did was simple but powerful. They measured before and after indicators of effort, motivation and persistence (both observed and self-reported by the children) during writing, and in addition to standard use-your-tools minilessons they also taught this-is-hard-and-you-can-do-it lessons using two characters called Ziggy and Nash.
I saw how Gayle and Ryan Campbell, 3rd and 10th grade teachers, engaged their students in a poetry-writing project across schools. The older kids were trained to mentor the younger in a book-based villanelle-writing collaboration...very cool. I'm thinking about middle-schoolers, 2nd graders, and triolets....
Then I went to a session I didn't expect to get much out of: "The Selfie Center." I went because I know some colleagues had used a selfie theme for their back-to-school bulletin boards and I thought they might be interested, and because I couldn't picture what a selfie center would be. I'll just direct you to this link and mention that I'm currently trying to figure out how to get this set up in my classroom using my Donors Choose Kindles....
Next I surprised myself by going to a big panel session I hadn't planned on with Katherine Applegate, Kate Messner and Heidi EY Stemple about how the writing process isn't really standardizable--every book you successfully write teaches you only how to write THAT book, not the next one or beyond. My takeway here, for myself and for my students, is that Noticing and Wondering is the real first skill of writers, and that Your Voice Matters is the second concept I can teach, and that This Is Hard AND You Can Do It is the third and probably last most important lesson.
Are you tired yet?
Because there's still ten cool teacher/librarians talking about how the Nerdy Book Club blog changed their lives (I have no notes from this session so I guess I needed a break here too).
And then there was Margaret Simon (among others) firing me up at a session called "Igniting Wonder" by showing lots of tools for digital literacies. My favorite were the Animoto poetry videos made by her GT students. I had to split before the 2nd roundtable opportunity here in order to go and enjoy a simultaneously scheduled session featuring Janet, Sylvia, Susan Marie and Laura, Into the Poem, in which teachers were encouraged to use poetry for physically active "performances." We do this all the time in my classroom (hmmm, less in 2nd than I did in K; must rectify that!) so I went mainly to support my Grapefruit peeps. The new Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations is extra awesome because every poem appears also in Spanish, and the very new Poetry of Science for Kids coming out in December is a remix of the Poetry Friday Anthology for Science with black-and-white illustrations extremely suitable for home or classroom enjoyment.
At this point my task has become larger than my time available (and my borrowed computer is starting to disobey, insisting on translating Pomelo to Grapefruit!), so this recap will have to be continued later this weekend.
Please visit the roundup at Carol's Corner this week, and know how thankful I am for this Poetry Friday community and for you, dear readers!