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So, where do I begin telling about the CCIRA (Colorado Chapter of the International Reading Association) annual conference? Shall I begin when I arose at 4am so I could get to the hotel and find a parking place instead of riding a shuttle? Or when I registered and found the coffee shop because I then had a luxurious hour to sit, read and wait for the first session?
Furthermore, there is the challenge of sifting through so much information in order to choose what I think you would like to hear-inspiration or the nitty-gritty details? I choose…
Tony Stead—“You don’t fatten your sheep by weighing them.” (too much testing, not enough direct teaching)
Ralph Fletcher—“A writer’s notebook is where someone stands in front of a mirror and tries something.” (good and safe for exploration)
“Writers are people who write interesting stories from their ordinary lives.”
Margo Southall—“Today I will __________ so that I can ________________. I’ll know I’ve got it when _____________________________. (empowering student self-reflection)
Lucy Calkins—“Do not tell the students, ‘write an essay’, then comment.” (no teaching)
An analogy for choosing different kinds of innovations that one might do only superficially: “Do not move the deck chairs around on the Titanic.”
“Look only for a system (one’s own) that gives one continuous improvement.”
Carol Ann Tomlinson—“Differentiation is a series of common sense decisions made by teachers with their students.” “It is adjusting teaching to help each student arrive at the destination, and when possible, move beyond it.” She likes “learning experience” instead of “lesson”.
Gordon Korman—Every book for each student should be a “page turner”. Find that book!
Kelly Gallagher—“There’s a big difference between ASSIGNING writing and TEACHING writing.” Referred often to a recent study titled “Writing Next” which, after combining a number of different research projects, reported and discussed eleven key elements of adolescent writing instruction. Kelly said most apply for all ages.
Convinced of and referenced Gladwell’s Outliers, the 10,000 hour rule: “Experts are made, not born.” And by Peter Elbow: “Good writing emerges from a lot of bad writing.” Gallagher says “Young writers need a lot of ‘stupid’ writing.”
I liked the terms that Gallagher used, like students say the writing is ‘one and done’ (first draft). He emphasized modeling. “I go, you go.” which means the teacher writes first! And for quick writes, he uses the term “sneezes”. And sometimes students work hard on a variety of “sneezes”.
There is much talk about mentor texts, time to practice, and direct teaching—from everyone! There were little tips and big tips. Next time, I’ll share some of those with links to books.
Great learning, and fun to be with others who are interested in good teaching, too.