Sunday, March 10, 2013
Language and Learning and Buddies
Bernadette Mulholland Glaze Language and Learning Conference. This amazing local conference features keynotes by some of the best names in education. I've seen Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, Peter Elbow, Donalyn Miller, and this year's keynote speakers Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. But, what I truly love are the presentations by local Northern Virginia Writing Project (NVWP) teacher consultants (TCs). As this video about the 2012 Language and Learning Conference notes, the day gives a renewed energy and ideas teachers can use immediately. Learning from other teachers, both the keynotes and the TCs, is invaluable. They aren't some far off educational gurus; they are real teachers sharing what they do best in their real classes. I truly cannot believe more teachers don't attend the conference each year.
The session I attended by Winchester, VA teacher Mary Tedrow gave me tremendous food for thought. Mary, who is one of the co-Directors of the NVWP, is a tremendous teacher and thoughtful professional whose blog I have long followed and admired. I've attended her teaching sessions in past years and this year's session on finding a professional voice reminded me I have something to contribute about my work with teachers I have met via Twitter. In particular, I need to collaborate with +John Hardison to write up what we've done together as cross-community learning and to plan more interactions between my students in Virginia and his in Georgia. John already wrote a blog post about our first multi-state tweet up, which also included +Sarah Mulhern Gross and +Michelle Lampinen 's students. Since then, John and I have worked on another tweet-up and have given some thought to more extensive work. I need to follow through on those thoughts and share our process with other teachers, too. We have something going here that I feel is good for our students, and it's something other teachers can do!
The second session by middle school teacher Natascha Brooks focused on revision strategies. It's a challenge to convince students the effort to revise is worthwhile. Plus, real revision takes time to model, teach, and perform. So, many of us (myself included!) give it short shrift in the classroom. Natascha shared some ideas for revision via Prezi and hands on demonstration that I think might help my kids do more work with their writing. I plan to use her strategies with my AP students after Spring Break as we look at their essays and with my regular 11 students as I start working on research and personal writing projects.
The keynotes? Well, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst deserve there own slice sometime when I have done more experimenting. I can say that Notice and Note, their new book, is outstanding. I cannot stress enough the value of the framework they provide to move our students beyond teacher-created-question driven reading of texts. Seeing them discuss their work and model the lessons...I could have been there all day and not noticed the time pass. The two of them together have a chemistry that speaks of a long collaboration and deep friendship. I found myself wanting to be a student in one of the classes where they taught these Notice and Note lessons. Their publisher, Heinemann, produced a series of 6 videos, the first of which discusses "The Importance of Close Reading," that are worth the time to watch.
Just as important for me as what I learned was reconnecting with my teacher friends outside of the virtual world. I finally met Michelle Haseltine in person. Jennifer Orr, who I met once before at a TC reunion, Michelle, and I frequently talk via Twitter, so our meeting felt like a reunion of old friends. My fellow 2010 Summer Institute alumni Jessica Bar, Lindsay Burgess, Lindsey Brauzer, Dahlia Constantine, Norma Coto, Kristen Henry, and Traci Michaud attended, too; as usual, I did not get to spend near the time with them or with Paul Rogers as I would like. Dahlia and I had coffee together after the conference, which reminded me how much I miss her and wish I could go through the summer institute again to reforge and reinforce the connections I made with these women and the 14 or so others that couldn't make it (I say or so because at least one of them has moved across the country and because my memory is craptaular).
Then today, there were bees... and that's another post entirely.