Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dublin Literacy Conference

Yesterday my district celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Dublin Literacy Conference. I had so many wonderful conversations and learned from a number of amazing teachers, authors and presenters. I left with many ideas to process and think about.

The keynote address was by Ruth Culham who is known for her work with 6+1Traits. Today she talked with us about the myths teachers often associate with the 6Trait model. For example, the traits are not a curriculum, the traits are not the writing process rather the language and tools we use to talk about with students, and the traits are a model rather than a program you adopt. She said it beautifully when she wrote, "Let's be clear; the traits are a language that empower students and teachers to communicate about the qualities of writing." We use the language of these traits so often in the classroom. Ruth's article, "The Trait Lady Speaks Up: Dispelling Myths About Writing Traits" is something everyone should read.

The second session that left me thinking and nodding was a session on strategies for struggling readers by Pat Johnson. Pat is the author of One Child At A Time. Pat helped remind me that reading in itself is thinking and for so many of my early readers: problem solving. Pat reminded me that as reading teachers we can't enable kids but rather teach them strategies for helping themselves. When strategies aren't grasped, we step back and model, support and then gradually release. If you are interested in learning more about Pat and her book, check out this interview.

The last session I attended was with Samantha Bennett, author of That Workshop Book. She began her session with a quote that summed up what I took from her session. The quote from Tomlinson and McTighe reads,
"There's no such thing as the perfect lesson, the perfect day in school or the perfect teacher. For teachers and students alike, the goal is not perfection but persistence in the pursuit of understanding important things."

The biggest piece of this quote and her presentation for me was that it helped me see the understanding that workshop provides students. She helped me hear and sort the differences in knowledge (spit it back stuff), skills ( strategies for how to get there) and understanding ( the why, the purpose, the bigger picture).

She also said something I believe...teaching is not talking. Teaching is listening.

It was a good day but the weekend has flown by. I am off to read with Moe and then watch the Oscar's ( fingers crossed for Slum Dog Millionaire).


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making Saturday so much fun for me! I so enjoyed our quick but powerful conversations. Keep me posted and remember that I am always happy to read drafts!


Anonymous said...

Great post Katie-after reading all the great articles about Samantha Bennett, I am really sorry I was at a different session. I'll just have to read the book!