My “official” NCTE recap

As I mentioned before, I haven’t stopped reflecting about NCTE. In fact, if anything I keep realizing more and more how important reflection is…And with that said, let me officially recap my NCTE experience.

To start off, I attended the opening session with Teri Lesesne in which I got a ton of ideas for YA Literature for my students. The idea of moving kids from book to book, creating a “reading ladder,” so we don’t lose them is one that has stuck with me. And stemming from the idea behind creating reading ladders led me to think about writing ladders and how we engage, challenge, and keep students as active writers, too. I think new technologies aid in the ladder for writing, such as blogs and yes, even texts and tweets! In the end, however, it’s all about finding connections for our students to help them see they are already active readers and writers in their every day lives (and this is something I feel very strongly about which you all already know!).

Another interesting idea that I am still pondering after one of the sessions…how do the ideas behind 6-trait writing change (or do they) with digital writing? In other words, is 6-trait writing enough to encompass all that digital writing brings? Honestly, I don’t know…I don’t think so at least. But my opinion might be biased because I truly believe digital writing IS something more than what’s on paper. I think 6-trait writing is a start for writing, but as the forms change today, how do we not adapt our views of assessment as well? Enter this image about 6-trait writing. The basics are there, but with the addition of different forms/ways to write. (Also, I picked up Troy Hicks’ book The Digital Writing Workshop. Can’t wait to start reading…well, after exams next week, ha!)

I also have to agree with a comment Bud Hunt made about classroom management. If the issue is that kids are bouncing around using technology in the classroom when they shouldn’t be, the problem is NOT the technology. The problem is the class needs better management and more engagement! I could not agree with this thought more. Yes, kids shouldn’t be surfing the web while I’m giving them directions or relevant info. They shouldn’t be texting under the desks. But it’s MY job to find ways to curb those issues by my class management strategies and by my lessons.

As I sort of already mentioned before, as I bounced around from session to session, I also bounced from my presentation to the next too. (I’m not joking when I say I was B-U-S-Y!) And yet I have to admit that I learned just as much from my own sessions as all of the others ones  as well. Let me explain….particularly during the talk on grammar “tensions” I (yes, me, the newbie first-year teacher looking into the eyes of many who raised their hands stating that they were grammar gurus <gulp>) stated that I do not feel grammar in isolation works. At all. (I mean, at least from my experience!). Yet, if you read back, I said I was giving a grammar test when I got back to school the following week after NCTE. In the middle of our talk, that hit me! (And yes, I feverishly began writing in my yellow idea notebook.) Was I still teaching grammar in isolation? Doing what I felt so strongly against? I thought about this for awhile (still thinking about it).

Though it may sound hypocritical, I don’t think I teach grammar in isolation…even with a grammar test because the test was essentially created from students own writing, so they were able to apply grammar knowledge to their own writing vs. a select A-B-C test on parts of speech. (Does this make sense?) To me, grammar in isolation is just rolling through grammar lessons with no real purpose other then to say “I just gave a lesson on pronoun agreement.” Again, based on my experience, I have found that I have to connect grammar to the reading/writing we are doing in class. We teach grammar to help reading those heavy texts with long, wordy sentences and to help writing in ways that drive home points (think: noticing an extra comma in an advertisement to add emphasis). We need to make those connections to help our students better understand not just the texts and essays for our classrooms, but the world around them.

As I’m flipping back through my notebook, I realize there is a ton more I could say, but I think these were the biggest highlights for me. I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to NCTE…it is a great experience, and one I’m already looking forward to for 2010! 🙂

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