AllWrite convention. It was two action-packed days, filled with great sessions and conversations. I have to say, I was extremely impressed at the All-Star line-up of speakers (including Ruth Ayres, Donalyn Miller, Ralph Fletcher, Katie Wood Ray, Patrick Allen and Franki Sibberson.) Because of my Twitter connections, I have gotten to know Donalyn, Patrick, Ruth, and Franki... among many other All Write attendees. One of my favorite parts of my time in Warsaw was connecting with those Twitter friends in real life and having conversations that can take place outside of 140 characters.
As I'm looking back through the presenters' notes as well as my own, I'm beginning to notice that a lot of what we talked about... is talking. Talking to kids about their reading and writing lives. Talking to kids about our own reading and writing lives.
During one session, Donalyn Miller commented that we squash too much talk in classrooms. This statement has really stuck with me. I think about all of the times kids are expected to be quiet in our building (in the hallway, in the bathroom, in the lunchroom, in the classroom.) When exactly are they supposed to do this talking?! While there are times when I do need my first graders to listen, it is imperative that I give them plenty of time to talk. Isn't that how most of us share our learning? Don't we talk to our colleagues and our friends about our questions and observations? My little learners need to do the same. They need to be able to talk.
Katie Wood Ray talked about the importance of sharing authors with children. She suggested having pictures of authors readily available and talking about those authors as real people. I love how Katie spoke about being careful with our language and instead of saying, "Look at how this book does this..." we should be saying, "Look at how this author did this." Then, take it a step further and have children become mentor authors for each other. Show how student authors do things in their writing (only in a positive way though!)
Perhaps my favorite session was the one on conferring with readers with Patrick Allen. It was definitely the most entertaining, affirming, enlightening session of the conference for me. After reading his book, it was good to hear him talk about conferring to solidify some of what I learned. I love how he said we should be meeting with kids as often as possible and make it meaningful. That is key! Patrick reminded us that ultimately, our goal is to help kids understand, extend meaning, and make their reading experiences memorable. And I have to share some points he made about small group reading instruction (powerful, yet hilarious when he made them!) Patrick said that sometimes, we are just small group-ing kids to death. He referred to how small group reading instruction is sometimes like the sprinkler system of teaching reading. Those are two things I'll be pondering for quite some time!
Patrick also mentioned that his principal recently asked teachers to count up the books in their classroom library, with the goal of having at least 1000. Patrick had 3,600. This led to a discussion about how many of us no longer have a "library corner" in our classrooms. Instead, we are literally surrounded by books. What a powerful message that sends!
In this time of data and testing and uncertainty, a few quotes really struck me as important ones to keep close to my heart.
"Let's get grounded and believe WE are the best people to plan our mini-lessons." ~Franki Sibberson
"It's time to trust ourselves again and do the things needed for students' well-being." ~Ruth Ayres
"The decisions you make are based on knowledge and research and wisdom." ~Ruth Ayres
"You will always own HOW you teach." ~Katie Wood Ray
"The nationalization of curriculum will not negate the beautiful truth of individual children." ~Katie Wood Ray
Attending All Write was a great way to kick off my summer PD! It is definitely a conference I plan on attending again! How are your summer PD plans coming along?