Monday, June 28, 2010

ALL WRITE!!! Consortium Summer Institute

I participated in the ALL WRITE!!! Consortium Summer Institute last week in Shipshewana, Indiana. It was a great event with almost 500 teachers participating. I had a great time with the teachers and also had a chance to spend time with friends. Pictured above are Smokey Daniels, Sarah Weeks, Lester Laminack and Sharon Taberski. I was able to hear Katie Wood Ray's keynote address as well as Smokey Daniels' session on Inquiry Circles in Grades 4-8. And, I had never met Sarah Weeks and I am a big fan of her work, so that was a treat! It was fun to chat with Sarah because I had just read her new book AS SIMPLE AS IT SEEMS on the way to Shipshewana. It is a great middle great read and it was so fun to meet the author on the day I read the book! There was also lots of informal chat. I was inspired by the whole day.

I also got to see Ruth of Two Writing Teachers very briefly (just long enough to say hello). It is so funny to see her away from Stacey! I think of them as a blog duo and forget that they are 565 miles apart! It was fun to be part of one of her events!

Katie's opening keynote was titled, "Refelctions on Loving Writers and Writing". I knew from the title that it would be an inspiring talk. Katie is always brilliant and always regrounds me. Her talk focused on her own teaching of writing and the writers she knows and loves. She reminded us of the importance of knowing lots of writers so we can bring those writers to our students. Watching her writing conferences is always amazing--the way she talks to students and the writing they produce because of the way she empowers them is inspiring. I am anxious to read her new book IN PICTURES AND IN WORDS!

Then I attended the session on Inquiry Circles by Smokey Daniels. The new book, COMPREHENSION AND COLLABORATION: INQUIRY CIRCLES IN ACTION is one that I have been reading and rereading, thinking about what is possible in the library. I have always been a fan of the work of Daniels and Harvey. And I think this new book on Inquiry Circles may be a new favorite. In his session, Daniels talked about the four types of inquiry circles. He began by talking about Min-Inquiries. I loved what he said about these as a way for us, as teachers, to train ourselves to stop and notices kids' amazing questions and to honor their curiosities. He also talked about Curricular Inquiries, Open Inquiries, and Lit Circle Inquiries. We saw some video clips of some 5th graders talking about their lingering questions. Daniels reminded us that instead of projects or trying to decide what kids should "do" When they finish a book, he said, "We should be asking them --'So what? Now what do you wonder about'". After the session, I asked Smokey if he'd be up for a blog interview around the topic of inquiry circles and he's agreed. So, look for a blog interview by Daniels and Harvey later this summer.

I didn't get to hear Sharon or Lester but did get to hear about their upcoming books. Lester has several coming out in the next few years. I can't wait to see his upcoming picture books. I love all of his books. Sharon has an upcoming book on K-3 comprehension coming out in the fall. Her first book, ON SOLID GROUND has been such an anchor book for so many of us. I can't wait to get my hands on this new one!

Even though I was only in Shipshewana for less than 24 hours, it was a great day. The organizers of the conference put together such a great event for teachers. I am hoping that one of these years, I can attend since it is not that far away from home.


  1. I enjoyed reading more about this professional development experience. I have been seeing bits and pieces on different blogs, and it sounds like it was an amazing learning experience!

  2. I am so excited to hear about Katie Wood Ray's new book. I can't wait to get it. I am also excited about hearing more about the inquiry circles. I am a kindergarten teacher and all of my summer study has been centered around fostering and generating thinking in the classroom....allowing kids to "wonder" which comes so naturally to them. I love your blog!


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