Saturday, June 25, 2011

ALL WRITE!!! Consortium Summer Institute-Reflection #2: Monday

Our group chatting over lunch at Applebee's on Monday of All Write.

The thing I love most about my professional development lately is the fact that I can follow-up in so many ways. For years, I went to NCTE as my annual professional development. I knew that it was there that I could hear many of my favorite literacy thinkers and I could (in one weekend) get insights into their newest learning.  I'd come home, read their books and wait until I had the chance to hear them again.

Now, with the Internet, I can continue to learn from experts across the world and follow-up on the thinking of speakers I hear in so many ways.  Professional authors host webpages, blogs, webinars and more. Many are also on Twitter --so I often come home from a conference with a new group of people to follow.  Now, when I attend an amazing institute like All Write!!!, it is often just the beginning of my learning--I know I will be able to revisit the thinking of the speakers I hear and revisit their newest learning.

Highlights from Monday at All Write:

Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's WorkshopJeff Anderson, author of MECHANICALLY INCLINED kicked of the All Write conference with the opening keynote.  Jeff has an upcoming book called 10 THINGS EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW (Stenhouse). In his keynote, Jeff talked a bit about the new book and made some points that I have been thinking about. One point he made early on about the title of the new book was to point out that the book was not called "THE" 10 THINGS A WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW.  But these are 10 things that stay true.  At the beginning of Jeff's talk, he mentioned all of the ways technology are expanding our opportunities to write.  But, he asked, "What are the things about writing that stay true no matter what?"  He continued to push us to think about ways we supported writing in our classrooms.

To keep up with Jeff's thinking, you can follow him on Twitter (@writeguyjeff). He also has a website/blog. Another great resource for Jeff is Stenhouse--I particularly enjoyed this webcast with Jeff.

On Monday, I also heard Katie Wood Ray. Her books have been an anchor for me and I realized listening to her this week, that Katie has been instrumental in helping me look closely at opportunities in books.  Katie talked about detail in writing and the quote that sticks with me is this one, "Detail is about selecting the ones that capture the essence, not every single thing."  She asked us to think about someone we knew well and to think about a detail about that person that captures the essence of him/her.  What an important message for writers--capturing the essence. She shared some pieces in text (both children and adult work) that helped us see the power of this type of detail.  I will be thinking hard about that over the next few weeks--details that capture the essence of something.

I will be revisiting many of Katie's books. I tend to go back to STUDY DRIVEN and IN PICTURES AND IN WORDS most often but I think I will revisit WONDROUS WORDS after hearing this talk.

Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective PracticeI finally had the chance to hear Ruth Ayres speak.  I had heard snippets of her talk but made sure to get into her session. Ruth talked about the things she learned about teaching writing from her children's swim teacher. The talk was brilliant and the message was huge.  It was a gift to be part of her session. The thing about Ruth that most struck me was her reflective stance--she is constantly reflecting on her practice and carries the reflection a bit further than most of us do. She is continually looking at the bigger picture of our work with children. This is evident in all of her writing and her work. Ruth is one of those people that truly amazes me. I am not sure how she does what she does. Ruth is generous with sharing her own learning--when you look for Ruth online, you can find webcasts, presentations and more.  Her book DAY BY DAY is packed with ideas to help teachers reflect. She is also working on a new book and keeps up with not one, but two blogs, TWO WRITING TEACHERS and RUTH AYRES WRITES in which she shares her own writing life. 

Of Primary Importance: What's Essential in Teaching Young WritersI have heard Ann Marie Corgill (@acorgill on Twitter) speak many times over the years. I always learn so much from her and am able to rethink my work with young writers.  At All Write, I was able to hear her talk about writing assessment and the use of Learning Journey folders. Ann Marie wrote about these in her book OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE and I have been thinking a great deal about making the process of learning more visible. These folders are something I need to look at again--I plan to revisit that section of her book soon. Ann Marie is someone who understands writing workshop at all levels. She has experience teaching grades 1-6 and shares her learning in many ways.  Her website and blog are two places I visit often to keep up with Ann Marie's thinking.

Adventures in GraphicaI ended my day on Monday in a session on graphic novels by Terry Thompson (@TerryTreads on Twitter).  Terry has taught me so much about the possibilities with graphica over the years.  His book, ADVENTURES IN GRAPHICA has helped me embrace this format as both a reader and a teacher.  I am still not totally comfortable with graphica so anytime I have a chance to hear Terry, I do. Terry talked a lot about the ways that graphic novels give our kids visual supports for comprehension and that these books often create a scaffold for more traditional texts.  He had us work through a few examples of the skills and strategies needed to understand graphic novels and I could more easily see how using graphica in minilessons can make strategies more visible for kids. I have always used picture books in this way, but had not thought about it with graphica.  You can watch Terry Thompson talk about this topic on the Stenhouse website.

A great first day at All Write!


  1. Franki,
    Isn't it amazing how social media has changed our learning landscape? Who would have thought that something like Twitter could provide us access to the smart people who shape our thinking about our craft, and THEN allow us a means to all gather together in the same place to think, talk, and learn together. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to attend AllWrite and get to meet you in person! See you in November!

  2. Franki,

    It sounds like All Write was a fantastic experience. Thanks for sharing. I have so many professional books in my TBR pile but now I am going to have to reread the sections of Of Primary Importance that you mentioned. I am working on ways to keep track of student growth or their learning journeys. Thanks for the reminder about this book.

  3. Franki. Thank you. Your words are kind and make me smile. If you were closer I'd give you a big know I'm sending one through the blogosphere. :)


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