Write To Learn Conference

My head is full of learning tonight.  Even better, my heart is full of inspiration. I spent the weekend at the Write To Learn Conference in Osage Beach, Missouri, learning with educators from around the state.  Here's a recap of my take-aways and highligts:

Meeno Rami:  I got to spend all day Thursday in Meeno's session.  We started by defining what empowered learning is, and created a word cloud using Answer Garden.  How fortunate that "student choice" ended up in the center (I borrowed it for my session!).  My biggest take away was to re-vision lessons into real-world formats that engage our students in authentic ways.  So, for example, instead of doing a research paper, we have our students create a magazine - where they research issues in our world that they care about.  They get to do real-world research, like interviewing people, instead of just random google searches.  

Taylor Mali:  Friday started with a key note and then a smaller session with Taylor Mali.  First, just listening to him read his poetry and recite "What Teachers Make" was truly thrilling.  But then in his session, he gave us lots of what I call sneaking-into-poetry activities.  These are things you do that the kids don't even realize they're writing poetry until they've created something cool.  I especially liked the Exquisite Corpse Poem - like pass the paragraph.  He also had us do several things with specific word choice that will be helpful in my class.  My favorite Taylor Mali-ism of the day was, "Pick one.  You're boring me." So perfect for so many things students drag out too long.  So, at the book signing, Taylor wrote "You're boring me" in my book.  Love, love, love.

Tanny McGregor:  Our lunch keynote was Tanny McGregor.  Her topic was metacognition, and I learned/reviewed a lot, a lot that I am currently not doing in my classroom.  A big take-away was from 6 Reading Habits to Develop Your First Year at Harvard. They comment on volume:  read it the first time for meaning.  I borrowed this for my session - there is too much to read to have time for rereading and there is no teacher telling students what it means.  Our students need to be autonomous readers.  They must be able to understand it.  

I also loved Tanny sharing the word metcog-doodles - drawing your thinking!  Sketch journaling is something I love, but I don't do it with my students.  Why?  I DON'T KNOW!

I model thinking while reading constantly with my students, but I haven't specifically talked about (by naming) metacognition.  Again, why?  No excuses.  I just need to do it.

Ron Clark:  And, finally, Ron Clark was this morning's key note.  Wow.  I mean really!  Energy, engaging for 90 minutes, professional, motivation. I was expecting great things, but I got even more.  No fear Monday!  I'm not sure I'll be jumping on tables, but I will be more energetic, more connected, and more dynamic than ever before.  Good-bye stool!  I also bought The End of Molasses Glasses to read.  I didn't even take notes during his whole presentation; I listened and I tweeted a few gems.  Again...wow!  It was the perfect February motivation.

What a star-studded weekend experience.  As you could see, I couldn't help getting pictures with these amazing, inspiring educators.  If I can implement 1/2 of what I learned, the rest of the year is going to rock!

Next time...my own session and what I learned!

Happy Saturday!


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