Reading for the Love of It 2013

I was very excited to be able to attend the conference, Reading for the Love of  It this year.  Unfortunately, it was one of those conferences that I always seemed to miss.  This year I had STEL money that I needed to use up and a schedule that was open during that time, so I decided to go for it and boy, was I glad.

http://readingfortheloveofit.com/index.html

I was able to attend both the Thursday and Friday Sessions and therefore was able to take part in some fantastic presentations.  I’ve listed them below with my thoughts and any available links.

Reading for the Love of It 2013

Thursday, February 21

Kathie Nunley-  A Student’s Brain:  How it works, reads and speaks

http://www.help4teachers.com/

http://brains.org/

This humorous and information-packed address explains behavior, language and school challenges in terms of brain function and plasticity. Using three decades of neuro-research, Dr Nunley will enlighten educators and parents as to how the brain learns, reads and speaks. This presentation includes an overview of how the brain works, emphasizes windows of opportunity in a child’s brain development, and looks at the issue of plasticity. The presentation focuses on the challenges and gifts of English language learners and non-traditional learners. Discover some very simple ways to make teaching more brain compatible and more enjoyable.

Dr. Kathie Nunley is a very engaging speaker.  She managed to take some very heavy (and heady) stuff, put it in layman’s terms and with humour.  Her talk really solidified for me just how important differentiated instruction and learning is in our schools.  It also made me feel hopeful that for those students we know struggle on the daily basis with traditional learning, there are proven ways to build those new neurological pathways that help make learning possible.

Check out her websites above.  Great stuff!

Sharon Korpan-  Reaching Students with Blended Learning

Blended learning can help to engage and motivate students to achieve success in reading and writing across the curriculum. This session will focus on the use of digital tools, Ministry-licensed software, and techniques for differentiation within the safe, online environment of the provincial Learning Management System (LMS). The provincial LMS is free for use by all teachers and students, K-12, in Ontario’s Public and Catholic school boards. This session will focus on strategies for intermediate and senior students.  Sharon will provide you with a demonstration of the provincial LMS showcasing some of the newest features and tools, including Discussions, Dropboxes, and ePortfolio.  Blended learning can be accessed anytime, anywhere —from school, home, or anywhere there is an Internet connection!  This session is hands-on and interactive, so please bring
your own device and get ready to explore how to reach  your 21st century learners.

I enjoyed this session as we explored the Desire to Learn platform that schools are using for their eLearning programs.  I know we are already actively using it in the secondary panel and there are plans for it to roll into the elementary panel at some point.  What excited me was the potential to use it in my role as teacher librarian.  It reminds me somewhat of Edmodo but different enough that I could see it being used effectively for someone like myself that works with 18 different schools.  I loved the calendar and course function as well as the ePortfolio option, not to mention the link to Dropbox and other cloud storage options.  In my role, I could use the D2L learning space as a  place where I could interact with staff and students on various projects, have my calendar, etc.

I’m cautiously optimistic that it will arrive sooner than later;)

 

Tim Wynne-Jones- Action Packed

http://www.timwynne-jones.com/

http://writeatyourownrisk.wordpress.com/

Wynne-Jones will look at 10 Spellbinders for Intermediate readers, and 10 Spellbinders for senior readers.  He will argue that just because a novel is plot-driven, does not mean it cannot also deal with worthy thematic material and exhibit excellent characterization. He might even go so far as to say that novels are all about plot!

This was a great presentation.  Not only did I get to meet and chat with an author I enjoy, it was also trip down memory lane.  We spent the hour and a half talking about the importance of “Adventure” novels for young and old. It was great talking about the classics as well as the new up and coming new books.  A lot of the discussion centred around the fact that often, “Adventure” is not seen as real literature and is often described as being plot driven (like that is a bad thing).  What was interesting to me, was the discussion we had about “age-appropriate”materials.  Someone brought up an interesting point that publishers, teacher, librarians, etc.  have this current philosophy that we have to buy our children books about children, i.e., if the age group we are looking for is 12-14, we need to buy them books about children who are 12-14.  We seem to feel that somehow we would be damaging students in some way if they read about adults or children who were older than them.

It’s amazing to me that although we have supposedly evolved in terms of what we offer children, I often feel that I had much more freedom growing up  to read what I wanted, about who I wanted and when I wanted.

Interesting.

Friday, February 22

Aldo Malatesta-  Visual and Iconic Literacy:  Aiming for 20/20

About 80% of what a child learns comes to them visually. As educators, we spend a great deal of time helping children with the Three Rs, yet in a visually bombarding technological world it is essential that we aid
children in understanding the world that they see. We will explore how publishers are leaning more towards the visual image to assist struggling readers of text, examine effective classroom practice using the visual image as well as using visuals to stimulate creative writing.

I think this was a great workshop for those teachers who have not already incorporated the use of visual text, i.e, graphic novels, comics or hybrid stories/books.  Teachers as the WRDSB, with the support of Learning Services have already spent a great deal of time in helping students decode meaning via pictures and the importance of explicitly teaching text features.  Unfortunately, apart from one or two new ideas I didn’t get a whole lot of new information out of the presentation.  Not anyone’s fault.  Just the way it is.

 

Adrienne Clarkson-  Living Without Reading is Like Living Without Love

I am one of those people who never knew what it was to not know how to read. My mother swears
she caught me reading the newspaper when I was three.  I plunged into the world of words before I was almost conscious and I live in a world created by books, ideas, and romances. I will to talk a bit about the major books that influenced me, being very much like the identification of a great and true love — instant recognition, total absorption, and unforgettability.

This was a luncheon that I attended that included a presentation by Adrienne Clarkson.  She is a lovely speaker to begin with but she continued to charm me with her passionate talk about her love of reading.  Adrienne went to great pains to talk about the importance of libraries in our communities and personally, how they helped foster her life long love of reading.

I definitely left that presentation feeling inspired.

 

M. Geare and B. Stevenson-  Authentic Non-Fiction Reading and Writing

This presentation highlights the Social Studies inquiry model used in the upcoming K-8 Social Studies, Geography and History 2012 curriculum document. Teachers will learn how to motivate students to think critically about non-fiction information by analyzing and evaluating primarysource documents and data that reflect different perspectives.  The workshop will explore the Financial Literacy (grades 4-8) and Environmental Studies lessons (grade 4 and grade 7) written by the Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association for the Ministry to engage students in meaningful and authentic learning inquiries while addressing curriculum
outcomes. In the workshop, teachers will receive information on where to find these and many more valuable resources for their classroom use. As a conclusion, Margaret and Byron will share information on the authentic learning experience of Ontario Heritage Fairs.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed with this presentation.  It likely was that I just had different expectations of what the session would be.  I often do that.  Perhaps I read far too much into the descriptions for the sessions and inadvertently project what I want them to be.
One thing that was frustrating for me was asking us to do various minds-on activities when the room was set up in a lecture style format.  I didn’t have an elbow partner and there truly wasn’t enough of us in the room to get some really good discussion going.  Also, I was someone who was already quite familiar with the inquiry model (this was my own fault as I assumed most of us would be- not the other way around) and I thought perhaps we would be getting snippets of the new documents.  No such luck.  Kind of hard to get into a session about documents that are not available to you.
This is not intended to the diminish the instructors in any way.  Perhaps the plan was for them to share the documents but couldn’t for reason known only to them.  Just frustrating.
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