Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SoLSC Learning from AllWrite 2015 6.23.15


Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

I spent two days at the AllWrite Conference in Warsaw, Indiana, last week.  I saw many wonderful presentations and learned something at each one.  Here's just some nuggets of information I walked away with:

Jennifer Serravallo
I attended two of her sessions.  I would have attended all of them but figured there were others to learn from as well.
Her first session focused on reading strategies, which is the subject of her newest book.  What impressed me the most about her presentation was the fact that it wasn't a regurgitation of her book.  She taught us the essence of her book, but made it so you didn't have to purchase the book to make the session worth it.  Of course, I had the book pre-ordered months ago, so I'm ready to go anyway!
The biggest nugget I walked away with is her hierarchy of goal setting.  So many teachers have been asking where do you start with strategy groups when a student needs everything - print work, fluency, comprehension...  Jennifer shared the order she recommends, although exceptions can be made based upon need.  
Another big thought for me is how to organize a student's learning.  Start with a needed goal - that comes from the hierarchy of needs chart (print work, comprehension, engagement, fluency....).  Next decide upon the skill.  In 4 weeks time, the student will be able to ______.  Finally decide upon the strategies that will be taught.  Strategies should be generalizable - they should carry over from book to book.  Strategies are wordy - they are a series of steps that start with an action verb.
Another question teachers ask, how long do I work on a goal?  For no more than 4 weeks is the the answer.  She said if it's taking longer than 4 weeks, then the goal was probably out of reach for the student.  Think about what the student can do and then think about what is just out of reach for the student.
The second session I went to hers was about her Literacy Playbook for grades K-2.  This session went more into depth about making a plan for a student.  She did say this does not need to be done for every student.  This plan really takes an in-depth look at a student, starting with collecting and analyzing data and looking for patterns.  From there, an action plan can be made, including a learning plan, complete with strategies, and assessment ideas.

Other quick thoughts from presentations:

Maggie Roberts
She showed how we can use digital literacy to enhance writing.  I had not thought of doing something like this before, but it made so much sense after seeing her talk about it.  By showing visual clips that students can see and hear, discussing what the person did - whether it be bring passion into a subject or certain elements of persuasion - and be able to bring that into writing, is a powerful tool!

Kristin Ziemke
Technology is something I'm not always in tune with, it makes me nervous and I don't play with it a often as I could.  It doesn't help that our reading department does not have much at our fingertips to use.  After watching Kristin's presentation, I'm wondering if there are 2-3 apps/platforms I could use that would enhance some literacy instruction at the remedial level?  I'd like to play with a couple over the summer and have some ideas of how I would use them going into the fall.
She shared a padlet that she started that is a collection of some tech ideas:

Lester Laminack
This was the first time I had seen him present and he was definitely a dynamic presenter! I was laughing and engaged!  He shared that read alouds are a gift and you can only open it for the first time once.  
He has us thinking about how we use read alouds.  He said teachers are too quick at rushing in with their own agenda - they read a book and rush in with questions for the students.  He said kids need time to think it over, let it roll through their minds.  Come back to the book a day or two later after kids have time to think about it - their discussions will be rich and probably have more thought to them before.  While I appreciate that thinking, I'm not sure I always have time to do a read aloud, but leave the discussion for another day.  However, I do think I can change the after reading part.  I would like to see myself encourage more student discussion and questions from the students.  It's something I try to do, but I'm not sure I've allowed myself the time needed to develop the concept.
Here's something that really is a big concept.  Stop for a minute and think about this - what is perspective?  What is point of view?
Not so hard to define is it?  Seems to overlap?  In my mind it did.  Perspective is whose eyes do you see through?  Whose heart do you feel through?  Whose mind do you think through?  Point of view is 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person.  That was an Aha for me!

Chris Lehman and JoEllen McCarthy
This was about the passion of nonfiction.  I think because of my involvement with Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday with Alyson Beecher, my nonfiction repertoire has grown and I feel so much more comfortable with it.  In this session, Chris and JoEllen really pushed us to think about the natural curiosity literature brings in the nonfiction genre.  What are kids curious about?  What does literature make them think about?  Can they get excited about a topic and then apply it in other facets?

Donalyn Miller and Franki Sibberson
I really didn't need to go to this one, but when you have the chance to celebrate books??? It's just a feel good session!  I do have a small list of books to read after that session, but most of them I was happy to say I had read or it's already in my pile.  I think back to a year or so ago when I was new to this - I probably would have been just a bit overwhelmed.  Instead it was nerdy heaven!

I missed Dan Feigelson at the end of the conference, but I'm doing a study on his latest book with friends later this summer.

I love walking away from a conference being just a bit smarter or knowledgable about a subject than when I walked in.  I hope this post gave you a little something to think about.


  1. Wow - you were able to attend amazing sessions! Thanks for sharing your learning, Michelle.

  2. Wow - you were able to attend amazing sessions! Thanks for sharing your learning, Michelle.

  3. I loved getting a glimpse of your learning from this conference!

  4. Nerdy heaven - that's how it feels at conferences with like-minded friends! So glad I got to meet you and visit at All Write. Thanks for sharing these snippets of your learning. It helps solidify our thinking when we reflect on what we learned.