Thursday, September 29, 2016

Day One of IRC's Annual Conference

Amazing session with Jeff Anderson.
I was telling my husband last night that if I could work part time and attend conferences part time, I'd be a happy person. I cannot leave the classroom, I love teaching, but I absolutely love learning. 

I love attending conferences, learning new things, figuring out what I can take back in the classroom next week. Conferences, the sessions I attend, and the people I talk to all come together to make me a better teacher. They rejuvenate me at any point of the year and simply make me happy. 

Today I had the awesome opportunity to attend the 49th annual IRC conference. My new seventh grade colleague, Mel, went with me - which made it even better. We attended three sessions today: two from Jeff Anderson, and one from Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. 

Kylene and Bob presented on information from their book, Reading Nonfiction. There was so much I want to take away from there session. Mel and I have been having the students do Kelly Gallagher's Articles of the Week. I think we can incorporate some of Kylene and Bob's questions into this - the ideas of looking for what surprised you, what the author thought you already knew, and what was confirmed or challenged. I love looking at the article with that lens. Also, asking the kids to think of what the author's purpose was, or bias. We have a bunch of adults that cannot read critically, or look for bias, currently in our country. Maybe we can raise the next generation to do better. Kylene and Bob's book is one I haven't read yet, but will be reading ASAP. 

Jeff Anderson makes me smile every time he presents. I love his professional books: Revision Decision, Everyday Editing, Mechanically Inclined, and 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know. Jeff's books for kids crack me up and my students devour them: Zack Delacruz Me and My Big Mouth and Zack Delacruz Just My Luck. The first session we attended today from Jeff reminded me of the importance of teaching the skill of sentence combining. Jeff has a way of showing students one thing, a quick lesson, with beautiful mentor texts. The kids have fun, learn, and don't hate grammar. What a concept! In his afternoon session he shared the power of writing off mentor texts for quick writes. I loved some of his samples, especially the book You Don't Know Me by David Klass. Powerful writing resulted.

As is true for any conference, I learned a lot while also getting to see friends. Through conversations at lunch with my friend Jillian, or in a session with Mindi, or in the car with Mel, I left IRC's first day invigorated and ready to return. Now I'm off to read The Boy in the Black Suit before sitting in Jason Reynolds' session tomorrow.