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The Literacy Teachers Vlog is hosted by Leigh Hall, Professor at the University of Wyoming, and I was so honored that she asked me to join her to discuss helping struggling readers succeed.

Don’t miss out on Ricki’s discussion about Lexiles either!

Thank you again Leigh for having me part of your amazing channel promoting literacy to educators!

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Do you teach a young adult literature course, or do you integrate YAL in your classroom?

I am currently working on a book project that explores the different ways in which middle and high school teachers structure their YAL courses (elective or required). I am also looking at how teachers infuse YAL into their regular education courses. I’ve seen great classroom designs and course projects, and I am looking for others. I’d love to capture them and acknowledge the great work happening in classrooms. If you might be interested in being included in the book, please send me an email at ricki[DOT]ginsberg[AT]colostate.edu or message me on Facebook! Participation would involve the sharing of a course project, classroom activity/activities, and/or course syllabus.

If you know someone who might be interested, please share this post with them. Thank you! 

 

 
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Jennifer A. Nielsen visited my school on December 4th, 2018, and today her newest book comes out (Deceiver’s Heart, Traitor’s Game #2!!!!), so I thought today would be the best day to share about the amazing experience she brought to my school and the superb person she is!

Jennifer was kind enough to have a very packed day with us! She did an assembly for each grade level where she shared that the secret to being a writer is asking questions:

  • Do you have stories? Do you have dreams? If you have dreams, your brain is creating a story. Are you curious? You can be a writer.
  • Writers do these things: Collect stupid facts but don’t collect stupid. Ask Questions. Gain knowledge. They write. They work to get better. They keep trying.
  • There are two types of people: One who says they are good enough. You’ll be passed by people who won’t quit until it’s great.

She also gave us a sneak peek of the Resistance book trailer that went live the next week!

Every group of students (at over 375 each) were captivated by her stories, her humor, and her truth.

 

During each grade level’s lunch period, she also was kind enough to eat lunch with students who had read two or more of her books. During this time, they could get their books signed and ask exclusive questions.

This lunchtime experience was so inspiring to these students! They still talk about what she shared and (as you’ll see in the last photo below) they helped write a quite hilarious story with her that was cracking everyone up:

  • Story in her head is like an itch that she can’t reach. She is happiest when she is writing because she is reaching the itch.
  • Story is everywhere. Everyone carries story with them. Just ask questions and tell the story.
  • She starts a story with the character in action. Helps the reader and writer get into the character’s head and puts the character into immediate trouble.
  • When she was younger, she didn’t know writing was a choice for something you could do.

 

 

Then Jennifer even stayed with us for the evening for another quick presentation, book signing, and cross-curricular events that tied her book into all the subjects.

 

All in all, the visit was life-changing for our HCMS students.

After the visit, I had my students write letters sharing how the event affected them:

  • Thank you so much! You have made a great impact on my life. I have never liked writing but your story about when you were in 6th grade made me realize that I can do what I put my mind to do. -Olivia M, 6th grade
  • I love reading your books because when I read your books it is so good that I read for hours without stopping. When I found out you were coming I got excited because I wanted to find out more about the author who wrote my favorite books. You taught me never to give up and to keep going for my dream no matter how long it takes. Your books have inspired me to create my own book and to be a writer in the future. -Jacob K, 6th grade
  • The things you said during your visit made me realize I’ll never get better if I don’t try. -Georgia B, 6th grade
  • I loved your assembly. Your stories were hilarious and you inspired me to write down my ideas. -Emily B, 7th grade
  • Thank you so much for visiting us. It was amazing and super fun. Your presentations were incredible and I loved the stories you told. They were sad but so interesting. Your tips for writing were so helpful and I plan on taking them to heart whenever I write. Your encouragement was inspiring. “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it. (Benjamin Mee)” -Duda V, 7th grade
  • Your books are amazing, the plot twists were breath-taking, and your books are meaningful and are powerful. -Molly N, 7th grade
  • I’m a huge fan of your books and it was a dream come true to meet you! I enjoyed making a story with you during my lunch time, and I will always remember your visit. -Mariana S, 8th grade
  • If you were here to inspire, you hit it on the dot. -Julia R, 8th grade
  • Thank you for not quitting and showing us that just because you fail once, or twice, or even hundreds of times, we should keep on trying. -Lorenza M, 8th grade
  • Everything that you said just inspired me to do something that would forever make the world better. -Jordan K, 7th grade
  • Thank you for all the words of wisdom and encouragement to write, and for that I’ll always be grateful. -Monika A, 7th grade
  • You are such a beautiful soul, and I am in denial that I had the chance to meet someone like you. -Amy C, 7th grade
  • You were right – stories are everywhere!.. You are funny and kind, and I love how you add little bits of yourself into your books. -Maelynn A, 7th grade

And I’ll end with this beautiful work. My friend, who teaches 8th grade ELA, had her students do a 6 word reflection with a visual to summarize either how they felt or what they learned:


“Good writing takes time and passion.” -Alexa F.


“Don’t let your ideas go away.” -Charlie B.


“Don’t think of ideas, execute them.” -Grace G.


“Failure is the pillar of success.” -Ramia A.


“All failures lead to a success.” -Paola A.


“Catch an ideas, don’t let go.” -Lauren T.


“To write, you mustn’t fear ideas.” -Ishika J.


“The first draft isn’t always perfect.” -Holly C.

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for coming to HCMS and inspiring my students in ways that are life-changing!

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Kellee’s Reflection

I am sure you can tell from our countdown that this is one of our favorite events of the year. It is like a really big book club that only meets once a year mixed with the best professional development you could ask for. 

During NCTE, my presentations went so well! If you are interested, you can view my resources:

But what I want to focus on in this post are the revitalizing sessions I attended. My goal for NCTE18 was to make sure to attend more sessions to fill my educator heart, and I definitely met that goal! Here are some highlights from four favorite sessions/talks:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie opened up NCTE, and I was blown away by her!

  • “Be courageous enough to say I don’t know.”
  • We need “STEM AND the language arts. It’s not an or, it’s an and.”
  • “To be a good teacher is not just about curriculum, it is about things that can’t be quantified.”
  • Narrow view of intelligence = not valuing arts
  • “The world is not full people like you, so diverse literature is not needed just for the diverse.”
  • “When telling stories well, we’re appealing to what it means to be human.”

The session Latinx Experiences in Classrooms and Communities with educators, Dr. Carla España, Dr. Luz Herrera, and R. Joseph Rodriguez, and authors, Daniel José Older, MoNieqa Ramos, Matt de la Peña, Meg Medina, and Lilliam Rivera.

  • Our Latinx students “move through the world as many identities.” (Medina)
  • Bilingual students “have language resources we should use.” No more English Language Learners, they are “emergent bilinguals.” (España)
  • “Kids have more going on than we want to talk about.” (Ramos)
  • “Acceptance feels like a hug. It is that feeling when you are home because you don’t have to translate yourself.” (Older)
  • “Books are tools to help people save themselves.” (de la Peña)

Kylene Beers, Kelly Gallagher, and Penny Kittle are brilliant. I wish I could do a full day PD with them!

  • “You cannot improve confidence without improving confidence.” (Beers)
  • “No models of good conversation in media. Our democracy needs to have better conversations.” (Beers)
  • “Meaningful talk will not happen without meaningful reading.” (Gallagher)
  • “We are making too many decisions for our students. Turn over the control.” (Kittle)

Peter and Paul Reynolds stand for everything I believe in!

  • “Great teachers breath kindness and love.”
  • We “need to remind humans about the best humanity can do.”
  • “Picture books are efficient. They are a big idea in a small book.”
  • “Everyone is an artist. You’re only not identifying as one because someone told you you weren’t, and you believed them.”
  • “Noticing a kid is the most powerful gift we can give.”
  • “Your brain is beautiful! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

And the ALAN workshop was amazing as always. The ALAN workshop is 1.5 days of authors sharing. It is so much book love and author love and teacher love and kindness love and just love in general. If you ever have the chance to get to this workshop, it is a must!

Some of my favorite author talks/panels/conversations were:

  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Bill Konigsberg
  • Kierstin White, Ibi Zoboi, Elana K. Arnold
  • Neal Shusterman
  • Tomi Adeyemi
  • Sara Farizan and Mark Oshiro
  • Jarrett Krosozcka
  • Sharon Flake and Renee Watson
  • Gae Polisner and Chris Crutcher

This was just a SMALL sampling of the amazing authors at the workshop. Check out the schedule to see others who spoke!

Ricki’s Reflection

I had a wonderful time at the NCTE convention and ALAN Workshop. I was sad that I wasn’t able to go to many sessions because I signed on to participate in six sessions and introductions. I won’t be doing that again next year!

One of the highlights for me was sitting with Ibi Zoboi during the YA Lit is Complex session. She’s absolutely brilliant, and her voice added so much to the conversation. The participants at my roundtable asked her thoughtful questions. She talked about the many complex elements within her texts—the ways in which she adapts classic poetry, includes cultural pantheon for readers, etc. I am blown away by her brilliance, and she is among my favorite authors today. Quite frankly, she is a living legend.

The YA Lit is Complex session is my favorite each year. Jennifer Buehler and Cathy Fleischer bring in eight YA authors to talk about text complexity. If you missed this session, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I always leave feeling invigorated.

I also loved presenting with my colleague, Pamela K. Coke. We shared three approaches for using Genius Hour in the classroom to promote equity. The crowd for this presentation was amazing, and a few audience members have stayed in touch with us. There might be a potential research project on the horizon for this session!

Some of the most exciting talks that I saw were from:

  • Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Bill Konigsberg
  • Ibi Zoboi
  • Sara Farizan and Mark Oshiro
  • Tomi Adeyemi
  • Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Emily X. R. Pan
  • David Arnold
  • Sharon Draper
  • David Levithan
  • Randy Ribay

Pictures!

 

     

If you attended, how was your conference?
We look forward to next year 🙂

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