Monday, March 6, 2017

Reflections on CATE

So last month, I attended the California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) Conference with a few colleagues.

First, and ironically, it was last, Kwame Alexander - poet and Newberry Award winner for The Crossover - spoke at the last keynote.  He started with a reading of his poem, "In My Closet, On the Top Shelf, Is a Silver Box", which left me gutted emotionally.  I then went and bought all his non children's books and read that poem to my classes.  They felt it too.  I highly suggest looking into his poetry, especially with National Poetry Month occurring next month.  I will be reading a poem a day to my students.  Any suggestions?

Looking back through my notes, these are a few things that stood out to me.

A session about independent reading by Amy Matt.  That is something that my department holds sacred as 5% of a student's overall grade, but something we especially struggle with.  I'm definitely using some of her materials to incorporate them into my Book Review blogs.  I'm also going to try out the speed dating idea at some point (probably next year to be honest).  I think I'm also going to take time, once, maybe twice, a week to have students read in class.  I may start this with my 11th graders after next week.  I'm also going to set individual reading goals for my students instead of a one size fits all.  This is easy to do in the Accelerated Reader program we use.

I had a couple of dud sessions.  Particularly those that promised to help reduce the amount of work in grading.  I have a book I bought a few years ago that I've never read that I need to find.  Something about not working harder than your students are.

I found out about another Reading and Tracking tool, similar to Actively Learn and Owl Eyes, called  CommonLit.  If we don't end up expanding or renewing our Actively Learn account, I may check it out next year and give it a try.  I signed up just in case, and to maybe use some of their questions.  I'm always on the look out for good questions.

I found out about the app, Serial Reader, from Jennifer Naumann.  It breaks down classic lit into bite sized chunks.  The app will send them a 20 minute (or less) section of a book daily.

I went to a session by the Zen Teacher and every teacher should check out his site.  I bought the book, and he has inspired me to be better about taking care of myself.  I've mediated much more consistently (even if it's only for a few minutes) than I ever have.

The awesome Catlin Tucker was there for a keynote.  I really like her story time idea.  I need to go to the bookstore and look through the children's books for some good ones that could teach teenagers good lessons. I think I'll read one to them each month and then have them reflect on them in a blog.

I had a really good time in my last session about unlocking Shakespeare's rhetoric.  The presenters,
Kelly Boske and Melinda Malaspino, did a great job and I wish one of the colleges down here did a Globe Academy.  I might try a few of the techniques with my 10th grade honors class when we read A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Though, to tell the truth, after that session, I'm getting the hankering to teach Taming of the Shrew again.

Stay tuned for a Kid President blog, I'm having my students do one for the first time in a while today.

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