What an amazing day yesterday was! It was the annual Dublin Literacy Conference, and the energy at the location was contagious. From the moment I walked in the doors of the high school that serves as the Conference's venue, it was such a happy time. Seeing friends from the Dublin district in which I work, seeing friends from districts both near and far, and meeting new friends -- the conversations and hugs were a sign the day was going to be something special.
We started the day singing and moving with Eric Litwin and James Dean of Pete the Cat fame, and then got to hear the keynote speech of the incredibly smart and talented reader/teacher, Donalyn Miller (aka The Book Whisperer). Wow! I have so many quotes from her session that I don't even know where to begin. The biggest takeaway is that we, as teachers of reading, need to have lives that are full of reading personally. Not a problem for me, but so great to hear Donalyn reinforce that thinking again.
In the first breakout session, Bill and I presented what has become an annual event for us -- So Many Books, So Little Time. We spent 45 minutes sharing with a packed room the titles that we thought were incredibly special this past year, and even shared some amazing titles that have already come out in 2012. For those of you who couldn't be with us, or those of you who might want to share this list with others, here is the link to the google doc where the list lives. We hope you find it beneficial.
After our session, I didn't have to go far to hear my friends, Nicole Kessler and Deb Frazier - their session was in the same room. Their presentation was on the power of using VoiceThread as a tool to help young writers express their thinking. Smart thinking that had me wondering how I could utilize this tool with my 5th graders.
Following their session, it was lunchtime and then time to browse books. As I walked through the cafeteria, I thought to myself that I bet the noise level of educators talking excitedly would give a high school lunch period noise level a run for its money any day! :)
The afternoon keynote was given by the incredibly talented Sharon M. Draper. I've been a huge fan of hers since I read Out of My Mind. But hearing her speak, making some critical points about teaching while making us all laugh out loud, made me respect her all the more.
I spent the final session of the day learning from the lovely Ruth Ayres. The focus of her conversation was how do we make mini-lessons relevant and meaningful. Whether you are in a district where you have a scripted program or one that doesn't, it is our job to make the lessons have a connection with the students. The other thing she talked about was a mirror image of what Donalyn had said in her morning keynote - in order to be a writer, you need to have a writing life. She strongly encouraged us to join her and Stacey at The Two Writing Teachers blog for the month of March. They will be hosting the Slice of Life challenge. This will be an opportunity to write about a slice of life each day for that month. After being such a haphazard writer for the past year, I am looking forward to the challenge and the focus of writing every day.
And I love when learning and thinking extends beyond the conference. It was great to continue conversations with friends and colleagues that evening; the wonderful food and drink didn't hurt, either.
I'd like to say a huge thank you to all of the teachers on the Dublin Literacy committee. I know that they put in many long hours making this conference run so smoothly so the rest of us could sit back and enjoy the day and gather so many new learning.
One final note - there were so many of us there tweeting out all the smart and important things that happened, that it became hard to keep track of it all. I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Christine Yarzabek for finding a forum that captured all of the tweets with the #dublit12 hashtag. What a gift to be able to go back and read through everyone's thinking about this amazing day. In addition, if you couldn't be with us, checking out this link is the next best thing to being there. Sure hope you can join us next year for #dublit13!!!!