Warn those comma splicers….Alert those passive voice abusers….This third weekend in November is the traditional weekend for the annual National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference, and thousands of red-pen toting grammarians are descending on the city of Minneapolis!
My first time attending the NCTE Conference was in 2003 in New York City. I came back with new lesson suggestions, helpful tips on grading papers, and the names of fellow educators that have since grown into my own network of professional educators.
I came back inspired.
Since then, I have been fortunate to attend several other NCTE conferences as it moved annually to different cities across the country. I even got the opportunity to present at conferences in 2010, 2011, and 2014.
This year I will be attending the NCTE conference with a young teacher from my district. Back in January, I submitted an engaging lesson that was created by English Language Arts teacher Caitlin Pinto, a 7th grade teacher from West Haven’s Harry Bailey Middle School. That lesson was accepted as part of a session titled “Digital Pedagogies and Approaches to Media.”
In her session, Caitlin will be demonstrating how she has has been using social media templates in a literature circles to discuss historical fiction. In our middle school, the designed mashup of Facebook social networking with the format of the literature circle promotes literacy for students as social beings making connections. The inclusion of social media platforms in literature circles allows Caitlin’s students the chance to explore literature through multiple lenses as diverse as the platforms themselves. In addition, in giving her students the choice of different social media as tools to reimagine and evaluate literature shows that Caitlin values the ways that her students communicate.
In Caitlin’s lesson, the social media platforms that are familiar to students are incorporated as the traditional roles in literature circles: the Summarizer is reinvented when a student uses a Twitter template; the Connector is reconfigured when a student uses a Facebook template, the Researcher is expanded when the Pinterest template is followed, and the Illustrator is reimagined with the Instagram template
She will be bringing examples of how this approach has increased the amount that students write about the texts they read.
She will also be demonstrating how she works with students to improve the writing skills and processes that go into creating text.
Her students are excited that their “Ms. Pinto” will be a presenter at this conference. Her fellow teachers are cheering her accomplishment. Her administration is supportive, and her vice-principal even helped arrange for her conference expenses to be covered by the local Rotary Club.
I hope she will return with new ideas for lesson plans, perhaps with new tips on grading papers, and maybe even with her own list of fellow educators as she builds her own professional network.
I have experienced firsthand the power of the NCTE conference.
I know that Caitlin Pinto will come back to West Haven Bailey Middle School inspired.