March 29 – Highlights of my day at TCRWP 88th Saturday Reunion

1. Kathy Collins suggested a way to know more about a reader is to look at a reader’s SHELFIE – a photo of the stack of books they recently have read. What can we infer about this reader? Who in the room do you think matches THIS “Shelfie” photo? This reminds me of tweeting out this picture of my kindle of what I read over Winter Break:

What does this tell you about ME, the reader of these four books?

2. Lucy has me wanting to teach READING again (presently, I teach 5th grade writing). The grade-level specific Reading Units of Study come out in a few months (click HERE foor info ) and she gave a workshop overview of them. She reminded us that both reading and writing need to be taught differently now in the 21st century. Then she challenged us: What are the pathways of my teaching to get students to read in this new way? She suggested in her hour workshop doing three things:
* Kids need to be assessed in reading using a running record and the data needs to be used and valued. It can be an informal RR – as they read their own book, listen and note their rate and miscues and then tell the reader what level of book to read.
* Running Records aren’t enough. Performance assessments (developed and included in the new Reading Units of Study!) based on a progression of reading skills need to be used. This provides a clear pathway for a reader to know what they are able to do and what needs to be done. How to get better at a skill is named and known because the progressions name the skill, grade by grade so a skill can be deliberately practiced!

“Deliberate practice of a skill makes us better, not just doing a skill.”
*Writing About Reading – we need to show HOW to write about reading in Reading Workshop. Mentor texts showing how the writing of a post-it needs to be shared and displayed so when writers stop to jot, they are using this non-reading time wisely.

3. Kylene Beers – this was my first first hearing this funny, smart voice of literacy. A Texan, she was appropriately wearing very cool red cowboy boots! I was able to get a seat for her first workshop on Fiction. As I was leaving, the line to get in was 3x as big as the room. All wanted to hear about her new book coming out – Notes and Notices for reading Nonfiction which she talked about in the next session.

In this session, she walked us through the Six Signposts to look for when reading fiction. I honestly have not taught using this language but I own her book and have skimmed it. Hearing her, it makes perfect sense to me as to why it works. As Ellin Keene got readers to notice what THEY were doing as they read (connecting, questioning, inferring, etc), Kylene tells us to notice what is happening to the CHARACTER and to pay close attention when the character acts out of character or has an ah-ha moment. Notice when another character asks a tough question of the character. Notice when something keeps appearing or is repeated again and again. When these moments are noticed, the reader is sure to get what the author is really saying through this book. Kylene’s strategies build on how I thought about reading comprehension and I need to actually READ her whole book and get her new Nonfiction book coming out soon.

She also had us read a poem called Forgive My Guilt by Robert Tristram Coffin (read it here)
With a partner, we were to fill in the chart Somebody-Wanted-But-So for the narrator and for the birds. Then she asked for volunteers to share sentences written. She asked us: Was the hunting deliberate? Accidental? What is the text evidence? She had us notice words we didn’t immediately know, like frostflower, headland, plover, and quicksilver. This summary lesson still has me thinking about this poem! And such a simple strategy – using SWBS chart!

4. Shana FrazinHelp Students Love Rehearsal, Revision and Checklists: Tap the Power of Merging Joy with Assessment. She joked that the real title is Turning the Titanic! She walked us through an inquiry lesson on What is Revision? After stating what we know, she told us to look at some writing and to notice: 1) what revision work did the writer make? 2) how did the revision affect us, the audience? 3) as educators, what was the teaching that happened between the two pieces of writing
Here’s two of the before/after writing pieces she shared:


The last part of the inquiry asked us to complete this sentence: I used to think that revision was ___ and now I think revision is ____.

A gem that she shared at the end was a way to help the checklists work better for student writers.
She reminded us of the brilliance of the writing checklists – the same 3 categories (structure, development and conventions) across the three genres (narrative, NF, and essay) and the same skills with in each category. Maybe to help our students, we hang 3 charts up, one for each category. In the first column, we list the skill (the part of their writing, like lead), the middle column, we add the words from the checklist that is the grade-level expectation of this part. Then in the last column, we add an example. We talk about if this example meets the expectation and why.

WOW – Shana – you are SO clear. I’ll be tweeting the charts I make and how the Revision Inquiry lesson goes with my 5th graders next week as I’m determined to turn this lesson you taught me around with my students!

5. MaryGood to Great Pathways and Ladders for Strong Writers so They May Become Extraordinary – Teaching in a school with lots of great writers, I loved hearing from Mary ways to help these top students. As she said, often these are the kids who get the least attention because a teacher’s time gets sucked up by the struggling writers. Yet, these strong writers deserve attention so they don’t just get good but can become brilliant writers.

* Make sure you actually confer with them
* Pair them up with other STRONG writers
* Suggest meeting with them at extra times or outside of class – give them the encouragement and the opportunity to work hard on this skill that they are strong in
* Offer them tools – the checklist at the next higher grade, a different mentor text, different inquiry questions

* Show them how to draft an entirely different draft – use a different style, write it for a different audience, try the 1st paragraph 5 different ways. She reminded us that this is the strategy suggested by Don Murray, Steven King and Mark Twain!

* Do serious and open ended inquiry work with a mentor text.
For example, use technology – she showed us the music video of Wake me Up by Avicii and asked us to think about the work the author is doing with SETTING. How is the setting important?
Click here to watch Wake Me Up  Then she played it again, turning off the sound and voicing over a story as the images appear emphasizing the setting. Then she suggested: Now try this SETTING WORK in your writing. Mary – you are so brilliant!!

6. Final Keynote by Kylene Beers
I feel lucky that I got a seat in Riverside church as my one friend stopped to use the bathroom and got closed out and could come in. The nave and both balconies were filled. As I read tweets afterwards, Amanda Hartman tweeted “4,000 people today, wow!” This was my 12th reunion – I’ve come every Fall and Spring following my first Summer Institute in 2009. It definitely felt more crowded. More and more, teachers want to learn HOW to do literacy work well. And in my opinion (and probably the opinion of the 4,000 around me yesterday), TCRWP is THE place to learn.

Kylene opened by pondering What do I believe about teaching?

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
She then gave a brief overview of the history of education in America. She pointed out that literacy has always been tied to wealth. First, you were considered literate if you could sign your name, sometimes just by making an X.  Next, great penmanship was valued (clearly, the poorest didn’t have time to write using beautiful penmanship). Then great speeches and poetry recitation. During WWI, the assembly line led to analysis and things like diagraming sentences and cliff notes. But now, she remarked, instead of taking things apart, we need to put things together.
We need education practices to not just be interesting, but to be relevant. She suggested we need CHOICE, a curriculum based on more than tests, and that through literature we teach COMPASSION. Only than can those with power through literacy can use their privilege to learn how to navigate life well.
7. Meeting Slicers at The Kitchette!! Hi Tara, Catherine and Fran!!
Far right is Fran – see her reunion reflection HERE
Middle is Catherine – see her blog HERE
Far left is Tara – see her blog HERE
So glad I went to the TCRPW 88th Saturday Reunion.
So glad I know it is worthwhile to spend all day learning on a Saturday, miles away from my home.
So glad I have a place to write about it here to share these great ideas with others who also believe that teaching literacy well is important.

12 thoughts on “March 29 – Highlights of my day at TCRWP 88th Saturday Reunion

  1. Judy says:

    I was so bummed that I couldn't go, but your notes gave me a small taste of it. I especially appreciate the links. Thanks. Glad you got to grow your learning here.


  2. Judy says:

    I was so bummed that I couldn't go, but your notes gave me a small taste of it. I especially appreciate the links. Thanks. Glad you got to grow your learning here.


  3. Maureen says:

    Thank you for this awesome summation of what was obviously an amazing conference! Several teachers from my elementary team were there as well – but they're not bloggers (yet!), so I really appreciate hearing from you. Fabulous!


  4. Tara Smith says:

    Thanks for the wonderful notes, Sally – you went to some amazing sessions! I was closed out of Kylene's nonfiction section (so bummed), but I've used Notice and Note with my kids and just love it. So glad that we were able to see each other and exchange a hug.


  5. msosterman49 says:

    I was waiting for a text or tomorrow's chat time, but this “Slice” fills my head. The energy flows through your piece. I could see NYC/TC. I could feel the hustle of people trying to get from one place to another, but most of all I was reminded of the pure joy I always felt when I was at TC for a session and great authors talked. You brought it out in this piece beautifully


  6. says:

    You are soooo fortunate to be able to attend TCRPW 88th Saturday Reunion. This is a post jam packed with ideas and inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing! I especially love the “shelfie”. Reading and writing so need to go together. Bests on your teaching desires and dreams!


  7. Marcie R says:

    I love reading other Sat Reunion friends' recounts of their sessions. Since I chose to attend the different ones, I felt like I was able to learn more through your notes. Wishing I could of stopped by the Kitchenette!


  8. Fran says:

    I so loved seeing the day through your eyes, literally! It was my first Saturday reunion and I had extremely high expectations after two years of reading and writing institutes. AND my expectations were exceeded.

    The joy,
    The professionalism,
    The presenters,
    125 sessions,
    The keynotes . . .
    All honored teachers!
    Teachers spending their valuable time learning!

    Simply AMAZING!
    And so great to meet you! <3


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