A few weeks ago I attended the New England Association of Teachers of English (NEATE) conference. On Friday morning I presented on the different modes of reading I use to structure my English class.* The group in my presentation was amazing – they all shared some fantastic ideas for teaching reading. After that I attended some great sessions about Document-Based Question (DBQ) projects using literature, teaching students speaking and listening skills, and about the varied roles teachers play in the classroom. As usual, whenever groups of teachers get together I find that great ideas and insights are shared and great ideas are brought back to the classroom. Here are just a few of the insights I gained from my time at the conference:
- Erik Palmer’s Keynote address got me thinking about how to actually teach digital literacy. He gave some great examples of ways to go beyond telling students the difference between .com and .gov, and instead to give students tools to figure out the credibility of a website, such as teaching them how to find the “about” page, and using behinddomain.com. I also really liked an idea he brought up for presentations, where students are only allowed to put visuals on PowerPoint slides, and then they must explain them – no bullet points and words allowed!
- Molly Winter held a session in which she explained how DBQ’s can work in a literature class. I especially appreciated this because I have really been interested in the DBQ’s our history teachers use, and have wondered how I could use that model in ELA. While “The DBQ Project” company did have a lot of materials to buy, they currently don’t have any of their Literature “Mini-Q’s” for the texts I teach in my class. So, I will be trying to design my own this year around the question of who is to blame for Othello’s death.
- In my last session of the day I heard Mary Botticelli Christensen discuss the many roles of teachers in the classroom. It was especially helpful to hear and reflect on the different ways that teachers maximize learning in class, especially when I consider the management issues I have been dealing with in one particular class this year.
Overall, this conference was spectacular, and it was so exciting to attend a conference that was so enriching, and yet so close to home! I’m excited to attend next year and maybe present again.
*For those who are interested, here is the link to the NEATE page that has my conference materials available for download.