February 17, 2015

Thoughts from WSRA (Wisconsin State Reading Conference)

When I looked at my last date of blogging and saw November 28th, my eyes almost bulged out of my head.  Is it possible that over two months has gotten away from me so fast?  When I look back over my past two plus months away from the blogging world, I can easily see how this happened.  Between renovating a house, moving into the renovated house, renovating the house some more, the holidays, getting engaged, planning a wedding, and attending several workshops, working on my Masters, and facilitating a Gifted and Talented Writing Conference over multiple days, I have managed to stay just a little bit busy.  Here I am though, and I have officially survived the last day of facilitating the GT Writing Workshop, which I will go into more depth about at a later blog post.  I invested in a 27" Thunderbolt Apple monitor which hooks up to my laptop, and I have settled into my new office, which includes a huge floor to ceiling built-in bookcase.  I'm loving my new creative space and technology set-up and can't wait to write many future blog posts and work on new TpT products in this space in the upcoming months now that life (fingers crossed) has slowed down a little.

I had the great fortune to recently attend the Wisconsin State Reading Conference.  This was my first time attending this conference, and I was truly impressed by the sheer number of literacy experts together in one place.  I felt unified with all of the teachers who attended the conference, and I was so pleased with the overall quality of each presenter whose session I was able to be part of.

Below are major takeaways from the conference, and the presenter who spoke to that particular takeaway during his or her session.

*A major challenge that literacy leaders face on a day-to-day basis is not being supported by their leaders.  This is especially hard when the vision from higher up is not clear or it changes with each new workshop. (Barbara Marinak)

*The "I" in RTI does not have to mean "intervention."  In fact, it was originally intended to mean "instruction."  If we were focused more on instruction and less on the fact that it is an intervention, what would that mean for our students?  Also, we look at core instruction critically, but do we look critically at the instruction that happens during intervention?  (Barbara Marinak)

*The only piece of data that truly matters when looking at data for an intervention is if they student's learning is transferring back and able to be applied in the classroom.  We must figure out a way to teach transference.  (Barbara Marinak)

*Leaders prefer people work.  Managers prefer paperwork.  A manager is not going to create the vision you need.  You need a leader who is going to invite you into the work and let it be messy.  (Barbara Marinak)

*A vision is a bridge from where you are to where you need to go, and if it is too complex, it will fail.  (Barbara Marinak)

*Data can be a dehumanizing process.  Don't make decisions based on dehumanizing data.  The missing ingredient in a describe-prescribe focus is PROFESSIONAL DECISION MAKING.  (Barbara Marinak)

*Evidence-based reading instruction takes place when decision that affect the student are rendered with due weight accorded to all valid and relevant information.  No one person's data is more important than another.  The classroom teacher or reading interventionist should be the first person to speak at a data meeting before EVER turning to the data on the screen.  ALL data should be welcomed at the table because you can't make effective decisions without it.  (Barbara Marinak)

*One thing is certain about struggling readers: they need more.  More opportunity for grade level rigor, more authentic text, more informational texts, etc.  (Barbara Marinak)

*Effectiveness can be replicated only if it is understood and why.  Piling on more and more disconnected interventions with no instructional congruence will fail.  (Barbara Marinak)

*A debrief of any activity for students or adult learners could include a feeling that stirred inside of them, new learning that took place, and how you're going to apply the new learning.  (Missy Bousley)

*All teachers are teachers of literacy.  (Andy Hargreaves)

*Asking the question, "What have you been reading lately?" to anyone can tell you a lot about that person instantly.  (Andy Hargreaves)

*One of our jobs as teachers is to introduce them to things they don't know that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.  (Andy Hargreaves)                                  

*We would be terrified if in medicine, dentistry, architecture if people came in, had a passion, and could just pick it up as they go along.  We would be terrified, people would die, and bridges would fall down.  In our job, it is not as obvious when a teacher doesn't reach a student, doesn't know how to differentiate.  We have to decide as a state, if this is a profession or is it not?  (Andy Hargreaves)

*"People think teaching is simple because they only saw it from one side of the desk." (Andy Hargreaves)

Did you connect with any of takeaways above?  I would love to hear from you!

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