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CCIRA Literacy Conversations
58 minutes | Feb 9, 2022
Whitney La Rocca: Patterns of Power, world class writing mentors, and a lot of laughs
*Links to resources to be added soon!00:00:00 Molly RauhHello and welcome back to this CCIRA Literacy Conversations podcast. I'm your host, Molly Rauh with my co-host...00:00:08 Jessica Rickert...Jessica Rickert. Today's podcast features, Whittany La Rocca, Whitney's work centers around authentic reading and writing instruction. Whitney shares, ideas for grammar instruction, blending science of reading and balanced literacy, and the Patterns of Power resource. Well, welcome Whitney. We're so excited to have you on the podcast. Why don't we start with you just telling us a little bit about your background.00:00:35 Whitney La RoccaOkay, well, thank you. And thank you for having me on this podcast. So I'm excited to be here my background, I guess, you know, starts since since you're up in Colorado, I can say, I'm originally from Wyoming. So we're formerly neighbors. I graduated from the University of Wyoming and then moved to Texas. And that's where I'm at no. I live in the Houston area. I have over 20 years of education experience. I I've taught I've been an instructional coach, and now I'm a full-time consultant, author, staff developer, co-author of the Patterns of Power family of resources. So Patterns of Power, Patterns of Power Plus. And recently we came out with Patterns of Wonder that I got to take the lead on for emergent writing. So my passion is definitely just supporting children as they find their identities and develop their identities in this world of literacy. So I'm super excited to continue to do this work all over the place, rather than just in my little bubble outside of Houston.00:01:43 Jessica RickertSo I'm wondering, because you talk about authentic grammar instruction, and I think teachers really struggle with authentic grammar instruction and not just putting a worksheet in front of them, but integrating it. So what are your thoughts on authentic grammar instruction?00:02:01 Whitney La RoccaAbsolutely. You know, we're told so often as teachers well just teach grammar in context and keep it authentic. And we're like, okay, sure, how do we do that? What does that really mean? Right? And so when we think about authentic grammar instruction, what we want to do is really lean on brain research and the research that goes into education and how our brains are wired to learn. And if we look at these cognitive structures in our brain, we have this, this structure of observation. And so we get to observe what writers do. And that's what we begin with. We begin with, published children's literature, the books that we love that are in our classrooms. We share some sentences from those or with the emerging writers we share an entire page from a picture book where we look at both pictures and words. And we just ask our students, what do you notice? And we get to have these authentic conversations where students get to really just talk about what they're noticing, what the brain is observing, right? And this power of talk, this power of inquiry, just drives this instruction. And through these observations, our students begin to recognize what writers do. And we get to pull in grammar into this conversation as well. When we do pick sentences or a page from a book, we're very particular about what we choose, right? And so we're going to curate a sentence or a page that really demonstrates this grammar skill that we're looking to show off. But we don't tell our students what that is, because we want them to kind of discover that on their own through inquiry. And that's how this process begins with this authentic grammar instruction. We begin with authentic literature, and we have these authentic conversations within the context of reading and writing about what authors do, why they do that, how they do that. And then we move into comparing and contrasting that to something else, like another piece of writing, right? We're leaning in on the comparative analysis structure, cognitive structure of our brain, which is our brains are wired to learn through, compare and contrast. So we move into that to really retain that information even more. And then we turn around and authentically produce a piece of writing that looks like the model. So we get to imitate that, and we can imitate that together. And then we invite our students to turn around and try it out on their own. And we celebrate this. And our celebration, again it's through this conversation, the sharing, this displaying of the authentic writing that they have tried out, and we turn around and invite them to continue to play with this skill in other parts of their day of writing. In writing workshop, in writing in the content areas - continue to produce more writing in different ways, using that skill. And then we get to end with this conversation around editing and what that really looks like. So rather than starting with the wrong and correcting, correcting, correcting, correcting and focusing on right or wrong, we invite, you know, risk taking, because we're celebrating the craft of writing rather than wasting our time correcting errors. And with that celebration, and with this authentic move looking at what writers do and the craft that they use, we are able to move towards correctness. And we have to, as teachers have this understanding too that every writer has approximations along the way even adult writers, right? So we never have perfect writing. We're always moving towards correctness, but we're starting with correct writing to teach that, rather than starting with the wrong. So, in context, within the frame of reading and writing and using authentic literature and asking our students to produce authentic literature as well, and they lean on their scaffolds when they need to. And when they're ready to move away from that, they take those risks and try it out. And then we can. We can teach into those risks that they are trying.00:06:30 Molly RauhSo knowing that you said, you know, we, it's an inquiry process, and we should start by observing and know, you know, every teacher has some of their like favorite books, or some of their go os. Yeah. So if you were going to share some of your favorite, some of your go-to is with our listeners, what might be some of those, you know, awesome books that you would choose for our class of emerging readers.00:06:55 Whitney La RoccaOh, my goodness, it's so this is this is so hard for me, because you, you both can see like my background or what's behind to be right? I'm in my home office right now, and the wall is just covered with books. I am a book, a holic. So for me, just to share a couple is like ridiculous. I could go for hours of my favorites. My biggest, my biggest tip, first of all, is a mentor text is a text that you love. So I could said, I could share text all day. I could send you lists and everything, but honestly, you have to love it for your students to really love it too. And so those books that are in your classroom, if you really love them, then they're probably a really good mentor text to use. And but I also will say it that we need to be diverse in the text that we choose, right? And we need to make sure that we have a wide representation and of people in the books that we use. We want to be inclusive. We want to make sure that our readers see themselves, and they see others. And this is how we build community. And this is how we build empathy through the books that we I said. Just those little tidbits before I do share some titles with you. So few for emergent writing, I guess, some of my very favorites and "Quit Calling Me a Monster" by Jory John, one of my favorite mentor texts that really could be used for anything. There's a lot of teaching points inside of that Troy Cummings', "Can I be Your Dog" is one of my favorites. He also has "Can I be Your Cat" or along that line. I'm waiting on it. I waiting on the paper back to show up to my house next month. So but there's a second one about a cat cat, as opposed to a dog. Anything by Mo Willems hands down, right? The Pigeon books, the elephant piggy books, pretty much anything there. I also love they, these, the Yasmine books, the these ones by Saadia Faruqi. I'm not sure that I pronounced her last name, right? But it's a series, the Yasmine books I absolutely love for younger readers as mentor texts as well. For older readers, I really enjoy pretty much anything by Matt De La Pena is one of my favorite authors, for sure. And I also love Peter Brown's "The Wild Robot" is probably one of my favorite novels, as well as Katherine Applegate's "The One and Only Ivan," but even more so, "The One and Only Bob," I like that one even more than Ivan, which I didn't think I could like anything more than Ivan. But Bob is just another one as well. So those are just some off the top of my head that I absolutely love. My some of my favorite authors might go-tos. But like I said, I could pull so many books off and just keep talking. So.00:09:58 Molly RauhYou had talked too about, you know, when they're observing, especially with our younger, I called them emerging readers before. But we're really talking about emerging writers. Like you said.00:10:10 Whitney La RoccaBoth. Readers and writers and writers are readers. We make that reading-writing connection in everything that we do.00:10:15 Molly RauhWhen you're working with, you know, some of the really and honestly, I would probably still even do it with my high school kids looking at pictures specifically. You know, I think some teachers are really skilled at analyzing images as kind of a component of writing and others, you know, maybe that's something they're still trying to build. And I'm thinking, you know, this is one of my favorite books, so you said, you talking about books that you love, there's a book called "This is Not My Hat."00:10:53 Whitney La RoccaYes, I have it on my wall.00:10:53 Whitney La RoccaIt's very like it's an inference sort of book, because so much of what's going on in the story isn't in the written words. It's visual. How, how do you bring together something like that when they're looking at writing when the story isn't fully in the writing? Like, what would the conversation look like for a book like that? If I want to bring in one of my favorite books to talk?00:11:17 Whitney La RoccaWell, as you think about this visual literacy. And with graphic novels being so popular here, there's so much more in those pictures than there are in the words as well, and so much thinking that occurs with students who read graphic novels. So I'm a huge proponent of graphic novels as well. So I just think, when we take a look at that again, it's that observation. So, you know, what do you notice? In older students, if we're having conversations around grammar, they're probably going to lean more towards the words that you're sharing an entire page. And I like to think about this process, even outside of teaching grammar, right? This is an inquiry process. What do you notice? Compare it and contrast it with something else, turn around and try it out, right? So that's that's the inquiry part of it. So we can share. I was thinking, I was working with some junior high students not too long ago, and we were talking about I wanted, but we had to a lesson on flashbacks, right? So I actually just put up a page from Jerry Craft's "Class Act" and where he does, he has a flashback and around, the flashback he has like a wavy line. And so they're bell ringer when they came in was just a what do you notice the authors doing on this page? Right? That's all it was. What do you notice? And so they wrote in their notebooks. You know, a lot about, kind of the meaning of what's going on the back story of the student, what they were gathering just from that one page, which so much was in the pictures versus the words themselves. But and but it was interesting, none of them really noticed that little move around the flashback. But they did realize that he was flashing back to something different. And so just that what you know is conversation then moved us into. Well, this is called a flashback and look what Jerry did for us as readers, right? And he made this wavy line. So we actually transferred that over to text. When you did, we did a compare contrast. We moved to where we were just looking at text itself and finding the flashback. And we actually drew the squiggly line. So if you think about about that, that's, you know, that's that visual literacy of what's going on. So if we have books where we're looking at pictures as well, when we asked, what do you notice? You can say, you know, look at the words. But also look at the pictures. What do you notice is happening here in both. Now with emergent readers and writers, the writing that they're doing is mostly pictures as they're learning that there's this thing called letters. And these letters make words. And these words make sentences, right? So when we're looking at really emergent writers, they're just scribbling for their writing. They have this understanding that there's this thing called writing, but they don't have this understanding that there's these letters, you know, these symbols that make letters that tie the sounds yet. And so when we're asking them to look at pictures and what we're doing, we're still looking at the words as well. But their eyes tend to look more at the pictures, because they're not reading these words yet. So we get to lean in on what it is they're noticing, and then we get to develop their oral language through those pictures. So when they're using the pictures in their own books and say, we're working with nouns, right, it's a focus brace we might use is I tell about people, places and things in my story. And so they have these scribbles on the page. Well, as we're developing the oral language, they can be bringing in people, places and things into their language as their sharing, what's in their pictures. And that's just the, the, the foundation of grammar that were working on with our students. 00:14:55 Jessica RickertWell, in all of this is reader like based in readers' and writers' workshop and balanced literacy. What - something that's pushing in on education in Colorado and other places is Science of Reading. So how do you, how do you see merging those two things? Because science of reading is here to stay and whatever people think of it. But then it's, it seems like if they're trying to push out balanced literacy, and what you're talking about is these really great authentic experiences for kids. So what are your thoughts on that?00:15:29 Whitney La RoccaWell, we definitely have this pitch for a Science of Reading everywhere. And what I will say is the science of reading is attached to Scarborough's rope, right? And so to have skilled readers, we have to weave in the phonics. But we also have to leave in what we call language comprehension. And when we look at the language comprehension side of it that is developing this language of having an understanding of syntax and structure and all all of these pieces, you know, of developing how language should sound that fluency piece when we're reading. Well, we're not going to just get that fluency peace unless we are read aloud to right? And so read aloud happens during balanced literacy. And guess what? We need that read aloud to dive into that language comprehension side of the science of reading. And there are so many components in that language comprehension compre- "muuh" (sound to indicate tongue-tied moment) , the comprehension side, where a lot of balanced literacy components come in. I do see the need for a strong phonics part of your day. We need that, right? Our students definitely need to be able to decode it. They shouldn't just be guessing, but it definitely can be weaved together. And honestly, one of my favorite, it works out there right now that I go back to almost on a daily basis, because as a consultant, I'm getting calls constantly, because I do, my consulting is around balanced literacy and reading and writing workshop. And so I get calls all the time. Well, you know, we're really being told we have to do science of reading. How can we mix and match that? And the it's called "Shifting the Balance" by Kari Yates and Jan Birkins. If you haven't heard of it yet, I highly recommend you check it out, "Shifting the Balance" Stenhouse Publishers is the publishing company? But what they do is they share the research behind the science of reading, and then they give, and then they show how that can be balanced with balanced literacy. And there's actually actually six shifts that they dive into of how you can shift your balanced literacy to also follow and dive into this research behind science of reading. And it's beautiful I, like I said, I refer to it almost on a daily basis. It's definitely one of my favorite art pieces of work out there right now as we maneuver through these reading wars. What I will say is there needs to be a balance, right? So we don't need to be at one end or the other. It really needs to come together. There are some really good things with science of reading that I do believe in, but I am also my heart is with reading and writing workshop could, because when we're talking about authentic authenticity and we're talking about engagement, that's where that happens, right? And if we really dive into emergent reading and writing this writing that they're doing through their pictures and through their oral rehearsal, that's not going to happen if we wait until they can write CBC words, right? And so we don't want to stifle them because they're not yet writing words, encoding words or decoding words, right? We want them to be able to go ahead and develop that language comprehension through Reading the pictures as well as writing through pictures.00:19:00 Molly RauhOh, and this is this is more for listeners. This is not for you so much Whitney. But if you are looking for some cool science of reading strategies that you could maybe marry with what Whitney's talking about, we have another podcast with Jessica help me with the name, because it just fell out of my head. I had it a minute ago -Katie Garner. We talked to Katie Garner, and she's got these great little strategies to help kids access those sounds before they're you know, technically, I'm doing air quotes. You guys can't see me but air quotes before they're technically ready. And so, you know, that's that's a great resource. But I'm with you. I like, I'm such an inquiry, like my practice as a teacher is very inquiry-based and I, you know, I love Patterns of Power and the work that you and Jeff Anderson have done, and you know, that like, like you said, it's engaging work that can kids get excited about it. And, you know, Jeff, that I've made no secret about this. Jeff is, we'll see if you can beat him. This is your goal. You gotta beat him.00:20:06 Whitney La RoccaI don't - I don't think I can.00:20:06 Molly RauhJeff is my favorite podcast episode that I've recorded.00:20:11 Whitney La RoccaI can't beat Jeff. He's my favorite too. I absolutely love him. He's my mentor. I have learned so much from him, and when people asked me to come present and they're like, you know, we've seen Jeff, we really want you. And I'm like, okay, but, you know, I'm not Jeff. RIght like, not even close, just so incredible. I could listen to him all day. And I just laugh constantly, right? You know, he'll just have you rolling over. I love it when we present together, because I just almost pee my pants every time, because he's so funny, but I absolutely love him. We did. We had a webinar together this afternoon, and we talked on a daily basis. We're like our we're the married couple who are the we're definitely the work husband and wife there. And so we it's a lot of fun. But yeah, I can't beat Jeff, you can't don't even put me try to like put me there, because I'm not even close.00:21:04 Molly RauhI won't make you do that. But I'm still enjoying this a lot so far. So, absolutely I won't make you compete with Jeff.00:21:10 Whitney La RoccaAnd if you want to laugh more, you know, we have they he and Travis, who's the co-author for the Middle School patterns of winter. They host the podcast as well, called the POPCast. Which is the Patterns of Power podcas: the POPCast and they have you rolling. But the episodes are about 15 minutes long. And they're all and Patterns of Power. So they just have you you rolling. They brought me on to talk about Patterns of Wonder. They've brought Caroline on to talk about Spanish, you know, they've brought on some brain researchers that kind of bring in everybody, but it's those two and their two goofballs. So they really have a good time with this podcast. And it's a lot of fun to listen to.00:21:52 Molly RauhWell, I'm definitely going to have to give that a try. And I will also, this is the first time in a while. When I've had Whitney, you've given me like, you might have seen me like frantically writing things down. This will be the first time in a while where I'll have show notes with links to all kinds of resources. So thank you for sharing already, like so many names and books and resources, because I love to get to link those together for our audience so that they can access even more than we can talk about in, you know, a short podcast session.00:22:23 Whitney La RoccaWell, there's so many people doing so many good things out there. I just I love to just share what's going on out there in classrooms and out in the professional writing world. And it's just, it's just amazing, even though this year is just incredibly difficult for teachers. And I know that I see that I just love that they're still, you know, a little bit of excitement still out there. And I just want to share and celebrate that as often as possible.00:22:50 Jessica RickertWell for our listeners that don't know what Patterns of Power are -is in. You've been talking about that. Can you tell us a little bit about that?00:22:58 Whitney La RoccaYeah. So Patterns of Power is a resource. It's a professional book, but it's really professional resource. And Jeff and I created Patterns of Power for grades, one through five first. So that was our first one that we created together. And it really came from the work that he did with everyday editing and mechanically inclined. And just the back story behind that I was an instructional coach at the time on an elementary campus. We were struggling on our campus because we were using a lot of daily edit, daily oral language, worksheets, and we just weren't seeing a transfer of skills to their writing. And we were frustrated because we were using writing workshop, and it just it was frustrating for us. And I was reading his work. And I and I told my teachers, I said, hey, there's this guy out here who's doing some pretty cool stuff, and we're using mentor texts already. And during writing workshop, you know, this approach makes sense. What do you think we give it a try? And so for? And they said, sure, of course, we're willing. So I just I created some lessons, you know, at the lower grade levels and along the lines of his work, and they started using it, loved it. He came to my district. He and I got to talking, and he invited me to write this book with him, which was really exciting just to, because, Molly, just like you, I love him, right? I go back to my notes before I knew him of just the sessions. And there's so many exclamation marks in my notes, because he just had you so excited and energized and motivated. So I couldn't wait to do this work. So we came out with that. And the reason why we called it a resource over a professional book is because the professional reading that's in this book is a very short amount. We know teachers don't have time to do all of this professional reading. So we have about 50 pages that's the professional reading, and the other 400 pages are ready-to-use lessons that you could turn around and use tomorrow. Every lesson follows the same process and we call it the Patterns of Power process. It's this inquiry process that I referred to earlier where we begin with invitation to notice, we invite our students to notice what they observe in the sentence that we choose. And through that conversation, they discover this move that writers make, which is tied to grammar. And so we introduced in that Focus Phrase for them. And we learn, you know, like, "I use nouns to show people, places, and things" that's a focus phrase. And now we have a better understanding standing of what nouns are, rather than starting our lesson with okay writers. Today we're going to learn about nouns, pull out your notebooks. Let's do a three column chart, right? People places and things, you know know, we're going to start with just this sentence, and ask, what do you notice? And through that conversation, they discover this. And then we move into the invitation to compare and contrast where we compare and contrast that mentor sentence to another example, and continue our conversation around what they notice, which also leads back to our Focus Phrase, then you have the invitation to imitate where we imitate that model together. So that's where we create our own piece of writing. Thunder cracks Oh, my goodness, sorry, we're having a thunderstorm right now. That was a really loud thunder. My dog is freaking out. We have really bad thunderstorms down here. I'm sorry. So the invitation to imitate were imitating together using that Focus phrase, keeping that Focus Phrase in mind, they turn around and imitate on their own. So then they turn around and try it out on their own. And we celebrate that. And then we move into the apply where they go ahead and try it out in other areas. And we come back at the end for this conversation around editing. And our editing is still isn't about right or wrong, but it's about meaning and effect, and really thinking about, you know, when we don't put a period here, how does that affect the meaning? Or what effect does this have on the reader? So these conversations give way to editing to where students actually really edit their work. So often, our students think they're writing is perfect. There are no mistakes in my writing, and we hand them and editing checklist. And they check yes, all the way down, right? And when we look at their writing and there's nothing, they haven't edited, anything. But when we use these Focus phrases and we use this process and ending with that conversation well, and then they have a better understanding of what they really meant to do as editors, and they take more care, and they're more intentional with the editing that they do. So all of our lessons in Patterns of Power follow that process, and we have over seventy five lessons in Patterns of Power. And then we wrote Pattern of Power Plus, which were grade level specific. And that's where, like I was, Patterns of Power was Jeff Anderson with Whitney La Rocca. So my name was real tiny. Then with Patterns of Power Plus, I became an "And" so my name was the same size. And Jeff tells everyone I graduated from a preposition to a conjunction, and that grammar really does matter, right? And then, while Jeff and Travis were working on Patterns of Power for Middle School, I got to work, take the lead and become have my name first and work on Patterns of Wonder for emergent writers. So it just continues to grow. I guess I and I'm allowed to say it. Now we have Patterns of Power, Molly, for high school coming out. Yes! Nine through twelve and is in production right now. So it's supposed to be soon coming out. I don't, I can't tell you exactly when, but I know it's soon because it's been turned over to production. So...00:28:47 Molly RauhAnd to all of you that couldn't see me like mouth, jaw dropped, hands to face, like so excited.00:28:55 Whitney La RoccaYes, I know. I knew you would be excited. I couldn't wait to tell you that. So, yes, we're your pre-k through 12. We will be very soon with this process. And that's what's so awesome is the process is the same at every grade level. The difference is the layers of complexity that we add into it, right? And that's what makes it so powerful as well.00:29:17 Molly RauhWell and you can tell, you know, I'm, I teach high school, but I still know your work, love your work. You know, it's something that I've you know, obviously I go to CCIRA, and I take a lot of of different strategies from a lot of different grade levels and adapt them. But it's so nice when somebody has also done that work for me and I can go. Oh, I can do that so much better, like you guys are brilliant in ways that I'm not.00:29:40 Whitney La RoccaWell, when we encourage that to, we encourage you, you know, to start with the lessons we created. But once you have a sense of how this process goes, go into the books that you love and find sentences, you know that you love or invite your students to find sentences and in move, continue with the process on your own as well. So we don't believe in scripted teaching at all. And so we want this. That's why it's really a process. Yes, we have lessons to support the process. But that's the process that makes it so powerful. And I always, when I signed books, I always sign it with "The power is in the process," because that's really what it is. And you have to trust that process as well. When you think about transfer, right? I so agree with that.00:30:26 Molly RauhSo that gets me to think thinking about 00:30:29 Molly Rauhthat creative process, because you said, when you got started, you know, you had kind of looked at some of Jeff's work, and you created some lessons. And that, you know, just sort of over the years has snowballed into this fantastic, impressive, awesome career. I'm so like, I'm jealous of all you've accomplished, and that you got to graduate.00:30:49 Whitney La RoccaIt's so exciting. It's been really fun. My mom the other day actually said, you know he's really giving you this gradual release of responsibility, and that's exactly it. That's what it was. My mom's a former teachers as well - it's the language, right? She's retired now, but she's like a you know, he just he took you under his wing, and he slowly released you a little bit more to go out and do this work. And and that's what it is. And it's the same thing with the process as well. It's a gradual release.00:31:18 Molly RauhYeah. But thinking back to the beginning of your process as a learner in, in creating this, could you tell us a little bit about those first couple initial lessons, and then maybe what hasn't changed or evolved, or what you've learned, kind of as you've grown? TAnd you know, tell us about your learning process.00:31:36 Whitney La RoccaSure, my gosh, there's so much. So when I first created just the lessons on my own, where I was taking his work from Everyday Editing and Mechanically Inclined and just trying to think at, you know, at an elementary - lower elementary level, what this could look like, you know, we interpret things so differently. And so when I was doing the notice, I actually made three days of noticing where we were noticing three different texts all around the same skill. And and then the compare contrast, we use those, but still, you know, continue to compare contrast. And and the he came in, I remember when he came and did, you know, some PD around this work with us, and I had kind of an aha moment. And I was like, oh, my goodness, you know, my lessons I'm trying to do too much, much like this, you know, it's it doesn't need to be that much. I'm kind of overdoing that notice, you know that we need to get we need to get past that, and really into the work that the students are actually doing, because that's where the power is. And so I, that's kind of what got us started. He also talked about the focus phrase, which I, that was something new that wasn't in Everyday Editing. And so he was definitely kind of growing and doing some work around this as well. And so I took one of my first grade lessons, and I revised it after that PD. Yeah, I went back, and I revised it, and I added in a focus phrase, and I took out some of the other things and completely revised it to match more of what he shared in the PD when I had a better understanding rights. And and that's the power behind hearing the actual authors. Like you learn, you're like, oh, that's what that meant. And so I sent him the lesson, he and I had talked, you know, at the PD and everything. So he kind of knew my name at least because I was, he came to my school. So so I was kind of in charge of making sure he got lunch, right? The important things. And so I sent him a lesson and said, hey, you know, after this PD, I really have been thinking more about some of these lessons I've created. Can you take a look at this first grade lesson and give me feedback? I've added a focus phrase. I've kind of changed some things up. Let me know what you're thinking here. I'm because I really just wanted his feedback on this. You know, I'm I am I on the right track? And that lesson is actually what he emailed me back and said, I really want to talk to you, what's your number? And that's where that got into wow. You know, you and I are on the same page here. This is, you know, I can really take your lower elementary experience and mix it with mine, Upper Elementary and secondary experience. And we could do something here. So as I'm think of those early lessons in that early learning, that's for me. It was just going back and trying it again. It's that revision that we do as writers, right? And then when he and I sat down to actually work Kirk, you know, I was kind of nervous three getting honestly, I was like, oh, my gosh damn good, right lessons with him. And we sat side by side at his table. But Jeff is just so open and and wanting to learn as well. I mean, he's been doing this work for ever, but he's still open and wanting to learn more and wanting to learn from others. So he really was asking, you know, what do you think about this? And what lessons do you have? Maybe we can mix some of these together. And so I just kind of learned even more about how you just have to write. You just have to get it out. So, you know, don't don't worry about if it's right or wrong, just get it out, get it out there. And because then you can revise then that's definitely something I have learned. I will say, as that gradual release of responsibility as I took on Patterns of Wonder, really took the lead on that. I sat with a blank screen for a really long time, and I had a really hard -it was all in my brain, and the editor would call and say, "how we doing? Haven't seen anything yet." I'm like, it's all right here in my brain. It's percolating. And he's like, well, percolate that onto paper, please. And so once I got going, though, I was really able to continue that work. And as we, Jeff and I are kind of working on something else like I'm not sure if I can really say what else is coming. But there may be something else coming soon. And it's amazing how much easier it is now for me, right? I just sit on, and I just go to town on these lessons on we're working on around revision. So just a hint, and I'm able to I'm much more confident in what I'm doing now, and that gradual release of responsibility, adds confidence, right? I've had him when I've needed him. And as he let me go a little bit more, I grew with more and more confidence. And now I feel really strong about what I do. 00:36:21 Molly RauhI love that your own process connected to, you know, again, that writing process. And I also just love that you were bold enough to like, maybe like, I just need to be braver and be like, hey, here's this cool lesson I created based off from your work. What do you think? The thing like? The mentors? Because you gained this awesome mentor because you were just brave enough to send a lesson and say, hey, I could use some feedback.00:36:48 Whitney La RoccaBut really, that's all I'm working for. I never dreamed that this would happen like I, of course, it was in my dreams. But I never, when I sent that was like thinking it what happened? Right? I really was just looking for feedback. So when he said, I need to talk to you, I was like, uh oh, I thought it was going to be terrible like he didn't want to put it in writing, right? It's. So then, when I talk to him, he's like, you know, I really think we need to do some work together. And I was like, wait, what? Hold up, what? And that's when he went into, you know, well, it's going to be Jeff Anderson with Whitney La Rocca and made a point that my name was going to be very small. And I said, I didn't care just the fact that I would get to work with him and learn more from him. I really saw this as a way for me to learn more. And I mean, I have definitely learned more, way beyond what I had expected back then. And like, I think, it was 2014 or 15 or something, when all of this started between he and I. So.00:37:45 Molly RauhWell, I'm thinking, even just the feedback on the lesson, forget publishing. But just like, learning from someone like Jeff or any other, you know, educational- that's a theme we have on this podcast is educational heroes. And...00:37:58 Whitney La RoccaYes, I encourage everyone to ask for feedback. Don't be afraid to do that, whether it's from someone in your school or someone outside of your school, and it don't be afraid to just reach out and say, Hey, can I have some feedback on this? Because that's how we grow. And, you know, we are. We're as smart as the people in the room. Umm, right? And if we're not asking for feedback, if we're not seeking other opinions and and, you know, working towards this growth, we're not helping our children. Right? So It ultimately, it's about our students. And if we seek feedback, then we're also putting that good model out there as we encourage our students to do the same, 00:38:44 Molly RauhAbsolutely. And that, you know, I guess my brain is very much into like connecting to some of our old podcasts today. One of our recent ones was with our Early Career Network, liaison or whatever. we call her role, and we were talking a lot about just those conversations and the learning we can get from collaborating with some of the newer educators, because they've had, some of those...One, they've got some new learning that maybe we've missed out on. Two, they have a lot of of those techniques are fresh in their mind, you know, things that we know, but maybe we've forgotten to do as we get, you know, into sort of the daily patterns of our work. And so it can be so refreshing to sit down and collaborate with someone who's just sort of in a different space and place in teaching, because like it improves my practice so much even, just, you know, looking over lessons of some of my newer colleagues, or I all the time. I'm like, hey, come look at this. Tell me what you think and getting feedback. And I think that goes for any level, you know, whether it's reaching out to you, or reaching out to Jeff for reaching out to the teacher, down the hall? I think sometimes we forget how much we can get from just a fresh set of eyes from our awesome colleagues who have strengths that aren't our strengths like, I don't know, I'm a very collaborative kind of person.00:40:12 Whitney La RoccaI am too. And I just think too, you know, the you know, I've been in this for a while now. So my former students, I remember being a coach, and we were hiring my former sutdents. My like former third graders were now becoming teachers at my school, and I just reached, just learning from them. I learned from them when they were kids in my third grade class, but I also learned from them when they were my colleague. It's just all about learning from others. And I think that's important that we learn from our younger teachers. But we also take time to learn from our students that are in our class as well, because they can teach us a lot too.00:40:45 Molly RauhI love that I, you know, one of my favorite questions to ask my students is just "What are other teachers doing that, I could bring to my classroom to make it better. And a lot of times, they're like, "No, nothing, miss, you're great." But every once in a while, they have, they remember something cool that another teachers done it. And I'm like "score!"00:41:04 Whitney La RoccaYeah, I want to know more about that.00:41:07 Molly RauhYeah, I was talking to one of my and I can't remember what he said. But he came to me. We did this we, co taught a lesson. So we mixed our two classes together and co-taught this lesson the last two days. And he he came to me afterwards and he said, okay, I have this really great feedback from this kid, and I wanted to tell you about it so that if I forget, you'll at least remember, oh, it was about visuals to go with. It was this big sort of geography thing. And they were learning about Imperialization and the countries that they were sort of trying to imperialize and grab. It was just like names written on note cards. And this kid would be said, it would be so cool if we had like a picture visuals to go with it. So, you know, we had a little more sense of what we were grabbing, and he's like, that was such good feedback, because he's like, of course, we could do that like that makes a lot of sense. And you know, it's little things. And, you know, that doesn't quite connect with your work of literacy. But like our kids, they have so much to share an offer. And sometimes the ideas don't come to them, and that's okay. But every once in a while, oh man, they have awesome feedback.00:42:14 Whitney La RoccaBut when we open our our classrooms to their feedback into these conversations, we're showing them that we trust them, right? And we're opening the doors. And and with that comes higher levels of engagement as well. And the best way to learn they have to be engaged first before they can really learn and retain anything. So when we have the trust of our students in that way, and they're, they feel open enough to share some of their thinking around this. We just invite more engagement.00:42:40 Molly RauhAbsolutely. Jessica, do you have questions to get us back on track? Because I have definitely derailed us a little bit.00:42:47 Jessica RickertNo, no questions. I think this has been great. And I just think that Patterns of Power resource is what teachers need, because I think teachers are always, have always been overwhelmed. And so it's nice for somebody else to do like the legwork of the structure. And like you said, then go off and do it. But it's nice to have something that's not a script, but it's here's where you can start, and then take off from there. So I think, and that's like, I'm excited for Molly too, because I think sometimes High School doesn't have of the resources like that. So I think that's a great resource. And I love that it's a resource, not a script, not a program, because we still want teachers to think too. And like you said, use your own books, your favorite books, because that's authentic. I mean, if you're just grabbing a book that the resource told you, it's like God, this is the worst book ever, you know, then then then it loses its authenticity. So I love that. And I love that you ground everything and what's best for students and how students learn and how we learn. I mean, that's how we read and write and learn about different things as well.00:43:57 Whitney La RoccaWell and I do want to say, with this Patterns of Power for high school, the co-author on that is Holly Durham. So she is, she's down here in Texas as well. She is a high school coordinator, language arts coordinator at high school level. So she really knows her stuff when it comes to high school. And to be honest, I get kind of get a little intimidated talking to her, because here I have goodbye little primary world, and that she's like using these words, I don't even know what they mean. So she definitely knows her stuff. But she Travis and Jeff co-wrote that one. So it's exciting that our family also said, continues to grow as we add more resources. And when we're thinking about this resource, it is a resource, right? So it's not a program, it's not a professional books. So it really can be used with any model that you're using, whether you are using balanced literacy and reading and writing workshop, or you are using a program this really, because it's a process, it really can feed into anything, any kind of model that you're using for a teaching writing. You can replace those worksheets with this process very easily. I have a several districts that I am working with that we are, we are doing that. So it is it is doable, and the teachers are excited because it's so much more engaging than those worksheets.00:45:20 Molly RauhAnd I just want to emphasize, you know, I think processes are so empowering to both teachers and our students. When we learn processes, you know, they give us, kind of a strategy that we can apply regularly. And when we teach our students processes, they now have a tool that they can apply to different problems, that they run into themselves. And so I love teaching processes, and I love that you guys have created some awesome resources with Patterns of power and Patterns of Wonder. And, you know, the whole collection of resources for so many people at every different level. So I hope teachers listening, you know, budget a little money aside and grab themselves a great resource.00:46:04 Whitney La RoccaResource. Yes, thank you. Well, I will say too with the process, they you actually go through the entire writing process in a very short, non-threatening way with this Patterns of Power process too, you know, you're immersed in this literature, you're immersed in skill. You turn around and do some brainstorming before drafting something together, you turn around and draft it again on your own. You celebrate that. And often in that celebration, there's revision that's done to that right there. You realize, oh, I want to add this, and you doing some revision that apply often goes into a lot of revision into the writing that you're doing during your writing block of time and ending with the editing conversation moves over to editing. So you're really taking it through the writing process, but it's in such a short digestible chunk that it's very non-threatening to students, again, that that allows them to feel good and confident about that work they're doing before going into these long essays, right, or whatever it is that they're writing.00:47:06 Molly RauhWell. And I love that you. You emphasized that it is a short process, because I think sometimes teachers go oh, writing is such a process. It's so hard to get, and it feels it feels so natural and engaging and short and sweet. And, you know, it's kind of a very snappy kind of thing to work through these these processes. And when you said earlier that you were a little intimidated by, you know, some of the high school stuff in the vocabulary, let me just tell you, like the some of the best instructional practices that I have as a teacher I learned from lower elementary presenters that I've gone to see, like, truly some of the best. And, you know, you talk again about some of those processes. Linda Hoyt is where...00:47:55 Whitney La RoccaI love Linda Hoyt.00:47:55 Molly RauhYeah, I saw her early in my career at a CCIRA conference, and she she blew my mind, because it was very much like what you talked about, where it was like, okay, let's observe this sentence. Let's mimic it a little bit. And we did so much writing. So, you know, in such a short sweet amount of time. And I was like, I can. I was teaching Middle School at the time. And I was like, I can totally take this back to my kids and man. I had such fun experiences using the strategies. And I still like it's still in my classroom today. And, you know, if you've ever looked at her Non-fiction Writing, everything is like three steps. There's nothing more than three steps. And I feel like the work that you guys have done is very similar in that it really is short and sweet. And, you know, empowering, because it's so easy to just take and use. I think that's something teachers really love and want to just be able to like, go into something and be like, okay, I can apply this like I can use this tomorrow because it's like it makes that much sense.00:48:58 Whitney La RoccaAnd the students do that to. They're like, oh, I can do this one sentence. I can do that, right? I can do that. It's that confidence piece. So.00:49:08 Molly RauhAlright. So my final question, okay, it that I pretty much throw at everyone is about educational Heroes.So who are some of you? I know it's a hard one - who are some of yours. Maybe, you know, just a couple. People that have really impacted you in awesome ways as an educator.00:49:29 Whitney La RoccaOkay. So of course, Jeff. You know, I've talked about him this whole time. So I'm going to start with him, but I'm not going to say a lot because I've done that this entire webinar. I will say Lucy Calkins has completely changed my view on teaching writing. And she actually came into my writing education as an early, I was an early teacher at the time. I had been only teaching a couple years when I was introduced to her work, and I actually got to go to New York for an Institute. And that Institute I walked away, saying, this is what I need to be doing. This makes sense and just she is just such an. And I know she's keynoting at your [Conference]. I'm so excited, but she just is such a learner herself to that. She's constantly revising her thinking, and she's constantly researching and constantly getting out there into classrooms and schools and trying to see what is going on right here and now, but still grounded in what's best for kids and that engagement piece and keeping it authentic. What authentic reading and writing really is. So one of my very first books, professional books that I read front to back, like cover to cover and was Art of Teaching Writing and I, it's highlighted like crazy. It's still on my shelf now. But just reading that and then listening to her. And now, even when I teach, people, will say, you sound just like Lucy. And I'm like, well, she was like, she was my person that's who - I remember being at the institute on my birthday and I she was I was in her small group session. And and she had us writing, of course, she always has us writing, and she was going around and conferring. And she came up next to me. And she said, I want to talk to you about your writing -scoot over. This is so Lucy: just scoot over. I'll share your chair with you, and I was like, so I got to like touch butts with Lucy on my birthday. I mean how cool is that.One of my favorite memory. But anyway, I just I could listen to her all day. I she's just she just has so much to say, and she's so genuine in everything that she does and everything that she says. And she's thoughtful in how she speaks, and she speaks how she writes, right? So it definitely she's one of my heroes for sure. I also, you know, I could go on and on, but I am going to I know that we're short on time. So definitely Jeff. Definitely Lucy, but also my mom, my, like I said, she is a former teacher, former coach. Her name is Amy Daley, and I actually dedicated Patterns of Wonder to her. She was, as I was growing up, she she was a preschool director, and then she moved into being a kindergarten teacher. And then eventually a coach, and I just had learned, growing - as a child I learned so much from her. She, I remember the writing that we did together just as a child in the young authors, competitions, she was there to help me, and she never told me what to do. She constantly conferred with me, right? And made me think through everything that I was doing. And then I remember when I first started teaching, I learned so much from her. Just and that way, she's actually the one that got me thinking about Lucy Caulkins. She's the one that introduced me to that whole brilliance in my life, in my world. And and and we just every time that we talk, we still talk shop constantly. We just have so many of the same philosophies and views and feed off one another, even though she's fully retired now, but she's definitely an educational hero for me as well, and that there's so many more, but I'm just going to limit it to those three for now.00:53:16 Jessica RickertIt is so hard to limit, because we have you know, but I know that Molly and I are both envious of both of your experiences with Jeff and Lucy. That's pretty awesome. But I love that your mom has paved the way for you as well. That's pretty special. And I gotta tell you, I never thought I'd be excited about grammar instruction. And I am!00:53:37 Whitney La RoccaMe neither. I never thought I would either and and Jeff even says he never in a million years dreamed he would write a book on grammar, you know. And then like it becomes this empire, you know, later in his life so.00:53:50 Jessica RickertWell, and it's so needed, because it's not something that it's kind of the leftover thing that we don't really talk about. I mean, we talked about writing instruction, but grammars always an aside, but it's so important, and it does need to be integrated. So I love what you guys have done.00:54:06 Whitney La RoccaAnd when it is taught, it's so often taught in isolation and just doesn't make sense right, or it's, or it's a focus on correcting, rather than the the correctness that's already there. And so I'm glad that we have a resource that can support teachers to keep it authentic and also continued their practice of teaching writing in the genres as well.00:54:29 Jessica RickertAwesome. Well, we look forward to seeing you at CCIRA and Molly have something to say before we wrap up.00:54:37 Molly RauhNo, that's okay. I, you know me, I could talk all night.00:54:41 Jessica RickertYou got Molly jazzed too. You got a high school teacher jazzed about grammar instruction.00:54:47 Whitney La RoccaWell, that tends to be, usually High School teachers are very jazzed about grammar instruction.00:54:51 Molly RauhI was actually, okay, I'm gonna say what I was going to say. I was actually thinking, like, there's so many teachers that are passionate about a lot of things writing-wise. And grammar is not one of them. They don't feel as comfortable with that space. And so you guys have really empowered them with something that allows them to feel comfortable tackling grammar.00:55:13 Whitney La RoccaIt's okay to not know everything it's that's okay. That's okay. We support you in that. So yeah, it's great.00:55:22 Jessica RickertWell, we're very excited. And for all of our listeners, if you haven't signed up for Whitney's session, there's still time to get in, or you can change your session to go and see Whitney, because she will have an awesome couple of sessions. And we're so excited to see you in person.00:55:40 Whitney La RoccaThank you. And one of my sessions is following Lucy. So if I'm not there, when you first get there attendees, it's because I'm talking to Lucy, I'll be there soon. Now I'm just teasing, I'm gonna probably have to sneak out of Lucy early to get over to my session, be ready for everyone to come in. However, I'm following her. So I feel like woo look at me. I follow Lucy. I'm honored to come to CCIRA. I have heard so many good things about this conference for years now. So the fact that I am actually get to come and present at it. I'm just incredibly honored, and I can't wait to get to Denver, even though it'll be cold. I can't wait to get there so.00:56:18 Jessica RickertGreat. Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us tonight. Well, thank you. Thank you for having me. I've enjoyed it.00:56:25 Molly RauhThank you Whitney. Thanks for listening to CCIRA Literacy Conversations podcast. To find out more about CCIRA, go to CCIRA.org. On CCIRA.org, you can join as a member, or find great resources like our professional development blog, which posts every Tuesday and has variety of guest writers on a awesome selection of topics. CCCIRA is a professional organization of educators and community members dedicated to the promotion and advancement of literacy. We also have a Twitter account @ColoradoReading. You can find us on Instagram at CCIRA_ColoradoReading. Or you can find us on Facebook, where we also have a members only group that we're trying to build. And our Facebook account is CCIRA Colorado Reading. We'd love to hear more from you. And again, if you're looking for new content, please send any questions or things you'd be interested in seeing from CCIRA to CCIRAVideo@gmailcom. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
27 minutes | Jan 20, 2022
Pam Minard: Excitement for the 2022 In-Person Conference!
Pam Minard: Exciting Features of the 2022 Conference00:00:00 Molly RauhHello and welcome back to this CCIRAA Literacy Conversations podcast. I'm your host, Molly Rauh with my co-host...00:00:08 Jessica Rickert...Jessica Richert. Today's podcast features Pam Minard CCIRAs 2022 conference chair. We chatted a lot about the exciting opportunities, both learning and fun to get you rejuvenated. Join us on the journey to literacy and learning at the 2022 CCIRA conference, Feb 10, the 11th and 12th. All right, we have Pam Minard back on to talk about the conference. She had previously promoted the conference, but now we're moving the conference to from 2021 to 2022. So we're really excited to hear about some speakers and different things, because the conference is just around the corner. So Pam, tell us again about your thinking behind the theme of Journey.00:00:57 Pam MinardSure, my initial thinking was that journey that I see my students going through becoming literate in their lives, and how it's not just a quick journey. It can take a while. And then I thought about the journey in my own - journeys as a reader, as a teacher, as a bike rider. And just, you know, just takes time. When I first started mountain biking, I spent more time on the ground than I did on the seat of my bike, but I didn't give up, and that's what I want for my students. I want them to feel the challenge, but not give up. So that's kind of where my thinking was in 2019 when I chose the theme of Journey. Now, as we're moving into 2022 Journeys taken on a whole different meaning. And that is the Journey of covid and the postponement and the journey that we're all going through collectively across the world, not only in literate lives, but in our lives. So I could not, you know, I could not have picked a better conference theme that related to both education, personal lives and what's happening in the world than "journey." So we continue on like we always do.00:02:18 Molly RauhWell, I like the analogy that you mentioned with your biking mountain biking, and how you spent more time with your butt on the ground, then on the seat. And I feel like we're all feeling that as teachers right now, like the world has changed a little bit, and we're feeling a lot of hard days. But, you know...00:02:37 Pam MinardRight.00:02:37 Molly RauhWe get back on, and we keep writing. And so I really like that. I think that suits the world we're in right now, and the what you've dealt with trying to revise this conference now for, you know, first, to put it online. And then now again, to put it back in person, but I'm excited for you that we get to be in person and we get to have, you know, a real face-to-face conference with presenters. So my first question for you is, what are - I'm not, I'm not going to narrow you to 1 because that's just mean, three presenters and there's probably 50 to 100 that you're excited about, but three prisoners you're really excited to see at your conference this year.00:03:18 Pam MinardOkay, I did a lot of thinking about this this morning. And of course, while I was inviting presenters who has been act impactful in my life as a teacher, and I have to say, above all else, Ellin Oliver Keene. I would say, if you have not had the opportunity to sit in the room and listen to her speak, it's just a session that cannot be missed. I feel like every teacher has to experience Ellin Oliver Keene. Just to tell you a little bit about her. She's a local. She's from Colorado. She has been a staff developer, nonprofit director, adjunct professor. She's been with Denver's PEBC for about 16 years, the Public Education and Business Coalition. She works with schools in the United States and abroad. She has an emphasis on long-term school-based PD and strategic planning for literacy. That is a mouthful that might sound intimidating to listen to somebody talk about this. But every time I have heard her, it's just such common sense. And she's so easy to listen to and has so many great ideas. So on top of all of that, that she's, that she does interactive life, she's also written some books. She's been a co-author. I met her through a book 20 years ago, The Mosaic of Thought. It's been rewritten, not rewritten, but added to in the past 20 years. But I had no idea that that's who she was until I met her through CCIRA and then realized, oh my gosh, you made an impact on me 20 years ago. So that is my number one advice to conference attendees, whether you're a new teacher, middle of your career, end of your career: she is absolutely should be on your list if you haven't heard her. She speaking on Friday again, only one session, and it's from 915 to 10:45, it's session 308. That's my number one recommendation. Shall I keep going?00:05:24 Jessica RickertWell, let me pop in, because I have to emphasize what Pam said, like, I love people that can entertain and educate me, and especially when you're at a conference and you're going from session to session to session. And just like Pam said, like Ellen, is that they she has the research to back her, but she's funny, she's engaging. And yes, it's just things that you can take directly back into your classroom the next day. Always enjoyable and such a hit.00:05:54 Pam MinardYeah. So she's my number one recommendation. Number 2 and 3 are both in the world of writing. And a lot of you might not know, but we do survey our attendees, our board of directors, our local councils for, who do you want to see? So these two people came up with on those lists of who would you like us to invite to the conference? And they are Whitney La Rocca and Brian Kissel. They both really speak a lot to writing. Whitney is the author of Patterns of Power. I've heard great things about her. I've never attended one of her sessions. I plan on attending this year, but she says that her book offers practical classroom, ready advice to take into teaching the conventions of writing to the next level. I know a lot of us struggle with teaching writing, and I am always happy to have some practical strategies to put into my practice with writing. Nicely, she's got two sessions. She's a Thursday presenter. In the morning, she's going to focus on first grade through fifth grade. And then in the afternoon, she's going to focus on pre-k through first grade. So I really like that really narrowed down emphasis of this is what you can do with our first graders that are just learning to write, just wrapping their heads around those ideas of being a literate writing person, to the pre-k's that you're going to be interpreting pictures, that they're drawing and having more rich conversations with them than maybe production of writing. So that's one that I'm definitely going to attend. Again, she's a Thursday speaker. And then Brian is also a Thursday speaker, and he's going to talk again. I love this that they're both really there for the primary, primary students. So Brian's got a session that's K through 2. And then another one that's three through six. So he's going to go a little bit higher, but all about writing and having these conversations that we need to be having with kids about race, gender, ability, language, poverty. So really, I'm really curious to hear both of them. They came highly recommended to me. 00:08:15 Jessica RickertAnd Whitney's going to be on the podcast later in January too. Yeah. So we'll hear more from Whitney. I think Brian's going to write a blog to in January. So we'll get more information for both of them. So those are my two biggie's for writing on Thursday. And then I cannot leave out Angela Myers. I attended. I think it was the 2012 conference. When we had a huge snowstorm, one of our presenters called it snowmageddon in Denver and said, he had never seen a snowmobile riding down the middle of the highway, which was the case in Denver that weekend. But Angela came in as a pinch-hitter, and she was known at the time for a TED Talk that she gave called You Matter. And it was just so emotional. And so awesome to hear her talk about how we all need to matter. So she's been working on this mattering as a topic for several years now, and she's going to speak in a session later in the day on Thursday, called literacy, reimagined and just taking our literate lives, pre-technology into technology. And then her evening session on Thursday will be it's called Mattering is the Agenda. So please, I would encourage everybody to attend that it's from 4:30 to 6:00. You will probably walk out with wet eyes. She's just an amazing speaker, just makes you have that warm, fuzzy feeling inside when you leave her sessions.00:09:56 Molly RauhWell, and speaking of places, you get warm fuzzy feelings. I feel like one thing that is underutilized by new conference goers is General Sessions. Like some people just don't recognize, like that's there for everybody. You don't have to sign up for it, you just go and you enjoy the great speakers. And I feel like General Sessions, I always get, you know, they're the kinds of sessions that you're either, like laughing out loud. There have been ones where all up dancing around the room, there's probably some video from me, at a conference where I am for once being lively instead of a wallflower . There are, you know, sometimes they get you to cry. I've never teared up so much as I have at General Sessions. So who are some of our great General Session speakers that we get to look forward to?00:10:50 Pam MinardI'm glad you brought that up, because Lucy Caulkins is going to open our conference. So that should be amazing. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear Lucy again, I would highly recommend her. She's just a phenomenal speaker again. So, real. So common sense. So, you know, evolutionary, she changes her thinking when it's appropriate to change your thinking, and she shares it with everyone. So she's going to be great on Thursday morning. And then Georgia Heard is Friday morning. She's known a lot for her writing and her poetry. So, she'll be, you know, I don't know if you remember Heart Maps, but that came from Georgia Heard. So she'll be talking about engaging students with their heart in writing. So then we have Angela as the Thursday evening speaker. And I'm drawing a blank. Oh, Julia Torres will be Friday evening speaker. She's a librarian from Denver Public Schools; brings a great lens of diversity and teaching through texts that disrupt our normal thinking. So let's stop using The Grapes of Wrath and use some more current novel studies that will talk to the experience of people in the past 15-20 years instead of 40, 50, 60 years. And let's get rid of all those off and not get rid of them. That's quality work. But a lot of that work that I studied when I was a teenager was written by 40 year old men in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I can't really make those connections to those people in my life. So disrupting our thinking about texts that we share, and then luncheon speakers, we have Gordon Korman, who is amazing. He's a gifted writer. He's on, I think he's surpassed his hundredth book, or it's in publication.00:12:49 Molly RauhHe's about to. Yeah. So yeah, we got to interview him. So if you haven't listened to that podcast episode, jump back, hear a little about his upcoming books and his recent books.00:13:02 Pam MinardYeah, yeah, he will be very entertaining.00:13:05 Molly RauhHe's an fun and interesting guy.00:13:10 Pam MinardMhmm. We have a decline that's been doing some staff development in the Denver area. So really speaking to literacy and getting, really working within the schools. So if you are having her as you staff developer, it would be really cool to come to her luncheon and experience her in a different venue. And then Gary Brooks is coming back our friend from the south. He's sure to be an absolute, hilarious luncheon speaker. And then on Saturday, we have Colby Sharp along with John Schu, "Mr. Schu Reads", and Rhonda Jenkins, a librarian in Illinois. So they're banding together to speak to if you build that bookshelf, they will read those books. So, access to great books for all students in your classrooms.00:14:05 Jessica RickertAnd I know that there are some people out there right now that are thinking I can't come to the CCIRA conference, because I just can't get a sub, like there's just - we understand the sub shortage. So what a great opportunity to come for three hours on Saturday, we have a one-day only option. And those people are amazing. We interviewed Colby on the podcast. I had never heard him. And he was so awesome. Just, just again, a down to earth person, you know, people have seen Mr. Schu. So I think that the combination of those three people is going to be a great boost if you just need a little bit of PD and just take 3 hours on your Saturday for yourself to come and see them. 00:14:48 Molly RauhYeah. And I think, you know, it's important to note that like Colby is still in the classroom. So you get somebody who's got that like day-to-day there. He's living what we're living. And John Schu bring so much energy. So if you're tired and you need, you know, kind of juiced up, and you know something to get you through the rest of the school year, man, there's no one better to kind of absorb some energy from like, last time I saw him, he's literally running around the room, handing out books. And he's like, I need to get a book, and you like, he just has great energy. And so I know we all kind of face some teacher tired. And for me, this conference is just to get energized and get excited about bringing things back to my classroom. So yeah, even if you can't get a sub go for that Saturday to get some energy from some amazingly energetic and awesome educators and librarians. And you know, just great stuff.00:15:46 Pam MinardYeah, I can't. And this podcast without mentioning to incredible authors. That's a good thing. You didn't hold me to one, because it's not going to happen. But Avi, who's been around forever, has won many Newberry Awards, a lot of other awards for his writing. He's a local to Colorado. He lives in Steamboat and is so excited to come and speak during two sessions and sign books. You might be familiar with this book Papi. He's got a lot of just incredible great series, and now he's taking those books and turning them into graphic novels. So he's moving over to the, to the genre that our students are showing that they're really enjoying these days. And then the other is Alan Gratz. Oh my gosh, if you have not read Refugee yet, I would highly recommend it. I was just telling the person I was driving home from work about it. I had to send her a link to get the book on Amazon. She's actually a teacher from Spain and said, oh, I want to read it, but it has to be in Spanish for me to truly understand it. And sure enough, it's been translated. So since Refugee, though, he has authored another book that came out in 2021, that he was so excited to come to the conference and share about 9/11. And then he's still written another book, and it's about it's another refugee story. I can't remember the title. It's something like out from the darkness about, you know, not hiding anymore, because you're an immigrant. So just amazing stories. Refugee takes like four vignettes, and you hear a little bit about each story. And then at the end, they start getting woven together. It was amazing. 00:17:34 Speaker 1And it's like a middle school book, but it was incredible to read. And I gave it enough of a book talk in our 15-minute drive home that third grade teacher that I teach with just has to have it to read it. So so those two, I would highly recommend. And, you know, just everybody that's coming is such great quality. Pernille Ripp is, her sessions are filling up really fast. Yeah, that Cris Tovani another local that's coming. And Beth Skelton, if you've been in her ELL workshops. Oh my gosh. And if you haven't, and you need strategies for teaching vocabulary to your ELL students, she's the person to go to. So, yeah, I could just go on and on.00:18:16 Speaker 1And Beth is definitely a font of knowledge. That's another one if you're looking for a little preview. If you're a little hesitant to sign up for the conference, we have a podcast from her too. And like we get so much information from her. So just imagine, you know how much more you could get if you get to see her and like, be there for her presentation versus, you know, just a little snippets you get on our podcast. So yeah, great speakers so excited for them. And this I know this isn't as much your side of conference planning Pam. So Jess, if you want to pop in and share some things, there's lots of other opportunities at the conference as well. So there's presenters and speakers, but there's other little places to network. So, like last our last recording, we talked about the Early Career Network. So what are some other things that maybe are going on as part of the conference that people who haven't been there might need to be aware of? Or, you know, take opportunities to take advantage of?00:19:23 Jessica RickertI would say the exhibit hall is going to be different this year, and it's not just going to be in one big room, but it's going to be lining the hallways in the Westin. And if anybody has not been in the Westin Hotel it, it looks like a mountain lodge like it's so cool. So you feel like a little bit of a retreat anyway. And then we're also doing something different with, we're not having one big bookstore. We're going to have some smaller book stores. And so those will be throughout the exhibit hall. So, you can kind of connect with different vendors. And there's people selling like scarfs and reading programs and books and all different kinds of things. So that's kind of cool. Entertainment-wise, actually, this hotel is awesome because it's right next to a skating rink. And so if you want to do just like a team bonding event, you can go ice skating, and there's just ice skating sessions there. There's also a really nice nice restaurant and a bunch of restaurants around there. There's a Dave & Buster's. So this is more not the academic, but the fun, which I think is a I think is a big part of the conference is it's a time to go and learn, but also reconnect with either people you do work with or other people you don't work with so that social piece that it's important too. So lots of things within walking distance of the hotel, which are, which is awesome.00:20:53 Pam MinardYeah. And one other opportunity for some entertainment Stan Yan will be back drawing caricatures of teachers. So free of charge, I think he does put out a tip, jar, but it's kind of fun to see what you look like in character. 00:21:10 Molly RauhYes. And it, yeah, if you haven't gone, he does that. He's done that the last couple conferences, right? And yeah, his, even, even if you don't go get yourself done, because you're nervous like, go watch, he's awesome. Give him a tip because he works hard and he, you know, he does that just because he's a really awesome guy. So I love that you guys mentioned some of the features of the new location. So if you didn't quite catch on to that, the Westin is a new location for us. So trying something new, but we think it's going to be exciting to kind of get out of the, you know, like, I guess I'll call it the Deep City and, you know, get to a place where there's some views where we have a little bit better access to restaurants and things so that people can really maybe make a mini vacation out of it too, you know, again, going back to that theme of we're all a little tired. And this is a great way to get rejuvenated. I think some people say, oh, my gosh, it's a professional conference, like I just don't have the energy for that. I don't want to do that right now. But oh, man, like, make a vacation of it. Go have fun with some teachers. Go learn some things, go get excited, network with some people, make some new friends, invite them to dinner with you. You know, whatever fills your bucket like it's a it's a good time to be had by a whole lot of teachers.00:22:34 Pam MinardAnother great thing about this venue is no more buses, no offsite parking. The Westin has a ton of parking right around the hotel, and then their offsite parking is within walking distance of the hotel. So depending on the weather, you might have to wear your boots, but you won't have to be waiting for a bus and dealing with the bus situation. So we're really excited to to have that.00:23:04 Molly RauhYeah. So come join us for our inaugural Westin year to enjoy all our nice new perks.00:23:11 Jessica RickertAnd registration is still open. It'll still be open through January. But what a great opportunity we have a break coming up, and it doesn't take a lot of time to register. You can go to CCIRA.org to look through the sessions that are available. And we have had many people on this podcast. If you want to check them out, they give little teasers or see what they're about before you register. That would be a great way to spend some of your winter break after your relaxing. And we just hope that everybody signs up. We can, if six teachers from a school come then a principal comes for free. So we are just excited to have this in person conference and gather back together and generate some excitement within the the teaching field again. So any last words, Pam or Molly.00:24:11 Molly RauhDo you have the specific date for when registration closes? So people know, you know, for so are procrastinators know when they're out of luck for, you know, off site registration, pre-registration.00:24:25 Jessica RickertIt will probably be around January 30th, 31st. So we don't have an official one, but just plan on the 31st being the close date.00:24:35 Pam MinardYeah. And we do offer on-site registration. It's just a little bit more expensive than pre-registration. So but we won't turn you away. 00:24:51 Molly RauhYeah. So for the real procrastinators, just show up. Yeah. So any last thoughts Pam. Any other things you're excited about to mention?00:25:02 Pam MinardNo, I'm just excited that it's happening. I mean it's been a journey for sure. And we are 100% having an in-person conference. The presenters and speakers, speakers and authors that I've spoken to are so excited to be in person. They don't care if they have to wear a mask. They don't. You know, they feel comfortable. They've all had their vaccinations and their boosters and they're ready to share their knowledge again in person with teachers. They have truly missed these experiences.00:25:36 Jessica RickertWell, we hope to see you all at the 2022 CCIRA conference. Thanks for joining us. Pam.00:25:44 Pam MinardMy pleasure. Can't wait to see you in 2022.00:25:50 Molly RauhThanks for listening to CCIRA literacy conversations podcast to find out more about CCIRA go to CCIRA.org. On CCIRA.org, you can join as a member, or find great resources like our professional development blog, which posts every Tuesday and has a variety of guest writers on an awesome selection of topics CCCIRA is a professional organization of Educators and community members dedicated to the promotion and advancement of literacy. We also have a Twitter account @ColoradoReading. You can find us on Instagram @CCIRA_ColoradReading. Or you can find us on Facebook, where we also have a members only group that we're trying to build. And our Facebook account is CCIRA Colorado Reading. We'd love to hear more from you. And again, if you're looking for new content, please send any questions or things you'd be interested in seeing from CCIRA to CCIRAVideo@gmail.com. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
43 minutes | Jan 17, 2022
Krista Griffin: Early Career Teachers
Krista Griffin: CCIRA's Early Career Network00:00:00 Molly RauhHello and welcome back to this CCIRA Literacy Conversations, podcast. I'm your host Molly Rauh with my co-host...00:00:08 Jessica Rickert...Jessica Rickert. Today's podcast features, Krista Griffin, who's the co-chair of CCIRAs early career Network committee, the early career networks work centers around supporting pre-service teachers and teachers early in their career. Krista shares learning opportunities at the conference and how new teachers can add to their toolbox. Well, welcome Krista. Thank you so much for joining us. And we're excited to hear a little bit about the early career Network committee for CCIRA.. So can you just kind of dive in and start telling us about that?00:00:46 Krista GriffinSure, the early career network is a committee that is really focused on how we can support pre-service teachers and early career teachers as the name suggests. So we know that either there's there's a lot of support that that new teachers need pre-service and in-service. And we also know there's a void in that in that arena. So we really need to figure out, how can we? What can we do? And we're thinking about this from I'm at the university, the university standpoint, but from CCIRA, what can we do? Because we know that we've all benefited from um, the wisdom and help from others in our careers. And so we're just we just think about what can we do? How can we? How can we support students, pre-service teachers and in service in, in their desire to be stronger literacy teachers? So we have a focus on trying to help, trying to think about what can what we can do with the conference, but the CCIRA Conference. So we've done lots of different things. A lot of a lot of what we stress is networking and introducing them to principles and introducing them to other teachers and letting them hear that basically, they're not, they're not alone, they're not, you know, the some of the questions that they have and the imposter syndrome feelings that they might have, or ones that we've all felt. So that's that's something that we do at the conference level is host a luncheon, bring in people. We're trying to figure out how we can make this more than just a once-a-year conference thing and covid - we have some good plans going in and covid was like "Naw." So what we'd like to revisit our plans again and figure out what can you know, what is it, that our early career people need? And how can we? How can we support them? So we've investigated different social media platforms. You know, we thought if we had a Facebook page and we're like, no those are for old people. And then we, we're just trying to figure out what's you know, how can we? How can we keep us, how can we create this support network? Because right now it's pretty, you know, we meet, and we get a lot of momentum at the conference and we'd like to put that momentum to continue. I don't know if that answered your question, but that was a lot of information about what our goals and aspirations are.00:03:29 Molly RauhWell, and I'm also curious, Krista. How did you get into this role of helping to coordinate ECN?00:03:37 Krista GriffinYeah, you know, I ask myself that all but no, just just kidding. No, I some I have taught at the University level for for several years. And when I first got well, when I was an undergraduate, I had heard about CCIRA. And that was a, you know, quite a long time ago. And then as a master's student, I got a grant to come myself that paid for me to attend this event to buy supplies. And so I thought, wow, that you know, that's a really great thing as we pull as we pull people in. But then when I got to Metro where I currently teach the professor that with that was there was said that we could get these memberships and we could take students. And so what she did was she just gave out the memberships. And I said, wait, what if we went with them and what if we, you know, made it a thing. So at my University, I figured out how I could. My students could apply for student I'm travel grant, and we could get paid for. So, so then, for the last, I think it's been 10 years. I've just been collecting students who want to go helping them receive the grant and taking them. So it was a kind of a natural thing. So I would take them. And then friends who were running the early career Network in years past from UNC would talk to me about this. And then that's kind of, and then you know, the next thing I know I'm my name is on the thing. So anyway, it aligns with my passion, which is preparing pre-service, and also early career network teachers in it. But that's that's how it evolved was I was bringing them, and they're like, hey, you're bringing them anyway. Let's make you official.00:05:32 Molly RauhWell, and that, you know, makes me think. And this is actually something that I've brought up before. But teachers, if you're out there listening, and you have connections for awesome professors at different universities in Colorado or and nearby, who would do awesome work like Krrista's doing, we need you, because I think, you know what, what you do for your students would support so many new teachers in doing their best work. I didn't get started at the University level, but, you know, as a first year teacher does early career, is it the first three years that you guys support? Or just the very first year? First three?00:06:14 Krista GriffinI think it's one two, three years. Other people have said 125. I feel like we're all inclusive. If you are considering yourself, an early career person, and we would love to support you.00:06:24 Molly RauhYeah. So, like I got started my very first year, and, you know, you were talking about that networking, peace. And, you know, I had so many great connections, not just in my building, but in my district, and later on in nearby districts, because somebody pulled me in in the beginning. And, you know, I think all those people have allowed me to stay in this career, even when things get tough. So I, you know, I think that early career network is a beautiful thing to help those new teachers get started and really feel supported and be able to do this job, especially in what's become a pretty tough climate to teach in. So, you know, you talked about what you do with your students. So what are some of those fun things that you're working on that covid kind of messed up, that you would like to see happen, that maybe teachers around the state hearing this can say, hey, that's something I can do, even if they're not officially in a roll with CCIRA. But things they could do to help, kind of build, yeah, an unofficial early career network.00:07:38 Krista GriffinYeah, I think that some of the some of the ideas that we had talked about in, maybe the last three times that we had done these, our luncheons at CCIRA. We had talked about meeting in the summer. So having some kind of a summer get together. So and it, it doesn't have to be summer, and it doesn't have to be around a training. But whatever ideas was to bring in somebody, you know, to do some PD that's specific and, and and very, you know, just something that that early current teachers would really, really go to, because a lot of the professional development that are that we are required to go to may be necessary but it may not be our passion or what fills us and brings us joy or meets, you know, the very direct need that we have at the moment. So that's one of the things that we're thinking about is, how could we have? Because see CCIRA has so many great sessions for students to attend. It is students come away from that, and teachers just so invigorated. And so they, but they get all of it at one time, right? And? And there becomes an overload at some point. You're like, great. And so we thought, well, if we can do something at a different point, maybe, you know, maybe in a kind of a midpoint in Denver, maybe, or the other thing that we were thinking about was how we could get our councils more involved in in the early career network and maybe figure out how they can reach out, empowering council members to reach out to new teachers in their schools and districts. So maybe having some little campaign that is grass roots from schools. So that, and then once we build, you know, we don't want, I will build it, and they'll come type of thing we want, they'll come, and we'll build it because it should be based on the needs of, you know, what those teachers are feeling and needing. So those were some of the things things that are percolating that we hope to be able to to continue to support. And and to we always. This is true of students of any age teachers of any age. Everybody is motivated by different things and needs different things. And there's no one-size-fits-all in anything. So we can't assume that we know, you know what a specific groups needs are we want to know from from from all of them, what are they? But sometimes saying, what do you need is overwhelming? And we're like, "We don't know what we need besides wine and chocolate!" So coming up with some amount of choices like, you know, we know and. And and we also know that that's motivating right? Like research on motivation says, controlled choice is also motivating, and sometimes is even helpful when, when we're not sure what we need. So those are those are just things that we were considering. And the other thing that I was thinking about, when you were talking Molly, is that one thing that we know is if we can get people, especially students, or early career, we can get them to come to CCIRA once we can most likely get them to come back again. And so if it becomes a part of their professional development early, then it becomes something they can look forward to, and they can invite their friends to their, you know, at their schools. And then it becomes both both a learning and a social time of joy. So anyway, that was another thing I was thinking of when you were talking.00:11:23 Molly RauhNo, I agree with that, because they got me that very first year. I have only ever missed CCIRA once in my teaching career. One time. And I need it like I get to February, and I'm like, "Give it, to me!" It, you know, it gets me excited, and I'm always ready to come back and try new things. And, you know, even when I registered earlier this year, it was just like, oh, what do I need this year? What am I, you know, because switched to a new district and a new level, and there's plenty of things I'm struggling with. So it's like, you know, it's this place where I go, and I feel empowered to do the things that I need to do as a teacher. And I want every new teacher to feel that way.00:12:03 Krista GriffinYes.00:12:04 Jessica RickertWell, and I'm wondering, you know, a lot, if you're in a bigger district, you're getting a lot of professional development as a teacher. And then I know that there are different licensure requirements. So you're having that PD on top of that. So what would you say to these new teachers that are in their first couple of years? Like, why would you go to the CCIRA conference? Because you have all of this other PD that you're getting?00:12:33 Krista GriffinYa, I think, I think, you know, the why for anything, it's something that that's really important. I think the why is choice. At least it is for me, you know? I mean, there's professional development that we have to do that's part being a teacher, and that will never end. We will always have something that we were required to do by the district. And and sometimes that PD can be wonderful, but we don't get to choose most often. So what CCIRA provides is, is choice, and it's very tailored to what you need in the moment like, you know, this is what I need. The other thing that I was thinking about when you ask this question is professional development can be overwhelming. And I think what happens for many of us when we're in professional development is it makes us feel inadequate, right? We hear this, and somebody gets up there and talks about what an amazing thing they've done and how wonderful their classroom is. And we're thinking that is not what my classroom looks like at all, and that that can be intimidating. But but what I've experienced at CCIRA is authentic-ness and real, and and not just sharing, you know, the beautiful Pinterest version of their classrooms, but also the realness. And and I think that I think that that is really confidence, like it instills confidence and teachers, because the presenters are real. And they're also not there to sell you something, which is another thing that happens at conferences is you're like, okay, I get it, you want me to buy your book. And and so that you know it, that's a that's a thing, the tough one. And the other thing that I that I think is true for students at CCIRA, or for any teachers is that even if you're listening to something and you come away with one thing to try from this one, and it's one small thing. And often it's one small thing I can try on Monday, right? It's not this. This is how you're being evaluated, right? That's a different kind of PD, or this is you must pass to whatever. So it's so it gives us here's something to try on Monday from this session. It's low stakes, right? It's low stakes, it's it's empowered by choice. And then you also get a chance to talk about it with others. You know who maybe aren't in your District can you can be like, oh, it doesn't have to be this way. This isn't the only way to do it. You get those those opportunities that are very natural. And as, as you know, and as anyone listening, to this can tell, teachers really like to talk. And so being able to do that in response to non-threatening professional development that you have chosen either because you're really passionate about it, or because you're like, I am not good at this, or I am struggling with this concept. So you're choosing it for lots of different reasons. And there's just such a plethora of things to choose from. For me, that's why you would, you would, you know, be thrilled to attend CCIRA as an as a new educator. And you guys, the ECN has well, there's two sessions that are designated ECN. So I know that Maria and Katie Walther are hosting a session that anyone can attend, but really geared towards people in their first years. But then you guys are hosting another session. So do you guys, do you want to tell us a little bit about that? Sure, that what we're doing is we're doing we the luncheon, and I believe it's on Friday, and I believe it's number 256, -356! I was so close. I'm a literacy Professor. I have not a math person. And so so you do sign up for this. And the reason that we ask you to sign up for it is so that we can provide you with free food and prizes. If you haven't heard about our delightful presence at this, I think. But even if you're not sold by meeting principles or talking with like likewise peers or any of those things, we have free food and prizes. But one of the things that students have said that they really appreciate about our luncheon is it's casual, and it's, it's, it's we bring in different people to share their experiences like principals or teachers in their first few years, or anyone that we think, you know what, maybe have like three or four different if people, then we can break off into smaller groups, and it just gives us a chance to, to talk about what we've heard so far. That's one of the things that we do like, what have you heard that's exciting? And that that's a that's a fun thing. We get to, you know, just think through. Where do we want to head? That's another purpose for this, and to answer any questions that maybe they haven't felt comfortable asking in a bigger session, we're hoping that it's a really, you know, just a really comfortable one for kind of question and answer for anyone that's that there, that can provide that. So it's a it's informal, and it's super fun. That's that's my plug, or why you should come to get free food and prizes and knowledge.00:18:09 Molly RauhDo you know what the food is yet?00:18:11 Krista GriffinWe do not. But I can guarantee that you will be thrilled. I can't guarantee that. But you know, I, I believe you will be thrilled. I know you'll be thrilled with the prizes, because they are unique.00:18:26 Molly RauhOooh, mystery prizes! Wondering a little bit, you know, still still trying to think about, you know, some of those other opportunities where we can get our early career teachers, you know, I see CCIRA as something to empower them. So, you know, it's not. No, we don't want you to come just because, you know, we think everybody should have this. You know, we're not trying to sell a particular method, or, you know, any one tool or strategy like, like you said, like, there's, there's choices, there's, you know, different options. And that's something you want to continue to cultivate. Now, I lost where I was going with that, because my brain ran off in five different directions. But you know, just thinking about this as a tool to empower young teachers and or pre-service teachers. What are some struggles or things that you hear about from, you know, pre-service teachers or early career teachers that you are networking with, that you think the rest of us could support, and maybe, you know, come up with some opportunities we can create for them. Besides, you know, making sure that we also maybe give them some opportunities for some food and drink. I've definitely taken a little pre-service teacher in my building out for some Starbucks. Every once in a while, she and I also do walk and talks. So we have a common plan. She's not my student teacher, but we go for a walk and just I let her vent about stuff. And, you know, we brainstorm things and talk strategies and it's a great time. And, you know, I'm also modeling for her like some like, take a break like decompress, deal with things, and then go back to work and sit down. And, you know, she really appreciates that time. And it's kind of become this awesome time when she and I go for a walk and sometimes grab a Starbucks. But what are what are ways that you see that, you know, we can cultivate the spirit of what you want to do on a daily basis in our work.00:20:43 Krista GriffinWell, I think I was thinking two things. One thing I'm thinking of what you're doing is awesome. And how can we? How can we replicate that? How can I know yours happens probably organically, because you're like, oh, I would love to support you. And also, Starbucks is delicious and hooray for walks. And so all of those things. But what a wonderful thing that you're doing, you know, kind of informally, at first, probably to support our, our our students that need that. Or I keep saying students because, you know, I'm in in the University field. But what I really mean is all of our early career people. But if we could, if we could have more of those informal networks within schools. But what if we empowered all of our CCIRA members? What if we, what if we challenge them? Yes. What if we did a CCIRA challenge, you know, to reach out to those people that are in their schools, because it with it, they'll be student teachers. There's residents. There are field students, you know, that are in their schools. And if they could just I wonder if we even had something we can, I don't know. Anyway. Okay, now I'm going crazy. I love this idea.00:22:02 Krista GriffinI'm with. I'm with you too. I think. I think this is this is your own official introduction, be looking for a challenge because Krista and I are going to go push people behind the scenes and see if we can come up with like a prize or something. And you guys can like post, and there'll be a hashtag and, you know, support new teachers. Yes.00:22:21 Krista GriffinLove this. I love this challenge.00:22:23 Molly RauhWe're gonna find a way Krista. This is is unofficial, but we're going to make this official. So be paying attention CCIRA listeners. 00:22:31 Krista GriffinI love the support challenge. The other thing that I was thinking about when you were talking is what we want to do for teachers is provide them tools in their toolbox. And that's, and I think that's even a part of our little spiel for for our early career luncheon. It's just let's give you some tools in your toolbox. And and your question was, what are you, what are you hearing that the teachers are really needing? And I think sometimes we provide a ton of tools, and we don't tell them when or how to use those tools. And so I think maybe our we can do both. But I think maybe that's something that we need to be a little bit more explicit with with my own University students. So even if we think about it like comprehension strategies, right over like hey students, here's a great thing to work to do with, and then we don't tell them when to apply it. We just have them practice it. And and so I'm thinking that that kind of applies for all of us. So that was another thing that I was thinking is, is students don't or early career teachers don't seem to be short on resources, but there. But what they're needing is, can you show me the, how can we talk about, you know, how this works with students, and with these behaviors that are coming in and with this covid thing, where everybody is a little bit behind, and you know what this looks like, it seems to me that that's what I'm hearing a ton of in the University world because of covid. Our it's haven't been in field placements. So normally they will have been in three different classrooms before they get to residency, and they haven't had those opportunities. So when they get to residency, it's like their first time with students. And I think then we're going to start seeing just about lack of experience a little bit more. And it's not that it's so detrimental to students, but they're not as confident. And so we can help build their confidence in these different things. I think, you know, that's a big call for us as well.00:24:49 Molly RauhI love that. And just thinking too, like, I had again, the same student teacher. So part of the reason she and I have connected is a teacher in my building really believes that like we, if we're going to get good teachers in my district, because we don't have a high retention rate, we have to really get them hooked while their student teaching. And so she was working with him a previous semester, you know, just you know, one of those I never know what they're called, because I did a different sort of program, because I'd already had my undergraduate. And so I don't ever remember the numbers, or, you know, whatever you call the different pieces, but she was basically, you know, in there a couple days a week working with this teacher, and he wanted her back. And so he actually got her a part-time job in the building. And so she's working with us part-time while she's finishing her student teaching. And while she's finishing her program, and then she'll student teach in the spring. So she won't be able to work with us. But she so she's got this little small class that she teaches, and she put together this little lesson activity, and she was gonna do like a sorting thing. And so she and I just, you know, as we're looking at it, we had this conversation about, man there's a lot of stuff for them to sort. How could we build it slowly over time? And like, scaffold it? Because in our building, our kids have they have a low threshold for what they're what they think they're capable of doing. And so you really have to build up their confidence before. You can ask hard things of them, they can do them, but they I believe they can do them. So it's she. And I talked about how to do that. And she goes, oh, thank you for you know, she didn't even necessarily. She wasn't truly asking for those tips, but she was showing me what she was doing. And I said, hey, something to think about. And she was like awesome. But then the other thing that we do because and I think every teacher should do this. So, teachers, this is my advice to you don't have to listen to me, but you should. But I ask her for advice all the time. I'll be like, hey, I'm doing this because fresh eyes and, and you know, some of those tools and strategies and things that you know, I maybe haven't heard of in over a decade, are fresh in her mind. And so, you know, I ask her, and I ask another student teacher in our building all the time. Hey, you know, how would, how would you go about this? What are you thinking? And you know? They have great little tips and ideas. And, you know, it also just builds up again their confidence in what they can do. And so I think, you know, that's my advice to teachers like have those conversations, ask for their advice. Look at what they're doing. I had a student teacher two years ago now. And my greatest frustration working with him was that he didn't have things to show me so that we could have those conversations and could troubleshoot things. And that was really hard for me. And so also just knowing, you know, that's my advice, early career people do like, know who you're working with and what they need from you, because certainly, I now know to ask anybody who would like to work with me. Hey, just a heads up like you have to be somebody who's not planning your stuff in the middle of the night the night before, because it will drive me crazy. And then I will drive you crazy, because I struggle with that. And so, like knowing, knowing too just like being willing to ask, because I think any teacher you're working with, they're there, they know how they function, and they'll be willing to tell you how they function. And so just making sure that you're kind of reciprocating so that you can both support each other. Student teachers support us, but we're there to support you. And so you got to find that working relationship.00:28:47 Krista GriffinAnd finding your collaborators. I mean, there's nothing more exciting than collaborating with, with teachers. Like that, and it doesn't. It doesn't always naturally happen. Just because you're on the same team does not mean that you're, you know, that you're going to be natural collaborators, but hopefully you can find the people that, that you, that you connect with, and that, you know, you mentioned, don't you know if you're planning at 3 am the night before, that's not going to fit my, you know, how I do that. So finding the people whose timelines are similar and and who challenge you right who are like, okay, but why are you doing that the same way it's one of the most beautiful things about teaching is the collaboration and the fact that we are just glorified thieves where we just steal everybody's great ideas. And and then you get to make them your own and talk about them. And, you know, sharing those, you know, those experiences with early career people. And because we talked a lot about what isn't great sometimes about teaching? Right now, it's a hard time to be a teacher. But there's there's also still such pockets and moments of pure 00:30:08 Krista Griffinjoy in in that collaboration. And and in your example, just one small thing, like, how could get the let's stop to scaffold for a minute? And then that changes everything, and, and that somebody could say something to your like, oh, that, yeah, it's now I know where I'm going. We don't like operating, you know, as little islands, and we don't have to. And, and hopefully, that's part of early current network is that we're breaking up these little islands, and we're creating one big happy Island where we apparently you don't come up with are our best tips for each other and and and help problem solve any collaborative nature. 00:30:52 Molly RauhAbsolutely. And your person doesn't have to be like, obviously whoever you're working with. You got to work with them, right? That doesn't have to be your person in the building. Like I had a student teacher. She was phenomenal. I loved her, but I wasn't her person. It was the English teacher down the hall, like they clicked in a way she and I were never going to click, and she's probably my all-time favorite student teacher that I've ever had like she was just that good. But I wasn't her people. We could talk about great things. But you know, when she needed somebody to talk to, she had somebody else. And so really knowing that too, because I think sometimes and it works for some people like, but if it's not working, don't feel stuck just with that person, your student teaching with. Make some of those other connections have some other people to support you like when I was student teaching, and it was a long time ago, but there's still pieces of it that are very fresh in my mind. I loved the guy that I student taught with. He had he was a licensed special ed teacher. So he got to bring that into the secondary content that I teach. And so I learned amazing things from him. But when I needed to go decompress, I went and hung out with the, what are they, consumers, family consumer science teachers in the lounge like that we had like, you know, it was a high school. So, you know, there was like this little lounge. There were different ones all over the building. But the one I hung out with was with the family, consumer science teachers. And I think there were a couple other teachers in there, but, you know, completely different people, than I taught with, and it was really nice to just go get to be somewhere else. So it's okay. And I think, you know, you learn things, and you hear strategies and ideas from talking to people who aren't in your department or your content, or, you know, your grade level, or whatever it might be. And so seeking out a diverse collection of people to network in whatever building you're in. I highly highly recommend that to anyone. And I still do that, even in the building that I'm in. So, again, new in my building, new in my district. I have become buddies with the French teacher. I definitely don't even speak French. I have some math teacher friends, some language arts teacher friends. And so, you know, I go some different places to get my support. And, you know, I have my shiny, actually, all all my all, my close friends that take me for walks. We laugh about that. They say, I need to be walked a couple times a day -they're all early career teachers. And so those are those are kind of my people in the building. So I have a she's a second-year social studies teacher that I plan with a ton. And then this pre-service teacher that we go, and we brainstorm things and, you know, look over plans. So you know, find your people and get excited because I get excited, just talking to people about what we're doing and, you know, letting them help me troubleshoot my, and me, helping them troubleshoot like great things come out of it. I like to network.00:33:57 Jessica Rickert And I think you guys have highlighted something where I think it's crucial for everybody to know when you're entering the teaching profession. Nobody expects you to be the expert. And I think teachers honor you more and respect you more, if you say, oh, I don't know where I'm willing to learn. I want to learn here's my idea, but the best teachers I've ever worked with are always learning and wanting to get better. They were never the I know everything. I'm right. And this is how I've always done it. So I think it's that. Collaboration piece, but it willing to learn and know that you don't know everything.00:34:36 Molly RauhYa, I think, I think actually, one of the most exciting things about being a teacher is it's never going to get stagnant. It's never. And you know, like, I don't know what might be a stagnant, but something like accounting seems to me like it. You know it would you just, it's always the same. Here is the great news. And you know, so the frustrating news about teaching is it's never the same. So so it is I couldn't, but my job was to continuously learn. And I still can't believe that like my job is to read and write and learn about teaching like that is so amazing. And, and in some ways, early career, you know, it's okay. You know, there's kind of a it's okay, because you're still learning to ask all these questions, but it is also inspiring for people who have been in education for lots of years to remember it's okay, to ask questions, right? And so, so the early career people bring in this this whole new fresh set of eyes on what we've always done, or, you know, whatever that might look like. And I think that that is just another piece that that just makes the profession so fun. Is it's, it's it's always going to be different. And what works so great. Yesterday is not going to work so great today. And what was a disaster today could be the best thing I've ever done tomorrow. And you never know. And that's why all of the tools that we need, you know, having so many different tools to pull out is so key in our profession. And so we can help start building that toolbox early through early career and through CCIRA, and in our, in our University classrooms and in our, in our schools. Then we're empowering our friends who who need all the need, all those tools, because, and we all need them all. But if we've been doing it awhile or tool boxes are a little, we have more to choose from. So we're just trying to help build that up. 00:36:46 Molly RauhSo, thinking I love that you're trying to help build that up. And yeah, CCIRA is definitely place to do it. So thinking about those two people who are kind of my support system this year and who are helping, keep me inspired and excited to do the work being people who could be part of the ECN. Who in your career inspires you or is a hero for you. Maybe in the work that you're doing, 00:37:24 Krista GriffinI both love and despise this question. I bet everyone else, I just find it because I feel like all teachers are heroes. But and, and, and, you know, we even named a conference about that. And I even I don't know if you go. This is I was thinking, this was a video. I have a giant chicken behind me, and he has a cape on, and he is a superhero. He's our superhero chicken that was in my classroom, but so I do believe that that that I'm inspired by people who are everyday going into the classroom and giving their best for students. So that is a blanket, kind of a really vague statement that didn't answer your question. But but it is too. I can't stress enough how impressed I am with teachers who are willing to just keep going and give it their best, even in hard circumstances like we've seen. So blanket statement, everybody. More to the point of your question, who inspires has me the most I think, I had thought of somebody earlier and then I switched it. And now I just feel like I need to go with my blanket statement. I think I'm going to go old school and a little basic. But the person that inspired me to be a teacher, and I don't mean to tell you how old I am. But, you know, this was a good 45 years ago, when I was in kindergarten, so you all do the math, and I'm just not even embarrassed anymore. But this I had this teacher. I had that the delight of having her in kindergarten. And in second grade. So I had her twice, which, and she just embodied everything that I think is important about teaching. She she cared for us so much so deeply, but she challenged us like I remember, I learned to read, in preschool. It was it was easy for me. And so I thought, oh, sweet, you know, all these clowns are learning how to read I'm going to go jack around over here, and but probably I didn't use that language because, you know, I was five, but she, she was like, did not just allow that to happen. She she was like, oh, you're reading at this level, you know, five-year-old. Let's challenge you more, and because she cared about my learning just as much as she cared about the, you know, the the learning of people in the class who were eating crayons and paste and didn't know one letter from another, like she cared equally about pushing us all. And that's not to say, I didn't eat crayons and paste, let's be honest, but she was someone who just cared so much. And and anyway, that's I could go on for a hundred years. What I can tell you is that she was at a wedding, and I grew up in California, and I'd flown back from this wedding, when right after I had graduated from college, and I was able to tell her, hey, you inspired me. And this is why. And she got little tears in her eyes. And I was able to tell her she was my hero. So anyway, but that's that's to you, Mrs. unintelligible.00:41:08 Jessica RickertThat's awesome. I love that story. And I'm sure she loved that moment to well, thank you so much. Krista for joining us. And we're looking forward to all these new opportunities that the ECN is providing and make sure listeners. If you are in your early career to sign up for session 356 and get some free delicious lunch.00:41:33 Krista GriffinYes and prizes. And and you can have this, you can help forge what this is going to look like. So so your voice is important as well as you know, just we want to hear from you. We want to support you the end.00:41:52 Molly RauhThanks for listening to CCIRA Literacy Conversations podcast to find out more about CCIRA go to CCIRA.org. On CCIRA.org you can join as a member, or find great resources like our professional development blog, which posts every Tuesday and has a variety of guest writers on an awesome selection of topics. CCIRA is a professional organization of educators and community members dedicated to the promotion and advancement of literacy. We also have a Twitter account @ColoradoReading. You can find us on Instagram at CCIRA_ColoradoReading. Or you can find us on Facebook, where we also have a members only group that we're trying to build. And our Facebook account is CCIRA Colorado Reading. We'd love to hear more from you. And again, if you're looking for new content, please send any questions or things you'd be interested in seeing from CCIRA to CCIRAVideo@gmailcom. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
28 minutes | Jan 9, 2022
Melanie Conklin: Counting Thyme and an author's process
00:00:00 Molly RauhHello and welcome back to this CCIA Literacy Conversations podcast. I'm your host Molly Rauh with my co-host...00:00:08 Jessica Rickert...Jessica Rickert. Today's podcast features, Melanie Conklin, Melanie's work centers around writing middle grade novels. Melanie shares about her writing process, inspiration for her stories, and how Nicholas Sparks helped her get started in the publishing world. We are here with Melanie Conklin. Thank you, Melanie, for joining us on our our podcast. Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your background?00:00:36 Melanie ConklinSure thing. Hi, I'm Melanie. I'm very excited to come and visit Denver in the beginning of 2022. Let's all take a moment to acknowledge how ridiculous it is that it's almost 2022. But my background was in not writing at all. I actually went to design school and studied to be a product designer. Most people don't know what that is. But basically, if you've ever been in Target or Walmart, all that stuff on the shelves that's what a product designer works on. We decide what something looks like and how it works; these kind of consumer products that you have in your home. So if you've ever seen like a giant cupcake birthday cake, it's like a giant cake, and it comes out of a pan. I designed that pan. So you probably have stuff in your house that I designed and worked on. That's a fun talking point. But so I was I was a designer for about 10 years. I quit to stay home with my kids while they were little, and I still liked them. And and I got bored during that time, started writing. And, and five years later, I was an author. So that's how I got here.00:01:41 Molly RauhSo I feel like they're have to be more steps from going from writer to authors. Or are there some stories or some pieces there of how you went from? Like I'm writing with my time to I have something published?00:01:55 Melanie ConklinSure. You know, it's interesting because I've been in publishing for a few years now, and I've met a lot of writers, and a lot of them have very circuitous unexpected paths to becoming authors. For me, I just think I have always had a love of the creative process. So when I had this like energy, one day, I woke up and thought, Oh, I have this idea for the story. Well, if I was writing that, I'd started this way. And so at nap time, I was like, well, why don't I just write that down? Like I have Microsoft Word like I can do that for free and product design. You have to bet I have about a million dollars to like, make a product. But for a book, all you have to have is somewhere to write, you know, even on paper. So I started writing, and I told my husband, you know, I think I'm writing a book, and he was like, of course, you are. So just let me know when it's done. And then I then I tried to read the whole internet, you know, to learn how to be a writer. I finished that first draft, and it was really bad. It did all the things that you're not supposed to do. So the protagonist was like 14 which is the dead space in between middle grade and YA. And she woke up from a dream on the first page and looked in the mirror immediately, which all three of those things are bad. Like none of that is good. And so once I started learning what I needed to do, I explored more, discovered that my voice for middle grade was something that really resonated with me. And "Counting Thyme" was my first book that was published was the third book that I wrote. And when I wrote that one in my critique, partners are reading it. They were like, you know, this is something like this. This reads like a real book. What's funny is it really didn't. There was still a lot of work that needed to be done. But at that point, I entered into the arena of trying to find an agent. And, you know, most people are always like. So how did you get your book published? Like, did you just send it to the publisher, or whatever? What happens is, an author works with an agent who's like your representative, who then takes your book to a publisher and convinces an editor at that publisher to buy it. And then you get paid, and the agent gets a chunk of what you get paid. So it's the first big decision you have to make when you're entering publishing is what agent are you going to work with? And so I had a few different agents that were interested in me, which was great, very fortunate. And my agent that I ended up working with at that time, he was didn't have a ton of experience yet with his own clients. But he said, you know, one of our I want to have one of our agency clients call. You can answer questions. And I was like, okay, that sounds good. So he told me what time I was going to get a call, but he didn't tell me who was calling. So my phone rings and I pick it up. And on the other end of the line, the guy says, "Hi. This is Nicholas Sparks, isn't that wild?" And I went, "What?" and he goes, "This is Nicholas Sparks, you know, the author, you know, I you, you're looking to work with one of my agents." And I said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." So I was totally my brain emptied of all thoughts. Like, what am I supposed to say to Nicholas Sparks? Right? Well, he turned out to be super helpful. You know, has a ton of experience could answer any question I had. And of course, had some real verbal gems that I was just like, wow, I can't believe I just heard him say that to me on the phone. So I did end up signing with that agent. We don't work together anymore now, for totally other reasons. But we had a great time working together for a few years. And I will never forget having Nicholas Sparks call me from from the road to talk to me about publishing.00:05:40 Jessica RickertThat is an amazing story. I would have probably freaked out too, and not been able to talk about anything, coherently. So with your first book, it centers around cancer, right?00:05:54 Melanie ConklinYeah.00:05:55 Jessica RickertSo, tell us about how did that play? Like, was there a personal experience that you felt the need to write this book around that?00:06:07 Melanie ConklinSure. So my my debut novel was for middle grade readers, and it's called "Counting Thyme." But time is spelled with an "H"- "Y" like the herb. And it's about a girl named Thyme who moves across the country for her little brother's cancer treatment. And it's sort of about that conflict that you have if you're a sibling where you often want things for yourself. But you have to compromise a lot, because there are other children who need things in your family as well. Which I have a little sister. So there's a lot of fodder for me about that topic. I was gravitated towards writing about pediatric cancer and specifically, neuroblastoma, because a few years prior to writing this, when I lived in Brooklyn, one of our neighbors' children was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. And this was when blogs had just started. And so everybody was like, wow, you can read it. You can read about each other's like daily lives like, and they can just post updates. And everyone in our neighborhood followed their blog and organized meal train and raised funds when they needed it for different things. And I became pretty intimately familiar with how difficult the treatment is for a lot of pediatric cancers, specifically this one. And I felt like it was just a really, really tough position for parents to be in that you're pursuing a treatment that you know is painful and difficult for your child. But it's the best chance they have. It's the best chance science can give them to outlive the disease. That's what I wanted to write about in that book. And I think it was the first middle grade that was had neuroblastoma knit, pretty sure, but I was personally familiar with it. Then I started working with a group called Cookies for Kids Cancer that raises funds to support research in that arena and part of what I, my proceeds from "Counting Thyme," went to supporting their research.00:08:02 Jessica RickertAnd you have some crazy statistics about childhood cancer on your website, which, like, shocked me. I didn't know that it would - isn't it the greatest killer of kids? Like that's how kids die the most deaths are attributed to cancer.00:08:23 Melanie ConklinYeah, you would. You would think it might be something else. But actually, pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death in childre. A lot of times, because it's not discovered until it's quite late. A lot of times you don't have the signs that you have with adult bodies. And so, and things are progressing quickly, because they have rapidly dividing cells, you know, because they are growing. So that's what neuroblastoma in particular is cancer of the nervous system. So it can appear anywhere that you have nerves, which means it can be all over your whole body, not only in your brain and your spine. So that can make it really hard to treat. And and that's what was kind of astonishing to me when I got to know the statistics through cookies for kids cancer was that there was so little money being spent on on cures for for children or even treatment, and that it's very difficult to even develop treatments ethically, because you don't want to do a study where you're giving placebo to children, you know, in order -so most of these treatments, including the one that's depicted in "Counting Thyme," which is an antibody treatment. They remain in clinical trial status permanently, because in order to get approval, they have to do a blind study, and they would have to knowingly let children suffer without getting the treatment. And that's just a real conflict of ethics. So it's very complicated trying to develop new treatments for pediatric cancer. And that's why supporting it is really important because they don't have the same kind of funding draw that say breast cancer awareness has. However, they have some of the best results. When I first started and learned about neuroblastoma, they're from that time to when "Counting Thyme" was published Cookies for Kids Cancer funded seven dozen clinical trials, and they actually increased the rate of survival among children in that like five year span. And so when you think about one organization doing that work, that's what they got done. What can we do if, if more people contribute to that? So it's definitely a topic that I'm passionate about having lived through witnessing my neighbor, go through it.00:10:42 Molly RauhChanging gears a little bit. So obviously you tried to read the internet. And you have also, you know, had this experience with your neighbor where you got inspired, and you explored that. So, you know, there's there's this great story of where your idea came from. But what is your writing process look like, you know, from idea to words on page? Because, you know, you said you were writing a book, and your husband was like, of course, you are. Like, so obviously you kind of sit around and write anyways. So what does writing look like for you as an individual?00:11:18 Melanie ConklinWell, for me, writing is - it's fun because I've been figuring out that process. I'm glad you're asking me now and not five years ago, because five years ago, I'd be like, well, I'm trying this. It's not going well, I'm trying that, maybe I'll try this next. It definitely takes a while to discover your own process. Even even being someone who came from a creative background, I had to figure out what worked for me with writing. And now the process is really what I love about it. It's very chaotic early on when I first have an idea for a novel I've learned to just kind of let the different parts of the idea come to me and whatever order they're going to come and not be judgmental about it. I just let myself write notes. I write them in a notebook, and then I write them on my phone. I use notepad on my phone. And so a lot of times, right before I go to bed at night, I'm tapping out some stuff on my phone so that then my brain will go to sleep. But I just kind of let all these little pieces is of the story kind of build up. And I get to a certain point where I've kind of like built this momentum, and this little mountain of a foundation. And then I'm ready to start actually trying to write the book. So when I write a first draft, I don't worry about how bad it is, because I'm never going to show it to anybody. I don't even show my first draft to my agent or editor. Nobody gets to see it. So I call it a zero draft, as I feel like that's less pressure like it's not even number one. I just I'm just just just trying it out. So I write a draft, and then I take a break from it, and then I go back and look at what do I actually have here. And I outline it. And that is when I actually look at it and go, how do I need to make this into a good story? Like where do I need to make a good midpoint? And what do I need to be the climax? I don't worry about any of that very much before I start writing that for me is revision. So when I'm in that phase, I have, you know, those tri-fold boards for like science fairs. So I have one of those in my office, and that's how I work. So I use note cards and Post-it notes, and I just pin them all over that board. And the one panel is the First Act. The middle panel is a second act. And the last panel is the third act, and I just put it all up in order and then rewrite it again. So typically for me, I'm rewriting a lot, and I have a lot of visual mess around me, sketches, Post-it notes, just this accumulation of like, thought that then I basically kind of organized. Then it turns into a book. So that's what I've discovered. Works for me. And I love seeing other writers processes. It's so cool.00:13:53 Jessica RickertDo you talk to other writers about their process and tweak your process based on that, or have you come to? This is really what works for you. And so continue with that, you know, writers where we generally like, kind of like craft and are sort of nerds about the writing process, because you're spending a lot of time doing it. So it would be hard to keep doing it if you didn't have a real passion for it. So yes, totally every time I share, a picture of something in my office of, oh, this is how I'm organizing. Like right now, I'm doing NanoWriMo, which some people may have heard of. It's the national novel writing month happens in November. And it's like a group challenge where everybody tries to write 50000 words for the month, and you're kind of cheering each other on, and you're getting one of those zero drafts done. I'm not drafting right now, though. I actually had a bunch of other stuff I needed to do. So I decided to make a list where I just made a box for each and everything I needed to do, like I need to revise 200 pages. And I broke that up into 20 boxes of 10 pages each. And I just made this whole grid of boxes. And I said, guys, this is what I'm doing for NanoWriMo. I'm checking off two boxes a day, and some of my other friends then sent theirs on Twitter saying, yeah, I'm going to do this to I'm going to organize it like that. So, writers generally really love seeing those visual parts of the process. And I've absolutely picked up some things from other people. One of my good writing friends, Tracey Baptiste, who has a new book just came out "African Icons." She does Post-it notes on the wall too, and we're always comparing and sending things back, and I'll be like, wait a second. Is that color coding? What are you coding there? And how are you color coding it? Like, I need to know your secrets. 00:15:42 Molly RauhWell and that reminds me, you know, this is more of a NanoWriMo plug, but some of them, I don't know if you've ever used some of their like prewriting stuff before the actual, you know, month begins. But some of those resources are phenomenal writing resources like there's some character development stuff that I plugged through one time. And you know, yeah, it's like there's so many good resources. And I'm sure those came from awesome authors like yourselves who were sharing process and helping develop writers. And you know, it's a cool place to look. So as teachers like, they should go check that out because man, their total stuff in there for kids to work on ideas.00:16:24 Melanie ConklinAnd and honestly, a lot of - this is the kind of goes back and forth. And I have seen a lot of things that I have learned from from from educators, because you guys take this kind of personal chaotic process and chunk it up and organize it so that you can teach it; ladder someone through that process, right? Can you tell my sister is a teacher? Now, an assistant principal like I got the lingo. But anyway. And so I have often seen something like, I remember one time there was one of my educator friends had the different ways of the different stages of revision in scale. So one is a carrot. And one is adding a spider leg. And one is adding a flap. And one is a blank piece of paper. And the visualization of that I was like, oh, my gosh, that is exactly what I do like trying to communicate that to student. I learned things from what I see educators sharing. And so there's definitely this kind of sharing that goes back and forth. I like prewriting. I love to linger there. I think that you often see people in movies sitting down and clackety-clack. They're just going at it at a blank page. And I know some people might do that, and that might be wonderful for them. But the vast majority of people I know they do some kind of collection phase before they do prewriting, they do worksheets. They have a notebook, or they just write like Erin Entrada Kelly whose friend of she writes by hand. She's got amazing handwriting. And also you have to check out. But like she writes all this stuff by hand and kind of lets it build up also. And I think that's really important. And we often don't give ourselves credit for it. But that collecting, if you're making mood boards, if you're making notes, if you're drawing your characters, like all of that is writing. So you got to give yourself credit for that too. And so, yes, I love those kind of prewriting resources. They're great as well.00:18:19 Molly RauhAnd thinking of some of that idea collection like, what is your process for gathering and collecting ideas ahead of time, like we talked to one author who she observes, and she journals a lot. And then she uses those journals to develop her writing. So what is kind of your idea gathering method?00:18:38 Melanie ConklinYou know, you know, you know that feeling that you have when your browser crashes and you lose like 357 tabs that you had open. That's my process of collecting is those 357 tab. Basically, I've kind of learned that, you know, what I'm interested in in my subconscious is not always going to come to me in a neat and organized package. It's not going to be a linear idea. And so I've kind of learned to embrace my curiosities and whatever I am curious about. And I want to learn about this to let myself learn about it, because there is a reason that I am interested in it. And often it's like there's these two neurons in my brain that are just trying to get together to make spark. And it's like if you fight where your natural interests are, and try to force yourself to do it in other ways, that connection doesn't happen. But I have found that if I just kind of embrace it and follow those things that I'm interested in and let myself kind of geek out about odd subjects, sometimes that that's where those connections come from. Sometimes it takes years before I know what I am actually writing about in a story I'm actually going to be I'm starting to draft my fourth middle grade novel in December. And so I'm in that notebook phase with that project, and I've been collecting things for that project for about four years now. And that's literally just been a process of when I have a tab up. And I take a screen grab. Recognizing this thought has something to do with that project, and I just dump it in a folder. And then I do the same thing in my notebook. I noticed something I've carried out. I tape it into the notebook I I am very like scrapbook-y. And so I collect all those little pieces. And then slowly, it's like the idea matures in my brain and actually becomes a story. And that's it's exciting. Also, terrifying when you sit down, to try to translate all those interests and a lot of ways. It's almost like you're doing self-therapy. You're like, what am I? What is my problem? What is the problem I'm writing about here, and once you figure that out, then you kind of know where that heart is for your character, because they have that problem. You know, our characters are all kind of a reflection of ourselves. So I try to tell people not to be too rigid or too structured when you're trying to discover things that it's fun. Just let yourself play and enjoy, like learning about different things. You never know where that's going to go. It could be a picture book. It could be a novel. It could be, you know, some amazing resource that you make that you share with other Educators. But definitely keep the tabs up. It's okay. It's okay to have your tabs. You can bookmark them to.00:21:27 Molly RauhSo in that vein of letting things go where they go, is there is there a time sometimes when you travel somewhere with your writing and with your book where you're just like, yeah, that tab does need closed. And so does that one like, do you often find yourself sort of scrapping things and moving on to something new? Or do you frequently find, because you've done a lot of pre-planning that you know where it's going? And so it, while you might find surprises along the way, you don't see a lot of like scrapping of entire chunks of your writing, or, you know, completely changing an idea.00:22:02 Melanie ConklinWell, here's the thing, like, when I'm doing the prewriting, I'm asking myself, I'm tapping into the characters emotional arc. I'm wanting to know what's messed up in their life. And what is the problem they're facing at the beginning, and how do they grow in so that by the end, they have somehow addressed that problem. That's all internal action. That's all internal growth. That's the characters heart. When I know that is when I start writing. However, when I start writing, I often don't know what the external plot should be. Sometimes there's like a spark, a connection, a metaphor, and I can tell, oh, I should be writing about this kind of external plot, but often I get it absolutely completely wrong. So Counting Thyme, the first draft of that Thyme moved with her family to New York City. And it's, you know, she's acclimating to a new school living in a city. She's never lived in an apartment building. She's only lived in Suburbia before. She's never lived in a diverse neighborhood. You know, there's all kinds of things that she's experiencing the first time, and she doesn't always like it. She's not sure if she likes living there and I, when I was working on that, you know, I was trying to figure out, how should I show this that she doesn't like living there? So my first idea was, well, she's going to pretend she's in the witness protection program. And so my whole first draft was about her pretending that she was in the witness protection program. If you have read this book, you know that there's no witness protection program in it at all. So it's like the actual external action the plot was just wrong. But I see those as like Legos. It's like you build something out of Legos, and you realize that at all, the pink ones are wrong, and they should be yellow ones. It's a pain in the butt to take it apart and change it to yellow ones. But you can do it, you know, with patience and effort. So with Counting Thyme, I got to do that like eight times I wrote nine drafts of that book with every missing piece. I only did five drafts. So definitely the process is improving. But I'm not a plotter who has a defined outline and knows exactly what the external action is. I kind of have to discover it, and once I do discover it, I know what's right, but I'm often throwing away a lot of words. That's why I always tell people writing is rewriting. It's not about finishing your draft one time, it's about finishing it like 5 or 10 times. You know. 00:24:33 Molly RauhThat's awesome. It's been so fun hearing about your process, because it's a little different than other people that I've talked to. So I'm enjoying the differences. I really like it. So as an author, are there some individuals who are kind of your heroes, or who have inspired you in what you're doing? 00:24:53 Melanie ConklinI definitely have heroes that I have looked to. And I thought about this. I thought about this question, 'cause there are a lot of authors I admire and that I am friends with now, and that I've learned a lot from, but honestly, the person who inspired me to want to tell stories is my mother. My mother was a labor and delivery nurse for 30 years. And she worked the night shift, and she used to come home and tell us how many babies she had that night. And she would tell us birth stories. And as I got older, and when I had my own children, it was going through all that she would share birth stories. She shared them with her labor and delivery classes when she was teaching people. And so I grew up with this. This this idea of learning from each other, through sharing these very personal stories. And so there is like a was a culture of storytelling in my house. And so I think about her a lot. She's the one my first book was dedicated to, was my mother I said, "For my mother, the truth teller," because she was all about being honest and honoring those stories and sharing them with each other, because that's how you learn how to be a person, right? So I'm trying to do the same thing in writing books. Hopefully, people learn a couple of things from my characters.00:26:12 Jessica RickertOh, I love that story. That's great. Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Melanie. And for all of you out there, if you haven't signed up for the conference yet, definitely sign up for Melanie's session, and she will be signing books at the conference too. So thanks for joining us, and we're so excited to meet you in person.00:26:33 Melanie ConklinThank you.00:26:34 Molly RauhThanks for listening to CCIRA Literacy Conversations podcast. To find out more about CCIRA, go to CCIRA.org. On CCIRA.org, you can join as a member, or find great resources like our professional development blog, which posts every Tuesday and has a variety of guest writers on an awesome selection of topics, CCIRA is a professional organization of Educators and community members dedicated to the promotion and advancement of literacy. We also have a Twitter account @ColoradoReading. You can find us on Instagram at CCIRA_ColoradoReading. Or you can find us on Facebook, where we also have a members only group that we're trying to build. And our Facebook account is CCIRA Colorado Reading. We'd love to hear more from you. And again, if you're looking for new content, please send any questions or things you'd be interested in seeing from CCIRA to CCIRAVideo@gmail.com. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
44 minutes | Jan 2, 2022
Marc Tyler Nobleman: Finding and Writing Untold Stories
00:00:00 Molly RauhHello and welcome back to this CCIRA Literacy Conversations podcast. I'm your host Molly Rauh with my co-host Jessica Rickert. Today's podcast features, Marc Tyler Nobleman.00:00:14 Jessica RickertMarc's work centers around writing fiction and nonfiction books for young people, Mark shares how he writes books that grab an interest people will welcome. Mark we're so excited to chat with you tonight. Could you start by telling us a little bit about your background?00:00:34 Marc Tyler NoblemanWell, thanks for having me. And I am very excited to be making my return to CCIRA. It's either my third or my fourth; I can double check that before I get there. So I am an author of books for young people. I've been doing this for most of my adult life. I've written both nonfiction and fiction. My main criteria is I want to write books that grab your attention. I want to tell....If it's nonfiction, I want to tell an Untold Story, or at least what I hope will be an untold story to most readers. And if it's fiction, I just want to surprise you. I wanted to be funny, or just feel fresh to you in some way, and something that you that might grab you just from a quick, quick little glimpse, or a quick initial explanation, not a deep dive. But just I want to grab people right away.00:01:25 Jessica RickertSo when did this start? When did you start writing?00:01:29 Marc Tyler NoblemanWell, same time as everybody when I was a tiny person, but I liked it at the time, unlike a lot of my peers. And so I would write short stories. I know I did that in high school, so that might be the earliest I can say definitively. And in college, I knew I wanted to become some kind of a professional writer. It didn't know what. And I got out of school, and I stumbled into being a children's book author that was not on my agenda. Not that I was against it. I just didn't think of it. And here I am. All these years later, I'm very happy with that. I mean, it's expanded into a variety of types of writing, but that is my that is, my focus really is writing for young people. And and there are adults, their loved ones who are adults, their parents, their teachers.00:02:15 Molly RauhWell, and you and I have already... So people who can't see, he and I share the love of comics. And so I'm kind of curious. One of your more nonfiction stories is about the sort of originally unknown second co-creator of Batman. How did you get into that story?00:02:42 Marc Tyler NoblemanYes.00:02:42 Molly RauhHow do you spell across that? Where does that come from?00:02:45 Marc Tyler NoblemanWell, do we do? Should I explain to who our listeners who Batman is, or do you think they already know? They probably...00:02:53 Molly RauhI hope they know00:02:54 Marc Tyler NoblemanThey probably know. Let's give them that benefit of the doubt. So that is my big story. I will be talking about that in person. I don't want to spill the beans too much on that. But I'll answer your question, which doesn't spill the beans, which is that I was a comic book reader since I was in, again, a tiny person. And back then it wasn't cool. Now it's cool now anyone can do it, now, there's no judgment, but back then it was not exactly mainstream, or, you know, widely accepted. In fact, you know, when I was in, when I was in grade school to high school, I think there were only two or three mainstream superhero movies in that entire 10 or 12 year stretch. Now there's two or three a week, just to put it in perspective. You know, there were the Superman movies. And then at the very end of high school, the Batman movie came out. Those are the main ones. And then there was a couple lesser ones. So it really wasn't something that was, you know, widely accepted. And I, as a as a person who became a writer, I started to pay attention not only to the fictional side, but to who created these characters. And I, I remember that on my 16th birthday. The cover of Time Magazine was Superman's 50th birthday, and it talked about his creators. So I was a sixteen-year-old reading Time magazine in my school library, you know, having an epiphany that yeah, these characters came from somewhere, and I was interested in that. So I don't know exactly when I learned about the story behind Batman, but I know it was not in college. It was after that. Because in college, I proof that I did not know about The Unsung co-creator, because there's not my proudest moment, but I'm just gonna be honest with you, because you're all adults, some of my friends and I would crank call each other each other, not strangers. And this is back in the answering machine days. So our goal was to just fill out the tape. Just talk until we got cut off. So I would just ram- We would all just ramble. You know, I would just pick up a book and start reading. I would tell some story from my childhood. I am. One of the stories I told was this story began Batman, and all I mentioned was Bob Kane, the artist, the man who was credited on Batman at the time, the only person. I didn't mention Bill Finger. So as as late as college, I had never heard of this man who then end up becoming the subject of my most, I think, my most popular book and a huge part of my life, which is, again, a story that I'll tell in great detail at the conference. But you know, just the point being that, you know, you can't, as we I'll say, as adults, and as teachers and Educators can't believe everything you read. Got to look further, you might be even if it's something as huge as Batman, maybe even, especially if it's something as huge as Batman, you've got to know your source. You've got a double check. Make sure you're getting the true story you might be, you know, pulling the wool over your eyes.00:05:39 Molly RauhNow, you just made me more curious. There's no answer.00:05:41 Marc Tyler NoblemanThat's the goal right? 00:05:42 Molly RauhI'm gonna have to come see you at the conference, so I can get more info.00:05:44 Marc Tyler NoblemanPlease, do. That's what I want. I want a big group on a big, huge attendance.00:05:50 Molly RauhOkay, so, thinking more about because, you know, we have teachers here. And so they're trying to inspire their own next generation of authors. In terms of process, how do you go about writing a book? Like what? What steps do you work through?00:06:11 Marc Tyler NoblemanSo if it's fiction, I like to try to sketch out the arc of the story in advance. Now you're not locked in, but it helps me to have guideposts. And when I teach creative writing to kids in the summer and at various times during the year and I always tell them that you, I recommend that you do that, but don't feel beholden to it. You know, if your writing and your story goes in another Direction, that's okay, you're not breaking a law or a rule, but it does help to have that outline, especially, I think, the ending, because I really think with fiction, it's and I think it's important at least it helps me to have some sense of your destination so that you get there and an exciting way. I talk about it with kids by saying, if you know, there's let's say it's a Sunday, and your family is all hanging out, looking for something to do. Someone in your family might say, let's go get ice cream, but you know, we're not going to go straight there. We're going to take the scenic route. Another person might say, let's just get in the car and drive, and who knows where we'll end up. So in one, in case you've got a destination which you might get excited about, and then you take a roundabout way to get there, because that's fun in another, you're excited because you don't know what at all where you're going. So it's just one of the two, but I just prefer knowing that we're going to get ice cream at the end. That's how I like to write that I know that's where we're going. Now with nonfiction. It just starts with just the, the, the, you know, the spark of the electricity running up my spine. I mean, I read something, I hear something that I feel is so enticing and even better again, if it hasn't been done before, and it's own book. So most of my nonfiction in recent years, it's that category. Its if given my know some of the story, of course, but it hasn't been the focus of its own book. And so I love that I love feeling like I'm walking through the forest by myself. No one else is looking for mushrooms or whatever you're foraging for. You're the only one you're going to get all the best spoils. And I also just love the excitement that I see on faces of both kids and adults want to telling a story that that is new for them. So, you know, with all no love loss to Rosa Parks and Babe Ruth. And, you know, any number of other textbook names that get tons of picture books about them all deserve it. Muhammad, Ali. And, well, a lot of the presidents are falling out of favor these days. But, you know, you know who I'm talking to. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. All these people have multiple picture books by now, and they deserve them. But I want to I want to be one of the people that writes about someone that you don't really know. So that, to me, is just it's a little riskier as some some publisher. Some editors don't want to work on books that aren't pre-sold. But for me, it's the only way forward. I just want to be fulfilled by the read, the process. So with fiction, I have to sketch it out a bit with nonfiction. I just have that spark, and I just download as much as I can about the topic. And then I go through and it's fun, because then you go through and pick out the kid-friendly parts. The parts that you know are going to excite kids. It might not be them. You know, the linear story from. I mean, it will be linear when it's done, but, you know, you might be missing big moments that are not appropriate or interesting for kids. You still have to make it, you know, a cohesive whole. So that's finest. Yet. What are the pieces of this that work best for my audience? 00:09:36 Jessica RickertAnd how, like, what resources, do you have "go to" resources when you're researching for those non-fiction books?00:09:45 Marc Tyler NoblemanYeah, I just use Wikipedia exclusively. I basically just rewrite Wikipedia articles and act like its original. Wait. You're going to share this with other people. (Jessica laughs) Good? Yeah. Now, well, because I'm trying to do these stories that are more or less Untold. Oftentimes I can't rely on just the internet or books, because again, there's stuff out there that's never been documented. So a lot of the work I've done has been about people that are either still alive, or people who died recently enough that there are people still alive who knew them. So I get original interviews with those people, and sometimes original documents, you know, private documents letters, or, you know, Vital Records or so on that helped fill in the story, never been published in. If they're on the Internet, it's often because I put them there. Now, after, after I do the book, I put some of the research online share the wealth, and you know, for the next person who might want to write about that. Of course, I do use the internet, and I do use books as well, but I'm more excited about these, you know, these Quests for the things that aren't as easy to find, and sometimes you don't get some anywhere. I mean, right now, I'm working on a book where there are two main true story, two main character, two main figures. They're both still alive. The story happened in the 70s. One of them gave me a lovely two hour interview so far. And the other one I I just reached out today to this person's family, but I've been told, don't expect this person to participate for reasons that will become clear when this, when the topic is revealed, but so I may not get that, but I'm going to carry anyways and just write based on what's already been documented, maybe without family. But again, some of the stuff I've written is by about people that are long dead. So I'm never. There's not any opportunity to talk to those people. So it can be done without talking to the people involved. It's just sweeter for me if I can get their buy-in and get there on, you know, the previously Untold Story. 00:11:43 Molly RauhThinking about just interviewing in general, I know that sometimes that's a challenge to ask kids to do. So, what are some of your tips for reaching out to someone and kind of asking for their time and their story and their information?00:11:59 Marc Tyler NoblemanYeah, well, I wish I was a little kid asking because who said, can say no to a little kid, right? That would that would be an advantage, but I get it. Yeah, it is an important skill, even if you don't become a writer. It's just important to know how to ask questions of other people. being appropriate, but, you know, getting the story, you know, and how to handle people that are difficult or mysterious, or whatever. So that is a great skill. I mean, for kids that are doing that for school, I mean, I did will depend on the assignment. But let's say they don't have a specific number of questions to ask, maybe just start with five something that seems manageable and not overwhelming. And if you can ask them to, don't think of it like an assignment. But think of it like, you're just curious, what do you? What do you? What would you want to know about? Someone kids are not. They're very curious. But, I mean, I have two kids of my own, and sometimes they just don't, you know, the they don't articulate what they want to know, and just they just they give up before they even start. So if you tell them just, you know, think about what something you want to ask someone that you think that person is never talked about, or wouldn't tell you without you asking, or just try to make it a little bit more of a game and a mystery like can you be the one to crack the code? Can you get this person to tell you about his childhood when she never talked about before? I don't know, make it a little bit more of a challenge. I haven't done that specifically with kids, but, you know, working on interview techniques. But you know, you never, you just have to keep trying. If someone's I don't know if I would emphasize this with kids. But when people say no to me, I don't, I don't hear the word no when it comes to asking for an interview that's not talking about other types of consent, but I will keep trying to get the story. And I actually put a bit of a burden on their shoulders saying, you might be the only person who can share this information. So for the you know, for posterity, for scholarship, I hope that you'll you'll talk about it, and that doesn't always work, but I am not gonna let it go without trying. It's just too important. I've had people that have died that I know know interesting things about my topics, but they wouldn't tell me. So I, you know, I don't want I want to limit, mitigate that as much as possible. So basically, like we tell kids, you know, there's no such thing as a dumb question. Ask whatever is of interest to you. 00:14:10 Molly RauhSo a little perseverance is valuable there too. Let's see, there's so so many different directions I could go. So I'm also curious, you know, just about. Obviously comic books have been a passion that informed a couple books. But what are some of your interests outside of writing outside of, you know, that career path that inspire you as a writer, or just help you kind of feel well-rounded and give you that energy and inspiration to keep writing?00:14:52 Marc Tyler NoblemanWell, I mean, it's nothing original to say that I love reading, and I do. And I love running, and I can't say that it has a direct correlation to writing. But there are a lot of people that would compare writing to running because they're both typically solitary. And I also, you know, as a writer, I don't want to be the person of a person who's just at a desk in a room all day, even before covid. I wanted to get out and get some air. And so that that's a happy place for me. I. There's a trail that picks up right around the corner from our house. And it's might like it's like a second home for me to go there and listen to music and not, you know, a lot of people listen to podcasts when they run or commut or all that. But I'm so much with words all the time when I'm working, that when I run, I listen to music. I give myself a chance, because I don't have a commute. I don't drive anywhere everyday guaranteed. So that's my time to just listen to music and relax and get some, some fresh air. And I've actually got a couple book ideas while I've been running; nothing that's sold yet. But I don't know if the running is a help or a hindrance. But yeah, when you're out there, your head clears, and you can think of things and... And I have, as I mentioned, two kids. I love spending time with my family. They're both teenagers now. So it's not always my choice anymore. Spend time with them. I have to be penciled in or well, you know, typed in. And as I mentioned, I love music I love especially 80s music. I could do a whole talk on that, but I don't think anybody would show up. Maybe that's another conference. So those are my things running, music, family.00:16:36 Molly RauhAll right, I get that like running, I think, is I don't know, it's cathartic. It just helps you, you know, I, yeah, I think it's stimulating for ideas. Yeah. So no, no podcast, no words, music only.00:16:51 Marc Tyler NoblemanOkay, yeah, they're, we're a dying breed or so much so much pressure to listen to podcasts these days.00:16:58 Molly RauhI know. Well, I did the podcasting for a while, but even on my commute, I don't listen to podcasts anymore. I do listen to audio books. My commute is for audiobooks. So since you said reading which, you know, you said, not unique, which is true. Every time we talk to authors, they always have books that they love. So what are some of your favorite authors, or favorite books, especially when you were younger, that have kind of led you to have the passion you have for reading and writing?00:17:28 Marc Tyler NoblemanWell, some of these may not be so original either, but Where the Wild Things Are, which each, when I revisited it as an adult, reading it to my own kids, I was really blown away about how beautifully written is. It's not just this memorable visual journey, but the way he wrote it was so so wonderful. And it's only 10 sentences, which is a weird thing to realize as an adult, I love a novel called the mouse in the motorcycle. By Beverly Cleary, who just passed away. I think it was last year. And I loved a book that is not well-known. It's called David and the Phoenix. Have you heard of that? By any chance? It wasn't a big, you know, classic book, although since I've been to, I mean, over the years I've blogged about it and talked about it in various ways. And I know a lot of people come out of the woodwork and say, I totally remember that book. That was a big favorite of mine. But again, it never became a classic. So that was a novel written in 1957 by a man named Edward Ormondroyd, who's still alive at 96 and he's a friend, I guess you could say, I did reach out to him at one point, interview him for my blog. And I met him in person. So that was a really fulfilling moment, to meet someone that inspired me as it, not only as a fan to an author, but as peers. I mean, because I do that now too. And he was very gracious and very interesting, and that he had never met. You'd never done anything that authors today do. He'd never spoken at a conference. He'd never done a book signing. He never did a school visit, they just didn't he his that this book was published in 1957. It wasn't - those things were in all standard at. Certainly not school visits, I would imagine. So that was interesting, meet an author who has a totally different experience as a children's author than I have. So those are three of my favorites as a kid. Yeah, those are three of my favorites.00:19:21 Jessica RickertWhat about for your own books that you've written? Do you have some favorites, both fiction and nonfiction that you love more than other book, your other books?00:19:33 Marc Tyler NoblemanWell, everything I've done in the last ten or twelve years totally overrides everything I did before that not that they weren't books of Merit of some kind. I mean, I put my heart into those two, but what I've been doing recently are all things that topics that I hand pick. And before that, I was sometimes doing books based on other people's suggestions, or, you know, not not coming to it on my own. So, of all my books, and I mean my Batman book is my favorite in the sense that it became more than a book. And again, I don't want to teach just enough to get people to show up. It's it started off as a book, and it became a mission. And it became a very big mission that lasted many years, so that that's a category unto itself. And then, you know, the others I love in different ways too, they all like, with everything that we do, they have their, you know, they conjure different, you know, moments of your life, or in my case, I think about some of the struggles that each one involved, and what I had to try to overcome to get the book published, because nothing's come easy for me with writing, which is fine. If it's easy, it's it's boring. But it isn't like I've written a book and then the next day, someone says, I want that like it's taken a while for me, a lot of my work. And but again, because it's I'm, I think it's because I'm choosing topics that they feel are going to be a harder sell. And I tell them, well, that's what I'm here for. I'm not just going to write it and then go on a run and never come back. I'm going to help you sell it and promote it, and that's why I do conferences. That's why I go to schools. I want people to, you know, enjoy the story the way I did I wouldn't do all this work, and then let it float off, you know, on its own. So yeah, the Batman book would take first place. And then a lot of the recent ones would be in a tie for second.00:21:27 Molly RauhSo, thinking about that, you like comics? So we've asked about books, but what are some of your favorite Comics? Or even graphic novels? Because like you and I have mentioned there, you know, once upon a time, it wasn't cool to be into comics. But now, like there's not that stigma around that. So maybe share some of your favorites, some newer things that are being printed and published that kids might get their hands on, or that teachers might get hands on, because I certainly like some adult comics that I would never give to kids. And I've also had some comics that, like as soon as I'm done reading, I bring into the classroom to a particular kid. And I'm like, you have to read this. Here's the next one. What are some of your favorite? Well, a couple of graphic novels I've read recently that I loved were "Flamer" by Mike Curato, which is biographical and "New kid". Of course, I by Jerry Craft. I really liked. I don't read tons of graphic novels by you know, it's not I'm not. I don't specifically gravitate towards those. I just gravitate towards a good book, whether it's graphic novel, you know, pros or whatnot. Another one I read this summer that I thought was great was "Kent State." It's a new. It's 00:22:47 Molly Rauhthe newest book by a guy named Derf Backderf And it's, it's, it's his telling of the Kent State, the Ohio, you know, the, the Four Dead in Ohio story. And I knew almost nothing about that, even though I knew, ooh, that I know. I mean, I know of the song I know of the incident, but I couldn't have told you what it was about. And he just does a masterful job of weaving these four individuals stories into one tragic, overarching story. And then as far as traditional comics I mean, I grew up on I mean, being a huge fan of I'm a DC guy. As you can imagine, based on Batman. My favorites were Justice League because I like groups. I like to see how groups work together, like to see how groups split up to tackle different issues, both in superhero comics and in life. I also liked it a team-up comic called "The Brave and the Bold," which was Batman, plus somebody else every issue. And there was another one of DC Comics presents, which was Superman, plus someone else. And there are there are there are collected editions of those. I would recommend them for teachers with kids, because comics these days, the the there are still comics produced for elementary age kids. But a lot of the main characters are quite dark. Even Superman. I mean, a lot of the stories are quite sophisticated, quite dark. So not the same way when we were kids, where it was all kind of for everybody. So if you go back to the stuff that was done in the 70s and 80s, it's you know, it's a bit dated a little. It's a little dated. But I think for kids that like superheroes, they might really like it. You know, that sometimes it's a one-and-done story. It's you not to read 20 issues to get a full story. You can read one, which I think for reluctant readers is a little bit more accessible. Nowadays, you know, everything's an arc. You know, it's a it's 8 issue Arc, or a ten issue arc because they want to. They're creating these stories to be bound and sold as graphic novel so they can sell them online and easier with, you know, the newsstand business of buying this individual issue is, unfortunately, I don't think going to be around for much longer. Once people our age phase-out, they're not going to do it for the next generation. They're not buying comics generally. So, and then, of course, there's all the, you know, the ones that don't need my help. You know, there's there's the Raina, you know, Telgemeier books to Cece Bell, and they're doing great things, and kids know them already. So they don't need, you know, like them. But those are great too. 00:25:19 Jessica RickertI have a question not being a connoisseur of comic books, and only just watching the movies which I know is probably horrible for you two. Do you have a favorite superhero?00:25:32 Marc Tyler NoblemanSuperman. So it's again, it's there's this dichotomy throughout my whole childhood, you know, cool and uncool. So Superman uncool, Batman cool. DC uncool, Marvel cool. Han Solo cool, Luke Skywalker, uncool. You know, Fonzie, cool, Richie Cunningham uncool. I always like the uncle ones, except I did like Han Solo better than Luke. But for the most of the most of, those examples I was on the less cool side. So yeah.00:26:09 Molly RauhAll right, you're going to have to explain that one 'cause I have my reasons why I would pick Batman over Superman. So why Superman? Because, no I hardcore disagree with you on that one.00:26:20 Marc Tyler NoblemanSo do most kids. I I think it's, so I mean, a lot of it is just, you know, who you meet first. And he, I remember being introduced to Superman. It feels like first. But I also like, I mean, hit, you know, the Superman that I fell in love with is doesn't exist anymore. In a way. You know, he was good for good sake. There wasn't. There was no complexity to it. Of course, you know, our culture at the moment, and probably forever more is is just much more sensitive to all kinds of Injustice and differences, and, you know, sent being sensitive to as much as possible in every direction which those are certainly greatness there. Superman, you know, used to just you just you just had you just trusted the guy to do the right thing no matter what. And now it's just not as not as black and white. So I still love him, but I think it's just getting more complicated to be Superman than it used to be. And I love Batman too, obviously I spent a whole bunch of my life on him too. But I like Superman, just seems they both seem like loners. And I think I always was I always was drawn to that. Now they both have, well now they're both. It's not good. You know, things evolve. Now, they're - Superman's married with a son. And Batman has Catwoman. But you know, when I was growing up, they were loners and I that appealed to me to that they would do the right thing not to get tons of friends and to get paid or praise, but just because it was the right thing and that really resonated with me as a kid and helped inspire me to write Boys of Steel, my Superman book. That notion of just do the right thing, even if you don't get all this attention for it, or jobs and money, or your name on a big, you know, sign or plaque, or, you know, something like that. You're just doing it because, you know, in your heart, that's what you should do. And I like that about Superman. And Batman did it too. But it was just that was Superman's whole whole essence. 00:28:21 Molly RauhAll right, that's a fair argument. That's maybe the best argument for Superman I've ever heard. So, yeah, I might, I might like him a little better than I did a minute ago.00:28:31 Marc Tyler NoblemanWhat's your Batman take?00:28:33 Molly RauhWell, for me, it's it's a very simple piece of superpowers and not having superpowers. I like Batman because theoretically, like he is a regular human being. Yes, he's empowered by, you know, money and access to this technology. But, you know, I kind of liked that he was an ordinary human being. Who just, you know, used innovations, and you know his own personal sort of drive to become a superhero.00:29:07 Marc Tyler NoblemanI want to see if I can find. I saved this tweet that for me, really summarized Superman in a new way. But probably I knew it all along innately. So I love this. Superman stories aren't a fantasy about how good it would be to have power. they're a fantasy about what it would be like if someone with power was good. So giving credit where credit's due. This is I don't even know who this is. But the it's a someone on Twitter named Ian McIntyre. So I just love that that he could do whatever he wants. I mean, talk people talk about Batman that you know, look what he's doing with no power. But there's a flip side. Look what Superman is not doing with power. 00:29:50 Molly RauhI like that take that's kind of cool, that almost like I might have to pull that into an essential question, because I teach history and like, you know, we just finished some industrial like Gilded Age, Progressive Era, kind of stuff. And a big piece of that was looking at corruption. And so thinking about, like people with power, you know, do they do they always abuse it? Or are there people who use it for good? And so thinking of, yeah, yeah, well, I can send that to you. 00:30:25 Jessica RickertI just never really, like, you guys have opened my eyes to there's deeper and more complex things than just like the movies that I go to like looking. I'm definitely going to look at superheroes differently now. At a deep audio cuts out.00:30:43 Marc Tyler NoblemanThey're not for everybody.00:30:45 Molly RauhYeah, they're not for everybody, but I, you know, anybody I think, who's into comics, realizes that the majority of your comics, whether it's super hero stories or anything else, they're really human stories. They're looking at the human condition and looking at human motivations. And so the social scientist in me always loves them, because they're really just kind of who are we at our core? And, you know, what are we capable of in good and bad ways?00:31:14 Marc Tyler NoblemanYeah. 00:31:18 Jessica RickertWell. Are there any other books that you want to highlight for teachers that might be listening, that you think would be good for them to share with their students? I know you have a lot of books, but a couple that, oh, you should try this one or try this one00:31:33 Marc Tyler NoblemanSure. So I wrote a book called "Fairy Spell," which is a true story about two girls in World War One era England who went into the woods one day with a camera. And this was, again, World War 1 era. So this was not camera like anything we've seen. And they came back with only one photo, which one of their fathers developed in the dark room in their house. And that photo revealed one of the two girls with what they said were for fairies. And this kicked off a mystery that lasted for the rest of their lives. So they were one of them was only nine, and one was 16 and they didn't reveal the full truth about what really happened that day in the woods until they were in their 80s. So what I love about this story level out of things about I love it. It's about two girls. I love that it's about two girls that have agency. They're driving the story I love. I can't reveal it because it would spoil the book. But when they end up telling more of what happened later in life, I love their reason for not telling it sooner. So at first I thought maybe there'd be some. Maybe I'd get some pushback that I'm writing a book about liars. I don't want to say what they said that was true and not true. They said things that - I'm going to say this so I don't spoil the whole thing. At the end, there's they have a different -they say something different than each other. Their story was the same for most of those years. But then at the end, they diverge. So there is some. There is some untruth in it. But there's also some truth. And I love how it's just a new way of looking at the truth. And what isn't what we, how we classify truth and what we, how we judge people that don't tell the truth. You know, it's not, they don't lie for the same reason with the same effect. So I love that. And it also it's become, you know, very relevant with respect to fake news. I didn't write it because of that, but it is a great book to use to help children start to discern, you know, the importance of, again, not believing everything you read on at face value and learning how to verify things on the especially on the internet, whether they're true or not, or whether they need more, you know, more investigation. So that's a great book for that. And apparently, that's what a lot of people use it for. And there are a lot of lessons these days about that which is so important, teaching our kids how to be internet savvy, and how to not question everything to the point that you are a conspiracy theorist. But just you have a healthy skepticism about things so that you use your brain. And when I say in the book, you know, some people decry the internet saying that it makes us think less. I think it has to, really, it's making us think more. You really need to, like, I just said, don't take the first- and I, you know, I tell my kids, we all tell kids. Now, you know, the last couple of years, when you Google something, Google has a little box at the very top. It's in a box the to make you think like that's the definitive be-all-end-all answer. So I tell my kids, well, view, are you even looking at the source of that? And just because Google says it's true doesn't mean it is. So that book is helpful, I think with that topic. And then I wrote another book that's called "Thirty Minutes Over Oregon," so closer to your side of the country. And that's a true story out of WWII about a Japanese pilot named Nobuo who did something that no one before him, or since luckily has done. He became the only person in history to bomb the United States mainland from a plane. And the reason that most people have never heard this is because those bombs did not kill anyone, didn't even hurt anyone. They hit the forest outside of a town called Brookings. So maybe a couple squirrels bit it, but no humans. And because of that, it's not a World War. Two story that we teach it wasn't a turning point, but that's why I love it. It's a smaller story with a great famous first that is not really famous. And then this emotional core about this pilot, how this act impacted him later in life. So it's a great story about how enemies can become friends. I don't want to say too much, but he does come back to America after the war. And it's about something that you don't see in picture books. Too much least. I haven't seen it in non-fiction picture books, and that is redemption. This the idea of redemption, most picture books, that folk that are biographical. They follow the same arc. They start in someone's childhood. The child has a dream. The child tries and fails multiple times. And eventually the book ends with this person becoming the famous person that we all know. Again, the you know, with Bader Ginsburg or Babe Ruth, who met those I don't need to name famous people, you all know them, but that's and that's fine. But I don't. I prefer different kinds of stories. So I prefer story that's not quite as predictable where maybe they mean the Batman story is about a guy that basically opposite success. And then the ending is that he failed. So it's kind of a bummer, but that's life sometimes, and people we need to tell kids that you did a great thing. We shouldn't. He should be honored for it. But in the end, he didn't really benefit from it. And it was a sad story. And that's okay. It's okay to have a sad story. So the 30 minutes of Oregon book is a great story about Redemption about how I mean. Now it's especially, I think, a topic in the news and in life is about second chances. I mean, people are, you know, I see a lot of people that are not given a second chance. They misspeak. They something comes up from their past from sometimes even as young as being a teenager. And that completely changes the entire trajectory of their adult life. And there are times where, you know, second chances are definitely less viable. But I think for a lot of these cases, they're not in. This is a story about that. In today's world, you know, this man's story would he would have not been given a second chance, and he would have been a villain for the rest of his life. So I love this idea of, you know, seeing them at a human level. In this case, he was doing something during war, and you don't excuse that. But it was a war, and everyone was doing things that they would prefer not to be doing. And he did spend a lot of years trying to atone for that and show his true nature, and so reconciliation, redemption, very powerful, very powerful ideas. That, again, you don't see that often in - at least, I don't see them in picture books. I hope they're out there. I just haven't seen them myself. So those two, I think, really help with a lot of different levels of lessons in classrooms character development. And of course, the news thing is more, you know, practical skill.00:38:23 Molly RauhI love that. I think I know what books I'm picking up next, and hopefully I can get through them before. Maybe I hit some units where I could use those in my classes, because, you know, again, I'm a history teacher. I can totally use those.00:38:40 Marc Tyler NoblemanThank you.00:38:41 Molly RauhSo we're at that point where we're some of your heroes00:38:49 Marc Tyler NoblemanHeroes in general. Or...00:38:51 Molly RauhWell, certainly educational heroes, if you have them. But if you want to go a different route and just focus on anybody who's inspired you, who is your hero in what you do, you can go broader if that suits you better. Sure, well, I can do a two-in-one. I can do a personal hero and an educator here, which is my mom, who was a teacher before I was born. So I ruin that. She gave up when I came along, but she is just she's had a really, really challenging life for different reasons. But you turned out to be the sweetest mom. I mean, except for your two moms of all time. And with no, with no guidance, she, you know, she didn't have a loving upbringing where she had something 00:39:40 Molly Rauhto learn from. I don't know where she gets it from. And and she was also someone that you know, helped shape my creative side When We Were Young, my sister and I, my mother would not give us coloring books, because she felt we should start with a blank page that we should create from nothing. And so after a while, I think we wore down a bit, and as long as we still Drew on blank pages as well, but she didn't want us to be given someone else's work and then fill it in. And she also nudged me to be that she saw that I could be a writer before I did, which is typical mom. You know, she knew that I what I was good at, or what I had an aptitude for, and probably what I like, even though I didn't realize it. And she nudged me that way. And then again, as this is going to be no surprise about a guy who liked Superman Richie Cunningham, DC Comics better than there are opposite, which is that I have a lot of teachers that not only were inspirational for me, I'm still in touch with. I mean, most people I know if they're in touch with anyone, it's just one teacher I'm in touch with. I mean, not regular touch, but I have emails and reach out on, and I would say, on a, you know, somewhat regular basis to say hi to a number of teachers. So and you know, sometimes it's very vague why they resonate with me, but they must they must have helped shape me. I can't always figure out why I'm so drawn to them still, but a couple in particular are you no, are you know were formidable, or not formidable, formative, or probably formidable too, formative for me. And I love that because they are so that such a thankless job for so many and I it just three. It's very gratifying to, you know, all these years later, to just have this relationship so that they know that they mattered to me and probably to others that don't don't don't all right, as you know, aren't as obsessive about these things as I am, reaching out keeping in touch. So that means a lot to me for teachers that I had that had an impact for them to know that they did even your in my old age.00:41:47 Jessica RickertI love that. Well, thank you so much for joining us. We're all definitely going to have to check out so many more books. I loved your cliffhangers. And if you have not registered for Marc Tyler, Nobleman's sessions yet, now you got to go find out about the Batman story too. So thank you for joining us. And we look forward to seeing you in February at CCIRA.00:42:13 Marc Tyler NoblemanI can't wait. Thank you so much for your time. And I look forward to seeing you both in person. 00:42:19 Molly RauhThanks for listening to CCIRA Literacy Conversations podcast. To find out more about CCIRA go to CCIRA.org. On CCIRA.org, you can join as a member, or find great resources like our professional development blog, which posts every Tuesday and has a variety of guest writers on an awesome selection of topics. CCIRA is a professional organization of educators and community members is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of literacy. We also have a Twitter account @ColoradoReading. You can find us on Instagram at CCIRA_ColoradReading. Or you can find us on Facebook, where we also have a members only group that we're trying to build. And our Facebook account is CCIRA Colorado Reading. We'd love to hear more from you. And again, if you're looking for new content, please send any questions or things you'd be interested in seeing from ccir a to ccir a video at gmailcom. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
40 minutes | Dec 22, 2021
Pernille Ripp: Honoring and Centering Our Students, Especially in a Pandemic
Transcript created using Maestra. We apologize for any errors.00:00:00 Molly RauhHello and welcome back to the CCIRA literacy conversations podcast. I'm your host Molly Rauh with my co-host , Jessica Rickert.00:00:09 Jessica RickertToday's podcast features Pernille Ripp. Pernille's work centers around creating a classroom environment based on student needs. Pernilleshares how important it is to keep students in the forefront of teaching and how to bring joy into the classroom and slow down to support students' learning . Welcome Pernille. We're so excited to have you on the podcast. Would you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?00:00:39 Pernille RippSure. So my name is Pernille Ripp. And most days you can find me in seventh grade English and Oregon, Wisconsin, right outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Or of course, at home, with my own for kids, trying to navigate what it means to be a teacher and a parent during an ongoing Global pandemic. If I'm not teaching or with my own kids, I'm usually either reading or writing or speaking. We're running the Global Read Aloud, which kicked off this week. And so there's always lots to do and lots of crazy busy-ness. But I would say that I'm easily found, and I love usually wherever I'm at. And I just like to try to think about how we can change all the things that we see need to be changed, and what we can do within the frameworks that we work within, and how we can continually provide students opportunities to reclaim the power that so many of our systems have taken away from them, whether it's within their reading and writing instruction, but also just in like, how they get to be in our schools and the systems that we have set up for them thereA 00:01:49 Molly RauhAwesome. So my first question for you, Pernille, is just thinking about my own time and energy as a teacher. What was it that kick-started for you, like going beyond teaching in your classroom and starting to write professional development resources for teachers? And then where do you find the time and energy to do all the great things you do? Because the rest, the rest of us need to know.00:02:20 Pernille RippYeah, I don't think there's such a thing as finding time, right? Like I think I make the time, and some days I feel super balanced and on top of the world and other days, I definitely don't. And I will say that the last 19 months. Now, with pandemic teaching, my world has been completely off kilter. I have not blocked as little as I have in all the years since I've been blogging. Even tonight. I sat outside for maybe 30 minutes, drinking a cup of tea, and just trying to read it. Book. And like my brain just could not connect with the words that I was seeing on the page. But I also say, like I have an incredible support system, right? I have a husband who is super invested in making sure that I have space to process, because that's how my writing started. It was a frustration with what I was doing, and then recognizing that some of the things that I was doing had been directly passed on to me in Traditions, right from helpful mentors and and college experiences. And also just what I had witnessed whatever was the traditions of teaching. And I was just really frustrated with how I had ended up becoming a product of the system that didn't work for all kids. And so I spoke a lot about it to my husband, and he's super, and he's a first-year teacher. He's really into education as well. But he was the one that said, you know, you really like writing, and he thought about writing about it. And so that's how it started. It started and continues to just be this, this kind of ongoing dialogue with the world, but also a monologue with myself with going. Okay, I saw this. And here are my thoughts. And here's what I'm going to try and hear what? Here's why this doesn't work. And so my blog is really just this, like random collection of experiences from the last 11 years, both in the classroom and also outside of it. And somehow that hit a chord with a lot of people. And it was not something that I set out to do. You know, it was not a diss intention of like man. I was a second. I was a third-year teacher when I started writing, and I did not think that I had the answers for anything, and I still don't have many answers, but I had a lot of questions. And I also had this hope that if I could change some things, maybe I could make the situation in front of me better. And my students were kind enough to share their voices with me and say, yeah, you go share this with other adults to, because it would be really nice if more people hurt at the new. And so I think that's it's just a super organic Journey that I've been on and continue to be on. Right. The learning never stops. And, and I think, especially in the last 19 months. Now more than ever, when we've just been told, we'll figure it out, or, you know, here's this new initiative. Can't you just make it work? I've tried to share all the dumb little things that I have done to try to make it bearable and manageable, but also been very vocal about like this is not sustainable, and it's not okay for us to feel like we're the ones failing here when there's so much more going on than just the decisions within our own classroom. 00:05:28 Molly RauhI love the that started as a reflective practice for you that you were just kind of reflecting on your work and writing about it. And, you know, I also think it's really neat that it was your husband who was like, write about it. You know, he recognized since what you needed when maybe you couldn't. So I think that's that's kind of a neat thing.00:05:48 Pernille RippAnd I think maybe he was just sick of hearing about it. You write like, because it's it's also like when you're in this vacuum together. Now that we were to teacher household, we also have to have like, we've really recognize some boundaries. And being like otherwise. It's all consuming. And I think he was at the point to where he was like this is all consuming for you. How can you get it out, step away? And then feel like you did something productive with all those thoughts? And so he knows me. Well, he knew that writing would be a good outlet for that.00:06:16 Molly RauhAnd I think one of the beautiful things about that as starting this journey for yourself as a third-year teacher. I don't know to me, that's like the prime time. You still have lots of energy. You still, like you have questions about things. You have all these ideals that you haven't forgot, if that makes sense. Yeah, because I think I don't know about you, but as I go through my own teaching journey, sometimes you lose sight of like that, that ultimate goal of who you want to be. Because, like you said, those systems, they end up changing us. And sometimes you look around suddenly, and you're like, I don't want to be part of these systems anymore. And you said, like you said, they're part of traditions, and they get passed down. And I think we all slowly, over time, you know, become complicit complicit in some practices that we probably don't love.00:07:13 Pernille RippAbsolutely. And I think they I think the system is set up to do that, that I think it's meant to wear as down the way that we are spoon fed this, you know, statement of, like, will do it for the kids. And the minute you raise your voice, well, then you're not in it for the right reasons. And what an incredibly toxic way of thinking. Like the reason I raise, my voice is for the kids, but it's also the create a profession that is sustainable for people, because it does not work if we're, if we are self sacrificing our health, our families, everything, our finances, just to fix a system that isn't working for kids, and then in Reverse being told, like, you must not have done enough. You know, when we look at burnout, it's like there's so many reasons. But of course, it's also like the burden that educational staff and the system is supposed to to carry is just too much. And so I think it's also, I think you're right with that, like I love being around new teachers because they're still hopeful. And then I look at myself, and I'm like, man, when did I become the jaded old teacher, right? Like when did I become that teacher? I was like, oh, here we go, another new idea, you know, like that voice in the staff meeting. But I get it now, And I get why people end up there. And so I think it's important to continue the dialogue with students to, because the students have been in our grade before. And so while I might be a eight year veteran of seventh grade by now, this is my students, one and only time in seventh grade, and they have hope and they want to change things. And so that's why I think it's so important for me to have those conversations with kids as well.00:08:47 Molly RauhOkay. So, thinking of like going from that blogging piece to your first book, and and just to give you a little bit of heads up. So, you know, I like to poll some of my colleagues and friends in education before I do these interviews. And I would say, I there were there were two kinds of teachers. They either knew who you were, and there were like, oh, my gosh, that's so exciting. She's great, or they had no idea who you were. And so for the you know, I think on a literacy podcast, most of our listeners probably know who you are. But on the off chance that there are some who don't know much about you, I think like I want, I want you to go back to early as a professional writer. How did you go from the blog to a book? And then kind of quick summary of what your first book was about that our listeners can maybe go. Maybe I need to pick that up. Okay?00:09:48 Pernille RippYa, no, how did that? So I was Brave. I saw a tweet. So I've been blogging for a couple of years, and people were responding, which was crazy, right? Like even the first blog post that I wrote somebody responded, and it wasn't my mom, you know, moms always like show up and dads. And it was like some stranger who had like, left a comment. And he was so crazy to me, and it continues to be to this day. And so after a couple of years, I was like, okay, this is kind of cool. And I sought sweet notes from the small press. And they were like, "Hey, we're looking for new education writers." And I was like, now, wouldn't that be something like, wouldn't that be a cool challenge to like, take all of this that I've been putting out in the world. And like, try to not make it a system like I didn't want to make a how to how to teach like Pernille kind of book. But just to be like, hey, here's my journey. And here are the ideas and man has that made a difference in my space at the time as a fourth and fifth grade teacher. And so I sent the idea, and they were like, yeah, yeah, we think there's something here. And so I wrote the first version of "Passionate Learners" for them. And then, you know, there were some things that didn't work out the way they did. And but they were. They were kind enough to connect me with Routledge to sell the book rights to them and so route, which then and they were like, this is awesome. Let's repackage this, but do want to update it. And by then I had moved to middle school. So I was like, yeah, because I looked at that book through that written by that Elementary version of Pernille that was all about like, let's break the system. And like, how do we give control back to students? And how do I question grading? And the homework? And like just constantly look at all the structures and the boxes that we place kids in and try to break those within a very conscripted conscripted system. You know, how do you work with in a school that tells you you have to do letter grades, but you don't want to, right like, what do you do that? How can you still Center the kids and still kind of play by some of the rules? And so I've read that book now is a middle school teacher. And I was like, oh, wait, here's the middle school extension of this work right now that I'm only responsible for 45 minutes of English times 5 that that wall breaking, has to look totally different, because it just wasn't such a different world. And so it was a really fantastic, great way to go back and revisit like what Pernille had written a couple of years earlier, what I had written a couple of years earlier and go kid. Now, how does this get adapted and modified? And so that was the second second edition of Passionate Learners, which sounds like really fancy, but it was really just because it was a purchase of that book. And so that book is really like, I don't know, my hopes and dreams for any classroom teachers of how do we give the control back to kids? How do we create opportunities for them to shape the learning, decide the learning assess themselves? And how do we put a microphone in front of their faces to say, what's not working for you? Do you feel respected? You know, why not? And what would, what would you like to do to facilitate change and be open to that, and then be able to help them create this change? And so that's where it all started. And then once that book came out, then all of a sudden it was, you know, just like these really serendipitous connections with other people that were like, Hey, we're, you know, could you want to write about, you know, you kind of talked about this and passionate Learners. You want to come over to Corwin and talk more about like, how can principals and empower their teachers like, what do you, what do you wish principals, knew and administration?" Which was a really interesting book to write, because it was like, I was not in a great principal situation at that time. So it was kind of like, what do I wish? We're my ideal situation, but it was also looking at, okay, what, what am I doing in my with my students to break down some of the hierarchy of power and how we share power? And how could that really be replicated within a district and the same thing? Then the global collaboration book happened. And then route, like a Routledge came back, and they were like, I was actually, I think I was under contract to write a book about student blogging, because I was super into student blogging. And as I started writing it, I was like, this is not. I was like, why am I writing this book? Like I don't think this is like chapter or like a PDF. And so I spoke to DonnaLynn Miller, who I know so many people know. And is a very dear friend of mine, I said, I have this idea for a writing or a reading book. And I was like, but I don't, I don't think, you know, like, who am I to write a reading book? And she was like, "No, we need as many people out there writing these books to say, look, DonnaLynn can do it in Texas, with, with her age groups. And Penny can do it up, you know, up in her, in her age groups. And then this random random teacher in Wisconsin can do it with her kids." And so it was the boost I needed to kind of go. Okay, I have I have a few ideas, and also to pay homage to the people who had come before me and said, I picked up their ideas. And here's what it looks like teaching day-to-day and 45 minutes of ela. And so that was passionate readers. And so for me, I think if I look at all four books that I've written and I'm currently writing up this, One what keeps coming back to me is, how do we center the child? And how do we make their voices heard? And how do we recognize that when a child shows up in our classroom, it's not just their academics that show up? It's their whole experience. It's the whole child, and if we don't make space for the emotions that they carryrwith them when it comes to Reading, writing or anything in school, and I don't just mean in a recognition like, oh, I see that you're having a hard day. But really we dive into into into these emotions with kids. Then they're going to have a much harder time actually making some real connections to the journey that they're on. And so that continues to be at the heart of my work and continues to be at the heart of my writing. So my hope for any of the books is really that any teacher at any grade level can pick it up and go, oh, I'm going to try this like I'm going to take these ideas, and I'm going to make him work within my system. But here's why she changed. And maybe I can't do it. I think she wants she did, but I can do some of that. And I think the biggest gift has just been when ducators have come up and said, you, you gave me the courage to go and try some of these things, because I write about the fear, you know, that came with making some of these changes, and also just like that one idea that you gave man, it just made the biggest difference like what a crazy honor that is. So yeah, the writing was not something I ever thought would be a part of my life. And now I can't imagine it not being a part of my life. That's usually how it goes, right? 00:16:41 Molly RauhDefinitely. Well, and that's that's how I process to. So to me, that just makes sense, although I haven't blogged about it in a long time, but early on, like you, I used to blog about it. So trying to think of how you worded it, you said it was. It was really great wording. You had said something about, you know, even just that, they read things, and they might not be able to use all the things that you put in your book, but they might take just one thing. And that really made me think about, kind of honoring the you know. And you've talked a lot about different spaces and places like DonnaLynn's space and place. And you mentioned Penny Kittle. Yeah, I was gonna say, was it Penny? Ya you mentioned Penny, and like the space in place that she teaches in. And so thinking of that, you know, I really I just really appreciated that, because I don't know. Over the years I've felt that teaching is incredibly personal, right? So, like, you know, I have I have my way of being, and it's not going to be your way of being. And so sometimes the things that work for me in honoring kids might look a little different in then how you my honor kids. And, you know, I love that you're a seventh-grade teacher, because that was my previous life, and I miss my seventh graders00:18:17 Pernille RippSuch an incredible age to be a part of right? And I think that that's also it like I think about. So I now teach in a glorious 86 minute block. So I only have three seventh grade classes. How vastly different they are. And even within my own system of doing things, looks very different depending on the kids in front of me and I, while I love that there are books and systems out there that are like day one day to, you know, do this, because I think it's such an incredible resource, especially when you're just starting out, and you're trying to figure out your own systems. But like, I really wanted to put a book out there that was like, you don't have to do this day by day. You can use this at different parts of the year. You can use this when it fits for this one class or, or just. Here's a question, you can ask yourself, when you're having one of those days, some things are not working, because that's what's been helpful for me, right? It's been more of those books that said, I see you. And here's some things that you can do to make YOU better. And in turn, your classroom is going to hopefully feel a change as well. And so that has always been my goal, never to write the 10 step version. You know, just to be like, try this. Reflect on this. Ask this, do this. Here's a sheet. Here's an idea. Here's a lesson. And those are my favorite PD books as well, the journeys that I get to go on, because otherwise I forget, you know, I can't sit with it book in my lap and read another person, step-by-step instructions when I'm there with the students. And so for me, it's important that there needs to be some sort of osmosis into my own system.00:19:49 Molly RauhWell, and that brings me back to something you said earlier that I really appreciated too, because you talked about how you see how that those systems kind of make us jaded over time. And you know, a little bit of that idea of having some empathy for how teachers get to those spaces and going, okay, I love that. You said, you know, here's a question you can ask yourself. And, you know, I think that's something even in the world we live in today. I've seen some of my colleagues that were, you know, at one point in time, like people, I really admired and loved dearly. I've seen them kind of go down what I might consider a little bit of a dark path where maybe they've lost touch with who they are and what they leave as a teacher. And so I, like, I like that question framing too, because sometimes those questions can be questions that you ask your dear friends too, to help them reflect on where they're at. And it's that that comes from a space of, I think, a lot of empathy for just how hard it can be to continue this profession and stay true to that core of wanting to do our best for kids and wanting to honor them and keeping them centered. So given that, you know, that's something that you speak to that resonates with me personally. Could you give an example of a question that you ask yourself sometimes, or that you recommend teachers might ask themselves when maybe they're making choices that aren't student-centered or aren't ya internally. That experience? Yeah, I think, I mean, there's one question that I've used for years, and that's just what I want to be a student in my own classroom, right? Like wood Pernille, the 12 year old version of Pernille, as much as I can remember, would, would I have thrived in this environment that I've created a law inside my seventh graders? But also like thinking as a parent, right? I have four kids in myself. And would they be able to thrive within our environment and kind of keeping that as a gut check? Because there's always going to be days where I'm like, hmm, no. Today was probably really boring, right? And so then, knowing that when I'm planning, adding some more boring lessons, because sometimes they are just going to be boring right like it's not always going to be a production, then thinking about like, what's my attitude and delivering these lessons as far as like, how am I joking around? How am I giving them a chance to get up and move around? And, you know, how else can we provide joy? And so that's my other question, especially right now is how much? How much joy are we having? Are we getting a chance to just sit and laugh together? You know, it cannot like I was on Twitter the other night. And Julie G, who's just a fabulous educator that I admire so much. You know, she had said, I'm going to paraphrase it home awfully, but she had said, something like, you know, constantly asking kids to solve the world's problems is exhausting for them, and also, like, not healthy. And I think about that, especially like with an English right where we have so much like, let's burn down the system. And like lets36, let's really dig in all these deep dark issues. And how are we going to change the world, which is like, super amazing. And I have some kids who are like, yes, lets, you know. And they want to go out. And they want to do all the things. But right now, too, I think, like, we all just need some more joy. And that's not in any way pretending that the world isn't burning literally around us, but it's just going like, how can we refill our energy reserves so that we can go out and fight the rules and fight the system and continue all of the conversations that we're having that need to be have about the inequities? And all is the system make just obstacles that we have in place for so many people in our country. And so for me, one of the questions to is just like, how am I bringing joy in? How are we co-creating joy and not like in an artificial way, but just like, you know, today, one of my fantastic kids just loves playing computer games on his chrome book the entire time that I'm teaching. And so we just made it a game of like, how quickly could I shut him down? And he was laughing about it. It. And I was like, I was laughing about it too, because it was like the perseverance that was being put into trying to get the game loaded before I noticed it was really impressive, like that kid is going to go places, right? And I think it was important for me in that moment. It go like this is funny. This is this is not this kid, like trying to like, be super rude or anything like that, like he's being a kid who has an opportunity to do the snake game or whatever they have unblocked and whatever. And and that was what he needed to. He laid himself. And so, yeah, I think, I think right now, I think it's really important that we all come back to Joy a little bit, but also that idea of like, you know, would you want to be a student in your own classroom? And if you're not sure, go ask the kids, that's always what I when I go out and teach people. I'm like, what questions are you asking, kids? Well, how would they describe your class? And sometimes people get really defensive. And I get that, because it's really hard to be told that maybe your class is not the favorite class, or maybe they don't really like you that much. Or maybe that lesson plan that you have worked so hard on. And that you were so excited about is not what they're excited about. And I've had to really teach myself, and I wish I was better at it, but I pretend that I'm really thick skinned, and I'd pretend in the face of my students that I'm really thick skinned. And so I always tell him, like, you got to tell me, if you don't feel safe, I hope you are able to tell me, or if you don't feel respected for me, I will give you opportunities to tell me. But at any point also let me know. But also, if you're like, this is so boring, can we plan something better together? Because you also have to recognize that these are my best ideas. And so if something is really terrible, let's talk about it, and then I would love your input. And I think that that has helped me stay more grounded. And I think for a lot of teachers who maybe are feeling really burned out right now, maybe having some of those conversations with kids. But like, how can we make this better? What would make a difference? Like, even my students today I put on the board, they're kind of in different places because they're working through some things, and it was like, you know, get all your old work done. And then hey, finish this new project up. And then third one was like, when you're done, you can nap, or you can read. But you can work on other classes in the kids were like, we can nap Mrs. Ripp. I was like, yeah, you can nap, and they were like, oh, my gosh, I really want a nap. And so again, that from the kids to write. And so I just think that if we're feeling this burnout, if we're feeling this frazzled, if we're feeling the scatterbrained, that we can't even read books, and how are the kids feeling, and not because that their emotional state takes precedent over ours it, there needs to be some sort of like, you know, balance there. But like, if we're feeling this way, then how are the kids in our, in our care feeling? And so I feel like there's just opportunity to have a lot of conversations. I was a really long winded answer. I apologize.00:27:06 Molly RauhNo, that was a glorious, answerand it deserves every second that I got. Well, that made me think so, you know, I'm new at my school. And so being new, you know, you're feeling this inordinate amount of pressure to like, impress the boss and, like, you know, going from middle school to high school. I also felt this pressure for a high school level of rigor. And, you know, the reality was, I realized my kids aren't there yet. You know, it's a very different population than where I was before. They have a lot of spaces where I need to build some skills that they don't have that. You know, I took for granted, they might have as high school students. And so I had to take a step back and go, you're pushing these guys too much. And yes, you want to get there. And I'm still going to get, you know, do my darndest to get them there. And I've already seen them grow exponentially, because kids are amazing and resilient, and they can do fantastic things. But I also, you know, in that push, I was making my classroom, like you said, it was not a place where kids wanted to be. And really, it wasn't a place where I wanted to be right. And, you know, had this realization of that, because, you know, again, I like to be reflective and ask myself, myself those questions. And this was very impulsive. I'm a very impulsive person. You know, I asked, I started adding like a silly little question at the beginning of the day, in addition to whatever, you know, warm up sort of thinking tasks they had going on. And the other day I had put on there can you do a cartwheel? And, you know, we go around the room, and some of them are like, maybe, I don't know. I haven't tried in years, and some of them are like, I don't think so. And so impulsively. I was like, all right, in the middle of class today, we're going out, we're finding out if we can do cartwheels. All of us. I don't know either. I haven't tried in a while, might pull a muscle, and you guys can laugh. And so we literally like, you know, they were digging into a text, you know, working really hard. And so we took a break from that. We all piled outside, there were a bunch of people in the courtyard. So they were like, oh, we can't do this here, people will see us. So I found a little spot out of the way they could have a little privacy. And we just like, started doing cartwheels. And pretty soon they're cheering each other on, like, try it. You can do this, and they're like pausing and like teaching somebody how to do a cartwheel. And there was just amazing bond building between the class. And, you know, I didn't plan that. But oh, we needed it so much. And it was this huge aha for me, like, I need to do some silly things with my kids, more. Like my freshman, by the end of the day, they're so fried there. They're not there, you know. And I was getting really frustrated with them, because they're just not able to be students. You know, they've got these block like our classes are like an hour and a half long, right? And so, you know, those 90 minute classes that's a lot for some of those kids. And so by the time they get to their fourth hour and a half class, yeah, they've got nothing left and just going out and doing something silly. Or like the other day for our break. We didn't even go outside as we just needed something really quick we do could do. They had a little arm wrestle battle. You know, not everybody had to do it. But if they wanted to, they could. And we had brackets. And, you know, we found our classroom arm wrestling champion champion and just some of that physicality too. I think they needed so much. And so I was really grateful that I just had a crazy impulse to honor all the other parts of their being, or at least you know, the being silly and being a kid piece. Because man, they've been able to come back and still dig into text, and, you know, and probably do better than if I'd said, no, we need every minute of this time like.00:31:09 Pernille RippAnd I've had to remind myself that to like, slow down down, because we're getting this artificial press right of like learning loss and get them caught up. And like, poor we behind, first of all, like, who is this fictitious person that we're all running after. So I'd like to have a conversation with him. But it's also just like, slow down and have the conversation, you know, and, and, and do the small group challenges and do the physicality. And it's okay that work time today was only 15 minutes, because we were switching between things will come back to it tomorrow. And so I keep laying these grand plans for how quickly we're going to get through units. But what I keep marveling over at the slower pace that we're going is so many more kids are finding success. So many more kids are starting to like open up to each other. So many more kids are laughing. I have this rule in my classroom. You can't say, shut up, I just find it really disrespectful. And they know, like when I say they're like, I say, language and they know. And now like they're all saying it to each other, right? Like language, Mrs. Ripp, Mrs. Ripp says, language. And I just like it's those little things that become the spoken language of our community, right? That weaves us together. And I think that, you know, not now more than ever, but now more than ever, we need to recognize that. And I think now more than ever, we also have the ability to say, no, like, no, I'm going to put up a barrier to my classroom, and I'm going to trust my instinct, and I'm going to try to tap into these kids in front of me and try to build community, because that's what you told me to do. And I'm going to continue to do that all year so that we can take academic risks so that we can read together, right? I don't think I've handed out so many snacks in my life, and then had to like, put kids into separate spaces. So there's six feet and hand sanitizer. But I'm like, if it takes me going to Aldi, buying more granola bars or going down my principal of me, and like, I need snack, because I'd really like not to fund it myself, you know, so that these kids can learn learn and like, have a moment. Then I'm going to buy the granola bars right? Like. And again, I'd prefer not to buy myself, because I think we do that enough. But I think what you speak to their cartwheels or arm wrestling like, yeah, like, how are we keeping them in a space to learn to also where they feel safe? I mean, think about how many kids didn't speak last year if they were virtual, and they learned that to be in the shadows was a perfectly fine place to be. And now we're asking to come right back out in the sunlight, you know. And so, like, how are we handling that with kids in a true way? And not in this artificially constructed? Well, we're in school, so you better just do what I tell you to do kind of way. So if it takes granola bars or cartwheels, or whatever it is, then that's what it's going to take, right?00:34:05 Molly RauhAnd and yeah, yeah, this I agree, this snacks help tons to I have definitely gotten more snacks than I ever have before. And you talked about that like hiding in the shadows when they were remote. And I've seen that with my students, they don't know how to talk to each other anymore. It is that much harder to get them to feel brave enough to put an idea out to into the universe. And that was, as we were doing cartwheels. It evolved into this, like be bold challenge like be bold just try it like, you know, we're going to cheer you on whether it's the worst cartwheel we've ever seen, or were completely amazed. And we did like, they started cheering each other on. They started encouraging each other to try. And that, I think, has gone back into our academic moments where, you know, a kid, and I like my favorite response when a kid shares an answer. And even as I you know, maybe clarify misconceptions, you know, I'm always like, oh, I love The Bravery of that answer. Like, I love to tell them, they're Brave when they answer things, and they share ideas. And so the you know, that's part of my language that I hope passes on to my students, but that, that cartwheel the culture of the cheering each other on. I think that has come back into the academic space since last Friday, when I did that, well, we've had a ton of your time already. And so, and and poor Jessica, I dominated this conversation. 00:35:35 Pernille RippOh ya, hi Jessica!00:35:37 Jessica RickertYou guys are good. You're talking secondary. It's all good. 00:35:44 Molly RauhSo Pernille. I know you said that as you're writing, your books are thinking about things you've learned from other places is there? Do you have an educational hero or a mentor? Somebody you've learned from that, you know, you kind of keep with you. So, you know, who's your hero?00:36:00 Pernille RippWho's my hero? I mean, I could I could give you a list of incredible adults that are still doing the work. But honestly, it's the kids like it keeps coming back to the kids. The kids that find their voice, the kids that speak up against me, the kids that on my survey, you know, have the bravery to tell me that no what I'm doing does not work, or that they don't feel respected by me like they are always going to be my educational heroes. The kids who I know what's going on outside of school, because they have, they have confided in me, and yet they still show up, and they try, or even the kids were. Life is amazing, and they come in, and they like want to be there. And they want I want to connect, and they're trying to reach out to you and all of their amazing ways. You know, that to me like that's The Bravery. Those are the kids that I'm, that those are the people that I look up to, because, like, if I can be smart enough and be good enough to be deserving of being in the in the presence of my seventh graders, then it's been a good day. And I feel that way with my own kids to like, I look at some of the ways that my kids, who are also vastly different look at the world, and I'm just in awe and I, I want to get closer to that right? Like I want to get out of this jaded adult shell, where we listen too much to the news and and were dominated by this Doom and Gloom and go out and say, well, why not? And why not me? No, why not change? And who can I bring along on this journey? And who's already on this journey that I can learn from? So I would say, the kids, you know, when in doubt, go ask some questions. We have the best. Like I say, there's always that we have the best professional development sitting right in our classroom. And so so we need to tap into that.00:37:48 Molly RauhI love that number. One resource. Our students.00:37:53 Jessica RickertAnd that's the best take away. And I did enjoy listening too. I just love hearing educators talk, and you guys both in the classroom talking about kids. And it's an interesting take on how covid is affected kids. But I love how you talked about bringing that Joy back in and both of your experiences and examples of having a little bit of fun because they do think we get mired down on. We've got to do this. And this and this and definitely getting out of the adult world and getting into the kid world is so much better for everyone. We all need to turn off the news and talk to kids more. So I love that aspect of it too. And so make sure for all of our listeners that you go to sign up right now. It's ccir aorg, because per meal will be presenting at our 20:22 conference. And you can even get more insights and wisdom too. So thanks so much for joining us tonight. Pernille.00:38:49 Jessica RickertThank you for inviting me. I appreciate it.00:38:52 Molly RauhThanks for listening to CCIRAliteracy conversations podcast to find out more about ccir a go to ccir aorg on ccir aorg. You can join as a member, or find great resources like our professional development blog, which posts every Tuesday and has a variety of guest writers on an awesome selection of topics. CCCIRA is a Professional Organization, Educators and community members dedicated to the promotion and advancement of literacy. We also have a Twitter account at Colorado reading. You can find us on Instagram at CCIRA_ColoradoReading . Or you can find us on Facebook, where we also have a members only group that we're trying to build. And our Facebook account is CCIRA Colorado Reading. We'd love to hear more from you. And again, if you're looking for new content, please send any questions or things you'd be interested in seeing from ccir a to ccir a video at gmailcom. Thanks for listening and have a great week.
47 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
Jason Oleskevich: Renewing A Love for Teaching
Jason Oleskevich is a veteran teacher in Colorado. After 20 years of teaching, he started thinking the grass was greener outside the teaching realm, but after a year off realized he was a happier person in the classroom. Listen to this episode to hear his story, and find out why teaching is the best career out there for many of us.
49 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Laura Resau: Celebrating Cultures Through Writing
Laura Resau, local Colorado author shares her experiences and habits as a writer-anthropologist. Laura specializes in middle grades and young adult books that are inspired by and celebrate cultures she has had the opportunity to visit and learn from.https://www.lauraresau.com/
46 minutes | Sep 6, 2021
Gordon Korman: Sharing the Magic of Writing for Young "Slacker Fans"
Author Gordon Korman discusses what he writes, how he writes, and the role teachers and librarians play in getting his books into the hands of young "slacker fans." He discuses how he has challenged himself as an author through the years as he progresses on his way to writing 100 books for middle grade readers.
80 minutes | Aug 22, 2021
Katie Garner - Practical Application of the Science of Reading in Your Classroom
Katie Garner specializes in making meaning while reading using the science of reading to increase access to books of our primary students.
53 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
Tanny McGregor: Sketch-notes to Improve Comprehension
Tanny McGregor chats with Molly and Jessica about using sketch-notes to make thinking visible and improve comprehension.Resources:Tanny's websiteInk and Ideas (book)The link above features:A Heinemann Podcast about SketchnotingTable of Contents from the bookA Sample ChapterFree TemplatesPD Resources from Tanny McGregorQuick video on the bookVIsual Notetaking using Ink and Ideas (46 minutes video)Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns you have about the episode. Thanks for listening!
47 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Troy Hicks: Integrating Tech into Literacy Instruction
Troy Hicks: professor of English and Education at Central Michigan University. former middle school language arts teacher, Director of the Chippewa River Writing Project shares about New Literacies in the classroom.Resources:Troy's WebsiteTroy's new book: Mindful Teaching with TechnologyNCTE Definition of literacy in the digital ageAdobe Spark: Free for K-12Northwestern University Knight Lab Storylines ToolsSutoriThinglinkChoose Your Own Adventure - Alice KeelerChippewa River Writing Project - YoutubeStanford History Education GroupLateral ReadingNational Writing ProjectTransmedia Storytelling 101 - Henry JenkinsCreating Confident WritersTroy Hicks' heroes:Chris Miller, mentor as a teacherErnest Morrell, Director of NCTE Policy Studies, mentor as a teacher educatorIf you have questions or concerns about the episode, please email CCIRAvideo@gmail.com.
34 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
Colby Sharp: Increasing Book Access in Your Classroom
Colby Sharp, host of The Yarn Podcast, co-author of Game Changer, editor of The Creativity Project, and co-founder of The Nerdy Book club shares a bit about his recent projects and how to curate a great classroom library.*More show notes to come.Have questions or comments? Please email email@example.com.
53 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
Beth Skelton - Every Teacher is a Language Teacher
Today's guest is Beth Skelton who is a guru of Language Acquisition. Throughout the podcast Beth shares numerous actionable steps to allow teachers to create effective literacy and language instruction. She recommends purposeful planning to support students in producing quality reading, writing, and speaking. Listen in to find out how to leverage student assets and elevate student language success. If you want to learn more from Beth, join us for the 2022 CCIRA Literacy conference!Resources:WIDAIsabel Beck - vocab guruWorking with Words Off the WallKaganWord SwapJeff ZwiersCris Tovani, "I Read It, but I Don't Get It"Harvard Graduate School of EducationProject ZeroSee, Think, WonderVisible Thinking RoutinesEllin Oliver KeeneHarvey Smokey DanielsDonalyn MillerRegie RoutmanAndrea Honigsfled, "Growing Language and Literacy"Spreadsheet of Resources - contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor questions about the episode, contact email@example.com
48 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Erik Palmer - I think we can all improve at speaking
Today's podcast was recorded with Erik Palmer, a guru of instructional practices for better spoken communication. Erik shares his philosophy on the importance of teaching speech as a crucial life skill. He has developed a framework to teach students what to do before and during speaking and uses mini lessons throughout the year to practice elements of great speech. He integrates speaking into all areas of instruction to maximize every moment and have students practice these skills. He elaborated on the importance of adults and teachers becoming effective oral communicators. Throughout our conversation Erik emphasized the importance of always improving and learning. He has many resources available through twitter, his website, and books, including checklists, a framework to teach, and other supporting materials. Erik Palmer will be a featured speaker at the 2022 CCIRA Literacy Conference.Resources:Erik Palmer's WebsiteErik Palmer's Twitter AccountErik's Basic Framework for Speaking (Begins at 6:56)What you do before you open your mouth - planning content for audience, appearance, visual aidsWhat you do as you are speaking - performing, body language, emotionPVLEGS (framework for speaking)Student Skill Monitors - example, "Poise Monitor"Framework becomes a tool for Peer FeedbackGuiding students from "I can't do speeches" to being effective speakers (Begins 18:47)Break down speaking for studentsGet past the mystique and the idea of "I am not a good speaker.""We are emerging speakers"Mentor SpeechesWell Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students; Book by Erik PalmerSpeaking skills for teachers as educational advocates (29:31)Back to School NightIdentifying our weaknesses and speakers and learning to get betterErik's Inspirations to check out:Kelly GallagherUnknown Author Speaker from CCIRAQuestions or comments about the Episode? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
48 minutes | May 26, 2021
Laura Whale - when we know better, we do better
Today on the podcast we have Laura Whale, a literacy specialist whose passions include dyslexia and the science of reading. During our conversation, Laura shared with us a huge list of resources that she explored in her journey in becoming a better teacher. As she said many times: "when we know better, we do better."Resources mentioned during this episode:The Science of ReadingDyslexia Simulation - Rocky Mountain Branch, International Dyslexia AssociationVirtual Dyslexia SimulationThe Reports by Emily HanfordBook StudiesSpeech to Print by Louisa C. Moats, Ed. D.Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties by David KilpatrickLanguage at the Speed of Light by Mark SeidenbergEquipped for Reading Success by David KilpatrickLETRS TrainingOrton GillinghamCDE Reading ModulesHeggerty CurriculumMargaret GoldbergNatalie WexlerCCIRA, Inc.Tim RasinskiMarnie Ginsberg - Reading Simplified
52 minutes | May 19, 2021
Michele Warner - Great Instruction Even in Quarantine
Topics with Michele:Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca - Patterns of Power (Grades 1-5) (Grades 6-8)Structuring breakout rooms and norms for your studentsRemote teaching schedulesUsing paper pencil remotely and how to have students use their camerasWorking with paras and support staff remotelyTaking care of your health and movement while teaching remotelyGrades as a measure during remote teachingSocial time, breaks for kids, and making connectionsMichele's role in CCIRA and what she has taken away from her involvementMichele's excitement for the online conference (which was canceled)
57 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
Emily Goldenstein - Tackling Stress and Online Feedback
Emily Goldenstein joins Molly and Jessica to talk about how she is tackling teaching during a pandemic and what tips and strategies she uses to manage her time and keep her stress low. Check it out and find out about the special wednesday schedule that lets her tackle some of her feedback goals while meeting student needs.
43 minutes | Nov 12, 2020
Jessie Meeks: Tackling Standards in Two Grades at Once and Other Brilliant Ideas
Jessie Meeks, 2nd and 3rd grade teacher talks about how she leverages technology and instructional practices to teach to two different grades in the same classroom. We cover a lot of territory in the podcast: the logistics of teaching lessons to two grade levels, technology tools and how to use them, lesson templates for online (like a "do-what" chart), staying current on professional learning, and so much more.
51 minutes | Oct 29, 2020
Cathy Lynskey: Teaching in 2020
Cathy Lynskey, CCIRA Treasurer, chats with Jessica and Molly about teaching in fall 2020 and what school looks like for her students.
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