Engender a Love of Language and Learning in Your Students, and Everything Else Takes Care of Itself
Want Your Students to Achieve the Common Core State Standards and Blow the Top off of All Those Standardized Tests? Go About it the Right Way, and Your Success is Assured!
The theme for this year's Write to Learn Conference is “Logophilia,” which, of course, means “the love of word." The chances are, if you are a teacher (especially a language arts teacher), you are a lover of words yourself, and have been ever since you were young.
How did that happen? Our guess is that you didn’t fall in love with language by filling out worksheets or filling in bubbles on a standardized test. More than likely, you fell in love with language by reading books that you truly loved and having the opportunity to write about the topics that really mattered to you. And, as you read more and wrote more, you became skilled at all of the important language processes at which your teachers wanted you to become skilled.
There’s a big lesson there: the path to the mind often runs through the heart. In today’s high-stakes, high-pressure teaching environment, it’s easy to get caught up in all the standards and standardized test scores and forget how you yourself became so skilled at language--through your love of words and language. If we help our students fall in love with language, they will willingly engage in meaningful reading and writing. And if they do that consistently over time, they will become skilled at all the language processes they need in order to reach our high standards for them and perform well on any standardized test placed before them.
And that’s our focus for this year’s Write to Learn Conference: how to engender that love of language in our students, thus creating proficient, high-performing readers and writers. And we have put together an amazing speaker line-up that will show you how to do just that, starting with Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, who has been called "the most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country" by The Washington Post. For the past two decades, Esquith has taught fifth graders at a public school in a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs, and violence. Yet, his students, while mostly immigrants or children of immigrants, living in poverty and learning English as a second language, voluntarily come to class at 6:30 in the morning and often stay until five in the afternoon. They learn math, reading, and science, but they also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, often score in the top one percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend the best universities in the country. Rafe has received the National Teacher of the Year Award, and is the only teacher to be awarded the President's National Medal of the Arts.
In addition, you will hear keynote addresses by Donalyn Miller who, in her popular book, The Book Whisperer, and her latest book, Reading in the Wild, describes how she inspires and motivates middle school students to read forty or more books a year; by Allan Wolf, poet, musician, and author of several nonfiction books, including the recently-published verse novel, The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic; by Steven Layne, literacy expert and author of Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers; and by Jim Burke, the author of numerous bestselling Heinemann titles, including The English Teacher’s Companion (4th ed.) and What’s the Big Idea? and publisher of the English Companion Ning, described by Education Week as “the world’s largest English department” and winner of several Edublog Awards for Best Social Network for Education.
And that just scratches the surface. Attend the full-day pre-conference on Thursday, February 27 and you can spend the day with literacy expert Ruth Ayres, author of Celebrating Writers; with Brenda Overturf, author of Word Nerds: Teaching All Students to Learn and Love Vocabulary; with Missouri master teacher and Fulbright scholar Casey Daugherty; or with Christopher Lehman, author/co-author of several popular books, including Pathways to the Common Core with Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth and Falling In Love With Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts--And Life with Kate Roberts.
In addition, you will have your choice of stimulating breakout sessions to attend--over 50 in all--on all aspects of language arts teaching, and you will have the opportunity to attend receptions held by the Missouri Writing Projects Network and Missouri IRA and functions such as our annual Late Night Open Mic reading on Friday evening. All in all, there’s not a better professional development opportunity for the price--anywhere!
Registration for the 2014 Write to Learn Conference will open in early November, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back then. We will see you at the conference!
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