Help Your Students Become Successful — By Any Definition!
This year's theme for the Write to Learn Conference is "Sparking Student Success." That has always been the goal of everyone in education, right? But just what do we mean by "success"? To some educators, success means having their students score highly on standardized tests. To others, it means being able to say that their students have achieved the goals set forth in documents such as the Common Core State Standards.
But to others, these definitions of "success" seem narrow and unsatisfactory. Do such definitions include the "whole student"? Or do they leave out important, perhaps critical, aspects such as physical health, emotional well-being, curiosity and creativity, and a mindset that allows students to persevere in the face of challenges?
So, what do we really mean when we say that we want our students to be successful? When you get more than two teachers together in a room to discuss this question, you quickly find out that everyone has his or her own ideas about what "success" means for their students.
And that's where this year's Write to Learn Conference comes in. It may not be possible to ever reach a conclusive definition of "student success," but there can certainly be great value in having the discussion. This year's conference speakers will make you laugh, make you wonder, and make you think hard about a variety of ways to define success, and they will offer you specific, practical, classroom-tested strategies for helping your students achieve that success.
So, we invite you to be part of the conversation at this year's conference. On Day One (Thursday), you can attend one of our full-day, in-depth sessions with a noted expert. Primary and intermediate grades teachers can spend the day with writing experts Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, the authors of multiple professional books, including Mentor Texts, Nonfiction Mentor Texts, and Poetry Mentor Texts. If you teach grades three to eight, you can attend noted writing notebooks expert Aimee Buckner's session. Aimee is a master teacher and the author of Notebook Know-How, Notebook Connections, and Nonfiction Notebooks. If you are a secondary teacher, you can choose between two great sessions — one on reading, the other on writing. Those of you who want to increase your students' engagement with and love of reading won't want to miss Teri Lesesne's full-day session. Teri is the author of Making the Match, Naked Reading, and Reading Ladders. Those of you who would like for your students to vastly improve their ability to think critically and produce clear, well-reasoned, and well-supported arguments will want to attend the session by Missouri master teachers Declan Fitzpatrick and Caroline Hackmeyer.
Our conference keynote speakers on Days Two and Three form a virtual who's who of experts on the topic of helping students succeed. Our Opening General Session speaker, Debbie Silver, is an internationally-known speaker, a veteran and highly-decorated teacher, and the author of (among other books) Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed. Christopher Lehman, author of Falling in Love With Close Reading, will speak on Friday afternoon about how to help students achieve high standards of success for informational reading and writing while at the same time helping them to become passionate about literacy. On Friday evening, best-selling young adult author Heather Brewer, author of The Slayer Chronicles and The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, will talk about the devastating effects of bullying and how books can sometimes (both figuratively and literally) save the lives of kids on the fringe.
On Saturday morning, we will split the audience for concurrent keynotes. Those of you who are elementary teachers will have the pleasure of hearing literacy expert Katherine Bomer, author of Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing, who will share with you her message about empowering student writers by focusing on their strengths instead of their weaknesses. If you are a secondary teacher, you get two great speakers for the price of one, as literacy and ed-tech experts Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, co-authors of Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading, talk about what secondary language arts programs must do to help students become readers and writers who are both skilled and engaged.
And, of course, there is so much more — receptions and refreshments, exhibits and readings, contests and door prizes. But there's far too much to Write to Learn to put it all on the Home page of the website. Take some time to click around the site and see all we have to offer. You can find biographical information about the main conference speakers on the Speakers page, and you can find all the conference session descriptions on the Sessions page. While registration is not yet open, we hope that you see enough here to get you excited about attending this year's conference. If so, please go ahead and secure approval and funding to attend so that you can register when we open for business in November.
We look forward to seeing you at this year's conference!
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