WV ELA 18 Conference

I’ve been more or less traveling since last Wednesday, and I have only just now found the time to sit down and tell you fine people about the incredible weekend I had with some of the most inspiring and motivating educators I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and collaborating with. I took pages upon pages of notes and have made sketches of plans and ideas for next semester (and for a short unit before the end of this school year!).

Not only did I return with fire and energy from this conference, but I feel exhilarated having given my first presentation (I’ll include a link to the Prezi below). It was an interesting process and experience, and I’ve learned a few things not only about how to give a better presentation, but in presenting my passion project process to others, it revealed some places that I need and want to work on before the next launch of passion projects. For example, it wasn’t until the night before my presentation, as I conducted a trial run for my ever-supportive significant other, that it occurred to me that I should address the basics of graphic/web design with my students. In all honesty, it will take a bit of learning on my own this summer, but I want my students to approach the design of their websites with intention and deliberateness, considering color choices, font style, placement, sizing, image choice, etc. I want the package of the website to accentuate the project.

My prezi can be found here. I will also work on posting a link to the presentation on my Resources page.

And the handout I reference, as well as others, can be found on my Resources page on EvolutionizingEducation.com.

To be entirely honest, I am struggling with what to say first because there were so many incredible presentations I attended (and many more that I didn’t get to!). It was an immense pleasure to hear WV Poet Laureate Marc Harshman speak and read selections of his work. Among the bits of wisdom I took from him was this acorn: You are at your best when you are excited about what you are teaching. He spoke a great deal about passion, and I fully believe that impassioned learning from impassioned teaching; it’s a creed I try to live by and so should we all. I think oftentimes we get too caught up in the classics or in how things have always been done and we forget we must teach from the heart, not from the cannon. Passion is so often what is missing from our classrooms–and it’s not just lacking from our students, but from ourselves, too. And, really, how can we expect students to care or invest in work we ourselves are not passionate about? And they know when we’re not–you know they know. While I strive to be passionate about everything I teach, I know there are days when that isn’t the reality. So, the second thing I want to apply to my approach is to be passionate about all things I bring into the classroom. This may mean repackaging content that isn’t exactly thrilling to me in a way that I can be passionate about.

I absolutely loved listening to the amazing Jessica Salfia, President of WVCTE, discussing adventurous approaches to summer assignments as well as engaging and thought-provoking activities that address the dangers of the single story and provide students opportunities to confront the stereotypes of West Virginia’s single story and revise that story to reflect their own story and present a more inclusive and accurate account of people and place.

Among other notable presentations were Brian Sztabnik, a rockstar teacher from New York who armed us with some sneaky and incredibly effective close reading techniques, and Corinne Viglietta of the Folger Shakespeare Library who revolutionized what I thought was possible in teaching Shakespeare. I am actually teaching Macbeth here in the next week or two, and I am BEYOND EXCITED to try out some of the activities Corinne did with us–I will definitely blog about it when I do! The same is true for all the strategies and activities I came away with; I will be blogging in future about how I am incorporating them in my curriculum as I work through the summer preparing for next school year, and I will blog about my experience with these in the classroom as well. As always, keep reading and keep coming back!

One last thought before I go this evening: If you weren’t able to make it to the #WVELA18 Conference this year, please be sure to attend next year. Not only have I learned a great deal, but I have connected with people I hope to stay in touch with and network with over the coming years. It truly is an inspiring and motivating event. Also, if you haven’t paid for a teacher membership with the Folger, you need to! The amount of support and the amount of resources available is astounding.

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