Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Coffee: On Reading, Writing, and Notebooks

First, Gratitude

1. It is an absolutely glorious day here in South Carolina. The sun is shining, there is a slight breeze, and a few buzzards circling in the sky remind me that nothing lasts forever.
2. The neighbor's boy just got his training wheels taken off of his bicycle. I happened to drive up just in time to see the expression of pure joy on his face as he sped past on two wheels.
3. Smart and funny women friends make everything better. I had a blast on Friday and Saturday at the South Carolina Council of Teachers of English Conference. It was one of the best conferences I've attended, with great speakers (Penny Kittle, Releah Lent, Kelly Gallagher). But it would not have been nearly so much fun without the companionship of colleagues and friends.
4. One word can make such a difference: if I lived in South Dakota instead of South Carolina, I would have been looking at snow, and not a placid lagoon this past weekend.
5. It was really nice to come home to my loving husband.


At the conference this weekend I presented on the use of writer's notebook. I vaguely remember typing my proposal at the end of a long teaching day. I'm not sure how or why I came up with this title: Using Writer's Notebook to Transform Teaching and Create a Community of Writers. It seems a little wordy now, even if it does sum up what I hoped to say. Then I had a blurb that was about two sentences! Lol. Next time I'll work on that.

I was nervous about so many things: would anyone want to hear about this topic, would anyone actually show up; did I really have anything original to add to the conversation? I presented in the very first session, so no matter what happened, at least I would be able to relax and enjoy the whole conference afterward.

As it turned out, I had a fantastic audience, and it was standing room only. My colleagues were respectful and enthusiastic (if you've ever presented in front of an audience of teachers, you know they can be a tough audience). Plus, I got to meet my nephew's favorite teacher, who was one of the attendees at my session. It was fun!

The Conference

It was amazing! I met some of my favorite, most-admired teacher-writers, including Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher. I came home feeling inspired and invigorated.

Books Were Involved

Reviews will follow in another post, but I'll share a little about books I read before the conference, and books I brought home. My idol, Penny Kittle, was the keynote speaker the first day of the conference. She is a practicing teacher in New Hampshire, and I have read her book Write Beside Them all the way through not once but twice. I devoured her newest book, Book Love, this summer, and incorporated many of her procedures and ideas in my classroom this year. I've already written in this blog about how I'm incorporating choice in reading, with plenty of time for independent reading. So it was really exciting to meet and talk to Penny Kittle. Of course I brought my books with me for her to sign:

I definitely had a fangirl moment.

Kelly Gallagher was the keynote speaker on Saturday, and I also attended his session on Argument Writing. He's a charismatic speaker, and because he is also a practicing classroom teacher, his ideas are classroom tested. I walked out of his session with ideas I can take and use in my classroom.
Gallagher's book Readicide got me thinking about choice in reading for my classroom, and it is a book worth reading again and again. Readicide convinced me to begin building my classroom library.

One of the colleagues I traveled with, Lesley Roessing, has four published books to her name. She's the director of the Coastal Savannah Writing Project, and has been instrumental in helping me make the journey from teacher to teacher-writer. One of her books, The Write to Read: Response Journals That Increase Comprehension, I've been using in my classroom for several years. And I just got Bridging the Gap: Reading Critically and Writing Meaningfully to Get to the Core.
If you are a teacher, you really need to check out Lesley's books, which can be used at any grade level. She's worked with students of all levels, from elementary to high school. Her response journal forms worked beautifully with my sophomore level honors students.

Showing incredible restraint, I only bought two books at the conference, although I came home with a long list of books to find and buy or borrow. Here's what I bought:
Penny Kittle's The Greatest Catch: A Life in Teaching.
Minds Made for Stories: How We Really Read and Write Informational and Persuasive Texts by Thomas Newkirk.

Do you read for your profession, as well as for pleasure? How is that kind of reading different? What do you read, and how?


Iliana said...

We had a beautiful day here in Central Texas so I went for a walk and you are right, you can't help but feel gratitude for such beauty. Sounds like you had a wonderful time at the conference!

bibliophiliac said...

@Iliana-Oh yes, it was a blast! Going for a walk--wish I'd thought of that! Took the dogs out, but I should have taken a long walk.

bermudaonion said...

Your conference sounds great! We had clouds and sprinkles in the upstate but it was relatively warm, so I'm not complaining.

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-It was great! I just wish I'd had time for a walk on the beach....

Lisa said...

Sounds like you got a lot out of the conference and had a great time!