Sunday, March 10, 2013

#Slice 2013: 10 of 31- The TCWRP Saturday Reunion

I have a post ready to go that is more of a story for my daily writing on the #Slice Challenge 2013, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at However, the Saturday Reunion at Teachers College gave (I do mean gave) me way too much learning to not do some sharing. Teachers College hosts these reunions twice a year and if you ever have a chance to be in New York for one, don't miss it! With over 140 literacy-oriented workshops and inspiring key-note speakers, hundreds--maybe thousands-- of teachers from near and far learn together.

The  keynote at  is more packed than a Prince concert. Amazing!

 Oh, and it's free with no need for pre-registration. Just come!

I apologize for not doing a better job with pictures of the day, but I did bullet the information to try to make it easier to read and think about. Beware: there's a lot of information in this post, as there was a LOT of information given throughout the day.

Katherine Paterson was one of the three key-note speakers. Kate Roberts and Alyssa Capucilli were the other two speakers in different venues. Sadly, I could not clone myself, although I did pay attention to some of the twitterfeeds as they came through. Here are some of my favorites--you can check out more on twitter, using the #TCWRP hashtag.

  1. To our youngest, who are the most fluent at moving fluidly between the real and unreal world, wondering is critical.  
  2. When you make people feel things they remember what you say 

  1. We need to teach with love, humor, kindness, and compassion. That's what makes the standards come alive.  

  2.  sat reunion- Alyssa capucilli. Playful joyful brave atmosphere in writing workshop! Sums it all up!

Katherine reminded us of what we remember most clearly from our elementary education, stating that most people remember one of three things: a horribly humiliating experience, a book read aloud, or a play that they acted in. Some of my other favorite parts of Katherine's talk included:

  • her sharing of the granddaughter's writing to frame her message of the importance of creativity in our world. Her 11 year-old granddaughter coined the phrase, "the richness of creation."
  • that only the truly imaginative person will be successful in the 21st century.
  • the research that she shared about the role of the arts--"to awaken the imagination, revealing the unseen, unheard of and unexpected..."
  • the truth that we want beauty for our beautiful children. Katherine read an excerpt from Bread and Roses, Too, where she gives this message through her characters, as well. (I'll be reading this one soon.)
  • the importance of the movie Chekhov for Children (I'll be watching this one soon) in that it documents what happens to children when they are exposed to great art--in this case, a play.
  • that books and beauty can save your life. She read a beautiful letter from a soldier in Afghanistan who read A Bridge to Terabithia. Trent Reedy has since come home and written Words in the Dust. (I'll be reading this one, soon.)
  • the statement that imagination is more important than knowledge. Ah. I need to repeat that one. Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Loved her, loved her.

I'm going to write about one more workshop and then save the other two for tomorrow's post because they were all so good. The first workshop that I attended (and it was really hard to decide) was about Information Writing and Lucy Calkins presented. Some of the information and key points that she packed into the fifty minutes included:
  • "Everyone has stories to tell and everyone has something to teach."
  • You have to get to the guts of Informational Writing, just like you do with narrative.
  • The easiest way to teach IW is through a subject that students know and care about.
  • Children need to learn about structures for Informational Writing, but those should be taught AS kids are writing, and not before. They can go back and revise previous work or try out newly learned concepts in future work.
  • Teach students that sometimes you write with hot air and sometimes you put in information.
  • With your own writing, show students what you are doing badly, and then how to fix it.
  • Throughout the process of writing an informational text, you're doing little bits of research.
  • If you have too much information, then the information overwhelms you.
  • Learn the acronym MECE--mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive.This is a big idea, but can lead to amazing elaboration if you linger on it. Do chapters/stories have MECE.
  • You can differentiate for students by having research be more focused.
  • When students figure out the important ideas, then they should use structures to accentuate them.
  • Teach students to ask questions when they are doing their informational writing.
Fifty minutes flew by for me in Lucy's workshop, since within all of these points, she was having us think about what our mentor text would be and how we would structure it. What would we accentuate and how would we balance our chapters...

Tomorrow, I will post about the other two workshops that I attended. 

Enjoy the day,


  1. Your excitement radiates through the screen. Thank you for sharing some of your notes. I know I read only small bits, but even from there I can continue thinking.

  2. Thanks for of these years, I WILLl go to the Saturday Reunion!

  3. So sorry I missed the reunion. I'm glad to be able to have a glimpse of it through your sharing.

  4. Thanks for sharing -
    love this...
    Imagination is more important than knowledge.

  5. I love part of one of the first tweets, Melanie "wondering is critical". And as for Calkins-so wonderful to hear. My school is based on the concept that students do better when they study their own choice of topic. Each student chooses a unit topic & the teachers create (with student collaboration) the curriculum around it. I'll be posting about it some time. Thanks for this so much. I wish I could go to many conferences-so inspiring!

  6. I couldn't make it up there this year. Thanks for sharing some of the wonderful things you got out of yesterday. Are you planning to attend one of the summer institutes?

    1. As of now, no, but it depends on my girls and their schedules. I'll let you know if I do...

  7. These are FREE?! Wow! What an incredible learning opportunity for those who live close enough. I so love it when people share their learning from workshops. I will be looking forward to the next installment. I'd love to know more about MECE.

    1. They are free and such a gift. I'll write about MECE, but first my other two workshops...

  8. Lucky! Sounds like an amazing conference and FREE, can't be that! Is it always the same Saturday every year? I can see planning a trip to NYC to visit family and sneaking the reunion in too.

    1. No, it's not always the same weekend. If you watch the website, the post the dates. I think that the fall on is October 19th. Your brain will be sore, but they pack a lot into just a few hours. It's over at 3.

  9. Wow. That's quite an amazing opportunity! I might have to come up to NYC for that conference. I have no idea how you managed to choose from that line up!

    I'm putting October 19 in my calendar now. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks for sharing out Saturdays' thoughts and ideas. I often go to this free event - but was busy yesterday. Maybe this summer...maybe...

  11. Melanie,
    Thanks for sharing. I was following the #TCRWP tweets and not being very productive as I was supposed to be reading research papers. Between #TCRWP and #MRA13, I learned a lot. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your sessions!

  12. Oh my gosh! Thanks so much for sharing!! These are great ideas! So glad you got to attend. Wish I could have, too!