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Posts tagged ‘Kelly Virgin’

Faces of Advocacy: Reflections on the 2016 NWP and the NCTE Conferences

The theme of the 2016 National Council of Teachers of English was Faces of Advocacy. A theme that couldn’t have been more timely. NCTE’s call for proposals included the following: “Many times as educators, we feel defeated and incapable of making change of any sort. This [NCTE] conference is your opportunity to rise to the challenge of who you are as a teacher or teacher leader – celebrate and discuss the possibilities that lie ahead of us.” There was definitely celebration in finding a COMMUNITY of educators dedicated to a shared purpose – literacy, freedom, and agency for all. Advocacy. What are we doing to advocate and to inspire advocacy in our classrooms, buildings, community, and the world?

pawlp dinner

L to R: Mary Buckelew, Lynne Dorfman, Rita Sorrentino, Janice Ewing, Tricia Ebarvia, and Kelly Virgin

In this post, PAWLP Fellows Rita Sorrentino, Janice Ewing, Pauline Schmidt, Kelly Virgin, Patty Koller, and Tricia Ebarvia share some of their takeaways from this year’s NWP and NCTE conferences. We encourage readers to respond. Please share your strategies for teaching and inspiring advocacy and service. We also urge teachers to attend and present at local, regional, and national conferences to renew the professional spirit.

– Mary Buckelew Read more

Tools of the Trade: Google Docs – A Tool for Taking the Writing Conference Beyond the Confines of the Classroom

By Kelly Virgin

By truly listening to students when we confer, we let them know that the work they’re doing as ‘writers’ matters.” -Carl Anderson

For years I have struggled with finding the time to truly listen to each and every writer I teach and as a result I know I have failed in letting many of them know how much their writing matters. As a high school teacher, the confines of a 42 minute class period and the average class size of 25 or more students made it logistically impossible for me to engage in meaningful writing conferences with every student regularly. That is until I took our writing conferences beyond the confines of the classroom through the use of Google Docs.  Read more

Tools of the Trade: Reading Response Journal—Doing Away with the Study Guide in an Attempt to Avoid Readicide

By Kelly Virgin

Recently, while reading Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide for the Strategies for Teaching Literature course, one of the participants posed the following question: “How can we tell if we are over-planning and overteaching a text; how can we better self-monitor?” Another participant very wisely answered, “If we know every question we want to ask and every discussion we want to have before we even pick up the book with our students, then chances are we are over-planning and in danger of overteaching.” Kelly Gallagher argues that the overteaching of books leads to readicide because “…the overanalysis of books:

  • prevents our students from experiencing the place where all serious readers want to be—the reading flow.
  • creates instruction that values the trivial at the expense of the meaningful.
  • spills over and damages our students’ chances of developing recreational reading habits.” (60)

When I think back to my first years of teaching, I know I was guilty of committing readicide time and time again. As a new teacher I felt panicky if I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go with every page of every novel. Read more

Tools of the Trade: Goodreads

By Kelly Virgin

goodreads-booskA few years back one of my real life friends asked me to be her virtual friend on yet another social media site.  I was already lagging with my tweets, feeling overwhelmed by my newsfeed, and completely out of touch with current hashtags, so I was leery of signing up for anymore social media tasks.  However, when she described it as “a Facebook for readers,” I knew I had to give it a shot. Since I accepted her invitation to join in February of 2009, I have extended that same invitation year after year to over 300 of my students.  
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Tools of the Trade: Using the Classroom Library as a Tool to Move Students Forward as Independent Readers

By Kelly Virgin

My first year teaching I half filled a little book shelf in the back corner of my classroom with all the YA novels I’d collected throughout college.  A part of me was excited to share these books with my students, but most of me was just happy to clear the totes out of my closet at home.  However, as the year progressed, I soon realized the books were getting about as much use on the shelves as they had received the previous year living under my winter coats. I attributed this to the unimpressive size and slightly outdated contents and vowed to do better.

As years passed, my library grew to include the latest hits and began to take over a larger part of my classroom. I naturally expected my students interactions with it to increase accordingly.  I thought I was doing everything right.  I added bookshelf after bookshelf.  I organized by genre into colorful bins. I tagged the spines of books with color-coded labels.  I created display shelves and rotated best sellers in and out of position.  I dedicated an entire bulletin board to the library and I posted book news, and reviews, and suggestions. I added a magazine section and a children’s book section. I moved in an old comfortable papasan.

Besides increased bickering over who got to sit in the “comfy chair,” I noticed only a little increased interest in my classroom library. Year after year, I amped up my efforts but continued to lament over what I was doing wrong. Then it hit me.   Read more

Book Review: Book Love

By Kelly Virgin

What better way to build community in a classroom than by building a community of readers.  Penny Kittle details just how to do that in Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers.  Kittle’s book reads like a step-by-step account of how to turn even the most adamant of non-readers into eager and thoughtful book consumers.

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