This past weekend I attended NEATE’s 2017 Conference – New England Association of Teachers of English. President of NEATE, Lynn Leschke, states that “this year’s conference reminds us of the power of words to effect change . . . [and] as educators help our students live better in their world and prepare them to make it a better place.”
There were an abundance of workshops over the course of the two days that addressed all aspects of literacy and teaching English.
The first workshop I attended was “Graphic Novels: the Unicorn of Literary Instruction” presented by Assistant Professor of English Studies at Fitchburg State University, Katharine Covino. The workshop highlighted a handful of new and noteworthy graphic novels and using them in conjunction with classical texts such as Frankenstein, The Highway Man, and Alice in Wonderland.
Daniella King, a high school teacher and Ph.D. candidate at UConn along with high school teacher Arianna Drossopoulos presented “Creating an Understanding of an Unfamiliar Culture (Islam) Through Adolescent Literature.” This workshop featured Islamic and Muslim protagonists in YA Literature and activities to go along with the texts to promote a better understanding of this rich culture and society as a whole.
Author Elly Swartz presented alongside Humanities teacher, Jimmy Sapia to address teaching empathy, courage, forgiveness, and gratitude with Young Adult Literature and picture books. Mr. Sapia participates in the #180BookADay Challenge, reading a picture book to his sixth grade students every day to teach lessons that build character and offer a lens in which to view history.
Tapping into the debate about teaching grammar, Nilda Irizarry, presented “Making a Difference with Grammar.” Grammar is an essential tool for creating powerful writers and oral expression, enabling writers to create mood, add impact, and engage readers. Powerful instruction of grammar teaches not only the knowledge and identification of language and sentence structure, but also how to use language and structure with intention and purpose.
There were many more workshops than these that I have highlighted. As a teacher, I am always looking for new ideas, insight, and to extend the conversations about teaching and supporting students so they are successful. Both national, regional, and local conferences are opportunities for all teachers to hone their craft.