NCTE Experpience #3: Writing all over the Place

Okay, I know it’s been over a week since my last post but better late than never, right? Hoping back to that magical week in November, I would like to keep telling you all about my adventures at NCTE.

Image result for snow white the graphic novelI decided to attend “Reimaging Traditional Tales” for a fun break and to put myself outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes our uncomfort zones become comfort zones with the right coaching and Matt Phelan crooned me out with one of my favorite tales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a Disney fan, but my love for this story goes beyond the Technicolor full-length feature, especially now.

Phelan, a graphic novelist, chose to retell Snow White because the main character inspires others and the story offers levels of characters. One of the themes of the session was how these traditional tales still exist for a reason, we are still teaching them because they hold moral value. He took us through his writing process step by step. I’ll outline it for you:

  • the motive must stay, but should change forms
  • Image result for snow white the graphic novelobjects/iconic props should keep their place
  • keep the character traits but alter the roles
  • let setting influence the story
  • recognize the elements of the original that make it good

I was so enthralled in his transformation of my favorite story into a time in history I am equally fascinated with (1920-30s NYC) I knew I had to buy the graphic novel. Lucky for me, they were up for sale later that day and I even got it signed!

Following Phelan, English instructor, Nancy Johnson, explained how we can take these traditional tales and create learning projects for our students. The first step is to let each student pick their own traditional tale to explore. It can be an old favorite, one from their heritage or a tale they just want to learn more about. Next, she discussed a series of multi-genre assignments including a creative, reimagined tale, research on different versions of their story and a queary letter. I had never heard of a queary letter before. It is a letter of persuasion, in this case, it was addressed to a publishing position and explained why the student’s retelling was the best version of the story to release. Discussions throughout the unit covered “How do fairy tales develop cultural literacy?”.

I left the room wanting to go rewrite almost every traditional tale I could name!


Image result for albert einstein quote fairy tales

This quote was on the board during the session and I just loved it.


I also attended a session on teaching media literacy which was absolutely modern, informative and 100% relevant. The most important thing I learned was how to use Snopes and Snopes Top 50 help teachers (and anyone else) by debunking the “fake news” stories that curriculate the web. We can teach our students to check their sources and daily reading with sites like Snopes to cultivate a more media literacy-friendly environment. I also learned a fun little acronym to check your sources, CRAPP, aka, Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.Image result for snopes image search

The final notable session I learned from was presented by The Paper Graders. I liked the session a lot, but not a lot of the information seemed new to me because my lovely professor, Dr. E, has been using their methods on me for semesters! Here are the highlights from their message.

  1. Figure out what you’re teaching
  2. Build a classroom based on that focus
  3. Get your students working
  4. Collect data on their work
  5. Show them learning objectives (it’ll be a relief after they realize they have already been meeting them)
  6. Ask each student to chose a few objectives and track themselves
  7. Make the need for a grade a chance for self-evaluation

Their goal is to get students writing to write for the sake of writing, not for a grade. There is no need to tear a paper apart because the student hasn’t learned the value of paragraph breaks; their writing is not devalued just because it isn’t presented, worded or organized like a final draft.

At this session I sat next to an experienced teacher who was a treat to talk with. I liked her outlook on teaching, her position on student writing and overall personality so I asked her if she had any advice for a preservice teacher like me. She thought about it and told me “Don’t take to much to heart; take it one day at a time – don’t get overwhelmed; find good people to talk to; your first year will be heard and it’ll feel like nothing is going right when it actually is”. To that teacher out in sunny California, thank you.



Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and text

Living the dream 📚📄📑📚 #NCTE17





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