I am an elementary school media specialist (librarian) and a new mom. My daughters (born 12/27/2010 and 6/27/2013) are teaching me all kinds of new things every day. One thing they have taught me is that sometimes, there just isn't room for much else besides learning. If you're not sleeping, eating, talking, blogging, or whatever, it might just be because you're TOO BUSY LEARNING!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Raising Achievement & Closing Gaps Conference: Day 3

Session #1: Victorious Vocabulary: More Words = More Learning

I went to this session because it was given by a large, successful elementary school in my county. My school is also large, so I wanted to see what strategies were in place at Jesse Wharton Elementary, just down the road from us. The presenters were the principal, an ESOL teacher, and a 4th grade teacher. They talked a bit about the school in general and then about the vocabulary strategies they use to bring equity to their schooln population. Children with lower socio-economic status generally know as little as half of the vocabulary of their upper SES counterparts. Vocabulary gives students an edge in reading, comprehension, and testing skills. I loved this session; it was probably my favorite of the conference. I took away some techniques I can put into practice immediately, especially as I read stories to children.

Session #2: If You Don't Feed the Teachers, They Will Eat the Students

Fun but not terribly practical, this was more of a feel-good session presented by the author of the book of the same title. She focused on positivity and not taking life too seriously, which is probably a reminder that teachers need fairly often.

Keynote Address: Preparing All Students for Success in the 21st Century

Dynamic speaker with a good message. His main point, which I liked, was that relevance makes rigor possible. In other words, if the students are doing work that is important and meaningful to them, they can do work at a higher level. He also said what I have been saying for years to the naysayers, which is that although America may be behind some other nations in academic achievement, our public school system is still the best in the world. Why? Because we teach all children. Excellence for the entire population (no matter their special needs, backgrounds, abilities) is much harder to achieve than excellence for the privileged few.

Overall, it was a good conference, but I would have been ok with slightly shorter sessions and a lot less down time on Monday.

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