Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Week of Wild Reading, Part I

The first of a two-part slice on my week of wild reading!

What a week of growth and change! In what were both firsts for me, I signed up for the Scholastic Reading Summit and the American Library Association Annual Conference. Both were in Chicago, just days apart.  I warned my husband, "I've got a nerd week coming in June. I need your support." And support he gave.

Reading Summit day came at 5:00am on Wednesday, June 21. I was awake before my alarm, excited to see what the day would bring. Armed with a bag and a cup of coffee, I was ready to attack Scholastic's Reading Summit with Marcia & Shannon, fellow friends and book nerds. We arrived in time for Breakfast with Mr. Schu, who I have been following on Twitter but had never heard speak in person. What a dynamo! He did his favorite thing: book talked. I did my favorite thing: added to my Goodreads. After hearing Kwame Alexander's absolutely wonderful talk (I never get tired of hearing him speak) we shopped at the book fair, got some coffee, and headed to our first breakout session.
#bookexpedition buddies meet!

Side note: I was unreasonably excited to run into two of my #bookexpedition buddies, Patrick and Katie! We knew we all would be there, but with so many people, we weren't sure we'd be able to meet face-to-face. As luck would have it, they both chose the same first breakout session that I had.

Then, the Summit got even better. Because I signed up early, I didn't know who the presenters for each session were. Imagine my amazement when the person presenting "Empowering Readers" was none other than Jess Lifshitz! I had also known that she'd be there, and we had hoped to meet, but I had no idea that I would be fortunate enough to learn from her. After chatting with her for a few minutes (and getting a book rec: Dan Gemeinhart's The Honest Truth), I settled in to listen and learn. I took PAGES AND PAGES of notes on three areas she chose to discuss: choice, student-created reading goals, and work that matters. Mind blowing takeaways flew at me like confetti.

  • "My goal is to create readers that can exist without me." 
  • "What have you NOTICED as you've been reading?" Jess sets goals with her readers that help them monitor and regulate their thinking about their reading.
  • "What do you do with these goals?" Spoken (teach the class during share while others listen in order to give feedback) or Written (blog posts) reflections help students reflect on and share what they now understand about their reading.  
  • Jess & me, the fangirl
  • "Having biases makes you human. Ignoring them makes it a problem." Teaching that everyone has biases and that is OKAY, as long as you are honestly looking at them is so unbelievably needed into today's divisive world. Jess teaches her students processes they can use to read text differently, which empowers them to view the world differently. 
I will be spending a lot of time on Jess' blog, Crawling Out of the Classroom, as I continue to search for ways to empower my students as readers. On it, she generously shares everything from processes to anchor charts to book lists that help students engage with text in meaningful ways. I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from her at the Reading Summit.

After a lovely lunch, we went to our afternoon session, a panel on independent reading that included Donalyn Miller, Katherine Sokolowski, Jess Lifshitz (!), and . Hearing thoughts and practices from these teacher and principal leaders on topics like reading routines and rituals, social media in literacy, literacy resources, book talks, and parent engagement was really helpful. While some of it solidified my thinking, I was more often encouraged to take new steps in my journey as a literacy teacher. I subscribed to Scholastic's Reader Leader blog, learned about family and community engagement, and found new resources to help my students share their love of reading.

The Scholastic Reading Summit wrapped its day of learning with a conversation between John Schumaker and the inimitable Kate DiCamillo (with whom several of my students became obsessed during our end-of-the-year author study.) All I can say is that the pure joy that radiated throughout that room was palpable and something I'll remember forever.

Reading Summit, you surpassed my expectations, and I am incredibly grateful for a day well spent. Next week, I'll reflect on my crazy morning walking the exhibition hall at the American Library Association Annual Conference!

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for allowing me to share this slice of my teacher life! For more slices, click here!


  1. Wow! Thank you for Jess' points on literacy. They are perfect. Her blog is inspiring but to hear her, what a treat and a what a way to kick off your summer!

    1. You're welcome! It was really fantastic to hear her in person. So much to ruminate over and share with the kids this fall!

  2. Sigh! I attended a Reading Summit two summers ago, so I know how lucky you were (I think they keep getting better and better and your sessions sounded fab!). I appreciate your sharing here. I love my nerdy summer adventures (just spent a week at TC and headed to nErDcampMI in two weeks)- they sure do feed the soul~

  3. Thanks, Lorie, for spreading these seeds of recent learning for our (and your) benefit.


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