Friday, July 31, 2015

ILA recap: Final Day

By now you have read about three of the four days of the ILA conference.  If not, read here and here and here.  If the Friday pre-conference institute was like a warm up, Saturday and Sunday were running at full strength, and Monday was the cool down.

The closing started with the outgoing president of ILA urging us to fight for education.  Then,  Stephen G. Peters took the stage.  He was a dynamic speaker- alternating the funny (he was so impressed his teacher knew his voice after years and years until she said she looked on the caller id) with the more serious (my teacher thought I was smarter than I was. . . so I was).  After this motivational speech, two local soon-to-be high school students interviewed Octavia Spencer.  I was very impressed with these two kids.  They were articulate and driven.  Octavia was very personable and open.  Finally, the new ILA president encouraged us not to give up but keep learning.

After this closing session, it felt like the conference was over.  People were leaving the convention center to grab flights or maybe sightsee before heading home.  I, on the other hand, am dedicated. This is said sarcastically as I was ready to head home also! I attended 2 more sessions that I enjoyed.

What were called "Journey Books" are a form of interactive notebooks.  I was intrigued by this idea as interactive notebooks are something I want to experiment with this year.

These notebooks had to sides, as seen above.  The left side was process, not product centered.  This means they were full of choices for the student.  

For example, we worked on summarizing and had the following choices for how to respond.  In a classroom, students would have additional choices on book, pacing, etc.

*Somebody Wanted But So (see video if you don't know this strategy)

*Write a Haiku 
        First line—5 lines about character
        Second Line- 7 lines about Plot
        Third Line- 5 lines about resolution

*Compare one of the charters to a piece of CANDY.  Use textual evidence to prove.

*Write a friendly letter from one character to another character.

We were given some resources that showed application of these books.  I am excited to look through them and see how I can apply this to my students.

My final session was with author- Margriet Ruurs.  As I understand it, she was born in the Netherlands, has lived in the Pacific Northwest and is now on the Canadian side of the Pacific Northwest.

She led the session from the perspective of a writer, not a teacher.  She used her own experiences writing various books to think about writing non-fiction books.

She showed examples of stories that blur the line between fiction and non-fiction.  Maybe they are fiction but require an incredible amount of background knowledge about a subject. (like pretending you are missing but needing to get facts like the police station's address correct)   Or maybe it uses facts but sets it in a true story format.  There are books that we have trouble categorizing as fiction or non-fiction.

Margriet argued that we don't have to separate the different genres.  We can just put them in a pot and stir them up.  When we ask our students to do this, we are asking them to do more than copy facts.  We challenging them to engage with the facts.

She then talked about how we can adapt some of her books as projects with students.  Many of these ideas are found on her teacher's page. I want to highlight a book/ accompanying lesson that I think would be great for my English Language learners who come from around the world and have family members that come from around the world.

There are two books that relate to each other:  My Librarian is a Camel and My School is a Rainforest.  (Those are Amazon affiliate links.  Buy these books so I can also afford copies).  I think it would be a phenomenal idea for my students to research and write about libraries or schools around the world.  They can interview their families, write about their personal experiences, or research a different area of the world.  Then, we can create a book to share with others. After all, as Margriet said, "Your life is non-fiction, use it!"

That's the end of my ILA recap but I found this blog post with another day by day recap.  You can compare our two adventures.  I think when there are so many sessions offered, no two attendees have the same experience.   


  1. Thanks for linking my blog posts - so many sessions and we all come with such diverse backgrounds - so our learning can and should be different!

  2. Yes, I loved your take on everything.