Thoughts about Bright Ideas

Okay, so I have to be really honest with this blog entry and I don’t think that it is going to make Prof. Rozema very happy (Sorry!!).  I thought that the teaching conference was a waste of my time and money.  Told you Prof. Rozema was not going to be very happy.

The thing is, I was REALLY excited to go to the conference.  I was even okay with waking up really early on a Saturday that should have been spent working on end of term projects (like these two, huge, overwhelming pedagogy projects that I have to do).  However, I must have put my hopes too high because I was disappointed.

To begin, the Key note speaker Jacqueline Woodson, while she was relatively funny I failed to follow her speech.  It felt like a bunch of random comments intermixed with snippets from her books.  I did enjoy when she shared her writing with all of us–she really gets at the voice of her characters and presents them well.  Overall, I enjoyed her funny comments and her readings but I honestly can not tell you what the point of her speech was.

After the Keynote, I went to a breakout session that was meant to talk about literature circles.  The presenters wanted to give us a way to connect to both reluctant readers and to literature lovers.  A literature circle composed for reluctant readers is one that allows them to choose whatever book they want to read, whether it is a trashy romance novel, a comic book, or a classic.  When students are able to choose their own book, this makes them want to read it more.

For literature lovers a literature circle is a bit different.  Because they are already reading for fun, these students often need to meet at times outside of the confines of the classroom.  The presenter brought in three high school girls that are part of a lit circle that meets once a month to discuss books they are reading, and things that they are writing.  The girls said that since it was not part of a classroom setting they felt more comfortable because nothing was for a grade.  Plus, they know that everyone there reads and writes just as much as they do so they do not have to feel like the loser “book worm” like they do when they share in class.

So my problems with the session are:

I feel that I learned better ways of engaging reluctant readers during Eng 311 though the use of not only lit circles, but also, Symbolic Story Representations, dramas, games, etc.  This session only presented one idea–which I already knew about. I would suggest that the presenter read Wilhelm’s You Gotta BE the Book to enhance her ideas. 

I think that as far as the after school lit circle for literature lovers goes–it would be difficult.  Many teachers simply do not have the time to stay after school for a couple of hours to hang out with the students.  Regardless of this argument–I think that the people who love literature should not be separated into their own group.  Instead, they should be used to help the reluctant readers enter the story world by showing how they do it.

Overall, the session did not really teach me anything new, but it did demonstrate that lit circles do work.  I plan on using lit circles in my future classroom so it was nice to hear teachers claim that they worked, but it was even better to listen to the high school girls talk about what they enjoyed about lit circles.

The second session that I went to was meant to teach me how to interview well.  However, it was just a bunch of obvious recommendations such as: dress up, know your stuff, and be confident.  I felt rather ridiculous because we “role played” in groups for a little while pretending to be principals or interviewees.  I did enjoy one of the hand outs that they gave titled: “Common Interview Questions/Prompts.”  It seems rather handy for when I practice my interview with someone else, but the questions are rather obvious.  The one idea that I did gain was to visit the school website before interviewing to learn the school colors, mascot, purpose statement, etc. because soemtimes principals will ask these questions to see if the person they are interviewing really cares about the school itself.  I thought that it was a neat idea.

I feel bad that I did not get much out of this conference, but it is the honest truth.  I wish that I would have attended different breakout sessions, because some of them sounded really neat.  This one experience does not put me off to the whole conference thing, so I am sure that I will go to really meaningful conferences later in life, but for today, sorry but, I am still disappointed.  I hope the rest of you enjoyed your time and learned more than I did! 



  1. April 15, 2007 at 5:19 am

    Hey Marie,
    I don’t think you should feel bad. You should feel ahead of the game amybe, or steller, but not bad. I went to the first session with you, and was, like, wow! I can do that with my students?! It’s okay to put the literature lovers in groups together sometimes so that they can group together to talk about books?! I hadn’t even ever heard of literature circles! Obviously a lot of that comes from not taking English 311 yet, but I do feel like in some ways you are ahead of the game. So sorry it was a waste of time for you, but be proud of how accomplished you are…? At least Quiznos was delicious…

  2. burchi501 said,

    April 15, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    Yup. I agree with your opinions about the keynote speaker, Jacqueline Woodson. Although I thought she was pretty funny, she insisted on going off on little rants that I doubt anyone could honestly follow completely. Now, in her defense, she did warn us about her New Yorker rants. However, I don’t really understand what I was supposed to take away from her speech. She would be lecturing about her writing process and then BAM, all of a sudden she’d be reciting a part from one of her books. Who knows.
    I’m so glad I didn’t go to the lit circles sessions now. I was just about to when I saw it was being conducted by a high school teacher (no offense to h.s. teachers because that’s what I hope to be). I just thought that I’ve learned already so much from Rozema that going to this session might be a waste and going to a newer thing might be more beneficial. Like Krista said above, don’t feel bad! Not all conferences are bad! Make sure you check out the MCTE conference next year. I went last year and it was extremely worth while. =)

  3. April 15, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    […] 4) Comment to Marie on “Thought about Bright Ideas” […]

  4. April 17, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    […] Comment 9 […]

  5. April 18, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Hey Marie,

    It stinks when you feel like you have attended the wrong sessions. I’ve done that before at writing center conferences. I have two bits of advice for next time.

    1. Sit next to the door and if you start to wish you were in another room, slip out inconspicuously. If you can’t be inconspicuous, leave your stuff and pretend that you went to the rest room. (yes, I have done this before and it was worth it.)

    2. You can always walk into other sessions late if you do so tacktfully. If you don’t get to hear most of what went on, you can ask for the handouts and talk to the presenters afterwards. (This obviously works best if you have a genuine interest in the topic or if you have seen the person present somewhere else before so that you can strike up a conversation first and appologize for missing the beginning.)

    Just a few tricks to keep in mind if you ever become an avid conference goer. The whole premise of exchanging ideas is certainly something to be excited about, as you were before you went. It can be hit and miss and there is always regret involved, for me at least, when I have to choose some things over otehrs. OH, I just thought of a third tip:

    3. As a friend to go to a different session than you and exchange notes. Consider it twice the conference for the same price! yay!

    Haha, Good luck with those pedagogy projects and I will see you tomorrow,


  6. April 18, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    […] 10 Comments Commented: Thoughts about Bright Ideas […]

  7. Bonbon said,

    June 19, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Bonbon!!

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