Bonus Day

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I spent much of today at the Write Now Conference, which is the best teacher conference ever. I always learn SO MUCH from the presenters, and get so much energy from them and the other attendees. It gives me a chance to nurture my professional growth and CELEBRATE my profession. 

And it gives me a chance to write!

This year’s presenter was Kelly Gallagher (pinch hitting for Kylene Beers), so I knew I was going to write a lot. I’ve attended his presentations before (and, once, Mrs. T and I handed out photocopies for him and Penny Kittle at NCTE). I generally love his writing prompts, so I was super excited to write some crummy first drafts (his words- because all first drafts are crummy) for him today. 

This one was in response to a political cartoon depicting a teacher holding a gun like a pointer in a math class:

My brother and I piss off our parents by arguing over who should hold the bake sale: his army or my school.

My brother and I hurt our parents by arguing over which is safer: his army or my school.

Parents whose sons grow up to be soldiers know it’s more than dress blues and polished shoes, but parents whose daughters grow up to be teachers think it’s going to be about blackboards and books, not learning the geometry of safe spaces in the classroom. Not thinking about the angles at which kids can bend their bodies to fit in closets and under desks in case the shooter comes.

If my brother dies from a gunshot wound there will be a funeral at West Point. If I die from a gunshot wound there will be a debate about whether or not it was the fault of the gun. If he dies from a gunshot wound, my mother will get a folded flag and the thanks of a grateful nation. If I die from a gunshot wound she’ll get thoughts and prayers, and be told not to politicize it.

If I die from a gunshot wound, hug my mother- not a gun.

I’ll be tinkering with that in the future, for sure. 

I also wrote a 34-word story about a Red Sox fan learning his girlfriend liked the Yankees. That was in response to a photo of an upset-looking man and woman. Kelly had been making baseball jokes, so I went in that direction. I volunteered to read it and got a laugh, so I’m feeling successful. 

I do like to entertain the masses. 

I learned a lot about different things I could incorporate to get kids writing. I loved that Kelly put a whole unit plan up on argument writing because I could see how he built up his students’ skills and compare it to things I’ve done and, consider what I can and should alter. I also got a lot of ideas for doing more reading in World. I do a lot already, but I can improve how I do it and what students get out of it. As Kelly said, it’s about more than just making compliant readers and writers, and that is something I worry about happening.

So I have a whole list of things to try in my classroom, and another whole list of books to beg Mr. B to buy for me. I’d say I got a lot out of the conference.

And it was fun!