Saturday, March 5, 2016

Kate Messner at Write to Learn Conference

       This past week I attended the Write to Learn Conference at the beautiful Tan-Tar-A resort in Osage Beach, MO.  I know that I'm now a librarian however after looking at the conference brochure I decided that there was a lot there for me as a school librarian.
       Kate Messner was a Thursday pre-conference workshop presenter.  I have followed her career as an author of wonderful children's books and also as a teacher for teachers.  Her revision book is once that I have featured earlier in a blog post.  Unfortunately she was snowed in and couldn't be at the conference in person.  When I found out that she was going to lead the workship via Skype, I wondered how that would translate.  It was fantastic!  Of course I would have loved to have shaken her hand, but she was such a wonderful presenter that sort of thing became not so important.  I was able to see and hear her excitement about writing for about 6 hours. She spoke about mentor texts,  a topic I had read about and sort of understood, but now really understand.  This topic will certainly be applicable to the work I do in the library.

         She continued her presentation with teaching the process of revision.  What I gleaned from this is that revision shouldn't be so formal and structured.  It should take place in smaller chunks in such a way that students don't even realize they are doing it.  She spoke to that dreaded phrase that we all hear from students, "I like it the way it is,  I don't want to change anything."  And, the also popular, "My mom thinks it looks great."  Defending against those types of arguments can be daunting.  That is why not giving kids a lot of time, all at once, is so important.  Let the combination of several mini revisions be what sets the stage for learning how to make growth in writing happen.
          This first day set the stage for what was a wonderful conference.  I left the room feeling excited about my place in the world as a teacher librarian.  I figured out that just because I'm not in a classroom, I can still give students what they need to be successful writers.  I'll just be doing that from a different perspective.  And, here's the perk...  I'll get to have a lot of fun and won't have to do the actual grading.  Shshsh,  don't tell my teacher friends that.  They will all want to become librarians!

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