GCTE Conference 2010

I had a great time and went to so many great sessions at this year’s GCTE Conference at Callaway Gardens.

This first session I attended explored the use of Plasq’s Comic Life software in school projects (Kristen Kallaher, Stone Mountain High School). I have Comic Life on my Mac, and I use it to make cool handouts for my classroom, but I hadn’t thought about getting it installed in our computer lab so students could create projects. I find there is a bit of a learning curve with Comic Life. Still, it’s an idea worth exploring.

Long-time readers of this blog know about my struggles with grading as a form of assessment. If I have to use grades, I want them to reflect what students have truly learned. Sisters Laura Cook (South Effingham High School) and Elizabeth Self presented a session on Grading What Matters that I found intriguing. One thing Laura Cook does is she doesn’t penalize students’ points for late work. Instead, she assigns them lunch detention until the work is completed. In her words, it’s a behavior issue and should therefore be addressed with consequences for the behavior. I like that idea and would like to talk about it further with my department and other faculty at my school. Update: I forgot to include a link to Laura and Liz’s blog, where you can find materials shared at their session.

Lawrence Scanlon presented Integrating Nonfiction into the Curriculum: An Introduction to Rhetoric. My department chair and I have been discussing changes in the curriculum along these lines. What is funny is that she e-mailed me prior to the conference and asked me to go to this session if I could, but if there was something else I preferred, she said that was OK. Well, I went through the descriptions, settled on this session, and went. Then I realized it was the one she wanted me to go to. We are so in tune with each other that it’s spooky. This session was great. One thing I took away from it was solid tools to help students to craft an argument that I can use immediately.

I am interested in multigenre research papers and attended a session last year presented by Buffy Hamilton (who has since become an online friend). This year, Robert Montgomery and his students at Kennesaw State University presented their multigenre research papers, and I learned some new ways to incorporate this valuable writing experience into my classroom. I also really need to finish Tom Romano’s book.

My last session on Friday was presented by a teacher candidate from UGA (Eric Slauson) on incorporating science fiction into the classroom. I chose to go to this session because of my Joseph Campbell class. Slauson did a particularly good job pairing science fiction offerings with canon books.

The final session of the conference took place on Saturday, and I chose to attend Ike Thompson’s (Houston County High School) presentation of Literature Circles. I am very interested in doing more with literature circles, and Thompson’s presentation gave me lots of good ideas. He applied for a mini-grant from GCTE in order to populate his classroom library. I have been researching grant opportunities aside from this mini-grant, and I find that many grant opportunities are limited to public school teachers. I understand why. It makes complete sense to me. But I need to find a way to get a solid classroom library, too. I guess my department chair and I will just need to put our heads together and think.

Saturday night I had dinner and excellent conversations with colleagues from across the state. We moved on to trivia after dinner, and our team won. I absolutely love trivia. My favorite board game is Trivial Pursuit. I need to get in on some local trivia deal so I can keep sharp.

The best part of the conference for me, at least personally, was this:

Dana Huff GCTE High School Teacher of the Year

Nothing beats being recognized by your own colleagues.

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13 thoughts on “GCTE Conference 2010

  1. Congratulations!

    Thanks for sharing the information about the sessions you attended. I am going to think about dealing with late papers in a different way. If I could give detention to my college freshmen, it would help me a lot!

  2. Congrats on your well-deserved award! I look forward to hearing about what wonderful things come along with such an honor.

    In regards to the grading and holding students accountable for not passing in homework, I'm interested to hear more on the subject. I've been struggling with students who just don't care about their homework and giving them partial credit (or fifties in most cases, since they don't complete the assignment). Lunch sessions where the assignment must be completed seems like a great way to get the idea that homework is given for a reason and it must be completed.

  3. My son's middle school does not take points off for late work. School policy is every student mus turn in the work and the student has to be given a grade. The reasoning behind it is students won't learn the standards the homework was assessing and that lack of learning will effect the state testing scores.

    As a teacher, I understand the motivation. As a parent, it irritates me. My son will wait for the last minute to do anything. He could care less about going to lunch detention or being sent to the hallway to finish work. He just plays the game and pushes the boundaries. It is frustrating because he is not learning the lack of work will effect his grades. He is not learning that, in college and "the real world," there are no lunch detentions.

    • My daughter's middle school did the same thing, and it has introduced struggles in high school. However late work carried no penalty, behavioral or otherwise, so of course she didn't learn to turn work in on time. No matter how much I tried to warn her high school would be different, she didn't believe it until she got zeroes. I see your point about lunch detentions in college and the real world, but likewise, as adults, they don't receive such punishments for other poor behavior—they'll be fired, arrested, etc. I don't know what the solution is, because motivation is essentially intrinsic, and I don't know how you fix that. If you discover it, let me know, and I'll try it on my daughter.

  4. Congrats on the award. I'm curious about Scanlon's presentation on nonfiction and rhetoric. Any resources/specific tips he presented that you might share?

    • Sure, Lisa. I can scan it and e-mail it to you. I hesitate to scan it and post it without permission, but I don't think he'd mind if I sent it to you. It's pretty big, so I will scan it using the copier from work, which is much quicker than my home printer/copier/scanner.

  5. I hate for you do all that work. But, I'd love anything you could share with me: lhuff[at]batesvilleschools[dot]com. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  6. For those who are interested more in the grading workshop, you can see the PowerPoint Laura and I used on our blog: lizselfandlauracook.blogspot.com or email me to get in touch with Laura. Glad you enjoyed, Dana, and thanks for sharing!

    • Oh, Liz, thanks for the link. I remember you provided it when you gave your presentation, and I forgot to include it. I will revise the post to include the link in case readers don't see your comment.

  7. Congrats again! What I find interesting is that I've never known about GCTE. I'm a member of NCTE, but no info has ever crossed my desk on that! How does one join?

  8. Congrats on your award Dana! By reading your blog, I can tell it was well-deserved.

    All of the sessions you attended cover things that my colleagues and I have been discussing the past few months.

    I'm personally having a hard time with the idea of not penalizing students for late work, not only because that's not how it works in college, but because when I was a high school student — we were penalized. What makes today's students better/privileged/etc that they aren't held to the same standards of behavior, etc that we were in the 1990s?

    On the other hand – I would also be interested in the ideas you heard about from the non-fiction session. I've struggled to figure out how to incorporate more non-fiction in the classroom. Any new suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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