I was THRILLED to attend the Cafe workshop in Oak Brook, Illinois, this past week! First, let me just tell you that the event was sponsored by Choice Literacy. If you don't know about Choice Literacy, you should! Visit their website! Amazing authors and resources can be found there. I highly recommend attending one of their workshops (Choice Literacy AND The Sisters) to experience the magic for yourself!
Chatting with Joan and Gail is always so entertaining and enlightening! We reconnected on this day, and they were able to now put my name/face with my Twitter handle (@Komos72.) We shared in the amazing learning that is happening on the weekly Daily 5/Cafe chat on Twitter (#d5chat.) If you haven't joined us for one of those chats, I would highly encourage you to do so! Anyway... on with my reflecting...
What struck me most throughout the day was how Joan and Gail talk about things that we think about that give us that "feeling" in our tummies. You know, when you start to think about something in a new or different way, and you get all nervous/excited/worried at the same time! When they talked about not having leveled libraries in our classrooms... I had to face the realization that I think it's time for me to rethink that section of my library. While it is only a portion of my library and does contain many amazing books, it is still forcing kids to look at themselves as "yellow readers" or "blue readers." How is that any different than telling a child he/she is a "level B" reader? I don't support the practice of telling children their guided reading level, so I am now thinking I shouldn't be telling children from which tubs they should be choosing books. It looks like I'll be spending some time rethinking and reorganizing my library soon!
The second time I got "that feeling" was when Joan and Gail talked about the way things are heading in education today. A push for core standards, mandates, interventions, and "teaching with fidelity." It is absolutely essential that we stand up for what we know to be right for children. I must stand firm in my beliefs and continue to learn about what I can do to improve the literacy lives of my students. I actually had a chance to talk to Ellin Oliver Keene (author of Mosaic of Thought) this week, too. She encouraged me to continue to "fight the good fight." She also told me that it is quite often the best teachers who are in the most trouble. That is ME to a T! :) I will continue to embrace new thinking and new learning, as I push away instruction that doesn't fit with my beliefs.
I'm pleasantly surprised at how much Gail and Joan have changed and solidified their thinking since I saw them last! They were able to share some very recent research and items from their professional reading that put the Cafe system into perspective in the grand scheme of literacy. While they still believe and advocate that you can teach any strategy with almost any book, they shared with us some of their newest favorite titles (and gave us copies!)
You can find an archive of the tweets right here! If you aren't familiar with reading an archive, you'll need to start reading from the bottom up. I was tweeting in real time as the workshop was in session! :)