On Display: Reading for the love of it 2013

Reading for the love of it 2013
37th Annual Language Arts Conference

Thursday, February 21st
and Friday, February 22nd

Sheraton Centre Hotel 
123 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Today I had the opportunity to attend the "Reading for the love of it" conference for the very first time.  I thought that it would be perfect to blog about, as my Friday "On Display" feature!  

"Reading for the love of it" as noted in the president's message, Teresa Paoli, is now Canada's largest literacy conference.  This being said, she states that its beginnings were quite humble.  "We began simply with a small group of teachers in the former City of East York and Scarborough from TDSB and the TCDSB who had a passion for literacy, for reading and for professional learning.  They gathered together after school and on Saturdays to read, talk and learn together. They were visionaries who formed a grass roots movement, a network of teachers dedicated to professional dialogue and collaboration.  Later the founding members began to imagine a conference that focused on professional learning for teachers, by teachers, dedicated completely to the joy of reading"(Reading for the love of it programme, Message from the President).

Now 37 years later and this conference is still going strong!  This gives me great hope for our future as educators.  It made visible to me what is possible when we have a dream and put that dream into action by collaborating with like minded and passionate collegues.

During my time at "Reading for the love of it," I had the opportunity of attended four presentations.  All of the speakers shared something in common: they clearly love what they do and believe strongly in the importance of literacy skills as a foundation for lifelong learning.  

As a lifelong learner myself, I am always very interested in attending conferences to further develop my own understandings and improve my teaching practices.  If you were unable to make it to this conference, I hope that this post will shed some light on what I walked away with!

The first presentation I attended (and sat at the very front row) was with Miriam Trehearne entitled "Learning to Write and Loving It!"

Miriam Trehearne was and continues to be a source of inspiration to me and my kindergarten literacy program.  So much so, that I often call her resource "Kindergarten Teacher's Resource Book" my Kindergarten Bible.  Anytime I wanted to improve something specific in my teaching, I always found the answer within the pages of her book.  It was a reassurance to have access to this comprehensive and insightful resource within our library, especially as a new teacher.                             
After reading her profile I also learned that she has been a classroom teacher, coach and Literacy Specialist.  In addition to this, Miriam led a very successful literacy initiative involving 56 high-needs schools.  She presently researches literacy best practices, presents to educators and parents around the world, and writes professional books for teachers.  Miriam recently spoke at the European Reading Conference in Portugal and the World Congress of the IRA in Costa Rica.  She is a frequent speaker of NAEYC and ASCD conferences as well.  Miriam has published in journals, has authored student resources, and is the author of five teacher professional books, two of which became award winners (Reading for the love of it programme, speaker profile).

Here are some of Miriam's thoughts that resonated with me:

  • We want students to love to write!
  • It's in the early years that you can really make a difference.
  • Writing (including drawing) helps children to make sense of their world.  It helps them to think!  It also develops letter recognition, phonics, print awareness, phonological awareness, oral language, and comprehension.
  • Children are developmentally ready to begin writing as early as three years old.
  • Have a morning message for kids to write, rather than teachers.
  • Have books everywhere!
  • Provide many varied opportunities for students to engage with writing (surveys, brainstorms, letters, books, etc.).
  • What's needed to become a writer: fluent letter recognition, phonological awareness, and oral language.
  • Celebrate writing successes!  2 Praises and a Prompt.
  • Get children to wonder about things and write about them.
  • A writing workshop consists of: mini lessons, writing, writing conferences, and author share.
  • It's important to allow children to "incubate their ideas" and talk about them before writing them down.
  • When you give students real reasons to write, they will want to write, love to write, and write more.
  • Writing helps the children believe in themselves as writers...
  • A goal is dream with a deadline.

Meeting Miriam Trehearne!

I would like to congratulate Miriam Trehearne on her extraordinary journey in education, as well as thank her for teaching me through her resources.  Hearing her speak really brought it all to life for me today!  I commented on her feedback form that her presentation was phenomenal and that I could not believe how much I had learned in our short time together.  I was BEYOND inspired and looked forward to infusing more writing within our Kindergarten classroom.  I also appreciated how personable she was in autographing my book as her "Twitter friend," as well as how approachable and easy to talk to she was.  I sincerely hope that I have the opportunity to connect with her again, and perhaps discuss how critical writing has become to our inquiry-based learning approach.

If you don't already have her newest book "Learning to Write and Loving It!" I suggest that you really consider ordering it.  The book extended beautifully on her presentation and had many practical ideas that can be implemented immediately!

Be sure to also follow her on Twitter:

The next presentation that I had the pleasure of attending was Kathy Cassidy's "Connected from the Start."

Kathy Cassidy is one of the educators that I have been following on Twitter.  In fact, I was so impressed by her work and students' digital portfolios that I immediately sent her class blog to my principal.

As it states in her speaker profile, she is a grade one teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  Since 2005, Kathy Cassidy has had a classroom blog and blogs for each of her students.  Her classroom blog shares classroom happenings with the world through pictures and video.  Her students' blogs have developed into online portfolios, showcasing their learning in all subject areas through writing, images, screencasts, podcasts and video.  Besides her classroom blog, Kathy writes her professional blog and contributes to the Voices from the Learning Revolution blog.  Kathy has won several awards, including the Canadian Innovative Teacher Award from Microsoft, the Canadian Regional Award for Reading and Technology from the IRA and the Kay L. Bitter Award from ISTE (Reading for the love of it programme, speaker profile).

I was so thrilled to see Kathy's name on the "Reading for the love of it" conference programme.  Her presentation peeked my interest in technology and how I can better prepare our students for the digital age.  One of the highlights for me was when we got the chance to Skype with Karen Lirenman, who I also follow on Twitter.  Talk about feeling connected!!!

Here are some of the key ideas:

  • We are connecting to people all the time.
  • Kathy video tapes challenges (e.g., how fast they can put on their snow clothes) for others in the world to try and respond to her students.
  • We can learn in serendipitous ways or planned ways.  We can do things that were impossible before.
  • Uses Skype to learn from others (e.g., another class, a professional, etc.) and share learning (e.g., read levelled books, reader's theatre, read-aloud, etc.)
  • Each student in her class uses an iPad and has their own digital portfolio as a blog.  On this blog they record themselves reading, add images of their work, video clips of their learning, etc.  Parents and family members can view the blog and leave comments for their child.
  • Kathy reads comments with students and blog posts as part of her shared reading program.  This is a great example of digital literacy!
  • Her new book "Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades" will be available March 2013!  

Meeting Kathy Cassidy

It was so lovely to listen to Kathy's passion for technology and to witness firsthand how she integrates it into all what she teaches her students everyday.  I am really looking forward to starting to use Skype as a part of our daily program.  Thank you for your willingness to share Kathy!

Be sure to connect with her Twitter:

I attended two other workshops in the afternoon with many more ideas, however, this post seems to be going on forever...  I would like to end off by thanking everyone involved in organizing this very special conference.  I hope to return to it again in the near future!

@eysreading #Read2013 #RFTLOI

Share your thoughts :

  1. It was lovely to meet you, Joanne.
    I have looked at the header picture on your blog many times in the past and loved the way your classroom looks. I am very honoured to be included in a post with the incredible Miriam Trehearne whose grade one book is my "Bible" for teaching grade one as well.
    Thanks for sharing about my presentation. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future.

    1. So lovely to meet you too Kathy!!

      Thank you for your kind feedback about our classroom environment and blog.

      You were very inspiring and I am honoured to feature you and spread your message to others who visit this blog.

      I also agree with you that Miriam and her resources are just amazing! Not to mention how interesting she was to listen to with her many personal anecdotes! (You were too!!!)

      Thank you and I look forward to seeing where my magical journey in education leads me to, as well as continuing to follow your work!



      P.S. I cannot wait to purchase your book!

  2. I always say that I go to far too many conferences, but, strangely and unfortunately, I've never been to Reading for the Love of it. You've done a great job of capturing what looks like a fun day of learning. Thanks for sharing (keep it up)!

    I'm really glad you're part of my PLN, and am totally dumbfounded as to how it didn't happen earlier. I really think you're the future of the YRDSB.

    1. Royan!

      Gosh, I don't think you could have written anything nicer! Wow...That is one of the kindest blog comments and comments in general I have ever received! Thank you!!!!

      I am so pleased that we are now connected and part of each other's professional learning network. I look forward to learning with and from you!

      :) Joanne

      P.S. You should try to attend next year. It was a great experience!

  3. Hi Joanne!

    I love reading your blog! I love being able to go through and learn so much! It is great when you post about the conferences and workshops you go to because it keeps me connected to the current world of education. I really appreciate all the information you provide and the resources that I can use to explore further, and keep in mind for the future! Your blog is a great resource and I love watching your classroom continue to transform! (I also love the math learning carpet and the video of the movie projected on the snowflakes! Amazing!)

    I hope everything is going well, please tell everyone I say hello!

    Shelby K :)

    1. Hi Shelby,

      So nice to hear from you! I hope that the second part of your school year is going well!

      We would love to have you come by for a visit when you have some time.

      I'm so glad to to hear that you are enjoying our blog and learning from it. I'm really trying to give our audience the opportunity to learn from various experiences I have.

      Things continue to be exciting in our classroom! There is never a dull moment...

      Good luck and hope to connect soon,


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