Thursday, July 10, 2008

Read 180 Conference Sessions- Day 1, Sessions A & B

So far, I have attended 2 sessions (1 full session, .2 of a session, and .8 of another session) today. I walked into my first session, Scaffolded Writing in Whole- and Small-Group Instruction, presented by READ 180 Certified Instructional Coaches, Pam Crowley and Jane Balash. From this session, I learned from the teachers at my table. We shared successful classroom strategies. After talking to one of the teachers, I am going to look into the Step Up To Writing Program and the use accordion method of organizing writing to create paragraphs. Another teacher mentioned creating a word/definition poster with her class that breaks down the language contained in reading comprehension questions into kid-friendly definitions. She learned this from a PD given by Larry I. Bell who spoke about the 12 Powerful Words. I would also like to create a page with a combination of information from this one (parent suggestions at the bottom) and this one (English/Spanish words and definitions) on my own blog in order to give parents a way to reinforce the use of the words.

I signed up for Powerful Phonics for Older Struggling Readers-Accelerating Beginning Readers. I saw the logo for the System 44, Scholastic's newest technology program geared toward beginning readers. So instead of learning about Read180 and how to improve my instruction, which happened to be my entire purpose for attending this conference, the workshop's aim was to sell the System 44 product. I left 2 minutes into the presentation.

I walked into a session called Maximizing Learning for Special-Needs Students Within the Instructional Software and thought I would learn new ways to instruct my students on the proper use of the software or even ways to control the software to promote certain reading skills with my students. Instead, I heard a presentation, very similar to the introduction to the Read180 software presentation that I received when my school first purchased the Read180 package.

Scholastic was smart. Create a conference and tell the participants that they will learn new and exciting ways to use their existing resources. When you have their money and they physical presence, use them to promote the existing products through videotaping their testimonials (everyone want's to volunteer to be on camera right?). Use the workshop sessions to introduce the new software line and voilĂ : instant consumers of the new product.

When I attended ALA's conference, I could count on the fact that the purpose of the conference was to develop my skills as a professional librarian. At this conference, the only thing that I can count on is my ability to see through the marketing bubble that I am trapped in. They will release me on Saturday.

The one presentation that I am looking forward to is seeing Kate Kinsella. I have heard great things about her methods and how they work with EL students.