SDAWP Spring Conference 2014

It was a cloudy March morning.  A threat of rain was imminent, but about 150 participants attended the San Diego Area Writing Project’s Spring Conference at the University of California, San Diego.  The conference opened up with a discussion about fear and courage.  Christine Kane, co-director of SDAWP, shared information about how the brain is affected when confronted with fearful situations.  She shared evidence based on scientific studies that the way you can come to terms with fear is to put yourself in those situations that trigger it.

At this point, I was thinking how apropos it was that fear was the focus of Christine’s talk.  That is what I was feeling at that moment-FEAR!  The main reason for this was because I was presenting in the first session of the conference.  I knew right after Christine’s opening, it would be my turn to address the room.  So, I can’t say I was fully engaged with her at this time.  I was thinking about my presentation and hoped it would go smoothly.

The other reason I was experiencing fear was because I was trying to get my iPhone to connect to the wifi in that particular room.  My presentation was going to be in this room and I needed to be connected to the wifi.  My iPhone was a remote control for my iPad.  Both of my devices had to be on the same wifi in order to communicate.  Secretly, I was panicking in the back of the room.  The wifi would connect and then disconnect, connect and then disconnect, connect and then disconnect. I was getting frustrated.  Kim Douillard, director of SDAWP, recommended I go outside the room to connect and then go back inside.  I did that and then, when I walked back into the room, the wifi would disconnect.  Ahhhhh!  My presentation was in 5 minutes.  I had a backup plan, but you always hate when Plan A doesn’t pan out.

Fortunately, I was able to connect and stay connected for the duration of my presentation which was entitled Using Mentor Text to Lead our Primary Writers.   I talked about the writing process in my classroom and the journey I took using mentor text with my kids to craft leads for informative pieces.  As I continue with this journey, I realize that the particular leads I shared with my students can be used across text types, not just with informative writing.

I think the presentation went well.  At least, that is what people told me after the fact.  One thing did go wrong, however.  I did not have enough handouts for the people who went to my session.  I felt bad about that, but I just have no way of knowing ahead of time how many people will show up.  Oh well, I will be more prepared next time.  If there is a next time!  🙂  Here is a picture my friend, Margaret, took during the session.


I was pretty happy with my presentation.  Just like Christine said earlier, I put myself in a fearful situation this morning.  Hopefully, the more I do this, the less fear I will have.

For the second session, I attended Stacey Goldblatt’s presentation entitled Supporting Student Writers:  One Paragraph at a Time.  Here is a picture of Stacey proclaiming to be a rebel.  She is so cool!


Stacey shared a formula on how to get students to write strong paragraphs.  This formula was called AXES (assertion, eXample, explanation, significance).  In conjunction with mentor texts, she uses this formula to get her students to expand on their writing.  Even though the formula acts as a frame for students, their final pieces do not come out sounding exactly the same as one another.  Using the AXES process, students have choices and can use their voice when they write.  Stacey had many great ideas on how to teach the 4 parts of an effective paragraph.  She starts out with students writing about their personal truths rather than opinions.  Then, she shared a great way to use transition words in writing.  Oh, and it involved Popsicle sticks!


All in all, it was a fantastic day.  I learned so many practical things I can use in my classroom starting on Monday.  My brain is on overload.  I also learned something about myself.  I can do anything I set my mind to.  I need to have more confidence in my abilities.  Thanks SDAWP for continuing to push me out of my box.


Brain Overload

My brain is officially fried.  Today was a school day for me.  I went to a class for my administrative credential.  The course is about instructional leadership.  We have been practicing scripting classroom observations.  Today we watched two videos and practiced scripting.  Then we had to analyze our notes using the 5-Dimensions of Teaching and Learning.  From those notes, we took more notes.  We practiced using our observational notes to develop a coaching plan.  For homework, I had to practice these same skills again watching a different video, of a different teacher, teaching a different lesson.  Needless to say, I am pooped.

For a before bedtime treat, I also spent time looking over my presentation for the SDAWP Spring Conference.  It is mostly the same as my demonstration lesson from the summer with a few tweaks here and there.  I need to refresh my memory.  I used the Keynote app on my iPad to present over the summer.  My iPhone was used as a remote control so I could turn the slides and read my notes all from my iPhone.  I have since updated my devices to the new operating system.  As I was practicing my presentation.  A message popped up on my screen that said the version of Keynote Remote I had been using was going to be discontinued.  I thought, “Oh man, now what am I going to do?”  I had to update the remote so it would be compatible with the new operating system.  I just now figured it out.  I should be good to go for my presentation in March.  That’s only if the wifi at the venue is working.  It is not very reliable, so I better have a backup.  Someone suggested I print up all my slides so that I would at least have them to show on the document camera in case of technical difficulties.  It’s an awesome idea, but right now, I am too tired to think about that.

It’s time I went to bed.  Tomorrow I am looking forward to a morning of sleeping in.  I was going to get up early and run, but my hamstring is still sore.  I am bummed about that.  I am pretty sure I am not going to be able to go to the gym and workout next week, too.  I hate it when I can’t exercise.  I don’t even want to attempt going for a walk.  I think the best thing for me to do is rest.  I may make my injury worse if I try to do too much.  I just wish I knew how long I will be out of commission.  Having an injury, such as this, is bringing me down.  I will feel better when I can get back to my regular exercise schedule.