NCTE11 News and Notes

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Achieving Assignments, Mini-Lessons

My school district afforded me the wonderful opportunity to attend my very first National Council of Teachers of English conference held in Chicago, Illinois this year.  I met wonderful national colleagues, many of whom I’ve been conversing with online but never had the opportunity to meet face-to-face, and I returned to school feeling completely motivated and recharged.

 The following is a sampling of tips from a session titled “Zapping Apathy:  Creating a Sense of Community in English Class”      Please see Gary Anderson’s informative blog, What’s Not Wrong, for more detailed information:

My students' 1984 Chalk Talk!

1.  Build Community Through Movement:  Chalk Talk:  A silent, non-threatening way to generate ideas, spawn discussion, understand connections.  Here’s my students’ first 1984 Chalk Talk.  (see my sample in picture)

2.  Build Community Through Online Means: 6-Word Memoirs with Wordle: A team-building, creative writing activity.  First, show the following two YouTube videos – First video and Second Video.  Second, students write their own six-word memoirs.  Third, have students go to and create and a visual of their memoirs.  They’ll be able to play with font, color scheme, etc to fit their subject and make it come to life.

3.  Build Community through Cell Phone Activity (shared by Lee Anne Spillane):  Did you know that if students text Google, 466453, and punch in Define: (followed by the word), Google will text back a definition of that word?!

4.  Build Community through Discussion  – A means to get the quieter students involved. Provide envelopes filled with slips of paper numbered 1 – 10.  Give these envelopes to about 4 students and have those students stand in front of class.  Read a statement and ask students to hold up a slip that represents how strongly they agree with the statement.(1 = strongly disagree; 10 = strongly agree)

Like these samples? . . . see Gary Anderson’s What’s Not Wrong site for more along with the original handouts and Prezi’s from the session.


There are so many more worthwhile sessions I attended.  For instance, stay tuned for a synopsis of Carol Jago’s Literature Project!!!!


  • Winsor Pilates


4 Responses to “NCTE11 News and Notes”
  1. Thank you for the highlights post. I will definitely come back to it for the story starters. Glad you enjoyed the Zapping Apathy session! Gary and Tony are fantastic; it was an honor to present with them. Here’s a direct link to the Prezi: or if you’d like to see the full “13 Ways” to use cell phones academically, find it here:

  2. GradingGirl says:

    Thank you so much, Lee Ann, for the immensely informative session. Like I mentioned afterward, the format that you, Gary and Tony used – modeling tool after tool after tool – was not only very useful but very fun as well! I will use the Prezi – thank you!

  3. Gary says:

    Thanks, GG, for your work at the convention and for coming to our presentations.

    Let’s keep our antennae up for some ways to connect our classes or somehow collaborate. I think we’re on the same page.

    • GradingGirl says:

      It was my pleasure, Gary. Thank you for providing very worthwhile presentations to attend. That sounds like a good idea – with our classes online, we should think of some way to connect them. I’ll start brainstorming ideas . . .

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