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Meredith Johnston 2010 TAGT Experience

November 23, 2010

I am so grateful that I was able to attend the TAGT conference.  My eyes were wide as I went through the catalogue of breakout sessions.  There were so many that I wanted to attend and I carefully and slowly eliminated the highlighted sessions and formed my two-day schedule.  The session that overshadows all the others, and even altered my “set in stone” Friday schedule, was Empowering Writers presented by Martha Hammet.  I am a fouth grade ELA teacher and I have been to numerous trainings.  Coppell ISD is a believer in the Six Traits of Writing Program.  I enjoy and use Six Traits.  Empowering Writers is full of writing stratigies that blend beautifully with Six Traits to create unique writers.  Thinking Maps can also be added to the lesson and strategies and the recipe for creating great writers becomes that much better.  I have used their lesson on Word Reference and Beginnings (strong leads) and have witnessed immediate changes in my fourth graders writing.  I was sitting on the floor in the overcrowded session, wishing the session could go on another hour, when the presenter mentioned a session on Writing in Science.  My pencil furiously scratched out my previously planned morning session and substituted in Empower Writers in Science.  This session included easy ways to integrate more writing into Science.  I immediately brought it back to my team.

Empowering Writers was terrific but it was not the only session I brought back with me.  Clamor for Grammer presented by Keith Polette gave me excellent ideas on differentiating grammar lessons and homefun using the student’s individual novels.  Analyzing author’s written word improves writers.  His lesson in teaching sentence variety was simple and user-friendly for all students.

In my classroom, I use a system similar to Daily 5.  To avoid confusion, we use Daily 5 in Reading, I developed a Writing Checklist.  This allows the students to self-pace, choose from multiple activities, and meet with the teacher for conferences/review.  I was excited to hear the same idea presented in 10 Best Practices.  It was in this session that I discovered the missing piece.  An accountability/placement chart to help keep me informed of the students pacing and choices.  I have already altered the idea to fit with the Writing Checklist and have it ready to be put into action after the holiday.

Thank you so much CGA for giving me the opportunity to dive into Gifted Eduaction.  Understanding, ideas, lessons, and strategies for the GT learnere  and my entire classroom was an incredible gift.  I hope my colleagues will be able to use the tools I have brought back with me.  The scholarship “gift” CGA gave me is a gift that will keep on giving.  Thank you!

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