The Reading Recovery Council of Michigan hosted the 2011 Institute in Troy, Michigan last week. About 350 teachers gathered for three days packed with opportunities to learn new techniques, discuss teaching strategies, socialize with colleagues and benefit from days dedicated to learning.
Throughout the three days, we heard lots of great feedback about the sessions that teachers were attending. One presenter we heard a lot about was Mary Rosser, Director of Professional Development at the University of Maine. If you haven’t had a chance to hear Ms. Rosser at a conference, I recommend you take advantage of the next opportunity you have. Ms. Rosser is a delight to listen to with her lilting Australian accent and her keen perception of literacy education will provide inspiration to teachers at all levels. Ms. Rosser presents at conferences throughout the year, and wherever she speaks, her name comes up again and again when I ask teachers to tell me about a session that they have gotten a lot out of.
At the Michigan Institute, Ms. Rosser shared her insights in her presentation titled "Discovering the Essence of Story Through Rich Book Introductions.” She spoke of the importance of helping children to “weave together” threads of information by drawing upon their knowledge of the story and characters. She emphasized that a rich introduction of the book will include helping the child to identify what they already know about those “threads.”
When I was speaking with one teacher about Ms. Rosser’s session, she expressed that the concept of helping students recognize the threads is one thing she appreciates about our character sets. She shared with me the ways that the advance knowledge that a student has about Bella and Rosie from previous books helps the student have more success in reading. Knowing what to expect of a character’s personality helps children to make strong predictions and, therefore, helps students to succeed in comprehension of the story.
It was exciting to hear about Ms. Rosser’s presentation, and even more exciting to hear about the connections that teachers make between their own learning, their students’ learning, and our books. I was fortunate to hear from a number of teachers at the Michigan Institute about the sessions that they attended and I will continue to share those experiences over the next few days.
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