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This was my first time attending the Saturday reunion and I can't believe I've never thought to go before. The speakers were wonderful. The topics of the presentations were relevant and practical. The passion of the participants was contagious. The fact that it was free was just icing on the cake. I attended five sessions, a keynote given by Mo Willems and four sessions with Teachers College staff, and each one enhanced my knowledge of literacy instruction. Mo Willems reminded me that the meaning of a text resides not in the words or the illustrations, but within the reader and he showed us how to draw his famous pigeon. I attended a session presented by Alissa Levy in which I learned that students' post-its can be used as a tool to help them write and talk long. Lucy Calkins provided many strategies for engaging students in writing about reading and reminded me that writing about reading should be purposeful and help students grow their ideas. Kathleen Tolan discussed a sequence for teaching small groups of students who need support with the strategies taught during the minilesson. She cautioned us that we need to devote more than one session to an intervention if we want to move students closer to mastery. If we expect mastery in just one session then we end up doing the work for our students. Kathy Collins modeled how to discuss little books, A and B leveled readers, to strengthen students' understanding of text. She reminded us that it's not just about print, it's about meaning, and even the youngest of readers can be supported in their comprehension
Overall it was a wonderful day of learning and conversation with others about one of my favorite topics - literacy. I would definitely drive the five hours there and back to attend again. The March Saturday reunion will be their 90th event and Lucy Calkins hinted that the project would somehow celebrate this. If you can get to New York City, I would highly recommend attending. You'll walk away with a greater understanding of how to support students in developing reading and writing habits that will help them become independent. You'll also learn new instructional strategies and ideas that can be implemented in the classroom. The Saturday reunion was a worthwhile professional development experience and I look forward to the next time.