2012 Academic Literacy Summit in Review

On Thursday, February 2, the fifth annual Academic Literacy Summit, an all-day event for regional K-12 educators, explored the question: What’s at the core of academic literacy?

The day began with a keynote by Carlston Family Foundation outstanding teacher award winner, Jose Rivas, who essentially taught us a high school physics lesson, but also narrated the process so we understood the reasoning behind his techniques. I was blown away by his use of technology and his emphasis on learning via exploration. In one hour, Rivas showed six video clips (including Action Figure Slow Motion Punches and F = MA music video), assigned two interactive activities (we built a catapult for a marble and tested whether a marble or our neighbor was harder to move), and suggested multiple reflective activities (via journal and mind map).

Our marble catapult

The afternoon keynote was UC Davis alumna Luciana de Oliveira (now at Purdue University). She shared her analysis of the California Common Core standards for language arts, highlighting the continuum of expectations these standards create across grade levels. (For example, kindergarteners are taught the concept of “linking words,” which is developed into “transitions” by high school.)

In addition to the keynote speakers, there were several morning and afternoon breakout sessions. I enjoyed UNR writing center director Bill Macauley’s morning session, which explored the transition between high school and college writing. Our group included middle school, high school, and college instructors, as well as librarians, which made for a fantastic conversation about lower- and higher-order writing concerns.

Bill Macauley's "Audience Analysis: What should we be asking of student writers?" breakout session

In the afternoon breakout session, “You Can Have it All: Academic Literacy, Critical Thinking, and Student Engagement through the Common Core,” Nicole Kukrai led us in an analysis of Anna Quindlen’s “A Quilt of a Country” and simultaneously explaining her classroom “routines.” Because the Common Core standards emphasize collaboration and independence, Kukrai purposefully creates an environment in which students are expected to model “real-world” behaviors and productive adult conversations. There is no hand-raising, she frequently asks students to elaborate on their peers’ ideas, and she requires multiple readings of a text.

It was a thought-provoking day!

When you go to a conference for teachers, there's a lot of hand-raising.

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