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Literacy Fest 2017
November 4th, 2017
Literacy Fest was a great day featuring Keynote Speaker
Tri County Reading Council held their annual Literacy Fest on Saturday November 4th, 2017. We had over 100 people attend the event at Perkiomen Valley Middle School East. Attendees were able to attend 2 workshops in the morning presented by local literacy leaders. The day concluded with Keynote Speaker Ralph Fletcher. One attendee commented, “Ralph is a passionate advocate for teachers of writing and students of writing. He weaves his ideas with humor and sensitivity. His tips for using mentor texts were an excellent takeaway.”
Ralph started his session sharing letters that kids had sent him. You can hear their voice in those letters. He moved on to sharing actual kid writing and talked about how good writers learn through other author’s writings. This is where student writers get ideas of how to voice their stories, organize their stories, use punctuation to emphasize points in their stories, and in some cases even get ideas for their own writing topics. Ralph Fletcher pointed out that, “Not all readers are writers, but all writers are readers.” Think about the students in your classroom. Now think about which ones are true “writers”. You will probably realize these students are also readers in your classroom. These students absorb the techniques they see in the texts especially when they really affect them as a reader. As a natural progression for these readers, they start to use similar techniques in their own writing.
For the students in your class that are not natural writers, you can help them become better writers by using mentor texts. Ralph mentioned, “The writing in a class can only be as good as the literature that supports, surrounds, and buoys it up.” As students encounter mentor texts, they start to borrow from it. So you need to surround them with good literature, preferably literature you love. If you enjoy what you read with your students, they will be more enthusiastic about the text themselves and be more ready to examine them for author’s craft. After examining the author’s craft, Ralph suggests doing a mini lesson which allows the students to delve deeper into the craft element and let them practice using it themselves. Mentor texts can really help your students’ writing to soar.
In the end Ralph quoted Stephen King, “In order to write well you first have to be flattened by a book.” Somewhere in a reader’s history is a book that really spoke to them and blew them away. That’s the book that catapults some readers into being writers. Hopefully we can find those books for our students’ and turn them into lifelong writers and authors as well. Ralph’s message was heard at Literacy Fest and the audience enjoyed learning from him. Here’s what some of them had to say, “So engaging! I could have listened to him longer!”; “I loved how he reminded us of the importance of taking the time to know our kids as readers and writers”; “Ralph Fletcher was an engaging and informative speaker. Everything he spoke on was applicable to teaching students to become better writers”; “Very enjoyable; he was funny and kept the audience interested while providing new ideas and thoughts about using Mentor Texts.”
If you were able to attend Literacy Fest, we hope you enjoyed it and join us again in the future. If you weren’t able to attend this year, we hope to see you next year.