GCTE Preview: See You in Athens!


The Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) conference in Athens, GA is in just a few short weeks, and this year feels particularly special since I have so many of my colleagues presenting this year too. I cannot entirely pinpoint why I wanted to ensure more of the ELA teachers at my school presented this year, but I know part of the inspiration came from the stellar work they were doing. I have always, no matter the setting, worked with phenomenal ELA teachers. My current school is no exception, so when the time came, I sent an email encouraging several of my compatriots to submit a proposal. Thankfully, most all accepted the challenge, submitted a proposal, and were accepted! In today’s post, I will preview many of the presentations/workshops my colleagues and I will be showing on the weekend of February 9 and 10 as well as why you should check them out! For anyone interested, it is not too late to go to GCTE this year. Go here for conference information.

Here are our respective sessions w/ location, time, a description, and why I think you should go:

iStock_000042222888_Medium_160304Presenter: Buffy Hamilton

Time/Location: Friday, 8:00AM, Breakout A, Room F + G

Session Title:  Lift Every Voice and Sing:  What Will Their Verses Be?  Creating a Chorus of Student Conversations for Learning and Formative Assessment

 Abstract:  How might teachers move away from traditional lecture and give students ownership for leading conversations for learning?  How are these students’ conversations rich “texts” for formative assessments?  In this session, learn a diverse range of strategies for engaging students in conversations with themselves and each other for learning and critical thinking.  Discover how simple tools like chart paper, Sharpie markers, sticky notes, and writer’s notebooks can be the springboard to igniting student learning and revealing what students understand.  We will explore and “try out”  learning structures that provide community building and meaningful academic talk ; we will inquire how these opportunities help students construct meaning through small and whole group conversations as well as conversations with themselves while providing teachers mediums for authentic formative assessment of student learning.  Mediums we’ll explore will include but are not limited to gallery walks, conversation hotpots, table talk, revved up jigsaw chats, think tank groups, Seesaw, living carousel walks, and philosophical chairs.  Participants will learn a variety of strategies and technology tools for generating academic talk and reflective thinking that can be adapted based on student needs.

Why You Should Go: Buffy is seriously one of the best teachers I have ever known and seen in action. She is incredible well read and well versed in anything having to do with literacy and writing. She astounds me with her knowledge and her dedication to her craft. There is no way you walk away from this session without having your mind blown. While it’s early on the first day, her session will undoubtedly start your conference experience off right!


Presenters: Nadine Bell & Ryan Proffiitt

Time/Location: Friday, 8:00AM, Breakout Session A in Room Mahler

Session Title:  Innovating Shakespeare: A Collaborative, Technology-Rich Approach to Introducing the Bard

Abstract: Ask any number of students and even ELA teachers and they may openly extol the misery of ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ Shakespeare. Clearly, their teachers and students who love the bard, but for so many students and educators, taking on his work can be daunting and off-putting. Have heart though! This session will demonstrate through full participation of attendees the perfect way to workshop in a large group, combined classes setting Shakespeare and prepare students for an extraordinary experience with his timeless work and language. This is innovative teaching at its finest!

Why You Should Go: Unfortunately, this happens at the exact same time as Buffy’s, but if what Buffy is presenting isn’t quite your cup of tea, then I highly recommend starting your day with Nadine and Ryan. I witnessed first hand how they combined their classes in a large group setting and workshopped Shakespeare’s language and the themes of Romeo & Juliet using centers, interactive discussions, and leveraging each teacher’s strengths as teachers to inspire and excite their students. The session will literally take you through the experience students had, so you can immediately implement it with your own R&J or Shakespeare unit. Another reason to go? Ryan is in his fourth year of teaching while Nadine is a veteran. They both really demonstrate how they work off one another’s strengths to support their students.

E-Learning-e1443732712758Presenters: Brooke Webb & Susie Weetman

Time/Location: Saturday, 9:45AM, Breakout Session G in rooms T+U

Session Title:  Transforming Teaching Through a Blended Classroom

Abstract:  After teaching in the standard classroom for years, it is often hard to break out of a routine cadence. However, with today’s learners, it is even more important to rework and even reinvent the way teachers plan and execute learning in the classroom. This session will present the basics of how blended learning (hybrid model) and transformational teaching work to excite learners. Presenters will showcase examples of transformed hybrid lessons (middle school and high school) and student work taking place in those classrooms. During the session, audience members will have a chance to participate and interact similarly to how students would navigate this type of classroom, engaging with mini lessons that incorporate aspects of technology and traditional face to face instruction.

Why You Should Go: The reality of our current teaching lives is more and more of our instruction is going online. We can debate the merits of this trend until we’re blue in the face, but the reality remains the same that online teaching and learning is becoming pervasive. Brooke and Susie are both the best at what they do and genuinely know how create a hybrid classroom that works for teacher and student. Brooke is a recent teacher of the year at our school and Susie has been nominated several times. You will come away from this session with a very real toolkit of how to use whatever online platform your district uses for differentiated learning, gradual release, and ensuring you’re not holding your high flyers back while supporting your students who need extra support.


Presenters: Glenn Chance & Kyle Jones

Time/Location: Saturday,  9:45AM, Breakout Session G in Room D

Session Title:  Exiting Through the Gift Shop: Enhancing Non-Fiction Instruction through Banksy, Documentary, and Memoir

Abstract: Participants will experience a first hand account and interactive discussion about how visual literacy tools/devices can be leveraged to both support students’ development of navigating an increasingly visual world and standards they are often tested on that are difficult to teach such as author’s purpose. Using Banksy’s enigmatic persona and politically charged artwork as well as traditional memoir texts, students can be energized to tackle complex literacy tasks in relevant ways that support real learning and test prep.

Why You Should Go: At the risk of being completely self-deprecating (something I tell students not to do), if you have to choose between our session and Brooke and Susie’s, go to Brooke and Susie’s! Seriously, they are simply great at what they do, but if our topic really piques your interest, one reason to join us is we did a high level of reflection on this unit of study. We feel we have a real grasp on how visual literacy both enticed our students and supported the heavy lifting students have to be able to do with complex literacy tasks where students need to transfer their understanding of various texts across those tasks. The point being, our work this past fall really supports ‘going off script’ and embracing multimodal texts to support what you’re already teaching. Hopefully, you walk away some real strategies you can use immediately.

See you at #GCTE2018


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