2018 NCTE Annual Convention

Houston, TX
November 15-18, 2018

This fall, we’ll come together in Houston to celebrate students’ voices and the impact they make in the world.

Register Now


Deepen Your Learning with a Workshop


All workshops take place Thursday, November 15, from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. 


A variety of people are listening and learning in workshops and learning sessions at the 2017 NCTE Annual Convention.Register for a workshop today!

2018 Workshops

Click the titles below to learn more about each workshop. 



In line with the conference theme “Raising Student Voice: Speaking Out for Equity and Justice,” this half-day conference technology workshop sponsored by Assembly on Computers in English (ACE) will invite the participants to explore digital movie and audio recording apps as well as graphic design tools to give students and educators voice and agency and to encourage creativity and critical thinking.

Participants will learn a variety of movie and video apps and graphic design tools, such as iMovie and Movie Maker, audio recording tools, and graphic design Canva software, to give voice to students and educators and to evaluate and respond to the voices of others. The sessions with provide opportunities to discuss how to move learners from merely consuming content to creating digital content and in this way to empower them be advocates of social change, equity, responsible citizenship in online, offline and hybrid spaces.

Workshop leaders, drawn from both K-12 and post-secondary faculty, will incorporate hands-on activities, group discussions, and instruction to familiarize participants with newer generation of apps and technology tools. The sessions feature student work, classroom activities, and teacher resources.

Following a practical engagement with each new application, participants will have ample time to ask additional questions about incorporating each tool into their classroom and schools. Participants will also be invited to join the ACE organization and ACE connected community, allowing them to work with ACE consultants throughout the year to develop technology projects for their own classrooms.

Tentative Workshop Schedule

11:30-11:50 – Welcome and Introductions


11:00-12:50 – Communicating Social Justice Ideas with Digital Movie Making Applications: How iMovie and Movie Maker Can Empower Students’ Voices


12:50 -1:40 – Video Podcasting: Learning How to Speak Well, Look Good and Have Something to Say on Video


1:40-2:30- Discovering Voices and Telling Stories with Canva


2:30-3:20- Public Art Factory: Raising student voices using low tech and high tech to publish big ideas in ELA


3:20-3:30 – Wrapping and Closing Remarks



Today’s reader is faced with the challenge of taming the wild text. They read across genres, for a variety of purposes, in both traditional and digital formats. This session will introduce five habits for successful reading: reading closely, widely, critically, deeply, and purposefully. Attendees will dive into easy-to-implement strategies and instructional methods, based in research, to help students cultivate strong reading skills in the 21st century classroom.

The facilitators will introduce the research behind their argument that today’s teachers are changemakers in their classroom on a mission to prepare students for the world of today and tomorrow. Using the interactive presentation software Nearpod, the facilitators will model close reading strategies and demonstrate strategies for reading deeply. Attendees will interact with real classroom examples as they see what it looks like to provide students access to a wide range of text and provide opportunities to think critically about what they have read. Finally, attendees will view, reflect, and brainstorm ways to create purpose for readers using a variety of traditional and digital tools, including the free, iPad and Chromebook friendly Spark creation tools.

In order to change the world, students needs to have a strong understanding of how to interact with multiple text types to gather information and apply what they have learned. It is essential all students have opportunities to explore the wild world of text – in both print and digital format. This session will provide the argument and research for not only introducing digital text into the classroom, but finding the must-needed balance as we honor the power of traditional text.

Students in today’s world are asked to do much heavy lifting as they gaze at a tablet, open a web-browser or flip through the pages of a graphic novel. As educators we can prepare students for this wild world by giving them the access to a toolbox of strategies so they can navigate through new and familiar spaces in the English Language Arts classroom and beyond.

The strategies highlighted in this session prepare students for more than a standardized test – they are designed to empower students to take on the world as readers, contributors and explorers. In this session educators will be introduced to more than the “why” by spending time focusing on the “how.” Attendees will leave with actionable tips to take back to their classrooms and the teachers and students they support.



Building on understandings of youth-led action and responsibility, youth participatory action research (YPAR) scholars have found that youth co-researchers’ sophisticated literacy skills (Morrell, 2005) were increased through their engagement in civic inquiry projects in YPAR. Moreover, youth’s own concerns with their access to quality education and rigorous learning became a foothold for youth to engage in these civic inquiry projects. For instance, Mirra, Garcia, and Morrell’s (2016) work with the Council of Youth Research highlights the various methodological choices youth researchers made when collecting data for their collective inquiry. For example, these method design tools included: surveys, interviews, discourse analysis, and autoethnography. Further, in bringing together opportunities for meaningful engagement in participatory inquiry with youth and communities that begin with youth questions and end with collective civic action that holds potential for positive impact on policy and schools, the work of YPAR is where the interstices of relationality, respect, and responsibility meet. YPAR becomes a key tool for connecting education research with schools and communities in much needed collaborations. Yet, when and where can these important and necessary collaborations come about?

Workshop Schedule

11:30-12:00 Welcome & Introduction to YPAR

Attendees will have an opportunity to meet our workshop facilitators and each other in this brief introduction to YPAR.


12:05-12:55 Introducing YPAR Method Design Tools

Our facilitators will rotate through attendees’ tables providing attendees with a short (5 minute) overview of facilitators’ engagement with YPAR, including YPAR method design tools that facilitators will be engaging with attendees that day. A brief (3 minute) question and answer period will follow.


1:00-1:50 YPAR Planning & Design for Implementation Workshop

Attendees will choose tables based on matching their design interests with facilitators’ YPAR design tools. During this time, attendees will have myriad opportunities to engage in planning and design for implementation of YPAR in their literacy classrooms with the support of our facilitators. Specifically, attendees will select a YPAR method design tool, and prepare an aspect of a design plan using the YPAR method design tool to implement in their literacy classrooms. Attendees can expect to take away plans for implementing method tools for implementation, such as: generating interview protocol, using Google forms to create surveys, designing photovoice collection, writing autoethnographic research memos, and enacting listening parties for analyzing classroom YPAR data.


1:55-2:30 Completing & Sharing Plans for Mini-Poster Presentations

Attendees will work, together in pairs, small groups, or individually to prepare a visual representation of their YPAR plan. Analog or digital visual representations of the plans will be completed and prepared for sharing.


2:35-3:05 Digital & Physical Mini-Poster Presentations

Attendees will share their work in a digital and physical mini-poster presentation where facilitators and attendees will provide critically caring feedback and support in considering what next steps to take for design and implementation.


3:10-3:30 Question & Answer

Attendees and presenters will have a final opportunity to collectively reflect on designing and implementing YPAR in the literacy classroom, and collaborating across communities of praxis.



Those interested in understanding and resisting the damaging force of colonization on poor and working-class students, non-native speakers of standardized English, immigrant and global students, and students of color, from teachers at all levels (primary through post-secondary), to administrators, teacher trainers and faculty development professionals with responsibility for evaluating and developing educators.

This workshop will provide attendees, first, with a theoretical framework for understanding the inherently colonial nature of the educational system and, second, with practical steps that they might apply in their own classrooms and institutions for resisting such colonization and for decreasing the damage done to students via the educational system.

Using decolonial and critical race theories, facilitators will briefly present a lens for understanding the racism, xenophobia and biases inherent in the American educational system. However, the primary focus of the workshop will be on practical steps that attendees can adopt or adapt for their own contexts—at the state, local, institutional, classroom and personal level. For each level, presenters will explore the degrees to which current practices are colonial and then offer practical suggestions for altering approaches.

Self: The workshop will ask attendees to explore their own role and complicity in the forces of colonization. Facilitators will present the demographics of educators and of students and will challenge attendees to understand themselves and their motivations as embedded within (not outside of) the forces of colonization. Practical steps will then be covered for acknowledging and resisting such complicity to enable educators to reflect on ways that they can include students’ voices in their curricula.

Pedagogy: The workshop will explore how current teaching methods have emerged from colonial practices and will offer concrete suggestions for altering pedagogies in the classroom.

Assessment: A significant portion of the workshop will focus on grading and testing and the deeply colonial nature of such practices. Facilitators will explore with attendees the possibilities for resisting the damage caused by these practices and for developing alternative modes that recognize students’ ways of knowing, doing, and representing as valid.

Curriculum and materials: The workshop will explore the ramifications of decolonization on curriculum, literature, and materials. Attendees will gain concrete suggestions for decolonizating their curricula and texts, and return home with a start up list of where to locate relevant resources for further exploration.

Institution: The workshop will explore how policy and procedure might be addressed.

Teacher Training: Implications for decolonization on teacher training and professional development will be explored.

Nation/State/Community: Ramifications of the decolonization of education at broader social levels will be discussed. Facilitators will explore with attendees the need for a change in rhetoric and messaging about learning and students in order to maximize impact on policy at higher levels.



Engagement in academic and civic discourse for students today seems to come at an even greater price per student. With each passing year, we lose the relevance, rigor, participation, and motivation necessary to promote students’ interest in positive change in education and our world. Students seem to just be so…bored.

Perhaps it’s because we take the complex concepts or skills students need to master, and either water them down or cut out their innate interestingness in the name of standardized tests and our own fear of change – and in that process diminish the opportunity for students to become better, more well-informed, and contributing citizens in the process.

How can we re-engage our students in conversations about change in the world? What if we allowed science, literacy, design thinking, and crafted visualizations and storytelling to help frame our ideas idea of literacy and communication skills? What if we could combine elements of illumination with familiar literacies as a framework for students to explore and communicate their understanding of complex subjects that are personally relevant, and, ideally, motivating? What if these methods could inspire their participation in what THEY actually want to change?

Using NEXMAP.org’s Creative Process Worksheet as a tool for ideation and documentation, we will facilitate a thinking and design process to identify a topic (where we want to see change), then develop our ideas, and plan a project to take back to our classrooms. In this half-day workshop, participants will complete a sequence of step-by-step activities that include writing and instructional strategies, human-centered design prompts and templates (using sticky notes, abstraction laddering, an importance/difficulty matrix, storyboarding), while learning about the fundamentals of paper circuitry as a complementary lens and set of materials to support a rich teaching and learning experience with multi-modal composition.

Participants in this workshop can build on their own instructional goals and learning objectives as a foundation for their work, while using the creative process worksheets to document their own illuminated infographics, creating a plan for implementation as well as an authentic artifact they can take back to their classrooms/school sites to share with students and colleagues.

This project and approach is especially useful for for social justice topics and work on civic discourse, as well as any problem-based activity that would benefit from a hands-on exercise to support initial brainstorming, topic definition, and prioritization. Additionally, the workshop will include opportunities for collaboration and structured feedback from peers as part of the teaching and learning cycle. With such a collision and remixing of critical thinking, disciplinary literacy, PBL, and the inclusion of of electrical and digital components, teachers (and their students) can re-imagine possibilities for authentic experiences with communication, connection and civic engagement. The future has never looked so “bright.”


Worksheet URL: http://goo.gl/PjdbZn

Molly’s HYN Resources: http://bit.ly/hyn2018

NEXMAP: www.nexmap.org

Sample workshop: https://vimeo.com/246218052



It is becoming increasingly clear that an essential part of our job as English teachers today is to help our students to differentiate between truth and fiction, fact and opinion, and news and “fake news.” This half-day workshop will present classroom teachers with rationales and classroom-tested strategies and lessons for incorporating more documentary film into the curriculum. The workshop will include presentations from classroom teachers, documentary filmmakers working in the field, consultants for film festivals from around the country, and developers of online educational resources for nonfiction film.

The structure of the workshop will be:

  1. Examine the results of a new study released in January 2018 called “Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life.” There are several conclusions the researchers draw about political, social, cultural factors that have lead to this problem. For our purposes in the classroom, the researchers conclude “competing demands on the educational system that limit its ability to keep pace with changes in the information system.” In other words, we are not regularly able to teach the critical media literacy skills that students need in the 21st century. These results will lead to a discussion about the important role documentary film can play in the classroom.
  2. Present approaches for teaching documentary film through classroom activities that ask students to critically analyze the visual, sound, and text tracks of a nonfiction film in order to determine the film’s point of view and to evaluate the techniques used to present that point of view.
  3. Share activities and approaches for having students to be creators of their own documentary films. It is not enough for students to be critical readers of media; they need to become producers of it as well so that they can not only understand the techniques that filmmakers use, but also recognize the ethical considerations of working in the nonfiction film medium.
  4. Screen portions of 1-2 documentary films and participate in interviews with the professional documentary filmmakers who created them about their processes and their recommendations to classroom teachers who want to incorporate more nonfiction film.
  5. Examine and evaluate available educational resources for using documentary film in the classroom. Representatives from nonprofit organizations such as POV, ITVS, Doc Academy, as well as film festivals with education outreach programs will share their work and be available to answer questions from the participants.
  6. Goal setting and planning time. The session will conclude with an opportunity for collaborative planning and reflection as participants consider the ways that they will incorporate what they have learned in the workshop into their own classrooms.

This workshop will help to address what NCTE has stated: “The 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies.”



If we want to support our students in creating classrooms where choice, debate, and independence are central to their developing literacies, we need to start by giving them lots of opportunities to talk, lots of time to read, and lots of chances to problem solve. Using flexible, small groups during reading workshop does just this.

  • In this session, we will explore how curating texts with students’ interests and curiosities in mind puts students’ voices at the forefront of our planning.
  • We will show how to use our kidwatching skills to make plans that are specific to our students’ collective and individual needs.
  • We will discuss planning templates that give teachers a structure for creating responsive, flexible, small group learning experiences;
  • We will explore ways teachers can curate texts that inspire students to want to read more.
  • In addition, we will discuss different ways students can curate texts for themselves, igniting their own reading diets while fostering independence and discovering their own voices.
  • We will also show how students moved outside the classroom as curators for others in their learning community.
  • We will share video of student initiated book clubs and small group conversations.
  • We will co-construct independent small group protocols with participants.
  • Finally, this session will focus on how students took ownership in reading a menagerie of texts during small group learning; how they developed diverse response strategies; and how they lifted their own deep thinking and others around them through constructive conversations, arguments and writing.



Writing is a soft skill that is very necessary for student success. Many teachers struggle with teaching writing and establishing the reading-writing connection in their classroom. We will demonstrate the use of mentor texts to grow students as readers and writers.

Abstract: Reading and writing are inseparable. They are as interdependent as breathing in and breathing out. The reading and writing connection is far more than simply combining reading and writing during the literacy block. This connection involves critical thinking, structured oral discussions, and analyzing texts deeply as readers and writers. The use of mentor texts fosters the interdependence of reading and writing in more than one way, using text as an example of author’s craft and using a book of choice to encourage deep thinking are just two of the ways that teachers can use mentor text. Drawing inspiration from experts such as Lucy Calkins, Kylene Beers, Stephanie Harvey and Jeff Anderson, we will walk through examples that illustrate how to effectively use mentor texts not just to improve reading skills but to grow extraordinary writers.

  • Creating authentic writing opportunities from text
  • Using mentor text for grammar and mechanics instruction
  • Practice using author’s craft as a springboard for writing
  • Practice writing in response to reading
  • Using writing samples, collaborate to develop targeted instructional plans



This practical and hands on workshop shows how to make curriculum relevant to diverse students through place and project based pedagogy. Teachers will learn how to create projects to engage students in reading, writing and taking action in their school communities. Participants will explore methods of developing multimodal narratives to inspire change in their school communities, look at supporting research, hear from teachers who embraced the process, look at projects created by teachers and leave with a plan for integrating place-based narratives into their own work.

Included in the workshop is a look at how place and community based pedagogy supports student motivation and agency, and builds ownership in curriculum. It looks at the ways in which multimodal narratives, place-based writing, storytelling, wikis, and VR platforms can support student understanding of community, and transform acts of reading and writing into powerful modes of communication and invitations for community involvement and change.

Participants will move through a series of topics and activities that support development of their own place based plan to begin to organize and implement into their instruction immediately following the workshop.

This workshop is informed by work situating that place and community based instruction (Sobol and Smith, 2012, Cresswell 2004), holds the potential to transform the space and place of learning, through intersections of place, community and local knowledge. It provides alternate ways of seeing and coming to know school communities, as well as alternate ways for students to position themselves within the community. Multimodal narratives serve as a means for embodying, owning and recreating curriculum (Jewett, 2008). Finally, sharing these narratives in school communities empowers students as individuals and community members (Rogoff, 1994).



Whatever the results of the 2018 elections, our country, and our students, will stand in need of moving on from the extreme divisiveness we have recently experienced: rebuilding our moral and psychological infrastructure and finding new forms of personal and collective hope in order to eventually put this divisiveness definitively in the past. The sessions in this workshop will explore practical tactics for the awakening and activating of hope in the English classroom: rhetorical listening to build bridges over psychic walls, the personal creed to build bridges to a meaningful future, and memoirs of the soul to remember the gratitude and deep learning often found in the darkest of times.

Kathleen Yancey is keynoting the AEPL summer conference from which this workshop stems, and will lead off the day with a brief repetition of that keynote and an introductory discussion of classroom strategies appropriate for building bridges to hope in our times.

John Creger will present elements of the NCTE Moffett Award-winning Personal Creed Project that leads students to deeply examine the meanings and values latent in their lives. He will provide moving student testimony of how this project has led them to envision and enact meaningful and purposeful lives, stemming from the several decades he has been teaching this project. And he will lead participants in short writing exercises they can use to activate their own students’ hope.

Nan Phifer, author of Memoirs of the Soul, will then lead participants in a scaffolded series of writing prompts taking them through a dark time in their own lives that they were able to emerge from stronger, wiser, and more hopeful than they were before. Then she will lead us in a discussion of how we might collectively emerge stronger, wiser and more hopeful through the current dark times we are experiencing together.

Abigail Michelini will share her doctoral research practicing Krista Ratcliffe’s Rhetorical Listening to make human bridges between those of sharply contrasting political views, as she experienced teaching in West Virginia during the 2016 elections. (She and Ratcliffe will be leading a full day of Rhetorical Listening as part of the AEPL conference.) And she will guide participants in making imaginative bridges with students or others in our lives whose worldviews may be very, very different from our own.

Bruce Novak will conclude by offering a vision of how literacies focused on the generation of love and wisdom can be critical in transforming democracy itself into a world in which the “malice toward none and charity for all” envisioned by Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman can become a definitive political reality. He will show how what Hillary Clinton has called “a politics of meaning” needs an educative discipline of personal and communal meaning-making at its heart: as he and Jeff Wilhelm began to lay out in their NCTE and NWP Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom: Being the Book and Being the Change, and which he hopes by the time of this workshop to have a trade contract for.



Building on the work of the Creating Bridges: Personal Journeys into Art and Writing curriculum created by the Young Writers Program and Museo Eduardo Carrillo, the workshop will focus on the way artwork—particularly that of typically marginalized or under-represented groups—can build community while encouraging reflection and critical thinking through its use as inspiration for a piece of writing. Museo Eduardo Carrillo and the Young Writers Program are currently in their fourth year of bringing artwork to middle and high school students as inspiration for writing that is then professionally published alongside the artwork.

The first half of the workshop will focus on introducing the work of contemporary Latinx artists, highlighting the use of color, shape, line, and hue. Aspects of Slow Looking will be invoked as participants are guided in the process of carefully viewing and analyzing artwork. This deep looking at works of art will overlap discussion of the artwork and the generation of individual participant’s vocabulary to describe that artwork.

The second half of the workshop will be devoted to the creation and revision of a short prose vignette or poem (200 word max) that is personally connected to the artwork. Because the artwork provides writers of all ethnicities with “windows” and “mirrors” to see both others and themselves, participants will use the artwork as a bridge to writing about their own experiences as reflected in the artwork. The workshop will conclude with a “gallery walk” for all participants to view individual pieces of art and the writing by participants that accompanies it, followed by a discussion of the process and questions.

Museo Eduardo Carrillo is an online museum featuring the work of contemporary California Latinx artists.

The Young Writers Program brings community volunteers into public school classrooms and its after-school Word Lab (partially funded by an LRNG Innovators Challenge grant) to work with students on teacher-led writing assignments. Student writing is gathered into professionally designed and published books which are available for purchase at local book stores.



Digital tools aren’t cold technology; they are as dynamic as our students who hunger to create powerful fiction. With Duke TIP’s free creative writing curriculum as a guide and Web 2.0 tools as our method, we will build compelling characters with Voki avatars, plots with Google Drawings, story themes with Padlet discussions, and imagery with Thinglink. Through these visual brainstorming activities, students can create a range of narrative forms as part of a fiction unit or integrated with nonfiction studies, leading to students’ greater understanding of the devices and strategies all authors use to create voice, pacing, and imagery. The classroom can become a story maker space.

These tools help our students practice creative writing “habits of mind”—activities easily integrated within everyday ELA lessons—where they can imagine everything from characters to settings to plot trajectories. Helping their characters find ways into and out of trouble–which is essentially what all authors do, trouble their characters!–teaches fluency and flexibility. Fluency is a generative aspect of creativity, the ability to produce many ideas in response to open-ended problems, while flexibility is the talent for seeing a problem from many perspectives, trying many different approaches, and categorizing ideas in a variety of ways. Society’s greatest innovators aren’t afraid of thought experiments and discarding ideas that don’t work, so tool and image-based writing prompts that encourage fluency, flexibility, and revision are key. The use of these tools inspires students with different interests and engagement styles to move from image to word to image to word seamlessly, generating innovative, boundary-pushing storylines.

Duke TIP’s curriculum also provides an original, feature-length adventure film that participants can use in their classrooms, and so the lens of visual critique and inquiry will be used as participants view short clips and then make their own story choices. This interdisciplinary curriculum teaches students to write stories driven by interest as they craft original characters and plots, test different points of view, and experiment with a range of settings and style. Along the way they follow the stories of several characters via the film set in ancient Rome and Egypt, Renaissance England, and twentieth-century China and Argentina. Students will be prompted to invent plot twists that add Julius Caesar, Nefertiti, Evita, and Queen Elizabeth I as they try to escape dramas and traumas. The curriculum also provides arts, history, and vocabulary excursions so students can develop believable worlds with high stakes and intriguing characters. Audience will remain front and center as students strive via writing prompts to capture the attention of their fellow readers and viewers.

With this curriculum grounded in standards and best practices for critical inquiry and creative thinking, participants can adapt it for their classroom contexts using differentiated instruction. (Find curriculum here.)

Participants will leave with several digital activities that can empower students to start stories grounded in resonant, relevant themes while simultaneously creating a digital portfolio of powerful character sketches, plot outlines, and setting plans.



In this hands on session, attendees will discover the advantages of podcasting in the classroom, hear how secondary students produced their own podcasts, and have the choice to either craft their own podcast project or create a sample episode. Inspired by the popularity of the Peabody Award winning Serial podcast, co-presenter, Kim Kemmer, implemented a high interest project combining research, argument, and podcasting in her 11th grade Language Arts classroom where her students became detectives in solving a murder mystery from 1999. Whether it is solving a mystery or raising awareness of the critical issues of our time, podcasting is a great opportunity to give students a voice and a platform beyond the classroom. Co-presenter, Kate Jackson will share how 10th graders became advocates for Human Rights through student-produced podcasts which gave students a voice to make local and global changes in society. Dr. Ernest Morrell, advocate for critical media literacy, affirms that “Youth participation in media production gives them leverage and voice… [and] also facilitates the development of more literate and thoughtful participants in our Democratic process.” Inspired by these words, students researched, wrote, produced, and narrated their visions, ideas, and arguments in original podcasts that were designed and created through free podcasting resources available to all students. Participants will have time to listen to compelling mentor podcasts, will record and edit audio narration with audio tools, and will explore podcast hosting platforms that can be used immediately in the classroom.

It is recommended that attendees bring an iPad, iPhone, tablet such as a Surface, or laptop. Session will reference Audacity, a free, open source, audio software for recording and editing available to download at https://www.audacityteam.org/ or MAC users may use GarageBand, which is preinstalled on most iPads and iPhones.

The co-presenters are Teachers on Assignment for Literacy and Instruction in the Corona Norco Unified School District in Southern California and are also the co-hosts / co-producers of their own podcast, CNUSDEdChat, a podcast for educators and families. Their podcast covers topics on all things k-12 education and is a tool for on demand professional learning in their district.



Now more than ever, the sociopolitical climate in the United States urges us to consider the role of education in the development of future generations of engaged, informed citizen-participants. The English classroom, then, offers a unique environment within which to do so, wherein students may learn both how to speak out against injustices and how to fight for equity in an increasingly-tempestuous world.

“The Social Justice English Classroom” workshop allows secondary educators the opportunity to build, from the ground up, an English curriculum that places equity and justice front and center. The workshop’s focus will be fivefold: teaching with privilege, selecting literary works in line with social justice values, encouraging sociopolitical engagement through research, fostering cross-cultural experiences, and instilling empathy in our students.

“Privilege in the Classroom” (30 minutes): Participants will discuss what it means to be an English teacher in 2018 by considering the following questions: What does it mean to teach with privilege? How can we bring allyship into the classroom? What challenges arise when we strive to incorporate equity and justice into our practices and curriculum? Participants will be encouraged to share personal experiences from their own teaching careers as we work to establish common ground.

“Designing a Social Justice Curriculum” (75 minutes): Participants will curate a literary curriculum that reflects their students’ own experiences while simultaneously challenging their preconceived worldviews, and whose timeless and timely stories foster genuine student engagement. After providing a brief explanation of my own curriculum design process, participants will dive into the process themselves. Participants will consider the demographics of their own student populations in order to identify the unique needs of their students. They will then use these criteria to build a full-course literary curriculum (texts and assessments) that balances the need for diverse voices with the expectation of rigorous and comprehensive selections that sufficiently prepare students for college and beyond.

“Expanding Students’ Worldviews” (75 minutes): Participants will devise a research-based project that asks students to explore the social justice issues about which students care most and that challenges students to take action and effect sociopolitical change. Using my own self-designed, 11th-grade social justice research project as an example, we will explore the crucial elements that differentiate this type of project from the standard “research paper.” Participants will then work with one another to design a research project suited to their specific curricular needs.

“Connecting Curriculum to Culture” (30 minutes): Participants will examine their own English curriculum and identify opportunities to bring the outside world into their classrooms. Points of focus will include recruiting guest speakers (I will speak about recruiting author Junot Díaz after teaching The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and organizing expeditionary learning trips.

“Teaching Our Students to Care” (30 minutes): During this final section, participants will discuss effective strategies for cultivating active and compassionate citizen-participants out of our students. This discussion will also emphasize the importance of instilling the values of advocacy, self-care, and self-love within our students by incorporating all three into our day-to-day practices.



We will invite participants into an exciting new approach to online, blended learning that teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project are helping to develop through partnership with LRNG and with each other through our building, protecting, nurturing, and tweaking of an openly networked site for Youth Voices. At the beginning of the workshop, we’ll do a playlist together. A playlist is a curated group of online experiences designed around a theme. We will ask participants to do the activities outlined a playlist that addresses a current issue facing our nation.

For example, last year, in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally and the counter protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, schools were about to open in Oakland, California. Recognizing the historic importance of this moment, a teacher at Fremont High School, and one of the workshop facilitators, thought that an inquiry into Charlottesville would be an excellent way to invite her new ninth graders to raise their voices about issues that matter to each of them for an audience of peers from around the country on Youth Voices.

Like this teacher did with this project last year, we will have built another LONG playlist around an issue of importance for our students, and we’ll ask participants in this workshop to use the resources in this playlist to engage in four online experiences (or XP’s, as they are called). This experience will inform conversations about this new form of blended, online learning, and we’ll show participants how students can choose projects from a national collection of playlists on LRNG.

In the second half of the workshop, participants will build their own online projects for their students using Youth Voices and LRNG. We’ll use a protocol to take a close, critical look at one of the playlists that we’ve developed; then we’ll ask each participant to re-envision a project that he or she loves to do with students because of how it helps youth to make their voices heard.

Each participant will create a playlist with XP’s that is student-facing and that is intended to support learning experiences in classrooms with teachers, in after-school programs with mentors, and at home when the student is alone. We’ll help participants find the balance between providing enough instructions and scaffolding for students and keeping the XP’s engaging.

Participants will finish their playlists by creating open, digital badges. They will design the graphics for the badge, and they will choose the criteria that will be used to determine when a student has done enough quality work to earn the badge. We’ll then show them how we assess badges on the LRNG platform.

We’ll review each other’s playlists and badges, and begin to see the power of providing youth with curriculum online that leads them to publish multimedia blog posts on a site like Youth Voices where they can raise their voices about issues that matter to them and engage with their peers in significant conversations online.



The objective of this workshop is to introduce participants to new primary source-rich resources for instruction and demonstrate proven strategies designed to support students’ critical thinking skills. Attendees will navigate the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and its Primary Source Sets (https://dp.la/primary-source-sets), collections of instructor-vetted primary sources on 160 topics in literature, history, and more, drawing on diverse resources found in DPLA—from newsreel footage to oral histories. Presenters will lead an interactive exploration of these free resources and collaborate with participants to develop approaches to incorporating primary sources that are optimized for their students and curricula. By the end of the session, attendees will have generated specific ideas for how to use a DPLA Primary Source Set or individual primary source in an upcoming course or assignment.

DPLA is a free, national digital library that provides access to millions of materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the US. DPLA Primary Source Sets were designed and created in collaboration with DPLA’s Education Advisory Committee, a team of educators representing humanities disciplines across secondary and higher education. This project makes literature instruction a priority, curating a group of sets around works of fiction, memoir, poetry, and drama, like Night by Elie Wiesel and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. These sets provide context for the events surrounding and depicted in the literary work, including information about the life of the author, contemporary reviews, and historical inspiration. Alongside topics representing core curricula, the project tells stories of underrepresented groups, including African Americans and women.

This workshop will follow this outline:

Analyze a Primary Source (30 mins)

Presenters will model interactive strategies for engaging students around a single primary source, including close reading, asking questions, and visual thinking skills.

Using DPLA Primary Source Sets (30 mins)

Participants will take an interactive tour of DPLA’s Primary Source Sets to discover key features, use filters to find sets relevant to their interests, and think-pair-share to focus on an individual source or discussion question.

Implementation Ideas (45 mins)

Participants will collaboratively brainstorm ideas for primary source work in the classroom. Attendees will share previous experiences integrating primary sources into their teaching and discuss challenges. Presenters will offer implementation ideas for the sets gathered from educators, with special attention to literature instruction, and invite group contributions.

Your Turn! (45 mins)

Participants will work in small groups to develop an instructional idea that uses the Primary Source Sets and applies to their current classroom. As they work, they will record their plans by answering short writing prompts and then share with the whole group in brief presentations.

Finding Primary Sources (30 mins)

Participants will learn how to discover new primary sources not included in the Primary Source Sets. Presenters will share searching strategies and demonstrate sample searches with input from participants.

Wrap-Up (30 mins)

Participants reflect on what they have learned, raise questions that remain, and identify next steps for implementing new ideas. Presenters will also distribute a survey to collect participant feedback.



Cambourne states that literacy should culminate in “the active, critical, productive thinking and problem solving…which makes it possible for us to successfully negotiate both our school (academic) world and the world outside school” (1988). Supporting students in finding their voice, and recognizing its power, enables students to engage with each other and their world with this agentive stance.

In dialogic classrooms, comprehension is viewed as a process that occurs over time (Blachowicz and Ogle, 2001) and across multiple conversations (Nichols 2009). Texts and authors are considered one voice, or perspective, in the conversation. Students are positioned to consider this voice, and recognize the importance of their own as they engage in the process of constructing meaning. The teacher becomes a responsive facilitator, supporting student dialogue, introducing and revisiting texts to expand ideas, and intentionally teaching talk behaviors (Nichols, 2006). This work can and should begin at the elementary level.

This workshop opens with exploration of a single text, engaging participants in authentic processes for thinking and talking together. Through reflection, participants explore their beliefs about comprehending as a process; the social nature of learning and effects on classroom community; the teacher as facilitator; the foundational importance of talk and varied perspectives as constructivist tools; and the development of student voice.

Emphasis then shifts from meaning making inside single texts to thinking and talking using text sets focusing on issues of significance through varied perspectives to broaden the range of voices in the meaning making process. Participants will engage in a text set that expands meaning constructed in the original single text, experiencing the power of a range of genre, text types in the process.

Peter Johnson speaks to the importance of nurturing dialogic abilities with multiple perspectives in this way, noting, “When people expect to disagree and to explain their position, have a reasonable tolerance for and expectation of uncertainty, understand the value of listening to others, particularly those who think differently.” Johnston adds that this process ensures that students “… are well prepared for a strong democracy” (2012).

This experience will again be debriefed through multiple lenses, inclusive of the depth and breadth of understandings constructed through the range of genre, author voices, and student voices in a dialogic process. Participants will explore the range and importance of varied perspectives and formats within text choices, patterns of collaboration and talk, and the effect on engagement, voice, and community building. Examples of ways students use constructed understandings to envision change and engage in their world with an agentive stance will then be shared

The workshop focus will then shift to the instructional implications of this process, with time devoted to intentional teaching decisions, lesson design, and the design of text sets. Video, photos, and conversational excerpts will illustrate students and teachers, in both urban and rural classrooms, engaged in this work. Examples of charting to capture the collaborative process will be included.

The workshop will conclude with ample time for questions, participant collaboration, and planning for implementation.