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Personal reflections on SLJSummit10

I returned home from the SLJ Summit late last night.  I had a great time in Chicago.  And it would be easy to simply return with fond memories of time spent with old and new friends.  The two days were packed with learning experiences and fun.

I am still working through that learning and I am sorting out the sticky stuff–what happened that truly made a difference.

For now, I’ll share just a few of my stickiest highlights:

1. Speaker after speaker affirmed the value of digital citizenship, inquiry, critical reading, evaluation, comprehension, analytical skills, creativity, and authentic assessment.

2. We can (and should) celebrate and encourage reading in all its glorious and emerging varieties.  We are expanding the traditional (limited) definition of reading. Different learners may prefer to have different reading experiences.  We explored new interactive book formats and platforms.

3. Reading is connected to the sociocultural context.  Is it cool to be reading?  We talked about the reading and thinking that happens in gaming.

4. NCTE’s Peter Gutierrez discussed how pop culture (graphic novels, for instance) and fandom can engage literacies.

5. We talked about the impact gender differences.  (Steve Abram reminded us of the role hormones play in boys’ ability to focus on reading.) We talked about helping learners/readers get the supports and understandings learners need to become  successful readers.

6. Speaker after speaker affirmed the need for TLs to be powerful and active teachers of literacies of every sort.

7. Speaker after speaker affirmed the need for TLs to speak up on behalf of learners and their needs.

8. We shared with our dear vendors frustrations over proprietary platforms, restrictive digital rights, and the absence of an attractive and affordable model for what is going to be a huge and very profitable school e-reading market.  Should the decisions be exclusively market/vendor-driven?  We want a seat at the table.  We want a model that works for both schools and libraries, for full classes, for easy circulation, for book clubs, for lit circles.  We talked about the importance of our vendor partners helping us help learners to easily access these digital resources when they need or want them. About creating cataloging that makes e-books and interactive media pop. About non-negotiables for both devices and software (for instance, adjustable font, text to speech, attractive interface, annotating, highlighting, dictionary supports, flexibility of text, and more).

My slides on e-book confusion:

9. We discussed the potential power for digital texts to address issues of currency, equity, customization, flexibility, collaboration, interactivity, and access.

10. Illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky and author Patrick Carman described their processes and their visions. Zelinsky offered a peak into the tools–old and new–he uses to create book art.  Carman shared his new strategies and platforms for involving young readers in exciting, interactive reading experiences.  (And that he loves to Skype with schools.)

11.  Members of the Carnegie Council for Advancing Adolescent Literacy acknowledged that their recent reading research ignored the powerful role librarians play in literacy.  They expressed concerns about our young people not mastering advanced literacy skills.  And they heard our ardent desire to work with them on future initiatives and research projects.

12. Karen Cator, Director of the DOE’s Office of Educational Technology, discussed the National Education Technology Plan and shared that she got the role librarians play as literacy leaders and in integrating technology into meaningful learning.

13. Catherine Snow, of Harvard, expressed real concerns based on research.  We are not skilled at teaching learners to attack advanced texts or teaching students to learn through reading.  We have yet to address major slumps in 4th and 9th grades. Many teachers assume students come into their classrooms as competent readers. Learning to read and reading to learn are tasks for all grades, across content areas.  It is important to teach how students to read like a scientist, write like historian. Content area teachers are teachers of literacy.
Comprehension is a complex act.  It occurs when reader, text, and activity intersect.

14. Judi Morellian’s story (and wonderful nature videos) reminded us of the difference between skimming and diving in deep.

15. Frances Harris and her students reminded us of students’ very different preferences and talents.  It was a delight to watch them contribute with poise, maturity, and confidence as they interacted with authors, and vendors, and publishers, and reviewers, and librarians.

And here are some additional important links from the Summit:

  • Of course, you’ll want to see the winners of the first annual Trailee Awards!  (But believe me, you really had to be there.)  Thanks to Teresa Schauer for all the heavy lifted she did on our committee and to Rocco for being a swashbuckling co-host!  Thanks also to my dressers, Gwyneth and Shannon!
  • Check out Neeru Khosla’s CK12 Flexbook project, featuring free, downloadable, customizable, printable open source texts for K12.   (Also check out some other project on my etext pathfinder.)
  • Chuck Follett, President and CEO of Follett Corporation announced a competition with a prize of $100,000 in Follett goods and services for innovation in learning technology integration.  (Link to come!)
  • This March, Jon Scieszka and Patrick Carman will host a free, live Webinar for elementary students.  Sign up here!
  • Paul O. Zelinsky shared What I Did for Wood, a look behind the art making for his picture book Dust Devil.
  • Read these important reports from the Carnegie Council for Advancing Adolescent Literacy
    • Time To Act: An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy for College and Career Success
    • Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools
    • Reading Next: A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy.
  • Andrés Henríquez shared this fascinating video vision of the future of the book.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Jane Lofton says:

    Wow! So much to absorb even just from your account! Thanks so much for the report, Joyce. I wish I could have been there.

  2. Karen Kliegman says:

    thanks for linking all this up, Joyce! So much good information!

  3. Kathy Bowman says:

    If Joyce is confused, just imagine how the rest of us feel.

  4. IMHO that was the best recount of the event that could be written – and a relief! (because I am terribly lazy) I’ll just point my wrap up post here.. DONE! and \\FTW!// Though I will have to divert my eyes from the distractingly crazy arm photo with Shan (I blame Chris Harris) The thoughts, links, and summations of this brilliant event are in a word, brilliant!

    I might add, it was a distinct relief to hear that Joyce was confused about eReaders…similar to what Kathy said – gives us all mental sigh of relief! Whew! as in “glad I’m not the only one!”

    Brava, Oh Joyce! And it was a pleasure to be one of your handmaidens!

  5. Cathi Franchino says:

    Thanks for the sticky notes, Joyce – especially the Walla Walla webcast in March. Expect a copy of Spacehdz to come your way! 🙂

  6. Joyce,
    Thank you, thank you. I would like to echo Gwyneth’s comments and say that your summary beats anything I could have done. And I would also like to echo the relief I felt when you expressed – so clearly – your own confusion about eReaders and the delivery of digital content. It’s very clear we are heading there – quickly – and it’s not so clear what this is going to look like in the school setting. Thanks again for your advocacy for TLs and your leadership in the field.

    Megan – a Vermont K-6 School Librarian

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