Page 1

NDCTE North Dakota Council of Teachers of English

January 2015 Issue 1

NDCTE 2014 Gallagher recap - 3 Teaching creativity - 5 COVER: Award winners at the 2014 NDCTE conference

January 2015

Realigning Priorities Finding time to focus on what really matters Tara Kranz

NDCTE Member

It usually happens like this: I am lying in bed, roughly four weeks before Christmas break, waiting for a restful night sleep to fall upon me when suddenly a realization hits me like a freight train...CHRISTMAS IS IN FOUR WEEKS!?!? Questions begin to tumble through my mind much quicker than most of my students can talk. How will I ever finish these units? Where did the time go? Is it really only four weeks? Count again...1..2..3...Yep, four weeks. It’s not enough time! I have so much to get through. Am I really as behind as I feel? It is right around the 167th painful, panic-stricken thought that I realize… I will not be getting a restful night sleep tonight. I feel that no matter how long I teach, the end of Semester I will always sneak up on me. I could plan and prepare for an eternity (sometimes it feels as though I have) and I will never accomplish all that I desire my students to know by Christmas. There are moments, days before our beloved and much needed Thanksgiving break, that I feel as though Christmas will never arrive and when it does, I am likely to be dead from exhaustion and stress. However, without fail, when it is finally December, I find myself in a panic to get through the standards, units, and projects that I so diligently planned to have done before Christmas. I become the elusive teacher known as, “That lady who is always running around and shouting orders.” In the weeks leading up to Christmas break, I cram so much information into one 50-minute class period that my students look like zombies when the exit bell finally rings. I have projects and essays coming out of my ears. It feels like my classroom’s foundation is literally being held up by stacks of paper. This, for me, is December. Aaah…. the joy of the Christmas season...

Page 2

NDCTE recognized at national conference National Council of Teachers of English Announces 2014 Affiliate Website Award

It’s no secret that teachers are under a lot of pressure.

And yet, as if by some miracle, by 4:00 pm on the last day before break, everything is complete. My room is in order and my students are smiling. This is when I realize that no matter how stressful or frustrating teaching can be, it is all worth it when the students have smiles on their faces from a job well done. It’s no secret, teachers are under a lot of pressure, especially during the Christmas season or the end of any grading term. We are so passionate about our work; there is so much knowledge we want to give to our students, and there is so little time. However, in this rush to provide our students with this knowledge, it is easy to lose sight of the reason for our passion. We are passionate about the students. They don’t care about the standards, units, or projects; they care about being able to leave for break with a sigh of relief, knowing that they put their best effort forth. Taking our eyes off our computer screen and taking time to focus on what really matters, this is the priority of a teacher.

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) awards the 2014 Affiliate Website Award Honorable Mention to the North Dakota Council of Teachers of English,, edited by Jeremy Murphy of West Fargo, North Dakota. Established in 2000, this award recognizes outstanding websites with high-quality content, easy navigation, size, speed, privacy, links, and interactive abilities (message boards, live chats, forums, blogs, mailing lists, etc.). The award winner will be announced at the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention Washington, DC, during the Affiliate Roundtable Breakfast on Sunday, November 23. This year’s winner is the Oregon Council of Teachers of English, http://www.octe. org, edited by Jenny Gapp of Portland, Oregon. Honorable Mention will also be presented to the Virginia Association of Teachers of English,, edited by Freyja Bergthorson of Sterling, Virginia.

January 2015

Page 3

Gallagher Gives Teachers Tools for their Toolboxes

At the 2014 NDCTE Conference, co-Keynote speaker Kelly Gallagher takes teachers through the process of engaging students with writing. Photo from NDCTE staff

Shawnta Wilson NDCTE Member

Well-known and respected educational author Kelly Gallagher spoke to teachers on the second day of the 2014 NDCTE conference, giving them so many tools for their teaching toolboxes that they couldn’t get the metaphorical lids closed. Teachers took copious notes, filing away inspirations and new ideas to use in their classrooms in the fast approaching school year. Gallagher spoke about innovative ways to use the idea of the “mentor text” in the classroom. He pointed out the three types of writing on which the new Common Core Standards focus - argumentative, informative/exposition, and narrative –

and then addressed strategies for teaching each. Gallagher stressed modeling as a teaching tool and said that teachers don’t do enough of it for their students. He talked about the importance of students witnessing teachers engaged in the writing process, including any struggles or on-the-spot mistakes and corrections the teacher may make as he or she writes. He also stressed the significance of analytical reading to improve writing. Gallagher pointed out the different levels at which students can engage with mentor texts. They can be asked to read a selection for “What?” questions or to analyze a selection for “How” questions. Then, students can emulate the selection because they have a better idea of how the mentor text examples superior writing, answering the final question – “Can you?” He referenced many texts and sites for teachers to check out and showed an inspirational video called “Austin’s Butterfly,” showing the amazing effect mentor texts can have upon student work. Gallagher talked about the three types of argument – arguments of fact, arguments of judgment, and arguments of policy/rules. He focused on strategies for teaching students the last two on the list and how to effectively write these types of argument papers. Gallagher unfortunately had more ideas and strategies than time. Teachers would have eagerly listened much longer if it had been possible. He showed a video of himself utilizing a strategy with a class, and teachers seemed to appreciate the fact that he still practices his strategies and skills in the classroom. According to the buzz around the room, teachers would love for Kelly Gallagher to return next year!

New student scholarship available NDCTE to offer John Wall scholarship for creative artists This John Wall Promising Artist $500 student scholarship is awarded to a student who shows great promise in his or her pursuit of a career as a creative artist.

mance, etc. (if applicant is unsure about which creative/literary arts is applicable, please email the member at large with any questions).

Criteria for applicant: • Must be a current/upcoming Junior or Senior in a North Dakota high school or an upcoming Freshman enrolled in a ND university. • Must have interest in the creative/ literary arts or plans to pursue a degree in a creative/literary degree such as: art, art education, English, English education, journalism, creative writing, sculpting, music, music education, theater, perfor-

Submissions MUST include the following: • the application • an explication or exposition of the work regardless of medium (picture, writing sample, written explanation, recording, etc.) • a letter of recommendation from one teacher or administrator. The letter should discuss the following:

• The student’s accomplishments and merits • The student’s skills academically and creatively • Any circumstances that make them especially qualified for the scholarship Due Date: June 15th Send application to the current MEMBER AT LARGE Representative or email it to, ATTN: Member at Large. @NDCTEboard

January 2015

Using Reading and Writing to Inspire Pride in Our State

Page 4

Read North Dakota ( is a terrific resource for anyone looking for a list of North Dakota authors. Photos submitted by Kim Rensch

Kim Rensch

NDCTE Member

1989 stands out in my mind as a memorable year. It wasn’t the heavy metal music, neon clothing, or wacky hairdos that make that year stand out. Instead, it was the fact that our state was turning 100 years old, and my 4th grade teacher inspired my classmates and me to celebrate by learning as much about North Dakota as we could. Those learning activities nurtured an appreciation for North Dakota that will likely last the rest of my life. In the hopes of spreading that appreciation to the next generation of North Dakotans, I took advantage of this year’s 125th birthday celebration to invade our three Fargo middle school libraries and create displays featuring books by North Dakota authors and books about North Dakota. Read North Dakota ( is a terrific resource for anyone looking for a list of North Dakota authors. With bison cut from foam, artificial sunflowers, and the motto “125 Years a State, 125 Years of Stories,” the displays did catch the eye of quite a few young readers. Our students were especially drawn to Lauraine Snelling’s Red River of the North

series and the children’s books of Jane Kurtz. As all English/language arts teachers know, reading and writing are better together. For that reason, I invited our middle school ELA teachers and students to write their own North Dakota stories. I kicked things off with my story, a paragraph ending with, “That’s my North Dakota story. What’s yours?” (Anyone wishing to read it can see it at my blog: www.FPSKimRensch.blogspot. com.) One of our Fargo middle school librarians is planning to host a writing gallery in April, giving students the opportunity to share their stories with the entire school. Participants’ names will go into a drawing for Pride of Dakota gifts. Think of the endless possibilities with this writing prompt! Students can write in any form, poem or prose. With today’s technology, it will be easy for students to tell their stories visually with a video or slideshow presentation. Maybe they’ll tell the story of the first time they saw snow, or about how long the winters get, or the activities they do with friends. The one thing their stories have in common is the fact that they were all inspired by North Dakota, which

will hopefully build a sense of community among our student writers. Thanks to a teacher, I grew up with a sense of pride in my state. Now, as an educator myself, I hope to foster that same pride in today’s students. That’s my North Dakota story. What’s yours?

Check out Kim’s blog Click:

January 2015

Page 5

Memorable moments from #NDCTE14

Upper left: Presenter Taylor Brorby discusses the importance of students reading North Dakota literature. Lower left: Presenters Bridget Ryberg and Eileen Zygarlicke engage participants in an active session about incorporating multimedia projects into the ELA classroom. Above: Attendees in breakout sessions at tables gather information about ELA lessons created by colleagues. Right: NDCTE member Bethany Karnik plays the life-size Scrabble board during a conference contest. Photo s by Jeremy Murphy

Teaching Creatively, Teaching Creativity Eileen Zygarlicke NDCTE Member

According to students, teachers need to abandon the “memorize, test, memorize, test” model of teaching and replace it with authentic learning—learning that’s tied to real-life examples of how content pertains to everyday life. Sounds easy, right? But how can this be done? Innovative teachers latch onto and try new ideas constantly as a means of finding new ways to engage students. A colleague, Eric Sanders, has declared Fridays to be Innovation Hour or 20% time in his Junior English classes. He guides students to identify problems in the students’ world they want to address or change. In groups the students power their own learning, working towards an end product for the project. Guess how many students miss his class on Fridays? Engaged students are hungry students. They want to know the “why” behind the marks on their paper or the question posed that they can’t answer or the recent outbreak of disease in their community. It impacts them. “It’s our job to find opportunities for students to learn things that are relevant to their

lives and to give them an authentic project that will make a difference,” says Sanders. Instead of looking at how much work it would be to incorporate this type of learning into the classroom, look at the benefits instead. According to Sanders it does take time, just as developing anything new for a class does. Beyond the planning outside class, Sanders works with students, giving input into their groups and encouraging the development of their creative skills; skills that are often overlooked in many classrooms “If I am not involved in the students’ groups, they tend to stall. I would say that it is a different kind of energy spent during class more as a facilitator and helper instead of the one with all the knowledge. The extra time has been in helping students generate ideas. It’s no different from the start of a new class. We can’t complain about losing instructional time if we’re supplanting worksheets with student –lead learning that captures their interest and let’s them apply content to the real world.” Granted, this approach to teaching may seem foreign, but it engages students, addresses the standards, and teaches 21st century skills. Sanders puts it this way. “The

“We can’t complain about losing instructional time if we’re supplanting worksheets with student –lead learning that captures their interest and let’s them apply content to the real world,” English teacher Eric Sanders.

difference in this approach to teaching is that we’re not preparing students for real life, this is real life.”

January 2015

Page 6

The Cloud. The Collaboration. The Capabilities. How Office 365 Can Change The Classroom Kelsey Johnson

Over the next year, many (if not all) of our North Dakota schools will be getting an overhaul in how we use email. Gone are the days of Sendit accounts, inadequate storage, and shoddy address books and folder systems. It’s now time to welcome Office 365, a Microsoft platform. Office 365 will revolutionize (is that too hyperbolic?) how teachers and students organize their files in the cloud, email, and collaborate. Think of O365 as the MS Suite with Google Drive capabilities. Some of the most exciting things I’m looking forward to with the rollout of O365 is a one-stop shop for the numerous ways I use the cloud and communicate with my students. How many of us are sick of the excuse “My computer died. I lost my whole report!” our kids blurt out all.the.time!? One advantage of O365 is that data loss will be a thing of the past. Now, students can start and finish their assignments in the cloud using OneDrive. This allows students (and teachers) to work on a document from any internet connected device (such as tablets/iPads, laptops/desktops, or even smart phones). So, a student can start the assignment in class, revise on their smartphone on the way to that night’s ball game, and then put the finishing touches on the paper when NDCTE Member

they get home on the family computer. The next benefit of O365 is the ability to collaborate with peers and the teacher. In a more globalized society, our students must learn teamwork and productive collaborative skills. With O365, students can easily share their documents with the teacher. By creating a document library on your SharePoint website, students can upload their documents to share with you. This benefit is two-fold: first, it allows the teacher to see what modifications are being made to the document, and second, it allows the teacher to see when those modifications were made. Teachers can also post (or modify) material inside the document library, which will then send an alert via email to students within minutes or so if the teacher formats the settings that way. With this same teacher-to-student sharing capability, students can also share documents with other students for group work. Afraid that one kid will do all the work because one of the partners is a slacker? That can be stopped with O365 by monitoring modifications. The site allows you to see who made adjustments to a document and when they were made. Now, teachers can fairly assess teamwork and collaborative skills by clicking a button. Students no longer need to feel guilty for throwing their partners under the bus if they didn’t do their share of the work. The final reasons we should be pumped about the change to Office 365 are numerous. Our cloud storage is unlimited

in OneDrive (no more paying for extra storage on Dropbox or similar websites). It should also be noted that SharePoint sites have a set amount of storage determined by each Administrator. Next, streamlined email folder systems that automatically separates incoming email into pre-set folders made in the settings by you. Finally, there are multiple apps (that work like ad-ons) available that work specifically with the O365 platform that allow you to customize your experience. We need to embrace the addition of O365 for our students and ourselves. A majority of colleges and businesses have already incorporated O365’s capabilities for their students and employees’ benefits. By getting our students to embrace this platform now, they will be a step ahead once they head into higher education or the workforce.

NDCTE Conference 2015 July 21-23


As a professional development coordinator for the Conway, New Hampshire, School District, Penny Kittle acts as a K-12 literacy coach and directs new-teacher mentoring. In addition, she teaches writing at Conway’s Kennett High School and in the Summer Literacy Institutes at the University of New Hampshire. Penny is the author and coauthor of numerous books with Heinemann including Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers; Children Want to Write (coauthored with Thomas Newkirk); Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing, which won the 2009 James N. Britton Award from NCTE; The Greatest Catch, and Public Teaching. Penny coauthored two books with Donald H. Graves —Inside Writing and Quick Writes. As an in-demand Heinemann Professional Development Provider Penny delivers PD workshops, webinars, and on-site seminars and consulting services nationwide.

January 2015

NDCTE Board Meeting minutes

New Business A) Appoint SLATE Rep Date: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 -Motion to appoint Tammy Gilstad as the new SLATE Rep (Motion: Bonita/SecLocation: Seven Seas, Mandan ond: Kristi/Motion Passed 12-0) B) NDCTE Conference 2015 Members Present: Aaron Knodel, Pres- July 19-21 ~ July 20-22 ~ July 21-23 ~ ident; Heather Woods, President Elect; August 5-7 Anne Volk, Past President; Britt Liepitz, Discussion took place regarding pros Secretary; Kaylie Young, Member at Large; and cons of each date listed Laura Bearce, NW Rep; Benita Saur, - Motion to set the date of the 2015 SW Rep; Bridget Ryberg, NE Rep; Kristi conference as August 5-7 (Motion: HeathMahrer, SE Rep; Tammy Gilstad, SLATE er/Second: Bridget/motion passed 12-0) Rep; Alan Church, College Rep; Jeremy Annie confirmed the date with Karen Murphy, Communications Director at the Seven Seas who informed us of a conflict with that date Meeting Called to Order: 2:28 p.m. (Aar- Discussion took place regarding on) switching the date of the conference and the pros and cons of July and August Consent Agenda - Motion to change the date of the 2015 A) Secretary’s Report: Business Meeting conference from August 5-7 to July 21-23 Board Minutes (7/28/2014) (Motion: Heather/Second: Bridget/motion -Motion to approve the Business passed 12-0) Meeting Board Minutes from 7/28/2014 - Karen at the Seven Seas updated the (Motion: Heather/Second: Bridget/motion board on the changes and updates that will passed 12-0) be made to the hotel in the next year B) Treasurer’s Report: Aaron updated the C) Volk Family Gift board on the transaction report from Gate Motion to donate from the Support City Bank Fund to purchase a gift for the Annie Volk - Motion to approve the Treasurer’s family to show our support during this difReport (Motion: Kristi/Second: Heather/ ficult time (Motion: Aaron/Second: Kaylie/ motion passed 12-0) motion passed 12-0) - Heather will purchase the gift and see Reports that the Volk family receives it A) Secretary’s Report D) Student Scholarship B) Treasurer’s Report - Kristi informed the board of John Wall’ s passing and his significance and Welcome Board Members/ passed around the program from his Job Descriptions funeral A) Welcome New Board Members - Aaron stated that the Disaster Relief -Laura Bearce, NW Rep Fund has not been used and could poten-Tammy Gilstad, SLATE Rep tially be used to fund a student scholarship -New board members introduced - Discussion took place regarding using themselves and were asked to read the the Disaster Relief Fund to fund a John NDCTE bylaws and job descriptions locatWall Aspiring Artist Scholarship fund ed on the NDCTE website Motion to change the Disaster Relief -All NDCTE Board Members must Fund to the John Wall Aspiring Artist gain NCTE membership ( Scholarship (Motion: Heather/Second: -After gaining NCTE membership, Kaylie/motion passed: 12-0) please indicate on Board Member Spread- Motion to appoint the Member at sheet that you are an NCTE member Large to create criteria for the scholarship and place on the website (Motion: Heather/ Old Business Second: Bridget/motion passed 12-0) A) Unpaid Bills/Reimbursement - Motion to award $500/year to a schol- Motion to pay all unpaid bills for arship recipient (Motion: Tammy/Second: the conference (Motion: Heather/Second: Bonita/motion passed 12-0) Annie/motion passed 12-0)

Page 7

E) Conference Evaluation - Board members were directed to the google docs account where the conference evaluations can be found - Board members were given the username/password to access google docs - Discussion took place regarding the conference evaluations F) 2015 Keynote Contacts - Potential Keynotes: Ken Robinson, Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle, Sherman Alexi - NCTE Speakers cost $300 to bring in (NCTE will pay for their flight/hotel room etc.) - NCTE Speaker + artist + practical pairing? - Aaron will create a google docs list that can be used by all board members to share their speaker ideas this fall G) Fall/Spring Meeting - Discussion took place regarding the need for a physical fall & spring meeting and the consensus was to meet electronically using google docs rather than physically - Aaron will create google docs forms as needed to use to communicate ideas and progress and would like everyone to “reply all” when discussing ideas via email - NDCTE Bylaws do not require a physical meeting H) Advisory Board Review - Documents: Summary of DSU WAC/ WI Report - Contact Alan Church via email with any questions regarding the documents presented I) Other Discussion - 2015 Theme ~ Please pass on any theme ideas to Aaron ASAP - Book Club Ideas ~ Young Adult Literature versus required reading? - Field Work ~ Discussion to take place with Marj via email regarding the possibility of setting up an additional credit after the conference to do field work throughout the year in colleagues’ classrooms throughout the state. This would allow teachers to continue to communicate and collaborate even after the conference is over Meeting Adjourned: 3:45 p.m. (Motion: Heather/Second: Bridget/motion passed 12-0)

NDCTE January newsletter  

The January newsletter for the North Dakota Council of Teachers of English

NDCTE January newsletter  

The January newsletter for the North Dakota Council of Teachers of English