Professional Conversations

Click here to see links provided during a number of technology demonstrations and sessions. There are also links for technology enhancements on this blog in the right column (scroll).

If you attended and have questions, suggestions, comments and concerns, please use the comment feature and post. I will forward your entry to the appropriate board member and delete your comment, if you so state, from the blog.

Hope to see you in 2009 at the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando, Florida!

FCAT Accommodations

A member asked if it is allowable to have the prompts on the FCAT Writing portion read to students with disabilities whose individual educational plan (IEP) team determines appropriate. We are pleased to respond. DOE's response follows.

As is stated in the FCAT Test Administration Manual, “The test administrator may
sign or orally present the writing prompt (topic), items, and answer choices on
the writing test. When reading answer choices, be very careful not to use
voice inflection that might lead a student to the correct/incorrect responses.”
This appears in the FCAT Writing+ Test Administration Manual published and
disseminated to districts in spring of 2008, on page 112, as the first bullet
item under the section labeled Presentation.

We hope that this information is helpful to you and your colleagues. If you have additional questions regarding accommodations that are allowable on the FCAT, please feel free to contact our office by telephone at (850) 245-0478. If you have
specific questions about assessment, please contact Ms. Linda Rhea, Program
Specialist, Florida Department of Education, by electronic mail at Linda.Rhea@fldoe.org or by telephone at (850) 245-0513.

Letters About Literature National Reading-Writing Contest

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, in partnership with Target Stores and in cooperation with affiliate state centers for the book, invites readers in grades 4 through 12 to enter Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author explaining how that author's work changed the reader's way of thinking about the world or themselves. There are three competition levels: Level I for grades 4 through 6; Level II for grades 7 and 8, and Level III, grades 9 - 12. Winners, announced in the spring of each year, receive cash awards at the national and state levels. National winners also earn for their school or community library reading promotion grants worth thousands of dollars! Deadline for our next competition is December 6, 2008.

Contest Update: September 8, 2008

At first, students were stymied about how not to write a fan letter. Continual coaching, encouragement, and your excellent guidelines and teaching files helped them correspond with authors in a revelatory way. This was a new way of writing for them. Their initial intensity about wanting to win became redirected as we practiced applying your lesson-plan ideas. —Kate Denault, Mountainside, New Jersey

Books have wings. You can't see them, but they are there just the same. On books' wings, readers can soar to new places where they meet intriguing characters and experience exciting adventures. But a book's wings can also help a reader rise above difficult situations, like peer pressure, bullying or prejudice, or to cope with disappointment and loss. Have you ever felt the power and lift of literature? Has one book, or perhaps one author, inspired you to change your view of yourself or of your world? If so, we encourage you to enter this year's Letters About Literature writing competition. It's easy. All you have to do is write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work affected you.

LAL isn't your ordinary book report assignment! We eliminate all letters that just summarize the book's plot. Why? Because you are writing to the author and the author already knows what happened, right? Instead, we look for letters that are personal (that means, about you, your thoughts, your feelings), conversational, and informative!

Entry guidelines and "official rules" are also available on the LAL page at the Libary of Congresss Website at this URL: http://www.loc.gov/letters. Meanwhile, browse our site using the menu at the left and read some of the great winning letters from this year's competition! We look forward to receiving your letter this year!

Florida Book Awards

2008 is the third year of the Annual Florida Book Awards Competition. Go to http://www.fsu.edu/~ams/bookawards/ to see information about the competition, the juries, this year's and previous years' finalists and award winners, book entry rules, and important dates.

The Florida Book Awards, coordinated by the Florida State University Program in American & Florida Studies -- and co-sponsored by the Florida Center for the Book, the State Library and Archives of Florida, the Florida Historical Society, the Florida Humanities Council, the Florida Literary Arts Coalition, the Florida Library Association, “Just Read, Florida!,” the Governor’s Family Literacy Initiative, the Florida Association for Media in Education, the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, Friends of the Florida State University Libraries, and the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America -- is an annual awards program that recognizes, honors, and celebrates the best Florida literature published in the previous year.

In early March, medals will be announced in each of the eight categories. Gold Medal Award winners will be acknowledged at the Historic and Cultural Awards Ceremony sponsored by the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs at the R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee. All FBA medalistswill be acknowledged at a banquet hosted by the Florida Library Association at its annual conference in early May.

Winning books and their authors are featured in the Summer issue of FORUM, the statewide magazine of the Florida Humanities Council. Visit the FORUM website to learn more about the authors and to buy the 2007 award-winning books.

Ginny White's Ramblings

Perhaps, since Ginny has retired, she will agree to post a few of her adventures. Below are a few of her reflections from a recent email. Of course it had to include, what else? A book!

It is so strange that everyone is back at school except for me. I am making a point to walk on the beach each morning but beyond that, am mostly reading and watching the Olympics. I've never had leisure time like this before. After being gone practically all of the summer, it's good just to putter at home. Besides having fun in various places in New England with family (Berkshires, Acadia Natl Park, Cape Cod), I also facilitated a three day workshop for elementary teachers that showed how to integrate geographic concepts and literature. It was great fun to work with my long-time friend Kristi who is a geography professor at Keene State College in New Hampshire and coordinator of the NH Geographic Alliance (initiated by Natl Geographic) as well as a young man who teaches 4th grade who is an absolute dynamo. My first consulting job was a success! Hurray! I'm planning to sub for our media specialist - will do book talks when I am there. I wish everyone well as you begin a new school year -Love to all, Ginny

PS Here's a short prose piece from Naomi Shihab Nye (Honeybee) that we used at our workshop -- hurray for BOOKS - I have a couple of other things that are equally stunning!

Before I Read The Kite Runner (p. 142) I held it on my lap on the plane in Cairo while other passengers were boarding. It seemed like a good book to read, finally, on such a long flight. I’d had it since it came out, but now the time felt right. Two men from Yemen across the aisle, who had been snoozing when the Egypt passengers first boarded, pointed and said, “Good book! Good book!” Some women from Germany patted my head and said, “We loved that book.” An American man with his wife leaned over and said, “It opened our eyes.” What a surprise! Everyone on the plane seemed to have read it before me. And they were all my friends simply because I was holding it!Maybe we should just wander around other countries carrying books. Naomi Shihab Nye (Not familiar with Nye's work? Click here for brief bio and information about author from HarperCollins.)

NCTE Inbox Blog

Be sure to check out NCTE's blog. It is not the same as the Inbox newsletter that many of you may receive. In its most recent posts you will find information about Wordle (word maps), Podcasts (an overview and explanation, including links to sites for finding them), Online Documentation Tools (citation builders for MLA, APA, etc.), CompPile (a one-stop shop for composition research), Google Lit Trips, Wiki, and E-Newsletters.

You will find links to some of the referenced sites on the right side of this page under Related Links of Interest (below, right).

Read any good books?

Please provide the title and a quick blurb about any Young Adult Novel you have read and/or have used with your classes.

If interested you can create an online booklist and hold book club meetings at www.goodreads.com. Check it out if you have not; it seems really interesting.

FCTE Commissions: NCTE Resolutions/Position Statements

Commission on standards and government imposed curriculum
Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing
NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts

Commission on the assessment of literacy
On Urging Reconsideration of High Stakes Testing
Resolution on High-Stakes Testing
Commission on development of diversity in educational leaders
On Professional Development and Retention of People of Color within Academia
On Diversity

Commission on the continuation of professional development
Position Statement on the Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of Writing
Principles of Professional Development

Commission on intellectual freedom
On Formation of a Foundation to Support Academic and Intellectual Freedom
NCTE and IRA Speak with One Voice on Intellectual Freedom and the Defense of It

Commission on community and education partnerships
On Communicating English Language Arts Concerns to Public Officials http://www.ncte.org/about/over/positions/category/gov/107480.htm
Incentives for Excellence in the Teaching of English Language Arts: What School Board Members Can Do to Encourage Excellence in Their English Language Arts Programs

Commission on media and 21st century literacy
Beliefs about Technology and the Preparation of English Teachers
21st-Century Literacies: A Policy Research Brief

For the complete list email clarissa.westwhite@famu.edu

General guide to submitting resolutions

If you have concerns about issues that affect your teaching, or positions you would like to support, and you think NCTE should take a stand, you have an opportunity to be heard! You can initiate action to deal with these issues by proposing resolutions which may be voted on and passed at NCTE's Annual Convention.

Proposed resolutions should deal with issues not previously addressed or with aspects of issues not covered by existing resolutions. Your submission should include a brief background statement, be presented in proper format, and be accompanied by the signatures of at least five NCTE members. See the resolutions on the NCTE website for samples of the form to follow in drafting resolutions. Sheldon Wrice can provide technical assistance in development of a new resolution. The Committee on Resolutions decides which of the submitted texts to present to the membership.

At open hearings, NCTE members may offer opinions about proposed resolutions. Final discussion and voting will take place during the Annual Business Meeting.

Resolutions must be postmarked. Send resolutions, including a contact name, e-mail address, and phone or fax number, to Sheldon Wrice, Chair, NCTE Committee on Resolutions, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096; fax: 217-278-3761. If you would like to submit your resolution by e-mail, please include the full name and NCTE member number for each of the five required members who support the resolution text.

FCTE Commissions


Commission on Development of Diversity in Educational Leaders
FCTE Liaison(s): Susan Houser (susan_15ym@yahoo.com)
Dr. Bernadette Kelley, Chair, bernadette.kelley@famu.edu, Florida A&M University

Commission on Intellectual Freedom
FCTE Liaison(s): Dr. Joan F. Kaywell (kaywell@tempest.coedu.usf.edu)
Kim Sheehan (kshewho@comcast.net)
ReLeah Lent, Chair, rlent@phonl.com, Educational Consultant
Gloria Pipkin, Co-chair, gpipkin@knology.net, Educational Consultant

Commission on the Continuation of Professional Development
FCTE Liaison(s): Dr. Pam Craig (pamelasue5@tampabay.rr.com)
Kelly Metzler (Kelly_Metzler@scps.k12.fl.us)
Linda Tuschinski (ltusch@aol.com)
Anita Plummer, Chair,anita.plummer@browardschools.com, Broward County Schools
Gayle Cowley, Co-chair, GCowley@escambia.k12.fl.us, Escambia County Schools

Standards & State Requirements Affecting Classroom Instruction
FCTE Liaison(s): Tamara Doehring (tamaradoe@aol.com)
Jennifer Campbell (jennifer@jennifercampbell.net)
Dr. Susan Wood, Chair, wood@coe.fsu.edu, Florida State University, Tallahassee

Commission on Community and Education Partnerships
FCTE Liaison(s): Donna Garcia (dkgarcia@mail.ucf.edu)
Dr. Gail Gregg, Chair, greggg@fiu.edu, Florida International University
Dr. Sissi Carroll, Co-chair, pcarroll@garnet.acns.fsu.edu, Florida State University

Commission on Media and 21st Century Literacy
FCTE Liaison(s): Dr. Clarissa West-White (clarissa.westwhite@famu.edu)
Kevin Smith (Kevin.Smith@fldoe.org)
Dr. Barbara Pace, Chair, bgpace@coe.ufl.edu, University of Florida

Florida House and Senate Bills of Interest

For an End of Session Summary for 2008 Regular Session click here.

For a list of Senate Bills for the 2008 Regular Session click here.

2008 NCTE Advocacy Day

Want to influence politicians' decisions regarding education? Click here to read more about National Council of Teachers of English's annual trek to "The Hill" for Advocacy Day. This year, two of FCTE's board members (Clarissa West-White & Susan Houser)journeyed there. The above movie is a summary of the day's events.

Teacher's Pet

Use the "comments" link below to showcase students' work!


To all student and novice teachers (and experts, too), use the "comments" button below this post to pose questions to teaching professionals around the state.

Teacher's Corner

Please post your favorite or not so favorite links, websites, lesson plans, etc. here using the "comments" feature below.