Presenting at AERA!

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I (Cathy) am delighted to be arriving in Washington D.C. this week to attend the American Educational Research Association Conference. I will be presenting a paper entitled, Examining the Influences: Literacy Teacher Educators who us a Multiliteracies Approach. This study is a subset of a larger study on which I have been a researcher. I examined 7 participants who demonstrated a proclivity toward multilitercies. As I used a grounded theory approach (which does not begin the research with a hypothesis) I was both intrigued and surprised by the findings. Hope you can join me on Monday, April 11, 11:45am to 1:15pm, at the Marriott Marquis, Level Three, Mount Vernon Square.

Abstract:

According to Dewey (1974) “[e]ducation, experience, and life are inextricably intertwined”. This study examined how early life experiences and other influences affected the practices of 7 literacy teacher educators (LTEs) who currently enact a multiliteracies approach. Early childhood experiences, mentors along their journey, personal and professional turning points, and developing notions of literacy were explored. Three findings (a) an innate love of language/literature, (b) inspiring mentorship, and (c) a unique set of dispositional qualities were significant contributing factors to these literacy teacher educators adopting a multiliteracies approach. The participants for this study were a subset from a large-scale study entitled, Literacy Teacher Educators: Their Backgrounds, Visions, and Practices which examines the lives of teacher educators from four countries: Canada, the USA, England and Australia.

Hope you can join me!

http://www.aera.net/EventsMeetings/tabid/10063/Default.aspx

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My First Academic Article

I belong to a research team at OISE.  We are studying 28 Literacy Teacher Educators from four countries (Canada, U.S., Australia, and UK).  The work is fascinating.  Our first paper from our study has recently been published in the Journal of Education for Teaching.  The paper, A Foot in Many Camps: Literacy Teacher Educators Acquiring Knowledge Across Many Realms and Juggling Multiple Identities, is attached.  So excited!  Let me know what you think!

Foot In Many Camps

Presenting at the OADE Conference

The Ontario Association for the Development of Education Conference was held Feb 21st and 22nd at York University.    Nice setting.  I was presenting with my PhD supervisor on some of our recent research findings regarding the spheres of knowledge literacy teacher educators must develop in and how they go about making the developments happen.  I found it fascinating, so the presentation was easy.  Lots to say. Narrowing it down for a one hour presentation was the hard part.  I tend to find academic presentations a bit dry.  But this wasn’t.  This work is so insightful for new teacher educators, mid and late career teacher educators and administrators of teacher ed programs.   This is one of the most exciting and poignant articles I have ever read, let alone research and write about.  As the research is not published yet, I will not go into detail as of yet.  But thank you to the participants that came to hear us present.  I could tell how excited you were too and that was so encouraging.  More to come, dear reader, more to come.

Yeah, academic writing is hard

The other day I had a student in undergrad ask me if writing a dissertation was hard.  I was a bit amused.  “Yes”, I answered, “it’s really hard”.  I’m not sure if it feels hard because I wrote creatively for years.  Writing a novel comes from a completely different place.  It emerges differently and sings differently on the page.  It tended to stir me up, get me wound.  This type of writing is, well, logical.  And my logical, analytical side quite likes it, but it is painstakingly slow.  I am relieved that I have enough background knowledge in my specialty to at least keep writing.  I know where to find the articles and what scholars will back up my argument.    This is at least faster than it was when I was first conducting my research on my topic and writing papers about it.  I do see progress.  But the writing of a thesis is still different.  I wrote 1000 words today and I am exhausted.   My brain is tired.  My neck hurts.  I need a break.  But at least I leave the computer feeling as though I have accomplished something.  They are 1000 good words.  Well chosen and well supported words.  It’s hard, but it is satisfying.

Adapting to the Audience

Had a great workshop yesterday at the Reading Recovery Conference.  I had made plans, ran off handouts and prepared a ppt for (I was told) 60 people.  The stories I prepared (5) were very serious and I was going to select the’ right one’ to tell depending on the nature of the audience.  All of this flew out the window when I ended up with 5 participants.  Deflating, yes, but exciting, most definitely.  I threw out the whole plan and asked them why they came.  What did they need and want from this experience?  Their answers put me on different track, with some elements from  the original plan. (One participant actually read the description of the workshop and wanted exactly what was in the description!  As this rarely happens, I was impressed).  The opening story ended up being Fox and Bear, a primary story in my performance experience, and I included movement.  There were several reasons why I chose this story:

1.  One of the participants teaches First Nations children, hence a First Nations story. (Note,  I acknowledged the founding nations that told stories in the area first- Cayuga, Neutral, Mohawk and Seneca)

2.  Most of them were primary teachers

3.  They wanted to connect the story to a writing experience and this story lends itself nicely to mapping

4.  The story was short and I lost a lot of time finding out about my participants

5.  The group was small, so a serious story that may make them cry will put them on the spot.

6.  Since it was such an intimate experience, we needed humour to lighten the mood, and that story is funny.

7.  The movement addition would give them license to play with their own stories in the classroom.

Guess what!?  I worked.  I was delighted with what they got out of the story and the telling.  They picked up so many nuances  and wanted  to try it themselves.   They did map part of the story as a  retelling  and eventually we even got into personal telling.  A lot ended up being crammed into those meager 75 minutes.  But it was so worthwhile.  They said they learned lots and I had a wonderful time.

Storytelling at the Reading Recovery Conference Feb. 13th, 2014

This week I will  be presenting at the LITERATE BEGINNINGS, LITERATE LIVES, Reading Recovery & Early Literacy Conference in Scarborough.  Nice conference.  (Web site is below).   Topic?  What else- storytelling.  I will be exploring the power of story: what it does for our minds; our imaginations; our senses; even our tension levels.  I want to start with a compelling story.  Something that will grab the audience by the throat.  Of course, part of the magic of storytelling is being able to adapt to the nature of the audience.  This will mean having a few stories in my back pocket.  Nice challenge.  I will dwell on this for a few days and  get back to you.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

https://event-wizard.com/CIRRConference2014/0/welcome/

Friday the 13th

I’ve never been superstitious: I don’t avoid black cats; I proudly walk under ladders; and only put my salt on my food; but, I have been given reason to reconsider this. On Friday December the 13th I was broadsided by another car. Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking… “So what. Pure coincidence”. Uh, uh. This was my THIRD car accident on the Friday the 13th in four years. THIRD! (And it has never been my fault). After the second accident the policewoman taking my statement (as I lay at x-ray in emerg) didn’t believe me and actually looked up my record. “Good God!”, she said, “You weren’t making this up. You were in another car accident on Friday the 13th!” Thank goodness for records. Otherwise, she might have thought I was telling stories! The policeman tending my third accident didn’t doubt me. He just banned me from driving on all future Friday the 13th. I will happily comply. When I shared my story at a friend’s 2014 New Year’s Party, one of the attendees asked if she could put me in the Guinness Book of Records. I know some people just don’t believe this. I get this, after all, I am a storyteller. And even though I am pretty stiff and sore, I do have a good story to tell now. Quite unique really. I wonder… is the universe trying to tell me to prepare a story set on superstitions?

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