Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday October 15 Meeting

Exciting news! Our t-shirts are in! We have short sleeve shirts for fifteen dollars, with the NCTE logo on the front and "Caution: Corrects Grammar!" on the back. If you are prone to chilliness - or aren't a fan of flaunting your grammatical prowess - we have long sleeve tees for twenty dollars, also with the NCTE logo but with "Been There Read That" on the back. You can purchase both together for thirty. Both options are available for purchase at meetings, payable in cash to Nick, our treasurer.

Tonight's meeting featured a speaker from the League of Women Voters - a non-partisan (not affiliated with any party) organization dedicated to educating the public on the issues surrounding elections.

The league of women voters is a grassroots organization. At the local level the LWV focuses on particular issues relevant to the Fort Collins and northern Colorado community. Located at the city, county, and state level. National issues that the LWV focuses on include immigration, campaign finance reform, global climate change, health care reform and civil liberties. More information on most ballot issues can be researched at vote

All NCTE members received a ballot issues booklet, which covers statutes and amendments, including Amendment 59 - regarding educational funding and TABOR rebate:
If passed, Amendment 59 would revoke the limit on spending and would suspend the rebate to taxpayers beginning in 2011. This amendment would allow the state to collect that money and put it into a state education fund, and would revoke amendment 23, an established provision for a steady increase in pupil funding.

Upcoming local meetings of the League of Women Voters in our area are:

Oct. 16: 7pm Meeting on Amendment 46 (Loveland Public Library 300 n. Adams)

Oct. 20: 9:30 – 11am Public Ballot Issue Presentation explaining and giving pros and cons on the ballot issues (Plymouth Congregational Church, 916 W. Prospect in Fort Collins)

Oct. 23: 7 – 8:30pm Public Ballot Issue Presentation explaining and giving pros and cons on the ballot issues (Fort Collins Main Public Library, 201 Peterson in Fort Collins)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Teaching at International Schools

On Thursday, October 23 at 4pm in Laurel Hall, Eric Trujillo will give a presentation on teaching at international schools.

Among other things, his speech will cover:
What not to expect - discipline or attendance regulations will vary depending on the country.
What to be aware of in the world of international teaching - hold on to your passport!
Types of recruitment fairs and hints for success at these fairs.

An explanation of the many different types of international schools, and links for contacting them!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wednesday October 1

Hi All!

We will be meeting this Wednesday in Eddy 5. Our guest speaker will be Barbara Wallner, sharing her wealth of knowledge on teaching the Millennial Generation:

"Honoring Generational Characteristics: Millennials, how should you be taught?"

At our last meeting Anne DiPardo from the University of Colorado shared some insights on what to look for when seeking a healthy school environment in which to work. We discussed how a healthy culture is more than just the school level - certain elements (inclusion, generosity) can be found along with other more visible elements. When you go to interview at a potential school, check for these elements:

A good school environment has:

1. Good leadership - which leads to collaboration and empowers good teaching. We can find this by discussing with the teachers of the school at which we are interviewing "What is daily life like here?" or "Describe your role as a teacher" and watch to see how they respond to and refer to their leaders.

2. Unspoken norms of institutional behavior - is collaboration a usual occurrence?

3. Openness to Questions - cultivates hope and curiosity in a school.

4. Get a sense of immediate body response. Do you feel tense? Stressed? Or does the school make you feel safe and relaxed, ready to grow?

5. Ask what protection the school offers for first year teachers. Any mentoring or support systems in place to help ease your first year?

6. Quality of Professional Development Opportunities Ask: "What's going on in inservices?" Positive inservices lead to teachers who not only survive, but thrive.

and most importantly, observe:

7. Attention to Kids Are the students the focus of the school? Of the teacher's energy? Listen to the casual talk between teachers: is it caring talk focused on the kids?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Fall Meeting

Hello NCTE members!

Last Wednesday we met in Eddy 8 to discuss conferences of interest to pre-service teachers in the Colorado area. We discussed past events, the career and educational benefits of attending and participating in conferences. Pam gave us hints and suggestions for writing and submitting a proposal for presenting at either conference in the upcoming year.

If you are curious about attending a conference, but unsure of traveling far or paying big bucks, you might consider attending a regional conference. Friday and Saturday September 19th and 20th in Larimie, WY the University of Wyoming will be hosting the Literacy Education Conference. Louann Reid will be presenting on Saturday morning, and registration is relatively affordable at $50.

This year the NCTE annual conference on English Leadership will be held the weekend before Thanksgiving (November 20-25, 2008) in San Antonio, Texas. This year's theme is Leadership for Learning: Learning to Lead. There are three days of events scheduled, including workshops offered at reduced rates for NCTE members. Students can register at the reduced rate of $90 if you are a member of NCTE, and $100 if you are not yet a member.
Reasons to Attend
1. You will receive a wealth of teaching ideas. Pam tells us that if you submit one idea, you receive a stack, the teacher equivalent of gold!
2. If you are interested in researching a specific topic, you can streamline your conference attendance to speakers on your chosen field.
3. The exhibit hall is full of publishers, booksellers, and promoters of the newest educational technology, all of whom want you to use their products in your classroom.
4. There are often YA lit authors present to read from, discuss and sign copies of their latest books.
5. Opportunities for networking abound. If you are soon going to be student teaching or looking for a job there are many school districts and educators looking to meet you!
6. Events like this greatly lessen the isolation often felt by new teachers.
7. If you are considering a job in higher education, universities often interview at conventions like this!

We look forward to seeing you at upcoming meetings. We always have food, prizes, and share educational resources.

Next spring the Colorado Language Arts Society will hold their 39th Annual Regional Spring Conference at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Denver. The theme this year is Creating a Teaching Life. Registration forms are available at

Monday, September 1, 2008

Interviewing Tips

This is from the old blog, dated March 30, 2007.


At our last meeting, Joe Cuddemi (the principal at Kinard Jr. High) came in to speak with us. He gave a passionate and motivating talk about teaching, and he gave us tons of great practical interviewing tips. We took them down and they are posted below.


1. Do your research on the school and district.

2. Meet people in the school and build connections.

3. Talk about instruction; speak to how YOU can make an impact.

4. Explain your desire to contribute to a healthy, cooperative school culture.

5. Talk about student-engagement. What is engagement? How do you know when students are engaged? How can you improve student engagement?

6. Articulate your methods. Explain cooperative learning, assessment, and feedback.

7. Talk about your role as an English teacher. The English teacher has a leadership role in a school for ALL reading and writing, even across departments.

8. Think about flexible creativity. Ask yourself: can I do whatever it takes to reach students?

9. Understand that classroom management is a byproduct of relationships, instruction, and meaningfulness in school. Everything should have meaning.

10. Talk about professional learning communities. Know how to discuss these.

11. Be able to explain how you will modify your instruction to reach students. (Differentiation, ya’ll.)

12. Don’t be afraid to show your passion. It separates you from the pack as a young teacher. You may not have experience, but your passion for learning and improving can easily compensate.

13. Show your communication skills. Build trust in your professional community so that together, your school can best reach students.

14. When going into your first year, the recommendation from your cooperating teacher is supremely important. Make sure you have a good relationship in that regard.

15. Don’t be afraid to get deeply involved in your new school. It is well worth it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April update

Hello fellow NCTE members!

As we gear up for the final push of the last five weeks of the semester everyone is busily trying to tie up loose ends. I have a few loose ends of my own to share:

Last meeting Casey and I went over what we found to be the best and most educational of the many seminars we attended at the Colorado Language Arts Society Regional Conference. It was a great weekend at the Inverness Hotel March 7-9, even if we did not hear from Niki Giovanni or Gene Luen Yang.

The highlights for me were the many sessions on using Film and Graphic Novels in the classroom. We heard from Jessica Keigan and Kim Brady from Horizon High School in Thornton, CO on Film Literacy in the Integrated Classroom - the phenomenal handout from this session alone is an entire unit plan including, among many other useful instructional plans, feature film reading activities for:

Kingdom of Heaven
Melinda and Melinda
Cinderella Man
Bend it Like Beckham

Casey shared tips and strategies from a session on How to Save Time Grading and Change Lives - given by David Cohara, Wendi Johnson, and Benjamin Reed from Standley Lake High School, discussing the benefits of using the MicroConference and the E-Conference with twenty-first century students in our rapid society. Tips included details on how to:

Assess and Prioritize,
Make comments - not corrections,
Discuss the writing,
and how to use shortcuts to streamline the grading process.

Our next meeting tomorrow night in Eddy 8 from 7-8 pm we will discuss the t-shirt options for our club this semester, and we will have a drawing for a teacher-iffic prize, before we hear from this week's guest speaker: Nola McMillen from Bennett Elementary will share hints and advice for teaching Second Language Acquisition in the Language Arts class.

We hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Upcoming Events:

* Northern Colorado Writers Conference -
Fort Collins Hilton April 4th and 5th
For registration and information visit -

* CSUnity -
Forms are available in the SLICE office, located in the Lory Student Center
Sign up as a group or individual
Must sign up by March 14th at 5:00 p.m.

* CSU Writing Project Workshop
Held on campus on April 19th
For registration and information please e-mail

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Logo!

This is the logo that will appear on the front of our t-shirts - with the phrase:

"Caution: Corrects Grammar"

on the back!
We are also looking into ordering some with:

"Been there - read that"

And we are checking prices between hoodies and shirts - so come to the next meeting to find out about ordering yourself one!

3/5 meeting

This semester of NCTE is turning out to be a great one so far. We had a great and productive meeting last night, with the new design for the t-shirts selected, the first round of helpful handouts from Abby and Casey, a presentation from guest speakers and a prize drawing to end the night!

NCTE members heard from Lona Bunton and Jennifer Cooper, 8th grade team teachers of an interdiciplinary unit between English and History brought us helpful packets with all the information needed for a new teacher to plan an Interdisciplinary Unit, the musts and benefits, lesson plans and grading rubrics.

  • The disciplines working together must have the same students
  • The instructors must be able to work together, be flexible, and have something to add to the process.

  • Students learn to do research in English - actually do the research in Social Studies; students actually only have to do one research project well vs. two quickly. This provides students with the skills they need to do the research, and the topic comes from social studies and is pertinent to both courses.
  • Students get to read every day from independent novels.
  • Helps students to see education as connected and integrated - not just isolated skills.
The course themes include:

  • Skills and Drills
    • geography
    • grammar
    • poetry
    • literary terms
  • Myself My World
    • self selected reading
    • current events
    • careers
    • Watership Down: A study of self and society
  • Honor and Service
    • To Kill a Mockingbird: A study of significant historical events that create heroes in our world
    • Africa & Middle East: A study of social hierarchy, civil rights abuses and leaders who have confronted these issues through honorable methods.
  • Faith & Belief Systems
    • The Odyssey: Study of polytheistic beliefs (Greek Mythology)
    • Middle East: 3 monotheistic religions, with a focus on Islam
    • Asia: Hinduism and Buddhism
    • Development of personal belief system
  • Economics & Politics
    • Animal Farm: A study of political systems through literature
    • World Economic and political systems
    • Europe: A study of the Russian Revolution to today
  • Environmental Exploitation:
    • Misssing Persons League: Exploring current and future exploitation of the earth
    • South America: The Amazon rainforest
    • North America: Drilling for oil in Alaska, East St. Louis
    • Autobiographies

Upcoming meetings:

  • March 26, the Wednesday after Spring Break. Our guest speaker Nelda Issacs will tell us about what an administrator is looking for in a new teacher's interview, and will enlighten us on the qualities of a successful resume!
  • April 9, Nola McMillen from Bennett Elementary will discuss teaching ELA.
  • April 23 we might hear from a Peace Corps representative about teaching abroad!
We look forward to seeing you all there!