Teacher Reports on Professional Development
I attended the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education Leadership Symposium at The Harpeth Hall School in Nashville. I have been interested in developing more leadership programs for our Middle School, so the presentation from the Harpeth Hall School, where the middle school program is particularly strong, was very informative, especially their grade level breakdowns. Each grade was broken down into every program that included leadership opportunities—student council, advisories, service and curriculum. The presentation was concise, intentional and a collaborative effort from many faculty and students in the school. I have already talked to Mr. Spiers about developing something similar at Kinkaid.
Another presentation by Tom Monaco from the Summit School in Cincinnati was helpful in developing more ideas for our Peer Mentor group in the Upper School. I have heard Mr. Monaco at other programs, and his passion and knowledge always leave me thinking about something in a new light.
One of my favorite parts of the conference was the time I got to spend with other attendees discussing their schools and their programs. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on across the country in leadership development, and I hope to include more of that at Kinkaid.
Physical Education and Athletics
I attended the Houston Environmental Summit at the University of Houston—Clear Lake. It was a worthwhile, jam-packed event. Sessions I attended included “Effective Techniques for Managing the Outdoor Classroom,” an Environmental Institute of Houston session on School Habitats, and another on the No Impact Curriculum developed by the U. S. Green Building Council. In addition, groups such as the Master Naturalists, Galveston Bay Foundation, Native Plant Society, National Wildlife Federation, Waterworks Education Center, Urban Harvest, and Eco-Schools USA were all present in the exhibit hall. Meeting them gave me some leads on other upcoming workshops and contacts.
Lower School Science
I had the opportunity to attend the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching. This is one of my favorite meetings because it keeps me abreast of all that is going on in the nation pertaining to second language teaching and learning and international and cultural studies. It also allows me to network with colleagues from seven states.
I am now very familiar with interview structure and the elicitation techniques that are used in the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and plan to pursue a certification in the coming years. I attended several technology sessions that have encouraged me to use wikis in Spanish II and use digital portfolios in Spanish III. The Advanced Placement Spanish Literature and Culture course is changing significantly, and two of my colleagues from the AP Reading were there to discuss the new themes and types of questions. Marty Abbot presented a session on “21st Century Skills Map for Languages” that has been developed by ACTFL and the USA Partnership for 21st Century Skills. It is an extraordinary plan for the future.
I have shared some the handouts I received with the department and plan to implement all these ideas in my classroom.
Upper School Spanish
I attended the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin. The major draw for me this year was the session on RDA, the new cataloging rules that are being tested by the Library of Congress and two other national libraries. We should know by the end of the year whether the Library of Congress and the other libraries will accept the new rules or what changes need to be made to make them acceptable. In the meantime, training sessions like the one I attended are being held at the state conference level, and the trainers discussed the differences between RDA and AACR2 with some hands-on training exercises.
Upper School Associate Librarian
I attended the National Youth Leadership Conference on Service-Learning in Atlanta. Attended by high school students through district leaders, this conference provided hands-on workshops. I attended many sessions that will assist me in my Geography class, specifically on how to bring a global outlook to a course by integrating case studies and student-led activities. Some sessions were specifically designed to give teachers skills on how to work with students on designing and implementing service activities. These are of particular interest to me now, since I will be the faculty liaison for the 2011-2012 Habitat for Humanity project. The knowledge and hands-on practice that was gained at the Conference is useful for me now and in the coming school year.
Upper School History
Each year the Texas Library Association hosts an annual conference that brings together some of the newest, most clever, and thought provoking sessions, as well as librarian colleagues and vendors. This conference has been a consistent highlight each school year, and this year was no exception. From the opening session with children’s author Jamie Lee Curtis to the final one with seven critically acclaimed children’s poets, every moment was filled with the possibilities of enhancing, recharging, energizing and moving The Jacomini Family Library and the library program forward. We participated in sessions that demonstrated best picture books and how humor can motivate even the most reluctant of readers. We met with award winning authors and illustrators and made connections for the Kyle Likover Memorial Visiting Author program. Perhaps the most inspiring focused on putting e-books into readers’ hands. The speaker looked at educational pedagogies and demonstrated how e-readers can be a valuable part of a library. The benefits of this annual conference are many; the most valuable are the connections and conversations that keep us professionally current and ready to serve our students.
Lower School Librarian
What an energizing four days at the Texas Library Association Conference! The variety of sessions I attended will translate into an array of new and better library services at Kinkaid. In addition, we were able to purchase several wonderful reference sets at greatly reduced prices, and those will soon be benefiting our students as well.
Tuesday afternoon I went to sessions on “If You Give a Kid a Book,” “The Allure of YA Dystopias” and “1001 Great Ideas” and Diversity Fair.
Wednesday morning I heard Jamie Lee Curtis talking about her writing and then sessions on “Learning Commons for School Libraries and Computer Labs”; “Fish Markets, Coffee Shops and Hotels: Finding the Right User Experience in Academic Libraries”; “Sneak Peak into Adult Summer 2011 Titles”; and “Social Advocacy at Your Library,” before walking all of the exhibit hall and attending a vendor event for independent school librarians.
Thursday I went to “Reality Check: Putting eBooks into the Readers' Hands“; “Bling Your Blog”; “Beyond Federated Searching: An Update on Discovery Tools”; “TexShare/SCELC Partnership: How Private Academic Libraries Can Realize Savings in Electronic Licensing”; “The Art of Explanation in Plain English (Common Craft)”; a General Session with Greg Mortenson; and a progressive Independent School Libraries of Austin dinner, where we visited three libraries.
On Friday I did “YA 2.0: Marketing Your Library through Social Media”; “LibGuides: Research Instruction Beyond the Library Walls”; and “The Next Generation: Digital Natives Talk to Stephen Abram.”
Every year, the annual Texas Library Association Conference is a delight to attend. This year was no exception. The conference allows librarians in Texas to gather together, collaborate, learn and grow as professionals. I kicked off the conference by attending a pre-conference Diversity Fair, which had booths with 1,001 Great Ideas presented by librarians. In the first general session, Jamie Lee Curtis, actor and author, gave a speech that was funny, touching, and inspiring. The breakout sessions I attended varied from a session about putting eBooks into reader’s hands, sessions with authors who presented their work, how to incorporate “Pennies for Peace” in libraries or schools, and a session on the topic of LibGuides, a way to help students and teachers with research. In addition to the breakout sessions, time at the exhibits is a great way to learn about new products and books and to meet authors.
Lower School Assistant Librarian
I attended a series of lectures this spring at Rice on “The Making of Texas.” The lectures were given by a variety of individuals. Patrick Kelley (UT San Antonio) made two outstanding presentations and offered a new level of explanation to our understanding of Texas history in relation to the cotton industry and the role Texas had in The Civil War. Raul Ramos (University of Houston) spoke on the role of Tejanos in the Texas Revolution. James Crisp (University of South Carolina) discussed facts and fiction about the Battle of the Alamo. One highlight for me was a lecture given by Greg Cantrell (TCU), author of a biography of Stephen F. Austin. The lecture was followed by an enlightening discussion on Sam Houston. Other sessions included a talk on the role of money, finances and land speculation in the founding and ultimate loss of the Republic of Texas; the rise and fall of the Comanche; and unraveling truths and myths of the Texas Revolution.
We were fortunate to have three sessions of our class at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in conjunction with the Texas! Exhibit. This exhibit explores Texas' unique roles as a Spanish colony, Mexican frontera, independent Republic, and the 28th State of the Union. What makes this exhibit so unique is that it includes many Texas historical artifacts that have never been brought together under one roof. It's a must see for all who have even the slightest interest in Texas history and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Texas independence.
Middle School History
Dystopias, steampunk, Animoto, social media: the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin offered a wealth of opportunities to listen, observe, share, and do. Panel discussions with Young Adult authors are always a treat. Listening to book talks on the newest and latest for YA and “tweens” left me with another long list of exciting books to order and read, but still not enough time to plunge through them. There were inspiring speakers at the General Sessions, including Greg Mortenson and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Then there were the exhibits, with new books, technologies, and ideas on display—more than enough to occupy the entire week. Book trailers looked easy at the Animoto workshop and I’m eager to dive in. In addition, having time to reconnect with former colleagues and other peers is priceless.
Middle School Librarian
The Art of Bookcraft 2011 Regional Conference had amazing speakers, including editors, an author, a creative director, and agents. I was surprised at the depth and complexity of the process of creating a book and getting it on the market. For involvement, I attended several one-on-one manuscript critique sessions with speakers and local authors. I also displayed art in the portfolio critiques. My picture and two others were chosen for demonstrations of how artists tell stories with their artwork.
I met with Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon and Schuster, who began his career as a puppet designer in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop. With the Muppets for over a decade, he became the Creative Director for Sesame Street, winning an Emmy Award. Currently he illustrates, reviews numerous books as a member of the Children’s Book Awards Committee at Bank Street College, and collaborates with noted editors, authors, and illustrators on picture books, middle-grade books, and teen novels at Simon & Schuster. It was fantastic to talk with him about illustrations and what makes them work.
I discussed manuscripts with Kate Fletcher, an associate editor at Candlewick Press, one of the largest independent children’s book publishers in the world. She works on books across all types of genres—from picture books to young adult novels. From her I learned that creating a manuscript and bringing the reader into a believable story require filling in all aspects to put a story in place without the reader asking why or how it happened. She pointed these elements out to me in a manuscript I submitted.
Lower School Art
I took the Rice Continuing Studies class on Pride and Prejudice, taught by Dr. Denis Huston, and loved every minute of it. For the first two two-hour classes, Dr. Huston discussed the book. This novel is his favorite. In the third two-hour class, we saw scenes from the Masterpiece Theatre of the novel, with Colin Firth as Darcy. In the last two-hour class, we watched the Kiera Knightly film version. Dr. Huston said he liked it best because it is more "romantic" and has real beauties in it, including Ms. Knightly.
Upper School English
I attended the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. My preconference on RDA was informative of the progress we are making toward these new cataloging rules. The beta testing has been completed and the national libraries will make their decisions about adopting them this summer. Since we are still waiting for the online catalog vendors to develop the necessary software, we are still not ready for major changes in our catalog, but we are getting closer.
We received some great ideas on using various technologies to enhance learning by making it not only informative, but fun. One example used Google Maps, Earth cams, Flip cameras, blogs, and Glogster, in collaboration with a reading teacher, to hook students on the Shadow Children series, by Margaret Haddix. I also took a hands-on session using Jing to create online tutorials. We’re planning to have students do video book trailers using Animoto for summer reading book talks next year.
I heard some wonderfully funny authors, including Jamie Leigh Curtis, Jack Gantos and Michael Buckley, talk about engaging children with humor. Another group of authors, including Diane Stanley and Tonya Bolden, discussed talking books with children and introduced us to their latest offerings. Several authors whose books are on the middle school Lone Star List presented an informative session discussing writing for teens. I also heard an informative session on plagiarism intervention from University of Texas librarians. We also heard many new titles being booktalked by teens, fellow librarians, and teen book authorities Teri Lesesne and Rosemary Chance.
In addition to all the informative sessions, we were able to network with other librarians, meet with vendors, enjoy one of Austin’s historical museums, rally for Texas libraries at the state capitol, and visit three private school libraries.
Middle School Assistant Librarian
I attended the Texas Library Association (TLA) Annual Conference in Austin. This proved to be a fun and rewarding professional experience. My first session was hosted by the “Archives, Genealogy, and Local History” Round Table (AGLHRT). Although TLA is geared largely toward school and public libraries, there was quite a bit of content for archivists. The first session aimed to teach archivists at small institutional repositories how to attract researchers from their community, especially those interested in the field of genealogy. Two archivists, Elizabeth E. Sargent (Houston Metropolitan Research Center) and Dara Flinn (Rice University), spoke about the materials housed in their respective archival collections and how these materials can benefit local researchers. They pointed to specific instances—maps and land drawings, correspondence, and photographs—that could impact or improve research results for family historians. In addition, both archivists spoke at length about local and state resources for historical research. For me, this was the most important discussion of the session because I felt like I discovered new areas to locate information about Kinkaid.
My second session was a hands-on lab, “Creating Metadata for Cultural Heritage Objects,” hosted by speakers from the Houston Public Library Digital Projects Division. Speakers provided an introduction to national and international metadata standards and then provided attendees with guidance on an individualized metadata project using DublinCore.
TLA boasts an extensive exhibit hall with thousands of vendors eager to showcase their products. My goal for the exhibits was to locate an appropriate digitization service for the Kinkaid School Archives. The best feature of the exhibit hall was being able to speak with multiple business representatives, not only to receive cost estimates, but also to witness what kind of scanning technologies they employ.
I was truly inspired by some of the wonderful and creative work being done by my colleagues in the library field. In every instance, I find that attending conferences connects me better with my field and invigorates me professionally by providing me with new outlooks and ideas. Librarians are certainly unique in their sense of camaraderie! In addition to the sessions at TLA, I was able to meet many school librarians from around the state and catch up with old friends and colleagues from school and work.
Fiona de Young
This spring I enrolled in a course, “The Glory that Was Greece,” given by the Rice University Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. I was expecting to learn about Greek philosophy and literature and was hoping to use it to enhance my class lectures and reading assignments. Although the course did add to my knowledge about Greek society, I found that it was more about the basic history of Greece than about the great thinkers and writers. There were a number of lecturers, and some were better than others. I enjoyed the enthusiasm of Dr. Louis Markos and the way he passionately went into detail about parts of Greek history that are not always taught. I got the most from his lecture on Sparta. Of course, I also enjoyed one of my all time favorite professors, Newell Boyd, who always has wonderful pictures, films and books to share with his students. We watched a fabulous clip from The Trojan Women, starring Katherine Hepburn, where Hector’s wife is having her son ripped away from her to be thrown to his death. It was so intriguing that I plan to get the film and finish watching it. I would love to show that clip in my future Ancient History classes, since it is a good example of the strength and courage of the women of that time period.
Upper School History
The Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) conference provided me a forum to learn a variety of technology methodologies to enrich my professional development and personal growth. There educators came together to help each other, created a network, participated in hands-on activities and workshops, and ultimately improved the distance learning community. Presentations highlighted emerging technologies and ideas on the horizon, such as Web 3.0, virtual worlds, and mobile learning 2.0 tools that are becoming more and more popular for educators.
My goals for this conference were to learn new ideas to keep all my students engaged, to learn more strategies for effective learner-centered teaching, and especially to increase my ability to reach and engage my students with learning differences. I was able not just to achieve my objectives, but also to explore a variety of techniques and tools, as well as coming back with a new catalogue of examples to share with my colleagues.
TxDLA is one of my favorite conferences, because it also gives me the opportunity to become a student again, experiencing learning from a very different perspective, sharing knowledge and exchanging feedback. I am excited about the changes that these technologies are bringing to my professional life, and especially to the vision that I have about education and educators in the 21st century.
Upper School Spanish
I attended the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT) in Fort Worth. Overall, I attended some very good sessions, and gained many ideas for implementing technology in my classroom. On Thursday I chose to attend a session on assessing cultural competency on study abroad experiences. The presentation provided an abundance of data based upon this professor’s research, but little insight into how to assess cultural competency and the overall effectiveness of the study abroad experience. Some interesting activities were presented that could be used to open dialogue about cultural stereotypes.
On Friday morning I attended a session, “Teaching, Learning & Collaborating in the 21st Century Interconnected World,” a nice overview of free online tools to use in the foreign language classroom to engage students and encourage higher level thinking skills. In “The Wonderful World of Wikis,” two middle school teachers shared their own class wikis. Though I feel less intimidated by the world of wikis, I am still not fully confident that I can navigate the process without more training. This was not a hands-on session. On Friday afternoon I attended a session on increasing oral proficiency through songs.
Shari Harris Upper School Spanish