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Katie Black Professional Conference Reaction Paper MEA Conference Belgrade, MT Friday October 18, 2013 I was able to attend

some Friday sectionals at the MEA conference in Belgrade, MT. I did not realize going into the size of the MEA conference. There are so many choices of sectionals to attend and they are spread out in rooms across the high school, middle school, and elementary school buildings. It felt almost overwhelming. Overall, I felt I was able to obtain some good insight into a couple of different topics. The quality of the sectionals really varied. Some were very interesting and engaging and others were a bit dry. I think it is important for presenters to keep in mind that even as adults, we are all different types of learners! My two favorite sectionals were probably Differentiation: No Prep, Some Prep or More and Exploring the Frontiers of Children’s Literature by keynote speaker Sneed Collard III. The first sectional I appreciated primarily for the resources they provided. They focused largely on how to differentiate instruction regarding project assignments. They provided really good examples of project rubrics that enable students to build their own project. For example, there may be 3 components to a rubric and for each component the student gets to select from 3 choices how they would like to present that component. This enables students with different strengths (writing, art, videography, etc.) to highlight their gifts while exploring the same basic material. Furthermore, they presented an interesting rubric that I had never thought of before, where students build their own project based off of points. In this rubric the teachers lists several different options and the point value for each option. The students are required to obtain a certain amount of points (i.e. 50 points) and can do so by completing many smaller projects, one large project, or some variety in between (i.e. two 10 point projects and one 30 point

project). Another topic that they discussed was the Daily 5. I really appreciated gaining some insight and resources into Daily 5 centers because it is something that I have heard of many times, but knew little about. I am all about providing students with choices and allowing them to have the feelings of ownership that comes with it. I would love to implement Daily 5 centers for math and reading in my future classroom and even within my field experience. My professional development reading list definitely grew as a result of this seminar! I also really enjoyed Sneed Collard’s presentation Exploring the Frontiers of Children’s Literature. I have always appreciated children’s literature and was excited to learn about the works of a local author! I think anytime you can make local connections in the classroom it is a wonderful thing. During the presentation, I could not help but think about all the great community members you could bring into the classroom to do mini-lessons with the class. Another feature I really appreciated about Sneed Collard’s presentation was his emphasis on nonfiction texts. As a children’s literature fan, I find locating and sharing quality nonfiction texts in the classroom to be challenging, especially in the younger grades. Sneed Collard’s books, such as Animal Dads and Wings, are beautifully illustrated and pretty accessible as read alouds or “picture walk” books for younger kids. I will be adding some of his works to my classroom library. I attended one sectional called ADHD: Minimizing the Impact on the Classroom, which was not highly accessible for classroom teachers. In the presenters PowerPoint, lots of great information was listed, but we did not get to explore practical classroom interventions in as much depth as I was hoping we would. I think as a psychologist, her understanding of these issues is advanced which can make it can be difficult to present in practical terms. I would have loved to receive intervention resources and specific websites to utilize when working with students with ADHD in my future classroom. A final component of the conference that I appreciated was all the resources available. It was fun and interesting to get to walk around to all the different booths and I left with a sack full of

resources that I can use in the future. As a pre-service teacher, it was hard to know which booths would be most useful to me. However, once I am in a teaching position, I feel I could be much more intentional about the booths I visit and resources I seek.