In Case You Missed It: 5 Incredible Learnings from NCTE

In Case You Missed It: 5 Incredible Learnings from NCTE

NCTE’s 2018 conference, centering around student voice, brought together English educators from across the country for four inspiring days of sessions and speakers. Emily, Heather, and Leigh on the Community Team attended key notes and numerous sessions. We asked them them to tell us about important takeaways from the conference.

Here are the top 5 insights our Educator Team took away from NCTE:

1. Give students the space for using their authentic voices.

Give students the opportunity to use their authentic voices. Equip students with skills to find their true voices by crafting extremely open-ended prompts, including allowing students to write about whatever they think or feel about while they read. One presenter even suggested a reading journal with drawings, quotes, and musings from reading a text. Modeling here was the key to getting students started. Newsela PRO Tip: Use the annotations feature to support your students’ writing about what matters to them in a text. Modelling some strong examples as they get started will help them create even stronger noticings.

2. Create reading time that is about choice.

Dedicate, at minimum, 10-15 minutes a day for your students to read content of their choice. To help them find reading they enjoy, embed into your lessons space for book talks so students have more exposure to the choices on your shelves and are ready during book shopping so that reading time is fully realized.

Newsela PRO Tip: Give article talks to help students find content that is exciting to them. Also, try providing summaries on what students will find in Newsela’s sections to expose students to broader groups of articles.

3. Build true student engagement.

Compliance and participation are not indicative of engagement–it’s something you can’t force. Engagement is manifested from intrinsic motivators and ultimately, the choice of the student. When students are asked to see themselves as readers, they will be more genuinely interested in the content you provide on their reading journey. Newsela PRO Tip: Connecting lessons to contemporary life can foster student engagement. We recommend starting with a news article, then creating space for meaningful conversations about what you’ve read.

4. Teach students to analyze and question point of view.

Make time to address points of view before, during, and after reading. Intentionally considering missing voices, prioritized voices, and the lens with which communities are presented can be used to discuss representation and analyze personal biases. Ask students questions to help frame their reading in analysis of point of view.


        • Who is recording this narrative?

        • Is that person a member of the group the narrative represents?

        • How diverse are the perspectives in the books, articles, and stories you read?


        • What bias does the author hold?

        • How do your biases and beliefs (as a teacher or a student) impact your reading?


        • How does the author identify?

        • How does your identity impact the way you read this piece?

Newsela PRO Tip: Assign articles, including opinion pieces and famous speeches, that demonstrate multiple perspectives, and ask students to think through the author’s perspective.

5. Empower yourself and other teachers in your building.

Reflect on yourself, your students, your lessons, and your books to start making small shifts toward raising student voice. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to learn, teach, and build stronger relationships with your students. Students learn more, build to true engagement, and think more deeply when your classrooms are spaces of empowerment.

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