Past Conferences

Our Fall 2015 Conference:

September 19
College of Saint Elizabeth

2 Convent Road, Morristown, NJ 

Annunciation Center


Free Parking Close to the Building

(no permits required)

Continental Breakfast and Freebies

Cost : $10.00

($5 for members!)

Certificates will be awarded for

4 professional development hours


Using Popular Young Adult Texts to Prompt Discussions of Social Justice and Various Diversities

With Laura Nicosia


   Our professional and innate common sense tells us that the literature we teach in our classes can offer opportunities to critique false and harmful misrepresentations of various Others. We know that guided discussions can lead children to question their assumptions and to expand their social and intellectual horizons. In such volatile times, with numerous cases of racial and cultural violence, holding such discussions with our children is crucial."

2015 featured these stellar literary and educational figures:

• Greg Takoudes, 2014 Muriel Becker Award-winner, and author of the urban fiction drama When We Wuz Famous.

• Kenan Trebincevic, author of the unforgettably gripping nonfiction book, The Bosnia List.

Jeff Baron, author of the clever and delightful middle-grade books, I Represent Sean Rosen and Sean Rosen Is Not for Sale.

• Michael Gabriele, author of The History of Diners in New Jersey.


On the beautiful campus of Montclair State U (Student Center Ballrooms)

…and David Lubar, who has been called "America's finest short story writer for kids."

Kenan Trebincevic, author of the compelling, The Bosnia List: a Memoir of War, Exile, and Return

2014 Muriel Becker Award winner, Greg Takoudes

Jeff Baron, middle-grade author of I Represent Sean Rosen, and Sean Rosen Is Not for Sale

Anyone who lives in New Jersey knows the cultural significance of diners.  Michael Gabriele goes deeper in his book, The History of Diners in New Jersey.

SEVEN PD hours!  Three sets of sessions.  See more of the workshops you love and network with more people.

This Year's Sessions

10:20-11:10: SESSION ONE

#hiphoped: Hip-hop and Poetry in the Writing Classroom                  (MS/HS)

This session explores the relationship between poetry and hip-hop in the writing class. Educators will learn how to model lessons using non-traditional texts juxtaposed with canonical texts. The idea is to introduce and reinforce the importance of multicultural education through a lens that incorporates voices that are often silenced. Teachers will leave the session with worksheets, lessons, poems and lyrics, and also the knowledge of the pedagogical possibilities of paralleling hip-hop with poetry in a formal school setting. 

       Sarah Caddle, Ed.M., Irvington HS                                                        Student Center 411


The Newsroom: Teaching Nonfiction That Matters                                    (HS)

When students think of nonfiction, dusty, outdated textbooks or decades-old photocopies of newspaper articles spring to mind. Through this “newsroom” approach, students are exposed to nonfiction texts of real-world importance. By integrating proven motivational strategies, digital communication and collaboration tools such as Twitter, Skype, and GoogleDocs, students learn and demonstrate authentic researching, reading, writing and networking skills, connecting themselves to the world beyond the classroom walls.

       Matthew Morone, Pascack Valley High School                                University Hall


Approaches to Remedial Reading Instruction at the Secondary Level

This session contrasts two competing approaches to remedial reading instruction for secondary students. Participants will be provided examples of classroom activities that exemplify each approach. The presenter will then demonstrate how both approaches can be combined into a more integrated model of reading instruction. Participants will be encouraged to take part in an online discussion forum during the presentation.

       Daniel Lombardi, Teacher of English (secondary, higher ed.)    Student Center 419


Censorship                                                                                                                        (HS)

Each year during Banned Books Week, I share data and discuss national cases of censorship with my students. Upon discovering that many of their favorite novels are banned, many of my students ask, “What can we do to stop this?” In this workshop, I will share my findings and foster the same discussion. What can we do to prevent banning books in our schools and libraries? How can we continue the tradition of free thinking through reading? I hope you will join me in this venture.

       Melissa Sak, Barack Obama Green Charter HS, Plainfield                                University Hall


11:20-12:10: SESSION TWO

Who Were You in Seventh Grade?  (Jeff Baron, author)                          (MS)

Jeff Baron, award-winning playwright and author of the Sean Rosen book series, will share specifics of his groundbreaking partnership with English teachers that School Library Journal recently described as "an imaginative writing project that taps into family history, investigative reporter skills, and creativity." All 160 seventh graders at Ardsley Middle School create and perform original plays with characters based on interviews with their grandparents about their middle school experiences. A unique professional mentorship that reinforces and enhances the existing curriculum.

       Jeff Baron, Middle-Grade Author                                                           Student Center 411


Tech-Based Book Responses                                                                                    (HS)

21st century students are “digital natives” who regularly use the internet and communication technology. In fact, today’s teenagers utilize digital tools as effortlessly as they use paper and pencil. This session will introduce participants to a number of tech-based resources that can be used to support tech-based book responses. Numerous samples will be shared, and opportunities for conversation and collaboration will be supported. Participants are encouraged to BYOT (Bring Your Own Tech) and “play along” with the presenters!

       Jennifer Shettel, Millersville U of PA                                                  University Hall,


Adapting teacher response to ELLs: Giving better feedback to ELLs in mainstream English classrooms

This workshop will give participants the opportunity to consider various methods and strategies to give better feedback to ELLs in their mainstream English classrooms.  Participants will learn about some of the unique classrooms needs of ELLs, diagnose and correct student writing errors, and brainstorm and practice strategies to further student language learning.

       Meghan Odsliv Bratkovich and Hee-Jin Kim,Columbia U         Student Center 419


Professional Development as Social Transformation: Teaching Social Justice and Responsibility in Common Core-Aligned Classrooms                     (MS/HS)

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) has provided PD workshops and seminars for K-12 educators of all disciplines for over 20 years. In 2015, the Council will offer a variety of workshops, all taking into consideration teachers’ strong need to align materials with common core standards as they strive to instill a love of learning, engagement with content, and increased reading, writing and analysis skills. This session will elaborate on NJCH offerings, and to brainstorm methods and resources to teach these contemporary and culturally relevant topics in their English classrooms.

       Mary Grace Whealan and Jennifer Ansbach, Manchester Twp HS      Student Center 417


12:20-1:10: SESSION THREE

Democracy 101: Literature and Democracy (Huck Finn as Minstrel Text)  (HS)

Huckleberry Finn addresses the evils of slavery and man’s cruelty to man, but more importantly, the insidious nature of racism. I contend that Twain’s intention was not to show how ingrained racism was in a slave culture, but to show what methods were used to justify and fuel racism, which are in use today. We can no longer ignore a racism that has been perpetuated by myths that have become part of our cultural conscience. Teachers can use Huck Finn to reveal, target and address the mechanisms of a racist society by showing how to teach the novel as a minstrel text.

       Patricia L. Hans, Ridgewood HS, Bergen CC, Columbia U                       University Hall


The History of Diners in New Jersey                                                                (all grades)

Diners are familiar beacons that have brightened New Jersey’s main streets for over 100 years, beginning as horse-drawn lunch wagons and evolving into classic, stainless-steel architectural gems. Diners have become part of the Garden State’s culture, commerce, myth, romance, community life and Jersey attitude. They are the ultimate egalitarian gathering places, and Gabriele’s session pays tribute to the entire diner culture, exemplifying how the research process leads to meaningful knowledge.

       Michael Gabriele, author                                                                         University Hall  


DBQs in Literature: Getting to the Core of Argument Writing              (all grades)

Modeled after Document Based Questions from the AP History exam, DBQs in Literature can sharpen students’ critical thinking, reading, and evidence-based writing skills. This method allows students at all skill levels, grades 4-12, to excel in the sophisticated DBQ experience. Each teacher will receive a unit ready for classroom implementation. 

       Molly Winter, DBQ Project and Brooklyn Friends School                      Student Center 419


Addressing Issues of Equity Through a Multiliteracies Framework     (HS)

In this session, participants will gain a brief introduction to the framework of multiliteracies and learn how it can be used as a way to address issues of equity in literacy education.  The presentation will focus on the four aspects of a pedagogy of multiliteracies, then move to a brainstorming session to apply theory to practice.

     Jennifer Kingma Wall, Ed.D.,Montclair State U                                         Student Center 411

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