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2015 will feature 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 just added: a visit from David Lubar, who has been called "America's finest short story writer for kids."

Exhibitors: Reach out to 100+ educators and share your ideas for the future

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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 in a NEW format for 2014. See more of the workshops you love and network with more people.

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This Year's Sessions (preregistration not necessary)


Session Title:

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

Sarah Caddle

Session Description:

This session explores the relationship between poetry and hip-hop in the writing classroom.  Lessons have been designed to address the need for more diversity and relevance in high school writing classrooms.  The idea is to introduce and reinforce the importance of multicultural education through a lens that incorporates voices that are often silenced.  In response to the need for more progressive pedagogical spaces, this session will include timeless themes which are essential to all English learners while considering non-traditional texts outside of the literary cannon and intersecting them with those that are a part of the cannon.  Hip-hop lyrics are utilized as poetry because they represent the voice of the marginalized, telling stories of contemporary struggles and social justice that are relevant to students’ lives.  I position hip-hop and poetry together because they are interchangeable in many ways; rap music is the poetry of the hip-hop generation.  I will demonstrate how other educators may use hip-hop as a teaching tool in the classroom.  I have created a curriculum that I am currently using in my own classroom as a template for this workshop.  Teachers will leave the session with worksheets, lessons, poems, and rap lyrics and also the knowledge of the pedagogical possibilities of paralleling hip-hop with poetry in a formal school setting.


Session Title:

Censorship  (HS)

Melissa Sak

Session Description:

My censorship workshop proposal would center around the American Library Association’s cataloguing of Banned Books, particularly over the past twenty years. During my tenure at Montclair State University, I compiled research using data from the ALA, the Kids’ Right to Read Project, etc., in order to distinguish patterns of banning books across the country.

I use this data annually to teach a banned books lesson in my tenth grade English class during Banned Books Week, mainly due to the fact that my students’ Summer Reading Assignment always involves “Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky (which is always high on the list of censored novels). I would like to not only foster discussion regarding the reasons behind certain censor ratings, which would hopefully open minds to a new vantage point, but also collaborate with my peers about an action plan regarding the detriments of censorship, especially from an educational standpoint. I have also devised a guided practice to activate prior knowledge on the subject called, “Which Book was Banned?”, where I provide multiple books, banned and not, and ask the audience to choose the banned book. If they are really prepared for a challenge, they may attempt to assess the reasons why the book was banned. Having attended many NJCTE conferences over the years, I have always enjoyed the workshops that were more interactive and engaging. I hope to add that aesthetic to my presentation.


Session Title:

The Newsroom: Teaching Nonfiction That Matters  (HS)

Matthew Morone, Pascack Valley High School

Session Description:

Now more than ever, educators are expected to integrate substantial and challenging nonfiction texts into the Language Arts classroom. However, when most students think of nonfiction, dusty and outdated textbooks or decades-old photocopies of archaic newspaper articles spring to mind. Through this “newsroom” approach, students are exposed to various nonfiction texts of real-world importance. By integrating proven motivational strategies and digital communication and collaboration tools such as Twitter, Skype, and Google docs, students learn and demonstrate authentic researching, reading, writing, and networking skills, connecting themselves to the world beyond the classroom walls and facilitating real change in their communities.


Session Title:

Approaches to Remedial Reading Instruction at the Secondary Level

Dan Lombardi

Session Description:

Lack of reading skill often restricts engagement in civic affairs and full participation in the democratic process. Despite decades of national attention to remediation of reading difficulties, students in low-income urban areas still lag behind in reading achievement. The purpose of this session is to contrast two theoretically competing approaches to remedial reading instruction for underachieving secondary students, both of which are being used in New Jersey schools. One approach emphasizes reading at the word level and is sometimes referred to as a bottoms-up approach. The other approach emphasizes reading at the sentence, paragraph, or passage level and is sometimes referred to as a top-down approach. Participants will be provided examples of classroom activities that exemplify each approach. The presenter will then demonstrate how both bottoms-up and top-down approaches have been successfully combined into a more integrated model of reading instruction. The presenter will also share results of a study that investigated the effectiveness of an integrated model of reading instruction for underachievers at a New Jersey inner-city high school.


Technology will be utilized to present the workshop requiring internet use and a projector with computer. Participants will also need the use of internet devices with access as well (a smart phone or tablet will suffice).


Session Title:

Who Were You in Seventh Grade? (MS)

Jeff Baron, Middle-Grade Author

Jeff Baron, award-winning playwright and author of the Greenwillow/HarperCollins 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.


Session Title:

Tech-Based Book Responses  (HS)

Jennifer Shettel & Lesley Colabucci, Millersville University of PA

Session Description:

21st century students are a group of learners who effortlessly use communication technology and the Internet on a regular basis.  Frequently referred to as “digital natives,” 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 as exemplars.  Opportunities for conversation and collaboration will be supported.  Participants are encouraged to BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) to this session and “play along” with the presenters!


Session Title:

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

Meghan Odsliv Bratkovich and Hee-Jin Kim,Columbia U

Session Description:

Despite the prevalence of ESL classes, many ELLs, particularly those at higher proficiency levels, find their way into mainstream classrooms.  Increasing numbers of ELLs with differing needs and backgrounds have increased the demand for mainstream teachers to provide a more just and fair learning environment for linguistically diverse students.  One such need is through feedback, as mainstream teachers often struggle to give written and oral feedback to ELLs and are looking for ways to better tailor feedback that considers ongoing English development.  Adapting feedback can often reduce the learners’ confusion as to how to improve their work, so as to potentially limit the amount of feedback needed.  This workshop will provide the opportunity for participants to better understand the linguistic needs and struggles of ELLs, as well as practice giving appropriate feedback that both accommodates and promotes students’ language learning.  



Session Title:

Professional Development as Social Transformation: Teaching Social Justice and Responsibility in Common Core-Aligned Classrooms

Mary Grace Whealan et al

Session Description:

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) has provided professional development workshops and seminars for New Jersey K-12 educators of all disciplines for the past 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 curriculum standards as they strive to instill a love of learning, engagement with content, and increased reading, writing, and analysis skills.  This workshop session would serve a twofold purpose – first, to advertise NJCH offerings to those unfamiliar with council programming and opportunities, and secondly, to brainstorm during the 45 minutes methods and resources to teach these contemporary and culturally relevant topics in their English classrooms.

The 2015 Conference theme of “And Justice for All” aligns perfectly with the NJCH slate of teacher professional development programming for the coming spring and summer. 






Session Title:

Democracy 101: Literature and Democracy (Huckleberry Finn as Minstrel Text)

Patricia L Hans

Session Description:

Over the centuries American literature has brought attention to the need to reform, exposed injustices, fought for civil rights, and has preserved the rights of the working class against the tyranny of corporate exploitation. From Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, American literature has been addressing the injustices in society and the failings of man. But regardless of the number of works that dot the shelves of every school, none stands out as more incisive, and timeless, as Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, as it is Twain’s Finn that not only addresses the evils of slavery, and man’s cruelty to man, but more importantly, the insidious nature of racism and how it spreads through a systematic method of indoctrination more characteristic of genocidal practices. Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a ferociously biting satire of man and society akin to Swift’s A Modest Proposal in that it holds up a mirror for the reader to see himself as he really is. It is a constant reminder of who we are and how and why we came to be. It is a constant reminder that the drive toward individual freedom  often means at the expense of another. It is a constant reminder that throughout the centuries there have been those who have been exploited and those upon whose backs many have profited. It is a shot in the arm to awaken us to see the effects that a society that focuses on individual freedom at the expense of community, justice and equal rights for all has had on us. It is a wake -up call to become aware of social influences that have molded us into the creatures we have become. This is why Twain warns us to not find meaning in the text, because what we will see will frighten us, but it should, and it must.

         Many schools prohibit teaching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because of its excessive use of the “n” word; however I contend that Mark Twain’s intention in writing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was not to show how engrained racism was in a slave culture, but to show what methods were used to justify and fuel racism, which are continued to be used today, which we as a society refuse to acknowledge. We can no longer ignore a racism that has been perpetuated by myths that have become engrained over time in our cultural consciences.

       The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how teachers can use Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to reveal, target and address the mechanisms of a racist society by showing how to teach Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a minstrel text, and how it should be taught as a minstrel text.


Session Title:

The History of Diners in New Jersey

Michael Gabriele, author  (MS/HS)

 Diners are familiar beacons that have brightened New Jersey’s highways and main streets for more than hundred years, beginning as horse-drawn “lunch wagons” and evolving into classic, stainless-steel architectural gems. More than just places to eat, 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, opening their doors to truck drivers, college students, business executives, construction workers and tourists 24 hours a day.

New Jersey indeed is the “diner capital of the world.” New Jersey author and historian Michael C. Gabriele’s book, “The History of Diners in New Jersey,” published by The History Press in 2013, documents this colorful history, assembling people, events, places, dates, facts and figures into a cohesive narrative that traces the state’s beloved diner history.

This is Gabriele’s second book with The History Press. The first, “The Golden Age of Bicycle Racing in New Jersey,” was published in 2011. A lifelong New Jersey resident, Gabriele has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is a 1975 graduate of Montclair State University; a member of the executive board of the Nutley Historical Society; and serves on the advisory board of the Clifton Arts Center.
           The book is illustrated with over 75 photos (many taken by the author), along with scans of vintage postcards, rare photo prints and technical illustrations. It also features a special eight-page color insert of images. Developed through extensive research, the book offers a portal into the early days of lunch wagons and diners, providing detailed information, first-hand interviews, context and perspective.

Along with tales of noteworthy diners of the past and present, the book pays tribute to the independent manufacturing companies that were located in New Jersey. The Garden State was "the factory" that built hundreds of diners during the 20th century—the streamlined, stainless steel structures that are admired around the world and recognized as iconic examples of American industrial design. Today the state’s diner manufacturing sector is virtually extinct; a forgotten chapter of New Jersey’s history.

According to Gabriele’s research, Hudson County is the birthplace of New Jersey’s diner business. The Garden State’s diner history began in July 1912 when a Jersey City entrepreneur named Michael J. Griffin purchased two lunch wagons (the precursors of today’s modern diners) from Jerry O’Mahony, a lunch wagon builder based in Bayonne. At the time, there were other lunch wagon manufacturers outside of New Jersey and other individuals operating lunch wagons throughout state, but the Griffin/O’Mahony transaction marks the start of the Garden State’s own diner history as it documents the first lunch wagon built and bought by Jersey guys.

During the last 16 months Gabriele has been invited to speak at libraries, historical societies, book store and civic organizations throughout the state, presenting information on diner history. He will be a member of the author's panel for the annual conference of the New Jersey Librarian's Association, a gathering that will be held April 21 and 22 in Long Branch. In addition, he is a co-curator for a major exhibit on NJ diner history, which will be held at the Middlesex County Museum/Cornelius Low House in Piscataway. The exhibit will open on Sunday, April 12.

Session Title:

Addressing Issues of Equity Through a Multiliteracies Framework (HS)

Jennifer Kingma Wall, Ed.D.,Montclair State U

Session Description:

In this session, participants will gain a brief introduction to the framework of multiliteracies.  The participants will learn how a multiliteracies framework, which views literacies as diverse, multiple, and socially situated, can be used as a way to address issues of equity in literacy education, and how this framework can be especially useful now in our ever increasing standardized, test-driven culture of literacy instruction.  The presentation will focus on how to use a pedagogy of multiliteracies, overviewing the four aspects: situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice.  The session will then move to a brainstorming session, where participants will identify student populations that are currently underserved by the curriculum (such as English Language Learners, students with disabilities, students who are bilingual, students who speak a dialect language, etc.), and develop practical ways to shift the curricular work through a pedagogy of multiliteracies to better serve all students.  The participants will leave with a list of resources for further work with a multiliteracies framework. 





Session Title:

DBQs in Literature: Getting to the Core of Argument Writing (MS/HS)

Molly Winter, DBQ Project and Brooklyn Friends School

Session Description:

For years, Document Based Questions have been part of the AP History exam.  The DBQ Project is an argument-writing program that strives to equitably bring DBQs to students who are not necessarily on the “AP track.”  However, DBQs aren’t just for history students. 

         Traditionally, students have been expected to write such essays without adequate scaffolding.  Using DBQs, literary and informational texts can be “chunked” and the process of argumentation can be broken down into its root parts, facilitating deep thinking throughout.

This will be a very hands-on presentation during which teachers will experience – from the students' perspective – lessons that support the development of key skills within the discipline of English, and which directly align with the Common Core Standards in Literacy.  The session will begin with an overview of The DBQ Project method and connections to the Common Core Standards in both reading and writing.  Participants will then engage, as students, in a series of lessons, including: “hook” exercises to engage student interest; pre-reading exercises that provide relevant background information and establish context; close reading and analysis of rigorous literary and nonfiction texts (e.g. Romeo and Juliet, To Kill A Mockingbird, abolitionist writings, or Harlem Renaissance poetry); pre-writing strategies (e.g. “bucketing”) that promote organized thinking; oral debate to prepare and motivate students to write; and the creation of a well-structured, evidence-based essay. 

Careful consideration is given to scaffolding the reading and writing experience for less skilled students, differentiating instruction for mixed-level classes, and modifying the method for students at different grade levels (4-12) or in large, urban classrooms.  Time will also be set aside for reflection, the examination of student work, and Q&A.

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