The 2014 Spring Conference at Montclair State University: March 22

Thank you, everyone, for making this conference such a resounding success!

Featuring JEFF HIRSCH, 2013 Muriel Becker Award winner & author of The Eleventh Plague; Morning keynote by Michael Sokolove, author of Drama High.

2014 will feature such stellar literary and educational figures as:

• Jeff Hirsch, author of the popular and compelling dystopian series, The Eleventh Plague.

• Michael Sokolove, author of the superb nonfiction book, Drama High.

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

and much more


• vendors will share their new titles

• free giveaways of Michael Sokolove's inspiring book, DRAMA HIGH, for everyone

• engaging workshops

• a Nook HD tablet to one lucky attendee!


All on the beautiful campus of Montclair State University.

(registration at Student Center Ballrooms)

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

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.

Online and mail-in registration are closed. You may register in person tomorrow morning. Nobody will be turned away.

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2014 Conference Program in Brief

13 Sessions in Three Sections:

New This Year:
More session time; more time to travel between sesssions!
Less sitting; more doing!  (Sounds like the Home Depot, eh?)


Student Center Ballrooms

8:15   Registration/Breakfast

           Vendors’ Exhibits.

                                    (which continue throughout the event)

8:45  Welcome

         Dr. Concetta Donvino, Dean, College of Humanities                                                        and Social Sciences, Montclair State U

Teacher Awards

M. Jerry Weiss Early Career Teacher Award

Marcia Holtzman Pre-service Teacher Award

9:00  A.M. Keynote: Michael Sokolove

9:50  Vendors’ Exhibits & Coffee Break

                           MSU Bookstore sales.

10:20  Breakout Sessions:




1)  "Grandma, What Were You Like as a Teenager?" - Creating Stories From Real Life

Jeff Baron, Middle-Grade Author

Jeff Baron, screenwriter and author of I Represent Sean Rosen and Sean Rosen Is Not for Sale, describes the exciting creativity program he designed for an entire grade at Ardsley Middle School. Each student interviewed a grandparent about what he or she was like in middle school. Then, working in groups of four, creating characters based on their grandparents, they came up with original stories and learned how to pitch them, Hollywood-style.


2)   Christopher De Vinck, Clifton HS and Montclair State U

"Teaching Students How to Write an Essay: Strategies, Struggles and Success."

In this session you will be reminded how to teach the charm of poignant examples, the power of smart, gracious introductions, and the ring of truth in the conclusions. You will also be given the courage to avoid the foolish bonds of “the five-paragraph essay.”


3)  Laura Jones, PhD.  Montclair State U

"And what we said of it / Became a part of what it is:" How We Talk About our Students and Why it Matters

For as much attention as we English educators give to language, there has been surprisingly little written about the words, figures, and metaphors we use to talk about students and the ways in which they shape reality--particularly some of the realities we are working to change. Built on the theoretical perspective of performative ethics, this session will give participants space to consider and interrogate some of the more common tropes in our conversations, and two in particular: gaps (from achievement to thirty-million-word) and combat metaphors ("in the trenches" and "on the front line"). In doing so, we will not only critically reflect on the power of our own language, but gain tools to analyze and challenge media and political discourse about the students we serve--and to teach our students to do the same.


4)  Dr. Barry Bachenheimer,  Pascack Valley Regional HS District & Montclair State U

“Creativity in the Classroom”

“Creativity is as important now in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”  -Sir Ken Robinson.   Participants in this course will formalize their own philosophy on creativity and how to implement various levels of creativity-fostering activities in their classrooms and schools. This hands-on and minds-on class is appropriate for educators in all grades and all subjects. Bringing a laptop or tablet is suggested but not required.  Participants should be prepared to think "out of the box"...if you can find the box!




1)  Dr. Jim Nicosia, Montclair State U

“You're Going to Hate this Book!”

The writer, professor, teacher educator, children's literacy advocate and author of the website challenges the concept of the perfect book for the E/LA classroom.  He shares the latest titles in an attempt to help you revitalize reading in your students' lives.


2)  Lauren Heimlich, Montclair State U

“Making the Shift to Electronic Portfolios”

How do we inspire, motivate, and engage students of all abilities to become confident, independent writers?  Learn ways to develop your students’ creative process, voice and writing skills through technology.  Teachers will walk away with resources, lessons, and reproducibles to launch and enhance electronic portfolios in their classrooms.     


Session Description: In “Making the Shift to Electronic Portfolios,” Lauren Heimlich, a fifth year teacher, will show participants how to use the foundational practices and components of building a writing portfolio to create electronic websites.  Additionally, Heimlich will explore the process of creating these online writing portfolios; participants will become familiar with selecting a web host, the importance of parent permission slips, and best practice classroom procedures for launching their own electronic portfolio unit.  Technology permitting, participants will be able to access student electronic portfolio examples and begin creating their own websites.  The information and materials provided will demonstrate how all teachers can support, motivate, and engage students in creating a culminating digital project while developing writing, critical thinking, peer conferencing, and 21st century skills.     


3)  Peggy Freedson, Montclair State U.

“A Discussion of the Core Curriculum”


4)  Johnette Halpin.  North Dakota.

"You Teach Where?": Teaching English in Rural America from a New Jersey Native's point of view

After earning degrees in English and Teaching in New Jersey, Johnette Halpin couldn't find a job in-state, so she moved to rural North Dakota to teach. She lives in a town of 450 people and serves as the English department to 38 students from grade 7 to 12. She will discuss her experiences teaching in rural America, 81 miles from the nearest B&N.




1)  Trina Chance O’Gorman, Montclair State U

“Doodling 101: The Basics of Visual Notetaking in the English Classroom”

In the English classrooms, we spend most of our time with text and language. Neuroscience shows us that the brain can make better connections and associations with images, creating more pathways and deeper understanding. What would our whiteboards and notes look like, if we added some images and color? What would happen if we encouraged our students to do the same? In this session, you will learn the basics of visual note taking or sketch notes. No artistic talent required! We are going to look at what happens when we use visual note taking to teach things we typically teach in our classrooms, using a variety of different tools.

Trina Chance O'Gorman is a writing instructor with Montclair State U’s First Year Writing Program.


2)  Audrey Fisch, NJCU, and Susan Chenelle, University Academy Charter HS, Jersey City

"Using Informational Text to Teach To Kill a Mockingbird"

Language arts teachers are worried that the new standard means a radical shift away from literature. Our presentation is meant to set their minds at ease. Using To Kill a Mockingbird as our anchor text, we will demonstrate how informational text can be included in the curriculum in a way that, for all teachers, builds on rather than takes away from the teaching of the literary text.


3)  Joanna Mirsky, Montclair State U.

“Individualized Assessment for Student Writing: Improving Student Engagement & Learning Through Personalized Rubrics”

In this session we will discuss the practical applications of materials designed to assist with teacher feedback on student writing. These materials are focused on the student revision process and development of self-reflective writing skills. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of rubrics and a reciprocal process for feedback, facilitating student directed revision. The feasibility of these practices for literature courses, as opposed to courses focused specifically on writing, will be considered.

4)  Todd Bates and Susan D'Elia, Montclair State U.

“The Case for Using Nontraditional Texts in the ELA classroom”

This workshop explores the potential for postmodern and nontraditional texts to engage students in reading and writing.  Participants will become familiar with several forms of nontraditional texts and will be challenged to complete reading and writing activities using nontraditional texts as a starting point.  Participants will leave with a list of texts to use in engaging their high-school learners.


5)  Fernando Naidich, Montclair State U.

“Culturally Responsive Teaching in the English Class”

The inimitable and charming Dr. Naidich will use his common-sense approach to inspire us to set the bar higher for culturally responsive teaching.


Sessions and availability are subject to change, but we do our best to ensure accuracy.


1:15   LUNCH—Ballroom.

                  Teacher of the Year Award.                       

2:00  AFTERNOON keynote SPEAKER:

           Jeff Hirsch, YA Author.

                          2014 recipient of the NJCTE Muriel Becker Literary Award

3:00  Book Signing.

3:30  NJCTE Public Meeting. 

                  All are invited.