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'Great Literacy for All,'  Our Spring Conference, April 1,                                            at Montclair State University                                       Nationally Recognized Surprise Guest Author Guaranteed!

Click on the picture above to download the flyer.

Featuring ground-breaking author Andrew Smith

The incomparable Andrew Smith is a...

Michael L. Printz Honor Book winner;

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner;

YALSA Award winner

Chicago Public Library award winner,

New York Public Library award winner;

Recipient of the 2017 Muriel Becker Literary Award; and

Author of Stick, Winger, 100 Sideways Miles, Grasshopper Jungle, The Alex Crow, Stand-Off & more

His books are:

"a literary joy to behold." —The New York Times Book Review

"alternatingly hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening" —Publishers Weekly

"smart and compelling" —Rolling Stone

"brave and talented . . . powerful, sweet and heart-wrenching" —Printz-Award-winning author A. S. King (Please Excuse Vera Dietz)

"wildly original" —The San Francisco Chronicle


and Tom Rinaldi


Edward R. Murrow Award winner and author of The Red Bandanna: A life. A choice. A legacy.

You've heard the story:

       One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day, and just about every day to come; it became a fixture and his signature. A standout athlete growing up in Upper Nyack, NY, Welles was also a volunteer at the local fire department, along with his father. He cherished the necessity and the camaraderie, the meaning of the role. Fresh from college, he took a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, but the dream of becoming a firefighter with the FDNY remained.

      When the Twin Towers fell, Welles’s parents had no idea what happened to him. In the unbearable days that followed, they came to accept that he would never come home. But the mystery of his final hours persisted. Eight months after the attacks, however, Welles’s mother read a news account from several survivors, badly hurt on the 78th floor of the South Tower, who said they and others had been led to safety by a stranger, carrying a woman on his back, down nearly twenty flights of stairs. After leading them down, the young man turned around. “I’m going back up,” was all he said. The survivors didn’t know his name, but despite the smoke and panic, one of them remembered a single detail clearly: the man was wearing a red bandanna.

      Tom Rinaldi’s The Red Bandanna is about a fearless choice, about a crucible of terror and the indomitable spirit to answer it. Examining one decision in the gravest situation, it celebrates the difference one life can make.

Here are the reviews:

“Rinaldi’s reconstruction of that final morning is gripping. His recounting of how Crowther’s family slowly learned of his valor…and of how many now honor him, is deeply moving.” –The New York Times Book Review


“[A] lovely book...People see the fallen, beat-up world around them and ask: What can I do? Maybe: Be like Welles Crowther. Take your bandanna, change the world.”

– Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal


“A beautiful book…Through one hero of that day, Rinaldi really tells the story of all of them, all those who saved others and couldn't save themselves. I tell you about a lot of books. Buy this one. In the spirit of all the ones who kept going back up the stairs.” –Mike Lupica, NY Daily News


“How often does a book make you feel so deeply you need to just stop and breathe?... Rinaldi is a masterful storyteller…. a must read.” -The Star-Ledger


and David Galef,

author of

Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook,

My Date with Neanderthal Woman,

and more!

We say it almost every year lately, so you might think we are employing hyperbole (we're not):

  • We are as excited about this year's conference as we ever have been!
  • We'll spare you the details about how unexpected it was that Andrew Smith would be available and willing to make the cross-country trip (he lives in California) to be with us.
  • We'll spare you the details about how more people than ever offered to present workshops for you.
  • We'll even spare you the details about how Alan Walker at Penguin Random House found, contacted and convinced Tom Rinaldi to grace us with his presence as well.
  • What we will do is reiterate how much we believe this year's conference will be something you will cherish.
  • Please tell as many people as you can, and bring a friend! Each year it becomes increasingly challenging to provide the kind of top-notch conference we do at the price we do it. In an era where conferences and organizations are shrinking, we are alive and well, and doing our best to increase our visibility for you. This can only happen if our conference attendance continues to grow! Please help spread the word!
  • And thank you for all you do!

Please Register at the MSU Student Center Ballrooms.  Online registration is now closed.

Tentatively Scheduled Sessions Include:


FIRST SESSION: 10:20-11:10


How to Create a Lot in a Small Space: Flash Fiction in the Classroom          MS/HS


     Flash fiction is all over the place these days, in contests, anthologies, and the classroom. It goes by various labels, from short-shorts of 1,500 words and under to nanofiction of 140 characters or fewer, with microfiction and hint fiction in between. In this presentation, David Galef, the author of Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, talks about how to read--and write--really short narratives.


-David Galef, Montclair State University


Student Center




Class in America, and the exploitation of the American worker.


The Rukeyser Revolution: “Invoking the Rigorous Positive” Through the Politics and Poetry of Muriel Rukeyser HS


It is more important than ever to ensure that our students understand the power of art to illuminate social justice issues and give voice to the voiceless. Muriel Rukeyser’s epic poem, “The Book of the Dead” documents the the Gauley Bridge Tunnel Disaster of 1936, in which hundreds of miners died from silicosis. Rukeyser’s poetry captivates students through her deft weaving of doctor’s reports, congressional testimony, letters, and interviews with victims into a tragic tapestry. Throughout this tapestry, she weaves a thread of hope and empowers her readers with responsibility of remembering the forgotten faces of history. This presentation will offer teaching strategies and resources to support educators in incorporating this engaging text in their high school classrooms.


Kate M. Sullivan, Kean U and Forrestdale Middle School






“The gain of making the best move”: Great Literacy through the Writing of Sports


Combining reading, reacting and writing, this session will show how literacy of sports writing can be a key way to have students learn better the joys of reading, comprehend more fully diverse literatures, and craft writing that speaks of experiences they enjoy and often know intimately.  


Using short passages from grade school books as well as from more mature works, this session will show how writers recreate engaging sport experiences following the five key ways of contextualizing the motives of an event. This session will also show how still photos evoke the poetry of sport experience in writers, to reveal the potential of still sport photos in awakening a latent literacy in students, encouraging them to craft brief poetry of the moment.


Kenneth Sammond, Ph.D, Fairleigh Dickinson U






Responding to Shared Reading with Multi-Genre Companion Writing


Interested in engaging literary analysis that taps into creative potential?  Multigenre, companion- text writing may be the answer.  This workshop explores various ways to engage each student in closer reading after he or she has declared, “I’ve finished my book.”   Strategies to foster students returning to the text with a will to read more deeply deeply and connect more fundamentally is the goal of this session.  Technology will feature prominently as a means of both producing and publishing student work for the larger world.


-Patricia Emerson, Brielle HS






It's Still a Celluloid World: Using Film to Increase Student Comprehension and Motivation


 Educators will:


   Explore new methods to use film in the classroom to increase engagement.


   Discover ways to teach “reading” film.


   Learn how studying film techniques and their application can lead to increasing students’ reading abilities.


   Figure out where using film fits naturally into their curriculum.


   Create an activity to use in their classroom in the next couple of months.


   Share activities to further collaborationusing a Google Classroom .


-Jennifer Persson, Edison HS


ADP Center!



SECOND SESSION: 11:20-12:10


Sparking the Fire for Teaching: Telling Our Stories


This workshop session will explore ways teachers are sharing their passion each day in many ways and will provide the opportunity for teachers to share Six-Word Stories that describe what we are doing to spread the word that the teaching of English Language Arts is alive and well in our state. In addition, teachers will brainstorm ways to spread the mission and vision of NJCTE in order to be the Sparks that kindle a flame of teaching and learning.


-Joseph Pizzo, Donna Jorgensen, Patricia Schall, NJCTE Board Members






ELA + ELL = S.U.C.C.E.S.S.


How can ELL students flourish in our elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms? Let’s share a variety of practical strategies that mainstream, in-class support, and replacement teachers at all stages of experience can use to foster S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (Supporting Unbelievably Creative Curricula to Encourage Student Success). Feel free to bring your device to enhance our workshop experience.


-Margarita Batlle-Zahl and Joseph S. Pizzo, Chester


Student Center






Engaging Students in Purposeful Reading                             (MS, HS)


In this workshop, participants will learn different approaches to meaningfully engage students with texts. This workshop includes three sections. The first is an examination of what exactly it means to be engaged and how engagement is fostered in the classroom, the second portion is an abbreviated sample lesson where reading engagement strategies will be modeled, and the third portion will have participants apply what they have learned to the content in their own classrooms.


-Emily Creveling


ADP Center



KISS It!  Classroom  Management  Strategies that  Empower Teachers, Engage Students and Engender Success


Are disruptive, low-level behaviors coupled with complex disciplinary referral systems eating away at your precious teaching time? This innovative classroom management program will provide strategies needed to recapture that time!  Participants will learn to manage their classroom disciplinary dilemmas with time-productive approaches.  These research-based strategies have been proven to reduce by as much as 60-70% the low-level problems that arise in all classrooms each day.  The participants will become versed in two strategies—TEACH-To’s and REFOCUS. The latter is a strategy which eliminates repeated warnings, gives students choices, and provides guidance and correction when needed. As well, REFOCUS puts the paperwork, the documentation, into the hands of the students.  Join me for an exciting session, which will give you the tools to begin to make timesaving changes in your classroom tomorrow.  


-Kathryn Jones-Pisano, M.S.-ED/LCSW, The Thriving Classroom-Education Advocate/Consultant






THIRD SESSION: 12:20-1:10


Building Interactive Engagement with Texts


When students read, how can we as teachers determine if they have understood and


thoughtfully considered the text? Through a number of low tech and high tech activities


(which will be provided as take-aways), students can be prompted to engage with texts


and peers in overt, purposeful, and enjoyable ways. These activities, in turn, serve as


formative assessments which assist the teacher in planning for future instruction.


-Keith Schoch, Bedminster School






The NJ English Journal Workshop


The 2017 Spring NJCTE Conference Theme is Great Literacy for All.  The subheading asks us to think about how literacy affects your world, your students' world, and the world around you. These words are the essence of the New Jersey English Journal's mission.  While the conference highlights speakers like the iconic young adult writer Andrew Smith, the New Jersey English Journal solicits writing from teachers, many of whom are acclaimed in their schools but whose ideas are not well publisized. 


In this session, participants will be encouraged to brainstorm and ultimately write for the journal.  Liz deBeer and Patricia Bender, the journal's editors, will discuss what submissions are most successful. They will also stress why it is so imporant for teachers to share their ideas and experiences with other teachers in journals such as the New Jersey English Journal.  They will further discuss the value of writing with others, and, how in encouraging others' voices, our own become clearer, stronger, and perhaps better.  Then, they will lead the partipants in brainstorming activities that will (hopefully) elicit essay ideas that could ultimately become submissions. 


-Liz deBeer and Patricia Bender, NJEJ Editors




Teaching Gatsby in the Age of Trump    (HS)


F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby is standard fare in the English language arts classroom, but it’s also the perfect text to teach in the Age of Trump. Using select informational texts, students can unpack the connections between the Age of Trump and the 20s: unparalleled levels of income inequality (economists even use the term “The Gatsby Curve” to describe this phenomenon); a rise of white nationalism; anti-immigrant fervor; bullying; and more. This interactive workshop will offer teachers the chance to engage with literary and informational text pairings and classroom activities that can support our students in engaging in difficult but informed conversations through the lens of Gatsby.


-Susan Chenelle, University Academy Charter HS;


Tatiana Reyes &  Chrystal Mateo, MA students, NJCU




From Roundabout Reading to Devil’s Advocate Discussions—Metacognitive Learning Strategies to Promote Content Literacy


It is mind-boggling to learn that six of the top ten jobs today are jobs that didn’t exist ten to fifteen years ago. More awesome is that we are educating students for jobs not yet created. Our students need to be able to process and utilize a wide range of nonfiction.  Since the implementation of the Common Core Standards require 70% nonfiction reading, often English teachers have been identified by their peers as the teachers responsible for teaching all reading and writing skills. Too often our performance evaluations have been based on these paradigm shifts. Many of us have been at a loss for teaching students non-fiction reading techniques because we were trained to teach poetry and fiction reading; nevertheless, we have fearlessly forged into teaching research paper writing and non-fiction reading while at the same time we have realized that—unbeknownst to them—all teachers have become purveyors of the literacy skills our students will need to survive and thrive in the 21st century.  In this session, participants will practice several easy-to-implement strategies for promoting non-fiction literacy in their classrooms the very next day and for sharing with their content area peers.


-Kathryn Jones-Pisano, M.S.-ED/LCSW, The Thriving Classroom-Education Advocate/Consultant




SEVEN PD hours!

at the Student Center Ballrooms at Montclair State University

Printable Map of MSU...
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