Past Conferences

Our 2017 Spring Conference Sessions Included:


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


Thank you for attending our 2016 fall conference at Manchester Twp. HS

"Reading, Writing, and Empathy: Using Literature to Build Compassion" 
from 9am-12:00pm 
Authors Gae Polisner and Nora Raleigh Baskin will be on hand to lead a discussion centered around using literature to talk about difficult topics with students.  Both authors have new novels about the events and impacts of September 11th and will be signing their books after the talk.  
Booktowne, an independent bookstore in Manasquan, NJ, will be on hand to sell books and will carry other 9/11 materials, including Jewell Parker Rhodes' new middle grade novel, Towers Falling. Booktowne will also sell the authors' other titles. 
In addition, members of NJCTE will share strategies for pairing novels, graphic novels, nonfiction, and more to inspire empathy in students when discussing difficult topics.
GAE Polisner is the award-winning author of The Summer of Letting Go (Nerdy Book Club Best YA 2014, Teen Ink Editor's Choice Badge of Approval) and The Pull of Gravity (2012 Bank Street Best, 2012 PSLA Top Forty, Nerdy Book Club Best YA 2011). She also co-hosts Teachers Write!,a virtual writers camp for teachers and educators. She lives in Long Island, New York with her family.
Nora Raleigh Baskin is the ALA Schneider Family Book Award-winning author of Anything But Typical. She was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for her novel What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows, and has since written a number of novels for middle graders and teens, including The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah, The Summer Before Boys, and Ruby on the Outside. Nora lives with her family in Connecticut. Visit her at

We did it again!*

     In the 1990's, we honored Jon Scieszka with the Becker Award.  A few years later, he was named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

     Then there was David Lubar in 2004, and he is now one of the most beloved writers in children's and YA literature today!

     Tamora Pierce was our 2009 awardee, and her fame skyrocketed soon after.

     Walter Dean Myers graced us with his attendance in 2011, and he too was named by the Library of Congress as National Ambassador soon afterward.

     In 2012, Gayle Forman was our Becker winner for a little book called If I Stay  She has been on the bestseller lists ever since.

     In 2016, we honored Matt de la Peña for his writing, and before we could even get him to Montclair State, he won the Newbery Medal!
    We think the world is watching us at the NJCTE to discover what really great writing is all about. 


* Oh, yes, they were all great when the NJCTE first recognized them, but in many ways we're often the first to recognize the greatness of writers (due in no small part

to M. Jerry Weiss and Laura Nicosia).


Also featured Dan-el Padilla Peralta, author of Undocumented, a memoir that opened our eyes about what teaching and learning means.


And David Lubar returned to welcome his new book, Character, Driven, which is already being hailed as his finest work to date!


2016 Session Schedule



10:20-11:10: SESSION ONE

Successful Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration and the Common Core                    HS

-Audrey Fisch, PhD, NJCU;  Susan Chenelle,  Steven Gavrielatos & Edwin Rivera, University Academy Charter HS, Jersey City



 Race in the ELA Classroom: A Subject That Can’t Be Checked at the Door

-Erika Robinson, Red Bank Regional HS



From Senioritis to Self Startup: Growing 21st Century Skills in the Secondary ELA Classroom                                                                                                                             HS

-Oona Abrams, Chatham HS


Inspiring Students to Pick Up a Book—and Actually Read It!              MS/HS

Denise Weintraut, Berlin Borough School District, & Kelly Kosch, Robbinsville Public Schools



11:20-12:10: SESSION TWO


A Head in the Clouds, Heart on the Page: Immersing Students in the Imagined Worlds of Narratives                                                                                                                   MS/HS

-Catherine Greeley and Elissa Greenwald, PhD, Clifton HS


2 The Power of Questions: A DBQ Approach to Writing about Literature  MS/HS

-Molly Winter, DBQ Project


Picture this: Practical tips for using picturebooks in the MS & HS ELA classroom   MS/HS

-Todd A. Bates and Maureen Bates, Montclair State U



12:20-1:10: SESSION THREE

Teaching Students to Read Critically                                                                        MS/HS

-Fernando Naiditch, PhD, Montclair State U


Making Room for Innovation: Using Physical Space as a Catalyst for Learning       MS/HS

- Ms. Tina Marchiano, Mr. Matthew Morone, Mrs. Tracy Recine, Pascack Valley HS



Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird and A Raisin in the Sun in (Not-So) Post-Racial Times  HS

-Audrey Fisch, PhD, NJCU, & Susan Chenelle, University Academy Charter HS, Jersey City


Social Justice Book Clubs:  Where Literature and Technology Meet                           MS

-Trish Emerson, Brielle HS

Our Fall 2015 Conference:

September 19
College of Saint Elizabeth

2 Convent Road, Morristown, NJ 

Annunciation Center



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.

…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.

2015's Sessions

10:20-11:10: SESSION ONE

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

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


The Newsroom: Teaching Nonfiction That Matters                                    (HS)

       Matthew Morone, Pascack Valley High School                                University Hall


Approaches to Remedial Reading Instruction at the Secondary Level

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


Censorship                                                                                                                        (HS)

       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, Middle-Grade Author                                                           Student Center 411


Tech-Based Book Responses                                                                                    (HS)

       Jennifer Shettel, Millersville U of PA                                                  University Hall,


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

       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)

       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)

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


The History of Diners in New Jersey                                                                (all grades)

       Michael Gabriele, author                                                                         University Hall  


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

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


Addressing Issues of Equity Through a Multiliteracies Framework     (HS)

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