Announcing TC Presentations for the 2014 Language & Learning Conference

Category: Professional Development

Please download, print, and share this flyer with your colleagues.

Please download, print, and share this flyer with your colleagues.

The Bernadette Mulholland Glaze Language and Learning Conference is known for its exemplary keynote speakers, like this year’s keynote Penny Kittle or past speakers like Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, Ralph Fletcher, and Donalyn Miller. Yet we know from our post-conference surveys that the demonstration lessons provided by Teacher Consultants of the Northern Virginia Writing Project are often what attendees value most. This year’s Language and Learning Conference break-out sessions will feature a wide range of approaches and presentations aimed at all grade levels. Many of this year’s demonstration lessons (see below) will focus on working with English language learners, reluctant writers, and special education students.  We will also be hosting a special lunch information session for teachers interested in attending the NVWP’s Invitational Summer Institutes.

The 2014 Bernadette Mulholland Glaze Language and Learning Conference is coming up on March 29, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

To register download the registration form and send with check or purchase order to: 

Northern Virginia Writing Project, Mail Stop 3E4
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

For information on online registration please see the note at the bottom of this page.

Presentation Sessions: NVWP Teacher Consultant Demonstration Lessons

What is a Demonstration Lesson?

A demonstration lesson is more than a presentation or a talk to teachers; it is making visible to our peers what we do in our classes. As Jim Gray, founder of the National Writing Project, wrote in his memoir of the early years of the National Writing Project Teachers at the Center, “The most successful demonstrations communicate not only what the teacher does but also why the teacher thinks this particular practice works. The emphasis upon the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ is important: it provides a theoretical underpinning and it accents a considered approach to writing beyond mere gimmickry” (143). This reflective approach to teaching produces new knowledge for participants and deepens our collective commitment to reflective practice. Longtime Writing Project Director Sheridan Blau explains, ‎”If I tell you my idea, you know only that I have it. If I want you to have my idea for yourself, you need to experience it for yourself and my task as your teacher is to construct a venue in which you are given an opportunity to have an experience that is likely to yield for you an idea similar to the one I would have you learn.” Many teachers report that the experiential learning they experience by participating in demonstration lessons provides them with valuable new strategies for their teaching practice.

NVWP TC Nick Maneno presents at the 2012 Language and Learning Conference

NVWP TC Nick Maneno presenting at the Language and Learning Conference

We find that regardless of what grade level the demonstration comes from, there are always ways of extending and applying new strategies to our own teaching circumstances.

Presentation Sessions

Session I: 9:00- 10:15

Using Questioning, Mindmapping and Technology While Writing to Learn
Carmen Danies, Westfield High School (Meeting Room A)

Students capture and process their thoughts for the beginning, middle and end of their writing using these fundamental techniques. Designed for ELLs, these concepts and tools aid all students in their content classes. Examples both created by and given to teachers for this workshop.

Encouraging Writers in Every Step of the Process
Jennifer Orr, Annandale Terrace Elementary School (Meeting Room B)

Teaching students to write, whether at the early grades where they are learning to form letters and sentences, or to older students who are developing more complex texts, is a challenge. When students are learning and working hard on one aspect of writing (forming letters or organizing ideas) they may have difficulty maintaining other aspects (mechanics, interesting language). This session will explore ways to use technology tools to grow skills in composing writing, choosing appropriate language, organizing and revising text. We will also spend time with tools that offer storytelling through images, audio, and video and discuss how that supports growth in writing.

Writing an Alphabet Memoir
Amy Ballenger, John Handley High School (Meeting Room C)

Having students create an Alphabet Memoir gives them an opportunity to write daily, sharing stories about their lives while reflecting on what is important to them. The premise for the Alphabet Memoir is to use each letter from the alphabet as a springboard for topics that hold a memory. For example, the letter “A” stands for “an experience that made me laugh until I cried” and the letter “B” stands for the “best news I ever received” and so on.  By the end of the semester, students have written 26 essays about their own personal experiences.  The essays are then published in a writing portfolio where students use visuals such as pictures, illustrations, letters and symbols to enhance their portfolio. The end result is an Alphabet Memoir:  a written documentation of each student’s life as well as a keepsake for students to share with family, friends and potential colleges.

Reading Deeply Through Writing
Stephenie Fellinger, Commonwealth Governor’s School (Meeting Room D)

This presentation focuses on an introduction of close reading using strong writing strategies to develop deeper thinking. Researchers like Thomas Newkirk argue for a need to have equal emphasis in both reading and writing instead of subordinating writing to reading (Newkirk 54).

The Small Story Tells the Big Story
Steve Klein, George Mason University (Meeting Room E)

Journalism teaches you to write for life across multiple media platforms: print (newspapers and magazines), broadcast (radio and television), online (desktop and mobile) and for public relations. Whether you want to be a journalist or work in another profession, practicing good journalism teaches good writing, good information-gathering skills and good citizenship. In this hands-on presentation, you will learn about the basics of writing and reporting a feature story, emphasize ethics, accuracy and social media as part of the process, learn about Associated Press Style, and practice the One Thing!

Bill McCabe working with students

Bill McCabe working with students

Embracing Complexity: How Thinking and Writing Can Co-Exist Simultaneously in a Chaotic World (Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Leave the 5-Paragraph Theme)
Bill McCabe, Lake Braddock High School (Meeting Room F)

Why do teachers employ rigid formulas when teaching writing (especially analytical writing) to our students?  What benefits are we hoping for by using these formulas, and are there better ways of achieving those hoped-for benefits?  This presentation will take a critical look at the 5-paragraph formula, trace the development of analytical writing in modern discourse, and examine alternative, authentic ways of having students engage with and analyze the complex world they are living (and writing) in.  We will write, think, talk and laugh together as we ponder all of this…

Session 2

Session II: 10:45- 12:00

A Mind Walk
Betsy Kusniez, Spotswood Elementary School (Meeting Room A)

One challenge in today’s classroom is that it is made up of multiple nationalities, languages, and abilities. Support all students by bringing together the skills of reflecting, reading, and writing in a powerful visualization lesson. Participants will learn a writing strategy that all students can use to create a strong mental image for the reader.

Embracing Chaos: Developing Comfort with Ambiguity and Teaching Thinking
Nick Maneno, Old Bridge Elementary School (Meeting Room B)

This teaching demonstration takes issues usually reserved for AP courses and gifted education (ambiguity, complexity, analysis, etc.) and makes them applicable to students of all ages and ability levels. The demonstration focuses on the idea that the essay is a verb meaning to try, to assay. This means the essay is a process not a product, and as such, is perhaps the ultimate writing to learn experience. Participants will: 1. Analyze a poem using Chrono-Logic Movement and draft an essay. 2. Practice Anti-Scholasticism by essaying on advertisements. 3. Explore and practice skepticism with Unidentified Freewrite Objects. And 4. Engage Collaborative thinking and essaying.


Mary Tedrow presenting at the Language and Learning conference

Teacher Talk as a Launchpad for School-Based Reform
Kim Sloan, Interagency Alternative Schools and Mary Tedrow, John Handley High School (Meeting Room C)

The high points in a teaching year should be a cause for celebration–and for sharing! This presentation offers an opportunity to identify your areas of expertise and utilize teacher conversation as the protocol for effective teacher-led, school-based reform.

Differentiating with the Multigenre Portfolio
Megan McManus, Woodbridge Senior High School and the International School of Chile Nido de Aguilas (Meeting Room D)

Allow students to demonstrate their creativity and multiple intelligences through the multigenre portfolio. Paired with literature, author studies, and much more, these portfolios spark enthusiasm, allow choice, and invite students’ analyses through innovative, self-guided modes. The multigenre portfolio is a refreshing assignment for both students to show their understanding and for teachers to assess. 

Preserving the Reading and Writing Connection: Mentor Texts and Metacognitive Markers
Allison Gulamhussein, George Washington University (Meeting Room E)

This presentation explores the link between reading and writing and suggests ways in which English teachers can honor the inherent link between the two. The presentation begins with an exploration and discussion of the current research base on writing. From there, this research is explored in light of current writing pedagogy practices, which often teach writing as decontextualized skills severed from the act of reading. After setting this theoretical framework, the presentation models how discussion about mentor texts and footnotes used as metacognitive markers for students can be used by teachers to preserve the link between reading and writing in the classroom. 

It Takes a Village to Write a Story
Theresa Gaddy, Mountain View High School (Meeting Room F)

It’s no secret that students of all levels struggle with author’s purpose and style. See how collaborative story planning but individual writing can help students finally understand that the decisions that we authors make are purposeful and that we all have our own unique style.

Lunchtime Information Session on 2013 Invitational Summer Institutes

Are you or a colleague interested in the Invitational Summer Institutes? Current and former Institute staff will answer questions and talk about the benefits of these regional professional development opportunities.  

About Penny Kittle

As a professional development coordinator for the Conway, New Hampshire, School District, Penny Kittle acts as a K-12 literacy coach and directs new-teacher mentoring. In addition, she teaches writing at Conway Kennett High School and in the Summer Literacy Institutes at the University of New Hampshire. Penny is the author of five books including the award-winningWrite Beside Them.  Her latest book, Book Love, is a call to arms for putting every single kid, no exceptions allowed, on a personal reading journey. But much more than that, it’s a powerful reminder of why we became English teachers in the first place:  our passion for books.  We know that Penny will inspire you and help sharpen and deepen your teaching of writing and reading.

For more information on the 2014 Language and Learning Conference please contact us at or visit


You may use a credit card to register; however, due to university restrictions on our choice of online registration services, the fee for credit card registration is $20.00. We strongly encourage you to write a check or a purchase order from your school. We  apologize for the high rate of this fee, but it is beyond our control.  Should you decide to pay the fee, the link to the online registration is

For additional information, please contact NVWP Administrative Assistant  Sarah Spear at

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The mission of the Northern Virginia Writing Project is to improve writing instruction, writing practice, and learning at all educational levels; to develop teacher leaders across the disciplines and elevate their professional standing; and to provide support for young writers and their families.


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