I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

IATE - I'm over the hump...

I have learned my lesson fully this weekend at the IATE (Illinois Association of Teachers of English) conference.

I need to connect to people.
     It makes me happy, and I learn a ton!

If you knew me, you wouldn't think I was shy. I can be boisterous, loud, outlandish, and even (yes, it's true) annoying at times. But really, deep down, I am SHY.

This weekend, however, I presented at the IATE conference in Bloomington, IL, with three people I HAD NEVER MET. We were connected by one person I had met once before - at EdCampChicago in the spring. The other three I'd only "talked to" on Twitter.

Here we are!
Amy (@AJ_Pine), Jaclyn (@JaclynDHan), me, Gary (@AndersonGL) & Russ (@RAndersonFHS)
I've met Gary before, but not the rest of this great gang.
The hashtag sent with this pic was #whyrwestillworkingonthis ?!

Here is our presentation on Empowering Student Literacy through Choice.

The presentation was fun to plan, fun to present, and I'm proud of what we did. However, I'm actually more happy with making connections this weekend. I sat in on Stephanie Gates's presentation on teaching argument, participated fully (there were only 5 of us), and then sat next to her during the social hour and through dinner. Also during this time, I struck up conversation with four other teachers who came to sit down (each leaving a seat between them and the others). Great to meet you, @michelinaM06 & @mrpiper76! (Here is Michelina's blog post about the weekend...) I made a point to ask each of them at least one question. My husband has taught me this - people love to talk about themselves. I also made sure these were not questions that could be answered with a "yes" or a "no." ;-) In this fashion, we shared some great stories.

During the first presentation I went to today (given by Tricia Campbell - @tlcampbell2002), I heard a teacher next to me say something about saving the flip class videos on Edline... I had to know more, as I thought Edline got rid of all we'd done the year prior - No! It's not true! She quickly explained to me where it was all stored. No more re-posting helpful links each year?! Ahhh... This one interaction with Jennifer Keith (@pi2nyc) was priceless. As I tweeted out ideas from this session, Patti Strukel (@PattiStrukel) tweeted back to try Movenote - and sent me an example she's done - WOAH! Put your Google Presentation in here, add your ideas and boom! You've got a flipped lesson with your face and voice, too! Some day I'd love to meet Patti in person...

I was also lucky to meet local Twitter peeps from Conant High School - Asra (@Ms_Syed_reads) & Jordan (@BuffEnglish), even learning WHY he's "Buff" English! I even went out to write a line of poetry (well, I wasn't sure if it WAS poetry) outside using sidewalk chalk, thanks to @MrSujak. It's the personal stories that have made this weekend for me.

Even if I am shy, I don't have to ACT shy. In fact, to make my life even better than it already is (it IS glorious, if I do say so myself), I have to talk to people I don't know, and ask them questions. I'll have to draw on the habitude of "courage," but this will be my new Genius Hour project...for quite a long time, I hope!

Special thanks to Russ, Gary, Jaclyn & Amy for inviting me to present at this cozy event, and thanks for making meeting new people painless. Thanks also to my administration for paying for my attendance and allowing me to go... I love that I can continue to learn. Next week... helping to make EdCamp Chicago work!! 


  1. Hi Joy,
    There is a wealth of resources here! I just made a Movenote account, thanks to you and Patti!

    You rock! I'm looking forward to the day when we can meet f2f!


  2. Hey Joy--love hearing about your experiences and hope for the day we can meet as well! Thanks for always sharing your learning with the world :)