Unlock Learning Conference: Nod-My-Head & Aha Moments




Last weekend, I had the opportunity to present a session at Unlock Learning, a conference in partnership with the New Jersey Literacy Association. The conference was held at Middlesex High School in Middlesex, New Jersey.


Attended by some 200 educators, the conference offered various halls: "It's Lit," "Math, Science & Tech," "Growth," and "Word on the Street."


I attended three ELA-focused sessions and had quite a few nod-my-head-right-along and aha moments to share.


The "Nod-My-Head-Yes-Please-Thank-You-Say-It-Again" Moments

plus some

"Aha-Oh-My-God-That's-Brilliant" Moments:


Dr. Kenneth Kunz

  • We’re all in this really hard thing together. Sometimes we laugh; sometimes we want to give up, but we’re part of a team.

  • “Every student deserves a great teacher, not by chance, but by design.” –Doug Fisher

  • Stop the round robin reading! (Yes, please. Can we just stop already?)

  • Lesson idea: Have kids take their partner on a tour of their annotations.

  • Lesson idea: Have kids write about what they wish we knew.

  • Provide access to books and content; access does not mean reading logs.

  • No more reading for junk.

  • Everybody is a literacy teachers, just in a different way.

  • Promote practices, not programs. (Reminds me of Alice Keeler's "Paperless is not pedagogy").

  • Intervention is not a product.

  • Equality is every kid gets a book; equity is every kid gets a book that fits. (I wish I could underline this three more times).

Joseph Pizzo

  • Lesson idea: Have students write a comfort note and think about what they say and what they don't say. Example: "Come on! Don't be sad! Pick yourself up!"

  • Technology is not the destinations or the journey. It's the vehicle you use on your journey.

  • Our obsession with standardized testing is based on a problem that doesn't exist.

Allison Kreiss

  • We need to ask our students how they learn and what helps them learn.

  • Consider what actually helps students when choosing edtech.

  • Let our students speak.

  • "Reading is breathing in and writing is breathing out" -Pam Allyn


Overall, it was a good conference and I was happy to connect with other educators from the Pennsylvania/New Jersey area. I always appreciate the positive energy present at ed conferences!


Chai Latte



Meet Kristina

proud mother of two
passionate educator
edtech enthusiast
lifelong learner
future minivan driver
forever optimist
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© 2019 Kristina Ulmer/Tea with Teacher

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