Every year the CCIRA Convention comes to Denver for about three days.
There are lots of books for purchase, and the authors who wrote those books are available so you can actually get your book signed by them. Not only are these authors signing books and meeting their fans, but they also have their own individual sessions to teach about certain aspects of reading and teaching literature, in many different ways.
They each organize their sessions different and make it entertaining and fun. Many teachers, librarians and educators come from all over the country for this event. This helps teachers gain new techniques and receives help improving their weakness to become their strengths.
Michael Shoulders' session was surely one of the most entertaining. He opened and closed in a very interactive fun way to get his audience to pay close attention: Rapping.
Man, was he good at it, too: He was rapping about encouraging reading, everyone’s face lit up with joy and laughter and filled the room with anticipation.
Shoulders, even referred to himself as “Doctor Papercut” when in rap mode!
His session was about how to get boys more interested into reading and writing. Boys remember things with a pattern and things that interest them, he said he had observed during his teaching career.
He first started researching boys and literature when he recognized the big grade gap between boys and girls. In literature, he said, 78% of boys were getting D’s and F’s. (Again here he interacted with the crowd we got to vote on what we thought the percentage was concerning literature grades.)
He also showed the teachers how to help their boys with literature using websites such as guysread.com or looking at fact-driven or nonfiction fun for reading books for inspiration.
He highlighted that young boys often write for other boys while girls write for the teachers. So the grosser the better will ignite young boys' desires!
As a teacher, Shoulders used a teaching method that has worked well in the classroom: mnemonic devices. It is more of a visual process that really helps reach boy’s brains.
After he was done with his session, I got a brief moment to ask some questions. Most of my questions were more about him because he did not talk about himself very much during in his session.
I asked him what inspired him to start his teaching method and write his children’s books?
He said that he was listening to an author along with 200 other people and the author said to never write a book, that it's too hard.
This angered him and he decided to prove that author wrong and, though it took him five years to finally sell a book, he did it!
Some of his books are loved greatly, like "T is for Titanic," "D is for Drumming" and "Crossing the Deadline." Shoulders connects to boys because he also did not like writing as a child, though he did like reading.
He is a real advocate for educators to allow children -- especially boys to -- read and write in “their” own context.
The CCIRA convention is a great place to go and all ages would enjoy it, especially if they get to rap along with Doctor Papercut!