NJCTE Seeks Teachers for the Dream Nominations

The New Jersey Council of Teachers of English (NJCTE) seeks to address and support underrepresented teachers of color in New Jersey and within our own organization. The Teachers for the Dream grant, funded with the generous support of NCTE, will help NJCTE support teachers of color within the state and within the leadership of our organization. We hold that this initiative will help us increase the diversity of our membership overall. 

Applications are due March 31, 2022.

Teachers of color are underrepresented in New Jersey and nationwide. Yet a diverse staff and educational environment are critical to providing high-quality learning for a diverse body of 21st-century student learners. 

A Fall 2011 study by the Center for American Progress found that “students of color made up more than 40 percent of the school-age population. In contrast, teachers of color were only 17 percent of the teaching force.” The same study found that students of color make up 48% of students in New Jersey, while teachers of color make up 18% of the teaching force. The disparities are only growing starker. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in Fall 2014 the percentage of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools who were White was less than 50 percent (49.5 percent) for the first time and represents a decrease from 58 percent in Fall 2004. To address this educational disparity with dire consequences for students of color, Researchers Saba Bireda and Robin Chait argue for, among other supports, mentoring for new teachers of color. NCTE, and NJCTE, are uniquely positioned to do this work for teachers of English.

​In order to support teachers of color and the diversity of NJCTE’s organization, NJCTE’s Teachers for the Dream Program is recruiting two teachers of color in elementary, middle, secondary, or postsecondary ELA education.

These two chosen educators will be involved in all levels of NJCTE. We will ask the two teachers to:

1. attend NJCTE board meetings

2. present, with the assistance of other board members, their work at one of our NJCTE conferences

3. share, at one of our NJCTE conferences, some of their reflections and experiences from their NCTE attendance

In return, the program will provide:

1. 2-year memberships in NJCTE and NCTE for the two teachers

2. conference registration for the teachers for all NJCTE conferences during the two year period

3. travel support to help our two teachers attend NCTE during one of the two years ($500 each)

Please share and/or apply today!

NJCTE Seeks Teachers for the Dream Nominations

NJCTE Honored with 2019 NCTE Affiliate Newsletter of Excellence Award

newsletter of excellenceNJCTE News, co-edited by Audrey Fisch, New Jersey City University and Susan Chenelle of University Academy Charter High School, published by the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, has been named as a recipient of the 2019 NCTE Affiliate Newsletter of Excellence Award, given by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Established in 1992, this award recognizes outstanding newsletters of affiliates of NCTE that have published a minimum of three newsletters from May 2018 through the program deadline on May 1, 2019.

Newsletter submissions are judged on: content (particularly the inclusion of current, pertinent information with a good balance between theory, practice, and professional growth information), quality of writing, a clear and accurately defined purpose for the publication, a format which aids the reader in locating information and is easy to read, and the use of graphics to aid the overall effectiveness of the newsletter.

The award winners will be announced at the 2019 NCTE Annual Convention in Baltimore, during the Affiliate Roundtable Breakfast on Sunday, November 24.

Attention NJ ELA teachers: Would you like to write for the NJCTE blog? We would be happy to publish your ideas and insights about your practice or resources you’ve had success with, etc. We welcome original pieces or those that have been posted elsewhere. Please send queries and contributions to njcteblog@gmail.com.

NJCTE Honored with 2019 NCTE Affiliate Newsletter of Excellence Award

NJCTE Spring Conference Schedule

pasted image 0The New Jersey Council of Teachers of English and Ridgewood High School


Doorways to Teaching in a Digital World

March 30, 2019

8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


Schedule in Brief:

8:15 – 8:45 a.m.   Registration and Continental Breakfast – Exhibits/Publishers

8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.     Welcome by Dr. Tom Gorman, Principal RHS

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.     Introduction to Georgia Hunter by Lisa Wiater, Holocaust Studies

9:15 a.m -10:00 a.m.     Georgia Hunter and Researching and Writing the critically acclaimed We Were the Lucky Ones

10:00 a.m.-  10:30 a.m. Booking Signing – Exhibits/Publishers

10:35 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Session I (Session descriptions to follow.)

11:25 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. Session II (Session descriptions to follow.)

12:15 p.m. –  1:00 p.m. Session III (Session descriptions to follow.)

1:00 p.m.  – 1:30 p.m.   Lunch Service and Exhibits/Publishers

1:30 p.m. –  2:00 p.m. Presentation of the Becker Award to Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award Finalist for American Street

2:00 p.m. –  2:45 p.m. Keynote Afternoon Address  Ibi Zoboi on Writing American Street, Pride and Black Enough

2:45 p.m.   Book Signing

2:45 p.m.  – 3:15 p.m.     Presentation of Teacher Awards and Closing Remarks


Workshops and Presentations:

Session I:       10:35 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.

Learning Commons                                                        General-Professional

Dr. Lauren Zucker and Dr. Emily Hodge, Co-Editors for the 2020 New Jersey English Journal          

Title: Reflecting on Your Practice: Write for the New Jersey English Journal

Have you taught a great lesson, and want to tell others about it? Would you like to reflect about your teaching, develop your voice as a writer, and connect with a community of practitioners? Join our workshop session about writing for NJCTE’s flagship publication, New Jersey English Journal. First-time writers welcome!


Kathryn Nieves                                                                            Rm. 244. M-S

Title: Bringing Blended Learning into the ELA Classroom

Description: In this session, the different types of blended learning will be discussed and step-by-step integration strategies will be covered. Different technology tools and software will be demonstrated. Participants will discuss potential obstacles and solutions and will receive time to begin planning their own blended learning instruction for the classroom.


Molly Winter                                                                                  Rm. 236 E

TItle: Elementary-Qs: Strategies for Scaffolding Document Based Questions

Description:  DBQs provide a fantastic framework for an inquiry approach to teaching in the content areas while developing literacy skills. Participants will leave with the tools needed to implement a DBQ with their own students as well as a classroom-ready Elementary Mini-Q  unit and a free trial account to DBQ Online.


Jason Toncic                                                                                     Rm. 248 M-S

Title: How-to: Mobilize Your Students’ Open-ended Responses Beyond Summary

Description: Do students respond better to reading comprehension questions in collaborative, synchronous online spaces?  You: IDK! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ This presentation compares students’ traditional answers to those from a classroom-based, online chat.


Ashley Rillo and Luke Dolby                                                           Rm. 240  M-S

Title: Word Soup

Description:  The leap from chalk to Chrome compels teachers to explore new methods that orient students toward mindful communication. We advocate “think precisely, write concisely.”“Word Soup” challenges the obsession with word count and the fallacy that “more is more.” Instead, each student determines: “What exactly am I trying to say?”


Matt Cheplic                                                            Rm. 239 S

Title: Video Essays: A Multimedia Writing Unit

Description:  Video essays are a hybrid of the narrative essay and film. This presentation will take you through the components of writing and filming that has students consider language in relation to image with an emphasis on editing that wholy invests students from idea to final product.


Carlin O’Hagan and  Amy Brooks                                             Rm. 234 M-S

TItle:  The Color Guard Strategy

Description: The Color Card strategy provides discussion prompts in the form of a card game. Through this low-stakes competition, the Color Cards strategy encourages productive peer collaboration, creates more interesting and detailed conversations, and gives students responsibility for their own learning, all while posing a healthy challenge in a safe environment. This strategy supports differentiated learning, serving as a scaffold for independent text analysis.


Maheen Ahmad and Arturo Rodriguez                                        Rm. 233    M-S

Title: Purposeful Platforms: Using EdTech Tools to Boost Student Engagement

Description: As teachers, we feel a constant push to incorporate technology in the classroom. But which “tools” provide the best approach to address student needs? In this session, we will present a variety of EdTech tools that help students understand, critique, and engage with the content in meaningful ways.



Session II: 11:25 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.

Learning Commons                                                                                  General-M-S

Dale Russakoff, veteran Washington Post Journalist and author of The Prize, will discuss Education and the role that Journalism can play in fostering critical thinking with Ridgewood teachers Luke Dolby and Dan Luts, who are former broadcast news and social media journalists.  

Title:  Giving Students Voice: Social Justice, Journalism and Truth

A discussion by journalists and teachers  on the role that journalism can play in education by giving students voice to advocate for social justice and truth on the issues that matter.

Moderator: Patricia Hans                                                                 


George Salazar                                                                                                Rm. 244 E-M-S

Title:  Creating a Gamified Literature Classroom

Description:  Gamification is an exciting new body of research regarding student engagement.  Using the Classcraft platform, this presentation will model how gamified learning can be applied in traditionally non-gaming environments like a literature classroom, and how to develop learning units with an organic structure of goals,  feedback, and rewards.


Michelle Wittle                                                                                               Rm. 240 M-S

Title:  A House Made of YouTube and Ted Talks: Navigating Through the Digital Texts of the 21st Century

Description: The way we define a text has changed. In this hands-on workshop, teachers will use the graphic organizer called the Text X-Ray to weed through different informational texts from  Ted-Talks to Facebook and Instagram posts to distinguish between truth and non-truths and identify bias.


Heather Esposito and Allison Kreisler                                                        Rm. 239 S

TItle: Student Voice and Digital Literacy Action Research

Description:  Student voices should be the loudest when we talk about the future of literacy in the ELA classroom.  This presentation highlights an action research project showcasing student-preferred digital platforms, strategies for literacy instruction in high school, the data to support the findings, testimonies from students and the outcomes of the student-selected strategies.


Johnette Halpin and Jeanne McVerry                                                         Rm. 234 M-S

Title: Google Extensions and the Reading-Writing Connection

Description: Johnette will show you how to use a team of extensions for Google Chrome to give your students timely, meaningful feedback. Attendees will leave the session being able to use Goodrich, Doctopus, Checkmark. and Draftback together.

Jeanne will demonstrate how student learning can increase exponentially while providing maximum insight into the student’s cognition and maximum support for students in inclusion classes.


Donna Zepeda and Valerie Matteisch                                                       Rm. 236 M-S

Title: Tech Tools for Authentic Instruction and

Description: Learn how to use technology to create authentic instruction, personalized inquiry based learning  and lessons that foster critical thinking in engaging ways. Sample lessons and assignments will be provided to demonstrate how digital learning can increase reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.


Jennifer Persson                                                                                           Rm. 248 M-S

Title: It’s Still a Celluloid World

Description: Participants will learn about the relationship between teaching film and literature and how film analysis can enhance student’s reading comprehension. Analyzing film elements such as lighting, camera placement, and sound helps students develop their media literacy, which can enable them to consume media with a more critical eye.


Session III: 12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Learning Commons                                                                                    M-Secondary

TItle: Writing Narrative in High School through Virtual Author Visits

Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of the acclaimed, Nine Ten, and Educator Oona Abrams will show teachers how to leverage technology and organize in- school field trips with an author to study the craft of writing both fiction and nonfiction narratives.


Eileen D’Elia and Jennifer Landa                                                       Rm. 248- General

Title: The Balancing Act – Using Mindfulness in a Technology Driven World

Description: Even though technology is a great resource, with increased use of it, there is greater need for human connection, kinetic activities, and mindfulness. This workshop will explore quick and easy mindful practices that can revolutionize your  classroom, your relationships with your students and how you teach.


Nicole Warchol                                                                                      Rm. 244- M-S

Title:  From Reading to Writing with Historical Fiction: Bringing Your Students Full Circle

Description: Author Gae Polisner proposed that the best way for students to develop empathy was to not just read historical fiction but to write it. Join Nicole Warchol and learn how her students transitioned from reading historical fiction to using online databases in order to research and compose their own historical fiction vignettes.   


Vanessa Kabash                                                                                   Rm. 240- M

Title:  Letting the Horse Out of the Barn: From Small Tech Steps to a Meaningful Gallop

Description: Infusing technology into instruction can be intimidating, even paralyzing. How do we open those barn doors? Explore how small tech steps transformed an “old” Animal Farm unit into a new, evolving experience for engaging with texts, contexts, and others, and for applying what we learn to our digital lives.  


Joseph Pizzo                                                                                        Rm. 234-M-S

Title:  ELA 2.0: Blending Fun with the Fundamentals

Description:  Participants will engage in various hands-on activities to create and share original writing in the areas of poetry, persuasion, personal reflection, and more. Find ways to tap into the natural curiosity of students within a framework that demands trust and adherence to personal dignity. Motivating students through the process of energizing writing topics by “setting the write tone” will engage all participants. Strategies to address State standards will also be addressed, along with ways to inspire student writers to be engaged.


Audrey Fisch                                                                                     Rm. 236-S

Title:  An Experiential Lesson in Fake News: Trump, J.K. Rowling, and Confirmation Bias

Description: Like many educators, I am working to address fake news in my teaching. This session engages participants in an interactive lesson that illustrates ours and our students’ vulnerability to manipulation. The session also offers concrete strategies for analyzing sources and basic fact-checking moves.


Nimisha Patel and Nicole Mancini                                              Rm. 239- M-S

Title:  Flipgrid and Social Learning and Looking for that Hole in the Wall

Description: Flipgrid will energize your classroom discussion as you learn about online platforms, while Sugata Mitra’s famous “Hole in the Wall” experiment will teach you how to help students organize their learning.  The focus of this joint workshop, which will end with data and tested classroom activities sharing, is to give you a shopping bag filled with innovative ways to teach and help students learn.

NJCTE Spring Conference Schedule

Congratulations to Teacher for the Dream Award Winner George Salazar

Please join NJCTE in congratulating George Salazar, one of two winners of this year’s NJCTE Teacher for the Dream Award.

George is a British English speaker navigating the complex landscape of American English education. Born and raised abroad, his experiences have made him acutely aware of myriad philosophies to the teaching of literacy and literature, and how students—especially students of color—are empowered or marginalized by them. When he’s not fighting the spell-checker over the spelling of his words, he loves to write about the literary canon, technology in the classroom, and trends in education policy. Outside of teaching, George is a professional calligrapher, displaying his love for words by marrying both their form and function so others may also fall in love at first write.

As a recipient of the Teacher for the Dream Award, George is honored to join NJCTE’s community of dedicated and inspiring professionals. He is excited by the opportunities granted to share his insights, research, and best practices in local, state, and national conversations being held about teaching, especially in English Language Arts. He believes the perspectives and insights of people of color are necessary to our critical examinations of our content and practices. And with the platform provided by this award, George advocates for more people of color to become educators, so students see themselves represented in our profession, and see their experiences acknowledged, respected, and celebrated in what we do as English teachers.

Attention NJ ELA teachers: Would you like to write for the NJCTE blog? We would be happy to publish your ideas and insights about your practice or resources you’ve had success with, etc. We welcome original pieces or those that have been posted elsewhere. Please send queries and contributions to njcteblog@gmail.com.


Congratulations to Teacher for the Dream Award Winner George Salazar

NCTE Coffee Meetup for NJCTE Members and Friends – Saturday, Nov 17 @ 7am

Are you attending NCTE in Houston? Some of us are too!

Grab some coffee and join us on Saturday, November 17, bright and early at 7am. Connect with your NJCTE friends with an early morning convention conversation. We’ll meet at the Starbucks in the lobby of the Hilton, directly across from the convention center.

NJCTE board members will also be attending the affiliate breakfast on Sunday, November 18, and the secondary luncheon on Saturday, November 17. We’re excited that NJCTE board member and NJCTE 2017 Educator of the Year winner Susan Chenelle will be honored at the latter as one of the winners of the NCTE 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award.

We hope we see you in Houston! See below for details about sessions involving NJCTE members. The NCTE 2018 Convention program is available online.

Thursday, November 15

  • (B.06) Literacy Leadership — Thursday, November 15, 2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m., 352 A

Panel presentation featuring NJCTE board member Oona Marie Abrams.

Friday, November 16

  • (C.32) Finding Their STEMinist Voice: How Informational Texts Can Inspire Girls — Friday, November 16, 9:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m., 372 C

Panel presentation chaired by NJCTE board member Sarah Mulhern Gross.

  • (D. 16) Teaching Climate Change in English — Friday, November 16, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 340AB

Roundtable session featuring NJCTE board member Patricia L. Hans.

  • (D.53) GatsbyA Raisin in the Sun, and Inequality Today: Nurturing Student Voices About Equity and Justice — Friday, November 16, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 330A

Workshop presented by NJCTE president Audrey Fisch and board member Susan Chenelle.

  • (G.17) Empowering Teachers, Empowering Learners: Technology and Transformation — Friday, November 16, 3:30-4:45 p.m., 372DE

Panel discussion featuring NJCTE board member Joseph Pizzo.

  • (G.44) Creating a Climate of Social and Environmental Justice in the English Classroom — Friday, November 16, 3:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m., 350 E

Panel presentation featuring NJCTE board member Sarah Mulhern Gross.

Saturday, November 17

  • (H.37) Reclaiming Conversations: Avoidance, Engagement, Advocacy in ELA Discourse Communities — Saturday, November 17, 8:00 a.m.-9:15 a.m., Grand Ballroom C

Roundtable discussion featuring NJCTE board member Oona Marie Abrams, along with Tricia Ebarvia of #DisruptTexts and many other educators.

  • (I.43) Exposing the Truth: Empowering Students to Thrive and Advocate for Themselves Through Journalism and Public Writing — Saturday, November 17, 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 330B

Panel session featuring NJCTE board member Patricia L. Hans.

  • Secondary Luncheon — Saturday, November 17, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

NJCTE board member Susan Chenelle will be honored as New Jersey’s recipient of the 2018 High School Teacher of Excellence Award.

  • (K.26) Choice and Challenge: Designing and Implementing Successful Literature Circle Experiences for High School Upperclassmen — Saturday, November 17, 2:45 p.m.-4:00 p.m., 330 B

Panel discussion featuring NJCTE board members Oona Marie Abrams and Sarah Mulhern Gross, along with YA authors A.S. King, Brendan Kiely, Nic Stone, and Gae Polisner.

  • (L.02) Literacy Instruction Worth Fighting For: What Do We Advocate and Why — Saturday, November 17, 4:15 p.m.–5:30 p.m., Grand Ballroom A

NJCTE board member Oona Marie Abrams will serve as a roundtable leader along with NJCTE member Emily Meixner.

CEL — Sunday, November 18

This year’s Conference on English Leadership is chaired by NJCTE board member Kate Baker.

  • (B.2) Melding Tradition and Innovation in the 21st–Century Literacy Classroom — Sunday, November 18, 5:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m., 320B

Session presented by NJCTE president Audrey Fisch and board member Susan Chenelle.

Monday, November 19

  • (I.2) Tapping Local Talent — Monday, November 19, during opening session 8:00 a.m.-9:45 a.m.

Five-minute Ignite! session led by NJCTE board member Oona Marie Abrams.

  • (F.5) Tech Tool Showcase — Monday, November 19, 3:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Session presented by CEL convention chair and NJCTE board member Kate Baker.

NCTE Coffee Meetup for NJCTE Members and Friends – Saturday, Nov 17 @ 7am

Tech Tuesdays: Collaborative Annotation with Prism Scholar Lab

by Kathryn Nieves

Annotation tends to be an individual task. Unless students discuss their ideas and notes, students usually reserve this as a solo assignment. In order to pair educational technology with the idea of collaboration, teachers can use Prism Scholars Lab.

Prism Scholars Lab is an older website but still has a lot to offer for teachers and students today. Created as a small project, the website has expanded to include many more users, specifically students, who use it as a way to collaboratively analyze a text with their peers. Since it is a website, all devices with an internet browser, including mobile devices, can utilize the tool.

Both teachers and students need to have an account in order to use the website, though the site does allow for an automated Google sign-in in lieu of creating a username and password. On the website, there are three pages on the top: About, Browse, and MyPrisms. The About section offers information about the development of the website. Browse allows you to view public Prisms to collaborate with others or to get ideas for your own Prism. MyPrisms are the collaborative experiences that you have already built.

Prism Scholars Lab allows you to upload a text and provide opportunities for students to highlight and collaborate to analyze the text. For example, a user might post a poem and have students identify specific types of figurative language. Each Prism is equipped with three different color highlighters, each connected to a specific category of criteria of the user’s choice. The category of analysis depends on the individual class and the lessons being taught. Other examples could include identification of rhetorical devices or different schools of thought.

When you click on “MyPrisms,” you can create a new Prism, view your previously created ones, or view any public ones where you have made highlighted contributions. Selecting “New Prism” will allow you to create a brand new one for students. You will be brought to a new page where you must fill in the necessary information in order to create your collaborative Prism. You must fill in the content, such as the poem, song, article, or short text. Then you must fill in the requirements of each of the highlighter colors. A title must be given to the Prism, which should likely include some variation of the title of the original piece. The original author of the text must be provided, along with the date of publication.

The final requirements are selecting a language for the text, providing an optional description, such as giving directions for the participants in the Prism and indicating the license option for the text. The license relates to whether or not the text chosen is available for reuse. The website fully breaks down the levels of licenses for different types of use for easy identification.



One important feature of the creation of the Prism is the “Unlisted” button. By checking off that box, it signals that the Prism may only be accessed by people with the link. This indication means that outside members may not find it in the “Browse” section of the website. Choosing Unlisted will allow a teacher to just provide the link to the students so that collaborative annotation is just between peers.

Sharing the URL with your students will allow them access to contribute their highlighted annotations to the Prism. Students should select the highlighter color they want and then click on the words they would like to highlight. The eraser tool allows the student to get rid of any highlights that they want to revise.

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Students should hit “Save Highlights” once they are finished annotating the text.

Once they have highlighted their parts based on the directions provided, everyone will be able to visualize the selections of all of their classmates. Along the sidebar, there is an option that says “Font Size Visualizations.” When that is selected, students can see a change in the font size based on how many students selected the same answer they did. The larger the word, the more times it was selected. Students can choose the different highlighter colors to see each category.


The final product serves as a great point of discussion among a class. Students can discuss whether or not they agree with the final outcome of the Prism and it can serve as a jumping off point for larger class conversations about a particular text.

Tech Tuesdays: Collaborative Annotation with Prism Scholar Lab

Reflection on The National Day on Writing

by Audrey Fisch

The National Day on Writing® (October 20), an initiative of the National Council of Teachers of English, was created “on the premise that writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration.”


We at NJCTE, your New Jersey affiliate of NCTE, agree. Writing isn’t just, as NCTE notes, “pencil-and-paper assignments”; “writing is part of your life . . . . how you work, how you learn, how you remember, and how you communicate. It gives voice to who you are and enables you to give voice to the things that matter to you.”

This year, we asked our NJCTE members to share their responses to #WhyIWrite. Here are a few of the responses people posted.


srcnwk tweetafisch tweet

As we struggle with hateful and incendiary language and murderous violence, our collective voices about the power of writing are more important than ever. Let’s continue to, as NCTE says, work at “raising the volume” on writing and use our skills at writing to create an environment for civility and positive change – on our screens, in our classrooms, and on our pages.

Reflection on The National Day on Writing