Tuesday, May 5, 2015

TC Tuesday: Dan Dooher awarded Gallo Grant

An interview with Dan Dooher, Gallo Grant awardee:

What or who ALAN? 
This is a common question. As a member of ALAN and after attending the 2014 workshop, I'm apt to say, I'm ALAN. In all seriousness though, ALAN stands for The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE. It is a professional assembly within the National Council of Teachers of English. ALAN is a collection of educators, librarians, and publishers with an interest in literature for adolescents and its promotion through professional articles, conferences, and through the ALAN membership. ALAN hosts a two day workshop each year following NCTE's Annual Convention to promote community within its membership and celebrate books. Each attendee of the ALAN Workshop is given a box of amazing Young Adult Literature (YAL) titles. If you love YAL, this is the greatest organization ever. Its members make it so, and if you haven't joined yet, you too could be ALAN.

What is the Gallo Grant?
I think the website states it well:
The Gallo Grants were established in 2003 by former ALAN Award and Hipple Award recipient Don Gallo to encourage educators in their early years of teaching to attend the ALAN Workshop for the first time.  The grants provide funding—up to $750 each—for two classroom teachers in middle school or high school each year to attend the ALAN Workshop. (The amount of a grant may be less than $750 if the applicant lives within commuting distance of the convention location where airfare and housing would not be necessary or has access to other funding).  In addition to the $750 grant, the registration fee for the workshop will also be covered.

How did you first hear about the Gallo Grant?
I was fortunate enough to participate in the Red River Valley Writing Project's 2013 Intensive Summer Institute. There I met Kelly Sassi, Director of the Red River Valley Writing Project and ALAN member, who encouraged me to apply. I applied for the Gallo Grant in 2014 during my fifth and final year of eligibility. I'm grateful to Don Gallo and C.J. Bott for selecting me for this wonderful opportunity.

What was the best part of the workshop?
My short answer is the people and the workshop's theme. 

Attending the workshop allowed me to meet many passionate teachers, publishers, authors, and experts in the field of adolescent literature. As an avid reader and advocate for more opportunities for students to read self-selected materials in schools, I was able to meet many like minded colleagues that I hope to have the opportunity to connect with again this fall.

Along with the people, ALAN’s 2014 theme, “Is the sky the limit? Using teen literature to forge connections in a world with disappearing boundaries” was a perfect fit for my own learning.  As a teacher, I strive to provide my students with books that can serve as mirrors into their own lives and windows into our greater world of experiences. Reading can change everything, and by learning about a wide range of books from authors, teachers, and publishers, I left the conference a more knowledgeable advocate for diverse literature within my school and community.

Now that you have participated in the ALAN workshop, what do you plan to do?
I want to continue to promote YAL in my classroom, school and in our local community. Providing students access to great stories, time to read and talk about the books, and finally, having a caring adult who can help guide them on their journey as a reader can make all the difference. I coordinate a YAL book club for teachers and librarians, and I usually present to preservice English teachers a few times a year to share my passion for creating lifelong readers. Stories build empathy, spread joy, and better our community. I feel fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful community of readers.

In the digital world, I recently began writing reading guides for Don Gallo and Will Weaver's new digital YAL platform called Lit Weaver. It's currently in the beta testing stages (in April they are offering a free year subscription to those who register), which means teachers can access lots of short stories, essays, plays, and poems by well known YAL authors for free and share them with their students digitally. I'm really excited to about this project, and I hope many teachers will check it out.

Finally my biggest goal after attending ALAN is to communicate with as many teachers in Minnesota & North Dakota about the ALAN Workshop taking place in the Twin Cities on November 23-24. This year's theme is "Viva la Reading Revolution," and I hope to see you there!