Saturday, November 30, 2013

Celebration Saturday - NCTE Boston 2013

Discover. Play. Build.

 I'm so happy that Ruth Ayres started a Celebrate Link-Up on her blog!!!  I will be joining the celebration every Saturday!!

     Celebration Saturday is the perfect time to write about NCTE, especially since I met Ruth for the first time on Friday night there. I was very excited about that!  I needed a week to process the weekend since it was filled with so much learning, thinking, and excitement.  My friend, former colleague, and writing partner, Megan Ginther, and I planned on going several months ago.  Neither of us had ever been - it always seemed too far away and out of reach.  This year, however, for a number of reasons, we decided we couldn't miss it.  We're SO glad we made that decision, and I hope we will be able to go every year from now on.  We arrived late Thursday night (next year we want to be there Wednesday night - we missed some great session opportunities on Thursday) and were up bright and early Friday, trying to figure out our best plan of attack.  There were SO many good people presenting, and it seemed that no matter which great session we chose, we were going to miss some amazing sessions, too.  We were also privileged to meet with a publishing company representative about a book idea that morning.  We are passionate about this project, and we hope that it will come to fruition in the future.  NCTE was a step in the right direction for that to happen!
Beautiful view of Boston
     We settled on some great sessions Friday:  Pam Allyn from LitWorld inspired us to look at global literacy.  Here are some snippets from her talk:
- Children hunger for literature.
- Literacy only happens in a community.
- Humankind's greatest innovation is literacy itself.
- An audience of just the teacher is not going to work anymore.  The 21st century kid is a 21st century writer.  Our schools don't always match that.
-  LitWorld's Top 10 Messages:
   a.  Think locally, but act globally.
   b.  Trust the child's perspective.
   c.  Value human-centered designs.
   d.  Provide access to resources.
   e.  Campaign for gender equity.
   f.  Value the strength of community.
   g.  Emphasize year-round learning to combat the summer slide.
   h.  Believe in the power of authentic audience.
   i.  Believe that every child has a right to a childhood and to the joy of it.
   j. The child will lead the way.
     LitWorld is the sponsor of World Read Aloud Day in March of every year.  I participated for the first time last year, and it was fantastic!
     Our next  session was the Nerdy Book Club gathering - it was packed!  It was like the Who's Who of literacy leaders:  Teri Lesesne, Colby Sharp and Jenni Holm, Kellee Moye, Katherine Sokolowski, Cindy Minnich, and Donalyn Miller.  See why it was packed?!  I liked the format of this session a lot.  We sat around tables and the Nerdy Book Club presenters rotated around to us.  They all had many gems on how to promote reading and writing in our classrooms.  Slideshare contains many of their presentations.
                                         Katherine Sokolowski          Colby Sharp, Jenni Holm

Teri Lesesne

                                             Cindy Minnich                        Kellee Moye

     That night we attended a Choice Literacy dinner.  Brenda Power is one of the most generous people I know.  She made the night so very special.  What an incredible dinner and amazing company! 
 Holly and Megan
                                                              Choice Literacy Dinner Group
                                 Holly and Donalyn Miller         Franki Sibberson and Jen Vincent 
 Place setting and beautiful, personalized gifts
     Right after the delicious dinner, we headed over to the Sheraton where the Nerdy Book Club gathering was held.  I loved seeing friends like Louise Borden and Gigi McAllister there.  I have to admit, though; we left early because we were SO exhausted.  There were so many authors, Twitter friends, and literacy leaders there, I wish we had had the stamina to have stayed late into the night meeting and greeting, but we just couldn't.  We needed a do-over after a good night sleep!  The only consolation is that I know I will have opportunities in the future to see them all again.
     Saturday held more wonderful sessions after the EARLY ALAN breakfast featuring Judy Blume and Walter Dean Myers
     We saw the great Nancie Atwell and her daughter who taught us about teaching students to write memoirs.  We LOVED Christopher Lehman, Kate Roberts, and Maggie B. Roberts who talked about close reading.    Here are some gems of wisdom from their session:
- In order to learn anything, it takes a few things you can do well and you grow from there.
- Ritual for close reading:  Choose the lens/purpose for reading - over time, you can add lenses, look for patterns, look for understandings - you need to do something with close reading/make ideas.
- Teaching is a transaction.  It is a dialogue.  Really listen and watch. 
- You only get good at the things that you do.
- Close reading is not just something we do inside of text.  We can study this in our lives.  You don't need to close read the whole text.  Just like life.  You'll be neurotic if you constantly walk around close reading your whole life!
 - When you find a structure that you can repeat, less teaching needs to happen.
The three of them were so genuine, funny, and inspiring!
     We also attended a session led by author Deborah Wiles.  Both Megan and I are huge fans of Deborah, so we were really excited to hear her.  Go to her Pinterest page - it has a collection of pins for her books Countdown and Revolution.  A group of my students recently read Countdown for an historical fiction unit on the theme topic FEAR.

    Kate Roberts, Christopher Lehman, Maggie B. Roberts 
                             Holly, Deborah Wiles, Megan                       Nancie Atwell 
     That night we felt like we needed to get out of the hotel and convention center, so we tried to tough it out at Faneuil Hall Marketplace to watch the tree lighting, but it got way too cold.  We walked to an Italian restaurant in the North End called Bricco instead. Yum!

      On Sunday we could only attend one more session because of traveling back to Cincinnati.  We decided on Jeff Anderson, Matt Glover, and Kathy Collins.  They were definitely the right choice!  They were funny, poignant, and made us think about why we are teachers.  Takeaways from that session:

- All fear, depression, anxiety, etc. stems from either being in the past or worrying about the future - unfortunately, this is how we look at education too often.
- When you're aware of things that drain you and energize you, you can make different choices.
- The most important data is right there in front of us (the students).
- If everything is the priority, nothing is a priority.
- Joy is in the now.

     In between the sessions were author signings and Twitter friend hangouts:

Gae Polisner, Megan, Barbara O'Connor, Holly

                                               Jonathan Auxier                     Kirby Larson

Alyson Beecher, Holly, Cindy Minnich 

                             Louise Borden, Holly, Gigi McAllister   David Weisner
 Swag Bag!
    Megan and I got to hang out with Louise Borden at the airport since she was on our return flight.  She is so fun to know!  The whole experience was quite a celebration, and I definitely hope to return next year in Washington, D.C. for NCTE 2014.  There were educators and authors I wish I had been able to spend more time with and attend their presentations.  Next year!  Maybe Megan and I will even be presenting!  Time to write our proposal...
                                                                   Goodbye, Boston!




  1. It's amazing how technology has connected people. I wasn't at the NCTE but I recognized many of the names you mentioned from visiting their blogs.

    1. It really is! The moment you meet a Twitter or blog friend in real life is so fun!

  2. NCTE is definitely worth celebrating! I love your recap and all the photos. Chris, Kate, & Maggie's session was awesome. Their steps for close reading are so straightforward, they make it seem less overwhelming. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh it sounds heavenly! I wasn't able to attend this year, but your post put me in the middle of all the action. Thank you for taking the time to reflect and share your experiences. It helps those of us who weren't able to go, feel like we still get something out of it.

    1. It was such a great experience! I'm glad you enjoyed the recap!

  4. Your post is a joyful celebration. I hope that the energy and Inspiration of NCTE will last long through the winter. In spring it's the anticipation of next NCTE that will keep people going.

    1. It will definitely sustain me through the winter months. I have Dublin Literacy to look forward to in Feb., also! :-)

  5. What a great post about NCTE--so joyful. It makes me jealous and even more determined to make it next year!

  6. Sounds like a wonderful, wonderful learning experience and time of fellowship and rejuvention! NCTE is always one of my favorite conventions, but I haven't gone the last couple of years because of that kids in college thing. I'm starting a change jar, hoping I can save enough by next year to go make the trip.

    1. I completely understand! I hope that change jar gets full. :-)

  7. Holly,
    As I reflect on the event that is NCTE, I realize I learned a lot in terms of what to expect and what I'll do differently if I, God willing, am able to attend next year. One of the things I didn't do well was get enough pictures. I think my brain was so overwhelmed by what I was learning that capturing pics was just not part of the plan. put it on the list for next year though... thanks for sharing your learning.

  8. So wonderful to enjoy NCTE vicariously through reflections from blogger friends and fun pics. Thanks for the terrific post!

  9. Love the way you processed and shared this conference. National conferences are so overwhelming! I am truly grateful for every bit each person has shared. You let us live vicariously. :-)
    Good luck on your book proposal!

  10. Thanks for sharing about some of the sessions I "didn't" go to, Holly. It's great to see some of what they said too. Sorry I missed meeting you-another time?

  11. What a rich experience! So much sharing! I have had to experience NCTE virtually, but I've learned so much from all the posts.

  12. Holly~
    Like Linda you shared sessions I didn't go to! That made your post that much richer for me, thanks! This was my first year and I can't wait to go next year, but I need to learn to schedule my sessions better… a few missed opportunities due to poor prep! Even still it was AMAZING and with great post like yours I making up for the missed opportunities!

  13. So much fun! You got some great pictures! I wish I had taken more pictures...last year I was crazy about pictures and this year I just didn't. I loved every second of being in Boston and connecting with friends. So great to see you again! I'm excited that Nerdcamp isn't too far away, I hope you can come!