Friday, November 23, 2012

Kellee's NCTE/ALAN Reflection and Recap!!!


     Two years ago I did two things that truly changed my life. First, I stopped lurking on Twitter and just jumped in. Second, I attended the NCTE annual conference followed by the ALAN workshop. These two things are two of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. Now, 2 years later, I find myself a member of the amazing #nerdybookclub with a bunch of phenomenal educators and children/YA lit lovers, a moderator of a monthly twitter chat, a member of a professional learning network that a gal couldn’t even dream of, part of a book award committee, and even a presenter at the annual conference this year. What an amazing number of things that happened in only two years!

     This year, we found ourselves in the crazy city of Las Vegas for the convention. I arrived Wednesday evening and immediately it felt like a family reunion. My roomies welcomed me with open arms and the fun began. First, we had to decorate the room as only a bunch of Nerdy Book Clubbers would:

     Most of the time, the socializing happened within our room (because it doesn't matter where NCTE is, it is about the people and the sessions) though we did find time to go see the Bellagio fountains which were PHENOMENAL and actually live up to the hype: 

     Friday was the most exciting day for me, because it was my presentation day! I felt so lucky to be accepted to present with my wonderful panel of friends and talk about what I am most passionate about - helping struggling readers find that love of reading that we have:
     I was so nervous, but it went so well! I will say I learned that it is important for me to plan what I am going to say, but I do so much better if I don't have notes or cards to stare at. The room was packed (people were sitting on the floor!) and the session went so smooth. My wonderful presentation group included author Beck McDowell, high school English teacher Gordon Hultberg, elementary literacy specialist Lynne Eichel, myself, high school English teacher Jennifer Fountain and elementary teacher Katherine Sokolowski. If you want to see our presentation or get the handout for the session go here or here.
     My highlight of the session, though, was the reactions that I got afterwards. Hearing teachers share how our session had changed their thinking, made them more passionate, or open their eyes makes me just tear up thinking about it. I am so glad that I was able to bring this session to NCTE and hope that it did help at least one teacher out there.

      I attended some amazing sessions while at the conference. Not one of them were a disappointment and I took home so much from each of them:
          -Teaching: The questions we ask and the answers we find with Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle
          -Engaging Boys as Readers and Writers with Ralph Fletcher and Chris Crutcher
          -Playing with Words
          -Nerdy Book Club: Teacher Readers Building Reading Communities
          -Oral language and literacy: Building academic discourse with ELL 
          -Engaged Note-taking for all contents with Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman

     Here are some of my favorite quotes, thoughts, etc. from the 6 days I was lucky enough to spend at this conference:

  • First we need to get students reading before we can increase complexity -Penny Kittle
  • Only way to get a kid to catch up in reading and writing is to have more time to read and write. -Kelly Gallagher
  • Need to get the boys' humor to reach boys. -Ralph Fletcher
  • There's this idea that boys don't read, but they read all kinds of things. -Chris Crutcher
  • Allow students to experiment with ways to write. -Chris Lehman
  • You make time for what is important. Reading in class shows that it's important. -Jennifer Fountain
  • 6th graders aren't reading books that are getting them ready for college? Good! They are in 6th grade! -Teri Lesesne
  • Why can't a book have both- literary and a great story? -Shannon Hale
  • Wanted to show that you first need to fall in love with yourself. -Rae Carson
  • Ingredients for a good classroom: Fair, Firm and Funny. -Jeff Kaplan
  • Middle schoolers are trying to find their voice. I want to compel students to read and empower readers to change their condition. -Sharon Flake
  • Historical fiction helps us heal hearts. -Ruta Sepetys
  • YA books help kids figure out their place in the world. -Lauren Myracle
  • I just try to be honest with my characters. -Matt de la Pena
  • We owe it to our young people to reassure them. To let them know that they hold a possibility to heal the world. -Lois Lowry
  • 12 to 15 year olds have grown up entirely in the shadow of 9/11 and the war of terror. It is ever present and we don't talk about it. -EM Kokie
  • The power of "What if..." -Kate Messner
  • Middle grade literature allows students a safe place to respond to situations. -Jody Feldman
  • Books are not either entertainment or moral conscience; it is often about truth. -Rebecca Stead
  • Treat kids as thinkers of power and people with voices. -Blue Balliett
  • Cultivating a love of reading fiction as a tool for understanding the world. -Jo Knowles  

NCTE Exhibit Hall
    The part of the conference that is the easiest to share with you all, though, is the authors that I was lucky enough to meet while visiting the exhibition hall:
Seymour Simon                                            Daniel Handler
Matt de la Pena                                                           Jonathan Auxier
Cecil Castellucci                                        Roland Smith
Linda Sue Park                                             E. Lockhart
Candace Fleming
Chris Crutcher 
Sherman Alexie!
Geoff Herbach 
Kelly Gallagher
Kate Messner, Jody Feldman, Blue Balliett, Rebecca Stead and Jo Knowles
who we ran into as they were planning for their ALAN session
Karen Hesse!!!!
*This was a huge moment for me. There are 5 authors who are definitely my rock stars and I could not wait to meet- Anthony Horowitz, Lois Lowry, Sharon Creech, Ann M. Martin and Karen Hesse and I have now met 3/5. I am going to write a post in the future about why these authors are so important to me.*

Nerdy Book Club Poster Party (Viva Nerd Vegas) 
Chris Lehman                                         Jonathan Auxier
RJ Palacio                                                                      Jenni Holm
 Scholastic Brunch
The authors gracious enough to speak (and do readers theater!) at the Scholastic Brunch
Eliot Schrefer
 ALAN Workshop
Maggie Steifvater                                       Shannon Hale
David Lubar                                           Kristin Cashore
Sharon Flake                                        Patricia McCormick
Deborah Ellis                                         Sonya Sones
Dave Roman                                     Mark Siegel
Robin Wasserman                                  Rebecca Stead

Paul Griffin
Joan Bauer
Rae Carson
Raina Telgemeier
Faith Erin Hicks 
Lois Lowry
Scott Westerfeld
Kate Messner

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Panel and Presentation

Lauren Myracle (AEWA recipient)             Ruta Sepetys (AEWA finalist)
Lauren Myracle



And there were so many other tweeps as well that I forgot to get pictures of (I get so into talking to them, I forget to take photos!) - it was wonderful to see you all!!

I cannot wait until next year and I hope you can join us if you didn't make it this year!

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