Sunday, November 22, 2009

NCTE 2009

While there is more that I learned at NCTE than I can possibly share in a blog post, here is what is going through my mind as I am back at home and should be in bed. No particular order ...
  • If you have not read Clyde Edgerton, do. Then have your students read his work. Laugh and see the honesty of humanity all in one place. Thank you Yvonne Mason for introducing me to both the man and his writing.
  • Still pondering: Why do boys stop reading? Maybe it is because they have learned to hear the question, "Are you reading?" as "Are you reading fiction?" Maybe they are reading more than we know, but they are reading things we do not "count" as reading?
  • Philadelphia has done a remarkable thing with their convention center -- to see a beautiful and modern convention center fit inside an old train depot was breathtaking. Kudos to this urban wisdom.
  • Great idea from B38: Rediscovering ourselves as readers. Ask students to bring in the last book they truly enjoyed reading (no matter how long ago they read the book). On one day in class, all start rereading these personal favorites. Give the class and you time to finish the rereading out of class then discuss (together, in essays, ...) what each reader learned about themselves as a reader -- how this book marks a moment in their lives as readers. Let them rediscover why they like to read then take that enthusiasm into their reading with you.
  • (I twittered this one, so move along if you follow my tweets ...) Have students pair up throughout a text. For each chunk of reading, they switch roles: one posts quotes they find particularly noteworthy; the other responds to the quotes. Gives variety to reading responses through both alternating roles and immediate collaboration. Great way to use blogs/nings/discussion boards.
  • Everyone deserves an "open destiny." "Even fictional characters deserve to have hope." (Emma Walton Hamilton)
  • Still pondering: Can being more careful with the semantics of how we talk about grammar help us to better define the learning we hope to engender in our students? Think about the progression underlying these three terms: GRAMMAR --> USAGE --> RHETORIC
  • Great presentation on comedy from G38: A paraphrase of Chris Rock ... Comedy deals with things we would be uncomfortable with if we weren't laughing. Still pondering how to craft my dream elective, "Why don't we ever read anything happy?"
  • Did you know Art Spiegelman drew Garbage Pail Kid trading cards??
  • Paused for a long time on this one from Kelly Gallagher (my best memory of a quote): "Kids see reading today as a means to taking a test." Ninth graders have had NCLB in their lives since third grade ... what does that mean they make of their education?
  • Why do some people put the work into sending in a presentation proposal then not prepare a full presentation? Nothing was more of a downer than reading about a presentation and getting excited by what it would have to offer to find that it was over 25 minutes into the session block and I had missed out on the first half of other sessions. Thank you to each presenter who worked hard to craft an engaging and informative session (@tomliamlynch was a perfect example).
  • If you have any doubts (which I have had at times), Twitter is truly a relationship builder. I have attended the past two NCTE conferences without any colleagues, and this year I was able to attend with both an actual school colleague (Jennifer Clark Evans) and my Twitter network of colleagues. To meet in person the written voices I have learned so much from (@readinator, @ydmason, @klbz, @msstewart, @englishcomp, @iMrsF, and almost @nooccar ... I am sure I am missing someone) was something my Web 2.0 work offered that the convention could never have done all on its own.
Off to bed to make it through the next two and a half days before Thanksgiving. This weekend was a perfect pre-Thanksgiving celebration for me.


  1. It was great to meet you too, Susanne! I would love to visit your school sometime.

    @tomliamlynch 's presentation rocked so much that I went into a total panic about mine. (Realized that I'd forgotten speakers, didn't have enough opportunities for audience participation, etc.) Not only was Tom kind enough to respond to a question about his audio speakers, he also loaned them too me for my preso. He also told me that he presented one year and only 4 people were there. (The brutal Sunday morning spot.) Talking with him was incredibly encouraging to an NCTE newbie.


  2. I had a funny exchange with one of our English teachers today-she attended NCTE. Anyway, I was inquiring how the conference went and that I heard lots gr8 things about it. She looked at me perplexed because she was wondering where a tech/science guy could have gotten such a good summary. I replied, that all of my info came via twitter and that yes I follow English teachers and librarians.

    Let's just say I've got her wondering about twitter.

    Be well.


  3. Nice summary, Susanne. I also read that Chris Rock quote on the plane, and I felt vindicated in absconding with a copy of the Delta flight magazine after I saw the the F38 presenter, Ms. Reese, had one too.