Sunday, November 13, 2011

NCTE Approaches: Are You Going?

The other day while facilitating a group of science teachers through the first cycle of lesson study, I compared our professional development work together to a vacation. Teachers at my school feel overwhelmed. The science teachers are juggling a new end of course exam, a new teacher evaluation system, shortened class periods and a merry-go-round of meetings. Like them, I sometimes feel green-faced, a little sick over the turn education is taking in my state. Regardless, we still have students to teach, books to read, conversations to have, and things to learn. Learning, for me, is a vacation. I encouraged the science teachers to think of lesson study that way. Time out of our classrooms (and current edu-troubles) to learn with each other. NCTE is my time out.

Like Gary Anderson, I'm excited about learning with my friends at NCTE! Part of that learning happens while presenting. This year, I have the honor of presenting with dynamic duo, Gary Anderson and Tony Romano. Here are the details for our session:

Zapping Apathy: Creating a Sense of Community in English Classes, Friday, November 18, 2011: Session D.27.I'm going to talk about hands-on community building (The Marshmallow Challenge), writing in community (This I Believe Goes Global) and building community using technology (cell phones in the classroom).

NCTE is my time to listen and learn from the masters. The teacher-writers I call education Rock Stars. If I name a few and you search the NCTE convention program for their sessions, be sure to save me a seat if you beat me to the room!

Thursday I'm heading to the Waldorf Room in the Hilton at 2:30 p.m. for "Talking Writer to Writer" with Douglas Kauffman, Penny Kittle and Linda Rief. I'll follow that with Cris Crutcher keynoting the Secondary Section get together at 4:30 in the International Ballroom in the Hilton.

Top picks for Friday include "Defending Intellectual Freedom" with John Green, "Literary Criticism" with Tim Gillespie and colleagues from Lake Oswego High School, and "High School Matters" round table extravaganza.  Janet Allen, Gordon Korman, Linda Rief and Kate Messner are Saturday highlights. They will keynote the Middle Mosaic, one of my favorite sessions! Before the Mosaic though, I plan to tweet my way through the #engchat session with Menoo Rami, Donalyn Miller and Cynthia Minnich and then hop over to the Poetry Parade!

My son is meeting me on Sunday and staying through ALAN. He's registered for the conference and will likely fly up alone (a first). Joan Kaywell inspired me to register him after his visit to ALAN last year. He loved folding origami Yoda with Tom Ankleberger. He talked all year about meeting authors. This year he'll get his own box of books; we're going to use them for the Project for Awesome. I'm going to pay him $1 per book he gets signed. Joan Kaywell even suggested I let others pay him to stand in signing lines for them. Do you think he needs a work-for-hire shirt for that?

Kaywell used to do that for her son, Stephen. That way he earned money for Christmas. Isn't that a great idea? So, if you'd like to hire my son, Collin, just keep your eye out. He'll likely be the 10 year-old sitting in the front row with his Mom.

I can't visit Chicago without taking a field trip to the Art Institute, so that's a must for Sunday afternoon. Did you know they let you photograph the art? Looking through the lens changed my perspective last fall. I want to investigate a good restaurant or two and maybe walk the long green lawn to the Natural History museum like I did when I was 6.

It's going to be a great conference! I hope to see you in Chicago!