So much thinking and reflecting after listening to very smart people present! I will try to touch on some of the highlights from the other sessions I attended.
Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis talked about inquiry in the literacy workshop. One of Stephanie's first statements and a theme throughout the session was: "We need to teach kids how to be curious and to wonder." What a powerful statement. Comprehension should not be about answering a bunch of questions; it should be about teaching kids to wonder and think. I'm thinking about how that will influence my own thinking in the classroom. My goal will not be to get students to a final answer per se, but rather to have them continuing to ask bigger and bigger questions in their pursuit of knowledge.
Listening to Brenda Power, Gail Boushey, and Joan Moser (friends from Choice Literacy) speak about how to successfully launch a literacy year was very inspiring. Their tips would be important whether you're starting a brand new school year, a new grading period, or even a new week. What are the rituals in my classroom that continue to build community which in turn fosters bigger thinking and risk-taking? I will also be playing close attention to how many minutes I might be talking before students start to exhibit "good-bye" behavior. Gail and Joan also quoted Aimee Buckner: "If conferences go longer than 5 minutes, what will the students remember?" Great quote and food for thought.
I went to a session that was advertised for primary teachers, but I found it very informative as an intermediate teacher as well. Katie DiCesare, Kathy Collins, Cathy Mere, and Ann Marie Corgill talked about the importance of picture books to help students as readers and writers.
- Katie really got me thinking about how I can be more proactive with online tools in making books accessible to children.
- Kathy C. had me thinking about how important wordless picture books can be. I loved how she called these books the "great equalizers" full of wonderful language opportunities, with a spotlight on comprehension.
- Cathy M. opened up the question about what truly is a "just right" book. She also believes in the value of choice for readers. My favorite thing she said was that choice is important, even if students spend too long in a series or read a book with bad writing.
- Cathy and Katie both impressed me with what they've done with their first graders in KidBlog. I had planned to start KidBlog this week with my students even before NCTE; this just reinforced how important an online community like this can be for children.
- Last, but definitely not least, Ann Marie talked about how picture books can be the catalysts for academic and social growth. I love her thinking about how to get students to STOP raising their hand; how school is the only place that type of communication takes place. Ann Marie talked about how we need to intentionally teach students how to have meaningful talk.
I was enroute to the Orlando airport when MaryLee Hahn, Aimee Buckner, Donalyn Miller, and Franki Sibberson presented about the importance of reading workshop and its components, so unfortunately I missed their session which I heard was just wonderful! However, the wonder of twitter is that many people in that session (including the presenters!) were tweeting prolifically. That made it easier for those of us who couldn't attend these ladies' session to take away some key points (140 characters or less :) ). I would strongly encourage readers to go to twitter and then type in #ncte10. This will show you everything being tweeted during the conference. Since people were tweeting about many sessions, you'll want to look at Nov. 21 and find these ladies' twitter names: @maryleehahn, @frankisibberson, @aimeebuckner, and @donalynbooks.
But, it's not just the sessions that help you grow professionally at a conference like NCTE. It's the conversations you have over breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks that help your thinking and help you stay connected in this incredible community of educators and authors. I had the good fortune to have both lunch and dinner with the incredible Louise Borden. I met with some of my friends at Choice Literacy several times, and Brenda Power who started Choice Literacy, arranged a lovely dinner for the entire group of us. I was also fortunate enough to attend a dinner sponsored by the Macmillan Publishing Company. The food was amazing, and I got to spend personal time with authors such as Barbara O'Connor and Ellen Potter. I name these two wonderful authors because my class started the year with The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara, and we literally just finished SLOB by Ellen Potter. I am delighted to now have in my possession Ellen's next book, The Kneebone Boy!! It might actually be my next read aloud, it's that good! (check back next week for a review ) Good conversations even happen when you're in transit from one place to another: I shared a cab with someone I wasn't following on twitter, but after our cab conversation, that will be changing! Paul W. Hankins is a very smart guy! And to cap off my convention experience, I ran into Barbara O'Connor and Kirby Larson having coffee as I'm walking to the convention center and it ends up being a fun photo op. :)
This is just a sample of the thinking that I've held on to even a week after this amazing event. For more samples of NCTE reflections, check out:
Katie at Creative Literacy (who is WAY more succinct than I am at capturing her thinking - something to which I can aspire!) :)
Cathy at Reflect and Refine (a colleague who always pushes my thinking!)
Julie at Raising Readers and Writers (who was also the winner of this year's Donald Graves writing award!!)
MaryLee at A Year of Reading (I have been learning with this lady since 1986 / what a gift!)