Friday, November 23, 2012

#NCTE12 Reflections

 The theme for this year's NCTE convention was Dream, Connect, Ignite!  As I reflect back on my days in Las Vegas, I think these are great verbs for what happened to me.  Because of the amazing sessions I attended, I can "dream" of how to refine my own teaching practices.  I was able to "connect" in many ways - I connected my learning to others, I connected with old friends, and I connected with new friends as well.  And finally, "ignite!"  As I reread through my notes and my tweets and others' tweets from #ncte12, I am ready to ignite the learning that goes on with myself,  in my classroom, my school, my district, and my PLNs that span the nation.

When you get to hear many wonderful speakers at a convention like NCTE, it is hard to choose favorite quotes because there are sooooo many!  However, I'd like to quote Mary Ehrenworth (she presented with Lucy Calkins and Chris Lehman) right here.  Her quote, more or less, was, "Our students don't need good teachers, they need good schools." She went on to say that our students should not just feel lucky to get a certain teacher in a certain grade; rather, we as schools should be working together so that our students are getting the promise of a good school, so that it doesn't matter what teacher they have; we're all working hard together.  To achieve that, we need to put forth effort in having conversations with colleagues that allow that promise of a good school to happen.

That one concept really started my wheels spinning.  And I knew I wanted to try to pay things forward so that maybe conversations could begin with colleagues that either couldn't attend the sessions I did, or colleagues that couldn't attend the convention at all.  I decided I would take all my notes from Google Docs and share them.  Then, if anyone sees something that sparks their interest in these notes, maybe we could begin a conversation to further examine a topic together.  I'd love to begin a dialogue with anyone interested!!  Learning really is best done as a collaborative effort.

My brain was spinning with all the information I heard over four days, but there was also time for fun with friends as well; a huge part of why I love NCTE so much!!  Here are a few of those highlights:
  • Mary Lee and I playing our first slot machines ever under the wise tutelage of Franki
  • Sight-seeing the first morning with some central Ohio friends and a new poet friend, Amy
  • Listening to Natalie Merchant both read and sing poems from her new poetry book
  • Capturing Mary Lee holding the teacher's guide she wrote for Natalie Merchant's poetry book
  • Re-connecting with an author I met at a dinner last year, Janet Tashjian, the author of the My Life as a Book series
  • Getting a personal lesson from Mindi about how to make the braided scarf look while at the Nerdy Book Club party
  • Other notable highlights from the NBC party: talking to R. J. Palacio, author of Wonder, for almost 30 minutes, pictures with many NBC friends, watching Jonathan Auxier (author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes) tell the story of his book while doing intricate yo-yo tricks
  • running into Jon Scieszka while in the exhibit hall and sharing the story of how I lost my first copy of Knucklehead to someone who obviously loved it and having him sign my new copy
  • seeing many of my Choice Literacy friends - how proud I am to be associated with their smart thinking and love of fun!
  • a very long Saturday lunch with friends, full of catching up on each others' lives
  • going to see the Cirque de Soleil show, Love, featuring Beatles music -- it was amazing!!
  • Dinners with friends from all over
So there you have it!  #NCTE12 was a fabulous mix of learning, fun, camaraderie, and books galore!  I am very grateful for the experience!

My favorite slot machine - Grease!

Lunch after a morning of sightseeing before convention began

Natalie Merchant

MaryLee and the teacher guide she wrote!

Janet Tashjian - hope to see her in Ohio soon!

Mindi - how do you make a braided scarf? :)
What a privilege to talk to R. J. Palacio and connect as moms.

This pic with Donalyn reflects the attitude of the NBC party! :)

Jon Scieszka appreciating the loss of my first book and the reason for getting another!!

Choice Literacy friends, Joan and Gail - two of my favorite people!


  1. What a great idea Karen. I am so glad I got to see you there. Like you, I left NCTE ignited and excited to take my new learning and new books back to my classroom.

  2. What a great idea Karen. I had fun hanging out with you on Saturday night at NCTE. Like you, I left there excited to share my new learning and new books with my kids. Thanks for sharing.