Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reflections about #NCTE16 - #SOL 11/29/16

With all the activity of the Thanksgiving holiday, it's hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago this Wednesday evening, I was arriving in Atlanta for the 2016 NCTE convention.

As I reflect back on my time in Atlanta, I can't help but think the convention was just one HUGE family reunion.

Like a reunion, there were the initial hugs when seeing friends for the first time, there were the hugs that happened sporadically throughout the weekend, and then there were the bittersweet goodbye hugs.

There was a great deal of time spent in social gatherings, complete with food, beverages, and lots and lots of laughter, tears, and conversations. And in this family, there were books - lots of books - and conversations about books as well!

But my biggest take-away from NCTE 2016 is what a brilliant "family" I belong to!! I spent the last two days reading through my notes, looking at tweets (#NCTE16), and scrolling through the pictures I took; I am overwhelmed at the generosity of this NCTE family! The people I spend time with play a huge role in how I grow as a professional, and I so appreciate the time this group puts into sharing with one another.

Here are just a few of the thoughtful statements I heard from various "family members" at the reunion:

  • Jen Allen - If everything is the same, we risk losing the identity of teachers and students.
  • Cris Tovani - We need to have engagement time for practice, wipe-outs, and do-overs for students as they are learning.
  • Franki Sibberson - Be careful that the story students tell about themselves is not just a test score.
  • Ann Marie Corgill - Relationships and deep conversations about important books matter.
  • Katharine Hale - With technology, we create windows to what students are thinking.
  • Kristin Ziemke - Be careful that we don't judge a child's story but the chapter we walk in on.
  • Ellin Keene - Reading synthesis is how our comprehension changes as we read; we revise our thinking.
  • Matt Glover - Important for students to read unfamiliar books. The thinking they do is different.
  • Terry Thompson - Let's reframe the gradual release model. Focus on 4 conditions for scaffolding: focus, flexibility, feedback, responsibility.
  • Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan - We are trying to do too much in each lesson; we need to give students time to learn and trust their wisdom.
  • Dorothy Barnhouse - We need to start complex thinking by using simple text; leading to complex thinking in complex text. This is a form of gradual release.
  • Barbara O'Connor - I start with the title, and then I really get to know my characters. It is important that the characters have flaws.
  • Augusta Scattergood- Read each chapter and look for small astonishments.
  • Kirby Larson - As a writer, I'm a beachcomber. I never know if I'll use the treasures, but I keep them anyway.
  • Sara Ahmed - We must make all kids visible in our learning communities. Identity webs are one way to do so.
  • Laura Robb - Choice allows kids to invest in the books they are reading.
  • Kylene Beers - The best questions are to be explored, not answered. If you already know the answer, it's not a real question.
  • Jeff Anderson - The most important parts of conversation are listening and trust.
  • Donalyn Miller - How can we guarantee that all the kids we serve have access to books 365 days a year?
I'm so grateful all these people and thousands more came to the reunion to celebrate who we are as a family. I loved every hug, every conversation, the food, the drink, the books, the learning. Looking forward to our reunion next year in St. Louis! Hope many of you can join us there!

In the meantime, a huge thanks to the gracious team at Two Writing Teachers who host Slice of Life each week. Thanks so much!!

In the meantime, a huge thanks to the gracious team at Two Writing Teachers who host Slice of Life each week. Thanks so much!!


  1. Karen,
    You have some awesome quotes for some of the sessions that I couldn't make . . . too many fabulous ones at the exact same time! Thanks for sharing! And yes, time spent with "our family" - that's exactly what #NCTE16 was!

  2. Awesome recap -- I love all these quotes!! Thank you so much for sharing and being part of our brilliant family!!!

  3. Love this! So great connecting with you there, friend.

  4. I dream of attending NCTE again! Partly because I want to actually MEET everyone that I have been visiting online for years!
    And so many terrific quotes!!!! The two I think I will be thinking about all day are Franki's (spoken by a woman who has spent the past three days giving the Istation computer reading test) and Terry Thompson's (I want to know more about this one!)

    1. Carol - I would love to have a Google chat with you sometime about that or any other questions you had!! Let me know.

  5. I love hearing your tidbits and envy you the experience! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Books, hugs and a wealth of wisdom - can't get better than this. I am happy for you that you were abel to attend the conference.