A year ago, I attended the NCTE2019 conference in Baltimore. I even had the privilege of presenting. Twice. You can read about it HERE. I left Baltimore planning to attend NCTE2020 in Denver, my first trip ever to Colorado. I submitted two proposals. One was chosen. Then Covid.
Instead of booking a hotel and arranging air travel this Fall, I created a slideshow and recorded myself sharing my story of using Reading Notebooks in my classroom. So did three of my colleagues. An added bonus (and probably what tipped the scales to being picked to present), the author, Avi agreed to work with us! We asked if he would be willing to read-aloud one of his short-stories during the presentation. This would allow our audience participants to listen and think and create their own reading notebook page. He agreed and chose the story from The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers entitled Tighty-Whities or Boxers? Currently, our presentation is available part of the On-Demand portion of the conference. Our link can be viewed by the 1000s of NCTE participants for the next 60 days.
Last Thursday through Tuesday evening, I participated in the LIVE portion of the NCTE virtual conference. I learned from all the big names in Literacy. Lucy and Steph and Cornelius and Kylene and Georgia and Kelly and Penny. I took pages of notes. I heard recommendations for the hottest new books. And I saved so much money. Hotel. Airplane. Restaurant meals. All free at the virtual conference.
However, it just wasn’t the same. I missed being in the physical presence of other passionate teachers of literacy as we listened together. I missed applauding with them as Trevor Noah share his love of reading fiction. “The stories I read shape me! It is safe to explore topics in fiction.” I missed the room erupting when author, Angie Thomas stated emphatically, “There are no struggling readers. There are only unimpressed readers. To hook all kids on books, we need to change the bait. Kids want books they can connect with. And by the way, books are graphic novels. Books are video game walk-thrus.” I love how she used the metaphor of the movie, Back to the Future. I know the room would have been filled with applause when she shared “The DeLorean is the teacher’s bookshelves! One chance meeting CAN change the future. Be sure to share a variety to the ‘Marty McFlys’ so they don’t become ‘Biffs’. Be sure to diversify your DeLorean!”
Day in and day out, I’m the lone teacher in my classroom, cheering on my students to read, read, read. I missed the opportunity to attend the NCTE2020 pep rally, surrounded by 1000s, all devoted to promoting literacy just like me. I missed being able to give Trevor a standing ovation at the end of his Keynote, as he praised his English teachers, “Teacher taught me how to understand, not just read each letter. Teachers taught me to read the intention of the words on the page.”
Some More Favorites:
Aida Salazar – author of Land of the Cranes – honest story of ICE told by a 9 year old character in verse
Micah Boures – amazing spoken-word poet
NIkki Grimes – love that NCTE ALAN honored her with an award!
LOVE her biography of Kamala Harris!
Jason Reynolds – he said “being at NCTE is like having created the basketball and now you are in the room with 1000 coaches who are ready to teach how to use it.” I love how he talks in metaphor! When asked what he wants his legacy to be, he said, “I want people to say he tried really heard and he made it feel like magic.” His books are magic to me!
Here’s the padlet I posted to throughout the virtual conference. In the first column is a link to my presentation!