Sunday, November 25, 2012

English Teachers in Vegas?

I had to laugh when a tweet came across #ncte12 of a participant rolling in her Vegas winnings....books.  So what happens when English teachers go to Vegas?  We all come away a little richer; not in money, as I didn't hear about too many slot machine winners.  Instead we return rich in energy, inspiration, and thinking.

Tweeted by Jennifer Heymoss @jheymossy

Here's What I Won

Meeting Amy LV
  • Connections New:  Always one of the best things about NCTE's convention is the conversations with other educators.  Opportunities to listen to speakers share their latest thinking, chat with colleagues, and discuss education in +140 characters with Twitter educators who always push my thinking.  Somehow I never manage to meet everyone I hope to meet, but this year I did get to meet Alyson Beecher (@alybee930), Kristin Ziemke (@1stgradethinks), and Amy (@amylvpoemfarm).  How fun to finally make connections with educators I've been learning from for such a long time.  
  • Connections Old:  NCTE is the place where I have time to talk with local colleagues, educators I've connected with in previous years, and those I've collaborated with in projects here and there.  I'm always happy to have time to reconnect with Ohio's contingent which is well represented:  Sharon Esswein, Mary Lee Hahn, Julie Johnson, Tony Keefer, Mandy Robek, Franki Sibberson, Karen Terlecky and Stella Villalba.  I was also able to reconnect with Patrick Allen, Ann Marie Corgill, Katie Keier, Pat Johnson, JoEllen McCarthy, Jen McDonough, Debbie Miller, Donalyn Miller and brief hellos with Katherine Sokolowski and Jen Vincent.    
  • Connections with New Books:  Squeezing in time for exhibits is challenging with so many great sessions.  I did manage to go to the exhibits for a morning to talk with publishers about new picture books.  I hit the jackpot with a variety of review copies of new picture books soon to hit the shelves.  I can't wait to share them with the young readers in my classroom to see what they think.  You'll be seeing a few of these great titles soon right here.  
  • Connections with New Authors:  There are always opportunities at NCTE to meet the authors whose work supports the learning in our classrooms every day.  I spotted Lester Laminack, Kate Messner, and Ralph Fletcher among the crowds.  While attending NCTE I also discover authors new to me.  This year I attended sessions with authors Marla Frazee (who answered questions from the young writers in Lisa Cleveland's classroom) and Marissa Moss (who shared her process as JoeEllen McCarthy & Erica Pecorale shared ways to use her books as mentor texts).  It was eye opening to see their work collected in one place and listen to them talk about their writing process.  I will be adding a few of their books to our classroom library immediately. 
Nuggets to Ponder
While attending sessions I won a few golden nuggets to ponder.  
  • Students Need Reading Communities:  Donalyn Miller reminded me that reading communities benefit readers by increasing the amount of reading of members, fostering connections with other readers, challenging readers to stretch themselves, encouraging mindfulness, building empathy for the world, and inspiring readers to write.  
  • Reading Communities Can Be Grown Online:  Franki Sibberson talked about the way she uses blogging to grow her reading community and that of her students.  She reminded me that blogging allows us to save our thinking in new ways, it creates traditions, builds conversations, and gives readers a chance to say things they thought of later or didn't have the confidence to share in the group.  
  • Students Need to Own Learning:  Sir Ken Robinson reminded me that "creativity is the way you live your life" and that imagination and creativity aren't the same as "to be creative you have to do something."  
  • Technology Helps Us to Make Thinking Visible:  Kristin Ziemke shared ways the young readers in her classroom thoughtfully use technology to discover, learn more, and share with others.  She shared ways her students read with a question in mind and then tell where they found the answer.  She shared ways she uses Croak ItBook CreatoreBookKeynote and Songify among other applications for first graders to share their thinking about reading. 
  • Students (and Teachers) Need Time to Reflect:  Kelly Gallagher, Tom Newkirk and Penny Kittle reminded me of the importance of having time for reflection and writing that matters to students.  Gallagher said, "We need the kind of writing that comes from reflection."  Kittle reminded us that "story drives all kinds of writing."  She shared ways she supports students to "find their own opinions, talk, and compose evidence" to support their thinking.  Newkirk reminded us that narrative is "the core of how we write ---- it's who we are."  
  • Students Need Opportunities to Find Their Stories:  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater reminded me that "writing is more about discipline than talent."  Marissa Moss suggests teachers help young writers to know their lives are interesting.  Georgia Heard suggests we try to figure out why children are writing something and what their beliefs are about writing.  JoEllen McCarthy reminds us that books are essential co-teachers of writing in our classrooms as authors help students to discover the ways to tell their stories.  Jen McDonough and Kristin Ackerman shared ways to set clear goals with students and support their growth as writers.  
  • My Tweets:  I've used Snap Bird and Google Drive to archive my tweets from the convention.  
Books Added to My "To Be Read" Pile 


  1. Cathy--I loved reading your post and am realizing how much I will need to re-read and revisit the links and learning from everyone at #NCTE12. I love the "gold nuggets" idea--what a smart way to synthesize your learning while providing such meaningful lessons and reminders for us too! I have been working on my NCTE recap off and on today, and I'm finding it's a bit LONG. Hmmm...I'm thinking I need to request permission from you to use your gold nugget idea to capture the big themes and ideas and then to get myself blogging again, really flesh out what each of the nuggets mean to teachers, parents, colleagues, and kids? This is why I LOVE learning from my friends all over the country! Thank you for helping me and teaching me so much always!
    :), Ann Marie

  2. I enjoyed reading your 'nuggests" and "winnnings." What a fun way to share your learning from Vegas. I look forward to reading future posts, and hope you will post on text sets, which one of your tweets eluded to.