Sunday, November 28, 2010

NCTE Reflections

It's hard to believe that a week ago I was in Orlando attending NCTE's Annual Convention. It seems like yesterday, and it seems like it's been months, all rolled into one.

There was time Wednesday evening after we got in for my one Disney Experience. I chose Epcot. We rode a few rides, took a brief walking tour of the world, hugged Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too, and saw the amazing fireworks.

Thursday was my Vacation in Florida Experience. I swam laps in an outdoor pool, made some vitamin D the old fashioned way, and caught my breath from the whirlwind week of teaching, grading, and sub plans.

Thursday evening at the Elementary Section Get-Together, Stenhouse Editorial Director Philippa Stratton received the NCTE Outstanding Educator in the Language Arts Award, and our blogging pal from Hilliard, Julie Johnson, received the Donald Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing. At dinner, I sat next to Louise Borden and across from/next to Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis. (mandatory name-dropping)

Friday morning, I was due at the Yacht Club for a 7am Children's Literature Assembly board meeting. Disney Magic got me there on time with a magic carpet ride my very own van ride as the sun rose. After the board meeting, and upon my return to Coronado Springs, I snuck into the end of the Poets and Bloggers session, did some hard thinking in a session about how to teach 21st Century Literacies in spite of the "reforms" that would make sure our students can pass a test but not ensure that they would grow up THINKING, and got another dose of poetry at the Poetry for Children Notables session. Friday evening was all about the communities of writers I am privileged and honored and proud to belong to: the Stenhouse reception was followed by the Choice Literacy dinner. (Too many names to drop without forgetting some, but I would be remiss if I didn't thank Stenhouse for continuing to include me as one of their own, and Brenda Power for her incredible generosity, creative vision, and passion for teaching and leading.)

Saturday sessions/thinking: using conferences in writing workshop as a kind of formative assessment; smart ways to use picture books; three hours of talking about books and winnowing our list of Notables (fabulous committee, must drop names: Mary Napoli, April Bedford, Nancy Roser, Donalyn Miller, Yoo Kyung Sung, Tracy Smiles), and then a dinner sponsored by Macmillan. The authors at the dinner were fun, but it was also great to spend a little time with Elaine Magliaro, Trisha Stohr-Hunt, Karen Terlecky, and Barbara O'Connor. (drop, drop)

On Sunday, those who attended the Children's Literature Assembly breakfast were treated to an amazing talk by David Wiesner about his newest book, ART AND MAX. (There was much bantering later on Twitter between certain pairs of friends -- @donalynbooks / @PaulWHankins, and @maryleehahn / @frankisibberson -- about who is Art and who is Max.)

More about ART AND MAX here and here.

After the breakfast, I presented on reading workshop with Franki, Aimee Buckner and Donalyn Miller, then raced to Coronado Ballroom H and presented about the 2010 Notables (2009 books). After we talked briefly about the 30 books, there were 8-minute roundtable sessions with some of the authors. I got to hear Rebecca Stead (WHEN YOU REACH ME), Alexis Frederick-Frost (ADVENTURES IN CARTOONING), Ching Yeung Russell (TOFU QUILT), and Linda Barrett Osborne (TRAVELING THE FREEDOM ROAD). (drop, drop)

Two of my favorite people to run into in the hallways or in sessions were Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Heidi Mordhorst. We know each other mostly on our blogs, but it's amazing how well we know each other. Heidi picked right up on my penchant for purple, and I gave her an idea for her next book. Amy and I sat on a bench in the hallway and chatted like sorority sisters.

(This post is getting way too long and I'm 1/2 hour over budget time-wise, but we're almost to the end, so let's just finish it up...)

Monday was the Children's Literature Assembly workshop. Now, I know there are some die-hard ALAN fans out there, but CLA puts on a classy workshop for those of us who work with younger readers. The CLA workshop is not about speed and huge boxes of books. There were 5 author/illustrators and we left with a stack of 7 picture books. We heard Doreen Rappaport talk about her  recent series of biographies, especially Martin's Big Words and John's Secret Dreams, which were both illustrated by Bryan Collier. Then we got to hear Bryan Collier. After a break, Andrea Davis Pinkney sang to us, and talked about Sit In. After lunch, David Diaz taught us to draw and told us about his process for Me, Frida.

We ended the day with a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, led by Hester Bass (she ALSO sang to us!), who wrote about the artist Walter Anderson in Orbis Pictus winner, The Secret Life of Walter Anderson. Her slide show gave us a peek into the process that E.B. Lewis used to create the amazing illustrations from extensive research and photographs taken on a site visit with Hester.

Next year when you are planning your NCTE experience, consider staying on Monday for the CLA Workshop! It is a fabulous, intimate day with children's authors and illustrators.

And now it's time for me to get back to my current reality: lesson plans, grading, and an attempt to make my days at NCTE a part of my life in the classroom.


  1. Anonymous2:01 PM

    This sounded wonderful - loved the mandatory name dropping! I shall have to make a place in my life for this event.

  2. Wow. I'm completely in for the Monday workshop next year. Welcome home, Mary Lee. Your students will be so happy to see you again! A.

  3. Wow--what a great experience! Thanks for sharing!


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