NCTE – Anaheim22

Following 4-days of learning at the NCTE Conference, I headed for a west coast vacation to New Mexico.
While relaxing after a day of hiking in the spectaualr canyons of this beautiful state,
I documented some of what I learned.

I captured my learning with some images on these slides.

If interested, take a look.
Each slide seems like a small slice, capturing a LARGE few days of learning!

Slicers at NCTE

After strolling between tye palm tree-lined ally and entering the ginormeous Anaheim Convention center, I stepped onto an escalator almost as long as the Rosslyn Metro or Tenlyntown stops (my DC-friends get this comparison!). As I ascended, I noticed my first slicer Margaret Simons. She was decending on the opposite side. “Margaret! I’m coming to your session!” I shouted as the distance between us grew due to our moving stairs. And I was. The night before I jotted down a quick draft of sessions to attend using the conferene app. And Margaret was Thursday at 11am. As I glanced at the time on my phone, I confirmed that had just enough to get my lanyard badge from the registration desk and find her session room.

Margaret and her 2 friends’ session gently switch me from cross-country hurried traveler to reflective teacher ready to learn. Their session was all about poetry and very interactive. They modeled and shared poems and then asked us to give it a go. One form shared was an acrostic poem. “Pick a word and write it down. Then fill in the lines and not just with one word per line. That would not be an acrostic poem but simply a list peom. “

I picked NCTE and created this poem:

Necklace lanyard of green holds my name
California sunshine greats me to hear
Teachers generously sharing their success stories
Envigorating and inspiring the many who fill their audience chairs.

For someone who flew all the way across the country and was the only one from my district attending this conference, I was thankful to be a part of the TwoWritingTeachers community. Much more to share….check back next Tuesdays.

Tasks before I Leave for Vacation

“Medium hot chocolate, 2% milk, please” I requested of the Peet’s barista.
Then I sat for an hour, working on my NCTE slides and awaiting for the restaurant to open.

“Eggs with bacon, please” I told the restaurant waitress, “and an unsweeted iced tea.”
Then I sat and ate with my laptop opened next to me, creating six-days of sub plans.
Two days so I can attend the NCTE conference in Anaheim.
Then four more days off before and after the Thanksgiving break
so my husband and I can take our New Mexico trip that didn’t take place last summer.
(Yep, I’m feeling slightly guilty being gone from school all those days.)

I glanced at my phone to see that four hours have passed.
“A bowl of soup and another iced tea,” I asked when the waitress checks on me.
And for another 3 hours, I keep at it.

Sitting in the coffee shop and the restaurant allowed me time to focus.
If I had stayed home, I would have been distracted by
a dish washer to empty, a living room to vacuum, a backyard of leaves to rake.
Sitting plates of food I didn’t have to prepare and with borrowed wifi,
I listed and checked off many tasks.
Now, I am closer to being ready to leave town for 2-weeks.

NCTE, here I come! Then Disneyland. Then New Mexico.

A (pretend) Letter to Me from a hero of mine

Note: I am writing this pretend letter as a response to Jason Reynolds’ WriteRightRite Tue., April 21, 2020 writing prompt video: Write the letter your hero would write back to you after you wrote to them.

Backstory: My 2020 NCTE Workshop Proposal was accepted. Yes – I am super excited. (However, I also wonder if the conference will even happen. What will things be like come Nov. 2020?? But that’s another story for another day). At the conference, three colleagues and I are planning to share tips on ways to guide readers in making a reading notebook page to show their thinking. We invited amazing author, Avi, to read-aloud a short story during our presentation so the audience can practice our tips. With this prompt, I’m going to pretend that it is sometime after thee 2020 NCTE conference which went on as planned and it is sometime after Avi received my thank you email for his participation in our workshop.

Dear Sally,
I so enjoyed reading aloud my short story, Tightie Whities or Briefs during your 2020 NCTE workshop. It gave me such energy to be in the presence of teachers who are so passionate about growing their practice, as evident by their enthusiastic attendance.

I found it most fascinating to see all the different ways the audience, all hearing the same story, created unique notebook pages. Some a web, some with just words, some only sketches, some used a chart. All recorded what you called, “invisible thinking” , their thoughts which occurs as they heard me read my story. I left the Denver Convention Center energized to keep writing. I do feel I have a few more stories in me, even though the word “octogenarian” is used to describe me.

I encourage you to keep writing, too. You mentioned how you like to blog. It sounded like over the years, you have drafted many stories. Maybe one day soon you can pick a topic and connect multiple stories into a short story collection. That is exactly what I did to make the short story collection, The Most Important Thing: Stories About Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers. Maybe you have stories to create a collection called: The Important Thing: Stories About Daughters, Mothers, and Grandmothers. Or pick any topic. See where your collection takes you!

However, having a topic to gather drafted stories together is just one step. Here’s one more tip. It is advise I gave in my April 21, 2020 blog post entitled Re-Writing. I stated, “If, when you first write something and you think it is good, you’re in trouble. But when you write something and you think it is not very good, that’s great. Because now you can write it better. Nobody, nobody, nobody writes anything very good the first time.”

Sally, our session presentation gave me the needed kick in the pants to revise. Like I stated at the end of that blog post, “The whole point is not to think of revision as a separate part of writing. Revision IS writing.” I hope you remember this important writing tip!

Sally, thank you for choosing me to present with you. Stay in touch. Let me know if you choose to take the next writing step by focusing several stories about one topic and then revising them. If you create a short story collection, do share.

Your Denver Writing Friend,