Friday, November 28, 2014

My NCTE '14 Reflection

Last weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend my second NCTE annual convention in Washington DC. After I attended last year I vowed never to miss another.  The entire experience left me invigorated, inspired and focused. Too often districts get bogged down in the "data" of testing and standards (I really hate using the word data to discuss children). This event has renewed my faith in education because of the incredibly dedicated and brilliant educators I had the privilege of learning from. It is the kids that matter. Connecting with and guiding each child as they develop as readers and writers is where our focus needs to be. 

My mind is still trying to process all that I learned and experienced during this incredible event, but here are a few tidbits I took away. 

 *During a session about reluctant readers and shame Lynda Mullaly Hunt mentioned how teachers should validate student choices in books even if the student does not like what we like. I have been guilty of this when students choose to put a book I love back on the shelves. My intention was to encourage the student to read a favorite of mine, but the message is "What is wrong with you?" This was an eye opener and something I will never do again. 

I attended a session with Melissa Sweet, Jan Bryant and Cynthia Gray about nonfiction writing. From that session I took away the importance of focusing on questions and how research should be a journey. I was reminded of the importance of using primary resources whenever possible. 

From a session about digital writing led by my friend Cathy Mere I learned about many new tools I would like to try out with my students.

The last session I attended was called Middle Level Mosaic and it was amazing! With an all-star line up including Teri Lesene, Alan Sitomer, Kylene Beers, James Dashner, Linda Reif and Donalyn Miller this session was jam packed with people, information and quote-worthy nuggetts. It was worth the price of admission just to see it. I did not know who Alan Sitomer was before, but by the end of his presentation, I would have followed him anywhere-What a dynamic speaker and passionate educator!

Some of my take aways from this session include: 
*A renewed believe in he fact that volume of reading matters. 
*Students who are struggling read far fewer words in a school day than average students. 
*"The strongest part of a book recommendation is the person giving it." Donalyn Miller
*If a child gets stuck in a particular genre, dub them "genre experts" (Donalyn). 
*"If we want students to take control of their reading lives, their voices need to be louder than ours. " (Donalyn)

When I was not in sessions, I was engaged in conversations about literacy with people I admire, getting books signed by authors or stealing very brief moments of reflection. Tomorrow I will share some fun photos including some from my session on Saturday. 


  1. This is so wonderful to read Gigi. I can feel the learning leap off the page and come to rest, also, with all of your readers. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Carrie! Would love to see your at NCTE '15!