“That dog is going down…” – Korman

Alright kiddos – buckle up… it’s #NCTE15 time…

Captain’s Log – Minneapolis date 11/20/15 – FRIDAY SESSIONS

A.29 – A Quartet of Acclaimed Authors on the Art of Language, the Richness of Creativity, Fun, and the Value of a Literate Life

In this session, authors Alan Lawrence Sitomer, Andrew Smith, Gordon Korman, and Sonia Manzano presented about the things that inspired them to write, the observations they have about books that impacted them, and the importance of placing a book in the hands of children.

There were so many great sound bites and moments that inspired me as a teacher… Here are some of the highlights in tweet bursts

  • @alansitomer – The most powerful technology for delivering a story is a book!
  • @alansitomer – I write underdog stories – about kids who are asking “how do I get out.”
  • LOVE THIS QUOTE @alansitomer – We read to discover who we are. Cultivate our inner story. #addingthistomypresentation
  • @alansitomer – I write books for kids who don’t buy books.
  • @alansitomer – We (the teachers) are the gatekeepers of books. #thereaderisthekeymaster
  • @marburyjack is asked why he stays in the classroom still?? I get 200 stories a day! #studentsinspireus
  • @number7 – Hey! How about you promote the library during announcements too, not just sports – sincerely, @marburyjack
  • @marburyjack was a 14 year old junior – #heisryandean
  • @marburyjack – The Media sculpts our compulsions of cultures we have not met face to face. The Alex Crow was inspired by a refugee from Syria.
  • “In the end, my students inspire me.” @marburyjack
  • Hey @gordonkorman – you were so funny I didn’t even take notes #humorcreatesreaders
  • “When I was 2 years old, I wanted to be a dog when I grew up. When I started reading in school – all that changed.” @gordonkorman


  • @gordonkorman – looking at the required books from 2nd grade through high school – what have a I learned – well, anytime there is a dog I say – “THAT DOG IS GOING DOWN.” #sotrue #greatobservation
  • @gordonkorman – my first book was a project I did in 7th grade. #authorsinourrooms
  • @soniamanzano – you might remember my voice when you think of the alphabet – “The letter of the day is A.” #canyoutellmehowtoget #mindblown #shewasthevoiceofsesamestreet
  • @soniamanzano – leaving Sesame Street taught me the value of letters and their power
  • “Reading was seen as a means for being lazy in my house – why read when you can clean up or help out.” @soniamanzano – #nonreadersarentalwayslazy #knowyourstudents

B.01 – Love, a brave & startling truth: Healing Educational Practices Within the Cipher of Hip Hop and Spoken Word Pedagogy.

This session featured Tish Jones (@TheTishJones) leading us through an articulation of how Hip Hop and Spoken Word can influence instruction. I found myself giving mental high fives during this interactive session where we defined Hip Hop, discussed our voice, analyzed “i” by Kendrick Lamar, and learned about Critical Response Protocol (what a great resource!!). As an added bonus, we even got to write and perform.

HIP HOP – is to be in the know and act.

What I got out of this session was Poetry connections and a discovery of a new artist. Here are several links to Tish’s poetry! She is FOR REAL.


March for Me


DE.01 – High School Matters – Roundtable Session!

So, here was the format: Speaker, Roundtable Breakout #1, Speaker, Roundtable Breakout #2, Speaker

Speaker#1 – Carol Jago – “A Book in the Hand”

Here is a list of all the books recommended by Carol

  1. Why We Work – Barry Schwartz
  2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coats
  3. The Wright Brothers – David McCullough
  4. Here, Bullet – Brian Turner
  5. The Meursault Investigation – Kamel Daoud
  6. Citizen, An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine
  7. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy – The Many Faces of Anonymous – Gabriella Coleman
  8. An Unnecessary Woman – Rabih Alameddine

Round Table Breakout #1 – I was at Table #17 w/ Troy Hicks and Dawn Reed – our topic was Research Writing Rewired: Incorporating Digital Tools, Inspiring Authentic Inquiry.

The session was great for many reasons. What I liked most was that Dawn and Troy revealed that the muse for the book and for the assignment was to engage students in authentic, self-driven research. They discussed Literature Circles and how allowing a student to come up with the topics based off the books they read helps break the temptation of students to go to google to come up with a general research topic. Immediately, I saw how this would work with RIR and the THS Reading (R)evolution and our conversational readers.

Some examples I came up with:

  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    • Research topic – The Stages of Grief
  • Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
    • Research topic – Origin of Buddhism
  • Reconstructing Amelia, by Kim McCreight
    • Research topic – Secret Social Groups

As long as the research is rooted in curiosity and is inquiry driven, with genuine questions developed by students and their interests – students will be more engaged.

Speaker #2 – Penny Kittle – “Book Love”

Penny, as per usual, did not disappoint. Not only is she a rock star, but she is one of us. She has students, has a classroom, and is transparent. I love how she features her students and I am thankful she is in my life, even though I may not be in hers. Penny, if you are reading this – THANK YOU. I hope that you know because of you, my students have more voice than ever before and I know them better than I ever could have before.

While she was discussing the structure of her classroom, she gave us some great titles and great writing exercises. The book that stuck out most for me was Revolution by Deborah Wiles – The second book in a trilogy about the 1960s. While talking about the book, Penny pointed opportunities for connect to the text and the fostering of empathy by having students writing from the perspective of people in the pictures from the book.

Before I list out the other books she discussed, I want to mention I was inspired by something one of her students wrote with regard to writing styles from the book Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley. He wrote – Life is a run-on sentence – that is why the author uses them… I was inspired this and took it one step further… so here is my inspired wisdom for the day:

LIFE is a run-on sentence that turns into a fragment because inevitably it will end before it concludes. 

Here are a few of PK’s recs that are now on my Next List:

  1. Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
  2. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone
  3. My Heart and Other Black Holes – Jasmine Warga
  4. Station 11 – Emily St. John Mandel 
  5. Euphoria – Lily King
  6. Infographics – Jason Lankow

Round Table Break Out #2 – Was good…

I didn’t get any new ideas about instruction but I did have a good conversation with a teacher about ELL students. It really wasn’t a new insight, just an interesting moment.

We voiced to each other that we are struggling to put books in the hands of ELL students who are low level, but highly motivated readers. The complaint most of these students have is that the books just aren’t meeting them where they are. I liked one thing she said. She scours the internet for articles and stories in their native language and challenges them there and let’s them know that if they keep working they will get stronger in English. Love it. Bottom line – we have to work for them… not dismiss the conversation – Let them know we are fighting for them.

Speaker #3 (and the last NCTE session moment of Day One) – Kelly Gallagher “Faculty Book Clubs”

First off, buckle up THS, here we come.

I loved how he discussed the ups and downs of the Faculty Book Club throughout the years. He has been at it for 20+ years and it began with 4 people. We can not be scared to start something from (essentially) nothing… remember – the leader is only as strong as the first follower.

He talked about more than a dozen books, but there was one quote that really stuck out for me. He was talking about Robert Olen Butler’s book A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and he asked us if we had read it… only PK raised her hand, then he moved close to the mic and said “If you haven’t read it, I’m jealous.” and with 7 words, it moved to the top of my Next List.

I will leave you for today with the list of books he recommended, until tomorrow – where I will recap Saturday’s sessions – including our experience presenting at 2:45.

  1. Ghettoside – Jill Leovy
  2. Bill Bryson, A short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
  3. The Tender Bar: A Memior – JR Moehringer
  4. The Attack – Yasmina Khadra
  5. Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth – John Hubner
  6. True Notebooks – Mark Salzman
  7. Courtroom 302 – Steve Bogira
  8. I Am One of You Forever – Fred Chappell
  9. Stones from the River – Ursula Hegi
  10. Hellhound on his Trail – Hampton Sides




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