What a Wild Ride – Friday at #NCTE15

I am not sure that there are words to adequately describe the experience of attending and then returning from the #NCTE15 Annual Convention.  The sessions are like Christmas morning where each gift is more spectacular than the last one you opened.  You barely have a chance to process the awesomeness of one session before you are whisked away and immersed in the power of subsequent presenters.  You find yourself completely immersed in all things English and Education, pedagogy and practice, lessons and learning. It is one of the best feelings in the world.  A high, I’m sure, that can best be compared to base jumping. You return to your hotel at night feeling both unbelievably full and unbeleiveably drained.

Do this for three days, and then try to pull yourself away. I dare you to attempt the impossible.

You see, there is no “return” to past practices.  How can you go back to what you did, when you have so many ideas about what you can do?  When you leave, you spend the journey home planning and re-planning lessons, inventing and readjusting assignments, and seeking new practices to implement that will better you as a teacher and your students as learners.

It’s a wild ride, friends.

On Friday:

  • Alan Sitomer told me that if you “tell yourself the right inner story and you can accomplish anything,” 
  • Andrew Smith talked about how stories come to us and that we should go out and see the world in order to become writers,
  • Gordon Kormon spoke about the importance of humor, observation, and dialogue authenticity,
  • Sonia Manzano advocated for self-selected texts because “books might be the very last place for kids to speculate  – where there doesn’t have to be a right answer.” 
  • and Troy Hicks, Sara Kajder, Kristen Hawley Turner offered a plethora of ways for students to interact digitally with texts,

and if that wasn’t enough, I was part of a round-table discussion session where the holy trinity of reading shared their book recommendations-

Carol Jago‘s list:

Kelly Gallagher‘s list:

Penny Kittle‘s list:

Kittle also shared great ideas for doing book talks that are a range of complexity around a theme.  Here is one for post-apocalyptic literature:


If that wasn’t enough, as part of the “High School Matters” double sesion DE.01, in between the three reading moguls, I was involved in two awesome round table discussions.  The first was “Responsibility, Creativity, and the Art of Discussion” moderated by Christine Gorychka, Educational Consultant, and Bill Martin of Austin Community College. The second was on “Workshopping the Canon” presented by Angela Byrd & Mary Styslinger of the University of South Carolina.  You can find a link to those handouts here.

After a VERY FULL day of mind-blowing awesomeness, I sat down to plan out the upcoming book talks that I would do in class and I could not wait to see what Saturday had in store.


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