#NCTE15 Day Three (Mostly) in Tweets

(On the way to dinner tonight–in my first ever Uber car–Tracy and Julia and I discussed the formatting of this blog post. Today (day 2, day 1) I wanted to focus on things tweetable because I knew that my schedule included some people who say lots of things that are tweetable. So should I compile actual Tweets for this, mine and others? Or should I just write in the style of tweeting? I opted for the actual tweets because it’s their location in the midst of the Twittersphere that makes them so powerful. I began by collecting tweets from people I knew were tweeting in the same sessions I went to and then tweeting out more tidbits from my notes. Jay might mark me partially proficient in tweeting today because I did not tweet live in the sessions themselves, but I know that interacting with my phone distracts my attention more than taking notes in my writer’s notebook. Hence the tweets came all at once at the end of the day rather than while the sessions were actually going on. My apologies if I ended up bombing your Twitter feed.)

(Me too, Kelly Gallagher. Me too. First year in 10 years that I have 9th grade. And though they pulled off whole-class productions of Romeo and Juliet last week, I’m just not yet seeing the community that I want to see in both of my freshman classes. They aren’t yet in the mindset that they are all in it together as readers, as writers, as human beings.)

(The day’s first session was G.01, “Becoming Critical Educators: Responsibly Navigating Creativity and Critical Commitments in Early Career Praxis.” Four of my former methods students–Chelsea Hernandez, Kaela Lind, Greg Payne, and Hannah Tegt presented with their former instructor/now professor, Michael Dominguez. The young teachers told powerful stories about their first years teaching. And they showed us “In Lak’ech.”)

This I love. And my freshmen need it. This text is so much richer than the closing moments of High School Musical. Thank you for this, Chelsea!

(Then it was off to H.15, “Expert to Expert on the Joy and Power of Reading: A Panel Discussion” with  Kwame Alexander, Pam Allyn, and Ernest Morrell and moderated by Kylene Beers.)

(Penny Kittle was sitting a few rows in front of us, and we noticed her tweeting out the things that struck her from the panelists’ responses to Kylene.)





(It seemed like just about every sentence uttered in this session was tweetable.)



(Next was L.19, “Drop That Red Pen and Enjoy Teaching Writing: How Doing Less Work Will Make Your Students Better Writers” with Christine Pacyk and Laura Wagner from Wheeling High School outside of Chicago).

 (This session was very interesting to me. The room was PACKED–clearly people are wanting to find alternatives to business as usual with grading. It seemed that in this session, the term grading referred both to the act of getting through a stack–or mountain–of student writing AND affixing a grade on each piece of writing. These are not the same thing. One is just the act of doing the work, as in, “UGH! I have too many papers to grade!” and the other is evaluating said work, as in, “This one gets an A-.” There seemed to be an assumption that the end game for all the suggestions they were giving was to end up with a letter on each piece of writing, whether that happened through a grading competition of through student self-grading. I’d like to shift that conversation to whether or not we need put a letter grade–or points or whatever–on anything at all. I don’t think we have to or should.)

(Anticipating that we might encounter standing room only in the next session we wanted to see, we left a few minutes early to head back to Auditorium 1 for “The Art of Teaching: Crafting Classrooms that Inspire” with Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, and Donna Santman.)

Despite our totally authentic-looking faces here, we’re not actually that surprised that the auditorium is so packed with people to hear Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, and Donna Santman. Next year, put them in the biggest room you’ve got, NCTE!



(Edit: woke up this morning to a tweet from Gallagher.)   (Had to fix my tweet!)   


(Who else noticed that while Donna was talking, both Penny and Kelly were madly taking notes in their writer’s notebooks? That tells me I need to seek out more of Donna’s work!)

Selfie with Penny and Christine, Jay’s student teacher, who was thrilled to meet Penny for the first time. Thanks, Penny, for the photo with us!

(Dinner break at Travail Kitchen and Amusements. We were one vegetarian, one person allergic to shellfish, and one person who avoids dairy, gluten, and soy. This kind of thing is normal where we come from–and the restaurant did an amazing job accommodating our food issues. The meal was AMAZING! And we made it back to the convention center in time to see Dave Eggers.)  

Let’s give it up for #daveeggers @mcsweenys and the insanely talented sign language interpreter! #ncte15 A photo posted by Julia Torres (@msjuliat) on


(Eggers left us with some thoughts about writing that I sorely need right now. I’ve got a big writing project in the works. And as excited as I am about it, I’m also nervous and worried and wondering how I’ll pull it off. There are days the writing feels like slogging. And there are days I’m plagued with feelings of inadequacy and a nagging fear that I’m just an imposter at all of this. Eggers’s bits here about writing will keep me going through that). (and full disclosure–that blog link I just put in goes to my husband’s blog)

Tomorrow afternoon we go back to Colorado. But before I get on the plane (if I can), I’ll write my last post: my top 10 (or maybe more or less) takeaways from NCTE 2015. Maybe it will be interesting for you to read. But more importantly, it will help me to write it. The things swirling, swirling, swirling in my thinking due to the conversations and presentations over the last few days–I hope to settle them and focus them with some writing.

This entry was posted in #NCTE15, 21st century teaching and learning, collaboration, colleagues, education, grading, life and death, literacy, making change, muddling through, on the road again, professional development, reflections, things made of awesome. Bookmark the permalink.

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