NCTE 2018- The thing that made the problem won’t fix the problem.

Ah NCTE. Apparently I didn’t know how much I needed you.

I’m blogging this morning because I went out and had fun last night. Houston, as it turns out, is a pretty good town to run a conference in. So I have my coffee, and the thump of Margo Price’s band has somewhat subsided. Jeff Wilhelm and Jim Burke’s session was packed to the gills, so I’m out here collecting my thoughts.

I saw some great presentations yesterday. Kyleen Beers, Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher talking about creating communities of readers. That was terrific.

Kate Flowers and Anna Osborn discussing assessing independent reading (a bear I am wrestling with right now).

Jen Mitchell and Karla Scornavacco showing us how to use digital storytelling to engage kids in some really deep thinking about narrative and storytelling in amazing ways. (yay Colorado- way to represent).

And Mitch Nobis and Andrea Zellner taking apart graphic novels and showing what a rich complex experience they are and how they are meaningfully different from traditional text only narratives.

Whoa. That was a lot. It got me all fired up. Then we went out to dinner with some Colorado folks and had a great conversation. I could write a thousand words on each one of those sessions and just have scratched the surface. And nobody’s got the energy for that.

So what’s the theme? Z dropped a post last night about ‘what surprised her.’ You should read it. It’s good. She used one of Penny Kittle’s favorite questions about reading.

What’s rattling around in my head is something that comes out of our preparation for our session tomorrow (M.49 Write, More Grade Less). It seems to underlie a lot of what I’m responding to in both reading and writing workshop right now.

If what we did from kindergarten through eighth grade didn’t make them readers and writers, doing more of that in high school won’t make them readers and writers. Kids won’t want to read and write all of a sudden. They will want to read and write when they have something they want to read and write about, and the space in which to find their voice and the right to say what they want to say. If that is startling to you, start with Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide.

Penny Kittle said yesterday,

If what they learned so far is that reading and writing is not for them, then running your class like a college lit course  probably isn’t going to change that. They have to be invited in to reading and writing, not ordered. And if your work structure and assessment structure isn’t inviting, if it reinforces the message that reading and writing is not for them, then, to be blunt, you are hurting the children. Because, and I think we can all agree on this, we really can’t afford to have more people in the world who think reading and writing (and the deep rich reflective thinking that goes with it) are not for them.

If you want to see some of our thinking about how to change up what you are doing, come to our session tomorrow morning. We don’t have all the answers, by any means. But we think we have some ideas.

By the way, the music scene in Houston is awesome.


View this post on Instagram


@missmargoprice rockin Houston last night. #texas #livemusic

A post shared by Jay Stott (@jgstottmusic) on

This entry was posted in #NCTE18, cultivating real learning, making change, workshop teaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to NCTE 2018- The thing that made the problem won’t fix the problem.

  1. Pingback: 2018 Annual Convention Blog Recap - NCTE

Leave a Reply