Usually on Mondays I like to write about what's in store this week, but after eleven days away (for me) and the end of NaNoWriMo, we might just spend today figuring out where the heck we are. We only have fifteen school days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and at least a few of those are lost to various traditions. If my classroom is truly student-centered, then I need to start by reminding myself where they are as readers and writers and what they need from me to keep learning.
I know I will talk about NCTE and ALAN. They will want to know about Boston and about the authors that I met, but, mostly, they will want to talk about the books. Yesterday I pulled a ton of books from my shelves at home, so I'll mix those in as I discuss and recommend titles from last week.
I'll also probably talk about:
- The highlights of ALAN: Chris Crutcher, Laurie Halse Anderson, A.S. King, and many more. I'll share the idea of resilience lit, and start pulling out and recommending some of these titles. This class hasn't really been pushing into older titles like past classes, but this is the time of year that it usually happens.
- The Don Graves breakfast. I'm so glad that an invitation to this event was forwarded to me, because it was absolutely the best two hours of the entire convention. I've seen the videos before, but each time I am reminded that teaching children to write can be as simple as sitting and listening to their voices. The many teachers and writers in that room reminded me of who I want to be in my classroom each day.
- What didn't work. I walked out on two sessions, one after only about ten minutes. I left when one of the presenters handed out graphic organizers (webs) and told us we had to use them to brainstorm a topic. Um, no. No no no. I'm a completely incapable of using a web like that for anything, and any presentation that begins with trying to force me to use one is not for me. I demonstrate different organizers for my students, but I always let them pick the one they prefer for use, and many times allow them not to use one at all. And I love that just a few minutes after I bolted from that session, I ran into Chris Lehman, because his books and presentations have been changing my teaching this year, and our three-minute conversation (Me: "She tried to make me use a web organizer thing." Chris: "No." Me: "I know, right.") was far more informative than the session that I left. As terrific as some other sessions were, it's the conversations in between that are the best PD.