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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

hp (the other one) saves the day

I've been back for a coupla days now, yet I find this year's experience at NWP/NCTE is still with me, very much on my mind. And it isn't only because I listen to Dawn and myself interviewing Tobin (ie, M.T. Anderson, National Book Award finalist author of Feed, Thirsty, Burger Wuss, Whales on Stilts, etc) every day on my hp iPAQ in the car on the way to work. And at home, before I go to bed. And of course with ear buds in class on Monday night.

I jest. It would be dangerous for me to listen to our interview with Tobin in the car.

I do think often of other (almost) as important events, conversations, and people that were part of the whole whirlwind tour of Pittsburgh.

Every year for NCTE, I choose a theme for myself so that I can approach the same idea from many different perspectives. This year, I had two: 1. visual rhetoric and literature/writing for/with kids and 2. issues of diversity in children's and ya lit. I have to say, either I have gotten better at choosing my sessions, or this year's sessions were of a really exceptional quality.

At NWP, I was part of sessions on new theories of composition and rhetoric, including visual rhetoric; thinking about visual rhetoric when using Movie Maker with a youth summer writing program; using LGBT literature with high school students; making multicultural education academic (a particularly fantasatic session); and using digital photography to get kids writing. At NCTE, I ate cookies at teh same session as Steph; listened to picture book authors talk about the importance of writing visually; and learned how a past-president of NCTE uses Joseph Brouchac's Heart of a Chief to get kids talking about sports teams that use Native American mascots (there's an interesting Thanksgiving dinner conversation).

We talked to Tobin and we talked to Richard Sterling and I learned that sometimes not being afraid to use an opening conversation gambit that makes me look a little well, um, silly (see: M.T. Anderson) (see also: Tony Tendero from Grand Valley) can be a very effective way to get the conversational ball rolling. I'll run a PD about this if anyone's interested. I'll call it "Your Face May be Red, but I Guarantee Your Stuff'll Get Read" ;-)

I participated in many fascinating conversations with vendors in the exhibition hall. This may sound silly, but it was actually helpful in two ways: I never realized how many of the reps are former teachers who love talking about classroom practice. *And* expressing some sympathy regarding the pushing and shoving culture of the book giveaway is a great way to-surprise!-get free books!

I have much more to say, and probably will soon, particularly about the role of the technology in this year's convention, but I'm at the WC at the moment and the next person who is receptioning appears to want to take the desk.

Thank you again to Janet for giving us this opportunity, to Troy for doing all the PD that made this possible, and to Carol Fenn for all her support in the background!! And thank you to all of you for being a part of it, for sharing your thoughts, making me laugh, and reminding me why I teach and why I write.

Happy Thanksgiving/long weekend/first day of snow of the season,


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