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NCTE was a different experience for me this year than in the past. It is usually a conference filled with me soaking in the knowledge of the brilliance around me. This year, I was lucky enough to be part of two different presentations and then I had some ALAN duties I had to fulfill. Because of this I was not able to attend as many sessions as normal or spend as much time in the exhibit hall as normal, but after leaving, I feel that I got as much out of the conference, just a different something than normal.

Thursday

Day 1 of the conference! I jumped right in by attending a very interesting session: “What Research Suggests About Videogames and the Future of Teaching English.” Like the title states, it was mostly about research and not about actually implementing this research in the classroom, but the research was fascinating (Over 97% of youth play video games; Video games are associated with critical thinking, motivation, gratification, social capital, and academic material; Video games include complex literacies) and I took some emails so I could learn more about implementing. Following the session, I went to the “Elementary Level Get Together” where I ran into some Nerdy friends.

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Yes, I know I am not elementary, but Jarrett Krosoczka was speaking at this get together and I wanted to hear him and I am so glad that I did! He was engaging yet thought provoking. He shared with us his reading journey which led to his writing journey (Jarrett shared a similar talk at TED which you can view: here).

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Thursday my roommate Mindi also arrived and it was so nice to have some company! She took such good care of me while we were in Boston (being pregnant and gallivanting around can be very tiring). 

Friday

Friday was by far my busiest day! I was so exhausted by the end. First, I attended “Building Trust: Communication and the Teacher/Literacy Coach Relationship” to help with the transition into my new position. The speakers had had great success with coaching at their institutions, so I was happy to be able to hear some of the strategies that they employed.  Directly following this presentation it was time for my presentations (back-to-back!). First was “Rethinking Picture Books: Harnessing the Power of Nonfiction for Older Students” with the amazing Beth Shaum, Jen Vincent, and author Audrey Vernick.

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The room was packed, which was so nice to see!

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We all had such a great time sharing our experiences with using picture books with older students. You can view our presentation here.  Then I transferred my stuff to a room down the hall for the Nerdy round table session “Relevance, Relationships, and Reading Lives: Fostering Students’ Reading Engagement.” This session was also packed (nervous again!).

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My round table presentation was titled “Helping Struggling Readers Find Their Inner Reader” and focused on strategies that can be used to help struggling readers find joy in reading. This presentation can be viewed here and I shared some other resources on my slideshare account.

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I need to stop here just to say that I am so thankful for being able to be part of these presentations and for anyone who wants to hear what I have to say. Teaching is my passion and my heart and I am constantly trying to be the best teacher I can be. In these presentations I shared some of my teaching journey and I am so honored that there are educators who want to hear what I have to say. Thank you to anyone who was there or anyone who views the slideshares. I am just happy that I have you on this journey with me. After the presentations I needed a bit of relaxation so I went and visited the exhibit hall which is always filled with so much book love! Then later that night was the Nerdy Round Up! Although I spent only 30 minutes there (so tired!), it was so wonderful to see so many of my friends! My #ncte13 regret is not taking enough pictures of these great people.

nerdy round up

Saturday 

Saturday started out with a bang: the ALAN breakfast! At the ALAN breakfast, Judy Blume received the ALAN award and then Walter Dean Myers was our speaker—who could have asked for a better set of speakers?! They were so inspiring!

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At the breakfast it was so nice to see many of my friends as well including Ricki (before she left!), the Walden committee, and Gae Polisner.

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Following the breakfast, I tried to attend Chris Lehman’s closer reading or the rock star packed Skill and Will session, but both were too full, so I lived vicariously through Twitter (search #skillandwill or @ichrislehman on 11/23 for some of the goodies). Then I had some ALAN duties which packed my afteroon, but I was able to go to one more session that night: “Sifting Through Technology: Choosing the Best Tools.” I was happy to realize that my school is already using most of the tools they mentioned, but I did learn about Little Bird Tales for digital storytelling, Mindomo for mind maps, We Video to make and share videos, Make Beliefs Comix to create comics, and Voice Thread for sharing presentations—all which I can bring back to school. That night, following a lovely dessert with Jillian Heise, Sarah Anderson, Brian Wyzlic, and Mindi Rench, we attended Catching Fire hosted by Scholastic. MAN! What a movie! A nice end to Saturday. 

Sunday

Sunday started with visiting the exhibit hall quickly (needed to touch base with some publishers also didn’t want to be there during the CRAZINESS that happens on the last day) and I had to make sure to see Kate Messner (and I am so sad I missed Jo Knowles!).

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Then the Scholastic Literary Brunch. This brunch is always one of the highlights for me as it was the first publisher anything I was ever invited to and it has become a yearly event. At the brunch, authors do readers theater presentations from their books—just a pleasant way to start a Sunday.

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Following the brunch, I had some more ALAN duties that went all the way to the ALAN Cocktail Reception. If you have never attended an ALAN workshop, the ALAN cocktail hour is really the red carpet time. Authors and publishers join us teachers and librarians for 90 minutes of mingling, food, and drinks. This is definitely the time that you can be a fangirl/guy and just go from author to author and chat and take photos. It is such a surreal experience! This year, I mostly just talked to Eliot Schrefer and my friends. 

mindi and me cocktail

Following the reception, I was lucky enough to be asked to attend the Random House Dinner (two of the authors on my ALAN panel are Random House authors). The dinner was phenomenal and I truly enjoyed getting to know Mariah Fredericks and Adele Griffin who are such delights. At the dinner, I even got to introduce myself to Judy Blume and we took a fantastic photo together. What a day!

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The ALAN workshop is such a special thing to attend! ALAN is the only organization that focuses completely on literature for adolescents and these two days celebrate that.  It is such a fantastic experience.

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Yesterday, Mindi and I shared our ALAN joy on the Nerdy Book Club blog by sharing the top 10 authors we were most excited to see at ALAN. I think this post really captures the essence of ALAN, so check it out.

Between the Nerdy post and my planned post on Thursday at my wonderful panel on Tuesday, I do not have much to add though I will share some of my highlights from each day:

Monday

1. Jack Gantos (see Nerdy post)
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2. The “Celebrating Humor” panel: David Macginnis Gill was the moderator and he asked the most hilarious questions!
3. The “Celebrating Dystopia” panel: Although none of these authors (Neal Shusterman, Cristin Terrill, Jeff Hirsch, Kristen Simmons) ended up on our Nerdy post, they were definitely in the debate. Here are some quotes from their presentation:

  • Books that influenced them: How I Live Now, The Giver, House of The Scorpions, 1984
  • Shusterman influenced (for Unwind) by the idea that soon they will be able to use 100% of our body for transplants.
  • Hirsch was influenced by watching the news and getting more and more angry.
  • This isn’t a perfect world. The problem is a those who think it is. -Shusterman
  • The process starts with the concept, but what becomes most important are the characters. They have to be real. -Neal Shusterman
  • Cristin Terrill re-imagined the Terminator as the good guy–and a high school girl.
  • Dysopian novels are ultimately about hope. Characters are empowered to change the world. -Shusterman
  • Teenagers feel oppressed, so they connect to dystopian characters who survive and thrive and become a hero helps then through their own tough times. -Kristen Simmons

4. Chris Crutcher (see Nerdy post)
20131125_133012 20131125_132123 [standing ovation!]
5. Lauren Myracle! I love seeing Lauren—she is just good people! (see Nerdy post)

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6. Walden Panel with honorees Benjamin Alire Saenz, A.S. King, and Eliot Schrefer (see Nerdy post)

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Tuesday

1. Laurie Halse Anderson (see Nerdy post)
20131126_081525 [standing ovation!]
2. The “Celebrating Science Fiction” panel: The authors on this panel (Alexander Gordon Smith, Michael Grant, Anna Jarzab, Tom Leveen) were just very interesting.

  • Wrote horror to deal with the bad. Horror teaches us to survive. -Gordon Smith
  • Students: read whatever the hell you want to read. -Michael Grant

3. The “Celebrating Horror and Supernatural” panel: Another panel with a very clever moderator who asked questions like, “What was the recipe for your novel?”
4. The “Celebrating International Voices” panel: Always interesting to learn about the world
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5. The “Celebrating LBGTQ” panel: A) Nancy Gardner, B) All of the other books sound fascinating! (If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi, Branded by the Pink Triangle by Ken Setterington)
6. Ellen Hopkins: Always a great advocate for writing/reading about the hard stuff.
7. MY PANEL!!! “Celebrating Strong Females” with Mariah Fredericks, Tupelo Hassman, Paul Rudnick, Adele Griffin: My post on Thursday will go into more depth about these novels and authors

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These 6 days are always a highlight of my year and this year, although different, is no exception!
I hope you can join us in 2014 in DC!!

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2 Responses to Kellee’s 2013 NCTE/ALAN Reflection

  1. Beth S. says:

    Fantastic post Kellee! I had a wonderful time presenting with you too! Thank you so much for being a part of it! 🙂

  2. Sarah Ressler Wright says:

    Kellee-Love the post and seeing what you did at NCTE/ALAN -we should compare notes sometime 🙂 Looking forward to bonding more next year-good luck with the pregnancy -so draining but ultimately worth it in the end :).

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