I have been recovering from not having a “true” weekend, and I have neglected posting my recap of Saturday and Sunday at NCTE.
Great sessions on Saturday! I went to Karl Fisch and Anne Smith’s session first. As Karl noted, the early hour meant it was more sparsely attended than it should have been. Both were (of course) engaging and interesting speakers. The second session I went to was on leading an English department. The session was packed. I sat on the floor. It was during that session that I decided I would not hike to the Marriott River Center again unless the session looked really, really good.
I kept changing my mind about what I wanted to see and do. I know I spent a good chunk of time on Saturday in the exhibits, but I know I went to at least one session in the afternoon, and I just can’t remember what it was. I’m sure that doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t good — it means my brain is fried. I went to a couple of sessions sponsored by the National Writing Project (one of which was on digital storytelling and the other of which was about creative writing projects), but I can’t remember when they were. Both were good, although I really enjoyed the digital storytelling one. That’s the next big thing I haven’t tried before that I plan to try as a result of the conference.
Sunday I went to a session on graphic novels because my professor from UGA, Mark Faust, was going to be there. It was great to see him again! The graphic novels presentations was really good, even though I didn’t necessarily anticipate getting much out of it. I am not opposed to graphic novels. I don’t read them, and perhaps I should, but because I don’t read them, maybe I don’t get their appeal. I admit that if they get “reluctant readers” to read, I’m all for them. Whatever works.
The last session I went to was led by a trio of engaging teachers from Amarillo, and it discussed writing. Several tools for improving student writing at the sentence level especially were presented, but more than the materials, I enjoyed their presentation style. They were fun, and it was a nice note on which to end the conference.
Everyone I bumped into was so friendly and helpful; while waiting for the shuttle van and in line at UPS, I discovered yet again that English teachers are so nice. One big downer about the conference was the lack of free wifi. I know it would have been expensive, but at a conference about shift and technology, it sent the wrong message to participants who wanted wifi not to provide it. I spent well over $50 on wifi between the convention center and the hotel. Not cool. Another complaint I have is that I think the NCTE Ning was really publicized, and I felt presenters were encouraged to use it to upload materials. So why did so few of them know about it? I can’t figure out where these guys were because the Ning was mentioned so much, and it was all over the conference. A tech station in the NCTE store even had a person on staff to help attendees sign up for the Ning. I don’t get it. At any rate, if you check out the Ning, you can perhaps get some good materials if you weren’t able to attend the conference, and I think it was a great idea for NCTE to establish the Ning.
Moment that made me raise my eyebrows: a woman in one of the sessions I attended had never heard of Wikipedia. I showed it to her. It was cool, but seriously?
The highlight of the convention: all my interactions with the Folger Shakespeare Library folks. I went to one of their sessions — excellent, by the way — on Friday and learned about how I can use ideas from PostSecret and radio plays to create Shakespeare projects (I shared the Shakespeare wiki for that session already). The Folgerians present all had dinner on Saturday night, and whenever the Folgerians get together, that means fun. I had some great conversations, and I look forward to working closely with Folger in the future. I was missing Joe Scotese and the participants in my own Teaching Shakespeare Institute from last June, but we had a good time.
I still haven’t seen Twilight, but I’m hoping that will happen this weekend.
Oh, and before I forget, someone owes Nikki Giovanni an apology. I don’t think NCTE publicized her book signing enough, and at any rate, they ran out of books, but the excellent rep from SourceBooks gamely took a picture for me anyway, and here it is:
I got to tell her I’m a Virginia Tech student, albeit online, but I really wish I could take one of her classes.