Monday, November 12, 2012

Slice of Life – Sharing NCTE with My Students


   
Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

Wednesday I am doing something I dread with every fiber of my being – getting on an airplane. I haven’t always been afraid of flying, as a kid I loved it. Turbulence made me laugh. Somewhere in my twenties that changed. A flight became a time of massive anxiety. I prefer to drive 19 hours over flying for three. I become claustrophobic and convinced I will not survive the flight. Surely humans weren’t meant to fly, right?

So why would I put myself through this torture? To attend NCTE’s annual conference. I’m actually looking forward to the flight, or as much as I can possibly look forward to it. That flight will get me to my friends, amazing sessions, and BOOKS!

The only downfall to NCTE is that I’m out of the classroom. The kids had been lamenting this to me already – how can I possibly leave them for three whole days! They love my substitute – it is my mom – but still, who will they tell when they finish their book? Who will recommend another book to them? I quickly reminded them of the community we’ve built, the friends they can talk to, and they calmed down.

Then I shared. I told them what NCTE is and why it means so much to them. I told them the sessions I plan on attending. I shared the two sessions I am presenting at, how nervous I am. And then we got to the “good stuff.”

I explained to them what an ARC is, what a F&G is, and showed them some examples. I told them when I attended last year I had two ARCs I really wanted to get: Jo Knowles See You at Harry’s and Kate Messner’s Eye of the Storm. I talked about how I got them and read them that weekend. How I sobbed over Harry’s and my heart beat so strongly during Eye of the Storm. I then talked about ARC etiquette and how I will only be taking what I think we will read in our class. They laughed when I talked about shipping them back.

Finally, I showed them the list of authors that would be there. I mentioned that they were welcome to come over to my laptop during independent reading time to see if there was an author they felt I should really try to meet for them. I glanced up as I moved around the room to confer. Over and over kids would scroll through the list, calling to a friend when they saw a favorite author’s name. Lamenting once again when they saw the absence of one they adored.

And then Matt came to see me. Matt is someone I’ve spoken about before. Flying through books at amazing speeds. Although he classified himself as a non-reader, his habits show otherwise. Matt is a bit addicted to graphic novels – has read over seventy this school year. This past week he picked up Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. He’s over halfway through and loving it. He walked over and said, “Ms. Applegate’s name isn’t on that list.” I nodded and told him I didn’t think she would be there. He looked down and said, “I just wanted to tell her how much I love her book.” Pow – right to my heart.

As I looked at Matt and the kids cheering as they looked over the list of authors, the kids pouring over some F&Gs spread out on the floor, and the kids holding ARCs of See You at Harry’s and Eye of the Storm while they compared them to the actual novels, I realized what a community had been created in my classroom. I adore these kids. I’m so grateful they think authors are rock stars, just as I do. And I can’t wait to bring them back some books from NCTE. If that requires me to jump on a plane, so be it. 

19 comments:

  1. I love this post - and love the image of your reading community so much, too.

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  2. You are an amazing teacher!!!! I am thrilled to be part of this story. xoxo

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  3. Katherine ApplegateNovember 12, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    Dear Matt, I am so honored that you like my book, The One and Only Ivan!

    Katherine

    P.S. -- You are very lucky indeed to have such a wonderful teacher!

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  4. Oh! Now I have tears in my eyes! I love the community that you describe in your classroom. I miss working with 4th and 5th graders and creating that level of community. Courage for the plane! I so wish I were going to NCTE this year...you will love it and it will be so worth the flight. Those kids will love the books you bring them!

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  5. Thanks, Kate! Can't wait to see you!

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  6. Aww, thanks Jo! So glad to share your book with kids. Simply beautiful. See you soon!

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  7. Katherine, thanks a million times over for this. Will show Matt first thing tomorrow. Means a lot. :)

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  8. Thanks, Andrea! And thanks for the well wishes for the plane ride. Fingers crossed for a smooth flight. :)

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  9. I am so envious, Katherine. Wish I could jump on the plane & hold your hand! This is a special post about you as a great teacher, including your class in your adventure as much as you can. I hope you have a wonderful time!

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  10. So wonderful that you shared the excitement and purpose of this journey with your kids. I am plotting a way to get to the next NCTE...it sounds like such a rich experience. Enjoy!

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  11. Thanks so much, Linda. Fortunately my husband is coming with me. He's in charge of ensuring I don't completely freak out. :)

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  12. So worth it, Tara! Last year was my first time attending. I have to pay for the majority of the trip myself but I consider it a vacation. :) This time my husband is coming with me.

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  13. Thanks for talking about ARC etiquette. It's so important for all of us to take only what we'll read to our classes or will blog about.

    I love that your mom is subbing for you while you're away.

    Good luck with the flight. You'll do fine. Lots of deep breaths and good music should help! Enya perhaps!

    I'm skipping NCTE this year. Can't wait to read all of the blog posts about it later this week!

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  14. What an awesome reading community you have created! I loved that you are sharing this experience with your students - the airplane trip, the books, the authors, and presenting!!! What a powerful couple days to come! We look forward to hearing about all your journeys and the rock stars you will meet! :)

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  15. When I went to NCTE a few years ago, I was awestruck by authors. I took pictures with all of them. When I got back, I presented a PowerPoint to my students about my experience. They were as excited as I was. I love how your community of readers will be waiting to hear all about the celebrities you meet. Have a great time! Wish I was going:(

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  16. So awesome! My students are constantly amazed when I talk about "chatting" with the authors on Twitter. I can't imagine how they would react to me actually seeing one in person!

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  17. That is so awesome! What an achievement to see how much these authors mean to your students. Way to go and good luck with everything, flight included!

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  18. Your classroom world is a great place to be! This slice really captures the community you have built. How cool that each of those special authors has commented! Your classroom community includes people far beyond those four walls. Soak up all that goodness NCTE has to offer...I am hoping to be there again next year! I love that you shared the experience with your students. They are what it is all about.

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  19. LOVE this post!

    And I love that Katherine replied to Matt. She is so awesome. I tweeted her a question from one of my students this morning and by lunchtime she had responded. I love how social media has expanded the walls of my classroom.

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