NCTE 2013

My journey to Boston began with big expectations, plans, hopes, and aspirations along with one little suitcase.


As a new NCTE member, I was ecstatic to go to BOSTON! for an ENGLISH TEACHERS convention. That’s a lot of greatness thrust onto one sentence!

The only missing piece to make it any better would be a kitten *sigh*

We were originally going to drive to Ashley’s parent’s house which was a only a couple of hours away from Denver as opposed to a five hour drive early Thursday morning (and by early, I mean we had a very early flight). Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not like our plan and decided to mix things up with the threat of a heavy snowstorm beginning late Wednesday night. And oh boy was she right. We went all the way to Denver Wednesday night and woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow as Lindsey points out in this picture:


The shuttle was delayed Thursday morning so I managed to grab a picture of the whole group (minus me) as we waited in the hotel lobby:


To Boston we went!


I can’t mention the trip to Boston without mentioning our unexpectedly amazing flight. Dr. Ellington booked the cheapest nonstop flight to Boston which just happened to be with JetBlue Airlines.

I thought it was a joke when they put out a case of water before we boarded and said to help ourselves. They even let us know that they were going to wait to ask the next boarding group to go because the line was backed up and it was getting cold in the airway.

And it just kept getting better.

We received complementary drinks and snacks while everyone watched their own TV with FREE cable. Not kidding, folks.

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We were so excited to get an entire can of soda and a snack for free.

Best day ever!

I caught up on homework, reading Gulliver’s Travels, while enjoying the flight.


On the way back to Denver, while waiting to board, the flight attendant played New England Patriots trivia and the prize for answering a question correctly was a deck of JetBlue cards.

I have officially decided that I love JetBlue.

Although I will note that it isn’t much fun to be in Boston the day after New England beats the Broncos. I learned that you’re the butt of a lot of jokes.

Anyway, we stayed at the Midtown Hotel in Boston which was only two blocks away from the convention center. Coincidentally, a scene in the recent movie, Ted, was filmed at the hotel.


Thursday night our group experienced fine dining in Boston. You can read all about our cuisine experience in Maggie’s foodie blog.

We decided to get up early and be at the hotel by seven the next morning in order to attend the new member breakfast. They fed us while getting us jazzed up about all of the sessions. It was definitely worthwhile.


We then got checked in at the convention and got our seats for the opening session. Mariah’s blog post tells all about this session.

The rest of the day we all went our own ways and attended sessions that interested us. I went first went to a session all about inquiry-based teaching. And this session was so packed we had to sit on the floor by the door:


It was an excellent presentation but what I will remember most happened when the presenters halfway through the session asked for our questions.

One teacher raised her hands and asked, “What if we haven’t read everything that our students are reading?” By her facial expressions and tone of voice, we could tell that she had never dipped into inquiry-based methodology. In fact, it seemed as if this lady had never experimented with student-centered anything.

The presenters fielded her question eloquently and explained that it would be impossible to read everything the students were reading and that was okay. They even said that their students are excited to show them what they’re learning and teach the teacher something new.

For the next session, Reba and I had quite the experience. We went to two sessions and ditched them both before winding up on the floor outside of an already packed session called “Faking the Grade.”

We nearly stumbled over a large group of people sitting outside of the room before deciding to join their impromptu grading session.

There was no presenter. There was no agenda. And it was wonderful.

We had the opportunity to learn about how other English teachers are grading in their classrooms, exchange Twitter accounts, and truly network with real teachers.

proxy[1]I’m in the red pants and Reba is in the striped shirt.

I learned about Rock Wormeli’s grading series on Youtube, got insight about a grading cube to grade student papers, and followed Sarah Zerwin on Twitter!

The next session I attended was a bust. It was all about teaching Dystopian Literature in your classroom but the presenters were all grad students more interested in applying Derrida to whole class novels.

I left before it was over.

Reba and I needed a break so we had a picnic before learning about social justice in the classroom.


The best part of this session was the social justice haiku book I got from one of the presenters.

1469928_10153541331840004_1244226450_n[1]He has his students write haiku’s about a social issue and then makes origami booklets and gives them to the students and puts them in the library, offices, etc. I love the idea of publishing my students work and this little origami book is just so darned cute.

We got to explore Boston…

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…before going to more sessions.

I went to a project-based learning session and a personal-learning network session before hearing my favorite presenter, Penny Kittle. I had to get a picture with her before the session started:


(She’s in green)

Lindsey also had to get a picture with her, too.

1471380_10153541340145004_1346468422_n[1]In this session, she talked about revision in her writer’s workshop. I love the books she’s written but she is an excellent presenter. She read a piece that one of her student’s wrote and it brought tears to my eyes. Ashley details this in her blog post.

Kelly Gallagher also presented at this session. Needless to say, the room was packed:

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Next up was Nancie Atwell. Yes. NANCIE ATWELL! Of course, I had to get a picture with her as well:


(She’s in black)

Nancie also read student work that filled my eyes with tears. It’s a testament to her methods when she can get students to write like she does. I have all the more respect for her.

Sunday just happened to be my 21st birthday and my birthday wishes came true:


I got to meet Penny Kittle (and get a non-creepy picture with her)! Don’t tell her, but I might frame this one and put it in my future classroom.

My class loves Penny so much that we all released little girly screams when she favorited our tweet in class.


Not to brag, but I was the one to write her name with the heart.

But Imagine everyone as we actually met the woman!


So cool!

She presented at the ignite session which featured multiple presenters who each had five minutes to share. I learned about video games to pop culture to tech to poetry in the classroom. It was a good variety of topics with good presenters, although Penny was by far THE best presenter.

I finished my NCTE sessions with “Rethinking Struggle” and “Rigor NOT Rigor Mortis.”

In the latter presentation, Kylene Beers presented alongside Kelly Gallagher and they did not disappoint.

My favorite part of this session was when Kylene talked about how some people tell her the videos she shows of her students isn’t fair. She refuted this absurd argument by saying, “If you think your students learn better with a camera in the room, put a damn camera in your room!” She was a hoot.

In Exhibit Hall, publishers gave free books and I ended up with 20 free books.


I previewed all of these books in my vlog.

I even got a picture with Judy Blume!


Overall, this was a trip to remember:


Stupendous learning artifacts

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I ended my trip with the Cheers bar to celebrate my 21st birthday.


I met the president of NCTE, saw Judy Blume, and got a picture with Penny Kittle…I am SO ready to be an English teacher.