BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Fangirl

I got the opportunity to attend the annual Arizona English Teachers Association conference yesterday, and it was fantastic. Yes, I learned things in the breakout sessions. Yes, I connected with other teachers from around the state. Yes, I felt that I had some ideas to contribute to the discussions. Yes, I saw some colleagues I hadn’t seen in quite a while. All of that would have been worth it, but none of that was the highlight.

For me, the highlight was hearing some of my favorite authors speak, especially the marvelous Meg Medina. Her keynote presentation was fantastic, and she shared with us so much about her own upbringing and her childhood and teen years. It was fascinating to listen to her experiences, and how they related to the experiences she wrote for her characters, especially in her award winning novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Ms. Medina’s work, what are you waiting for? She’s also the author of Burn Baby Burn and two picture books, Mango, Abuela, and Me, and Tia Isa Wants a Car. Additionally, she has a short story included in the collection Flying Lessons, where she’s in very good company with the likes of Walter Dean Myers, Kwame Alexander, Matt de la Peña, and other phenomenal writers. She was gracious, engaging, and fully present throughout the event, participating in round table discussions and sharing her perspective. It was a pleasure and honor to meet her and learn from her.

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I also had the pleasure of enjoying a panel of local writers of middle grade and young adult books. They are a thoughtful group, and are so generous with their time and talent. Several of them have volunteered to teach workshops with my summer writers in the past, and two more enthusiastically agreed to teach next summer. The willingness of the writers in this community to share their experiences and knowledge is so impressive and appreciated.

Conferences like this one are inspiring to me, both as a teacher and as a writer. I feel fortunate to have had the experience.


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I’m Going to the Show!

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Well, not really a show. A conference. Two of them actually, back to back.

I’m going to St. Louis to the National Writing Project Conference, followed by the National Council of Teachers of English Conference. NWP and NCTE, for short.

Am I excited? You bet!

Am I nervous? Ditto!

You see, I’m supposed to present a round table discussion at NWP. I’ve never done this before. Not successfully, anyway. I’ve never even been to a big conference before. I have done a breakout session at our state conference, but only one person wandered in. By mistake. She thought I was someone else. To my shame, I didn’t graciously let her go. I forged ahead with my presentation anyway, no doubt wasting her time. You see, I was an elementary level presenter at a conference full of high school educators. Maybe not the best fit.5124Osj9s0L.jpg

At NWP however, my topic extends into middle school, and there’s a much larger audience. Maybe more than one person will stray my way. Maybe even some people who are actually interested in my topic. It could happen.

The flip side is that I’ll get the chance to be a starry-eyed kid for the rest of the time, tracking down some of my literacy idols and gathering up pearls of knowledge. I’m especially geeked to hear from Jacqueline Woodson and Rick Riordan, both authors that my students and I adore.

I’m excited for November to come rolling around so I can finally get to St. Louis.

 


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Hiding From the Sun

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So today is the big eclipse. I remember the last one, sort of. I remember my father frightening me about going blind, then creating a pin-hole viewer of some sort. Do I remember what I actually saw? No.

I thought maybe this time around it would make more of a lasting impression. My older colleagues and I all recalled the hoopla surrounding the eclipse of our childhood, and we wanted our students to participate in this scientific phenomenon. We put out the call for cereal boxes so we could make our own viewers. Then we got the edict. No eclipse viewing.

Well, I was hardly surprised. After all, we have many kids who can’t (or won’t) follow a direction as simple as pick up your pencil, so why would they follow the direction of “don’t look at this remarkable thing that you’ve never seen before and will never see again?” Cardboard boxes and dark glasses are no match for the curiosity of a kid. They might peek around those pinhole viewers and slide off those shades to get a better look, in spite of warnings of the potential danger. I might even be tempted to do those things, and I know better.

So today we’ll stay indoors for most of the day. Recess will be pushed back, PE classes will stay indoors (where they’ve been due to the heat anyway) and the entire lunch schedule will be adjusted, since our cafeteria is only accessible by going outdoors. We’ll still learn about the eclipse, and thanks to modern technology we’ll get to view it, just not in person.

If you get a chance to see if for yourself, be safe, and don’t let those funky glasses slip.