Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quotes to Remember from the NCTE Convention

Thanks to Stacey, Dana, Tara, Betsy, Anna, and Beth, the amazing writers and thinkers who host the Slice of Life community every Tuesday. Everyone is welcome to join with posts or comments at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com!

I am still overwhelmed by the experience of having attended NCTE over the weekend. As a first-timer, I wasn't sure what to expect, and now, I'm not sure how to process, share, and grow from all of the knowledge, reflection, and challenges that came at me over a 72 hour period. For the time being, I have mined some of my notes from the conference for some of the great quotes that I wanted to remember. Most could be found on twitter, but sometimes it's nice to read great lines in different places. I am sharing them here in no particular order. Every line could probably turn into a blog post--I know that I have plenty of material to write about over the next few weeks.

"If we're not constantly asking ourselves what are the kids learning, then we're not being teachers." Vicki Vinton

"Is reading about listing facts or creating understanding. What's our goal in reading?" Fran McVeigh

"I could write some really good retroactive lesson plans." Mary Lee Hahn

"The year that I reflected about my practice changed me as a teacher." Stacey Shubitz

"Twitter is like a cocktail party. Lurk and then get in and contribute. Don't be the person who sits by the punchbowl all the time." Stacey Shubitz

In talking about student participation in the Slice of Life, it serves as "A weekly reminder that we all have stories to share. Some are buried in those moments of the day that we don't realize are important but turn out to be really important." Tara Smith

In talking about a family writing night: "Writing together gives us words to stand on, walk across, and meet one another." Dana Murphy

"When we offer kids shortcuts...we deprive them of productive struggle." Vicki Vinton

"An essayist's job is to get people to care. Kids haven't come to care about what they are writing." Katherine Bomer

"Writing is about writing to think and about writing about something you care about. Should be about thinking, questioning, changing your mind." Katherine Bomer

"Complexity and difficulty are not the same thing." Mary Ehrenworth

"By the time kids are in 6th and 7th grade, they aren't seeing the beauty in nonfiction." Mary Ehrenworth

"You're not teaching kids for the test, you're teaching them for the lives that they want to live." Mary Ehrenworth

"When your baby hits her head, she looks at you to decide on how to react. Readers look to you to decide on how to react to books. If you present books as literature, they are going to act accordingly." Matt de la Pena

"Use the books that are not about race to talk about race and use the books about race to talk about universal themes." Mitali Perkins

"If you can’t put your essay in sections, you don’t know what it is about." Rebecca Joseph

Whatever outreach we are doing with families, we should be doing more." Chris Lehman

"Help all the children learn what they really need to know." Chris Lehman

"Educators have questions. Students have wonders." Maria Caplin

There were hundreds of lines that warranted repeating, tweeting, celebrating, and shouting out. Over the next few weeks, I will write about these lines, sharing the context, meaning, and substance behind them. For now, enjoy them as thought provoking statements that inspire conversation, debate, celebration, and wonder.

Happy Slicing!


  1. Some of these I have in my collection, but many are new to me. Thanks for sharing bits of the knowledge from NCTE. We are walking on the shoulders of giants!

  2. Melanie, I love all these quotes, but this one stood out to me today after the Ferguson announcement last night. "Use the books that are not about race to talk about race and use the books about race to talk about universal themes." Mitali Perkins Yes.
    Thanks for sharing. My goal is to make it to that conference some day!

  3. Thank you for bringing so many of those important memories back. It was a call to action. And a partial answer to the Ferguson situation. Important knowledge -- we have a job to do!

  4. How can I choose a favorite, Melanie. Thanks for sharing all the wise words you discovered. So glad you had a good, good time. The first quote sits by me at my desk!

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE how you structured this post. So smart!!! Cannot wait to read your future blogs and thoughts about these quotes. It was so great meeting you -we have to find a way to connect since we are so close!
    Clare and Tammy

  6. Ah...so many fabulous little bits that you shared...I can't wait to hear more in future weeks. xo

  7. Such a delight to finally get to meet you and spend time with you Melanie. Happy Thanksgiving to your family, especially to Larkin.

  8. Melanie, I love that you compiled all these quotes in one place. I'll have to come back and read through them more slowly when I have more time. It was such a pleasure meeting you this weekend. Really. I loved talking with you. Keep me posted on your Family Writing Night plans!

  9. Love these quotes! I look forward to reading more of your posts about NCTE.

  10. Family writing night?? I want to know more about this! As a fellow NCTE first-timer, I felt so enriched by also a little overwhelmed by how much there was to experience--already looking forward to going back!