Monday, 14 November 2016

Heading to NCTE this weekend? So am I.

ncteMy first job after graduate school was teaching high school English. I was a member of the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, but I never got to a national conference. Educator friends have told me how good it feels to be surrounded by people who love all things reading, writing, and learning.

This year’s conference theme is both timely and necessary, “Faces of Advocacy.” As educators, we must advocate for ourselves and our students in so many ways. Classrooms need to be a safe space for all of us, no matter our ethnicity, race, religious beliefs, or background.

Below is my annotated conference schedule. Stop by and say hello!


NCTE 2016

Saturday, November 19

9:30-10:45 am
Writing for a Better World: Poetry as an Agent of Change
Georgia World Congress Convention Center B210

Program Description: When headlines shout tragic news, we often feel powerless. Yet poetry can help. In this session, a panel of teachers and poets share ways to respond to world events and work to make positive change through poetry, beginning at the most personal level and later echoing out into the world.

Margaret Simon is the program chair. Katherine Bomer is a respondent. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Irene Latham, Margarita Engle, and Tara Smith are the other authors on this panel.

Notes: Many of our students are struggling with how to respond to the recent presidential election. This is going to be a powerful discussion about how we can use poetry as an agent of change and a source of comfort. I’m looking forward to the conversation, and to meeting several longtime Poetry Friday blogging friends.

4:00-7:30 pm
SCBWI Member Book Signing and Reception
Georgia World Congress Convention Center A411

Sponsored by the SCBWI Southern Breeze. The signing runs from 4-5:30 with a reception following. At the reception, 14 authors — including me — will have a chance to pitch their books to attendees. Should be fun!

Sunday, November 20

9:00-9:45 am
Georgia World Congress Convention Center, Random House Booth #412

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM
Writing Strategies for Teaching Empathy Through POV
Georgia World Congress Convention Center A310

Program Description: Seeing the world from another’s point of view is a key element of empathy—a necessary component of advocacy. In this interactive session, three authors and writing teachers will engage participants in a series of fun, hands-on, easily replicable POV writing activities designed to create an appreciation for others and their communities.

Victoria J. Coe and Cheryl Lawton Malone are the other authors leading this workshop.

Notes: I’m looking forward to co-leading this workshop with Vicki, author of the middle grade novel FENWAY AND HATTIE, and Cheryl, whose debut picture book is DARIO AND THE WHALE. We’ve been hard at work on this session. Each of us is presenting one writing exercise for teaching students point of view.

I’m rounding out the conference by meeting up with a 100 Thousand Poets for Change friend, poet and educator Waqas Khwaja, who is a professor at Agnes Scott College. You can read an interview with Waqas here. I also encourage you to read his poem, “I Bide My Time.”

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, everyone!



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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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