Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Travel Mishaps Tip My Balance

What's a trip without a bit of a ruffle here and there? A week after my trip to St. Louis for the International Literacy Association 2015 Conference, I can be a bit humorous about my misadventures, but while traveling there was no laughter involved. In fact, the issues that arose tipped my positivity balance to a negative total. To read Part I of my story you can click here. Part II continues with a few snafus. 

Part II - #ILA 15, Transforming Lives Through Literacy Day 2
As I departed the St. Louis Airport, I was immediately struck by a thickness in the air. The heat index was a dangerous high 90 degrees that felt more like 105 degrees. I felt immersed in a wave of intense heat with no breeze at all. This is called "Welcome to the Midwest," as many Missourians told us. I was so glad to be out of the airport with a phone in hand that I tried to ignore the heat as my colleague Michele and I jumped on the Metro to our hotel. Due to the mishaps at the airport, we arrived too late to register for the convention but the cool air in the hotel made up for any discomfort lugging bags from the Metro to the hotel. Remind me not to do that again.

After checking in we met up with Laura Purdie Salas, friend and poet whom I met for the first time at NCTE 14. As we strolled down the street in front of the Convention Center we found an interesting Peruvian place to dine. While the food was delicious, the stress at the airport, sinus issues, and eating late kept me from having a full night's sleep, so Day 1 did not sit well.

"Books are like fortune cookies. They both have life lessons."

Day 2 started out early with the Heinemann VIP Breakfast thanks to Stephen Perepeluk. Lucy Calkins was the keynote presenter hosting her own version of a fireside chat in an intimate setting, as she said. While I have heard Lucy speak in various settings for the past 20+ years, this time was special because of the small groupingAn added treat at the breakfast was a gift of a notebook. This became a perfect conference journal. Unfortunately, I left this journal in a session on the last day, so I am relying on my memory to recreate conference moments while waiting for the arrival of my conference notebook.

At the start of the conference there were so many decisions to make: which sessions to attend, when to visit the exhibits and stop to eat, and which sights of St. Louis to visit. Michele and I decided to start with a walk to the Arch-a must see tourist spot. The sun was blazing hot in the early morning so the trip was short-lived. When, I arrived back at the convention center, I was greeted with a line into the Exhibit Hall that stretched what seemed to be a couple of city blocks. When I finally arrived at the front of the line, I was ushered into another area to get a "dolphin label" to attach to my rolling cart. Little did I know that I had to declare that I needed a medical clearance to bring the bag into the exhibit area. Positivity undone #2. I was indeed provided the label after much discussion about my torn rotator cuff. Once I was in the hall, the trick was how to maneuver among the hundreds of people storming the doors. Was it Bastille Day, I mused when I saw the crowds trying to enter from all entrance doors? The books in the bag became rather clumsy so a quick trip to the UPS station fixed that dilemma about how to get the books home. 

Day 2 Sessions Attended:
  • Collaboration of Authors and Teachers: Diverse Perspectives Through Literature (Sue Christian Parsons, Kekla Magoon, Janet Wong, Eugene Yelchin)
  • The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing (Ruth Culham, Lester Laminack, Kate Messner)
  • Shaping Reading Identity Through Community, Story, Engagement, and Choice (Teri Lesesne, Donalyn Miller) 
  • The Global Read Aloud-How a Read Aloud Connected 200,000 Students (Pernille Ripp)
  • Big Lessons in Small Texts: The Craft We Teach in the Poems We Love (Georgia Heard, Penny Kittle)
The day closed with a walk to the Scholastic Author's Party at Kemoll's, a restaurant in St. Louis with a spectacular view of downtown St. Louis. It is always wonderful to sit and talk with familiar Scholastic friends and authors, like Laura Robb, Ruth Culham. I also met Pam Allyn who agreed to address Long Island educators this fall at our professional development programs. 

"It is in the hearing of stories that we become fully human."
C.W. Christian

Be aware that my story has not concluded but that tale 
is for yet another day. 

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