Living on the East Coast, winter travel can be tricky, so I don’t do too many speaking events in January and February. But when the Wisconsin State Reading Association asked if I’d speak at their annual convention and Authors Festival this week, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The weather, thankfully, held off just long enough for me to arrive in Milwaukee on Thursday. We had to circle the airport a few times while they plowed the runway, and here’s what it looked like when we landed.
On Friday, I spoke to Wisconsin teachers and librarians in two separate sessions — “Letting Kids Lead,” focused on transcending the one-answer sort of thinking that standardized tests promote and helping kids develop problem-solving and divergent thinking skills through authentic literacy activities, and then “Real Revision,” focused on writing that goes beyond those single-draft test questions. The lead learners in both of my sessions were absolutely fantastic – rolling up their sleeves to write and revise and try out world-building and mystery crafting activities they might share with their students later on.
Friday night, we had a wonderful dinner with the WSRA organizers and Authors Festival Committee. There was lots and lots of laughter coming from our room at the restaurant!
On Saturday morning, the festival authors got to spend time with young writers from area schools, which was such a wonderful way to end the conference. Jack Gantos had us all laughing during the morning breakfast.
I worked with two different groups, sharing some stories from my own research and writing adventures, and then we did some brainstorming and mystery crafting together.
I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity, in addition to working with the teachers and librarians on Friday. The young writers in my sessions were amazingly enthusiastic and talented, and I have no doubt I’ll be reading some of their books one day.
Thanks so much, Wisconsin Reading Association! I loved spending time with your teachers and young writers, and I can’t imagine a warmer welcome on a snowy weekend.