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Finding the Gems at #NCTE13

Today is National Writing Project Annual Meeting in Boston, MA, and NCTE will rev up tomorrow.  Heather and I sit in the hotel lobby watching the time remaining tick on the “free” internet access on the public computers. We plan to meet our friend Donalyn Miller for breakfast in ten minutes. She’s famous in the Readers/Writers Workshop world now, especially with the publication of her new book Reading in the Wild. We first met Donalyn when she spoke when we were fellows at our North Star of Texas summer writing institute in 2009. We trust her.

Choosing conference sessions is arduous. There are  over a billion sessions at NCTE alone. It can feel like throwing darts in the dark as we try to select sessions in which we feel we’ll learn the most.

We thought we had a plan. First, we searched the program for our trusted and favorite presenters:  Penny Kittle, Cris Tovani, Gretchen Bernebei, Linda Reif, Kelly Gallagher, Terri Lesesne, and, of course, Donalyn. We used the nifty conference app and put those on our schedule. Some of their sessions conflict with others, so we are left to choose yet again. Dang.

We still have lots of gaps and time to fill in — knowing we must walk the exhibit hall at least three times so we can gather and gather books.

So, readers, if you are in Boston, or if you are a regular conference attendee, what are your tips for choosing which sessions to attend? How do you decipher and choose amongst all the billions of presentation offerings.

How do we find the gems?

Psst. We are presenting with North Star of Texas Writing Project site leaders on Saturday morning at 8:00.

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