Friday, July 10, 2015

nErDcampMI 2015: A Life-Changing Event (1)

Real Talk: It's hard for me to find PD opportunities that are in line with my Educational Philosophies. 

It's hard for me to find like-minded reading people who can share in my obsession with Donalyn Miller, children's authors, talking books, breaking down the whole class novel walls, an interest in alternative seating, giving students choice ALL DAY in reading and writing, and for God's sake: GIVING KIDS MORE TIME TO READ THAN MORE READING ACTIVITIES.

Well, I've found my Tribe. I love how many people actually said this as they got up at the end of our two special days in Parma, Michigan to share what they would take away from Camp. I've found my people that understand that the rewards need to go, that whole schools should set reading examples and make an inviting reading community; my people that LOVE TO READ! 

None of this would have been possible if it weren't for my amazing husband. I had my registration completed for months and had the idea in my head for a whole year... but he made it happen. When I had no friends to go with he offered to come with me and bring our girls so I could experience the Nerdy Book Club that changed my whole world last summer. Husbands are the best.

Day One opened with Nerd Talks from Pernille Ripp, Ruth Ayres, Donalyn Miller, Lisa Graff, and Susan Haney

If you come next year, DO NOT MISS NERD TALKS! Wow! These ladies came in and got the crowd really pumped to talk literacy, story telling and books for two days. It was in a word, magical.

Pernille Ripp's Blog: Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension is not one to be missed. She declared herself a Reading Warrior and had me sitting in the audience feeling chills because she was speaking my language. She was saying everything that is in my heart.
Naturally, I tweeted it and it got my most retweets and favorites during Nerd Camp. Which lets me know, that I'm not alone... there are other Reading Warriors out there!

These are some of my favorite slides from Pernille's presentation. Everyone was tweeting that she should have just dropped the mic as she walked off stage. Powerful stuff.
Follow Pernille on Twitter: @pernilleripp

Lisa Graff was hilarious, sharing her story of becoming a reader finally when someone shared The Babysitter's Club with her, and Ruth Ayres talked about storytelling and how everyone has a story to share.

Susan Haney was fabulous. She's a principal from Parma, Michigan and the things she does in her school to help develop life-long readers are phenomenal. Here are some ideas from my favorite slides from her presentation, which I was sending to my own Admin night one.
  • She says to hire amazing teachers because that really does matter
  • Communicate with parents: share why kids should be reading each night
  • Bulletin Board, Cafeteria and Hallway walls all display book characters and settings to get kids excited about reading
  • Principal's Bookshelf: She has a shelf in her own office where kids come in during the "morning rush" and "after school scramble" to check out books (LOVED THIS!)
  • Author Visits- she suggests getting quality authors who actually engage with students, not just whoever is available and cheapest- valuable advice! (She said Linda Urban and Bob Shea were excellent)
  • They also use authors as much as they can- presentations during the school day and then workshops with kids and parents in the evening, dinner included so parents can come and have dinner with their kids and learn more about books and reading
  • Wednesday Morning Assemblies: every Wednesday she meets with two grade levels (K-1 one week, 2-3 the next, etc.) and she does book talks, book trailers and read-alouds all while the teachers HAVE TIME TO COLLABORATE! Can you believe that? Genius!
  • High School Buddies: Getting high school kids to come down and read to the elementary students because they really look up to them
She kept joking that she didn't want to go before Donalyn Miller, but she was excellent. She got the crowd laughing and Oohing and Aahing over her ideas. I'll never forget it.
Follow Susan on Twitter: @susankhaney
Donalyn came up last that morning and it's the first time I've seen her speak. To say I've been looking forward to it would be a huge understatement. She has solidified all of my reading beliefs and given me the courage to do what is right for kids in my classroom. I will forever be grateful that her book came into my life last summer. She talked about not having too much influence over student preferences when it comes to books. Our kids really look to us as readers and sometimes our influence is greater than we can imagine. She is always an advocate for student choice so she closed with a quote for Albus Dumbledore... I know, I know... I was dying.
Follow Donalyn on Twitter: @donalynbooks

After the Nerd Talks, it was time for the impossible task of choosing sessions. There were so many I wanted to attend and I mulled over the choices for weeks. I ended up picking Jillian Heise's Picture Books #bookaday in Middle Grades Session and she did not disappoint.
If you know me, you know that I LOVE to use picture books with my big kids. Who doesn't love a good read-aloud AND as Jillian points out, you can hit Theme EVERYDAY with these picture books.
EVERYDAY! You guys know how challenging Theme can be. She basically reassured that what I'm going is the right thing to do and she gave me so back up to share with others if they disagree. Not to mention, I have a long long list of titles to pick up before August!
Follow Jillian on Twitter: @heisereads

I saw Franki Sibberson present on using digital reading in workshop. That was interesting because she had some great ideas about using Padlet and other online resources for reading and sharing.

The last session I attended was Mr. Schu's on The Best Books of 2015 and Some Forever Favorites. I actually told Donalyn in the morning that I would be with her for two sessions at the Scholastic Reading Summit in Cincinnati and I would love to see Mr. Schu on Day One. She helped me decide to see him instead of her, because she said she would basically be doing the same presentation as her Keynote in Cincinnati! I was hard to not go see her, but with some reassurance I headed off to see the famous Mr. Schu!
First off, he's adorable. I love seeing someone who you can tell just lives and breathes books and that is Mr. Schu! I would love to be a teacher in a school with a Librarian like him. Wow!

My favorite part of his session (other than his talk about Ivan) was how he reads a picture books. He shared the process and it was both hysterical and endearing. Needless to say, I have always appreciated the smell and feel of books, but I've been smelling books more than ever over the past two days! Here are his session handouts and here is his website. Always go to him for recs!

Day One was overwhelming and wonderful. I'll be back to share about Day Two, but you should know that Colby Sharp just posted next year's dates so you need to mark it on your calendar and make sure that you'll be there, I know I will!


  1. Wow, I loved reading this post! It's like I could live vicariously through you πŸ˜„ can't wait for part 2! And already added nErDcampMI 2016 to my calendar, wahooooo πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ“š


  2. I'm saving money! I'm going with you next year! I'm so excited you to hear all about it! Sounds like you walked away with some truly meaningful ideas! I'm in love with the picture book a day concept. I used to use them a lot more -- now I have a balance of picture books and novels for mini-lessons and reading. If you get a list together for some good ones, you'll have to share!

    My Shoe String Life


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