November 21, 2018 - Michael Salinger

NCTE 18 – Houston we have NO problem.

My favorite sport is reading.


Shirts that Sara and I scored!

Sara and I love going to the National Council of Teachers of English conference. We’ve been going to NCTE for a couple decades and each one has been an opportunity to connect with friends new and old and to learn and grow.

This year’s iteration was especially fulfilling. We have a new book to promote – From Striving to Thriving Writers which we wrote with invaluable input from Stephanie Harvey and published by Scholastic.


Alan Gratz and myself.

Sara and I presented on some of the strategies from the book along with 8th grade teacher Katie Lufkin. Katie has tested our ideas in her classroom for years as she has gone from 6th to 4th to 8th grade in schools in Ohio and Virginia. She’s proven to be a wonderful asset to our work and can always be counted on to run a new idea “in the real world” at a minute’s notice. She does this because she is a dedicated and progressive teacher with an eye for great new strategies – she’s also Sara’s daughter.

Our session went wonderfully, the room was full, and folks came up afterwards to chat about the ideas presented. Steph sat in the back of the room nodding along and got up and spoke at the end of the session reinforcing our lesson process of gradual release of responsibility. Our frameworks are a formula for success – we provide a scaffold as students are introduced to and practice essential writing elements, and then like any sturdy construction the scaffolds are removed so that the work can stand on its own.


The ballroom right before the Thanksgiving meal provided by the unnamed sponsor. 

Sara and I employ the divide and conquer technique to attending sessions at NCTE. This way we can get to double the number of the great presentations and we debrief each other afterwards. We went to break out sessions on graphic novels, teen and elementary reading, comprehension strategies and attended keynotes, cocktail parties, and a Thanksgiving style dinner provided by a sponsor not to be named.

We had a book signing at the Scholastic booth after our session where I witnessed Alan Gratz, author of the of the important book Refugee moonlighting as a tote bag distributor modeling one as a hat while doing so. That’s another great perk to being at NCTE, meeting so many talented authors who invariably turn out to be humble caring folks. I got to talk politics with Chris Crutcher, great blue herons with Ralph Fletcher, poetry with Anne Goudvis, balloons with Caroline Yoder and countless interactions with teachers and administrators.


This year’s theme was student voice and Sara and i were fortunate to hear the voice of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the opening Keynote.

The team at Scholastic gave Sara and me t-shirts emblazoned with “Reading Is My Favorite Sport” – and we didn’t even have to succeed at throwing the beanbag through a corn hole opening like the rest of the attendees vying for them. A little author privilege that we accepted.

Thank you so much to all the hard workers in Houston and NCTE who helped to make this one of the best conferences we have attended ever!

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“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
“Sara and Michael bring magic, and a contagious love of words to both students and teachers alike!” Georgia Heard - Author of Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School More testimonials...