March 12, 2019 - Michael Salinger
Michigan Reading Association ’19, Grand Rapids, MI
So, Sara and I slept in the same bed as the President of France. Well maybe not the exact same bed – he did stay in the same room 38 years earlier they’ve probably replaced the mattress since then.
Michigan Reading always treats us like we’re actually important, but they went out of their way this time. When Sara and I entered the suite that they had given us for their annual conference we looked at each other and laughed. “They must have made a mistake!” Sara thought out loud. “Well, I’m not telling.” I replied.
Of course, there was no mistake – I’m sure they got some suite sweet deals by booking as many rooms as they did, and it was really generous of the powers that be to slip us one.
Great treatment is something we’ve come to expect from our friends in the mitten state. We are return presenters at their summer conference and have been to their big winter extravaganza several times too. We shared the podiums this time with some of the big wigs in literacy and had the first opportunity to sign our new Scholastic teacher resource – From Striving to Thriving Writers – with all three collaborators because Steph Harvey was also in attendance. (I didn’t ask her what kind of room she got – I didn’t want to jinx our own deal.)
I presented, with Sara providing shrewd and applicable interjections, on our writing element approach to writing instruction in an early breakout where I worked with about a dozen folks on a strategy to help students really understand metaphor well beyond the “comparison without using like or as” trope. Donalyn Miller was speaking opposite my session about the importance of book choice, availability, classroom libraries and loads of other critical and time-tested truths of literacy. Her book, written with Michigan educator Colby Sharpe, Game Changer chronicles a whole bunch of these concepts in one place. A must have. Even though our numbers were few – we sat around one large round table together – we really connected an I’m looking forward to the student samples our participants promised.
Our afternoon session co-presented with Stephanie Harvey was well attended and well received – we’re dialing in our jumpstart writing message and the practices we’ve developed in the classroom over the last couple decades are resonating with teachers who know they have students who could use a little extra boost in their writing instruction.
Our final session was Sara presenting on her Jane Addams award winning novel, The Enemy. I played tech guy and cheerleader in the back of the room. Then we had to say goodbye to our luxurious home away from home – but we sure looked forward to waking up in our own bed.
So, thanks Michigan Reading for treating us like the President of France – and we’ll see you this Summer at Shanty Creek for the warm weather version of the conference!