Sunday, November 20, 2005

NCTE Pittsburgh

Last week, I went to NCTE in Pittsburgh last week. We got there on Wednesday and went to the Church Brew Works. This was formerly (until ten years ago) a Roman Catholic Church. They decided to consolidate churches, and this one was going to be torn down . . . until they decided to turn it into a brewery. It was a beautiful church, and the beer was good as well. I also had the best pierogi there.

Aaron was very happy that there were so many Polish people there. He felt very at home. At the brewery we met two Pittsburgh natives. Aaron ended up meeting Rob, an optometrist for lunch on Friday. They visted the Penn Brewery. Enough about him.

Thursday morning I went a National Writing Project session to start the day. I went to one about New Theories in Composition and Rhetoric. One of the presenters was from Rutgers and the other was from Little Rock. Actually, the Little Rock person's new department chair was my former professor at Missouri State (SMSU), George Jensen.

It was interesting to hear her talk about rhetoric because it made me really see how much I had learned from both my rhetoric and qualitative research courses. I don't think the presentation would have been as valuable if you had not been reading some of these theoretical pieces. I feel like she made a few assumptions about what the audience would know--she didn't give any concrete ideas to bring back to writing projects--except for one.

She talked about in the summer institute interviews that they asked people to articulate their beliefs and then describe how they translated those beliefs into their teaching. She said some decide not to attend after this conversation. Really successful participants of writing projects do have an understanding of theory, although a Gateway writing project participant and I, Astra, had a good laugh because we don't have enough people to turn away!

Thursday afternoon I went to some NCTE sessions. I went to a session on Young Adult literature and a filled to capacity session on five-paragraph essays (they happened to be in the same room and I just planted myself). Guess what? Her study showed that there is no correlation between five-paragraph essay format and high scores on standardized tests. She said zero correlation. Could that be right? I mean, I know that it is correct, but zero?

I'll be posting more updates on this event.

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