Friday, March 25, 2011

Fun with Barry Lane at the IRC Conference

Okay, I just can't help myself:  I have to post this tongue-in-cheek video that Barry Lane and Christine Boardman-Moen put together at the conference with the help of some other teachers who are good sports.  It's a hoot, and very well acted, I might add!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

IRC Conference

Well, well, well --- wasn't that fun?  I sincerely hope that everyone at the conference enjoyed themselves as much as I did, learned a lot, and got a chance to recharge and get some new ideas to take back to the classroom.  A huge thank you to the volunteers, the conference committee chairs and members, the office staff, the executive board, the past presidents, the featured speakers, the attendees, and everyone at both of the hotels and the convention center who worked so tirelessly to make the conference run so smoothly and provide such high quality  professional development for everyone attending.

Over the next several days, I hope to post pictures here from the conference and perhaps some video, along with more information, like the fact that 25 IRC local and special interest councils brought Hall of Council displays to the conference - I believe that's got to be a record!  Good for them, and good for Karen Ringas, Director of Membership Development, who engineers the whole Hall of Councils event.

I personally had such an incredible time at the conference that it could only have been better if I could have cloned myself and gotten to more sessions.  AND if I had remembered to get the rest of my books signed.

Literacy Experts Get Down with Barry Lane!
Today (the Sunday after) has been spent in a fog.  I had four hours of sleep each of four nights in a row, and I am not allowed to have caffeine (medically), so I had to rely on vitamins.  They didn't do enough on that last day, but meeting and hearing the incredibly talented Marc Brown made the day a truly special one.  What a sweet and kind person!

The car is almost all unloaded, and most of the laundry is done, but my feet are still swollen and sore from the Literacy Cabaret and the last day.  Note to self: new black sandals must be on my horizon!

So what's up with this blog, now that the conference is over?  Honestly, I'm going to continue my quest to read books and write about them here; I see no reason to stop now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tomorrow! IRC Conference!

Where, oh where has the last year gone?  I don't know, but I know it wasn't enough time for me to read 546 books!  I still need to count up how many I actually did read, and maybe I will do that tonight before I go to bed.  I KNOW there will be people asking me at the conference!  And there are still lots of other details to still attend to tonight, including packing my clothes / shoes / electronics / schedule / etc.

My husband is in the next room helping me out with some little goodies that I'm giving to the Executive Board and the Office Staff as a thank you, and I am typing up my schedule for the conference.  I've found over the last several years that it helps tremendously for me to have a written chart for each day of where I need to be when and what I'm supposed to be doing there.  If you decide you'd like to run for VP and be the Conference Chair, you will need to plan out your time in great detail as well.  It's one of the reasons I'm not worried about anything going awry over the course of the next few days; the whole conference is planned in much more detail than most people can imagine.  We are so lucky to have the office staff that we do and the great volunteers that plan and execute in such great detail as well!  Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this conference another wonderful one.

And I have to say that hard work has paid off: as of today we have 2,857 people registered for the conference!  I remember last year, when schools started cutting professional development money, I thought the only people who would get to come to the conference were the featured speakers and the executive board - and some of them weren't sure they could even make it until just recently.  So this is huge!  The teachers of Illinois have spoken, and they are saying clearly that they know what kind of professional development they want and they know where they can get it.  I am so proud to be from this state!

Check out the forecast for the Springfield area, too: it's going to be really nice, but we might get some rain on Thursday, so bring an umbrella!

If your travel plans allow, please plan on stopping by the Welcome Reception Wednesday night from 6:30 - 8:30 in the Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom. There will be snacks and a cash bar, and the President of the International Reading Association will be there to say hello to you all!  We will also give away our awards to legislators, so you will get to spend some time with the folks who are fighting the good fight for the children of Illinois right along with you.

Don't forget - if you come up to me at the conference and tell me something you learned from reading this blog, you'll get a free door prize!  But also remember that it has to be something that someone else has not yet told me, so come with a couple of tidbits.  I hope I've provided you with enough information so far - and that you come grab me early on!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reading Challenge

Well, just how far into my reading challenge am I?  I don't actually know, though I'm going to try to total up the books I've read before the conference starts next Wednesday evening.  I read 18 books at the Lincoln Library today and finished one of T.A. Barron's books in my car as well (The Great Tree of Avalon:  Child of the Dark Prophecy).

I've learned a couple of things about myself as a reader by listening to this book, and also about my car and what my next one will be like.  As a reader, listening to a book on tape reminds me of the strategy of rereading because yes, my mind does occasionally wander when I read and I need to back up and reread.  So you can imagine, while I'm driving, that I'm focused on more than the book at hand!  Mostly I listened to this book on the stretch of interstate between here and work; that's nearly half an hour each way.  But it was frustrating running errands in town or driving to the gym because I kept wanting to find out what was happening in the story, and I knew I shouldn't listen while I was navigating traffic lights and other vehicles!  So I'd have to occasionally back up the cd to 'reread,' and then I finally got smart and stopped listening altogether while I was in town.  As a listener, I found myself wondering about the spelling of words that are new to me, which in this case were primarily names of people / creatures, and places.  It was comforting to remember that I have copy of the book, so I can look up these words and see them spelled eventually rather than just wonder about it forever.

What I learned about my car is that, unlike my last one, this one doesn't let run the cd back; I can skip back to the previous track, but that's it.  That means that if I'm listening to a track of the book and about 2 1/2 minutes into it realize I've missed something, I can't just run it back a tad; I have to skip back to the beginning of the track, which means repeating the entire 2 1/2 minutes to get to the last little bit that I missed.  Not that the wandering actually happened often with this book: it's action packed and full of amazing descriptions of wild, new places.  I've decided Tom Barron just really likes to make things up, and he does an extraordinary job of doing it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

IRC Conference - Just Around the Corner!

Let's see, wasn't I going to post a new blog entry every day for the first month before the conference?  And wasn't I going to try to do a vlog entry?  Well, the first would have gotten done if I'd had more .... what's that stuff called?  Time?  And the second would have gotten done if I had better make-up.  Maybe I’ll still try.

As for the reading goal, I'm somewhere between 100 and 200 books out of over 500, and the conference begins in a week and a half.  Think I'll make it?  Me neither!  But am I going to stop trying?  Heck no!  As a matter of fact, I plan on hitting the Lincoln Library again tomorrow to knock out around 20 more books.  At the same time, I'm listening to T. A. Barron's Child of the Dark Prophecy (Book One of The Great Tree of Avalon trilogy) in my car while I drive to and fro, and I’m reading my first “Pals in Peril” book (M.T. Anderson):  The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen in the extra elusive snippets of time that show up, usually before I turn out the light before bed.  Mind you, I’m reading that one out of order.  The first one is Whales on Stilts, but I have neglected somehow to purchase that one; while I really abhor reading books out of sequence, I’m taking one for the cause this time and will just plan on confusing myself later.  

I do have to share two things with you about The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen.  First of all, here’s a summary of the book from the front flap:  “Looking forward to a vacation, Katie, Lily, and Jasper attach their flying Gyroscopic Sky Suite to the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort, where they mingle with other child heroes found in books, and where they become embroiled in a mystery involving lederhosen-clothed quintuplets and a screaming ventriloquist.”  Sound wild?  Classic Anderson.  I’m telling you, if you have not read his work, you are missing out big time.  To illustrate my point further, last night I was sitting there reading, and I came across the following passage that made me laugh out loud:

“Also, keep your eyes open for things that might make people look suspicious.  Sometimes a little subtle detail that might escape you at first turns out to be the thing that really matters most.  For example, does a particular character carry a sword?  Does a particular character walk on all fours, bobbing his head up and down?  Does a character suspend you over a pit of lava and say, ‘Soon it will be mine!  Mine!  Mine, I tell you!’?  In the difficult world of police detection, it’s often little clues like this that give the game away.”  (page 31)

And back to Barron.  As I have come to expect, Barron’s book is rich in description, both of the setting and the action.  He has created a cast of characters, major and minor, that are unlike any other, and they are all about to come crashing together (at the point where I’m listening).  It’s this kind of book that makes me wonder about how it is some people are so creative that they can dream up these incredible worlds and creatures while others can’t even imagine putting grape jelly on their toast in the morning instead of strawberry.  Anyway, I thought about bringing the CD in to the house tonight and listening to it with my headphones, but then I wouldn’t get any reading done on the Anderson book, and I wouldn’t get my work done for the conference – which reminds me, I’d better get busy! 

For those of you who are entertaining the idea of possibly running for Vice-President and so planning one of these conferences, it’s a week and a half before the conference, and here is a partial list of what I have been doing this past weekend and some of what I still need to do:

*Figure out what to wear, and buy normal people clothes so that I don’t look the way I usually do (and if you know me well, you know how much I hate to shop – really.  I did NOT get that gene.)  I also have to figure out whether I’m going to need the pink boa or the red boa for Friday night … (almost partially half-way done)

*Get to Pier One Imports to buy the director’s chairs – yes, we’re going to have the featured speakers autograph them again this year and give one away!  Got this one done today.

*Write my thank-you’s to the featured speakers and committee chairs – I have one done and one to go, and these are due tomorrow.

*Write thank you’s to the kind folks who sent us promotional materials to give away.  I consider myself half done with this because I have the cards, envelopes, and addresses.  (Okay, so I am delusional.)

*Check in with the Veep (Pat Braun) to see if she has all of the introductions written and help her finish up what she doesn’t have done.  (They’re supposed to go out in the mail tomorrow – I suspect she has these all finished because if you know her at all, you know what a ball of energy she is!)

*Check in with the tech guy at the University on when I should pick up the laptops for the Internet Café.

*Oh yeah, clean out the rest of my car so there’s somewhere to PUT the computers.

*Ask the University folks who they use for recycling to see if the Convention Center can get recycling bins from the same folks.

*Get back to Staples because when I was there today I forgot to get lamination pockets.

*Try to find some different white foam board so that I can fix my big, beautiful, blue display.

*Finish cd’s for the meals.

*Call to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned.  (We ALL want me to do that.)

*Make a list of what happens at each meal (awards, etc.)

*Finalize the dinner seating so Pat can get the place cards in the right places.

*Create my own lists of where I have to be when and what I have to do when I’m there.

So there are some deadlines that need to be met for the sake of the office personnel who are doing all the putting-together of things, and there are some self-imposed deadlines as well.  And a host of other things that I can’t tell you about here …..

And then there’s my job!  There’s so much going on there it’s not funny.  So yes, the last weeks before the conference begins are full, full, full, but I’m not worried about it getting done.  I talked to someone today who said “Are you getting freaked out yet?” and I honestly have to say that no, I’m not.  I don’t really expect to be, either.  I’m excited as all get out, but I don’t believe there’s anything to worry about.  It is going to be a blast, and I hope everyone enjoys themselves! 

As for deadlines, I read a great quote today by the inimitable Douglas Adams:  “I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  No disrespect intended for the IRC office – I really don’t like to miss deadlines, but I really like Douglas Adams and thought that was a fun quote.

Normally I would have all sorts of links and pictures in this blog posting, but apparently my computer has worms tonight or something and is not cooperating.  I’ll add links later, but for now, I have to finish up some conference items and go find out what’s up with Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut!