AETA Conference: Something happen on the way to hanging with cool authors

Date October 23, 2009

This past weekend I was accepted to speak both days at the Arizona English Teacher’s Association, which occurs in central Arizona each fall. Shelley Rodrigo and I had decided we’d present on Embracing the Chaos of Web 2.0, but I also had some other ideas. Sometimes I find there are certain technologies I’ve used for so long (in Web 2.0, this is like months) that I take then for granted. I decided to discuss the use of Google Docs in collaborative peer writing and editing and creating a paperless classroom. I wasn’t sure how that would go over, albeit the people who came to see this session were wildly engaged and some were returning to entire school to implement my ideas. Pretty cool. As for the Creative Chaos presentation, at the last minute, Shelley could not attend so I asked my colleague from Scottsdale Community College, Lisa Young, to join me. She and I discussed various scenarios of how students technologies seemingly interrupt learning in the classroom, and how teachers can embrace these technologies (i.e., mobile phones, iPods, etc…) to enhance learning in the classroom.

The coolest part of the conference though was seeing PJ Haarsma, author of The Softwire Series, again. He and I have presented together a few other times, and I’ve written about my work with him HERE and HERE before. This time he brought fellow author, Frank Beddor, with him to Arizona. Frank’s primary, current work is The Looking Glass Wars. He, as I’ve written here, posited the What If Alice Liddell really did come from Wonderland and was in fact the last remain heir to the Hart throne, after her wicked Aunt Red (think Queen of Hearts) had her family slaughtered. This narrative became the The Looking Glass Wars series and the Hatter M comic series.

Jim Blasingame, board president of Kids Need to Read and ASU professor, invited several people to his home the evening of conference, including yours truly. PJ and Frank are those rare breed of author who truly cares to engage children in reading and finding innovative ways to excite children about reading. Moreover, they are just nice guys.