5 Reasons to Submit a Proposal to PCTELA 2016

The end of February fast approaches, and this Friday we want to ask you, why haven’t you submitted a proposal for our 2016 Conference in State College, PA? Submission is easy, just go to this online form to submit your opportunity for professional growth. Our theme this year is “Congruent Worlds, Convergent Practice: Re-Storying Self, School, and Society” and the conference will take place on October 14-15 October at The Penn Stater in State College, PA. Proposals are due  by March 25.

Here are 5 reasons why you should submit a proposal for our 2016 Conference:

  1. You have an exciting idea to share.
    Our conference is all about exchanging ideas.  Do you have an exciting new way to help students make meaning from texts? A tip on reading strategies? An inquiry question you’re exploring? The conference is a great way to share your thoughts, findings, and questions.
  2. You want feedback and an opportunity to collaborate with other colleagues.
    The conference isn’t just about formal presentations–it is about conversations, networking, and the chance to just sit and talk with teachers, student-teachers, and authors.
  3. You want to rediscover the joy of self-directed professional development.
    Sometimes we crave professional development, but don’t always find what we’re looking for in our own schools. The PCTELA conference allows you to choose sessions based on interest, grade level, and time slots.  We have sessions for elementary, middle-level, secondary, and post-secondary teachers.  We also have sessions with published authors, keynote addresses from authors, and plenty of opportunities to talk about our craft.
  4. You’ve always wanted to present at NCTE, but want an opportunity to practice in a smaller venue first.
    The PCTELA conference is smaller in scale compared to the national conference, but our sessions are packed full of encouraging, interested audience members.  You’ll have the full experience of presenting at a conference but you won’t have to travel far to do so.
  5. You want an excuse to visit State College, PA during the fall. 
    State College, PA is a lovely destination in the fall.  Visit local sites like the Arboretum, the Nittany Lion Shrine, or Mount Nittany when the conference is done for the day.  Take your family along and experience a Penn State sporting event, or dine at one of the many local restaurants.

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5 Reasons to Submit a Proposal to PCTELA 2016

When a Student Lends a Book…

I love when students bring me a book and tell me to read it.  Although I do that for them so often, (here, take this, read this, you’ll love it!) it is surprisingly rare to have a student bring in a book for me. And you know as well as I do there’s a huge difference in telling someone to read a book, or recommending someone read a book, compared to putting that book into that person’s hands.  THAT will encourage most people to at least leaf through the book.

Last week I had the good fortune of having not one, but two students hand me books and tell me I would love them. They were both right.

One book, Oph293583elia, by Lisa Klein, is essentially a re-imagining about Ophelia from Hamlet, and it considers the story from her perspective–a motherless daughter with only a obsequious, sycophant for a father, and an absent older brother.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read, as the version of Ophelia that Klein imagined matched my imagined version of her.  Early in the play she appears sharp and sassy, and I’ve always struggled with accepting she’d just let herself drown. Since we are reading Hamlet in class, it was perfect timing.


The second book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni, is a refreshing look at how it doesn’t actually matter where you go to college–what matters is HOW you go to college.  This is no surprise to me, or22675976 many other adults, but I think the data collected in this book roundly trounces the concept of the US News and World Report‘s list of top colleges.  With the fervor and obsession many students have about getting into the “right” college, this book seems a timely publication asking us to reconsider why we go to college, and how we choose colleges.


So the next time you need a good book recommendation, turn to your students, they may surprise you.


Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

When a Student Lends a Book…

The Play’s the Thing

I’ve recently decided to read more plays for pleasure reading. And why not? After the successful adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and the recent performance of the Hamilton musical number at the Grammys, it seems plays (and musicals) may be back en vogue. The benefits of reading plays in my downtime are plentiful.

I can read most plays in one short sitting, usually an hour or less.  It feels like a more intense, more raw experience.  Driven by dialogue, plays contain characters who must define themselves with what they say (or don’t say).  There can be no reliance on long narrative explanations––they must speak for themselves.  I am increasingly awestruck at playwrights who can create depth of character in such short space.

Plays, like novels, capture the zeitgeist of a time, but the method of doing so illuminates the mannerisms of the people portrayed in quick brushstrokes. Annie Baker’s The Flick, a 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning play started me off on this kick (thanks to my department head for the copy of the play). Recently I’ve devoured Eve Ensler’s Necessary Targets, 2003 Pulitzer winner Nilo Cruz’s Anna in the Tropics, and Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, Wit.

If you’re looking to challenge your reading and expose yourself to a quick, satisfying story, consider reading modern plays.  So step aside from the Shakespeare for a while, and read the bards of our time.

Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

See this link (image below) for more plays:

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The Play’s the Thing