VSRA 2015: Pictures and Prose


A picture is worth a thousand words right? Well, I’m not sure a thousand words or pictures could really do justice in describing my VSRA conference experience.

Was it perfect? No. Was my presentation perfect? No. What was it?  Educational! Exciting! Inspiring! And it wasn’t the big name people or the fancy vendors who were really inspiring. It was the middle school librarian who told me all about her “literary lock-in” where kids get people to sponsor them to read a whole book while locked in the library for the night to raise money for books. It was the elementary reading specialist who showed me some word analysis tools to help my students unlock words.  It was the administrator who motivated me to use wordless picture books to help level the playing field and help students find meaning. It was the person who came to my presentation and was OVERJOYED to earn the book and the beard I was giving away.

But back to those pictures:

  • Celebrity and Me: Me and Richard Allington, literacy researcher, author, and former president of the International Reading Association, in pajamas at PJ/PD.  He has a masterful way of offending people and reminds me a lot of my grandfather (my grandfather was similar in both build and disposition).  I let him give me bunny ears to show how magnanimous I can be. What I really wanted to do was give him a piece of my mind, but it’s hard to be taken seriously when you’re asking for a picture and wearing pajama bottoms with Eeyore on them.  I know he knows his stuff, and I know he means the best, but he needs to gain a better awareness of his audience when he speaks.  What I wanted was a picture of him in his pjs as proof that he did come and he was in his pajamas, but he pulled me into the picture with him.
  • Reading Level Correlation Cards: I picked one up from a vendor my first day at the conference and was super excited.  I constantly misplace the paper copy of this chart and have to reprint it.  Now I can keep it with my school ID and be able to check levels of books no matter what.  When I realized what a gem I had found I went back the next day and unscrupulously pocketed plenty to bring back for my colleagues.  I got other freebies, but these are, hands-down, what I was most excited about.
  • My Badge: I got to go to an additional fee session by volunteering as a “Presider” which meant I stood at the door to collect tickets and held up signs to let the presenters know that their time was running out.  I also got a ribbon for being a presenter.
  • My Presentation: I wrote earlier to watch for the crash and burn.  Luckily neither happened in my presentation, though I did get a muscle burn lugging all those books from the hotel to the convention center. (I need something with wheels if I ever do this sort of thing again!)  The technology worked, the people participated, and I even had a couple of people stick around afterward to ask questions and let me know how much they enjoyed it.  Again, I was most excited that the librarian (such inspiring people, librarians) who won the Book and Beard I gave away was very, very happy to earn it and couldn’t wait to put it on.
  • Other Presentations: If only I had a time turner.  There were so many interesting presentations to go to, and so many of them happened at the same time!

I also won a door prize at one of the events and found out about a summer conference even closer to me that will feature one of my favorite children’s authors!  I’ll be riding this high for a while.



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