Monday, May 14, 2012

First time presenting at the International Reading Association Convention

Last summer, I submitted two proposals for the 2012 IRA Convention. One was a lively panel of authors of picture book nonfiction called “But Kids Haven’t Heard of That: Why Teaching Unconventional Nonfiction Is Important.” The other was a variation on a popular workshop I give nationwide. It’s normally “The Language of Cartoons”; I renamed this version “Teaching with Humor.”

I’d heard that it’s tough to craft a proposal due to exacting IRA criteria, and I’d heard that the audiences can have high expectations (as they should). For those reasons and more, I was doubly thrilled not only for one of my proposals to be chosen but for the session to be, in my estimation, a whopping success. Incidentally, I guessed wrong on which proposal stood a better chance of getting a yes.

On 5/2/12 in Chicago, I presented “Teaching with Humor.” (Try you again this year, “But Kids Haven’t Heard of It”!).

The room was big—it held at least 200—and I’m happy to report that it was standing room only. People continued to trickle in for a while after I started; eventually some had no choice but to sit on the floor (violation!)—and I even had a few who had no choice but to occupy the seats behind me (at the pushed-back “panel table” that had been alongside my podium). They could still see the screen but when I began drawing examples, they had to relocate and find space in front of the table.

I’m told that it is especially difficult to get a good turnout on the last day, which this was, and I was even more grateful considering my slot was perilously close to lunch.

Here is selected feedback:

Thank you, IRA, for the opportunity, thank you, attendees, for attending, and thank you again, Scholastic, for sponsoring me.

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