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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Amazing All Write - Day 1

I’ve been trying to write about All Write for a few days now.  I’m so filled with thoughts and ideas that I need to write about that it is all a jumbled mess.  I read a quote once, and included it on my resume even, that said: “Education is not the lighting of a fire, but the filling of a bucket.”  I don’t remember now who’s wise words those are, but I have thought of them many times in the last week or so.  After attending All Write last week, I can honestly say that my bucket is more than full.  It is overflowing!

My trip to All Write began with a relaxed car ride with fellow teaching buddies, Tina and Betsy.  We chatted about being many things, even which sessions we wanted to attend at the conference.  But the real fun began when we checked into the conference.  Betsy and I both spotted Elsie right away in the vender room.  Seeing a fellow blogging friend’s real live face in the crowd was great but I wasn’t brave enough to introduce myself to her just yet.

As we left the vender room, excitedly whispering our “Did you see Elsie?” comments to each other, who should be standing before us?  It was Ruth!  

“Hi Betsy and Robin!” she said with a wave and a smile.  We made plans to meet up in the hotel lobby before dinner.

The slicer/twitter friend dinner was nice.  It was so interesting to meet the people I feel like I’ve gotten to know through reading their words; to put faces with stories.  I sat at a table with fellow slicers LeAnn (Elsie), Ramona, Nanc, Cathy and Betsy.  Linda, Ruth, Christy and Mary Helen were at the table next to us.  And then…guess who joined us at the end of the table?  Carl Anderson!  When does this ever happen?  It was a bit surreal.
And the next two days were just as amazing!  The conference began with a keynote given by Carl Anderson.  He spoke about cultivating creativity through writer’s workshop.  Even though his address was interrupted by a fire alarm, it was motivating and thought-provoking. 

Next, I attended Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poetry session.  She was so bubbly and exciting!  I wrote several things in my notebook during her session that spoke to me.  She said, “Fill up on poetry and fall in love.”  Doesn’t that sound lovely?  “Look at a picture, read something, allow yourself to have a memory.”  Yes.  Amy is dynamic.  There is no other word that I can use to better explain her sparkle.

After Amy, it was back to Carl Anderson for a session on focus and elaboration.  It was just as good as his keynote and we didn’t have to leave in the middle for a fire alarm!  

Then I had the luxury of listening to Mary Helen and Tammy Shultz introduce me to a stack of beautiful picture books.  This is the third presentation I’ve seen from them and they never disappoint.  Now I think a trip to Amazon is in order!

The day ended with Ruth Ayres and Deb Gaby.  Ruth spoke about journeys.  She even gave us time to write about the topic ourselves.  (I posted my journey poem here on Friday.)  As Deb talked about conferring, she shared a quote from the book Courage by Bernard Waber.  “Courage is what we give to each other.”  Isn’t this the heart of slicing?  The comments we give to each other are little morsels of courage; courage to keep sharing our stories because our stories matter.  

After the conference, it was on to dinner with author KateMessner.  Kate spoke of the importance of having mentors, whether they know they are your mentor or not.  She had many great things to say but these words struck a chord with me.  She said “Writing for my students provided them with a mentor text.  Writing with my students made me a mentor.”  If that doesn’t make the power of writing hit home, I don’t know what will!
It’s hard to believe that all this happened in just a day and a half and there was still another day of the conference to come!  Stay tuned for more!


  1. How lovely meeting with our fellow slicers. I can not read enough of the joy, sharing and learning written about here today. It flows on from there into my life, too. I am learning from all of you. Wonderful!

  2. SO so jealous and envious. Three years ago I made the trip from Oklahoma to The All Write. It was hands down THE best learning experience I have ever had. So wish I could have gone again this year...maybe next year...looking forward to hearing about day 2!

  3. It's so exciting, Robin, to read all the reflections about the All Write conference. The thread that ties them together is connection. The strong connections made through this writing community that provides us the opportunity to write, to share, to (as Ruth says) tell our stories. This is exactly what our students need too -- a connection to feel safe and comfortable to take risks and have courage. I love it. Thanks for sharing today!

  4. Loved reading your view of a great few days for us!

  5. "Allow yourself to have a memory." That is what happened throughout the conference. I had to laugh when you described seeing me. I wish you had said something, but we did get to enjoy a meal together, so it all worked out. You have posted some wonderful thoughts from presenters I did not get to see. Thanks for sharing your thinking. What a busy day Thursday was!

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm quite jealous! Maybe next year...
    I loved the quote about courage. We do indeed give courage to each other with our slices and comments.

  7. Your slice was not a jumbled mess like mine. It was amazing and I am still feeling a touch overwhelmed, especially as I read over my notes. I'm sure your kiddos surrounded you with lots of love when you came home. I loved hearing about Amy...sad I didn't get to hers...and well...all the ones I missed. xo

  8. It's hard not to get all giddy again when I read this. We had a lot of amazing moments at the conference. I'm so glad we got to share them together!

  9. Thanks for the review of All Write. Your post makes me want to go and my teacher chord was stuck by the quote from Kate about writing with students making teachers mentors. Amazing!

  10. Robin, I've yet to convince a single friend or colleague to blog with me so it was fun to meet all of you, people who belong to my team. I loved reading your thoughts from the sessions you attended. Thank you for sharing.

  11. So great to be with you part of the time at the conference, Robin. I love that you only managed one day too. I just had to stop! What a great couple of days! Thanks for your insights too on this day. I will need to add to my notes from your post!