At the Marathon, there were more than 80 presentations, so I knew I wouldn't get to most of them.
But oh! The ones I did get to were outstanding. The two that really stand out were about very different subjects: Social Justice and Puppetry.
The social justice one was actually a symposium consisting of two presentations, one by a former, beloved professor of mine, Dr. Cynthia Rosenberger, and a colleague of hers. They did a self-study with their pre-service teachers to find out their own racial biases and inquire into how those biases might be passed on to the children they would eventually teach. It was interesting and I'm sure not a question asked by enough teachers.
The other presentation in the social justice symposium was by a professor at Hamline University in Minnesota, Dr. James Francisco Bonilla. He spoke eloquently about the myth that people of color aren't interested in the environment, and touched on several interesting books and articles that discuss the two seemingly diverse issues of the environment and racism (and classism, and sexism...) together.
I left Rosenberger and Bonilla's presentations' feeling hopeful that we in this country can work through our problems - which wasn't how I felt when I walked in!
The last presentation I attended was playful, fun, and illustrated how puppets and puppetry can translate into big gains in literacy - as well as problem-solving, creativity, and conflict resolution - for children.
Presented by Judith O'Hare of You and Me Puppets, I was so excited about the prospect of puppetry that we've already put some of her ideas into practice.
Another super-nice thing that happened at the Marathon was that I tracked down the authors of Kids Have All the Write Stuff, a favorite book of mine for fostering writing in young children. Sharon Edwards and Robert Maloy were every bit as enthusiastic in person as their writing suggests (as was their fellow math presenter, Adam). I went home inspired to get my guys writing everything from grocery lists to joke books!