On Sunday May 20, about 100 librarians, teachers, authors, educators gathered at Burlington High School for Vermont’s first nErDcampVT. The name says it all, and as attendees and organizers acknowledged, only true book nerds would give up a Sunday in May to talk about books, reading, and how to make more kids love both!

The Vermont organizers from the Vermont School Library Association and Vermont Council on Reading borrowed the idea from the original nErDcamp Battle Creek which was created by the Colby Sharp of Parma, Michigan. Run as an unconference, the day started with crowdsourcing session ideas and building session plans then and there.

Here is why CLiF was happy to attend:

  1. The ideas people offered for sessions tie directly to our mission to make reading and writing fun – some pre-session ideas include: word conscious classrooms, cross-curricular programs, teaching social justice themes, science comics/non fiction in the classroom, readers theater, using humor/engaging reluctant readers, makerspaces and literature, and using music.
  2. CLiF loves to see and to support the work of our presenters. The event had a public author’s event featuring Jim Arnosky, Elizabeth Bluemle, Jason Chin, John and Jennifer Churchman, Jo Knowles, Tracey Campbell Pearson, Jan Reynolds, Leda Schubert, Tanya Lee Stone, Linda Urban, and J&P Voelkel. Plus Will Alexander, An Na, Kekla Magoon, with whom CLiF partners through the Vermont College of Fine Arts Young Writer’s Network.
  3. CLiF loves to add potential presenters, and we met lots of amazing authors, some of whom will join us as presenters!

Here are some observations:

  1. Authors and school librarians love twitter. @nErDcampVT
  2. All the notes from all the sessions are available to everyone. Click here for the schedule and from there you can access the notes.
  3. Authors are generous people who love to reach kids. Kate Messner has a list on her website of authors who do Skype visits.
  4. Authors and librarians read a lot! Here are some of the books that were recommended in casual conversation.

Pamela Voelkel sent these reflections, which I think, sum up what made the day so special.

My favorite things about the day:

– Meeting so many local authors, listening to their stories, and sharing tips for school visits and workshops

– Discussing Common Core with educators, and understanding how to best tailor cross-curricular lesson plans

– Chatting over lunch about books and social media

My absolute favorite moment was being on a panel for the publishing process, when we were discussing a point about illustration and all three illustrators on the panel whipped out their iPad Pros at the exact same time! Seems like everyone uses the same program, but for very different illustrating techniques. It was fascinating!

I just loved meeting everyone – authors, teachers, librarians, parents – and talking books all day. I came home with a bag full of contact details! Vermont has to be the nerdiest state in the union, and there is no better place to live and write. Now we have our own nErDcamp, my happiness is complete 🙂

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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