5 Things I Loved About Last Week #celebratelu 8/2/14

celebrate link up

I loved everything about last week. I traveled to Chicago, one of my favorite cities, for a conference.


1. Coming home. As much as I love getting to travel, I love coming home. Most of my cats were indifferent (though Fergus was very excited to see the suitcase returning–he and Abby spent the evening fighting over who would get to nap on it), but my people and my dog were glad to see me. I won’t forget the look of pure joy on my son’s face when I walked in the door. He then tried to shrug it off: “You can kiss me. You’ve been gone all week, so you deserve it.” But I know how he really felt.

2. So many pretty cups of coffee! I live in a town with no coffee shop. Actually that’s not true. There is a coffee shop, but they make espresso with an automated machine, so what comes out tastes like something you would buy at a convenience store. Coffee in local coffee shops is a big part of traveling pleasure for me. In three days, I managed to visit six different coffee shops AND still sleep at night!

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3. Exploring. The search for interesting bookstores, good Ethiopian food, and the best local coffee shops took me to Oak Park, Edgewater, and Wicker Park. I loved wandering the neighborhoods, taking photos of street art, and people-watching.

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4. Culture. I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was a mixed bag. It’s a relatively small museum, which I happen to like, and also contained only themed exhibitions rather than a chronological survey of contemporary art, which I also happened to like. I was moved by the Unbound: Contemporary Art After Kahlo exhibit and fatigued by the Isa Genzken retrospective (both because I couldn’t imagine mastering so many different mediums and also because so much of what she creates is so deeply ugly). I always leave a contemporary art museum astounded that any human being survived the twentieth century with dignity, humanity, and hope intact. I also saw a play! I decided on Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy after reading several glowing reviews and discovering that it’s a play about public school closures in Chicago. It was blistering and fierce and funny and sad and exquisitely acted. I also loved the theater itself.

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5. Learning. Although it probably sounds like I was too busy doing other things in Chicago to actually attend a conference, my very active Twitter feed shows otherwise. This was the first annual EdTech Teacher Summit, and I will be asking my institution to send me again next year, because it was an excellent conference. The two keynote speakers (Will Richardson and Jenny Magiera) were superb (and had very different narratives of public education to share); all but one of the sessions I attended was extremely valuable; and I have so many ideas to mull over. What I especially liked at this conference was its balance between the big picture thinking that drives a teacher’s philosophies and practices and the actual details of classroom life and work. The emphasis was on making and creating and connecting and the ways that technologies enable that. (All of the presentation slides are available on their website; some sessions were also live blogged; and check the #ettsummit hashtag for more.)

16 responses to “5 Things I Loved About Last Week #celebratelu 8/2/14”

  1. Wow! That conference sounds amazing! I will have to keep it on my radar for next year. Is it going to be in Chicago again next year? I love all your pictures of street art and places you visit. And the coffee is so beautiful as well. Have a great week!

    • It was very good, Andrea, but also pricey. I wouldn’t be able to attend without institutional support. Makes NCTE look like a huge bargain! I haven’t heard yet if it will be in Chicago again, but I’ll let you know. I had fun taking photos this week.

  2. What a terrific week for you, Elisabeth. Love that you got that “kiss” from your son, & he’s right, you deserve it (te he). I love the art that baristas manage to make on the coffee-amazing! Glad you had more than one cup! My daughter is the program director at Denver’s Museum for contemporary Art. I’ve seen some amazing things there, & learned more about art than I ever thought I would in these past few years. I agree, sometimes it’s not so pretty… And, happy to hear about the conference. I’m sure I would enjoy it too. So good to go right before school, too! Happy weekend!

    • How fascinating that your daughter is program director at Denver’s contemp art museum, Linda! I’m sure you must see some fascinating exhibits. I LOVE that particular museum in Denver–it’s probably my favorite contemp art museum in the country! I think they do an exceptional job of balancing really challenging pieces with pieces that are more accessible–they provide entry points for every kind of museum-goer, and I do think that’s important, especially for contemp art. I very much like and appreciate the conceptual and intellectual challenge of contemporary art. As I always tell my husband, there’s a good reason that 20th-century art is often very ugly! I was thinking of many in my PLN during this conference and realizing just how much amazing stuff I learn via Twitter. You’re right–great to go to an inspiring conference right before school starts. I have some new ideas to try out in the classroom and also feel more supported in some of the more radical things I already do.

  3. I love the picture of Fergus on the suitcase. Years ago, we had a cat who would sit on top of our Chevy. The conference sounds wonderful and your comment about contemporary art made me chuckle!

    • I wanted to leave the suitcase out for Fergus to continue enjoying, but Abby has been known to signal her displeasure in… routine change? life in general?…. by peeing on bags, so it had to be put away. So funny how cats are always so intrigued by anything new in their environment!

  4. Love all of the photos! Coffee is one of the most important things in life. I am sure that’s absolutely true. I am so glad that you got more than your “fix” and what beautiful cups! Love the “you can kiss me line” So happy for you that you had such an amazing week full of learning and rich experiences.

    • I am so easy to please when I travel: give me a good local coffee shop, and I’m pretty much good to go! Throw in a bookstore and wow! It’s the trip of a lifetime! Such a rejuvenating week!

  5. So much I loved about this post. You had me with the cats. They are so funny. It’s like they refuse to acknowledge to even notice your existence. Your boy and the coffee pics made me smile. Your reaction to the museum exhibit ” deeply ugly ” made me laugh out loud. And,this thought made me think: “I always leave a contemporary art museum astounded that any human being survived the twentieth century with dignity, humanity, and hope intact.” I wonder if the expectation of these things a recent consideration? And finally the conference sounds wonderful. The dynamic between the big theory and the nitty gritty details is where we all struggle to make sense. Thanks for all of this.

    • I thought my special little cat, Frances, might give me a slightly more enthusiastic greeting, but no. She was conked out when I got home and couldn’t even be bothered to open an eye to acknowledge my presence. So typical! I did get lots of pit bull wiggles to make up for it (does any breed wiggle as much as the pit??). I think it’s easier to appreciate 20th-century art if we think of it as an intellectual and emotional experience, not an aesthetic experience!

  6. It looks like you were able to have great balance between attending the conference and discovering some neat places while you were in Chicago. The conference sounds very interesting. I’m going to have to check it out.

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