traci's lists of ten

Traci's 36th List of Ten:
Ten Ways to Document Your Conference Participation

Presented at the Computers and Writing Conference, May 17, 2001
in the "Getting the Most out of your Computers and Writing Conference (The Mentoring Program)" panel during the Opening Reception in the Muncie Center for the Arts.

Your participation in the Computers and Writing Conference shows your colleagues that you're active professionally and that you care about improving your classes and research. And when the time comes for applying for travel funds in the future, you'll have evidence that shows that you know how to share what you learn at a conference. There's no guarantee that you'll be given financial support, but documenting your participation and sharing what you learn will help make sure that your colleagues understand why you attend this conference. Try one or more of these methods to track your professional development here in Muncie:

  1. Save your Convention Program
    Save your copy of the Convention Program (the book that lists the panels and sessions). If you're a presenter at the Convention, you can use the listing in the program as proof of your participation. For sessions that you attend, the program is a useful reference allowing you to look up details on the sessions that you attended. Be sure to pick up a copy of the addendum and corrections as well. NOTE: while it's true that the program is online, many departments want to see the proof on paper — don't rely on the online version of the program. Be sure to hang onto your printed copy!

  2. Record Details on the Sessions That You Attend
    Write a log of your participation — it will help you remember ideas from the sessions, and it will provide some evidence that you participated. List the sessions that you attend and the presenters who were there. Too frequently, attendance at a conference is a blur. Jot out a simple worksheet for yourself with these headings, and you're ready to go:

    Heading What to Record Why Gather This Info
    Day/Time, Session # The specifics from the program So you can find the details later. You don't want to write everything out in these notes.
    Speaker & Paper Title: Enough to remind you of the official label There are several speakers in most sessions. You'll want enough details to tell which notes are about which presentation
    General Topic A few keywords (e.g., portfolios, staff training) Give yourself a few keywords to help organize the information when you go back through your notes later.
    Notes & Applications Summarize what was discussed, and talk about how you plan to use the information. The more ideas you can get down about using these ideas while you're here, the better. Note colleagues you want to share the info with as well.

    If you are really interested in someone's paper, ask for a copy. All you have to do is walk up to the speaker and say something along the lines of "Hi. I really enjoyed your paper. My research is on a related topic (explain in a sentence or two how it's related). Would it be possible to get a copy of your paper?" Be prepared to exchange email addresses! (Remember though that not everyone has a "written" paper. Some people just to talk/think pieces. If the speaker doesn't have a "paper," you might ask if the person has published similar ideas elsewhere that you might consult.)

  3. Share What You Learn With Others
    Share what you learn at the conference with others at your school or in your area to demonstrate what you gained by participating. If you happen upon a particularly good idea, pass it on to others — put it in their mailboxes or email it to your colleagues. Remember that one of the ways that school districts and departments justify supporting conference attendance is by asking that attendees share what they've learned with others. Be on the lookout for things that you can share and then follow-up after the event. Be sure that you pass the ideas on! You'll please your colleagues, and you'll demonstrate to your administrators that supporting your attendance at conferences and other professional development meetings is a good investment! As you pass on information, be sure to add a cover page of your own that points out why you're passing the information on and where the information came from so that your colleagues know to give you credit.

  4. Hold onto Attendance Verification Forms.
    In addition to the program, save attendance verification records in the form of certificates or other documents that prove you were here including your letter of acceptance, registration receipt, and so forth. If the information came to you in email form, print it out and include it in your professional development folder as part of your records.

  5. Drop Names and References When You Go Home.
    Your colleagues won't know anything about the sessions you've attended unless you tell them. The point isn't just to indicate that you've learned something but to indicate where you learned it. Start thinking about sentences such as "[Insert the speaker's name] talked about just this issue at the Computers and Writing Conference" — then follow up with the details. If the name you're dropping is one your listeners will recognize, that's all you need. If you're referring to someone they might not know, give a little more information: "[Insert the speaker's name] (s/he's a professor at U of wherever) mentioned something along these lines in Muncie." Remember that the point isn't just to drop the name. Be sure to add the details and specifics that the speaker shared.

  6. Plug Your Own Paper or Research.
    It's not enough to refer to others; talk about yourself. When discussion in your department turns to what you worked on for this conference, you need to be prepared to say "I researched this topic for the paper I gave at the Computers and Writing Conference in May" — then to say more about what you found. Don't be a bore. Don't drone on about your paper when it's not relevant, but if the conversation turns to something you've worked on, provide the footnote. Additionally, you can refer to issues beyond those that you've done formal research on. Think about saying things such as "We talked about this issue in Muncie." or "I picked up an article about this topic at the Computers and Writing Conference."

  7. Arrange an Exchange with a Nearby Colleague.
    Here's a relatively simple idea. You're likely to meet someone at Computers and Writing who is relatively close to your school, geographically speaking. The two of you can work out a little exchange. You go to the colleague's school and lead a little brown bag discussion about your research. The colleague does the same. You both get PR at your school or bringing in a guest speaker, and you both has another presentation line to add to your vita.

  8. Pick-up Freebies and Silly Stuff. Take Pictures.
    Everything doesn't have to be serious to remind folks where you've been. Your colleagues may be just as interested in your bringing back a computer-shaped stress "ball" as they are in seeing the latest article by the keynoter. If you have a friendly relationship, it doesn't really hurt to share such things too. You might also think about taking photos that you can share with colleagues. How about an action shot of you bowling with the great thinkers in Computers and Writing?

  9. Scour the Handout Tables.
    Check the area for handouts on the latest books, calls for proposals, and upcoming events. If you see something that a colleague might be interested in, all you need is a post-it note that says, "Saw this at Computer and Writing Conference and thought you might be interested." And most important, be sure to find a copy of the Call for next year's Computers and Writing Conference. Take it home, photocopy it, add another post-it encouraging colleagues to join you at next year's conference and spread it around the department mailboxes. When time turns to the deadline for the next year's Computers and Writing Conference Call, sponsor a little departmental get-together to come up with a panel or workshop proposal that includes everyone.

  10. Submit Your Presentation Materials to Kairos.
    Nothing says "I'm a participant" like publishing your work! Kairos ( will publish selected and revised presentations from the Computers and Writing 2001 Conference this year. Linda Hanson and Rich Rice will guest edit this issue with James Inman and Douglas Eyman. If you're interested in re-working your presentation into a publishable format, please contact strand coordinators ( See presentations from last yearŐs conference at

Originally Posted on the NCTE Web on May 14, 2001.