SCASL Conference Reflections: Day Three

The third day of conference is a half day.  There are three morning sessions and the grand finale of our conference is always the Author Celebration Luncheon.

“Meet the Author”  Chris Crutcher

I have long been a fan of Chris Crutcher and looked forward to his session.   His characters ring true with compelling, heartbreaking stories.  Chris shared some of his life experiences that have inspired his fictional characters and situations.  He had us alternately laughing and crying, but always wanting to read (or reread) the stories inspired by the children who had touched his heart.

“Unwritten Research Paper:  Projects for Busy Teachers and Bored Students”  Cathy Nelson

Cathy Nelson lives and breathes instructional technology!  Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, she is always in search of ways to enrich her students’ educational experiences – often with technology.

One of her pet peeves is the “KMN” PowerPoint presentation.  We have all suffered through them:  slides with too much text that the presenter just reads to his/her audience.  You know, those presentations where you think “Kill Me Now!” (KMN) rather than see another slide with several bullet points.

Her session offered suggestions on improving those PowerPoint presentations – information that MUST be shared with our teachers and students.  Then she shared her recent collaborative experiences where students were allowed to choose a means to share what they learned through their research (no three page papers here).

Cathy has shared both her PowerPoint on improving PowerPoints (!) and her ideas for the unwritten research paper on her wiki.

Side note:  This is NOT how Cathy appeared when she was presenting at the 2012 SCASL Conference.  But it is a favorite picture of mine that captures Cathy’s spontaneity and willingness to try new experiences.

“eEk and eCstacy:  Incorporating eReaders and eBooks into Your Curriculum”  Jen Chesney

This was the second session I attended focusing on eReaders.  Jen Chesney, media specialist at Powdersville High School, shared her experiences with eBooks and eReaders  as she opened a new library last year.

Her nonfiction eBooks haven’t been as successful as she would like.  Students want instant access;  having to visit different sites to reach the library’s Infobase and Marshall Cavendish eBooks is off-putting for them.  Publishers are still exploring the new frontier of eBooks.  Until there is a “one size fits all” solution,  nonfiction eBooks are not going to be our students’ first choice for information.

Jen chose to go with Nooks for her fiction eBook collection.  She purchased enough Nooks to take advantage of the Barnes and Noble management program and devised a way to keep track of titles on each device.  Because students check out the devices rather than the books, she has no way of tracking which titles are being read on each device other than to ask students when they return the Nook.

The Nooks have been extremely popular.  One of the “eCstasies” that Jen has discovered:  no more having to wait days or weeks after publication of the newest book in a series!  If you purchase these on eReaders, the books will be there the day they are released.

Although earlier in the school year I had decided to wait a bit longer until the dust settled (and prices on devices are bound to drop), Jen’s success has me wondering whether I should purchase a few Nooks and see how successful they would be in my library program.

Final Thoughts

In this and my past two posts, I have attempted to share some of what I learned at the 2012 SCASL Conference.  Our keynote speakers were topnotch this year and the talent of my fellow South Carolina school librarians never ceases to amaze me.

I am never able to attend all of the sessions I would like to; two or three will be going on simultaneously and I must make a choice.  However, thanks to the generosity of this year’s presenters, I can at least get a taste for sessions I was unable to experience in person.  Their presentations/handouts/materials can be found on the Conference page of scasl.net.

 

Free eBooks for Your Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, etc.

I finally did it; I gave in and  asked for a Kindle 3 for Christmas.  (Looks like I wasn’t the only one:  “Kindle 3 Is the  Best Selling Product in Amazon History.”)   Friends and family have had Kindles for quite some time and have all been pleased with them, but I was holding out for an eReader that met all of my requirements.

Did I find it in Kindle?  No.  But, after playing with several of these eReaders at my local Best Buy, I decided Kindle was the best fit for me.  (The one thing Kindle lacks as far as my definition of the “perfect” eReader is the ability to read EPub format so that I can borrow and read books from our public library on it.)

My good friend and gadget guru, Heather Loy, had shared a blog devoted to free and low cost eBooks with me months ago.  I had added it to my Google Reader and even downloaded some of the free books to read on my iPhone, iPod Touch, and Mac.

Since my Kindle arrived, I have discovered a couple of other worthy blogs devoted to free eBooks and thought I’d share them:

Books on the Knob

Free eBooks and Tips

Kindle Nation Daily

Happy reading!

Look, boys and girls! A new Google application!

Well, not really.  But it’s either use the “G” word or tell them that they absolutely, positively cannot use a site to get them to want to use it.

I’ve spent parts of the last four days at work putting together book orders.  I found two sources my English teachers and students will love and have ordered not only print copies, but also the ebooks.  For most of today’s media specialists, this is probably no big deal.  But these are my LMC’s first ebooks, so I am excited to be a part of bringing my LMC into the 21st century!

Once I have them downloaded and have them available for access, I will have to convince my students to use them.  We have some excellent databases available to us that students have to be forced to use.  If it doesn’t say “Google,” they don’t seem to think it is worth their time.  Once I twist their arms and have them actually searching through a database on DISCUS, students find that I haven’t been lying – these sources really ARE awesome!

How has Google managed to brainwash our students into believing that the “G” way is the only way to research?

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