SCASL Conference Reflections: Day One

Who doesn’t love learning?  Certainly not anyone reading this post!  Conferences offer opportunities to expand your knowledge, connect with friends rarely seen, and make new friends.

The 37th annual South Carolina Association of School Librarians’ Conference was held March 14-16th at the T.D. Convention Center in Greenville, SC.  The theme this year was “Advocacy Starts with You @your library.”  Approximately 500 professionals gathered to learn from, and network with, each other.

Our organization is always seeking ways to improve our conference, and this year was no exception.  Hats off to Heather Loy, SCASL Pres Elect, and Patty Bynum, Local Arrangements Chair, for one of the best conferences ever!  Many others helped make the conference the success it was, and I appreciate all the hard work and efforts of each person involved.

Two additions to our conference this year were located in the Exhibit Hall: the SCASL Committee Showcase and the Learning Commons.  SCASL committees created inviting displays to inform our members of the work we are doing and to encourage them to volunteer to serve on a committee next year.

The Learning Commons was sponsored by the SCASL IT Committee.  Members were encouraged to sign up and share a lesson, idea, program, etc. I loved the informal nature of the Learning Commons and look forward to it again next year.

I’ll share some snippets of information I gleaned from each of the sessions I attended.  Many presenters have provided links to their presentations/handouts which can be found on http://scasl.net.

“Big 6 by the Month:  Comprehensive and Essential Information Programs Now!” Bob Berkowitz (pre-conference session)

Bob encouraged us to use the Big 6 not only as a research/problem-solving model, but also as an instructional model.  He stressed that problem solving is not linear, and although there are 6 components of the Big 6, they do not have to be followed in any particular order.

Because our ultimate purpose in teaching is to prepare students for success in the world after high school (whether secondary training or the world of work), we need to focus on problem solving.  To illustrate how the Big 6 works in everyday life tasks, he asked one attendee to share her recent experience with buying a car.

Planning Your Year

“Information literacy is too important to be partial or arbitrary.”  (Berkowitz)

Just as other teachers must create long range plans, we need to create a yearly plan with a focus for each month.  We need a comprehensive plan that can be defined, is predictable, can be measured, and the results can be reported.

You might begin the school year with an overview of the Big 6.  Then in September, you might focus on Task Definition.  Continue to plan your year in this manner.

Our plan needs to be predictable, meaning we will follow certain planning procedures.  What role will the teacher-librarian play?  What role will the classroom teacher play?  How is the plan related to our district and school schedule? How will our plan address the standards?  Create an annual grade level or subject plan.

As we plan our program, we must include the evidence we will use to determine our students’ success.  Will we use portfolios?  Worksheets? Tests? Observations? Self-assessments?  Then we need to determine the criteria we will use to determine how well students met each objective.

“Track It!  Documenting Instructional Impact”  Donna Shannon, Gerry Solomon, Elizabeth Miller

I was anticipating this session from the moment I first read about it.  If I had to name just one area in which my library program needs to improve, it would have to be documenting the learning that takes place as a result of our instruction and resources.

The presenters created a wiki that provides both background information on why documenting student learning in our library programs is essential and links to resources to assist us as we incorporate documentation into our programs.

The presenters shared a variety of documents and ideas (all on their wiki) including collaborative planning logs, learning logs, rubrics, project based learning checklists (I really like these!), and more.

Please take some time to explore the resources they have gathered.

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

As always, the first day of conference ended with the opening of the Exhibit Hall.  Attendees were treated to refreshments as they browsed vendor booths, checked out the SCASL Store, and visited SCASL Committee displays.  Attendees left with their appetite whetted for the sessions planned for the second day of conference.

Resources for Teacher Librarians

Slidestaxx by Donna Baumbach (AuntyTech)

Teacher Librarians Rock!

I am always ___________ (fill in the blank:  in awe of, extremely grateful for, in debt to, inspired by) the people in my PLN (personal learning network).

When I sign into HootSuite to catch up on tweets, I often feel like a contestant on an old game show entering a glass enclosed booth filled with money being blown in the air. The contestant is given a limited amount of time (say thirty seconds) to grab as much of the money as possible.  Whatever he can grab becomes his.

Although the tweets flying around contain just as much wealth as that glass enclosed booth, there is a HUGE difference:  the buzzer never dings while I’m visiting with my PLN and the wealth they offer remains available even if I have to step away from the computer.

Take, for instance, what Donna Baumbach shared today on Twitter:  a Slidestaxx entitled “Lesson Plan Resources for Teacher Librarians.” (seen above)

Or, how about this:  Carolyn Starkey’s Livebinder entitled “School Librarians and the Common Core Standards:  Resources‘? (seen below)

Livebinder by Carolyn Starkey

Role Models for Sharing

Looking for ideas to promote reading through technology?  Colette Cassinelli created a Google Site to share the resources she was using in a presentation at ISTE this summer.  She has freely shared this on Twitter and it is a treasure chest of great ideas to help fire you up for the new school year. “Got Books?” is just one more example of a passionate teacher librarian sharing with others in her PLN.

Google Site by Colette CassinelliThis are just three resources I’ve recently added to my Diigo Library to refer to as I plan lessons and activities.  The teacher librarians and other educators in my PLN exemplify all that is right in education.

If finding awesome resources like this doesn’t convince you to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, I don’t know what will.

The resources shared here are just the tip of the iceburg!  What is your favorite Twitter find recently?

 

All the News That’s Fit to Print

Ever pressed for time but want to keep up with the latest news being shared by your colleagues on Twitter and Facebook?  Then subscribe to the #TLChat Daily Paper.li.

Click on the image above to be taken to the #TLchat Daily Paper.li site.  On the right side click on the “subscribe” feed.  Enter your email address, and – viola – you’ll receive a daily email informing you when that day’s Paper.li has been published.

Joyce Valenza explained how Paper.li works in “Curating the #TLChat Daily.”

On days when I barely have time to check my email, I know that I can catch up on the latest and greatest links being shared by others with my same educational interests.  And if I don’t even have time to check my emails (you have days like that, too, I’m sure!), then I can check the archived news when I have time to catch my breath.

Preparing for the Conference

Advocacy for School Libraries & Education on Prezi

The South Carolina Association of School Librarians‘ 2011 Conference is almost here!  The official conference dates are March 10-11, but pre-conference sessions are the afternoon of March 9th.

Conference is a time for renewal, reflection, networking, learning, and growing.  As the SCASL Advocacy Committee Chair for 2010-2011, I am excited about an announcement we will be making at conference.  As a member of the SCASL IT Committee, I am excited about the unveiling of our new website. Oh, I might as well just say it:  I am excited about conference!

Tracking Conference Happenings

Unfortunately, many South Carolina school librarians will be unable to join us this year.  Once again the economy has made its presence known:  some school districts will not even allow teachers to take professional leave days.

Those of you unable to attend, use this hashtag to search for conference blog posts, tweets, and photos:  #scasl11.  Several of us in attendance will be sharing news and updates over the next few days.

It’s All About Advocacy

As Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never, never give up!”  Click on  the image at the top of this post to watch an amazing Prezi created by Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian. And prepare to redouble your efforts to ensure that our children benefit from strong school library programs led by certified school librarians.

Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900’s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800’s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

Photo Attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulworthington/82648702/

Conferencing Vicariously

This week I am attending the Education Business Summit in Greenville, South Carolina.  Although the program includes many interesting, informative sessions and motivational keynote speakers, I continue to check Twitter to see what is happening in DC and Denver.  Many members of my PLN have traveled to these cities to attend conferences I’ve only dreamed about:  ALA and ISTE.

Twitter allows me to experience some of the excitement and innovation occurring at other conferences by following hashtags.  For those unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines a hashtag as “a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.”

Tweetdeck

To simplify my Twitter use, I have installed Tweetdeck on my laptop and iPhone.  Tweetdeck is the equivalent of a social dashboard allowing the user to customize to suit her needs. The hashtags I have been and/or will be  following are #iste10, #ebc10, #sigms10, and #ala10.  Check here for a list of other ALA hashtags for various interest groups.


The above screenshot displays several of the columns in my Tweetdeck dashboard.  If you’ll look closely at the last two columns, you will see that they are labeled “search #iste10” and “search #ebc10.”  All tweets tagged with those hashtags are displayed, allowing me a glimpse into what is happening concerning those two events.

@AuntyTech (Donna Baumbach) has begun an archive of the #sigsms10 tweets here.  This hashtag will really pick up tomorrow as the SIGMS forum (with the now legendary “Learning Tools Smackdown” lead by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones) gets underway in the morning.

Jewels

In case you haven’t been following these hashtags, I thought I’d share just a few of the jewels that I have found through them.  Perhaps seeing these will whet your appetite for more!

  • List of smackdown tools shared at Edublogger Con – and a blog post discussing them
  • Free download of book Teaching with Netbooks by Brad Flickinger
  • Blog post on Edublogger Con session on student blogging  – includes great links to guidelines, Web 2.0 Code of Conduct, and a pdf on setting up blogs as electronic portfolios
  • Readability, a tool that removes the clutter from web pages, making reading more enjoyable
  • HP Teacher Experience Exchange – teachers sharing lesson plans
  • DEN Summer School 2010 – great professional development on digital storytelling, professional learning networks, and project based learning

What exciting, innovative ideas have you come across either through attending the conferences, or following the tweets of those who have attended?