Sunday, October 7, 2012

Learning to be the Core of the School

This past weekend I attended the North Carolina School Library Media Association annual conference.   The theme this year was School Libraries @ the Core, and focused on the Common Core Standards and Essential Standards that are being implemented this year across the state.  There were many excellent sessions offered – so many, in fact, that I would have loved being able to clone myself and attend 2-3 at a time.   As always, I was inspired both by the speeches and presentations, and by the many school librarians across the state that I had the privilege to meet.  Here’s a sampling of what I enjoyed (with links to the librarians’ web pages if I had them).
We started off with Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, who delivered our keynote.  I was volunteering at the registration desk so I missed a good part of her presentation.  I did catch the end, and got some wonderful quotes to tweet.  Buffy stressed that people are the center of the library and we must not forget that we are student-centered.  I wish I could have heard her entire presentation – what I did hear was excellent.
One session I really enjoyed was Digging Deeper with Minecraft with Lucas Gillispie and Beth West.  The presenters were having some problems with internet connectivity (a theme of the entire conference) but I was fascinated with how they took a popular computer game and applied higher-level learning.  I’m not sure how well it would go over in my district but I think it’s worth exploring.
For me, the highlight of the day was Jennifer LaGarde’s 140 Character Professional Development:  Using Twitter to Grow Your PLN.  I’m quickly becoming a Jennifer LaGarde groupie, known as Library Girl on Twitter and on her blog.  I attended three of her presentations and they were my favorite things of the conference.  I’ve been using Twitter for a little more than a year now but it has been completely self-taught.  It was good to get some tips from an expert.
I finished the day with two sessions by Tamara Cox, The Eliterate Librarian.  The first session, Keeping Lit at the Core (also presented by Monique German) reminded us that “Teachers who are choosing not to read with their students are choosing to be less effective in the classroom.”  I liked that quote so much I shared it on Facebook, in the hopes that many of my teacher friends would read it and use it as food for thought.  I also attended Tamera’s session, Learn to Love Nonfiction.  I already love nonfiction and I think that incredible nonfiction is being written for children right now, but I was eager to get some additional titles to order for my school.
I started the day Saturday with a fun Toasts and Tales breakfast with John Claude Bemis.  I haven’t read any of his books yet, but The Nine Pound Hammer is now high on my list.  We then moved to our business meeting where Jennifer LaGarde delivered the “State of the State” address.  Jennifer talked about the new School Library Media Coordinator Professional Standards and how they will “change the way we do business.”
Next was to my favorite session of the entire weekend, Game On!  Using Game Based Learning to Ramp Up Your Instruction by the wonderful Jennifer LaGarde and Ryan Redd.  I am dying to meet with my math teachers, dig up a Wii, and use it with our students.  Jennifer and Ryan created lessons that had students racing to the library to do math – how cool is that!
Another inspiring session was done by Jennifer Northrop, The Candid Librarian,  called Get to the Core.  Jennifer reminded us of the importance of collaboration and gave us great strategies for connecting with teachers and marketing ourselves and our school libraries.
I finished the day with listening to Sharon Draper at the author luncheon.  Ms. Draper moved us to tears as she talked about her recent trip to China and why she wrote Out of My Mind.  There were teachers at my school who were quite jealous that I was getting to hear and meet her – I can only say that they truly missed out.
It will be hard to wait another year for the next annual conference.  I’m feeling a pull to present at this one – I just have to figure out if there’s anything I can say that will be of use to others.

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