Sunday, July 29, 2018

My First ALA Annual Conference!

This has been one of the most active years for me professionally. I'm nearing the end of a third master's degree program with an ALA accredited MLIS. There have been several opportunities to publish over the past year. All these activities have made it difficult to write blog articles as frequently as I would like. I simply had to make time to write a reflection about my first time to attend an American Library Association Annual Conference! I am very grateful to the Lakeside School District for sending me, and I want to share some of my big takeaways from the event. I will also share what I hope to bring back to campus this year as a result of the experience.

Michelle Obama

It was very exciting to hear Michelle Obama speak in the opening session of the ALA conference! She spoke primarily about her new book, Becoming, a memoir about her life.  I recall that she talked about the importance of the library in her life when she was growing up. She reflected about reading to her kids when they were very young. Both she and President Obama made sure that they read together as a family. It was truly inspiring to hear from Michelle. Where else can we get opportunities to listen to prominent individuals and be inspired by their life stories? Conferences are truly important for many reasons, and this is one of them. I want to read her new book to learn more about her journey.

360 Library Tours and Teaching Teachers How to Use

One of the most interesting sessions I attended was about using 360 camera technology to create virtual library tours. I thought this was a great idea on many different levels. First, a 360 virtual library tour would be great for library orientation activities. It would give students an engaging and innovative way to learn about the library. Second, it would be a powerful advocacy piece since library stakeholders could "visit" the library through an interactive website like Thinglink. I want to know more about 360 tours and how they can be created. I've already been experimenting this summer! I'm certain that I will be sharing my progress here on the blog soon. I also want to use this technology to assist teachers to bring 360 resources to their curriculum! In the meantime, be sure to visit this website/ forum for more information.

AASL Best Apps & AASL Best Websites

I attended two separate sessions that featured all the top AASL picks for both apps and websites. You can view the AASL Best Apps here. The AASL Best Websites are located here. There were numerous resources on both lists that interested me. I was especially excited to see Tinkercad in the list of websites (I recently learned about it and am planning to use it with students this school year).

Library of Congress Databases

While walking through the exhibits, I stopped at the Library of Congress booth and learned about their many services. I often forget about the rich resources offered by the Library of Congress during the school year when things get hectic. I was very excited to learn about their numerous databases. While some of these databases require an onsite visit, many of them are free to access via their website. There were countless databases that would greatly serve our high school learners (especially students taking AP classes). Check out their lineup of databases here. 

Meeting PLN Friends in Person

Cindy and I ran into Karyn and Paula several times at ALA!
Part of attending conferences is the excitement of getting to meet and exchange ideas with your Personal Learning Network (PLN) in person! I didn't know what to expect at ALA since it serves all types of libraries. I ran into many different friends and colleagues while there. It is always inspiring to attend sessions and visit with top leaders in our profession like Joyce Valenza (@joycevalenza) and Tiffany Whitehead (@librarian_tiff).

It was fun to finally meet David Paige, Rebecca Morris (@rebeccajm87), and Liz Deskins (@lizbrary)from School Library Connection magazine. I have been grateful to work with them as a columnist for many years. We have always corresponded via email and getting to visit was a treat.

So glad to finally meet ND TL leader, Maggie Townsend!

I also got to see Katy, Texas TLs, Karyn Lewis (@ktlewis14) and Paula (@MrsLibrarian) again. They taught me about how to navigate the exhibits and how to locate sample free books to take back home to my learning community. I also ran across Bismarck, North Dakota TL leader, Maggie Townsend (@LHSTeacherCoach) in an OER session. Maggie is one of the moderators and organizers of #ndlibchat, and it was great to visit for a few moments in person. Prior to this, I had only known Maggie through #ndlibchat Twitter chats.

Meeting leaders and colleagues in our profession help us keep improving for our learning communities. If we surround ourselves with people that challenge us to improve, those we serve will surely benefit. Keep networking and learning from others.

So glad to finally meet SLC editor and colleague, Dr. Rebecca Morris

Meeting Authors

Our students love Neal Shusterman

I have never seen so many authors in one place in my ten-year career as a teacher librarian! I was able to get a photo of Neal Shusterman, Mary Downing Hahn, Claire Legrand, and Ransom Riggs.  Each trip through the exhibits resulted in filling our bags with free copies of books. Most of these were pre-publication editions, and I can't wait to dig into them to see which titles we will want to order this school year.

I also plan to share the photos I took of authors with students, teachers, and administrators. I think it is powerful to show students that we have connected with some of their favorite authors! This is key to stimulating our culture of reading at school.

Sally Field

Another prominent speaker at the ALA conference was the actress, Sally Field. While she focused primarily on her new book, In Pieces, she also talked about the importance of literacy. Sally is an avid reader and writer. She discussed how she had been working on her current book for many years and finally decided to publish it. This is another title I would like to read. There is so much to learn from the journey of successful people when they share a memoir.

What I Will Bring Back School

There is so much that I learned at ALA, it is hard to focus on just the highlights. I definitely plan to use the information I learned in the 360 virtual library tour session. In fact, I've already been playing with our Ricoh 360 camera by taking photos of the library. I also went to several sessions about Open Educational Resources (OER) and am continuing to share that with teachers as they transition with one to one digital devices in the classroom. In addition, I have lots of books to give away to students and to consider for upcoming book orders. I hope I get to visit ALA again someday. It was a great experience!

Other links that may interest you:

The Arkansas-Beijing Connection
Social Studies Maker Project Part 1

Social Studies Maker Project Part 2

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