Monday, August 28, 2017

My IASL Conference Experience

Early this month I attended the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) Annual Conference, held at California State University, Long Beach, coordinated by Dr. Lesley Farmer. As regular readers know, I am quite the "conference junkie"; I love the intense learning, networking, sharing, socializing, and energy I get from them. And, of course, every conference has a different feel to it, from overwhelming size and choices, to small and intimate.

The IASL conference was a brand new experience for me. It gave me exposure to people from all over the world - 30 countries total - in a fairly intimate group of just around 200 attendees. It was inspiring to hear success stories about school libraries around the world and wonderful to get to meet people from so many different places. It also has a strong research component, which introduced me to research by Lucy Santos Green, Melissa Johnston, and others. I have been asked to write an article about my reflections for the CSLA Journal, so will share some of my thoughts for there. I was drawn to learn more about libraries in countries I have visited, such as Sweden and Portugal, but also exposed to places I knew nothing about, such as Kazakhstan and Vietnam.

For this post, I'm going to share a reflection graphic I created, inspired mostly by an excellent session I attended by Dr. Karin Perry and Dr. Holly Weimar on Sketchnoting. They definitely convinced me of the value of creating visuals through sketching (either by hand or with software tools) to aid in processing and recall of information. So, I thought I should try one. After a few days of pondering how to get started, I realized that actual sketching is going to be a goal, not a reality this time. But ... I am hoping that making a visual that brings in my photos in lieu of drawings will help move me mentally towards that goal. So .... here it is:






















This embed is rather small, so here's a link to the original for better viewing.

For another view of the conference, visit this Storify I compiled from conference tweets: bit.ly/iaslstorify.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

ALA Conference Highlights

I got back from the annual American Library Association Conference #ALAAC17 on Twitter) a week ago, and I'm just beginning to catch up with myself. It was a wonderful event --- inspiring sessions, great networking, fun catching up with friends, and Chicago is an incredible city for sightseeing.

Here are a few of the highlights for me:

Great Sessions

AASL Social Media Superstars

I had the great pleasure, as chair of the AASL Social Media Superstars Task Force, to present the awards to our seven inaugural Superstars during AASL's Awards and President's Program. Unfortunately, only three of the seven - Naomi Bates, Sara Kelly Johns, and Andy Plemmons - were able to be there, but don't they look super sporting their star headbands?

Cathy Jo Nelson gives recognitions to Sara Kelly Johns, Naomi Bates, and Andy Plemmons
Naomi Bates, Sara Kelly Johns, and Andy Plemmons

And that's Cathy Jo Nelson, one of the task force members, handing out the certificates and headbands. We missed having Joyce Valenza, Susan Polos, Krista Welz, and Michelle Luhtala there, but do read about all of them in KnowledgeQuest and be sure to follow each of them for their amazing ideas. 

Best Websites & Apps

Each year, AASL's Best Websites and Best Apps Committees select 25 stellar websites and apps for teaching and learning. These lists serve as great resources for librarians and teachers looking for tools to enhance learning, creativity, and productivity. It is always exciting getting to hear the selections, and then to add exploring each of them to my "to do" list. While I already know and love some, such as IFTTT, most are new or newish to me. I'll be spending time exploring these websites and these apps.  While I wasn't on the Best Websites Committee this year, I have served on it in the past, and I am very excited and honored to be rejoining it for 2017-2018 as Committee Chair.


AASL Conference Committee Meeting




One of my key responsibilities at the conference was attending a committee meeting for AASL (American Association of School Librarians Division of ALA) Conference Planning Committee. I am serving as Social Media Chair for this conference coming up in Phoenix November 9-11. The committee has lots of great plans for a not-to-be missed conference. Please join me there to hear keynoters Jaime Casap from Google and Author Jason Reynolds, and for the announcement of AASL's brand new standards.  Visit the conference website to check out the concurrent sessions, IdeaLab sessions, author events, and more.

We'll also be having fun with social media during the conference. There will be a daily contest recognizing the most informative social media post, most entertaining and/or funniest post, best picture, best selfie, best notes, and most creative photo representing a group. So, come prepared to add to the learning and fun by posting on social media. We will also be highlighting some of the sessions and events with live video clips. If you would like to help with social media, please let me know. I will soon be sending out a call for a conference social media squad.


Author Awards 

One of my favorite parts of ALA annual conferences is all the author awards. This year, I got to attend three of them, the Printz Awards, Newberry/Caldecott/Wilder Awards Banquet, and the Odyssey Audiobook Awards.

Printz Awards

The YALSA (Young Adults Library Services Association Division of ALA) Printz Awards recognizes the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit, each year. The committee also selects up to four honor books. Here is a link to the list. The Awards Event is an opportunity to hear each of those authors speak, and then mingle with the crowd at the reception that follows. I loved all of this year's books and was delighted to hear from each of the authors. This year, I had actually read three of the recognized books before the announcement in January, and I made sure to read the other two before attending the awards event. All are outstanding and thought-provoking books. Here is John Lewis, one of my heroes, giving his speech for the winner, March, Book 3:
John Lewis, with illustrator Nate Powell, who also spoke
And, groupie that I am, I did my best to visit with each of the authors during the reception. I didn't catch John Lewis before he left, but I did find all the honor book winners:

with Louise O'Neill

with Julie Berry

with Neal Shusterman

with Nicola Yoon
Every one of them was as gracious as can be. We librarians think of authors as rock stars, but they treat us like we are!

Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet




The Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet attracts a huge crowd, and is a "dress up" occasion. While our seats were too far away for good photos of winners Kelly Barnhill, Javaka Steptoe, and Nikki Grimes, the speeches were inspiring and the evening was a delight.

Here's one tweet I did while Kelly Barnhill spoke about The Girl Who Drank the Moon:

And here is my RT from Tom Bober while Javaka Steptoe spoke:

And, here I am enjoying the evening with conference buddy and roommate, Katie Williams:



And, I had to get a photo with Andy Plemmons (known for his red shirts) in his red jacket, perfect for the festive occasion:


ALSC (the Association of Library Services for Children, an ALA Division) always publishes the winners speeches shortly after the banquet. Look for them coming soon at this link.

Odyssey Awards


The Odyssey Awards, sponsored by both ALSC and YALSA,  recognize outstanding audiobooks for children and teens. Each year, I discover wonderful new books brought to life in a special way by the narrators of these winning books. The authors, producers, and narrators all share briefly about their books, and then the narrator reads a short passage. Here are my experiments recording with Periscope within Twitter. The first is Gavriel Savit, the author of Anna and the Swallow Man, and Orli Moscowitz, the producer, speaking about the work. The second is narrator Allan Corduner, reading an excerpt:


Closing Keynote: Hillary Clinton!

Long after I had made my plans for the conference, ALA made a late announcement that Hillary Clinton would be the closing speaker. Fortunately, I was flying on Southwest, and was able to reschedule my flight to stay for it. Many of us arrived two hours in advance to make sure we got seats! Here I am with friends waiting for the program to begin:

Sylvia Norton, me, Ellie Goldstein-Erickson, & Dorcas Hand
with Joy Millam

Hillary Clinton spoke about three reasons why libraries and librarians are needed more than ever. If we are serious about raising good citizens, we need to start by raising readers. Libraries are places that bring communities together and serve them. And, we need libraries because we need critical thinkers; librarians teach that. She also promised to support us in these efforts. Here is a recording of her full speech:



Sightseeing

Chicago River Cruise 

So many beautiful buildings
This was the building our docent told us we must go see after the tour

Chicago is a busy, vibrant city, especially interesting for its architecture. Thanks to Cathy Jo's South Carolina group, Katie and I joined them on a twilight river cruise of the Chicago River led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The docent narrated for the full 90 minutes, giving a rich sense of the history of Chicago's building and the river.

Here's a Google Photos album I created of all the photos I took that night.

More Sightseeing

I also did a good bit of walking around and enjoying seeing all the people out and about and lovely buildings and other sights. I am a big fan of Detour, a gps-activated audio tour app. I discovered it when it started in beta in San Francisco in 2015, and it now has narrated walking tours in cities around the country and even abroad. I enjoyed two Detour tours when I had some time on my own. One was produced by the Architecture Foundation, and led me through some of the highlights of the Loop, and the other was of Grant Park.
Chase Tower Plaza

Marc Chagall "Four Seasons" mosaic in Chase Tower Plaza
And, here some photos of one of my outings with Katie and Cathy Jo, to the Chicago Cultural Center:
In the Chicago Cultural Center, a former library building, with Katie Williams & Cathy Jo Nelson 

Here I am in the Chicago Cultural Center

 Chicago is famous for its food. Here's a shot of my favorite meal, "duck benedict," poached eggs on top of duck sausage and leige waffles, topped with hollandaise sauce, at Chicago Waffles.



Meeting up with friends

Conferences are always a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Here's a meet up with some of our California school librarians in the exhibit hall opening night:
Ellie Goldstein-Erickson, Jane Gov, Lesley Farmer, Connie Williams, me, Katie Williams, RenΓ©e Ousley-Swank, & David Loerstcher
Here are Katie Williams and Cathy Jo Nelson, my two conference buddies, hanging out at bar of the historic Palmer House hotel:

Here I am with Heather Moorfield-Lange, current chair of the Best Websites Committee, who I will be following as chair, while she moves to become Director of her AASL Region:


And here is Jennifer Guerin, who I met in person for the first time at the conference, after she took my AASL Twitter class this spring:
Follow Jennifer at @guerin_jenn 
I always feel an immediate bond with online PLN friends when I get to see them live for the first time.

Activism


And, ever the activist, here I am supporting the Illinois School Library Media Association's demonstration in support of restoring school librarian positions in Chicago:
Photo by Allison Cline

I know I left out at least as much as I included here, but I hope I gave you a good taste of the conference, and enough to inspire you to attend next year in New Orleans. Many thanks to ALA, AASL, YALSA, and ALSC for an enriching conference.

Friday, May 26, 2017

May - My Webinar Month

I know it makes no sense to people who aren't yet retired, but it really does seem that I have had hardly a free moment since I retired last June and became a "teacher librarian in wild" (aka retired, consultant, volunteer, advocate, lifelong learner). This month, a good chunk of my time went to working on two webinars I co-presented. In case you missed them, I am sharing them here.

CSLA's Committee on Curriculum Standards Integration hosted three "Better Together!" webinars this spring. I was one of the co-presenters, along with friends Katie Williams, Sue Heraper, and Lisa Bishop, for "ESSA and School Libraries" on May 18. We talked about the impact of ESSA nationally, in California, and locally. For my part of the presentation, I spoke about ways to advocate locally, both in relation to ESSA and for any other forms of funding. Here is the archived recording.

I was also delighted and honored to join my friend Michelle Luhtala (@mluhtala) for her May 24 Edweb Webinar on ideas for motivating students to read over the summer and planning for ways to inspired them in the fall. The webinar was part of Michelle's monthly "Emerging Tech: Using Technology to Advance Your School Library Program" webinar series hosted by Edweb and sponsored by Mackin. This was Michelle's 77th webinar!

We shared a combination of our own experiences and a number of great ideas shared by other librarians we interviewed. You can watch the webinar recording at this link, the slides at this link, and all the resources we shared at bit.ly/edwebet77.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Join in the May 11 #calibchat -- and how to participate in a live chat


I'm delighted to report that we (Katie McNamara and I) moderated our first #calibchat Twitter live chat on April 27, and a good - and productive - time was had by all! (You can read the announcement of the first chat in my last post.) Here is the Storify transcript. We had a great mixture of California people and tweeps from all over the country. Thanks to everyone who supported the first chat. We hope to continue attracting California friends along with friends far and wide. 

We are scheduling our chats for the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month, so the next one is this coming Thursday, May 11, from 6:00pm - 6:30pm PT. Our topic this time will be "Finish Strong." We'll be discussing ways to keep our program's strong and until the very end of the school year, and help our students and teachers keep strong, as well. And, also, be prepared to share a fun photo during the chat (photo theme to be announced during the chat.) You can kind of expect every #calibchat chat to include a photo opp. :-)

I promised last time to give some tips for those new or newish to live chats on how to participate. I didn't get to it in my last posting, so here it is now, in both screencast and text versions. First, the screencast:




And, now, the text version:

So, first, what's a live Twitter chat?

A live Twitter chat takes place at an appointed/announced time. Usually they are scheduled on an ongoing basis, once a month, twice a month, or even weekly, always on the same day and at the same time. For example, the live #TLChat is now at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET the first Monday of each month. Sometimes, though, a group will schedule a single chat. A live chat is an opportunity for a group to carry on an interactive discussion in tweets, made possible by all the participants searching for and using the same hashtag.

So, there is always a hashtag used to identify the chat, enabling you to follow the discussion by searching for the hashtag and watching the tweets with that hashtag as people post. You join in by posting tweets that include that same hashtag. That way, everyone in the chat sees your tweets.

Live chats typically have two moderators who send out the questions. They start by asking everyone to introduce themselves. Then, they use Q1 for question #1, Q2 for question #2, and so on. People respond by composing tweets that start with A1, A2, and so on. You can also interact directly with other participants by replying to them when you agree with them or have a comment or question about what they just tweeted. You also include the hashtag for these tweets if you want others to see them. The moderators also usually archive the chat so that people who missed the event or attendees who want to review it can visit a link and see the conversation. Here, for example, is the Storify archive of the first #calibchat chat on April 27.
I can't pretend that live chats are relaxing. They aren't! They are stimulating, informative, and a great chance to interact in real time with other tweeps, often from all around the country, or even the world. I have connected with many new Twitter friends through chats. But, like I said, the chats aren't relaxing. They are bit stressful, since you are going to see lots of tweets flying by at once at the same time you are trying to think and compose your own answers and comments. Just be prepared in advance that you can't read all the tweets in an active chat; you are bound to miss stuff, and that's okay.

How do I participate in #calibchat?

  1. Get on Twitter just before 6:00pm PT on Thursday, May 11 and search for #calibchat.
  2. Click the Latest option to view all the live tweets.
  3. You will see tweets from your moderators: Katie McNamara (@KatieJMcNamara) and me (@jane_librarian). All our tweets will include the #calibchat hashtag.
  4. When we ask you to introduce yourself, share where you work, what level your students are, and anything else you like. For example, I might introduce myself by writing: "I'm a TL now 'in the wild' from Southern California. Happy to be here! #calibchat"
  5. Stand by for Question 1. When you see it, think about an answer, and compose one, being sure to include A1 at the beginning of your tweet, and #calibchat at the end or somewhere in the tweet. It's okay to give more than one answer, too!
  6. Watch the other answers posted by participants, and respond with comments, doing your best to keep the An and #calibchat in all your responses. Remember that if you forget to include our hashtag, your comments will probably be missed by the participants. We all make that mistake at times, so don't fret, but you might want to repeat your tweet and include it.
  7. Continue reading and responding to each new question.
  8. Have fun! Don't worry if you miss something. Just read and respond to what you can. I'll be archiving the chat with Storify, so you'll be able to go over anything you missed later.

What about other Twitter tools?

A lot of people like to take advantage of Tweetdeck and other options for chats. If you know about those and want to, go for it. I personally, though, think it is easier to use the regular Twitter website and focus entirely on the hashtag search during a chat if you are new to live chats. But, I am planning to write up and screencast a "how to" for Tweetdeck before the next chat for anyone interested. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Announcing #calibchat Live Twitter Chat


A couple of weeks ago my friend Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) and I co-wrote a blog posting about all the wonderful state and region school library live Twitter chats cropping up around the country. You may have noticed, though, that my own state of California wasn't represented in the list.πŸ˜“  I am 😊  happy, though, to now report that the Golden State is about to have one!

My friend Katie McNamara (@KatieJMcNamara) and I, in fact, started talking about a California live Twitter chat when we saw each other at the California School Library Association (CSLA) Annual Conference in February. Katie was a true "star student" in the first Twitter class I taught for CSLA, and she has since become my guru and go-to person for chats. I have primarily focused just on #TLChat chats, and I can't begin to keep up with all the chats she participates in! Each time I have done a new Twitter presentation or class, she's the one I consult for advice on the best chats to share with the attendees.

So, here's the plan, subject to change as we see how things go:

We will have our very first #calibchat this Thursday, April 27 from 6:00pm - 6:30pm, and follow it each 2nd and 4th Thursday until the end of June. We are going with just a half hour in hopes that a short time slot will be more doable for everyone.

We are starting this as a California chat, but we definitely welcome and encourage our school library friends from across the country (and even the globe) to join us.

One of the other "hats" I'm wearing right now is chair of AASL's Social Media Task Force, and our task force is busy working right now on the announcements of the AASL Social Media Superstars at 4pm on Thursday. With that announcement going out just two hours before our #calibchat live chat, I took the liberty of proposing a social media topic for our first chat. (I obliged Katie with the purple color theme, so figured I was entitled to select the first topic. πŸ˜‰) We will be discussing why social media important and how you use it.

So, whether you live in California or not, whether you are a school librarian or school library supporter, whether you attend a lot of chats or this will be the first, please join us! And, if you are new to chats, please check back here for some tips on live chats, which I will have added to this post by Thursday morning.

Hope to see you on Twitter Thursday at 6pm Pacific Time for our inaugural #calibchat!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Great Tips from JLG's Deborah Ford


Last week, thanks to Junior Library Guild (JLG) and the Long Beach Unified School District Library Department as host, I got to spend Tuesday morning in a session with the awesome Deborah Ford. I have known Deborah since I entered the school library profession in 2002. As a district librarian in California, she presented regularly at California School Library Association (CSLA) conferences and workshops. Her sessions were always full of great ideas I could implement in my own library AND were entertaining as well. When I learned several years ago that she was leaving California to become Junior Library Guild's Director of Library Outreach, I thought, what a gain for Junior Library Guild, but a great loss for us in California. Well, happily, that proved not to be the case; Deborah continues to present at CSLA conferences and other events in California and around the country, and she does lots of recorded webinars we can watch as well.

Last week's session focused on two topics, "Revitalizing Research in a Google-Driven-Fake-News World" and "Keeping Up in an Ever-Changing World." Here are just a very small handful of the many great tips she shared with us:

Research

Deborah shared a number of tips on how to help students evaluate information for accuracy. The process of determining accuracy has become increasingly more complex as misinformation proliferates online and there is clearly no easy, completely foolproof technique. At the same time, we librarians are best equipped and need to take the lead in teaching students the skills to evaluate sources. A new-to-me site she shared that can help with this is the News Literacy Project (www.thenewsliteracyproject.org/), a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that, according to its site, "works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age." One of its offerings is Checkology, a virtual classroom of 12 customizable online news literacy lessons. Teachers and librarians can sign up for either a free or premium version, and right now the premium version is being offered without charge. I just signed up and am liking what I see so far. The site also has a good handout with 10 questions for fake news detection you may want to use during lessons or share on your website.

Keeping Up

While they are not new to me, I loved that she shared the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and Best Apps for Teaching and Learning as go-to resources for finding good sites and applications for media sharing, digital storytelling, organizing, books, curriculum content, social networking, and more. Each year both of these groups identify 25 new sites and apps both for our students and our own work. As Deborah suggested, when you need a tool for teaching or learning, start with the current and backlist of tools. Here's a link to all the current and past websites, and here's a link for the apps. I am a former member of the Best Websites Committee, and I know both committees put many hours in to identifying the best of the best options! Another source to check for good tool ideas is Deborah's own LiveBinder of mostly-free online resources: bit.ly/101mostlyfree

One of AASL Best Websites Deborah shared is Wonderopolis. Each day, the site shares an intriguing question that will get kids --- and adults! --- wondering and wanting to dig deeper to learn more. The site offers an embeddable widget with the day's wonder. I had this embedded in my library website. I just checked the site and learned that it is offering a Camp Wonderopolis this summer, with a maker theme, that would be great to share with your students, parents, and teachers. According to the site, "This year's Camp lets Campers build their own version of Wonderocity as they explore their way through 42 lessons about engineering, construction, and city planning." Check it out!

Keeping up with Books


And, of course, with Deborah's wealth of knowledge of the best books, the session would have been worth it for her book recommendations alone. Be sure to get and read her number one recommendation at this session: Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give. I listened to the audiobook after she recommended the title at a recent webinar. Here's my Goodreads review. It deals with very current issues of race and violence in an authentic, sensitive way, and is a book every high school library should have.

Deborah maintains a wonderful set of LiveBinders with "Booktalks to Go" for many of the JLG offerings, as well as links to information about the author, publisher, interviews, etc. You can access her Booktalks to Go LiveBinders at bit.ly/jlglivebinders. Here, for example, is a link to the Booktalk to Go and resources for The Hate U Give, which also includes links to author information, Thomas's Twitter account, and several interviews.

Deborah is a superstar for good book ideas. You can also follow her updates on Pinterest and Twitter.

And, next time you have a chance to hear her present live or online, do! But, before that, you can take advantage of her webinars. There are a number of archived ones sharing about new books posted on the Junior Library Guild blog, Shelf Life.


Monday, April 10, 2017

School library chats are cropping up all over!




by Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) and Jane Lofton (@jane_librarian)
cross-posted on both of our blogs
(see Nikki's at The True Adventures of a High School Librarian)

School librarians are incredible networkers, and many have discovered that Twitter is one of the very best tools for building and benefiting from a personal learning network (PLN). Those of us taking advantage of Twitter for our PLNs never go a single day without learning some new ideas from our colleagues and those in related fields. And, Twitter live chats offer a kind of “booster shot” of Twitter goodness in a short amount of time, typically an hour.

If you aren’t familiar with what a live Twitter chat is, here’s are the basics:

A live Twitter chat happens at an appointed/announced time. There is always a specific hashtag used to identify the chat. So, you can follow a chat by going to Twitter, searching for the hashtag, selecting Latest, and watching the tweets with that hashtag as people post. You join in by adding that hashtag to each of your own tweets.





Most live Twitter chats take place the same time each month or week. Each session will have a new theme or topic to discuss. Live chats typically have two moderators who prepare questions in advance and send the questions out during the chat. They start by asking everyone to introduce themselves. Then, they use Q1 for question #1, Q2 for question #2, and so on as a preface as they post the questions. The questions go out every few minutes. Participants start their responses with A1, A2, and so on. The participants can also interact directly with each other by responding to their posts. At the end, the moderators typically create an archive transcript of the chat so that people who missed the event or want to review it can visit a link and see the conversation.

We can't pretend that live chats are relaxing. They aren't! They are definitely a bit stressful, since you are going to see lots of tweets flying by at once while you are simultaneously trying to think and compose your own answers and comments. At the same time, they are amazingly stimulating, informative, and a great chance to interact in real time with your peers and discuss a topic of interest. We have connected with many new Twitter friends and gotten countless wonderful new ideas through chats. Just be prepared in advance that you can't read all the tweets in an active chat; you are bound to miss stuff, and that's okay. You aren’t even obliged to answer all the questions. And, feel free to lurk if you like until you are comfortable.

Educators of all kinds have started live Twitter chats in the last several years, for different subject areas, grade levels, states, regions, and much more. To find out about more chats you can participate in than you ever dreamed of, check Participate’s Chat site or Cybraryman's Educational Hashtags. Until recently, though, there was just one live chat specifically for school librarians: #TLChat. The #TLChat hashtag is used by school librarians all the time as one of the main hashtags for targeting school library tweets, but, once a month, it becomes a live chat, now on the first Monday of the month at 8pm ET. And, joining it as a live chat platform recently are at least 10 state- or regionally-based school library chats. Here are the ones we know about:



And, ever generous as librarians are, we believe that all these chats welcome anyone. For example, you don’t have to be from New Jersey to participate in #NJLIBCHAT.

Also, notice that we listed the chats above in an embedded Google spreadsheet, since we are hoping we can add to it as we learn about more of them. Recently, Nikki created and sent out a Google Form in which she asked school librarians to share state school library Twitter chat sessions and hashtags. We got the information about the chats listed above from the responses to that form. If your state or region has a chat, and you don’t see it in the table, please complete the form and we’ll add it. And, if your state or region doesn’t have one, perhaps this will motivate you to start one!

We hope to see you at a chat soon!