ALA Annual – Professional Reflections

Okay, I’m going to split my ALA reflections into two posts: Professional and Personal/Food reflections!  That way those who don’t care what I ate & saw during my trip can skip that post.

Here is a copy of the final attendance schedule for “official” events I attended:

Screen shot 2011-06-29 at 4.07.34 PMThis reflects what I actually attended and not what I bookmarked to attend!  I spent HOURS going through the schedule prior to leaving for conference and had two or three sessions for most time frames.  I deleted what I didn’t attend so I could remember what I did.  <grin> I really liked the online scheduler – and it displayed perfectly on my iPad.

There was also an iPhone app for conference that is very primitive in my opinion.  It timed out A LOT.  While I liked having it, it was difficult to use and didn’t do what I needed.  For example, you could search to see which authors were appearing, you could save it to your exhibit schedule, but it only saved that you wanted to visit the vendor’s booth – not the authors name and signing time.

Mostly I used my Evernote account to transfer the schedule from the ALA website and type in the additional events I wanted to attend – author signings and evening events not on the ALA schedule.

Friday:

Friday was pretty much a bust.  We spent all day at either the Columbia or Atlanta airport or on the plane.  Delays, Delays, Delays!  So we missed the opening keynote given by Dan Savage, as well as, the opening of the exhibit hall.  Bummer!

We did arrive in time to attend the AASL Affiliate Assembly I (8pm-10pm).  Having never attended one of these before it was interesting.  The majority of the event was the “review of concerns” seeking approval.  There were seven issues that were up for voting and we were tasked to pick an issue and discuss in groups.  Since I’m not yet a voting member for SCASL, I was there to observe only.  I decided to sit in on the group from our own region that concerned ebooks.  The concern asks that AASL establish a committee/task force to create some type of tool that includes information on legal parameters, purchasing models, and circulation/lending models relating to both ereaders and ebooks.  The request is to be proactive instead of reactive to the issues involving ebooks/ereader issues (such as HarperCollins stupid 26 lends policy and things like CIPA guidelines as related to ereaders.)

FYI:  I warn you I didn’t take very many actual notes from any events!  Much of this is based on my [poor] memory!

Saturday:

Concurrent Session: The Embedded Librarian: Engage, Evolve, Educate–A new model of school librarianship

“What is an “embedded” school librarian? A new model of school librarianship that is committed to immersive collaboration with faculty and administration. Audience members will see examples of what an embedded librarian model looks like in a preK-12 program and come away with ideas on how to make this model work in their setting.”

Jennifer, Karyn, and Stacy all work at the Little Red Schoolhouse (K-12) and their library programs are part of students’ grades – as in they are a course on the report card.  They each shared examples of projects that illustrate cross collaboration – for ex: social studies, art, library, etc.

Stacy Dillon shared her fourth grade Book Election project – where students used the election process to choose book candidates for a primary and then an actual election.  This coincided with the actual Presidential elections in order to help students understand the process using something they were familiar with – books!

Jennifer Hubert Swan shared her social justice project with 8th graders.  They had to choose a social issue, research it and advocate for their issue to sell it to the class.  Yes, this is a simplified description, please visit the website for further details.

Karyn Silverman shared her TEDxHumanRights project where students again chose a social issue and had to present a 10 minute TED like talk to their classmates.

Buffy Hamilton shared information about various examples of collaboration and embedding her library program has within her school.  You can follow her blog post with her slides from the presentation to learn more about her program – too much shared and my notes are scarce.

Concurrent Session: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Information Science

“Looking at the present and future of Information Science and Information Technology through the eyes of a panel of science fiction and fantasy authors. Imagine the possibilities, explore the realities, think about the consequences. Sponsored by LITA Imagineering Interest Group.”

Speaker: Carrie Vaughn, Author
Speaker: David Weber, Author
Speaker: Jim Ottaviani, Author
Speaker: John Scalzi, Author
Speaker: Orson Scott Card, Author

Bill Willingham, was also present and had the audience in stitches.  I particularly loved his “comercial break” during his presentation.

Gail Carriger was also on the panel and I was interested to learn she is an archeologist!  That was one of the professions I was interested in as an undergrad.

Each author said a little about information and technology, and some plugged their new books/series!  As a perk, the first 200 audience members received a goody bag filled with copies of the authors books!  Awesome!

Sunday:

AASL Affiliate Assembly II (7:30 am – 12:00 pm!) – lots of “speeches” by folks coming/leaving the group with the change in administration.  Lots of advertising for various committees and new publications/products from various committees.  Finally down to business of voting on the various “concerns.” There was a real brouhaha when the ebook concern was brought up for voting!  It almost didn’t get approved due to disagreement over the wording of the action activity and a discenting group who thinks due to the fluctuating nature of the issue (meaning there is no industry standards yet) we should sit back and wait until the standards are set.  Whereas, our group believes (and rightly so IMHO) that we should be jumping into the fray and making the issues of libraries/school libraries part of the discussions BEFORE the decisions are made!  We (AASL/ALA) should be at the table during these talks instead of behind the 8 ball AFTER the policies are in place.  Thankfully, the concern was approved – otherwise it would be another year before the item could be brought up again!

Concurrent Session: Teens Reading Digitally: Going Handheld and Mobile

“iPad, Nook, Kindle, Sony eReader, iPhone, smartphone, the list could go on. These are all devices teens can and do use for reading all types of materials from comic books to textbooks. Join Linda Braun, Wendy Stephens, iDrakula author Becca Black, and Figment Publishing founder Jacob Lewis to learn how teens are reading digitally, what’s available in the digital reading world for teens, and how you can support teens digital reading needs and interests.”

Very interesting session.  Wendy Stephens was not on the panel.  Linda Braun shared lots of “apps” and resource for reading digitally.  Two I copied down that were new to me were: Copia and inkling.

Bonnie Kelley shared how Pinellas County Schools used Kindles to replace textbooks in Clearwater, FL.  She shared a lot of the positives with using the Kindles: customizable  to reader needs, interactive reading (sharing notes, highlights, comments), etc.; however, I would have liked her to share what impact it had on student LEARNING!  Not once did she mention if test scores or grades improved.  She did mention one resource, CK-12 textbooks, that can be ‘purchased’ in the Amazon store for free!  I will be sharing that tidbit with my faculty!

Jacob Lewis shared information and statistics about teen writers and readers and why/how he started Figment.com.

Becca Black (aka Rebecca Cantrell) participating via Skype shared how she came up with the idea for the iDrakula app/products.  I loved her sharing how she approached a teen in a restaurant and asked him who he was texting so intently.  The young man pointed to the girl seated next to him!  She asked him why he was texting instead of just talking and he pointed at the adult seating across from him and whispered “so he [his DAD] can’t hear us!”

Monday/Tuesday:

The only “official” function I attended on Monday was the WRAP UP REV UP Exhibits Closing.  I didn’t win any of the raffel prizes, bummer!, but I did enjoy the live music from Pat DiNizio from The Smithereens.

We planned to attend Tuesday’s closing keynote, Molly Shannon!, but the shuttles were running so slowly we were concerned we wouldn’t get one back to the hotel and we had to checkout by 11am.

So there you have the “professional” part of my ALA reflections!  This trip let me know what I have in store for next year (most of time taken up with AASL Affiliate Assembly!)  I was pleased with the AASL concurrent session offerings, but due to going out for lunch and/or weird overlapping session times, I didn’t get to attend as many as I’d hoped.  I do wish I’d not spent as much time in the walking the exhibits (since I didn’t really stop at many) and the Wrap UP event and instead had attended a couple more sessions.  Oh, well, you live and learn.

Upstate Technology Conference 2011

Last week I had the opportunity to once again attend and present at the Upstate Technology Conference (UTC) in Greenville, SC.  This is one of my FAVORITE conference to attend.  Not only because I get to meet up with my friends from around the State, but because the sessions I attend here provide me with new knowledge and challenge my thinking.

My sessions were ones I’ve done previously at the ETV Workshops, Aiken TechFest, and other venues.  My morning session, Web 2.0 Speed Dating, went very well and I was pleased to have a fellow Aikenite there (sorry I can’t remember his name, but he works at LBC Middle!)  This session has never bothered me and has typically gone very well.  It is my afternoon session that continues to bother me – “Evernote to the Rescue!” I have varied my delivery, updated the content, re-organized the content, and more, to no avail.  The session just doesn’t satisfy me.  Oh, it’s not the topic – I LOVE EVERNOTE!  I think I finally hit the nail on the head – it’s the TIMING of the session.  I think I’m so pumped up in the morning – I’m borderline hyper – and so tired in the afternoon that it is ME that is the problem, not the content.  You see every time I’ve done these workshops I’ve done them in the same order – Web 2.0 in the morning and Evernote in the afternoon.  And every time I feel the same – happy about the morning session and blah about the afternoon session.  So from now on I’m going to ask to do one session on both days in the morning instead of both session on the same day.

I attended Tamara Cox’s session on cell phones and learned some new and interesting ways to utilize the tools in the library and classroom.  Unfortunately, cell phones are verboten in my district.  Until this changes I’m limited in what I can and cannot offer in terms of services/programs using cell phones.  She did have some tools that we can use our iPod Touches and some that can be used outside of school that I will be exploring.

I attended Chris Craft’s session on student engagement – and while I still think there is such a thing as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, I agree that the issue is complicated and engagement means something different to everyone (both to the teacher and the student!)  That motivation and engagement are individualized and we should be customizing our instruction and delivery for each student.  We shouldn’t “assume” we know what motivates a student – we should build relationships with each student to learn how best to serve their needs.  That’s easy for me to say as what I do in the library is customized for each patron – for the most part.  Yes, some instruction is group and is a one-size fits all, but ultimately we help each student as each student needs (or wants) us.

Another great session I attended was Pat Hensley’s session on QR codes.  While I know how to create and scan QR codes, it was great to hear other examples of how to incorporate QR codes into the curriculum.  I think I got the most fun out of assisting the two “novices” next to me in how to text to Poll Everywhere and then scan QR codes!  Seeing them get excited about something new made me happy!  It reminded me how I realized in my Web 2.0 session that while I’m familiar with tools that I’ve been using for years, there are still teachers out there who haven’t even heard of them.

My only disappointment with a session was one on the Nook eReaders given by representatives from Barnes & Nobel.  I went hoping to hear tips on how to use it and/or incorporate it into the classroom/library.  Instead I left early after (whether intentional or not) they lied about another company’s eReader.  Guys, you don’t have to bad mouth other products to sell your own – it should stand on it’s own merits.  And trust me, the Nook will hold up without how you went about selling it to your audience.  I know, I have a Nook Color and it is a pretty sweet device.  I also have  a Sony eReader, a Kindle, and an iPad.  So I know what each can and can’t do – and what you said made me sad.  This is why I walked out on your pitch.  If it was because you just don’t know the other products, then DON’T discuss them – just say I’m not sure how the other product works.  DON’T lie to me.  I’m just sayin’.

But on a brighter note, as always the most fun is gathering with my colleagues and friends.  In fact, I missed some sessions just because we were too busy talking to make it to a session on time.  Thanks Pat for remembering to take pictures.  Every year I say I’m going to and every year I never pull out my camera.  Sigh.

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Lt to Rt: Cathy Nelson, Fran Bullington, Chris Craft and ME!

Photo Credit:  ”001″ by Loonyhiker  (aka Pat Hensley) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/23240330@N03/5838413829/in/photostream/

Technology Proficient?

Recently a Media Specialist in another county emailed me to ask about our State Department of Education’s Teacher Technology Proficiency Survey.

“What do you think of the SDE’s technology proficiency test? … We are a little dumbfounded here that some of the technology referenced is unknown to us, and we are supposed to be mentors to our teachers.”

For background, in SC our teachers have to “prove” that they are proficient (80%+) in using technology in their practice as part of their teaching certificate.  The survey is supposedly based on the ISTE NETS for Teachers and has questions that deal with all things tech related, including Web 2.0 tools.

As a “tech expert” in my school, I assist our technology coach with the survey administration – helping teachers access the site, sign-in, and navigate the survey.  Listening to teachers during and after the test, I frequently hear “what the heck is a … ”

The following is an excerpt from my response to my friend’s query:

… Yes, the SDE tech survey isn’t “passable” to many in my school/district since almost all of the Web 2.0 tools they list are BLOCKED.  My teachers have no clue what wikis, nings, and other tools are.  Oh, they’ve heard me talk about them, but since they are blocked very few have explored them.

That said, let me ask you this?  How many of your district LMS/teachers are taking the time to try to learn what those tools are?  Did they make note of the questions/items they didn’t know about (or review their test & answers) to find out what they missed?  Are they just sitting back and waiting until the district provides them training or are they actively seeking to gain their own knowledge?

Two things:

1) teachers and LMSers CHOOSE to be in this profession.  As educators, how can we ask our students to be “life-long learners” if WE aren’t willing to walk the walk?  Also, the TEACHER/LMS is responsible for their PD, NOT our school or district.  Yes, they should be allowing us to attend PD, but we shouldn’t be waiting for them to always pay or organize the training.  If the teacher/LMS can’t afford to pay, find FREE alternatives.  There are so many free online PD opportunities and we have the ETV FREE workshops, too (March 29-31)!  Time is another excuse I hear and I don’t buy it.  People find the time to do the things they want to do, they can find the time to do PD.  And Web 2.0 tools can take as little as 20 min a week to try out a new tool.  Doesn’t mean you have to become an expert, but as LMSers we should be at least FAMILIAR with this stuff.  Don’t know where to start – why not use the AASL Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning?  OR I HIGHLY recommend attending the Upstate Technology Conference for PD in the use of education technology.

2) how can we advocate for these tools to be unblocked and/or taught in PD by our districts if all we do is sit back and complain and/or sit back and do nothing?  For all those who complain to you/me about the SDE tech survey how many have taken the time to protest to the powers that be at the district level?  You and I individually can’t really do anything – we are low “men” on the totem pole.  If we are being held to the topics in the survey in order to be considered Technology “Proficient” then our districts SHOULD be providing training in house AND these things shouldn’t be blocked by our filters.  Why aren’t the teachers/LMSers holding their district accountable?  If it’s on the survey doesn’t that mean the state thinks these things are important?  Then collectively we should be FORCING our districts to unblock and train on these tools.

Okay, stepping off my soapbox about teachers being in charge of their own PD, being sick of excuses and district filters.

I do sympathize and understand my teacher’s frustration with the survey.  I, too, struggled with some of the questions.  Not because I didn’t know the technology, but because of poorly worded or multiple correct (in my opinion) answer choices.  There were also questions that were tool/program specific instead of generic/category/process specific.  I know there was one that included a specific brand of library circulation software (and not the one my district uses) for which most teachers would have no clue what it was.  There were also questions for software that is traditionally used in elementary schools that high school folks wouldn’t recognize.  I’m really interested in knowing who authored this assessment and did they field test the questions before publishing it for administration to teachers?

Since I was tasked to administer a similar survey to our 9th graders (based on the ISTE NETS for Students), I have access to my school’s results (both teacher & student).   While our district hasn’t provided any instruction as to what we are to do with our results (as proficient OR not proficient) my school’s Technology Committee will be using the results from our teachers to designing our future in-house PD – using the categories most missed.  As a bonus, using the survey and the teachers’ needs as justification may help to get some of these tools unblocked!