School Library Media Faculty and Graduate Students Participate in State Conference
Virginia Association of School Librarians: Libraries as Knowledge Builders
Williamsburg, VA: November 7-9, 2013
Graduate students from the School Library Media program attended the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia from November 7-9, 2013. The conference theme was "Libraries as Knowledge Builders". They were joined by their Longwood faculty, Dr. Audrey Church, Ms. Frances Reeve, and Mrs. Karla Collins who also participated in a book cart drill team competition with colleagues from ODU and VCU.
In her presentation Jennifer LaGarde spoke of using computers and video cams to have "Mystery Skypes" with various people in areas that are vastly different than her students. Students had to ask the mystery Skyper questions in order to determine what he or she does for a living. I felt very inspired by her presentation because she spoke to the very reason that I want to become a librarian. It’s not just about the books (although I still love them) it’s about the fact that the library can be such a flexible place. The library is about learning and applying knowledge for authentic purposes.
I came away with information overload and excited about the library and library activities. I had the privilege of listening and learning from some of the best and brightest librarians, authors, and leaders in the librarian field. I attended 16 different sessions that provided me with a wealth of information and ideas that I have already started sharing with our staff and students.
The biggest benefit I get from attending the conference is the huge opportunity for me to take a moment and get up-to-date on what is happening now in the world of librarians and reading.
Outside of the sessions, some of the highlights for me were the keynote speakers, the Book Cart Drill teams, the children’s authors, and the president’s reception. Visiting with vendors brought some unexpected surprises. I had a chance to meet Farmer Minor and hug Daisy, the 150 pound pot belly pig. ABDO gave out a beautiful hardcover book to those who stopped by to select one. Authors were present to sign books and I was delighted to get a novel by Kate Klise and have it signed by her!
One session that I attended was given by a librarian that decided to write a biography on an unknown Civil Rights trailblazer who initiated a sit-in years before the Civil Rights Movement. She shared insights into how she got started with her research and provided every attendee with a free copy of her book!
My 21st century technology skills were enhanced by learning how to create Animoto videos. From another session, not only do I have a list of excellent multicultural picture books and chapter books to add to the library collection but a technology tool, Padlet, to engage students in conversation about characters from all over the world.
I found two of the sessions I attended to be particularly helpful. One session was about keeping library services available even when the library is closed due to testing. The second session I found to be extremely interesting was about a little known Virginia pioneer on Civil Rights. His name was Samuel Tucker. He will make a great addition to 7th grade U.S history studies.
I got great practical tips from Jennifer LaGarde who was also our keynote speaker. She emphasized collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. I left her session feeling rejuvenated and ready to work with as many teachers and students as possible. The last day I sat in on three author sessions. It was great to interact with them and get their perspectives on what they do. I look forward to sharing my experiences with the students and hopefully bring one of the authors for a visit in the future. I loved the conference and look forward to going back next year!
Jessica M. Heising
Author Sarah Dessen and Jessica Heising
I spent one session learning writing techniques with Sarah Dessen, the popular Young Adult Lit author. Ms. Dessen shared her writing process, as well as the realities of becoming a writer. She gave those in attendance some useful ideas in how to help our students develop their writing talents.
There were quite a few things that I took away from the conference. One that surprised me the most was that authors are extremely down to earth. I had the pleasure to interact with four different authors during the conference. They were: Sarah Dessen, Gigi Ameteau, Meg Medina and Bentley Boyd. The other thing I took from the conference is the many wonderful things that are being done throughout the state! I look forward to attending the conference again next year. I will be done with my degree, so hopefully, it will be as a practicing librarian!
It was really nice to talk with librarians about the ideas they have for making the library a better place. It is one thing learning best practices in class but it is very nice to see best practices in action. The first timer’s breakfast was a great way to start my day and I really enjoyed the author banquet with Sarah Dessen. I will definitely go again next year even if it’s not a class requirement. It is a great way to connect with other librarians and get new ideas!
I learned so much useful and applicable information that I could not only take back to my school and classroom, but also that I could incorporate as a librarian in the future. I attended sessions geared towards new librarians with great tips and advice, the first timers breakfast where I got to meet other new attendees, the entertaining book cart team drill with the professors from Longwood performing, and an author luncheon with Kate Kliss. By attending the VAASL conference I not only gained relevant information and tools, but also a great group of colleagues that I look forward to working with and seeing again next year at the conference.
This was my first library conference and I’m hooked! Almost every single session I attended I was able to leave with something I could use. Not only could I use it in the library, it could be used in my classroom. Listening to author Ann Westrick share with the teachers of Carver Middle School made me realize I’d love to be a Middle School Librarian!
The second session I attended was about bullying. Meg Medina, a local author, wrote a book that even has humor in its title, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. This book would be great for all of our students, but especially for our Hispanic girls. I would love to get copies of this book and have a book club with some of my former mentees, many of whom are Hispanic. The book addresses issues that are real to them, and it encourages the importance of education in learning how to deal with conflicts. I know Mrs. Medina would also come speak to the group about her book and being raised by a single Hispanic woman.
Mary L. Sutterluety
My favorite session was Audrey Church’s Top 10 Topics and Trends presentation. I found that her recommendations for the Nonfiction/Informational Text will prove to be invaluable in my school. I also plan on joining one or two professional communities that Audrey advertised, specifically Connected Educators and EdWeb.
As a student in the Graduate Studies Program at Longwood University, I continually learn how to advance in my career. I attended many sessions, one of which was Dr. Audrey Church "Top Ten Trends of 2013." This session had a wonderful handout as well as explanations about each of the ten trends and at least three examples for each.
A session titled "Read, Write, Recommend: Blogging as a 'Novel' Tool to Engage Student Readers" really sparked my enthusiasm and got me thinking about all the ways I could use it in our school library. In this session we learned about three programs that could be used for safe and secure online blogging with the students. Edublogs.org… allows students a place where they can submit their work for review and critique by others, express their opinions, think critically, reflect on their learning, and collaborate with others, both in and out of our school.
This year’s VAASL Conference was a great opportunity to acquaint myself with the library world outside of my school library. I enjoyed networking with other librarians from within my school system in a setting other than the usual work day. I also had the opportunity to make new friends in the library world. The atmosphere was professional but very relaxed and there was so much to see and learn. I really liked how the presenters of the sessions I attended were either professors or other school librarians.
I enjoyed Jennifer LaGarde's presentation on "How to Survive the Zombie Librarian Apocalypse". The information she presented was inspiring and captivating just like our libraries should be.
This was my first opportunity to attend a VAASL Conference and I enjoyed every minute. The session I most enjoyed and found the most beneficial to my current subject area was "2013 Best Apps for Teaching and Learning." Thank you for a well thought out weekend. It was convenient to have so many options to choose from. In conjunction with my colleague, we were able to plan and decide who attended what session so that we could get as much information as possible to share. We are already making plans to attend the 2014 conference next year!