Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rising to the Challenge- AASL 2013

I had a wonderful few days recently, learning and connecting with fellow school librarians from all over the world. My path to getting there began last spring when I first started receiving notifications in the mail about American Association of School Librarians 16th Conference in Hartford, CT. It would be my first national conference to attend, and I knew a lot had to go right for me to get there. The stars starting aligning  pretty quickly, and I found cheap airfare to Hartford.

My roomie!
A roommate would be needed, so I posted on Twitter that I was looking for a roommate for AASL. Michelle Cooper, a member of my PLN responded quickly that she was interested. Now I had airfare and a roommate! Since it looked like I was going, I jumped at the chance to present in the eLearning Commons area when Carolyn Foote tweeted about signing up. I wanted to present on using Twitter to grow professionally. Of course, I looked for a co-presenter on Twitter and Cathy Potter, another member of my PLN, volunteered.

All of this planning came to fruition this past week and it was very exciting! While in Hartford, I connected with other members of my Twitter PLN, planned fun events for connecting our libraries, and learned from some incredibly talented people. 
Just a few members of my PLN!

I also met AUTHORS!

Author Seymour Simon

Laurel Snyder, my first author Skype
An exciting part of AASL13 was the "unconference" that was held Friday night. An unconference is like an edCamp, which is participant driven and led. Who could imagine that there could be so much energy at 9:00 PM after conference goers had already been going full speed all day? But oh my! The energy level in the room was incredible! One of the groups I sat in talked about Makerspaces, which I am trying to get started in our library. One librarian in the group shared about how she runs the makerspace in her library, and Andy Plemmons  talked about a 3D printer he just got funded on Donors Choose! It was a whirlwind of a night!

The organizers of AASL Uncon

Our Twitter presentation, which was my first time to present outside my district, was very fun and went well. I think we might have hooked a few new people and persuaded them to give Twitter a try for professional learning.  I've now made it a goal to present at a conference again in the future and am already planning with local members of my PLN for our state conference.

Cathy Potter & me before our presentation

As for takeaways, I will be considering genre-fying our fiction section of the library. This was a hot topic at AASL13, with some people having very strong feelings for or against genre-fying. For me, I want to be able to help my students locate materials quickly and easily in our library and think this might be a good way to go about it. As the only adult in our library, and often having up to 30 students in there at a time, it can be a challenge to get to all of the students and help them find the perfect book.  So for now, I will order genre spine labels and begin by putting those on books. I will see how that goes and then decide whether I should rearrange the books.

Another thing I will be working on is keeping the technology out and the projects going during our library times. Jennifer Reed presented an excellent session on using digital tools for promoting books. This was my last session to attend before heading home, and it was one of the most energizing ones for me! I took lots of notes and have already started to apply some of her ideas.

It was a wonderful few days, full of inspiring people sharing ideas on how we can rise to the challenges before us and be leaders and collaborators within our schools. I left feeling excited, energized and, of course, just a little overwhelmed, but definitely ready to Rise to the Challenge!

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