I recently attended the 2012 American Librarians Association (ALA) Annual Conference. This being my third big conference in one school year, I think I can officially call myself a conference junkie. What can I say, I’m a new teacher and I still have a lot to learn. This conference caters to librarians, but since its overall purpose is to promote the message that reading and having access to resources are important, I attended it.
As a rural district, the local library can be a huge – and free – resource in helping to meet unique student needs. I attended a number of workshops and panels in the educator’s strand, which gave me a number of brainstorming points to consider as I enter my next year of teaching.
And on a completely different note, I also met Henry Winkler, who was promoting his book series, Ghost Buddy, co-written with Lin Oliver.
Happy Days nostalgia notwithstanding, here are some of the ideas that got me thinking how to help my students:
1. In a panel presentation on creative writing workshops taught in correctional facilities, I saw how librarians used poetry writing programs to help inmates put some of their internal struggles into words; they also used publication to foster a sense of encouragement and success within the inmates.
Can I apply this to my own students? You bet. I took home two of the free poetry journals the panelists offered, which contains inmates’ writings—rife with images of anger, rage, frustration, and regret. Perhaps these sentiments will prove to be more engaging than my past attempts. And publishing a student-written chapbook or online publication of student poetry are inexpensive options to help students see their writing become something that can be shared.
2. In a panel presentation on library responses to emergency situations, I found it interesting that two librarians at the American University in Cairo catalogued blog posts, recorded interviews and Twitter feeds, et al to capture the local and immediate reaction to the 2011 riots in Egypt. One person asked how they can consider the information valid when the writing is from the perspective of specific individuals who may not have all the facts on the situation. They contended that this citizen journalism, while subjective, still shows valid coverage of an event because real people are writing out their real thoughts and experiences.
What does this have to do with schools? Well, if librarians can think outside the box on how they help their patrons, then why can’t teachers? I could see my students enjoying learning about the upcoming 2012 election by reading blogs, news feeds, and Twitter. It’s an opportunity to witness the vast range of opinions and rationale on any given topic and candidate. And an opportunity to polish one’s persuasive writing skills!
3. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has created a lesson database to catalog lessons that meet their Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. You can read a brief description and enter your own lesson plans.
I bet you’re thinking, well, I can access lesson plans all over the web – what’s so great about this one? Well, let me tell you: after your lesson plan has been submitted, reviewed, and (once any necessary corrections have been made) published, the database will do the work for you to align the lesson plan to Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Keep in mind, though, that the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner are not exactly the same as the Common Core State Standards; however, they are crosswalked.
So, just as with my experience at the CEC Annual Conference & Expo, as per usual with my conference attendance, this is my top three. I learned an overwhelming amount of information, but boiled it down to the top three I will immediately apply my attention to, with the hopes that the rest filter in as I continue on this journey of being a lifelong teacher and learner. The road is long, but oh how I enjoy the scenery.