Monday, February 3, 2014

#OLASC14 - 2014 Reflections on the OLA Super Conference

Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2014

A Universe of Possibilities
Conference Reflections by Diana Maliszewski

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 7:45 a.m.

Session #200: Forest of Reading Awards Breakfast

Summary = This event is an opportunity to appreciate the authors and illustrators, selection / steering committee members and other key stakeholders that make the Forest of Reading possible. Unfortunately, because of the awful traffic congestion, (a journey that usually takes me 30 minutes took me 90 minutes to complete) I missed the breakfast entirely. I spent a great deal of the morning lamenting that “I missed the Forest breakfast”!

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 9:05 a.m.

Session #302: Designing for Thinkers: A Critical Literacy Approach to Digital Citizenship by Anita Brooks Kirkland, Ruth Hall, and students

Summary = TALCO received a grant to develop authentic, relevant tools to use to promote various aspects of digital citizenship. The group presented their work to date, gave students a chance to address small groups about these topics, and the audience helped continue the work with their input.

3 Key Points
  • ·         “Digital citizenship is character education in a networked world” and we need to examine our own understanding of citizenship in a digital age as well as understand what students need from us, because many of our assumptions about students and digital use are wrong (e.g. students do care about their privacy, people aren’t as mean online as the media portrays, etc.)
  • ·         Research from PEW Internet (“How Teens Research in a Digital World”) and Media Smarts (“Young Canadians in a Wired World”) show that students are over-dependent on search engines, need help judging quality information, etc.
  • ·         Students responded live to questions like “How should technology be used to help your learning?” “How can schools encourage positive communication?” and “How do you find information online and how can schools help you find reliable information?” and demonstrated that they are interested in working together with adults to improve everyone’s use and understanding.

So What? Now What? = I need to check out the resource when it goes live. One of the teens at our table sent me her Tumblr URL, which will help me with my Tumblr inquiry I’m doing with two other TL Twitter associates (Lisa and Sarah). I also need to remember to bring in these topics frequently and in a way that gives students a chance to have their say.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 10:40 a.m.

Session #404: TLs & ECEs – Inquiry Partners by Jennifer Balido-Cadavez, Maria Isidro & Diana Maliszewski

Summary = Early Childhood Educators and teacher-librarians have a lot in common. The two ECEs from my school and I talked about understanding our roles and how we can maximize our time together to benefit the students.

3 Key Points
  • ·         Both ECEs and TLs have special training that we can take advantage of, especially because the ECE is a bridge between the library and classroom and knows the students emotionally, academically, and socially because they are with them all day.
  • ·         It’s okay to be at different “rungs” on the “ladder of effectiveness”, because there are so many factors that can hinder movement. Stories are important and we shared many, but we also have our moments where we are just “hanging on” and trying not to fall (to continue the metaphor).
  • ·         The relationship is what you make of it, just like the Play Doh we distributed near the end of the session. Advocate for ECEs because they need champions, just like TLs need.

So what? Now what? = It was the first time that Thess and Jen presented for a crowd of this size, and they did a fabulous job. Our rehearsal looked nothing like our final talk, and that was okay. The audience was so incredibly warm and supportive to my colleagues, approaching them afterwards to thank them and reinforce the message that they are teachers too. My own next step will be to spread and share this message of TL/ECE collaboration and appreciation to other key stakeholders so that, for example, ECEs can maybe get regular prep time so that we can collaborate more than just at lunchtime.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 12:00 noon

Canadian Books for Canadian Kids (Association for Canadian Publishers) Luncheon

Summary = This invitation-only affair brought together authors, publishers and selected supporters to network and enjoy a scrumptious meal. (Mine began with an apple and pomegranate salad, followed by BC organic salmon in a maple pommery glaze with baby vegetables and lemon cauliflower puree and ended with fresh berries.) I did not take as many photographs as I usually do because I was enjoying such engaging conversation with my tablemates, including Kate Edwards (Program Manager of ACP), Donna Francis (Marketing Manager of Creative Book Publishing), Sara Foster (Children’s Product Manager of Library Services Centre), Margaret Bryant (Director of Sales & Marketing at Dundurn), Judy Green (author and workshop provider) and Lisa Dalrymple (author). My “swag bag” contained books by Lisa Dalrymple, Philippa Dowding, Deborah Ellis, Elizabeth MacLeod, Sheree Fitch, and Rosemary McCarney.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 2:10 p.m.

Session #500: All Conference Plenary by Jennifer Keesmaat

Summary = (as printed in the conference program) “Jennifer Keesmaat is committed to creating places where people flourish. Having poured her coherent, comprehensive and collaborative approach into cities throughout North America – and doing the same in her role as the Chief Planner for the City of Toronto – Jennifer speaks with passion on her belief that now is the time to engage in city building and take ownership of our shared future.” Unfortunately, I never made it to the plenary session because I was so involved with discussions with individuals and groups in the Expo Hall.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 3:45 p.m.

Session #615: Captivate your Audience with Infographics by Jane Foo, Adele Magowan, and Shanna Pearson

Summary = Three college/university level librarians explained what is an infographic, shared different types and frequently used designs, outlined the process for creating them, provided tips and demonstrated a continuum of tools (from easiest to hardest) for individuals to use to make their own infographics.

3 Key Points
  • ·         You need three components for a good infographic: visuals (colour, typography, graphics), content (facts, data, statistics) and knowledge (insight and perspective)
  • ·         The presenters believe there are six general types of infographics, and knowing your content will help you select the right course to take. (The six types are 1. Comparison, 2. Chart, 3. Timeline, 4. Process, 5. Article, and 6. Interactive.)
  • ·         Use “honesty, logic and beauty” as your guides while creating an infographic. (The process involves A. Determining what you want to show, B. Pinpointing patterns/data/findings, C. Finding the appropriate metaphor or mental mode, D. Laying out the content and designing the graphical elements, E. Putting it all together, F. Assessing and reviewing the infographic, and G. Revising it at least twice.)

So what? Now what? = This workshop was FANTASTIC and my favourite Thursday session. I really wanted to learn how to make infographics and now this goal seems reachable. Jane, Adele and Shanna made a website with all their examples, directions, and advice (at and I have plans to work with a colleague in my board (Joel) to try out Piktochart and PowerPoint (yes, PPT can make these too!) and design a few.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 5:15 p.m.

Session #701: Ontario School Library Association Awards Presentation and Annual General Meeting

Summary = The Minister of Education appeared to make some opening remarks, deserving people received awards, and OSLA business occurred.

3 Key Points
  • ·         Leslie Holwerda received the OSLA Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award and Julie Fisher received the OLA Technical Services Award. Both ladies are from the Peel District School Board.
  • ·         Jeff Kawzenuk of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board won the OSLA Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award.
  • ·         Phillip Jeffrey from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board got the OSLA Award for Special Achievement.

So what? Now what? = As the semi-official photographer for the event, my next step is to send all the pictures I took to all the individuals and groups that would like copies! The Minister was gracious enough to stay for the entire awards ceremony and pose with the winners afterwards. In her remarks, she talked about mental health, math support and community building, and our 2013 OSLA out-going president, Isabelle Hobbs, was wise enough to point out that the school library can help with all these initiatives.  I had the opportunity to chat with Carmen, Lori, and Heather about their project to align TL objectives with their board School Improvement Plans. Afterwards, I was able to continue some great conversations with Sara, Lauren, and Joel over some vegetarian pizza. I got home at 11:50 p.m.

Friday, January 31, 2014 – 9:05 a.m.

Session #1027: Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Saffron Beckwith, Laureen Cusack, Janet Murie, and Rosalyn Steele

Summary = The “Dewey Divas and Dudes”, a group of Canadian publisher representatives, presented their favourite new and older books that dealt with childhood anxiety and teen angst, with the hope of promoting good titles that can act as “bibliotherapy”.

3 Key Points
  • ·         Good picture books include Stuck with the Blooz by Caron Levis, When I Feel Worried by Cornelia Maude Spelman, Theo’s Mood: A Book of Feelings by Maryann Coccia-Leffer, Bedtime Monsters by Josh Schneider, Dinosaur Thunder by Marion Dane Bauer, The Very Brave Bear by Nick Bland, When Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris, Year of the Jungle by Suzanne Collins, The Dark by Lemony Snickett, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes, Walter and the No-Need-to-Worry Suit by Rachel Bright and many more.
  • ·         Good middle-school novels include The Center of Everything by Linda Urban, Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing by Alison McGhee, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, P.S. Be Eleven by Rita William-Garcia, Home Ice Advantage by Tom Earle, Invisible Girl by Kate Maryon, and more.
  • ·         Good teen fiction titles include Cameron and the Girls by Edward Averett, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos, The Opposite of Geek by Ria Voros, Why We Took The Car by Wolfgang Herndorf, A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger, Faking Normal by Courtney Stevens, Tease by Amanda Maciel, and many more.

So what? Now what?  = I think I will buy some of these books after consulting with my staff and students.

Friday, January 31, 2014 – 10:40 a.m.

Session #1100: All Conference Plenary by David Usher

Summary = (as printed in the conference planner) “David Usher is a creative tour de force. As the front man of the internationally acclaimed rock bandMoist, as as a solo artist, David has sold more than 1.4 million albums, won countless awards, and performed at sold-out venues around the world. Believing that creativity and creative success is a learnable skill that anyone can master, his unique and dynamic presentations employ music and video to show audiences the steps they can take the stimulate the creative process at home and at work.” Once again, circumstances led me to miss all but the final three questions and answers at the end of the presentation. Instead, I was conversing with Colleen Rampelt, examining the Pop-Up MakerSpace (toy hacking, Arduino robot rovers, 3D printers, etc.) and visiting the vendors.

Friday, January 31, 2014 – 12:00 noon

Toronto District School Board Teacher-Librarian Luncheon

Summary = It’s an annual tradition for the TDSB TLs attending Super Conference to dine at Joe Badali’s on Friday. I had a chance to talk with Christy, Bob, and Gianna while eating a delicious Italian buffet, including pork, pasta, and pizza.

Friday, January 31, 2014 – 2:10 p.m.

Session #1204: 100 Things I Hate About Advocacy by Deb Kitchener and Diana Maliszewski

Summary = Deb and I talked about the difficulties with advocacy, potential solutions, and the OSLA response and new initiative.

3 Key Points
·         The link to the challenges & solutions Google Presentation is
·         The Great to Excellent OSLA advocacy presentation can be found at
·         All the resources can be found at

So what? Now what? = Unfortunately, iPads and Google Docs don’t work well together, so we had to improvise and record the group’s suggestions ourselves, which worked well with the size of the group. We’ll promote the link online so that others can add to the crowd sourced ideas to help with advocacy. The song “Do You Want to Co-Teach with Me” was well received.

Friday, January 31, 2014 – 3:45 p.m.

Session #1305: Thinking Critically with Blue Spruce Part Deux by Ruth Gretsinger

Summary = Ruth shared her dynamic, eco-friendly, engaging teaching strategies she created with the 2014 Blue Spruce titles in mind, in ways that cover media literacy, science, critical thinking and inquiry.

3 Key Points
  • ·         By using one SMART Board file per class, it acts as a record for past activities (assessment)
  • ·         Ruth noticed that the last book that she read was often the one that the kids voted on, because they couldn’t remember the other books they read way back in January. By doing some of the activities she shared, it helped the kids connect more deeply with the books and helped them remember them so that there was a more even spread in votes between books.
  • ·         To help the students decide, Ruth has student-created criteria in a chart (which used to have 20+ items but the kids complained so the kids shortened it to 3 categories and 9 points) and she recommends that the kids use the criteria but also take their top three and decide which grabbed their heart most, so that it’s a decision based on facts and opinions, objective head and subjective gut.

So what? Now what? = Ruth was so incredibly generous with her ideas and work. As prizes, she gave away five USB sticks with all of her materials already loaded, and she said she’d be willing to send files to anyone if they emailed her ( I’m definitely emailing her, as these are brilliant ideas. I also want to go to for an amazing (and free) resource my principal will love. Ruth has an outdoor classroom she is using and this will help us at our school use our own outdoor teaching area more effectively. Ruth achieved all of this while only being a 0.3 librarian – that shows me that scheduling should never be an excuse to do less than you can.

Friday, January 31, 2014 – 6:15 p.m.

Session #1500: All-Conference Networking Event – Party at the End of the Universe

Summary = This year’s celebration featured an Oxygen Bar, a DeLorean, a DJ and treats galore. I spoke with Jeanne and Peggy. I was scheduled to meet with Alanna but it didn’t work out. After taking plenty of photographs, several of us headed to a post-party gathering. Richard, Lauren, Sarah (actually 2 Sarahs if I recall correctly), Joel, Yvonne, Melissa, and I talked about a variety of topics. I got home around 12:15 a.m.

Saturday, February 1, 2014 – 9:15 a.m.

Session #1706: Maker Projects in Action by Jennifer Turliuk and Andy Forest

Summary = Making things with your own two hands is deeply satisfying. The founders of MakerKids show what we can do and how we can help our students enjoy school and be less anxious.

3 Key Points
  • ·         80% of adults report some degree of job dissatisfaction, so finding a job/task that you are good at, you like, and you feel makes a difference is important. One commonality that several successful entrepreneurs had in common was they all went to Montessori pre-school. MakerKids says they want to be like the original idea for Montessori, because making lets you feel like you have some power over the world.
  • ·         The “Maker Kid” recipe has 8 steps:  1) Dedicate a space, 2) Use real tools, 3) Emphasize process over Product, 4) Let Interest Drive it, 5) Get Kids to Teach Kids, 6) Get Kids to Teach Us, 7) Hold Exhibitions to Celebrate, and 8) Involve the Community
  • ·         The move from consumption to creation is possible; start with what you know and love. Check out or for resources, free activity modules, and opportunities (e.g. MakerKids owns 3D printers you can use and there are 4 levels of 3D printing: downloading 3D objects from Thingiverse / designing with 123D Creative app / building in Minecraft and then using for plans / designing with )

So what? Now what? = I plan on attending one of the MakerKids Educator Nights (Wednesday 8-10 pm) so that when Francis and I launch our school Hacker Space / Creative Club, we can have some cool ideas to run with. I also look forward to seeing the MakerKids people at the Kids’ DIY Media Workshop at the University of Toronto on February 4.

Saturday, February 1, 2014 – 10:45 a.m.

Session #1803: Interactive Maker Art Builds Community Cohesiveness by Alan Groombridge and Rachel Martin

Summary = Innisfil Public Library has an artist in residence and the speakers outlined their three driving forces behind all of their activity and event plans (“quirky” “fearless” and “[I can’t recall the third word because I forgot to take notes]”) and the wacky but engaging and meaningful collaborative maker projects they conducted.

3 Key Points
  • ·         Mystery makes things interesting. They had to move to a former Shopper’s Drug Mart so they painted it bright yellow and called it “Idea Lab”. No one knew what the building would be for. They also marched in the Santa Claus Parade wearing black nylon over their faces, yellow ponchos and a sign saying “What is Idea Lab? Find out [date of opening]”.
  • ·         People love being a part of something big and special. One community art project had Grade 3s replicate something on a sticky note that, when placed together, made a fantastic portrait. Another had people submit photographs of “People of Innisfil” with their stories and community landmarks.
  • ·         Their New Media Artist, Alan, decided to build a working robot torso in the library and while he built in the library, people talked to him, asked him questions, and gave him ideas.

So what? Now what? = The session attendees actually contributed there and then to an art project. They used leaves made from recycled plastic and wrote a single word of significance on each leaf. Alan made a cardboard tree with branches and they used hot glue guns to attach the leaves to the tree. Maybe the Creativity Club I’m making at school should consider how to mesh innovation, art and technology.

Saturday, February 1, 2014 – 12:15 p.m.

Session #1900: Closing Conference Session by Colonel Chris Hadfield

Summary = Commander Hadfield ran the International Space Station for part of 2012-13 and was a Twitter sensation while in space. In his talk, he shared what it was like to be in orbit and the lessons he learned.

3+1 Key Points
  • ·         Visualize failure. Success is what you hope for, but it’s important to be planned and prepared for when things go wrong. He illustrated this with two great stories: an emergency spacewalk when the ship leaked ammonia, and being asked for his opinion of the film Gravity while at the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • ·         Librarians are in the inspiration/possibilities business and it’s important to keep kids inspired. (Thanks Mike Ridley for Tweeting this idea from the talk.) He decided to be an astronaut at age 9 when he saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin go to the moon, even though there was no Canadian space program at the time. Great things happen because one person is inspired to do things (like the Music Monday, which stemmed from one woman and now had 700 000 participants when Chris Hadfield and Ed Robertson from BNL co-wrote their song).
  • ·         Keep making ongoing movement toward your goal(s), no matter how small. (Thanks Colleen Rampelt for Tweeting this idea from the talk.) He said that once you go home, what you do will make you a different person the next day from the day prior. You’ll be a wee bit closer to your dream than you were before.
  • ·         The real key to social media is SOCIAL, not media, a way and invitation to share in human experiences. (Thanks Lisa Dempster for Tweeting this idea from the talk.) People saw the striking, beautiful, unusual, sad, happy photos from space and shared them because they resonated somehow with them.

So what? Now what? = I’ve listed many small goals in this report (about Tumblr, infographics, and more) and I’m taking baby steps to achieve them. I’m also taking baby steps for a bigger goal (to visit every province in the country – there’s a possibility from a conversation I had on Thursday that could lead to a visit to Newfoundland). That universe of possibilities is ours for the taking.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your conference Diana! Great notes and so quick and easy to read through with the format you have chosen! I enjoyed connecting with you again at the conference. Looking forward to staying in touch to share ideas and experiences. - Colleen