Monday, February 2, 2015

OLA Superconference 2015 - Reflections from #OLASC15

Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2015

Think It. Do It!
Conference Reflections by Diana Maliszewski

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 8:00 a.m.
Session #???:  EBSCO Breakfast

Summary =Librarians from various sectors were asked to hear about EBSCO’s latest products, in exchange for a hot breakfast and the chance at some prizes. According to the invitation, “attendees will hear about recent news and updates for eBooks on EBSCOHost, EBSCO Discovery Service, as well as Flipster, digital magazines from EBSCO and a preview of the all-new interfaces for school and public libraries”.

3 Key Points:
  • 1.       Searchasaurus, the kid-friendly EBSCO tool which has existed for 12 years, will be retired on June 30. It will be replaced by a new tool called “Explora”.
  • 2.       EBSCO found, by analyzing their search logs as well as through customer feedback, that students want topical overviews like they can find on Wikipedia, so they are providing this (and currently there are 2601 K-5 overviews but would love to hear from users what topics people want).
  • 3.       EBSCO has included more help options like auto-completes, stop-words and text-to-speech.

So what? Now what? = I entered the breakfast fully aware that this was a promotion campaign fuelled by the promise of free food. I’ll have to see if/when my board switches the icons on our school virtual library page and do some direct teaching with the kids on how to use this new product. I’d be intrigued to see what words are considered “stop words” and are blocked; would this impede work on health education research? In my grab bag, I really liked the keyboard cleaner freebie!

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 9:00 a.m.
Session #1503G: Forest of Reading Showcase

Summary = (taken from the program description) “The Forest of Reading Showcase will celebrate the 2014 Forest of Reading winners [eight authors in attendance]. The authors will share their personal reflections of being nominated, attending the Festival of Trees or Golden Oak ceremony, and their experience of being part of Canada’s largest children’s reading programs.”

So what? Now what? = I decided at the last minute that this would be enjoyable to hear but not necessarily chock-full of new learning for me. Conference visitors are permitted to change their minds and attend different workshops, so I did. I used my “extra” time to tour the Expo Hall floor and speak (as much as I could with no voice) to some colleagues I saw.

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 9:50 a.m.
Session #1502J: You Can Do That Here – Building a Maker Culture @ Your Library by Michael Laverty

Summary = (taken from program description) “By embracing the ethos of the Maker Movement, the Sioux Lookout Public Library is inviting all members of our community to help build the best possible library through active engagement (online and in person). Check out our ongoing experiment to make an innovative space for patrons to create, research, and discover”.

3 Key Points:
  • 1.       Michael’s library received two grants to transform their space and his weekly Friday conversations with his boss led to their motto philosophy “You can do that here” and their attempt to challenge and rethink how they do things at their small library and push a revolutionary mindset.
  • 2.       Who defines what a public library is? It should be like open source code, tweakable by many people, not just those who work there or even by those who visit, but by those who aren’t present. It may be impossible to understand the unique community needs of all but we should try.
  • 3.       Words are important. The space used to be called the Community Internet Access room (CIA) but they rebranded it the Community Media Room, where people can live stream events from the room, a return to public broadcasting. The people in the library are patrons, not users, because patrons give money and support and have a stake in the place.

So what? Now what? = Michael’s talk was more philosophical than I had imagined it would be. I don’t have any new insights on Maker Culture but I can always check out Vector Images for pictures to use – there were lots of little asides like that he mentioned that might be worth noting for future use.

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 10:45 a.m.
Session #1618: Teacher Learning and Leadership Program @ Your Library Learning Commons by Cindy van Wonderen, Caroline Freibauer, Ray Mercer, and Diana Maliszewski

Summary = (taken from program description) “Join us to hear about our Teacher Learning and Leadership Program [TLLP] projects for learning, research and advocacy of the Learning Commons! The TLLP is a Ministry of Education and Ontario Teachers’ Federation funded program for innovative, teacher-created learning. Learn about our proposal and what we have learned from each other in the process in showcasing the wonders of the Learning Commons for today’s students!”

3 Key Points:
  • 1.       The TLLP program benefits small boards, as many educators have never heard of it and every board regardless of size is permitted to put forward only two proposals. Caroline has done it twice (and is trying for a third).
  • 2.       There is a lot of teacher autonomy with this project, as the funds are from the Ministry and teachers are accountable to the Ministry for spending. Ray didn’t have to ask permission of his administration to come to Superconference this year because his expenses were covered by the project.
  • 3.       It helps to begin with a “problem of practice” or something that personally intrigues you. For Ray, it was how to best service all the FDK students with inquiry when they are beginning readers. For Caroline, it was how to become a more effective teacher-librarian and learn/teach/spread inquiry practices. For Diana, it was how to understand and share best practices surrounding games-based learning, especially Minecraft.

So what? Now what? = Based on the questions we heard from the small but interested audience (of about 20 people), I will be writing an article on how to fund Minecraft in the schools for GamingEdus. It was relieving to hear that people’s projects progress very slowly – I’m glad it’s not just us!

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 12:00 noon
Session #???: Open Shelf Editorial Board Lunch Meeting

Summary = OLA’s official magazine, Access, has changed its name to Open Shelf and gone purely digital. We discussed what’s working well, what needs fixing, and future plans.

So what? Now what? = I need to send Mike Ridley, Open Shelf’s editor-in-chief, the file that The Teaching Librarian magazine uses for standardized responses to writing submissions. I also volunteered to learn the back-end production information for publication, depending on release time. The team will develop an editorial calendar, share the work load (soliciting articles / editing articles / posting on the site), and look into some specialized theme editions.

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 2:15 p.m.
Session #1701R: STEM Education – What’s the School Library Got to Do with It? by Lisa Dempster, Fran Potvin-Schafer and Ruth Hall

Summary = (taken from program description) “STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] education is a growing focus in the education landscape. How does STEM relate to school library programming? Hear the perspectives of a secondary teacher-librarian, elementary teacher-librarian, and central support staff. Leave with ideas on how to implement STEM programming in your library learning commons.”

3 Key Points:
  • 1.       STEM is taking prominence now because fewer than 50% of students graduate with skills needed for STEM related careers, but (at least in the TDSB definition) it is more about an integrative, trans-disciplinary approach to learning and not focused on the subjects in the acronym.
  • 2.       Some of elementary ideas (which can work with all types of TL service models from full collaboration to prep fairy) include developing a teddy bear playground, designing an animal that can live in a certain habitat, Lego Mindstorms, Scratch programming, STEM challenges during prep classes, STEM clubs and using the Engineer in Residence program.
  • 3.       Some of the secondary ideas include 3D printing, using tools that are usually reserved for speciality programs like drafting tables and light tables, take-apart stations, challenges left on tables, steam punk artifact creation inspired by books read during a reading club, maker space in a bag, maker space on a cart, etc.

So what? Now what? = My biggest inspiration from this talk was from Lisa Dempster and two words: DUCT TAPE! Maker Spaces and STEM doesn’t have to be high-tech and involve computers. It can be paper crafts, fabric, origami, and I think duct tape has so much potential! I might want to touch base with names mentioned during this presentation like Petra at Port Royal and Michael Mendozza with his Blue Spruce linked Tinker area.

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 3:05 p.m.
Session #1702N: Inquiring Minds and Blue Spruce by Ruth Gretsinger

Summary = (taken from program description) “Looking for ways to ramp up the inquiry skills of your primary students, meet the curricular needs of your students in social studies, science and language and use Blue Spruce 2015 to its full potential in your Library Learning Commons? Come out and learn about my efforts to integrate these “buzz words” and make them meaningful with concrete strategies to enhance your Blue Spruce program”.

3 Key Points:
  • 1.       Ruth began this new approach because she noticed that often, the Blue Spruce book that won was the last book she read to the kids because they wouldn’t remember the others, so there had to be a way to keep all the books in mind. She also found that she’d teach about digital resources but when it was time for kids to research, they’d just Google things.
  • 2.       Some of the digital resources she used include True Flix and Expert Space (bought from Scholastic with Book Fair money), Pebble Go, Kids Info Bits, Book Flix, Britannica School, and Notebook 10.
  • 3.       Some of the skills she taught as part of this method was dot jot note taking, how to cite sources, how to turn I wonders into questions, highlighting text, making search terms, citing pictures, and developing criteria for judging picture books.

So what? Now what? = Ruth is one of the most generous teacher-librarians I know. She gave EVERY member of her audience a USB stick with ALL of her resources, including her SMARTboard files for immediate use. I had several people that asked me to attend this session and share what I received. My intent is that I, and anyone else that is lucky enough to get this, “pay it forward” and donate some money to the Forest Fund as a way to say thank you to Ruth for making and sharing. I’ll be using this resource this coming week with my classes! I’ll also look into buying True Flix with my extra book fair funds.

Friday, January 30, 2015 – 4:00 p.m.
Session #1800: Chief of Confusion by John Seely Brown

Summary = (taken from program description) “Part scientist, part artist and part strategist, John Seely Brown’s unofficial title has become “Chief of Confusion” focusing on helping people ask the right questions and make sense out of a constantly changing world. Brown is considered one of the leading contemporary thinkers on how technology impacts modern life…”

3 Key Points:
  • 1.       In the 21st century, there is no stability in sight, genres are fluid, topics have no boundaries, and no one agrees on anything. We need to reimagine libraries.
  • 2.       It is more important to cultivate a disposition than it is to teach content or mentor skills.
  • 3.       Blend “man who knows” with “man who makes” and “man who plays” and create three priorities: place the library as the hub of a community / make the most of digital technology and creative media / mentor, connect, guide and curate.

So what? Now what? = I was a bit critical of one part of the talk, because as a way to address the issue that learning happens outside school and we should acknowledge the “in the wild” learning, he proposed a badge system to show employees, friends, and teachers that you’ve engaged in learning. (I find badges part of gamification and that’s problematic. Who creates the badges? Who awards them? Is it for the learning or the ‘prize’?). Despite the small crowd for the closing keynote and his remote access (because he was stuck in LA), it provided some reassurance that we are on the right path, as well as food for thought .

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