Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2013
Entertain, Educate, Empower: The Ultimate Library Experience
Conference Reflections by Diana Maliszewski
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 9:05 a.m.
Session #316: Grit Lit: YA Fiction that Pushes Boundaries by
Maria and Jim Martella
Summary = Maria, owner of Tinlids Inc. and her brother Jim, an 8th grade teacher, shared some great titles of books with challenging issues and topics.
3 Key Points· There are many great books out there (some that Maria mentioned included The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen by Susan Nielsen, What Happened to Ivy and Becoming Ruby by Kathy Stinson, Speak and Winter Girls by Laurie Halsey Anderson, The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Falling For You by Lisa Schroeder, Beauty Queens and The Dividers by Libba Bray, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, My Book of Life by Angel by Martinez Levittown, Burning Blue by Paul Griffin, Nix Minus One by Jill Maclean, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden, Every Day by David Leviathan, etc.) - any errors in title or authors are mine, since I took notes on my iPad and it self-corrected typing
- · Students crave to read about these powerful stories; Jim described how students in his class did all those “school-y” things like making connections unprompted because the subject matter was so gripping (they found songs and music videos that reflected the themes they read)
- · Protagonists in these type of books are not privileged, so it is important to show kids with “first world problems” what life is really like for some people (the audience survey mid-presentation demonstrated that kids have always sought to read “mature” books even when the content disturbs them a bit)
So What? Now What? = I’m going to see how many of these titles I own (Maria said these books were acceptable for Grades 7 +) and after consulting some of my voracious pre-teen readers, I’ll purchase some.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 10:40 a.m.
Session #416: Beyond the Page – Engaging Young Readers by
Summary = Vikki is an author and works with Harper Collins; she shared pointers and resources that publishers have to help with book promotions in school and public libraries.
3 Key Points
- Harper Collins has a new website > http://harperclassroom.tumblr.com that acts as an educator hub, containing newsletters, contests, costume rentals, book club discussion guides (can search by author, title, or resource type)
- Engagement strategies include literature circles, book clubs, readers theatre, online engagement, author visits (live & Skype)
- If you are conducting an event, prepare the readers, prepare the author, consider book sales and do follow-up (authors can be found and funded via the Writer’s Union of Canada grant, Canadian Children’s Book Week, Author’s Booking Service, author websites, and through the publisher)
So What? Now What? = There wasn’t a lot of new information shared in this presentation for me, but I enjoyed seeing the Gruffalo come for photo opportunities at the end. I think I need to peek at a few more publishers to see if they have similar resources so that I’m not reinventing the wheel during book talks.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 12:00 p.m.
Canadian Books for Canadian Kids ACP Luncheon
Summary = The Association of Canadian Publishers invited me to attend a lovely 3-course meal and dine with some Canadian authors and fellow supporters of Kid-Can-Lit. I had a delicious meal (mozzarella and lobster ravioli) and had great conversation with Maria Martella, Sandra Ziemniak, Gianna Dassios, and others at my table. I received a great gift bag filled with books and the authors stayed to autograph them – thank you Sylvia McNicoll, Cybele Young, Wallace Edwards, Rona Arato, Deborah Kerbel, and Kyo Maclear! I’m glad that my table-hopping and mega-mingling was seen as laudable conduct by the organizers and I promise to share the photos I took while wandering from group to group.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 2:10 p.m.
Session # 500: All-Conference Plenary by Thomas Frey: The
Future of Libraries
Summary = Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute. While I was enroute to the talk, I was told by others approaching from the opposite direction that there was no room, even to stand and listen, so I chose to visit the Expo Hall instead. While there, I spoke with Elizabeth Lee about my research project and with Katina Papulkas and Cindy Matthews about AQ course terminology.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 3:45 p.m.
Session #618: You Can’t Read That! By Jo-Anne Gibson
Summary = Jo-Anne shared her unit on banned, censored, and challenged books. She maintains that we need to nourish a respect for intellectual freedom in our students and this unit intrigues and empowers them.
3 Key Points
· Secret censorship is a regular occurrence in libraries: Maurice Sendak’s book had underwear drawn on the naked boy in one library’s copy, and a Todd Parr picture book had a page exacto-knifed out by persons unknown. School librarians themselves make selective choices for acquiring materials that can be seen as censorship – it is important for them to follow their board/district’s selection policies and not merely follow their own whims or insecurities.
· Talking about censorship is an authentic way to teach aspects of the curriculum that are required at this age (e.g. in Manitoba, they study the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in Grade 9) and engages them in a way that none of Jo-Anne’s other units quite capture.
· Telling teenagers that they are forbidden from reading something is a sure-fire way to get them to want to read: the Canadian Library Association conducts an annual survey to chart instances where books are threatened with removal (the page with this year’s links can be found at http://www.cla.ca/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=13772 )
So What? Now What? = Even though I have heard this talk before (when I attended the Manitoba Library Association Conference in Winnipeg), it was worth hearing again – plus, I had to attend because I was the session convenor. I plan on teaching this unit to my Grade 7s and 8s and although I won’t use every book on Jo-Anne’s list (Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole may just be too much for my students), I look forward to trying the unit and discussing the results with Jo-Anne in the future.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – 5:15 p.m.
Session #701: Ontario School Library Association Annual
General Meeting and Award Presentation / Reception
Summary = The division held its AGM and awards ceremony, with the affair sponsored by Saunders Book Company.
3 key points
- · The winner of the Teacher-Librarian of the Year Award was June Rysinski and the winner of the Administrator of the Year Award was Troy Mackenzie
- · The winner of the OLA Technical Services Award was Deanna Harron
- · The winner of the Award for Special Achievement was Anita Brooks-Kirkland
So What? Now What? = I was surprised and honoured when June, a good friend of mine, mentioned me in her acceptance speech (second only to the amazing Carol Koechlin – Carol was June’s Library AQ instructor, just like she was mine!). I had fantastic conversations with Jeanne Buckley and Joel Krentz as we drove home together, about such varied things as house shopping and roller derby.
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 9:05 a.m.
Session #1000: Learning Everywhere: The Transformative Power
of Hyperlinked Libraries by Michael Stephens
Summary = (paraphrased from session description) Dr. Stephens spoke about how mobile and web technologies are changing the way we live and learn and how libraries can play a key role in this future.
3 key points
- · Libraries should be about Cs: community, creativity, collaboration, creativity, curiosity, connectivity (a key term that emerged from the ALA mid-winter conference was “maker space” = providing a creator space place in the library, not just creating digital information but making new things, like with 3D printers)
- · Play is key: “where imaginations play, learning happens”, and things change so quickly that you can sit down and through play, learn it – he suggests fostering self-directed digital learning by having tables set up with e-readers and digital cameras where peers can sit and show how these technologies work and the result of this passport “tech fair” could be a draw for a Kindle
- · Stephens asks us to be many things: be willing to learn / be willing to explore / look inside and outside our world / be willing to listen and engage / be willing to leave our physical walls > he says we can move forward by breaking down barriers / being kind / being the change / encouraging creativity / be always learning / play / have fun / be human / watch the horizon / take risks / bring your heart with you / focus on the heart, because there are people behind the tech
So What? Now What? = One of the other things Dr. Stephens said was that navigating digital spaces can be overwhelming and digital inclusion should be the top of the library mission statement and that the hyperlinked librarian is continuously learning. I need to do my part to foster digital inclusion (e.g. providing time for students who don’t have printers or Internet access or computers at home to use the school resources) and provide “maker spaces”. His philosophy of play matches mine – I need to make more time for students to play in school.
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 10:40 a.m.
Session #1100: All Conference Plenary by Susan Cain:
Summary = Susan Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking and her presentation centers on the importance of introverts.
3 key points
- · Cain highlighted three mistakes our society is making: 1) we aren’t making the most of the introvert’s heart and mind (introverts aren’t anti-collaboration, they just prefer a jigsaw method as opposed to spontaneous group work), 2) in the new group-think, we have lost the need for solitude (Einstein, a famous introvert, said “I’m not smart, I just stay with problems longer” and deep ways of thinking happen in solitude [aka JK Rowling or Warren Buffet] but there’s a push for collective process and this is bad because there’s a habit of conforming and caving to peer pressure when working together), and 3) we erroneously believe that the most assertive talkers have the best ideas (an e.g. was from Harvard, where a person’s expertise was dismissed even though he had direct experience with the topic, because he was an introvert)
- · There is evolutionary need for both introverts and extroverts (depending on the situation, for instance as studied with pumpkin seed fish, survival works for either tendency) > you can also have ambiverts (individuals with both introvert and extrovert qualities).
- · Cain has 3 suggestions: A) stop the madness for constant group work (e.g. try a hybrid process like thinking before getting together, or having individuals write their thoughts and then go around the circle to share), B) consider various styles of leadership, not just extroverts (if an introvert possesses will/drive, they can be fabulous visionary leaders, like Rosa Parks and Gandhi – the head of Campbell Soup wrote personal hand-written letters to thank people in his company), and C) rethink diversity (we know that race and gender discrimination are moral issues; she believes that personality is too and that we shouldn’t make introverts 2nd class citizens)
So What? Now What? = As an extrovert (and possibly an ambivert), I am going to make a special effort to be considerate of my introvert colleagues. I feel pleased that The Teaching Librarian actually reviewed her book in a recent issue. I’ll prepare my introvert friends/spouse for stressful situations and give them space to escape, and build in introvert-like times so that my extrovert students can learn how to think deeply on their own, even though extroverts have more reward networks in their brain and the excess stimulation benefits them on a physiological level. I think this was my favourite plenary (although many people I surveyed said their favourite was Michael Uslan’s opening plenary, but that one was on Wednesday so I missed it).
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 12:00 noon
TDSB TL Luncheon
Summary = The tradition continues. Lisa Dempster, former Metro Toronto OSLA Councillor, booked a table at Joe Badali’s for TDSB TLs to eat together and enjoy each other’s company. Before eating, Denise Colby and I wandered around the Expo Hall to promote our Superconference session on Minecraft – I wore my Minecraft creeper costume with a sign on the back and Denise was my “handler”, ensuring I didn’t fall or bump into people. We made it to the restaurant in time to feast on their delicious buffet (and yummy exotic juices) although many of the TLs were there earlier. Denise and I still had a fruitful talk together.
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 2:10 p.m.
Session #1203: How to Make School Libraries Work (Even)
Better by Jeanne Conte, Ruth Hall, Phillip Jeffrey, & Cindy Matthews
Summary = Several top-level school library figures from different boards described their group’s work with Together For Learning and the learning commons.
3 key points
- · Phillip said that it is difficult to isolate one component of schooling to show what is successful, but it is vital to try and show how school libraries are impacting student learning – the Hamilton Catholic DSB has a working document called “Shifting Our Focus” which is helping them align with the board improvement plan (under the component of the literacy pillar)
- · Ruth shared the “Expected Practice” series in the Toronto DSB; like the monographs published by the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat at the Ministry of Education, they are brief booklets to make it clear what departments do – the Library Dept. was the second group (after Literacy/Numeracy) in the board asked to produce one, and their focus was on the collaborative environments for teaching and learning, with core pieces being T4L, the TDSB ICT Standards, and OSLA Information Studies; it reminded the varied audience that inquiry is in all subject areas and they meshed the achievement chart with the inquiry model
- · Jeanne spoke about the collaborative teacher inquiry going on in the Peel DSB, where TLs work with class teachers on triangulating evidence of learning, tied with the Growing Success document
So What? Now What? = I could not stay for the entire session, as I had to go set up for my own presentation following. It sounds like several boards are trying hard to make T4L a reality. I will need to hunt down the TDSB Expected Practice mini-document and share it with as many people as possible, because my collaborative time in my schedule is not as robust as it used to be (I had open flexible time in addition to fixed structured time in the past, whereas this year I only have fixed structured partner time).
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 3:45 p.m.
Session #1321: Play with TNT & Minecraft Inquiry by
Denise Colby, Diana Maliszewski & Liam O’Donnell
Summary = 3 TDSB educators talked about their Ryerson University / EDGE Lab supported Multi-Player Minecraft server and why public and school libraries should be embracing sandbox games like Minecraft.
3 key points
- · Gaming culture has different norms and practices around griefing, trolling, and camping (quite different from the school realm’s bullying focus) – it’s important to monitor use when playing in a public or school space but to also understand the “rules of play”.
- · Players can get very passionate about their Minecraft worlds and it’s important to be part of that play and conversation (finding places to play isn’t hard when the GamingEdus server is available for educators and their families to join – send Liam a white list request)
- · Minecraft is a chance for youth/students to take the lead, e.g. let your teen advisory committees decide on various Minecraft Club challenges (e.g. PvP in a battle arena, building the tallest tower, etc.)
So What? Now What? = This was our session so it’s hard to comment on it objectively. The audience was a lot smaller than we expected (a dozen people) but it was a lot more audience-receptive – we stopped using the Powerpoint after 5 slides and helped people play on the many laptops we brought for that purpose, and talked. We had several public librarians, a couple of Minecraft parents with great questions (e.g. “my kid wants to make his own server – should I let him?”) and some school people. It’s a shame that it was only just this week that our board allowed 2012-2013 open port access during the day (last year, it took the same amount of time – 4 months – to get permission to open the ports) but Denise was able to share a brand-new video of her kids building bridges in Minecraft as part of science.
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 5:15 p.m.
Summary = We had a bit of time after the session and before the big party, so Denise, Liam, and I headed back to the Speakers Lounge to relax and reflect. I had a great time talking with Peggy Thomas and Ruth Gretsinger about the Forest of Reading, the law, and other catch-up topics.
Friday, February 1, 2013 – 6:15 p.m.
Session #1500: All Conference Networking Event – Circ D’OLA
Summary = It was a circus-themed party at the OLA this year. Visitors chose which circus performer best suited their personality and then wandered in among jugglers, magicians, and acrobats while snacking on popcorn, cotton candy, and candy apples. There were so many people to talk to and see! The biggest surprise of the night was when one of the magicians turned out to be Steve, my parents’ former neighbour! I babysat his eldest son as a toddler when his middle child was born – that oldest child is now 19! The official party ended at 9:00 p.m. but a group of public and school librarians (Tiffany, Teresa, Jeffrey, Denise, Joel and I) continued to celebrate with a super-late dinner at East Side Mario’s. We conversed on topics as wide as vegetarianism and union actions and I didn’t get home until midnight.
Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 9:15 a.m. / 10:45 a.m.
Session #1705 & #1805: Together for Learning Launch
Summary = www.togetherforlearning.ca is new and improved! This double-session launched the revised website, showed attendees how to submit new content, and gave teacher-librarians across the province a chance to share their progress via poster sessions in a large, wi-fi accessible room. I attended in the capacity of photographer, although I was still able to communicate with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic DSB teacher-librarians (Peter, Lori, and Carmen) and introduce them to Carol Koechlin. I also had fun with a teacher-librarian just getting off maternity leave (whose name I forget) uploading QR code reading software to our iPads and trying it out. I had a very enlightening conversation with Peggy Lunn, which I think will lead to some great contributions to The Teaching Librarian magazine.
Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 12:15 p.m.
Session #1900: Gala Closing Luncheon Keynote by Steven Page
Summary = He came, he saw, he sung. Steven Page, former member of the Scarborough band Barenaked Ladies spoke at the final lunch, after the presentation of the OLA President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement to the team behind the OSLA Together For Learning Project.
3 key points
- It takes a dedicated team to pull together big projects (like OLA Superconference and the Together For Learning document) – I was honoured to be on the stage with Peggy Thomas, Anita Brooks-Kirkland, Carol Koechlin, Esther Rosenfeld, Larry Moore, and Bobbie Henley to receive the award - these people are giants!
- Sometimes in Canada we want recognition but not too much recognition – it’s okay for Shania to be an international star, but BNL received flak for playing across the border (Page theorizes that it’s the “Ben Johnson” complex, that Canadians don’t want to be humiliated by their representatives).
- Libraries are important to Page (he reminisced about keeping LPs and books from the Scarborough Public Library) and he is sad that his new home, Syracuse NY, doesn’t have a library in walking distance (he says he never imagined leaving Canada but that “you can’t help who you fall in love with”)
So what? Now what? = I need to re-listen to all my Barenaked Ladies tapes. I brought one with me in the hopes that I could get Steven to sign it, but no such luck. I sang along (quietly) when he performed “Brian Wilson” – he’s still got a great deal of talent.