Monday, November 13, 2017

AASL Conference Reflections Part 2

Here is the second part of my lengthy blog reflection about my experience at the American Association of School Librarians conference in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.

American Association of School Librarians 18th National Conference and Exhibition

Beyond the Horizon: November 9-11, 2017 

Saturday, November 11, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Cosplay MakerSpaces
Diana Maliszewski and Mary Maliszewski

Relevant Links

Summary: (taken from
You've heard the term "makerspace". Have you heard of "cosplay"? Often seen and admired at comic and anime conventions, cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game. Cosplayers often make their own outfits, so why not combine cosplay and makerspaces at school? This mother-daughter team will tell their tales of creating costumes and share potential ways to incorporate it into your established or emerging makerspace.

3 Key Points

1) Cosplay and makerspaces have a lot of commonalities.

2) Making clothes or costumes can lead to lots of "extra learning" (about social justice, eco-literacy, math, language, social studies, drama, etc.)

3) Issues surrounding cosplay and makerspaces exist but can be overcome.

So What? Now What?

This was the fourth time that Mary and I have given this presentation. (The other times in 2017 were the OLA Super Conference, the QSLiN conference in Montreal, and the MakerEdTO conference.) I have to confess that it is probably the best crafted workshop I have ever created. (A lot of that can be credited to ETFO's "Workshop Presenter's Palette", the engaging subject matter, and my wonderful co-presenter.) I'm unsure what my next steps will be.

Saturday, November 11, 2017 - Beyond Identifying Fake News: Providing Effective Media Literacy PD for Librarians, Teachers, and Parents

Relevant Links

Summary:(taken from
Fake news has real-world consequences, but the fact is, most adults see themselves as much more media literate than they actually are. How can we provide effective coaching for teachers and librarians so that they are more able to assess their own levels of media literacy and can provide more authentic and productive lessons for their students? Engage in a series of collaborative table discussions and develop a PD exercise to take back with you.

3 Key Points

1) Adults do not respond in the same way that students do when they are part of professional development / professional learning.

2) Using a strategy such as "World Café" helps acknowledge the expertise in the room while still getting people to attentively listen, think, and respond.

3) Media literacy is an important topic and we need to acknowledge our own biases, misunderstandings, and lack of knowledge.

So What? Now What?

I came in a bit late for this session, as it took a long time to clean up after my cosplay makerspace talk. I think my Media AQ course has been too influential on me because I asked the presenters afterwards about the conceptual underpinnings of media studies (i.e. did they use the 8 key media concepts or McLuhan's work) and they hadn't - the focus was more on how to provide PD for adults that may be your superiors or reluctant to learn. I liked the task of synthesizing the vast information (from another group) into 5 take away points - let me think about how to use that with my students.

Saturday, November 11, 2017 - 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Light It Up Blue: Adapted Library Techniques for Students on the Autism Spectrum and Non-Categorical Disabilities
Heather Baucum

Related Links
(This leads to an adapted book flyer PDF)
(This is the slide deck)

Summary:(taken from
Regular library story time can be easy to achieve, but what do you do with your growing population of students who are on the autism spectrum or have non-categorical disabilities in their library time? Come learn some new techniques to adapt books and engage students on a sensory level to build a love of the library and literature.

3 Key Points

1) Don't lower your expectations just because a student has autism - they can do things even like green screen projects with the right amount of support and modifications.

2) It takes a village to educate children - be aware of their IEPs and strive to support their IEP goals through the library and your programming. Goals may be things like fine motor skills, attending, social skills, verbalization, following instructions, etc. Strategies to work on these goals can include very tactile tools like Velcro boards, Bingo boards, felt boards, and puppets; or deliberate choices like clear, uncluttered illustrations and books with songs, repetitions, patterns or about students' favourite subjects; or technology like Pebble Go, Super Simple Learning, Pink Fong, Pancake Manor, The Singing Walrus.

3) Be flexible. What works one day might not work the next. Your puppets or stuffed animals may "go walking" for a day. Your manipulatives may be manhandled, broken, or "loved to death". Don't despair and go with the flow.

So What? Now What?
I must admit, although I was keen to attend a session related to ASD, the title worried me because of my somewhat negative opinions of Autism Speaks. I shouldn't have worried - or rather, I should have been more worried about my laptop, which suddenly refused to let me take notes about 3/4 of the way through the talk. (I have notes from sessions all over my laptop and phone, which made collecting the artifacts interesting.) Heather has a son who is autistic and obviously cares about her students, as she peppered her talk with references to specific children. I appreciated that she provided us with two already-made Velcro Board tasks. If I spend time making these kinds of boards, I am going to have to get over that huge hurdle (for me) of "letting go" if the pieces get stolen or destroyed. My next step is definitely to go and look at the IEPs of all the students I see regularly and see how I can alter my program so that I'm helping them with their IEP goals.

Heather's introductory slide

Some of the books and props used by the presenter

Saturday, November 11, 2017 - 3:10 p.m. - 4:10 p.m.
Addressing White Privilege and Unconscious Bias in the Classroom: Becoming an Ally
Jody Gray and Gwendolyn Prellwitz

Relevant Links n/a

Summary:(taken from
Begin to explore how privilege and unconscious bias shape the classroom experience. This session will provide some insight into identifying how our personal identities impact the education experience for students of color. We will introduce ways to explore and challenge our social identities and become allies that contribute to the positive impact of student experiences.

3 Key Points

1) Being an ally is not an identity - it is an ongoing process.

2) A helpful analogy for understanding white privilege is one about boots and sandals. Privilege is like wearing heavy boots, so weighty that you often can't notice when you step on someone's toes. If you can reframe your response when you are called out for a micro aggression by remembering the boot and sandal analogy and tapping into empathy, this will be beneficial.

3) Unconscious bias is part of the reason why education has the desire to be more equitable but often that has not translated into actual progress.

So What? Now What?

I want to be an ally but I think I stink at it. I need to surround myself with those who are better at it (Michelle Solomon, Rusul AlRubail, and Jennifer Brown immediately come to mind) and look at ways I can be proactive instead of reactive and dismiss the erroneous notion some have of colour blindness.

Jody and Gwendolyn

Stay tuned for more AASL related thoughts on this blog page.


  1. really don't suck at being an ally, because you're working on it - that is a huge step.I was out last night at a film viewing as part of KPR's month of honouring indigeneity, and my superintendent (who is an incredibly ally) and my principal (who, along with me, is learning) both really made me think. Jack repeated a call from one of the speakers this month to read the recommendations of the TRC, and pick one, the one that calls to you, to concretely do, with whatever you can bring to the table. My principal made me think with a tweet this morning, along the same lines, which said "Step one is to learn the truth. Step two is to reconcile with belief not lip service". I need to find out whose quote it is,and then walk with that as a guide for a while. I'll finish by quoting another former principal of mine, whose words I should really have on a t-shirt by now - and are likely what would be a tattoo, if I were ever to get one: "It's a process, not an event"

    1. Thank you, as always, my friend for your comments. It's ironic you mention the TRC because even after two blog posts about it, I haven't read it yet. (Maybe we should commit to doing it together and sharing our thoughts with someone with in-depth knowledge about it?) You also haven't read the "post I may never publish" about one of my most shameful moments as a teacher (and it links to equity). I will try my best to remind myself of the link you end your comment with - "it's a process, not an event" - I just may need more reminders!