Thursday, April 29, 2010

AISL 2010 Annual Conference Guest Post by Barbara Share

Today we will have another view of the AISL conference from my friend and fellow librarian Barbara Shara (Ransome Everglades School, Miami, FL). She attended some different sessions and also may have a different perspective on some of the same sessions. Thanks Barbara!

AISL 2010 Conference in Nashville

The Association of Independent School Librarians, AISL, was formed in January, 1987 to address the particular issues and needs of librarians in independent schools. Our founders envisioned an apolitical and affordable association with no formal structure and no officers. Rather, it would provide a means of exchanging ideas and information and keeping in touch.

AISL is an informal organization and a complement to other library organizations. Many members also belong to the Independent School Section of the American Association of School Librarians. As Mark Hillsamer, one of our founding members states, "Creative program planning and exchange of information and ideas are endeavors of both organizations. Close associations will keep us all moving forward into the complex, demanding, and ever changing profession we all love, librarianship."

The quote above is from the AISL website and describes the organization. AISL has an active listserv and once a year a conference is held. The conferences are located in different cities each year and the host Librarians decide on the theme, program, workshop topics, etc. Although the subject changes each year, whatever is current in Library, technology, and teaching trends are just a few of the subjects that are offered.

AISL Nashville Music and So Much More was the place and theme for this year.

The conference opens with registration and the opportunity to meet, greet and network at the Hospitality Suite in the conference hotel. Whenever there is time to network, I ask Librarians about their Library; how many students, how many volumes, how many staff, do they have digital resources and how do the students use them; are there vendors they recommend; what courses do they teach, the physical dimensions of others Library, etc . I also give them my information and we learn from each other in a pleasant setting.

We visited the following schools over a 3 day period:

University School of Nashville, Montgomery Bell Academy, Father Ryan High School, Oak Hill School, Ensworth Red Gables Campus, Ensworth High School, and Harpeth Hall.

The next day started with a welcome breakfast and the Keynote Speaker. Pat Scales, SLJ (School Library Journal) columnist and School Library Advocate spoke about Censorship and Intellectual Freedom. Her speech related censorship to the society “at the moment” and discussed the Christian attitude as well as the volume of violent books that were noticed after Columbine. Ms. Scales also mentioned that the AR (Accelerated Reader ) program was a serious cause of censorship as the program just goes by the numbers (Lexile scores) and does not consider the content of the book and the age of the student reading (here at Ransom we do not have this program). Ms. Scales also mentioned that in some schools AR is used as a tool to decide what books to purchase. Ms. Scales spoke of the Librarian as a guide to students for their reading as well as types of ways to limit the books (removal from shelves, using a restricted shelf and having a parental consent form). The website was also mentioned for parents to use for helping chose books for their children. Ms. Scales urged us to know what the constitution rights are for our state as well as federal rights for Libraries. We were also urged to teach students not to laugh when taking the words of books out of context, and that students should be aware of their First Amendment Rights.

Workshop – Tips for Designing an Elementary or Middle School Web Site

I chose this workshop so that I could learn more about how to make our Library page better for the students and to see what new technology was available for web sites.

The presenters suggested that the website have information on Summer Reading lists, students book reviews, and follow up actives from author visits. These new technology terms were introduced:

GLOG – an educational blog

VOKI – a digital poster

There were examples of these as well as talking about Wiki, Twitter, and Podcasts.

We then broke into groups to look at specific web sites from schools and discussed the layouts, links, and all the other information that can make a web site easy to use or difficult to maneuver for students. The discussion was informative and seeing the website helped to understand the use of colors, links, pictures, different fonts, and all other features to make a web site stand out and be usable for students, faculty, and parents.

Workshop – Say GB to PP, Hello High Tech Alternatives

The purpose of this workshop was to give us ideas for presentations that were more interesting than Power Point. The instructors suggested the purchase of a web cam so that students could do book talks, make announcements and give general information. The downloads presented were:

Avatar – this has cartoon faces that when calibrated with the persons eyes and mouth, will have the face of the cartoon, but the voice of the student.

Toondoo – this has cartoon figures, backgrounds and uses balloons for conversations. You can create stories, etc. You cannot add music, you can add this to a power point and then add music.

Photostory 3 – this download allows you to add many special effects, voice, you can import songs, music (plays on Windows Media Player).

Glogster – this is an interactive poster or digital poster that you can imbed video (from you tube, wiki, etc.).

Cushing School - The next workshop was a discussion of the changes at Cushing School in Massachusetts. Liz Gray (Dana Hall) and Carolyn Hilles (The Wheeler School) made a presentation that discussed the changes at Cushing School and how it has affected the library community.

Workshop – Newbery & Caldecott the Inside Scoop – this workshop gave us information on the process of how books are reviewed for our trade magazines (Booklist, School Library Journal; Kirkus Review, etc). The presenters spoke about how to get on the committees to be reviewers, the time involved, how long one is on a committee, the responsibilities as to traveling and the excitement of voting on a winning book.

Workshop – Technology Integration – Helping Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom – this workshop focused on using different types of technology in the classroom with emphasis being on the teacher, IT person and Librarian all working together. One example given was that the students read a book (Cold Sassy Tree) and then the students created “dummy” Ning accounts and went on the Ning as a character from the novel. They had to stay in character as they communicated with everyone and use examples and scenarios from the book in their conversations. Another example was using Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trips; from this you can add text, YouTube videos, etc. to create a map from a book (The Odyssey would be a good example for our students). Another example used was having the students became mushers on a virtual Iditarod trip and keeping a journal of their experiences. The students wrote in character as a musher. They also used Twitter (again, having “dummy” accounts) and JING, having the students write in character, not as themselves. With all these projects, the teacher, IT person and Librarian were involved in the planning, organization and day to day teaching of the project.

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