Sunday, February 8, 2015

AASL L4L Updates From MW15

The AASL Learning4Life (L4L) State Coordinators’ meeting was held during ALA MidWinter 2015. The big news coming out of the L4L Coordinators’ meeting was the formation of the new AASL Standards and Guidelines Editorial Board (SGEB) that will evaluate and update the current AASL Learning Standards and Program Guidelines. AASL is in the final stages of forming this seven member board. Their work will begin in March and run through November 2017. During this time, the SGEB will be responsible for evaluating and writing updates for the current AASL Learning Standards and Program Guidelines. The current version of AASL’s Learning Standards and Program Guidelines provides a foundation for teaching and learning in a collaborative school library program. According to AASL, the updated version “should be transformative and reimagine the roles of school library programs and school librarians in the educational environment.” Once their work gets underway, the SGEB will be requesting input from many voices representing the school library community, including L4L State Coordinators. Please feel free to share with me any input you may have regarding the strengths and areas of concern in relation to the current AASL L4L Standards and Program Guidelines and I will forward your comments along.
Other L4L news: 
The Standards and Guidelines portion of the AASL Website has been reorganized with new sub-headings that provide access to resources in a more logical manner. Also, the archived Lesson Plan Database is available again and is easier to navigate because it is organized by grade level and all parts of the lessons are available in one click. Check out the AASL Learning Standards and Program Guidelines page for links to resources related to the current standards, L4L implementation and the archived Lesson Plan Database.
Amy Short

#alamw15 Chicago

There is something really awesome about a city that has such accessible art.  From the original and interesting architecture to the funky public art, visitors will not be disappointed.  I really enjoyed the (very) short time that we had to walk around and experience the sights and sounds of this city in the proximity of our hotel and conference. 

Here are some of my personal highlights from #alamw15  ALA Midwinter 2015: 

1.  The networking, informal meetings and conversations that take place between our own members and other librarians is just plain awesome.  It is validating to know that others are wrestling with some of the same issues that we are faced with in Massachusetts.
We are stronger together and working with each other will surely help us to grow and understand where our focus must be. 

2.   The Vendor Hall was bustling with activity. I especially enjoyed seeing some of the Advanced Reader copies and walking by authors (whether I knew them or not), it has a sort of "rock concert" feel!  I spent some time in a maker space booth using copper tape to create a light up firefly pin! I'm looking forward to checking out this organization more closely. 

3. Affiliate Assembly offers opportunities to meet, listen and connect.  This year was no exception.   You can read a detailed blog post by Jennifer Reed here.  
The Ask Me How School Librarians Transform Learning campaign was introduced: 

Use these as an "elevator speech" or talking points whenever the opportunity arises. 

4.  The knowledge that Kathy Lowe, Judi Paradis, Jennifer Reed and Amy Short possess collectively is amazing.  I count myself lucky to be able to learn from them.  I continue to strive to understand how to continue to move the Association to meet our memberships needs. Attending ALA Midwinter is just part of that puzzle! 

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chicago Take Aways

Now that I've had a few days to shovel and think, here are some thoughts on our trip to ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago that I hope you'll find enlightening:

  • The AASL Conference in Columbus next October should be terrific.  Kathy Lowe and Deb Logan are the co-chairs and have assembled an outstanding group to plan a cutting-edge conference for school librarians and their administrators,  The conference committee is offering free registration to any administrator accompanying a librarian.  The author line up is nothing-short of astonishing, and the keynote speakers, preconference offerings and local events sound great.  We were all especially taken with the social media platform being used for the conference.  Check out the "rebel mouse" feed here.
  • Anita Cellucci and I spent hours and hours in conversation about the future of MSLA.  The more I learn about Anita, the more impressed I become.  She's smart, thoughtful, and earnest about her own practice.  She's forward-looking about the school library field, and asks lots of good questions.  We talked a lot about how we can make our organization more useful to members, provide more targeted professional development, and more networking opportunities.  
  • Kathy Lowe, Amy Short and Jennifer Reed know everyone.  When you travel with these women, you are constantly meeting librarians who are at the top of their game.  The informal conversations in hotel lobbies, at dinner, and before and after sessions are often enlightening and provide us with connections that can guide us in our work with the Massachusetts School Library Association.
  • The technology at Midwinter was frustrating.  Lots of meeting rooms did not have good (or any) wifi connection, and lots of sessions were relying on pads and easels rather than google docs to capture ideas.  There were sessions where we sat and got talked to, rather than sharing our ideas.  All these moments confirmed for us that if school librarians are going to be taken seriously, we need to show that we use technology on the same level as our peers at ISTE, and that we need to make our PD interactive and participatory.
  • AASL does have some good resources that are under-utilized.  The organization has recently re-organized its leadership structure and embarked on a new strategic plan.  We looked at a lot of online resources for PD, advocacy, and communication that we need to share more widely and use better.  I am hoping that when AASL President Teri Grief comes to our conference next month she can help us kick off a look at making AASL more relevant for MSLA members.

Books Books Books

Okay--we do go to meetings and we network our brains out, but what we really do A LOT is look at books while we're at Midwinter Meeting. 

For the first time ever, I went to the ALA Youth Media Awards, which really is like the Academy Awards for book geeks.  It was amazing, and because we were clueless, Kathy Lowe, Anita Cellucci and I marched right in and sat in the third row from the front, finding ourselves plunked among the Caldecott Committee, famous authors winning prizes, and the literary illuminati (Kathleen T. Horning was sitting just a few seats away and when they announced that Pat Mora had won the Arbuthnot lecuture award, we heard a squeal and turned around to find she was sitting in the seat behind us).  Of course, you can see the whole list of winners here.

After that, we went into the enormous vendor hall and just began gobbling up free books.  Publishers bring ARCs and giveaways of titles that they hope will catch the eye of librarians.  As people hand you titles, they casually let you know that the author is signing in an hour, or "I think this is Avi's best book in years," while you frantically look for more free canvas bags to stuff them into and wonder how many you can carry before you keel over.

On Friday, I got my first shipment of 8 boxes of books I sent home.  These are going into tote bags to bring to our MSLA conference in March.  As we wrap up our unconference on Sunday, we plan to share our goodies with those attending, so expect there is a good chance you'll be heading home with great new reads to share with your students!  Here's my haul:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Authors and author sessions for 2015 AASL National Conference

At the AASL National Conference Committee meeting I reported on the other day, our author co-chairs, Mary Ann Schuer from California and Karen Perry from North Carolina, reported on their progress in securing authors for panels and concurrent sessions. Here is the information that can be shared at this time, as publicized on the AASL website:

Author Banquet

Friday, November 6 | 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Join colleagues in a delicious meal served in courses interspersed with short author talks from Matt de la Pena, Sonia Manzano, and Rita Williams-Garcia.  Dinner will be followed by a roundtable discussion with Matt, Sonia, and Rita. The theme for the evening is “Diverse Authors, Diverse Voices.”  Books will be available for purchase and author signing will take place following dinner and the roundtable.
Matt de la Peña has established himself as an author to pay attention to. His books continually garner fantastic praise and award recognition. His first picture book, A Nation’s Hope, received 4 starred reviews, was New York Times Top 10 Illustrated Book of 2011, a Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Book of 2011, and an SLJ Best Book of 2011. Appearance made possible by Penguin Young Readers Group.
Sonia Manzano has been a presence on Public Television since the 1970's. After ten years starring as Maria on Sesame Street, Sonia began writing scripts for the series and has fifteen Emmy Awards as part of the Sesame Street writing staff. Her first picture book, the semi-autobiographical No Dogs Allowed!, was published in April 2004 and adapted into a stage musical. In 2013, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, was named a Pura Belpré Honor Book for narrative. Appearance made possible by Scholastic.
Rita Williams-Garcia’s Newbery Honor–winning novel, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults. Appearance made possible by HarperCollins Children's Books.
An additional registration fee of $65 is required in advance of the event.
Author Breakfast
Sunday, November 8 | 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
End your conference with fireworks!  Join friends for brunch as author Rae Carson (Girl of Fire and Thorns) moderates a fantasy panel of Colleen Gleeson (The Clockwork Scarab), Josephine Angelini (Trial by Fire), Kate Messner (All the Answers), and debut author Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes.)  This promises to be a freewheeling discussion of female character development and the fantasy genre for elementary, middle, and high school interests. Books will be available for purchase and author signing will take place following the discussion.
Josephine Angelini is the internationally bestselling author of the Starcrossed trilogy, Starcrossed,Dreamless, and Goddess. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in Los Angeles with her screenwriter husband and three shelter cats. Appearance made possible by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
Rae Carson’s books tend to contain lots of adventure, magic, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. She is the author of the acclaimed, New York Times best-selling Girl of Fire and Thorns series:The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, and The Bitter Kingdom. She especially loves to write about questions she doesn’t know the answers to. Rae Carson is originally from California but now lives in Arizona with her husband. Appearance made possible by HarperCollins Children's Books.
Colleen Gleason is an award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author best known for her urban fantasy series The Gardella Vampire Hunters and Stoker & Holmes, a YA steampunk series. Colleen lives in the midwest United States with her family and two dogs, and is always working on her next book. Appearance made possible by Chronicle Books.
Kate Messner is an award-winning author whose books for kids have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. was the winner of the 2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers. Kate also spent fifteen years teaching middle school and earned National Board Certification in 2006. She lives on Lake Champlain with her family and loves spending time outside. Appearance made possible by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
Sabaa Tahir was born in London but grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. After graduating from UCLA, Sabaa became an editor on the foreign desk at The Washington Post. Three summers later, she came up with the concept for her debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes.Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Appearance made possible by Penguin Young Readers Group.
Registration for the AASL National Conference in Columbus, OH, November 5-8, 2015 opens in early February at

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Assembling with the Affiliates: Day One

"What is the Affiliate Assembly and what does it do?" Is a question I am often asked by school librarians at ALA meetings and conferences. If the people active in the school library world are confused, I can imagine what school librarians back in the trenches are thinking. "What value does the Assembly bring to my work?" "Why have an Affiliate?" "Why send reps from Massachusetts?" 

I am happy to report that we are trying to remedy this lack of understanding about Affiliate, all while strengthening the organization. The AASL Affiliate Assembly met today to begin a conversation around community building that will be continued into the Annual Meeting in San Francisco in June.

Prior to the meeting, we, as Affiliate Reps, were asked to think about the following three questions:

1. What are your aspirations/goals for the Affiliate Assembly?

2. What would be possible obstacles to reaching those aspirations/goals?

3. What would be solutions that would allow Affiliate members to reach these goals together?

We met in small groups, each with representation the different regions. The data from this meeting will be used as a starting place in June. I am eager to hear the responses from the other groups, on the mean time, here's what my group is thinking:

The Affiliate should produce something tangible that school librarians can use - a statement or a product
The Affiliate should work to improve crowd sourcing among the states-communicate initiatives and ideas
The Affiliate should help with advocacy.
AASL a should build a relationship with ISTE
AASL would take on more STEM/STEAM presence
Adopt and Promote a tech-infused library program
More free activities and resources for school library initiatives- level the playing field for all school library programs - maybe states buy into AASL sources and then distribute. (I.e., school library month - some free resources, but many cost money and budgets are limited)

Vision of school libraries is often out-dated
Perception of school library programs as being all about literacy, but not science and technology
Frequent turnover of Affiliate reps

More state library associations collaborate with state CUE organizations to put on conferences like the MSLA/MassCUE conference.
AASL taking on a bigger social networking presence - Twitter night, etc...
More resources like the elevator speech cards and buttons
Have one national/regional/state conference theme - builds consistency of message, lowers costs,  spreads the work. 

We've got our work cut out for us!

AASL 2015 National Conference Committee Meeting

With Debra Kay Logan from Ohio, I have the pleasure of co-chairing AASL's next national conference, which will be held in Columbus, OH, November 5-8, 2015. MSLA'S Judi Paradis is co-chair of the subcommittee in charge of selecting and scheduling the concurrent sessions. Our entire committee of over a dozen school librarians from around the country, along with staff from AASL, met today. This is our second time meeting in person, but the first time everyone was able to attend. We hold monthly conference calls, but it was great to see everyone face-to-face.

Here are some quick notes of highlights that we will be reporting to the AASL Affiliate Assemby tomorrow.

Theme: Experience Education Evolution

We are looking at school librarians as proactive leaders in an educational environment that is in a state of constant flux. Change is the constant. The conference will embrace being aware of, informed about, managing, leading and assisting others with changing resources, programs, technology, methodologies, standards and teacher expectations. We want school librarians to leave Columbus feeling that they have a more than strong grasp of the evolving educational environment. We also want them to feel innovative, invigorated, inspired, excited and ready to stretch old boundaries and instill new energy into their school library programs. We want administrators to leave with a clear picture of school librarians at the forefront as a confident, willing, comfortable and nimble vanguard. We also see a connection between evolution and revolution. We are not passive in this changing system. We are advocates for students, teachers and learning

  • Administrators free with their school librarian
  • Opening general session each day with thought-leaders in education
  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs, expert in curriculum and instruction 
  • Project Connect Panel: Administrators Empowering School Library Programs, sponsored by Follett
  • Brian Selznick, author of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, with a new book coming out in time for our conference
  • Closing keynote: Eszter Hargittai, who believes the concept of the digital native is a myth
  • Highlight affiliates and regions by providing opportunity for attendees to meet and network with others from their state and region
  • Exploratorium/IdeaXchange is now the IdeaLab, featuring learning stations with large screen monitors showcasing best practices in topics related to education evolution
  • UnConference with new twists and maybe some late-night games
  • Fun closing session that will be uniquely Columbus
Registration will open in early February.

In a separate post, I'll write more about author events.