Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reflections on a Season of Professional Development Part 2

Better Late than Never!

In October I joined over 3,000 librarians attending the American Association of School Librarians conference in Minneapolis. This was a much broader conference, and Steven Carr (the author if The Shallows) and Mimi Ito's ideas were almost pitted against each other. Their keynotes were the beginning and the end of the conference, respectively. I helped just a bit with the Learning Commons, an area where people gave more impromptu talks which were streamed live. For a couple of hours I acted as PR and host for this area, and I got to enjoy some of the presentations as well. I also watched the live streaming of Wendy Stephens' presentation from my hotel room as I rested one afternoon, which was great!

I attended several thought provoking sessions. Realizing  that everyone is in the same fuzzy space regarding ebooks, ipads, ereaders, and that we are all grappling with how to interpret copyright issues with regard to multimedia in schools, I am now more comfortable in that muddy space. Now I just am more clear about how we are in the middle of a state of change, and nobody has all the answers. I just have to decide how and when to dive in.

More satisfying were the sessions I chose to attend about teaching research and increasing true inquiry and scholarship.
  • I attended 4 hour pre-conference workshop on meaningful senior projects.  This session gave me a lot of ideas for new programs at my school.
  • I am inspired to use Stripling’s Method of Inquiry to engage learners and provide structure to the messy road of research - help the kids define the chaotic road by using the same method, 7-12. The Big 6 method used by our lower school doesn’t resonate with me, the Stripling method does.I am hoping I can find ways to incorporate it for next year.
  • I want to explore the notion of transliteracy - what does that mean for our students and our research curriculum.
  • I want to encourage MultiGenre artifacts as objects of creative synthesis of information in order to increase the opportunity for creativity at school.
  • I am more knowledgeable of current research on teenagers as Internet searchers, and have ideas on how to incorporate this research into my teaching.
  • I enjoyed Informal learning with friends and mentors who are leading the profession, and persuading me to continue my blog and to get involved in professional leadership through ALA, writing for professional publications again, or speaking/presenting at more conferences.
All in All, AASL was a real treat. I learned, engaged, enjoyed, and was inspired. This is a not-to-be-missed conference. Start planning for the next AASL in 2013 (November 11-13, 2013, Hartford, CT) now!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reflections on a Season of Professional Development, Part One

I was lucky to attend two very interesting yet very different professional development experiences this fall. Each had a different focus, and each has helped me think of the library and our curriculum in different ways.

Idea board, Cohort D
Image: Idea Board, Cohort D by dianecordell

ReImagine: Ed was a gathering of approximately 200 librarians, technology directors, and designers at The Lovett School in Atlanta and was focused on using the design process to  imagine the school library of the future.
This conference seemed to be more focused on the physical library as a learning space, and less about the teaching that happens in that space. I learned that we as a profession are well on our way to knowing where we want to go, but the harder next step is how to get there. For some issues, like seamless integration of ebooks, we need to muddle through this time of innovation and uncertainty in the ebook market. But when we think of the library as a space for curiosity and innovation, we need to start now by introducing the ideas to our communities. Like last year, I am focused on Mimi Ito’s work with the MacArthur Foundation and the YOUMedia lab in Chicago as a model we should try to develop for our school.

ReImagine Ed had some very talented leaders and “provocateurs,” and one of my favorites was Lee Van Ordsel, the Dean of University Libraries at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. She walked us through her inspiration and vision behind her university’s new main library, which is to be completed by May of 2013.  I enjoyed how she spoke about the different uses of space, and her metaphor of the library as a shopping mall was compelling.  In a shopping mall, everything is in one social space. “Nobody likes an empty mall,” Ms. Van Ordsel pointed out, so in her library the consumers get to choose what they do, they control the experience, but they also allow for serendipity.
The new library will almost all be for group study, (although there will be some nooks for individual study too) where students can essentially create a room wherever they want to. The space is flexible, blending intellectual and social. They will also provide knowledge market kiosks, no appointments necessary, including a writing center, speech center, I.T. help desk, and research center, all run by student peers.
I enjoyed hearing about this vision and extracting how it might work at my school. My students still need a quiet zone - our many study carrels are very popular, but the other ideas could be redesigned for a small independent school like mine.

After listening to Buffy Hamilton speak powerfully about Enchantment and Bud Hunt talk passionately about the importance of school libraries as a safe space (virtual and physical),  I came away with ideas on how to make the library a meaningful place in the lives of our students by being a place where students are safe to be themselves, safe to try and fail, and safe to be creative and make connections. I enjoyed brainstorming library metaphors and learning how libraries can fit into different models.

All in all, ReImagine Ed was a unique, enjoyable, and difficult conference. Grouping professionals with different backgrounds and different ideas of libraries together to work collaboratively had its ups and downs, as did some of the structure of the conference. But it was a good and challenging experience, and I learned a lot about the design process, libraries, librarians, and myself. For more of what my group ended up with, see Diane Cordell's blogpost about Cohort D.

Stay tuned for Part Two: AASL