Have a Workshop at your School

IMAG4974minLast night I was boiling spaghetti noodles and had the bananas too close to the gas stove. The full-blast flame left a large inky black blotch on its Minion-like yellow skin. I kept thinking my spaghetti and meatballs were burning but it was my bananas. Yes, my husband has been having fun with that one. And why-the-heck am I telling you this? Because we had a librarian conference and for someone that always manages to create unintended muddles, it went smooth and has me so excited to try new things like Libguides and Classroom Connections and Makerspace activities that I have to share the experience. If you can, organize a conference, it is well worth being noodle-brained afterwards.

Here’s the scoop: The EARCOs Librarian workshop on November 6 and 7, 2015 had over 70 participants with guest speaker Jenny Luca, Head of Digital Learning and Practice at Wesley College in Melbourne, Australia, inspiring us to be game-changers and embrace new technologies. Multiple speakers in breakout sessions kept the conversation going adding to a plethora of best practices and what librarians are trying to accomplish in 21st century libraries. From technologies, to Makerspaces, to Libguides, to book clubs, to inquiry, to lessons, and more, librarians shared and networked in ways that incorporated the best of professional development and lifelong learning.

The idea to do this came when I was at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas eating lunch with a librarian from Singapore who suggested we host a library conference. Candace Aiani, the High School Librarian, has wanted to do this for a long time and pounced on the notion determined to implement it when she got back to Taipei American School. She discovered that it wasn’t possible that year, but persisted for the following year like a midnight moth after a streetlamp.IMAG4980min

Candace and I decided the year before on the conference topic and goal, but we remained flexible depending on what guest speaker we would find and his or her expertise. I found the speaker while Candace worked with administration to get the school to host the event on a certain date. Once this was in place we had summer break and didn’t race back into it until school started in August. We divided tasks and met once a week going through checklists to make sure everything was covered. The flyer was the first thing to be completed and loaded on EARCOS’s website to publicize the event. We have a professional development office that deals with EARCO’s making less tasks for us. For instance, they handled the guest speaker’s transportation, hotel, and flight, food, and venue bookings.

Once the flyer was settled it was time to get the word out. Candace and I reached out to all our library friends to spread the word as we only had 10 registrants in September or two months before the event. The schedule and presenters were the next item to be ticked off the list. Candace put together the brochure and we started to contact potential presenters. The teachers from the ALA conference were the first we asked and they were more than eager to be involved in the event. They suggested others and pretty soon we were turning away speakers as the schedule filled up. We spent the next few weeks collecting bios and photos for the brochure.

We met with the professional development office to determine venues and they booked rooms for the event. Rather than have a traditional tour of the libraries, I created a Klikaklu scavenger hunt game. Participants used iPads to match images in the four libraries. Meanwhile Candace contacted vendors interested in coming. EBSCO hosted a Friday night social event. Presenter gifts were purchased for all the speakers and a photographer was lined up.

IMAG5122minI was a bit surprised by how many registrants we got in the last month. Because last minute airfares are expensive I didn’t think that so many would sign up that late, but perhaps their cities have better fares than ours. Besides the introduction PowerPoint, I gave two presentations on “iPads in the Elementary Library” and “Blogging and Book Clubs.” Candace and I met and worked on our presentations sharing ideas and supporting each other. I was amazed at how little I knew of what she has been doing with high school students. Sometimes we get so swept up in the tidal wave of school busyness that we don’t slam on the breaks enough to find out what is happening across divisions. We met after the conference to reflect. One thing we would do differently is have more transition time between presenters. We only had 10 minutes and 20 minutes would have been better. I would have had more people taking photos and setup Periscope.

Over lunch participants had the option to go to a job-alikes table. People write topics on a white board that they wanted to discuss with others and the table number where the discussion will be. I wrote one on “Visiting Authors” and a group of us discussed good or not so good visiting authors. We also setup unconference sessions led by participants about topics suggested by them and written on a whiteboard while the conference was happening. We took these two formats from the Learning 2.0 Asia conferences as they are nice options for someone that wants to explore a specific topic not on the schedule. The job-alike lunch talks had more participants and this might be because the conference was too small for unconference sessions. Learning 2.0 has hundreds of participants and had longer breaks between sessions.

The Learning 2.0 conferences are actually a great study of how to make a conference global. Our librarian conference has given us a glimpse at the leaders in social networking and innovative library programs. It has created a venue to develop global relationships that can grow long after the conference. So folks, coordinate your own conference. Shoot, you are being taught COEtail classes by some of the original Learning 2.0 brainchildren. Tap into their knowledge and set the burner high.

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Library Workshop on Technology Integration

Come for an exciting workshop in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, November 6, &  Saturday, November 7. The Keynote speaker is Jenny Luca from Melbourne, Australia. Jenny will discuss the changing future of libraries, the impact of technology on libraries, and initiatives librarians can take to meet these new challenges. Breakout sessions include social media, ipad integration, Makerspaces, eBook lending models, ways to invigorate library programs, LibGuides, digital vs analog reading, and more. Food will be provided with a Friday night social event and vendors presenting their goods.

Stretch yourself and consider speaking!

rowan3If you have a burning topic you want to share with other librarians, we still have some slots for speakers. A small stipend will be available. To register click here.

Attached is the flyer with all the details: Librarians Weekend Workshop Flyer

Contact me if you have any questions at middletonb@tas.edu.tw

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Shelving games

I have some games that I use with grade 3 to teach how to find books in the library. One is a board game where I use a huge piece of butcher block paper. Students are in teams of three and they shake a huge soft die and find the call number they land on. This requires help from the assistants and can be hard to do alone. Here’s another alternative.

I have downloaded some Smartboard apps where students arrange the books in order, but I found this website that is visually attractive and tried it instead: https://www.mrs-lodges-library.com/shelver/.

Next, students are going to play Klikaklu on the iPads as a scavenger hunt. I’ll let you know how that goes.



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EARCOs library workshop fall 2015


I have been obsessively writing books reviews and have neglected this blog, but on the plus side I started the book reviews as an assignment for my Coetail class so the monster was born here.

The Taipei American School is hosting a librarian’s weekend workshop. Or sort of a weekend workshop. It’s Friday and Saturday… a split end workshop? If you want to come it is November 6 & 7, 2015. If you want to present, that would be better yet! I know I will be talking about the use of iPads in the elementary library with lessons. I wanted to do a Makerspace talk but we are implementing that the weekend after and the timing isn’t quite right.  I know many of you are doing innovative things so come and share! We will talk about our Kindle management checkout programs, lessons, ebook and audiobook strategies, library advocacy and more. We are working on a speaker and have a few names in the pot. Let us know if you have one you want us to add to the speaker stew.

The theme is: “Library Futures: Taking it On One Service at a time.”

In order to organize and plan for the event, my colleague has set up a very short interest survey link here.

Taipe is extremely easy to get around and the hotels are within walking distance to the workshop. Food is great and we would love to network with you. As our plans move along I’ll keep you posted with updates. Thanks for considering this opportunity!

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I Speak, You Speak, We all squeak for Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”

Some incredible speakers on Gaiman’s audio tape of “The Graveyard Book.” You could use this with students to inspire them or teach speaking skills.

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Blogging about Books

compressWhen I took the Coetail course 3 years ago I started a book blog and became active in Goodreads. You would think after 500 reviews I would be feeling pretty confident about book reviewing, but if anything I realize how much there is to learn. My dad always said, “The more I learn, the dumber I get.” As I keep exploring the world of literature, I keep discovering gaps in my knowledge. The exercise of reviewing books is one way to stay intellectually curious about the world and is the reason I keep at it. (And to keep track of all the books I’ve read.)

I came across an article by Jonathan Hunt on the influx of books written in present tense. He argues that present tense is bad writing and boy-oh-boy did he press a hot button. The comments have snippets of thoughts on the topic from writers Patrick Ness, Frances O’Roark Dowell, Sharon Creech, Matthew Kirby, Shannon Hale, Maggie Stiefvater, and Linda Sue Park (to name a few) commenting on his topic. So does Roger Sutton, Editor-in-Chief of Horn Book. While the comments get heated at times, I thought… I never even knew that present tense was considered a poor writing choice because it is difficult to pull off. I thought it would be easier. They say that it is claustrophobic. Many of the books mentioned in the comments I didn’t like and it might have been the tense.

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Want to be on the Newbery or Caldecott committee?

9780763660406_p0_v6_s260x420Coming fresh off the ALA conference I wondered how people got on the Newbery or Caldecott committees that vote for winners. Shelly Diaz wrote an interesting and informative article on the process in School Library Journal. I would not be able to swing it living overseas, but maybe you can. Check it out here.


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ALA conference

10449530_10203267804928965_7471263833094562529_nThe ALA conference in Las Vegas had 30,000 participants! What an author bonanza. Here is me with Mo Willems getting his newest book. I ended up collecting 70 books! Most were free. I met more authors than I could count… at least 30. I went to some independent schools, workshops, and speaker sessions for an inspiring professional development opportunity. If you ever get the chance to go, do!

My notes are in the USA and I am in Taiwan so I will wing some highlights that stuck with me. Jane McGonigal was the opening speaker and gave some intriguing facts about the benefits of gaming. She argues that game-playing can use critical thinking skills and promote meaningful creativity and problem solving. I am not a gamer, but she piqued my interest. I have her book in my stack of books-to-read.

Jeff Bridges and Lois Lowry spoke about their upcoming movie, “The Giver.” Bridges was hard to understand. He sorta mumbles. Or I’m in the early stages of presbyacusis. They mainly talked about the importance of memories. I just went to the movie and it was worth seeing

The workshops on 3D printing and Makerspaces helped get me up to speed on this new feature in public libraries. Although I didn’t really understand the pedagogy until hearing David Loetcsher and Blanche Woolls speak at the IFLA conference in Lyon, France, I did find the 3D printer talk and all its challenges enlightening. It breaks down an awful lot when used heavily. The speakers gave quite a few good tips to prevent this.

Donalyn Miller gave a great talk on literacy and I really need my notes to delve into that. She was one of my favorite speakers and I have her newest book on my book-pile. I read “The Book Whisperer” and came up with library lessons as a result.

The Newbery/Caldecott banquet was my favorite. The dinner and reception afterwards was so inspiring. Kate Dicamillo’s speech was extremely moving. She said “Flora & Ulysses” was her mothers story. I recommend reading the speech here or using it as a supplement to the10463888_10203267864250448_6695655484572348551_n book if you are doing a read aloud. I did learn that if you go to the conference you don’t have to buy the expensive dinner tickets but can just come for the speeches. There is a receiving line after and it was so fun shaking hands and meeting all the authors. I had used their books in lessons and I bobbed my way down the line feeling like I was meeting celebrities. I was giddy and loved every minute of it. Kate DiCamillo was giddy too. She’d tip her nose to the air and guffaw like a “baby bird waiting to be fed” (from her speech.)

I met some wonderful librarians around the world and we came up with a plan to have a conference at our school this year. I went to ALA with our high school librarian who wrote a proposal for a weekend workshop on digital changes in the library. We will see if anything comes of it.

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Holey Cow!

Here’s a fun book for the kiddos  The Book with a Hole by Tullet, Herve.

croppedCan you tell school is almost out?!

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Mapping library with iPad apps

index.phpSpice up your library locating skill lessons by using the iPad. I read the book, Henry’s Map by David Elliot, and then grade 1 students used the iPads to map where the book was in the library.

I let them choose either “Show Me,” “Doodle Buddy,” or “Educreations.”

They liked the glitter pen on Doodle Buddy but some struggled with erasing. They’d accidentally clear the page. Most of the classroom teachers use “Educreations” so the bulk of students used that app. The few that saw their friends glitter-marked Doodle Buddy, “oohed and ahhed,” quickly switching apps. If glitter motivates them then I’m all for it! Good times.2014-05-08_9-48-38

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