Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stuff I learned at TLA '14--Professional edition

I learned something new at every one of the three tech sessions, three tech keynotes, one general session, five breakout sessions, and two meals with authors.  Most importantly, I learned that I need a tablet before I attend next year's TLA conference, because the laptop was only pulled out once and it was really hard to type on my Google Docs with my HTC One--no matter how big my daughter proclaims it to be.  I switched to writing notes halfway through for just a bit, to give my thumbs a break.  

I won't share every detail of the seven pages I typed/ wrote, but here are some nuggets of learning I was able to take away for professional purposes:
  • Dr. Bruce Ellis--Use specific, positive critique to help others (and ourselves!) make small steps to improve tech skills.  Perfection may not occur in six weeks, or even one year; focus on manageable steps.  Building relationships, recognizing effort, having a growth mindset, modeling with concrete examples, and shifting from lifelong learning to lifelong sharing are important when building community with technology.
  • Bluebonnet Committee presentation--Kudos to the team for powering through the tech glitches!  And thanks for providing all those wonderful resources on several platforms--Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress, and Symbaloo.  I will improve my promotion of Bluebonnet books next year with all these great resources!
  • Dr. Ellis again, with cybersafety.  Learned the difference between a passive digital footprint--anonymous data collected through our internet use--and active footprint--the stuff we share "on purpose".  We were reminded to Google ourselves on our birthdays and at Christmas, as gifts to ourselves in guarding our digital presence--and not to forget to search for images as well. is a good site to help manage privacy settings on several social media platforms.
  • Keynote lunch with Jennifer LaGarde, the LibraryGirl.  Leadership is not a position, it is an action.  Focus on students, not stuff.  Help our principals with whatever it is about our school that keeps them up at night.  Collaboration is not a goal, it is a strategy.  Build bridges, not barriers; the library space should reflect what we value.  The important part isn't finding info, it's using it
  • will be part of my summer self-professional-development.  It's a one-stop shop for web-based, education-related sites, tools, applications, and extensions.  Todd Nesloney is so full of energy and enthusiasm for using tech tools in the classroom, you can't help but dream of the possibilities after listening to him speak.  One tip was to let students use whatever websites they choose for resources, as long as they can prove the validity of the site.  Another is to keep tweets and blogs positive; let's share what we are doing right!  His take on learning is that there really aren't new ideas, just great stuff already there to be shared.  A great quote he shared--"Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up."-Erica Bauermeister  Mr. Nesloney's session and keynote were both educational and motivational.
All of the above was just from our day of Tech Camp 2014!  Moving on to Wednesday:
  • James Patterson spoke at our opening General Session.  He is an engaging, humorous author who walks his talk.   Mr. Patterson spoke about free book choice for kids (with some guidance), and parental responsibility to model reading and provide resources.  I already have his literacy website bookmarked on our library Symbaloo:  ReadKiddoRead .  He provides scholarships for education majors, and has donated funds to one of my favorite causes, Libraries of Love.  
  • The authors on the panel for "It Can't Be Science, It's Fiction!" were Matthew Kirby, Nate Ball, Megan Blakemore, Shirley Duke, Wendy Mass, Kate Messner, and Suzanne Selfors.  They spoke about writing books that incorporated real-life scientific knowledge, processes, and theories.  What struck me the most about the panel was their willingness to stretch themselves to learn whatever it was they needed to know to "flesh out" their stories, whether by researching through print resources or contacting experts directly.  My favorite quote came from Ms. Messner--"Science is about wonder."
  • Lunch with the EBSCO representatives now has me intrigued by their Novelist   readers' advisory  product.  If anyone out there has had experience with it, I'd love to hear about it!
  • Jacqui Rash and Eileen Lee, public librarians, and Michelle Lee, pubic library assistant, gave us great tips and takeaways on the subject of Sensory Storytime.  We reviewed the meaning of sensory processing disorder/ dysfunction and how it can affect communication and behavior, and learned difference ways of preparing children who have SPD for library time through the use of accommodations, social stories, and special salutations. was offered as a resource for librarians who serve patrons with autism.
  • Michelle Luhtala, librarian for New Canaan High School in Connecticut, shared how mobile technology is being used in her school.  Their motto is "We Trust You."  The future of learning and research is heading towards what we can access through the devices in our pockets, and sharing what we learn through social media.
Whew!  Now to Thursday....
  • After my 5K walk, I joined a session featuring an author panel speaking on the subject of bullying.  The panel consisted of Trudy Ludwig, Michael Buckley, Stuart Gibbs, Christine Pakkala, Michael Fry, and James Howe.  Ms. Ludwig talked a bit about the nuances of bullying, and recommended the International Bullying Prevention Association website.  Some memorable points (there were many!) from the discussion:  popular kids often lose their fizzle by reunion time, while nerds are usually still achieving and accomplishing great things; teachers can be bullies, too; try looking at the bully's point of view for understanding and defusing; bullies beget victims who can become vengeful bullies themselves; solutions need to go beyond posters and lessons--a culture shift has to happen.  We have to make being kind a cool thing; ask kids "Who do you want to be?".  Remember that power plays start occurring as young as preschool.
  • John Grandits and Michael Allen Austin  received their Texas Bluebonnet Awards for Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus with great back stories and humor. The students who presented the award were the most poised children I think I've ever seen, speaking to hundreds of librarians in a huge ballroom!
  • My Thursday was rounded out by a trip to the exhibit hall, a Gale reception, and a gathering of SHSU alumni and professors. What a great day!
Friday, day four!
  • My own children would never have forgiven me if I passed up the TASL Breakfast with Lemony Snicket...and I'm so glad I went.  His speech was as interesting and entertaining as the books he writes.  The one concept that arose again and again was curiosity; "It's interesting when things happen."  Asking questions, even all the wrong ones, leads to great stories.
  • I had to head down to the exhibit hall one last time, to get my copy of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library signed by Chris Grabenstein  and take advantage of any last-minute freebies from vendors.  After picking up a couple of books and purchasing a few more for my school library, I decided to call it a week and head for home.
I've learned so much, and will continue to learn, thanks to the resources and motivation I've received from attending the Texas Library Association's 2014 Annual Conference.  A big thanks to Round Rock ISD and my principal for accommodating this continuing education opportunity for this newbie librarian! 


  1. Chris, I love NoveList, too! It is a great way to connect books and readers. More importantly for school librarians, their Picture Book Extenders are great to attach to your library lesson plans. I use the Grab and Go lists to find books on a theme or topic. The articles are thought provoking and useful and often just what I need. Their webinars are great to get you going.

    1. Thanks for your input! It did sound like a great product; I'm glad to read that you find it useful, too. Wondering if our district is willing to take the plunge...