Refreshing Ideas at the VAASL Conference
I had the great fortune of attending the Virginia Association of School Librarians conference in Roanoke this year. Needless to say, it was a lovely place to stay for a couple of days, and the conference was certainly educational. But what I loved most were the refreshing takes on the school library and education at every session I attended. Here are just a few:
- Kendra Albright discussed graphic novels written by incarcerated teens to educate other students. “AIDS in the End Zone” was written by a group of incarcerated young men who used their own lives as inspiration to write a graphic novel that could educate student readers about HIV/AIDS. Students who read the graphic novel instead of the CDC material on HIV/AIDS retained significantly more information. This makes me think of two immediate projects for the school library: 1) Be sure to acquire graphic novels that deal with nonfiction issues across the curriculum, and promote them with the staff; and 2) Creating a graphic novel would be a great way to assess students’ ability to synthesize and connect to researched information.
- Having a mock-Caldecott award competition was a great idea provided by Elyse DeQuoy. This would be a great way to ask students to think critically about why they like a particular book or illustration, while introducing them to a wide variety of new books. As a middle school teacher, I could do the same program, but with the Newbery Award.
- Author Kimberly P. Johnson was exactly the kind of presenter that I needed during Saturday’s third session. She said that we would feel rejuvenated after her session, and she was absolutely right. Keeping us on our feet, thinking quickly, and laughing with a variety of games, she reminded us that students need this stimulation to become engaged in their learning, and that it can be applied to the library- or, in fact, any educational setting.
My time at the VAASL conference was definitely well-spent. As well as packing my days full of inspiration and excitement about being a librarian, it was great to share that with my coworkers, professors, and classmates. I look forward to using all of these fresh ideas in my classroom and practical library hours, and eventually in my own library.
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