Posts tagged AASL Best Websites

VAASL Conference


Laura Robinson & Mary Ivory

I’m so happy that I got to experience the VAASL Conference. What a wonderful opportunity for librarians to share with other librarians (and librarians to be)! I attended some really great sessions. First I went to a session presented by Lynne Farrell Stover called The Contemporary School Story: A New Nemesis Appears. I heard this presenter at Longwood over the summer when she shared her lessons on Unspoken by Henry Cole so I knew I would enjoy it. She went through a few books that are now incorporating story lines with testing and data. She handed out lesson plans to go along with the titles she shared. I will be able to do some of these lessons in my own class and I’ll share them with the librarian in my school.

I also attended a session presented by Elizabeth Kyser and Rebecca Schneeberger called Virginia Readers’ Choice – Primary. These two presenters went through the newest list of Virginia Readers’ Choice books and talked about how you can use them in your classroom or library. I learned that the books on this list are not necessarily new. I saw titles that I’ve been using in my classroom for years. Uh, why did I not know that?

Dee Griffith and Marsha Stewart presented a session on Making the 2014 Elementary Connection: What’s New in Children’s Literature. This session was fast paced with book talks on a lot of new books! I feel like since I’m not using different types of technology in the library yet, I wanted to go to sessions on books. This one was perfect! Oh… the wish list of books I want to purchase!

The next session I attended was presented by the one and only Audrey Church – Top Ten Topics and Trends for 2014. I had told myself that I wasn’t going to attend sessions by our professors because they would most likely share this information in our classes at some point. But when I saw the title of this one, I knew Audrey wouldn’t be sharing this in class. This was another fast paced presentation on topics such as augmented reality, digital curation, evidence-based practice, genrefication, library reports, Makerspaces, professional development, project-based learning, and research. Wow! I plan on purchasing a few augmented reality books for my classroom. My students will love them. I also want to learn more about digital curation so I’ll be reading some of the articles Audrey gave us.

On Friday I attended NonFicton StoryTime by Gwen Lantz and Margaret Alger. The pair went through non-fiction books and talked about how they used them in the classroom. I got excited about using non-fiction and learned how to read this type of text to engage kids. The story behind Biblioburro: A True Story from Columbia by Luis Soriano was amazing. He had a library on his donkey!

I went to a session presented by Susan Morris called Reading Together: Parent/Child Book Clubs. She explained how book clubs are a great way to bring kids and parents together to enjoy good books. She went through the steps on how to start a book club and which books she chooses and why. I probably took the most out of this session because it’s something I’m going to do as soon as I get back to school.

I went to a session presented by a very animated Allyson Watkins (I wish she was my teacher/librarian when I was little) called The Math-literature Connection in the Elementary Library. Not only did we learn about good titles to use with math, but also her story about why she had to do so much math in the library was very interesting.

By this point in the day I was happily on information overload and went to relax in my room. The keynote with Stephen Krashen was uplifting, dessert with David Baldacci was very entertaining, and dinner with Neal Shusterman was moving. How lucky for me to be able to experience all this in just a few days! I am so looking forward to the next time we all get together as librarians and learn from one another. Fabulous!

Loving Libraries at VAASL

Stacy Hammer, Dorathy Winkler, Michelle Sanders

Stacy Hammer, Dorathy Winkler, Michelle Sanders

Last weekend I spent some time in lovely Roanoke at the VAASL 2014 Annual Conference at the Hotel Roanoke. Though I enjoyed the town, the shops, the hotel, and the restaurants, it was the conference that I enjoyed most of all.  As a library student at Longwood, this conference was an excellent educational experience.  Some highlights of the conference included:

  • Destination Imagination with Kimberly Johnson-  Kimberly shared activities that I was able to use in my classroom on Monday.  She is full of energy and shared activities that suit the needs of students who are full of energy.  I will be using her strategies now, as a classroom teacher, and in the future as a school librarian.
  • AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning with Heather Moorefield-Lang – Heather is a great speaker and shared some of the best websites for teaching a learning.  I can’t wait to incorporate these websites into teaching and student projects.  From creating banners and infographics in to turning a quote into a masterpiece with, I think I’m going to be keeping myself and my students busy and entertained.
  • Take 5 with Krista Hartenbach- Krista shared how she transformed the perception of the school librarian at her school with five minute presentations at every faculty meeting.  By providing tips, addressing misconceptions and concerns, and sharing resources, Krista changed the way her school library was viewed and utilized.  This was a beneficial session since I’ll be a new librarian at a school  in the near future.

I learned so much at the conference that I can apply to life as a librarian, but what so impression was the sense of community and sharing that the conference offered.  I’m excited for a future in School Librarianship.

VAASL Conference

VAASLHad a great time at my first conference, and was happy to sit in on informative sessions that are relevant to what I am doing with my library.  Heather Moorefield-Lang demonstrated some of AASL’s best websites and made me want to rush home just to try them out.  Of course they don’t seem quite as easy as when she demo’d  them, but after a bit of practice I’ll get it.  I heard about popular books for middle school students, how to flip the library so students are more self-sufficient and how to use a program to track library usage (LibraryTrac).  Knowing how important data is these days, having numbers to back-up why and how often the library is being used is a good way to show school administrators that libraries truly are the heart of the school.

VAASL Conference November 2014


Author Kimberly Johnson hands me a signed copy of her book “The Adventures of Itty Bitty Frog”

What an amazing whirlwind weekend of learning and fun! The conference offered so many break-out sessions; it was hard to choose. I learned about Makerspaces, AASL Best Websites, new release books, top ten trends for 2014, and spent time with my new favorite author/presenter Kimberly Johnson. Ms. Johnson is a firecracker! You couldn’t possibly walk out of her presentation without a smile and a new-found love of teaching. Her session included engaging movement and learning games for students, strategies to increase student vocabulary, ways to help kids turn $5 words into $1,000,000 words (insert her “Rags to Riches” song here),and fabulous poems. She reminded us to TALK THE POSITIVE! Thank you Longwood University and Virginia Association of School Librarians for this incredible learning opportunity.

A Student’s Experience at the VAASL Annual Conference

I had such a wonderful time at the VAASL Annual Conference! This was the first school librarianship conference I’ve ever attended and I am so excited to come back next year!

Although I was only able to attend for one day, I got to experience all the best that the conference had to offer. I sat in on informative concurrent sessions hosted by some of the field’s best and brightest (AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning with Heather Moorefield-Lang, Making the 2014 Elementary Connection: What’s New in Children’s Literature with Dee Griffith and Marsha Stewart, and Top Ten Topics and Trends for 2014 with Audrey Church). I spent time and made memories with my peers from the Loudoun cohort, perused the vendor hall, met up with my former library mentor Dee Griffith (here’s a picture of us from when I was in high school), laughed and ate more than my share of delicious deserts at the reception with David Baldacci, and was duly impressed by the overwhelming support for Audrey Church’s candidacy from the over 140 Longwood University alumni on Thursday night.

Most importantly, I felt validated that school librarianship is exactly what I want to do and where I belong. I truly felt like a member of not just a community of librarians all working toward the same goal, but a family. Everyone was so welcoming to a librarian student like me and I couldn’t be more grateful for helping to making this an unforgettable experience. (:

Brittany Biesecker (School Librarianship Program – Longwood University)


VAASL 2014 Annual Conference

Mary Ivory with author Neal Shusterman

Mary Ivory with author Neal Shusterman

I attended the VAASL Annual Conference in Roanoke, VA from November 6-8, 2014.  This was my first experience at a conference for librarians; however I have attended state conferences for middle school educators in the past.

After registering, I immediately began pouring over the conference guide to select the sessions to attend.  There were so many great choices and I appreciated that many were offered more than once so that I could balance out a schedule.  It was difficult making some of the choices because there was so much being offered that I could see being useful in my classroom now, and to keep in mind for my future role as a librarian. The best session that I attended was Middle School Medley presented by Dawn Farrell and Alicia Garbelman from Lake Ridge Middle School in Woodbridge, VA.  I can see many possibilities for using what they presented right now as a classroom teacher and in the future as a librarian.  Other great sessions included:  150 Best Websites Selected by AASL, Using Twitter in Your Library, Using Pinterest As a Tool for Organization in Your Library, and The Contemporary School Story which was about using different novels with students that relate to some sort of standardized testing in schools and how the characters handle taking those tests.

The opportunity to meet authors David Baldacci, Neal Shusterman, and Kimberly P. Johnson were high on my list of things to do.  I am so glad that I signed up for these special events with these talented individuals.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to attend this conference and I am looking forward to attending again next year!

VAASL Conference in Roanoke 2014

Madigan and Daisy
Madigan at VAASL conferenceThis past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) conference in Roanoke.  Besides spending time with my colleagues from the Loudoun cohort of Longwood University, it was wonderful to meet so many librarians from around the state.  There are multitude of great things happening in Virginia libraries!  My favorite session was presented by the dynamic Heather Moorfield-Lang who compiles the VAASL “best of” website and apps lists every year.  She presented several websites like, and  I am looking forward to sharing this information with my school and colleagues.  The speakers were dynamic and invigorating, especially Kim Johnson and Neal Shusterman.  Hands down, the highlight of the weekend was hearing Dr. Audrey Church introduce each of us at the Longwood Alumni gathering.  Dr. Church makes all of us feel like we are the most important student to her, but to realize that there was a great network of librarians and future librarians in her fold made me feel like I am part of something special.

~Elizabeth Madigan

VAASL 2014


I attended several sessions at Friday’s Virginia Association of School Librarians Conference. The session with the most take-aways that apply across the board was the AASL’s best websites for teaching and learning.


I photocopied the bookmark for my colleagues and encourage you to visit Current and past winners are listed there, and the links are grouped into six categories: media sharing, digital storytelling, manage & organize, social networking & communication, curriculum collaboration and content resources. Every site listed should have some level of free access for educators, although an upgrade may have a price tag. You can visit the presenter’s website at


Another favorite site that is being overhauled for spring is the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Memory page. I was able to see a Beta version, and it looks user-friendly for both teachers and students. The primary documents that will be featured will also include a transcription, making some of the previous undecipherable manuscripts more accessible for all. (And if you want to help with transcribing, the LOV is crowdsourcing that on their current site,  )


It was a long, stressful drive in the rain on Thursday afternoon and evening, but the ride home Saturday was gorgeous. 81 is really breathtaking this time of year, and this episode of Car Talk kept me in stitches,


In the words of the parking lot attendant at the Hotel Roanoke, “Have a great day and a better tomorrow.”

Go to Top