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Photo with award winning children’s author, Laura Murray. My 2nd grade students LOVED her “The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School” series.

The 2015 VAASL Conference in Williamsburg, VA was my first true professional development experience as a “future” librarian. The conference provided me with many tools, resources, lesson plans, and ideas to help prepare me for a position as a school librarian.  The theme of the conference was “Librarians on the Edge” in which countless opportunities for innovative teaching and learning were provided. As a result of attending this conference I have many new ideas and resources for empowering our students as 21st Century learners.  I deliberately chose a very diverse schedule of topics during the 3 day conference which included the following:

  • developing and enriching collaborative partnerships with staff and students;
  • integrating the most recent technologies into all facets of instruction;
  • learning stations;
  • developing engaging and meaningful lesson plans and activities for students;
  • connecting students globally through social media

Additionally, I met some inspiring authors of children’s and young adults’ books including Laura Murray (The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School series); Kristin Levine (The Paper Cowboy, The Lions of Little Rock, and The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had); Steve Watkins (The Black O, Juvie, and What Comes After); and Lezli Evans (Rain Song, Snow Dance, and Can You Count 10 Toes?)

The sessions that were especially helpful included:

“Two is Better Than One” by Tanya Parrott and Kathy Stavros:  In this session the presenters provided many lesson ideas, resources, and strategies for collaborating with teachers of all grade levels. Specific activities that support the curriculum were presented, I will share many of these ideas with teachers here at Norge.  Examples included life cycles (grade 2); maps (grade 4); and identifying letters (K).

Using Stations to Manage the Library by DeWayne Harrell:   This elementary librarian presented many great ways to create a variety of library stations which incorporate reading, technology, strategy board games, and hands on activities for students.  I have used several of these resources already in our library, but I will investigate many of the other resources that Harrell provided.

On the Edge with the Top Ten Topics and Trends by Audrey Church:   A wealth of online resources, articles, professional journals, and tutorial videos were presented in this session. Topics included Coding, Digital Citizenship, Diverse Books, Flexible Scheduling, Read Alouds, and much more.  I would greatly appreciate it if we could meet to further discuss the benefits of flexible scheduling.

I came away from this conference with many “ready to implement” lessons and resources for library lessons.  Additionally, I have many great ideas for collaborating with staff and students. I will spend the next few months viewing many of the other resources provided at this conference.