Posts tagged Audrey Church

VAASL 2015 by Kelly Parsons

snowman and december 2015 200

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.

Future Librarian Inspired by the 2015 VAASL Conference

Where to start?  The VAASL Conference was a wonderful experience, from perusing the vendors and getting to see 3D printers at work to attending conference sessions, it was nonstop.  It was hard to choose which sessions to attend with so many options.  My favorites were Online Tools in Action, Pairing Literature with Primary Sources, Oh the Places You’ll Go (four cool tools), and the Coding sessions, but I enjoyed every single one of the sessions I chose to attend.  I am so excited to try out the “Hour of Code” and am signed up for training in DC for next week.

IMG_7345 IMG_7440

I thought the speakers were wonderful, especially Maggie Stiefvater who divided her speech into 8 chapters of her life.  I loved that and thought it was a brilliant way to keep the audience focused while she was talking.  I also enjoyed meeting Lamar Giles and can’t wait to share his new book in my current classroom.  This experience was well worth the cost and I hope to be able to attend next year, as well.

IMG_7419 IMG_7402 IMG_7386 IMG_7377 IMG_7367 IMG_7364

I hate Nicholas Sparks-VAASL 2015

VAASL pictureI cannot stand his books!  If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one, here is how THEY ALL go…there is a tragedy, and due to the tragedy, someone falls in love.  Now, you have no reason to ever have to read one his books!  Sparks has written tons of books, they have all been on the New York Times Best Seller’s List, and he has sold over 100 million copies.  So clearly, my feelings about his books are not the majority.  People like them.  They buy them.  LOTS of them.

As a graduate student in School Librarianship, I have been recently struggling with how to teach content in the library while not crushing the potential spirit of readers.  With so much emphasis in schools on test scores and data, how do you maintain student’s excitement?

Margaret Willison was Thursday’s keynote speaker at VAASL and she is funny!  And what I took away from her presentation is that people are going to read what they like.  It may not be what you like or perhaps even millions of people worldwide like, but for them, there is value in what they are reading.  So, instead of promoting certain books, promote the love of reading for there is certainly value in the love of reading.

We all have our things.  Sparks certainly isn’t mine.  But I LOVE the Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.  And while the basic plot is the same in that series just like Spark’s books, I gain huge value in the pleasure of reading.


Where to find Willison:


Sneaking into VAASL Fall 2015 Conference

IMG_4617 (2)Allow me to clarify: I paid to go to the VAASL Fall Conference, but it felt like sneaking in because I’m not actually a school librarian yet-still taking my graduate classes to get me there. But it was certainly beneficial being able to attend this conference as it gave me more of an idea as to what my future Falls will look like as I’m sure I’ll be attending this conference annually. Getting the chance to start the networking within the librarian community is also a wonderful benefit from attending as I’ll have people I can turn to from day one when I become a librarian myself.

And while I’m not a librarian yet, I can obviously see how I can use much of the information I learned while at the conference once I am. Now I will admit that there were so many sessions and new ideas/info that it was a bit overwhelming at times, but reflecting back a week later, there were some things that stuck pretty well. I really liked the session on genrefying the fiction section as this is a topic I’ve been curious about the relevance of doing this in a library; but based off the statistics and advice I heard in this session, I think it is certainly worth a try. Learning how significant primary sources can be when beginning the research process from a former Library of Congress librarian imprinted the notion that it is so important to ensure our students care about the work we ask them to do so it can be their work, not ours. Another session also uses the same LOC photos idea, but these two fun, creative librarians shared a lot of wonderful ideas for integrating more hands-on, critical-thinking activities like learning stations and research products using green screen technology. Lastly, there was the idea of taking students on virtual field trips via websites with video tours of locations (like the Sistine Chapel or the human body); a great idea for those days when there’s school-wide testing or the last days of schools.

Again, I’m not a librarian-yet, but attending this VAASL Conference has really inspired me to look forward to the day when I can implement the various things I’ve learned this past week. If the future conferences are anything like this one, I look forward to my future as a librarian and as an attendant.

A big thank you to Longwood University Graduate Studies for providing a travel grant so I could learn more about the career I can’t wait to start thanks to opportunities like this and of course my absolutely wonderful professors in the School Librarianship Program (as pictured).

VAASL Conference 2015

20151120_074758I attended my very first (of hopefully many!) VAASL Conference in Williamsburg, VA. The atmosphere was upbeat and contained so much information that my mind is still reeling!! The speakers were professional, prepared, and entertaining (the Keynote Address was amazing)! The technology-based sessions were full of useful interactive tools, apps, and websites that can be integrated into the curriculum. I learned about the safe, non-tracking, search engine, DuckDuckGo, and have already begun singing its praises at my school. Additionally, the real-life examples shared were so intriguing I have been sampling Kahoot! quizzes, making interactive ThingLinks, and have been investigating all that Skype Virtual Field Trips have to offer. The session I attended titled, “What’s New in Children’s Literature” was an incredible, fast-paced showcase of amazing picture books, which allowed a sneak peek into the text layout, and they even provided connections to the VA SOLs. There was a session on book repair where I got to learn first-hand from professional librarian’s how it is done when you are on your own with minimal funds. I was also fortunate to attend one of the my professor’s sessions. Dr. Audrey Church presented to a standing room only audience on the “Top Ten Topics and Trends for 2015”.   I received a plethora of resources on a wide –range of topics, including coding, stations, and diverse books. Being able to network with librarians was such an incredible opportunity – everyone I spoke with was eager to provide me with answers and guidance. I cannot wait to attend again!



vaasl3This weekend I attended the Virginia Association of School Librarians annual conference in Williamsburg, VA where I got to hear a variety of different professionals from around the state give presentations on tips, strategies, and best practices on a wide range of different topics surrounding school librarianship. I had two favorite sessions: one presented by Rachel Grover from Fairfax County Schools about making your library an essential part of the school by getting teachers and students in the door and spreading the word about your successes through data collection and social media, and one presented by Longwood’s very own Audrey Church on the top ten hot topics in the world of school libraries this year with a great collection of resources on each for further investigation. The experience left me feeling inspired about my future as a librarian and gave me so many innovative ideas that I’m excited to try out once I have my own library. The best part of the conference, though, was the sense of community and collegiality that seems to exist among the librarians in our state; everyone was friendly, supportive, and eager to share ideas for improving and advocating for the library programs in our schools.

VaASL 2015

This year’s VaASL conference was very well-organized and informative.  Highlights of the conference were keynote addresses from Margaret Willison, pop culture guru, and Shannon Miller, an Iowa librarian who isn’t afraid to try anything and has a passion for the students and teachers with whom she works, and the Friday night author banquet with Maggie Steifvater, author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, who kept us in stitches with her 8-chapter life story.  They were each very entertaining and approachable. I learned something from each session I attended, including amazing websites from Heather Moorefield-Lang, Karla Collins, and Audrey Church, that I will share with students and teachers at my school. Other topics that will help me improve our library were about diverse book selections, how to host a poetry slam, handling 1:1 implementation, teaching summarization, and making over your website.  I even learned a lot from visiting various vendors (Alexandria, Follett, Mackin, Worldbook, Gale Cengage, and Library of Virginia) in the exhibitor hall. I will definitely attend next year’s conference in Norfolk!



20141108_120056I attended the VAASL Conference in Roanoke, Virginia.  It was an exciting and educational weekend.  This was my first professional conference and was impressed at the choices that were offered to me.  I started my weekend with reviewing positive behavior management in the session, “Are you spending to much time on discipline?” The presenter went over core beliefs that are the basis of positive behavior management.  One belief that made a particular impact on me is that caring is key.  I have found this to be super important in the classroom and I am interested in how a librarian shows kids that she cares when she sees most students for a very brief time.

Next I learned about good picture books to use with older students.  I was introduced to Patrol by Walter Dean Myers.  This gripping, suspenseful and thought provoking story is done in a picture book format but is definitely not appropriate for anyone below middle school.

I also learned a lot in “Family Reading Night:From Hot Mess to Big Success.” The presenter had great ideas that I can’t wait to try.  I learned about some great tools in “Using Web 2.0 Tools in Your Library”.  Lastly I gained a ton of resources from Dr. Audrey Church’s session, “Top Ten Topic and Trends”. I look forward to attending The VAASL Annual Conference again next year.

VAASL 2014 in Roanoke, VA

IMG_4702I enjoyed attending this year’s VAASL Fall Conference in Roanoke, VA, and experiencing the professional rejuvenation of participating in conversations with talented librarians and students from around the state, listening to inspirational presentations by master librarians and published authors, and thinking about how the information applies to my studies. Some of the highlights included:

  • Learning about technology and free programs that can be implemented within the library and classroom to enhance student experience
  • Dr. Church’s “Top Ten Topics and Trends” – how one person can speak so quickly and cover so many amazing topics in such a short time is beyond me. Simply incredible!
  • Spending time with Longwood students and faculty!

VAASL 2014 Conference

1106140822Farmer Minor and his precious pets were a hit in the Exhibitor Hall of the hotel. A good cup of coffee and a doggie kiss first thing in the morning…it doesn’t get much better than that. This was my first stop on a whirlwind journey into The Heart of the School. There were so many things to see and hear I felt at times I needed another set of eyes and ears. It would be hard for me to choose just one thing as my favorite. I came away from EVERY session with new information, ideas and a passion for my job. The sessions were moving and inspiring producing laughter, tears and times of reflection.  The gathering of the Longwood alumni was a special time of making new friends. Thanks to all who gave their time, effort and energy to create an atmosphere of friendship, learning and fun. Thank you Longwood for making this journey possible.

Go to Top