AASL National Conference Highlights

This past week I attended and presented at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 17th National Conference (http://national.aasl.org) in Columbus, Ohio.  This excellent professional learning event, titled “Experience Education Evolution,” provided me with the opportunity to meet with and learn from school librarians and educators of school librarians from across the nation.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and President of Curriculum Designers, Inc. (http://www.curriculum21.com) provided the opening keynote. It was encouraging to hear her confirm what school librarians have been advancing for many years – that the focus of education in the digital age should be upon literacy, not technology.  We need to keep the focus on pedagogy, teaching students how to access, select, curate, and create information. Technology should then support rather than drive these actions within the curriculum.
  • A panel of administrators, including award-winning superintendents, from Follett’s Project Connect (http://www2.follettlearning.com/projectconnect/) shared what administrators need and expect from school librarians and their library programs. They shared the following valuable and compelling advice:
    • School librarians are the glue that makes a school a community
    • The most critical hire a new principal can make is a school librarian, and it should be the first hire he or she should make
    • 1:1 programs are too complex for one person to manage – the librarian is indispensable to the strategic vision of these types of programs
    • School librarians naturally possess the skills needed to advance digital learning – they are experts at content curation, using technology, project based learning, and authentic assessment; they are ready and able to take on the work
    • Librarians are instructional leaders and collaborators who should be planning with their principals
    • We should start using the term “future ready” instead “of 21st Century Learning” given that we are now 15% into the 21st Century
  • Eszter Hargittai, sociology professor and researcher at Northwestern University, shared her research (http://www.webuse.org/) on the social and policy implications of digital media for the closing keynote. Her presentation focused upon dispelling the myth of the “digital native” by demonstrating how young people often ineffectively and inappropriately use the Internet.  As with Ms. Jacobs’ presentation, it was refreshing to hear another voice from outside the library world confirm the need to provide students with ongoing instruction in how to effectively evaluate digital resources.
  • My presentation (concurrent session), entitled “The Digital Revolution: Teacher Librarians and Mobile Learning,” focused upon communicating how the teacher librarian can and should lead the charge to increase student engagement and achievement and transform teaching and learning via a blended learning environment. This presentation is based upon my experience in implementing a 1:1 program and collaborating with teacher librarians currently working in 1:1 environments.  A copy of the presentation is available here:  msmelalew.com/presentations.
  • Regarding school library advocacy:
    • Scholastic released an updated version of School Libraries Work! – a publication that highlights the research that demonstrates how school libraries positively impact student achievement. A copy of this report can be downloaded at scholastic.com/SLW2016.
    • Free packs of the print edition of “School Libraries Transform Learning” and the “School Library Programs Improve Student Learning” brochures are available at alastore.ala.org/aasl (supplies are limited). The electronic versions are available at www.ala.org/aasl/transforming and www.ala.org/aasl/advocacybrochures.
    • Please support #SchoolLibraries in the ESEA re-authorization! Tell Congress to maintain the S.1177 library provisions! cqrcengage.com/ala