Blog Archives

If you missed AASL 2011…there’s still time to learn and take action!

I just had the great fortune of traveling to Minneapolis to the attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference.  I’ve made it a professional goal for myself to attend this conference that occurs every two years because it’s an opportunity to network with librarians from around the world.  The aspect of the conference that I love the most is that there are so many ways to get involved with the conference as a whole whether you are attending in person or learning from afar.

Georgia Librarians @AASL Minneapolis/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

As the conference comes to a close, it’s not too late for you to connect with the conversations that were started in Minneapolis.  In fact, I think it’s necessary that you find at least one avenue to not only connect with the conversations from Minneapolis, but also use them to take action within your own practice, your school culture, and the education community as a whole.  It’s not an excuse to say, “My school doesn’t have funding to travel to Minneapolis”.  From the comfort of your own home, you can learn, reflect, and contribute well after the close of the conference.

The main message that I took away from AASL is that we are in a time of opportunity and transition.  Now more than ever, we must all take on a leadership role not only within our schools, but also within the education community and beyond.  We must be innovative, creative, and daring listeners, teachers, and collaborators.  We must harness the resources that are available in the world and work with our students and teachers to use these evolving resources to both consume information and create new content.  We must be transparent about the work that we do and digitally document our practice to not only support one another as librarians, but also to send a message to the world about the importance of our role as teachers in our profession.

What might you do to connect to the conversations at AASL:

1.  Download the new ebook School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, and What’s Yet to Come? which was crowdsourced by more than 50 authors.  I started reading the book on my flight to Minneapolis, and every essay spoke to issues that I am currently wrestling with in my own practice and in my district.  I love how each essay is short and concise and that I don’t learn who the author is until after I finish reading the text.  This book can be a springboard for current and future conversations about libraries.  However, it should be more than a springboard for conversation; it should be an invitation to take action and move forward with the transforming nature of our work.  Here are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me.

School Libraries: What's now? What's next? What's yet to Come?

“New technologies do not create or fill some new need; they allow us all to express needs that have existed for generations.” ~Sara Kelley-Mudie

“The only constant is change.  More than anything else, perhaps, that change is exemplified in the future librarian herself: a highly skilled teacher who is an instructional chameleon.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape.  Today’s students cannot afford to wait for the ‘future librarian’.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“I am a storyteller, information curator, database expert, extended essay supervisor, book group coordinator, wiki specialist, transliteracy coach, interdisciplinary-information literacy collaborator, approaches-to-learning leader, guided inquiry mentor, curriculum team member, open-access advocate, one-to-one and mobile device promoter, reading champion, and accreditation team member.” ~Beth Guorley

“We cannot simply support the curriculum anymore.  We cannot wait for people to see our worth.  Yes, part of our job is to support the staff and students, but we can also teach them and improve student learning directly.” ~Heather Hersey

“There is a good chance that the school librarian or library media specialist, as one of the school’s technology leaders, has the most organic understanding of how content and technology are most effectively co-mingled to the benefit of the student and to best help the teacher.” ~Evan St. Lifer

“What we cannot afford is to let students forget to love to read.  What we cannot afford is a generation of people who forgot how to think, to imagine, to care.” ~Jesse Karp

“Libraries should not shrink as physical collections shrink; they should grow as opportunities for collaboration and cooperative learning grow.” ~Len Bryan

“As we look to the future of school libraries, I see us as a run-on sentence of sorts.  People outside librarianship are often so anxious to box us in, to define us.  They want to apply their grammar to the library – a place that is, at its heart, artful, authentic, and inquiring.” ~Elizabeth Friese

2.  Join the twitter conversation by search for the hashtag #aasl11 and reading through the extensive documentation and reflection of hundreds of people attending in person and from afar.  Contribute to the conversation by adding your own tweets and responding to tweets.  Be sure to tag your new tweets with #aasl11 as well.

3.  View the wealth of slidecasts, wikis, and videos from the Learning Commons.  Sessions on topics such as the bookstore model, play in the library, inviting participation in the library, the image of the school librarian, iPad apps, advocacy, reimagining libraries, and more can be found on the pages of this wiki.

Andy Plemmons presenting on participation in the library/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

4.  Register for the virtual conference.  For as low as $99 for AASL members, you can get access to the recordings of the opening and closing sessions as well as 8 concurrent sessions.  You’ll also have access to the handouts and slidecasts uploaded by presenters of other sessions.  Some of the archived sessions include Buffy Hamilton’s Libraries as Sponsors of Transliteracy, Doug Johson’s Cloud Computing, a panel on what kinds of books we need in K-12 libraries, and Dr. Violet Harada’s Assessment in the library.

5.  Join the conference Ning.  Get connected with people who attended the conference, continue conversations from before/during/after the conference, and view feeds of tweets and photos from the conference.

In one of the sessions I attended, a leader within ALA stated that she would like to see all librarians being transformative, transparent leaders within the next 3 years.  How will you get connected and take action?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Jump-starting Teacher Technology Use

Over the past 3 years, I’ve built some incredible collaborative relationships with teachers at my school incorporating technology, information literacy, and great literature.  However, when I look at the school as a whole, there are still many teachers who are hesitant or unsure of how to dip their feet into the waters of using technology for student product creation.  I wanted to support the teachers by offering them a whirlwind tour of what I felt were the most likely technologies that they might explore with students during the year:  Photo Story, Glogster, Animoto, Wordle, Tagxedo, and Audacity.  I invited some of the teachers who I have collaborated with to be the leaders of 4 different sessions that all teachers rotated through.

Before the professional learning session, the lead teachers and I sat down to plan.  We each voiced our preferences about which technology we would share and what format we would use.  In the end, we decided that at each of our sessions we would show a final product so that teachers saw one possibility upfront before being bogged down by how the technology worked.  Then, we would walk through some of the basics of the technology and give teachers time to explore.  Finally, we wanted teachers to have a chance to brainstorm how the technology might be used in their units of instruction during the year.  I created a simple handout that was emailed to all teachers in advance of the professional learning session so that they could easily access the links we would use as well as have electronic notes that they could refer back to after the session or add-to during the session.

My principal allotted a 90-minute afterschool professional learning block, and we held the sessions in adjacent teacher classrooms for minimal transitions.  Each session was a fast and furious 20-minute block.  We grouped teachers by grade levels:  k-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, and resource teachers.  All teachers brought their own laptops and we provided any other technology needed such as digital microphones and webcams for the exploration phase.

As usual, some surprising things happened:

  • Most teachers were unfamiliar with the technologies that we explored
  • Teachers voiced their worries about clicking on the wrong thing or not knowing how to answer a student’s question, which surfaced a great conversation about how we don’t need to have all the answers.  We need to provide the space and tools for students to create and then we work as a community of collaborators to support one another.  I’ve had other students answer many questions for other students rather than all of the answers coming from me.
  • Even though teachers were overwhelmed with the beginning of school, they were buzzing with ideas and energy during the sessions
  • Several teachers approached me as soon as the sessions were over to talk about collaborating on projects
  • People found ways to use the technologies in their everyday tasks.  For example, my own paraprofessional has to do our daily email announcements.  She is going to highlight all of the announcements and paste them into either Wordle or Tagxedo and use that as an image at the top of the announcement to serve as a preview of some of the words people will see in the announcements.

I am so thankful to the supportive group of teacher leaders who helped me jump-start technology this year.  I feel like this session was a starting point for thinking about how technology can and should become a part of each grade level’s instruction.  Now as I talk with teachers about projects they will have a base of information to think about final products that students might create.  How have you been proactive in jump-starting technology use and collaboration in your school?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

Is there still a box?

In a recent Voya online exclusive super school librarian Joyce Valenza shared her “Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians.” I knew right away that I wanted to share what she had to say on the GLMA blog so I started to read to look for her most thought-provoking statement to use as the subject line. I ended up choosing the last item on her list of things school librarians should unlearn. Is your practice at the point where you are doing so many things differently that you really can’t identify the box you’re thinking outside of? That is a powerful idea!

Joyce’s article is full of great links to examples of the kind of practice that she identifies as non-negotiable for 21st century learners. 

The creator of this image (creative commons attribution) says it is a tornado on a “squared sky afternoon.” That seemed like a perfect match for Joyce’s powerful ideas!

Judi Repman, Georgia Southern University

Free Wednesday Webinar: The Social Library with Cliff Landis

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 10:00am

Join Cliff Landis as he talks about the ways social media has transformed the library users interact with each other, with the library, and with information. Cliff will also give timely advice on how libraries can use emerging social technologies to keep up with changing user needs. Participants in the webinar will learn how social network sites, microblogging tools, and free open source software can be used to perform outreach and proactive service via the social web.

This session is open to all librarians (school, public, academic, special)!



Cliff Landis is Web Services Librarian at Georgia State University. He is also a also a researcher, author and speaker on the role of emerging technologies in libraries, interpersonal communication skills, social network sites, user-centered service, assessment, and the co-evolution of humanity and technology. He has a diverse range of interests both within and outside of the library field, which help inform his unique perspective on the future of libraries.

Program Title: The Social Library

Date: Wednesday July 21, 2010

Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Location: Online – login instructions will be sent to registered attendees five days prior to event

Contact Hours: 1


The Wednesday Webinar Series is brought to you by the Georgia Public Library Service and the Georgia Library Association PACE (Professional and Continuing Education) Interest Group.


Library staff, trustees and friends

Certification contact hours:

1.0 contact hours. Submit the E-Learning Attendance Certificate form after attending the webinar.

For more info contact:
Pat Carterette:; Sarah Steiner: or Buffy
Submitted by Buffy Hamilton, School Librarian, Creekview High School

Web 2.0 Tools In Instruction: Sharing One Approach

One of the real challenges for educators at any level is keeping our focus on instructional challenges and not becoming tool-centric, where we just use Web 2.0 tools because they are cool and fun. BUT at the same time, we all need real experiences with Web 2.0 tools before we can begin to understand what new capabilities they bring to the table. One thing I am committed to is putting my school-librarians-in-training students more in charge of their own learning, which means we have to explore the tools both individually and collectively.

This summer I’m teaching an elective about using new tools to teach new literacies. The class is online so typically we’d use the discussion board included in the course management system a lot. To practice what I preach this summer I’m trying 3 new approaches.

The first approach was VoiceThread. In the first week of a two week activity, I built a list of 10 videos using LiveBinders and (I really wanted to compare the two tools). I  used SurveyMonkey and the students voted on the video they wanted to discuss in Week 2. “A Vision of K-12 Students Today” was the winner (technically it was a tie so I cast the deciding vote). I used zamzar to convert the video and put it in a VoiceThread. I provided some introductory comments/directions then each student added her own comment-check it out here!

For the next two weeks we moved into a collaborative online discussion of The Horizon Report K-12 using the comment/sticky note tools available in diigo. To me that was a logical next step in the thoughtful use of tools approach. Diigo allows a class to do some things that would be a real challenge to do in a traditional classroom.

Next week we’re really venturing beyond my comfort zone when we hold an article discussion using Twitter.

At the end of the semester I’m going to ask my students to reflect on each of these three approaches to see what each approach had to offer. I’ll share the results with all of you!

I also wanted to share my favorite new tool of the week, discovered by one of the students in the same class, Jog the Web. This nifty tool allows you to create a list of web sites on the fly, with the real bonus of being able to add comments/narration/instructions as you go. So far the class consensus seems to be that this is one of the most useful tools we’ve discovered this summer!

Judi Repman

Georgia Southern University