Tuesday, November 19, 2013

AASL 16th National Conference/Unconference First Timers Review

Flickr Unconference 2013 Group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/aasluncon/  
Please add your pictures from this event to the group.

November 14th through November 16th were the best three days of my entire 22 year career as an educator. Thanks to the Bound To Stay Bound Grant I was able to attend my first National Conference for the American Association of School Librarians.  

School librarians are often the only person in their schools that do what they do.  It was refreshing to be among so many of  "my people".  I started making friends right away, starting at the airport bus stop.

View more of my AASL 2013 pictures HERE

I came to realize that the heating and air issues I've experienced are not unique to just my school.  That budget woes plague many librarians across the country. Questions about how to best collaborate, Genrefication vs. Dewey, role as Professional Development leaders, are on the minds of school librarians everywhere.  

These issues along with a whole slew of other topics were discussed at length informally as well as in formal concurrent sessions. There were so many great concurrent sessions offered at the AASL 16th National Conference there was simply no way to attend them all.  I love that AASL recorded many of the sessions and have them available in the AASL’s eCOLLAB | Your eLearning Laboratory

Another much loved feature of the AASL 16th National Conference was the eLearnings Commons. The sessions offered here were a mix of formal and informal sessions.  The TL News Night Team also made an appearance and broadcast LIVE from AASL! We pulled Joyce Valenza, Matthew Winner & Tiffany Whitehead out of the audience, turned the cameras on the audience and gave a shout out to the Vermont School Library Association.

My favorite part of the entire conference, however, was the first ever AASL Unconference put together by the amazing Joyce Valenza. I was thrilled when Joyce asked me to be part of the planning team for this event.  I love the Unconference/EdCamp concept so much I co-founded EdCamp Atlanta.  

Even though the AASL Unconference was a late night event, we had so many in attendance we spilled out into the hallway.  The event started with a brief explanation of the participant nature of the Unconference/EdCamp concept.  Participants quickly filled up the session boards and we started the first round of sessions.  Discussion topics included Google Apps in the Library, Twitter, Research, CCSS, Copyright, Maker Spaces, Genrefication, Library Songs, etc.  

After the first round of sessions, Dan Callahan, co founder of the EdCamp Foundation, lead the group in a Rocks/Sucks Showdown.  The topic that got the most reaction was Genrefication vs Dewey.  For a moment, I thought we might have to grab the bouncer from the bar downstairs to help out!  Librarians are passionate about the arrangement of books! 

After the energetic Rocks/Sucks debates we began our second round of sessions. Topics discussed during this round included Augmented Reality, gaming, kindergartners doing research, ebooks, coffee cafes, etc. 

The night ended with my favorite part of  Unconference/EdCamp events; the SMACKDOWN! Anyone who wants to share a great lesson, app, website, etc has one minute to come to the microphone and share their great find.  There was a long line of participants ready to share. The great thing about an Unconference/EdCamp is that the learning and sharing continues long after the event.  Please feel free to add your own great finds to our SmackDown Google Presentation HERE.

Dhaivyd Hilgendorf ended the night with a song that he wrote as the Unconference took place making sure to incorporate all the fun we had.

Don't just take my word for it. Read the excerpts below and watch the videos for more reflections about the AASL 16th National Conference and the AASL Unconference.

My dear Peeps,
   At the expense of repeating what I've been effusively proclaiming in Tweets and other posts, the Unconference demonstrated to me, in a visceral way, that I have found my professional Peeps. This group was/is the bomb. The cathartic bomb that I needed to allow me to be myself in the context of my colleagues. You represent all that I stand for as a contemporary school librarian and technology integrationist. The Unconference felt like a turning point for me, helping me realize that I have something of special value to offer our profession, like the rest of you. My heart sings to have shared the experience with you, and I look forward to more creative collaborations in the coming years. 
   Hugs all around...and a few songs, too.

I very much enjoyed the experience! I have been so swamped with school stuff and professional "outside" school stuff, that I never even replied to the initial call for help, but I knew I could and WOULD support all efforts (Learning Commons; Unconference).  It just might serve as the catalyst to truly bring ASSL into the 21st century way of thinking! 

Late night or not, I stayed to the very end to show how important it was to me.  I made sure I contributed in every way a participant should, and i really think our own standing in that line and stepping up to the mic encouraged many to follow suit. FABULOUS evening so congrats to everyone. The Learning Commons was definitely full of activity too.  YAY.  

Hi Friends, 

I joined the AASL board a couple of years ago hoping that the organization could be invigorated by smart and energetic 21st century enthusiasts with fresh ideas about our profession and our practice. The "crowdsourced" parts of this conference - the eLearning Commons, and Friday's unconference converted my hope into reality. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, all!

HUGS! Lots of them!

TL News Night Team and Special Guest, Vermont School Library Association, shares their favorite parts of AASL 2013:

FLIPGRID responses regarding the power of informal learning: 

Please add your own reflections of AASL to this FLIPGRID here: http://flipgrid.com/#f478c511

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