Hello all! After a long day in Sturbridge, here's the lowdown of what I saw during the MSLA conference "Working Smarter."
Keynote: Michael Dahl
So after waking up at 5:30 this morning, and an hour and a half commute, Michael Dahl was the perfect way to wake me up. He's from MN, so bonus points there, and is a big supporter of graphic novels, so much like Lane Smith we're big friends. He works for Stonearch Books and has written several mystery books and a hi-lo series called The Library of Doom, which FYI looks fantastic. Most of his talk was about the influence of libraries and librarians on his life. How libraries "found (him), at the same time (he) was looking for it." He talked about how the amazing power of a story led to his future choice of career, and that books should always show that there was thought and effort behind them because kids can tell. Kids can pick up on the effort put in took to make it and it can increase their self-worth, and that librarians can guide them to those books. Dahl says that librarians help equate reading with pleasure, helping students plow through reading when it must be done for assignments.
"Save a librarian, save the world."
I then proceeded to a very informative and boring presentation on grant writing. It had some great tips on what to check for when writing a grant and what the funders are looking for when reviewing proposals. I would tell you more, but I don't want to put you to sleep. Let's just leave it at grant writing seems to take a lot of time and work.
I then went to Carol Kelly's presentation on bringing together digital storytelling and traditional literacy. She had some excellent points about teachers, students, and technology. Because teachers don't have the time to immerse themselves and specialize in technology they become scared of it, they incorrectly believe that students have a better grasp of it and then have lower expectations for the end product. Carol calls for a "return to standards for research reporting and revision, and use media for presentation." This would mean a complete change in perspective of technology and how we view the parts to things like Powerpoints. This presentation was extremely informative, and if you're a teacher I would strongly suggest looking at some of her suggested readings: Edward Tufte and Jason Ohler.
I got a bit antsy after a while and jumped ship and peeked in on two other sessions on the top 25 websites (which after 45 seconds I ditched out on) and building a literacy program. The ideas for the literacy program sounded amazing, but were based on a flexible schedule (I have a fixed) and so I left to go look at exhibitors and meet up with some people I had gone to graduate school with. It's pretty incredible to hear about where everyone is and their experiences off in the 'real world.'
I went to session, which kind of ended up being just one hour long book talk by Stephanie and Ralph Masiello about their upcoming book Mystic Phyles. A fictitious thirteen year old is given a mysterious assignment to research mythic beasts. The book is going to have a journal style format and the illustrations were GORGEOUS. I can't tell you how amazed I was by the entire style of the book, and how all the pieces seemed to come together to create an exceedingly engaging and visually complex (in a good way) book. It sounds crazy amazing, and a series that I won't be able to keep on my shelves. Ralph was kind enough to put me on his mailing list, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to review an advance copy.
I then went to Pat Keogh's booktalk, and man...does that woman have a lot of books she wants to talk through. I went to her session last year, and got some really great titles, but I have the same critique as I did last year: Pat, either speed it up or do less. It drives me crazy when she accidentally skips over titles or can't finish the list because she's already gone over the hour long session by fifteen minutes. Oi. Oh well, here's the PDF of her choices, and a ton of them look great. Check it out.
Overall I would have to say that I had a most excellent time. Great sessions, great people, and a little time off from school! All very pleasant.