Aug 28, 2018

Sharing Summer Conference Learning: Reflections of Grant Wood AEA Teacher Librarians

Blog post authored by Lynn Kleinmeyer

Even though school may not be in session, summer doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop. In fact, it’s a great time to be able to attend conferences. And this summer was a certainly chock-full of learning opportunities. Although schedules and budgets don’t always allow, several Grant Wood AEA librarians were able to take advantage of summer learning opportunities, attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Iowa Association of School Libraries (IASL) and American Library Association (ALA).

Realizing that it’s impossible to attend all the conferences (or even conference sessions) that one would like, I thought it would be wonderful to be able to share our learning with each other.

On Aug. 6, a small group of teacher librarians gathered at to share their Summer Conference Learning notes and highlights.

A small group of teacher librarians gathered to share Summer Conference Learning notesKristi Harper, library coordinator for Iowa City Community School District, shares her conference learning with other GWAEA teacher librarians.

Below are some featured guest reflections of their conference highlights:

Kristi Harper (Library Coordinator, ICCSD): ISTE Highlights

Like most first-time ISTE attendees, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the conference. I spent much of the first day finding my way around the convention center and getting shut out of full sessions. By the second day I had a game plan: arrive at sessions early and have a couple of geographically-strategized back-ups selected in the event of another shut-out. It went much better after that!

One of many great sessions I attended was a panel with the authors of the “Digital Age Librarians” books published by ISTE.

Diana Rendina, who wrote "Reimaging Your Library Space," emphasized the importance of rethinking how we use our space (which, by the way, fits in nicely with the Future Ready Framework). She encouraged us to get ideas from all types of institutions, including public libraries and museums, from students, and even from Pinterest.

Nikki D. Robertson, the author of "Connected Librarians," gave me my biggest “light bulb moment” of the conference. She pointed out that we should model the professional use of social media instead of expecting students to automatically become good digital citizens once they join the social media world. One classroom management model that Nikki uses is teaching an information literacy lesson to a small group while providing center work for the rest of the class. The small group will often take pictures of their classmates for Nikki to post to social media.

Colette Cassinelli wrote "Inspiring Curiosity" with grades 6-12 in mind, but she said that her ideas can be adapted for any level. In the book she focuses both on collaborating with classroom teachers and on creating inquiry-based research projects based on memorable events. In January the next book in this set will be available.

"Leading from the Library" by Shannon Miller and William Bass (the new ISTE president) will address how teacher librarians can be leaders both within and outside their school buildings.

I’m looking forward to reading all four!

Connie McCain (Lucas Elementary, ICCSD): IRA/IASL Highlights

I was preparing for a session about diversity in the library collection when I came across two websites that I have used several times already. Social Justice Books is an amazing resource! Their themed booklists provide librarians with books that have already been screened for sensitivity to the topics they address. There are book reviews that examine books from many angles, bringing attention to implicit or outright bias that we may not identify ourselves as we look at books through our own personal lens of experience. The articles on this site cover topics from selecting anti-bias materials to teaching kids about race. Similarly, I’m Your Neighbor allows librarians to find books by setting, theme, or community. You can also browse by intended audience age. The books are current (way current - as in summer of 2018 publication dates!) and are arranged with the most recent publications listed first. Plus, they have a cool graphic that you can purchase as stickers or on clothing! I hope you enjoy browsing these resources and find them as useful as I have.


Chelsea Sims (South East Junior High, ICCSD): ISTE Highlights

I came away from ISTE will so many new ideas, tools, and connections, but the most inspiring thing I learned about was the Build a Better Book project from University of Colorado Boulder. This group is working to connect middle school and High school students in makerspaces to build tactile, accessible “books” for young readers with a variety disabilities. In its simplest form, this means adding Braille stickers to picture books and outlining illustrations with puff paint. As students innovate further, this could mean adding in circuits, 3D printing, audio features, or re-defining what mean by “book” in the first place. I was thrilled to think about connections my own students could make when creating something with empathy for an authentic audience. The possibilities are vast, and I can’t wait to connect with this organization further to learn more.


Lynn Kleinmeyer is a Digital Learning Consultant with Grant Wood AEA, where she works to support school librarians. Prior to joining the Digital Learning Team, Lynn served as a K-5 teacher librarian. Reach out to Lynn with questions or suggestions at or @THLibrariZen.