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DEADLINE APPROACHING! First-Time Attendee Scholarship to AASL

Time is running out to apply for the First-Time Attendee Scholarship to AASL, so don’t delay!  As a past recipient of this award (2011 in Minneapolis), I can assure you that you are in for a real treat.  Was it overwhelming?  Yes, but totally worthwhile!  Attending the NCSLMA conference each year is always so refreshing to me.  I come back to my school motivated and inspired.  Having the opportunity to attend both our state conference and the national conference in the same month a couple of years ago--I thought I would explode!  What a great way to network with school librarians from all over the country, share ideas, learn about new and innovative aspects of our field, reflect upon your practice...there is nothing else like it.  I am no professional author stalker (I need to take lessons from Sarah Justice) but I certainly took advantage of the numerous opportunities to meet and hear from so many of my favorite authors.  The exhibit hall goes on and on, and of course there are lots of freebees.  After exploring this year’s conference website, I am jealous of the lucky winner of this award.  So “Rise to the Challenge” and apply today!

To be considered for this opportunity, please complete this form & submit it no later than August 15, 2013. A committee will review all applications, make a selection, and notify the recipient no later than August 19, 2013. Once notified, the recipient is expected to register for AASL before the deadline for early bird registration ends on August 22nd. Applicants who were already planning to attend AASL and have already preregistered are also eligible for this scholarship.

~Jenny Umbarger, Media Coordinator at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham

Turning the Page in Minneapolis: Day Two

Editor's Note:  Jennifer Umbarger is the Teacher Librarian at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, NC and was the winner of the this year's NCSLMA's "First Time to AASL" Scholarship.  She will be blogging about her experiences as a first time attendee at the only national conference for school librarians.

Today was Librarian Lollapalooza for me!  I had scoped out some of the author autograph sessions, but lucked out as I happened upon many others...some at which they gave out free books!  This lineup of rock stars included Joan Bauer, Roland Smith, Laura Elliott, Pete Hautman and a few more new authors.  I even had my picture taken with Captain America and Darth Maul (my 8 year old son is jealous, and my husband thinks I am at a Star Wars convention).

I started my day off with a good session on assessment recommended by Kelly Brannock (she was familiar with the presenters).  I am eager to try the strategy of video interviews to assess students' learning and get their feedback on the research process in a collaborative project coming up next month.

Due to my paparazzi-mode author hunt, I was a tad late to the next session.  This meant several of the sessions I had listed on my personal agenda in the conference planner app were full.  This was a blessing in disguise, as I was fortunate to hear Tom Angleberger and Nora Baskin talk about "Authors and Autism".  I feel like Tom and I are old friends, after recently seeing him at NCSLMA and having him visit our school last spring.  Of course I missed both of them at their signings :-( Food for thought from these superstars:

Nora: Sympathy or Empathy?  Tolerance or Acceptance?  We shouldn't by sympathizing and merely tolerating those who have differences, but empathizing and accepting...and teaching our students the same!

Tom: His "superpower" is the constant stream of words in his mind.  We should encourage kids with this same superpower to get the words down on paper.  He commented on how he used his "disability" to his advantage when he had writing assignments in school.

Although my school district has not adopted a district-wide research model, I have been working with our teachers and students on the Big 6 method.  The next session I attended provided insight on a new method: the ASE model.  ASE is the "information detective" and the acronym represents both the process (Analyze, Search, Evaluate) and the method by which it was developed (Asking Students about their Experiences).  While the actual process is similar to that of the Big 6, it is an easy to remember, easy to use strategy, according to the presenters.

The final session of the day I attended dealt with a specific example of collaboration that incorporated 21st Century Learning Standards for authentic learning.  Students gained a better understanding of the 20th century by interviewing seniors and creating videos of their findings.

The highlight of the day was by far the author dinner (after a little wining and dining courtesy of ABC-CLIO).  Pat Mora started the evening reading from some of her books and encouraged us to celebrate childhood and bilingual literacy during "El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros.  (Sorry, I haven't figured out how to insert the symbols on pages yet.).  A few thoughts from her that stuck with me:

We cannot have a democracy without literacy.

We have books in our home and we are at home with books.

Andrea Davis Pinkney followed and invited us to all close our eyes for a couple of minutes and focus on what makes us happy.  This is how she starts each day, with 30 minutes of quiet meditation on what makes her happy, before she begins to write.  She discussed the "myth of genius", but that really all we need is "just the pen and the freedom to write anywhere, even on a flip-flop".  Yes, she showed the flip-flop on which she made notes once during her daily swim at the YMCA when she forgot her notebook.    She read from her new book Bird in a Box and shared with us her process for writing the book, which included boxing lessons.

Joan Bauer stole the show.  She was so captivating with her speech and weaved through the tables as she shared the following words of wisdom:

You don't have to wear a cape to be a hero.

Humor is the voice of an overcomer; victims don't laugh.

I help kids find the hero that they have inside.

I was a punk--slouched, head down, but my heart was open and I with my teachers knew that about me.

A great end to the second day of the conference!

Turning the Page in Minneapolis: Day One

Editor's Note:  Jennifer Umbarger is the Teacher Librarian at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, NC and was the winner of the this year's NCSLMA's "First Time to AASL" Scholarship.  She will be blogging about her experiences as a first time attendee at the only national conference for school librarians.

Let me start this first post with a disclaimer: I am not a blogger!  In addition to the fact that I am new to the conference scene, I am new to blogging.  Sure, I utilize blogs with my students, and even have a blog of my own that I created as part of a technology challenge in our district.  But it has not become a habit for me.  As with everything, we improve with practice.  I don't anticipate becoming an expert blogger over the next few days, but I do hope to feel more comfortable sharing my thoughts, to stop wondering "who cares what I have to say?", and perhaps even have a new habit.

I can sum up my first day in one word: overwhelming!  I imagine this will be a running theme throughout the conference, but I'll just take it one day at a time.  

After winding my way through the skywalks from the hotel (great idea to be able to get virtually anywhere in the downtown area without even stepping foot outside!), I checked in at the conference registration desk and received a nice bag to add to my collection.  I figured this would be the first of many tote bags to come.  Prior to arriving, I had attempted to be organized and involved: downloaded the conference planner app and even added items to my agenda on the app; read and reread the article in Knowledge Quest "Conference-Going Strategies, Redux" (but still managed to forget the pre-printed mailing labels); and joined the Ning, just to name a few.  I was surprised to find that it was difficult to access all of these great tools.  Other than the Internet stations in the lobby of the Convention Center, we were informed in the program booklet that "free wireless access is based on a finite number of users, so please be considerate of other users and limit your time on the wireless network to 30 minutes per session".  Of course I could purchase access for a mere $14.95 per day.  I was reading this after finding out that there was a charge for Internet at the hotel as well.  Really?  I can go to my local Red Roof Inn and get free wireless for my $70/ night stay!  Ok, I'll stop.  Thank you for letting me vent!  (I can't promise this won't come up again, though!)

Anyway, I was finally able to access my email and verify the time that I would be meeting up with our very own Jennifer Northrup to watch her receive the Follett Challenge award.  Congrats to The Candid Librarian for winning $15,000 for her entry on "History Our Way" (  This announcement and celebration took place at the same time as the opening session, but from what I heard, I was  better off toasting Jennifer and the other winners with a little bubbly!

The next two hours were spent wandering aimlessly around the exhibit hall trying to enter every drawing and grab up all the freebies, followed by another hour of aimless wandering trying to find somewhere to eat.  I returned to the hotel, debriefed a bit with my great roommate Kelly Brannock, and tried to develop a plan for day two.  I am sure I still had a glazed-over look as my head hit the pillow--from being overwhelmed, not the champagne:-).

--Jennifer Umbarger

Jessica Harden Moore Wins Gale TEAMS Award

Jessica Harden Moore, NCSLMA Communications Section Chair and media specialist at Winter Park Elementary in Wilmington, NC, and a second grade teacher at her school just won the Gale/Library Media Connection Teams Award for their collaborative project with 9 second graders and all 4 of the other specialists at Winter Park.

It all started with a single child's interest in a book and ended with the incredible digital story you can view at Jessica and the second grade teacher have already presented The Lost and Found of Sabrina twice in New Hanover County and taught a workshop on enrichment groups at a summer institute. They will be presenting again at the North Carolina School Library Media Association's annual state conference in October. 

Jessica and the second grade teacher will be accepting Gale's award on behalf of the enrichment team at the American Association of School Librarians in Minneapolis, MN on October 28. Three awards are given annually, one at each level - elementary, middle and high. Along with the award, they will receive a check for $2500 and an additional $500 in Gale products. 

Click on the link above and view this incredible example of collaboration. It is truly worthy of this national recognition. This is what teaching is all about!

Thanks to Jessica's mom, Patricia Harden, media specialist in Wake County, for sharing the good news!

Deanna Harris, NCSLMA President 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 8:11 AM

NC-to-DC Adventure: Day 4

It's day 4 on my great NC-to-DC adventure and it's been non-stop meetings, sessions, and chances to network with some great school librarians from around the US and the world.

Yesterday was a morning-long meeting at AASL's Affiliate Assembly where we discussed concerns and commendations from across the U.S. This morning I had the special opportunity to attend a meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan talked about the dire economic decisions facing school districts now and said it was imperative that we make our voices heard and tell our stories loudly and clearly. I'll post more about this meeting later when I have time to collect my thoughts and decipher my quickly typed notes! The meeting ended on a perfect note with AASL President-Elect Nancy Everhart telling Secretary Duncan about the showcase of exemplary school libraries on her Vision Tour website of Outstanding School Libraries. (Check for our Gina Webster, of Walkertown Middle School in Walkertown, NC on that site!)

This morning I also attended a session on Collaborative Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension: Maximizing Your Impact led by Gail Bush, Liz Deskins, and Judi Moreillon. I was surprised and glad to learn that there is a toolkit of fabulous free resources available on the AASL website on how to collaborate in reading instruction. I'll post some of those links in a later post when I re-cap ALA10. I've been tweeting as time permits -- you can search for me on Twitter as kellybrannock or under the name of ncslma. Or, just search for the Twitter hashtag #ala10 to find all kinds of tweets on lots of activities here in DC.

Kudos are in order to our own Deb Christensen, past-president of NCSLMA, who has been appointed Director-Elect of Region 4 in AASL's Affiliate Assembly. I also have to give a shout-out to Evelyn Bussell, from Wake County Schools, who has been using her Flip camera to capture comments and reactions from school librarians about their experience here at ALA. I can't wait to see her finished product!

Tomorrow is Library Advocacy Day on Capital Hill and hopefully there will be thousands of us rallying at the Upper Senate Park, dressed in our bright red t-shirts and making lots of noise about the importance of libraries. If you can't be here in person to join the chorus, won't you add your voice by sending a message to your representative and Senators tomorrow? It only takes 5 minutes to email a message and ALA makes it easy for you by supplying talking points. Please check out the ALA site, put together a brief message, and email your message tomorrow. We're all in this together!

Kelly Brannock
NCSLMA President
connecting -- learning -- leading

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 9:55 AM

Hanging Out in Washington, D.C.

Kelly Brannock and I are braving the D.C. heat to represent you as your North Carolina delegates to the American Association of School Librarians Affiliate Assembly.

On Friday night, we met with other delegates across the country to discuss concerns brought to the AASL from the various regions. Region 4, which we belong to, was well represented and our two concerns were discussed by the assembled delegates. 

We both spent time in the exhibits on Saturday, talking with some of our favorite vendors and meeting up with fellow North Carolinians on the floor. 

On Sunday, we will meet again at AASL Affiliate Assembly and share our discussions with you via the blog and listserv!

If you're in D.C., we hope you're enjoying the conference and the D.C. sights! If you couldn't make it, we hope your friends are bringing you back lots of autographed books and free posters! 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 5:47 PM

Affiliate Assembly, Here We Come!

Kelly Brannock and I are headed to Boston this weekend to represent the association at AASL Affiliate Assembly at ALA Midwinter. The purpose of Affiliate Assembly is

" provide a channel of communication for reporting concerns of the affiliated organizations and their membership to the AASL Board of Driects; to facilitate discussion of activities and concerns of AASL as reported by the AASL president, Executive Direction and Board of Directors; and to report the actions of the AASL to the Affiliates. (AASL Bylaws, Article XI, Section 2.)"

As your representatives, we look forward to discussing the status of school libraries and media coordinators in our state with other delegates. As a member of Region 4, we will meet with delegates from Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Keep checking the blog this weekend for updates about what's happening with our national association and the issues that affect school libraries!

Deanna Harris, NBCT
NCSLMA President-Elect 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 1:52 PM

Hanging Out With a New Me

Who knew that going to Charlotte could be a life-changing experience? (Well, I suppose a few NASCAR drivers at the Speedway have seen their lives flash before their eyes!). I drove to Charlotte with plans to rev-up at the NCSLMA program, attend some cool sessions at AASL, pick up some freebies in the exhibit hall, catch up with old friends, and maybe enjoy some local cuisine. What I didn't expect was to start thinking big, and to begin seeing my professional life in a new way.

It all started during the opening session when I decided to log in to Twitter to follow the conversation @#aasl2009. I began by reading other people's tweets, and then I thought about the technology friend who'd introduced me to Twitter. I knew that she couldn't come to the conference, so I decided to start tweeting about what I was hearing as a way to connect with her and to share my learning. Surprisingly, the more I tweeted for her, the more engaged I became. Now I'll admit that I used to be an avid Twitter-basher, but in Charlotte I appreciated how Twitter prompted me to take charge of my personal learning, discover some exciting new sessions, hang out in the blogger's cafe (which, honestly, I would not have explored otherwise), and connect with some amazing people in our profession.

My metamorphosis continued . . . as I listened to leaders like Ross Todd, JoyceValenza, and David Loertscher, while I shared ideas with some inspiring new people during small group discussion, and when I started thinking about the library media center as a learning commons. I heard the words "ubiquitous" and "21st century learning" everywhere. Now these ideas have found a growing place in me.

I went to NCSLMA & AASL thinking about what I would get out of the conference, but I left thinking about what I still need to give -- both to my profession and to my students. It's a little scary hanging out on the edge of the future (to paraphrase Doug Johnson), but it's also an exciting time & place to be. I can't wait to see and experience what the next year brings!

One more thing -- 

connecting, learning, leading... you'll hear that theme from me this year as I peer out from the edge of our profession, looking squarely into the future. I invite you to join me out on the edge -- be a part of the conversation, hang out with me and with Deanna Harris (our new President-Elect), and get involved in NCSLMA, your professional organization. 

Kelly Brannock,
NCSLMA President 2009-2010 

Posted by Ms. Brannock at 4:29 PM