SCASL Conference Reflections

Today ended the SCASL conference that I attended in Columbia, SC. It is always a rewarding experience, as being a librarian makes you a singleton in your building most of the time, so what fun and excitement all of us like minded people can have when we are all together. There was never a dull moment. Here I am setting up my Exploratorium booth and getting ready to show and tell Flickr and SCASL Blogs!

Columbia was warm and sunny the whole conference (March 12-14, 2008) and I rekindled old friendships and made some new ones.

Fondest memories:

Sitting with Susan Henley and Camillia Harris (from Charleston School District) in Larry Johnson’s pre-conference session was so much fun–We talked almost through the whole presentation! But I had my laptop so we were pulling up the links to things he was talking about, so it was somewhat related. He never seemed to get annoyed with us, but I do think we were a tad distracting. Apologies Larry!

Eating dinner @ California Dreaming with Heather Loy and Mary (from Busbee Elementary). Although the three of us come from different school levels–Heather is from a high school, Mary from an elementary school, and I am from middle–each of us seem to face a lot of similar issues in our libraries.

Sitting through Joyce Valenza’s sessions were probably the highlight of the conference. She is leading with such an awesome example of what a true 21st century teacher librarian should look like, and I have set her as my own personal role model of what I want to be. I just want to thank Joyce for raising that bar SO high. One of my friends made fun of me for sitting on the front rows of the sessions Joyce gave. I just asked isn’t that what all kiss-ups do? But I truly wanted some of her knowledge & wisdom to touch me, if not physically, than spiritually from her aura. I don’t know why, but I felt the need to be right there. I think Joyce may have been surprised at the lack of knowledge on 2.0 tools, and she even fretted to some of us after her first session that perhaps she needs to slow down or chunk some of the content for easier digestion. I said no, please keep the bar raised high so our state librarians will know what they need to work towards. Note to Joyce: While there may have been fear in some eyes as you presented, there was a spark that we need to fan into a fire on utilizing today’s tools to engage learners. Many came to my session just thelp them understand better, and I thank you for that.

The SCASL Bag Fashion Show was a hoot-and yes, I participated. I hope to get more of the pictures posted and Ida Thompson’s rather funny diatribe that was read as we walked the fashion runway!

Supper at Damon’s with Julia Davis, MaryAnn Sansonetti, and Chris Craft was a delightful way to end the day, and we have some plans underway–watch for them to be revealed soon. Collective wisdom is awesome.

After two full days of “sit and get” style presentations, I was worried about my own presentation on RSS Feeds. I returned to my room Thursday evening set on revamping my preso, removing the little text that I already had in it, and retooling it to be less like the “sit and get” sessions I had been in the two previous days. I tried hard to come up with interactivity, but never could formulate a plan that I thought would work. So I decided to turn to my network. I asked for shout outs at the beginning of my session, asking Twitter to greet my group and tell how they use RSS. I had 24 tweets to share, and I used them to start and finish my session. I was dumbfounded to realize that Joyce Valenza herself and Kathy Shrock, both of whom have been at SCASL before, and both in my reader’s “expert” folder, tweeted to my group. (Joyce had already returned to PA, but sent warm wishes and thanks for the fun she’d had in SC the day before.) I also got a skype chat from Tim Van Heule while presenting, which was rather funny b/c he did not know I was in the middle of my preso. Really cute and funny, and it went something like this:

Tim Van Heule
Sessions already? 8:13 AM

Cathy Nelson
ready 8:13 AM
hi Tim Van Heule 8:13 AM

Tim Van Heule
What’s going on, Cathy Nelson? 8:13 AM

Cathy Nelson
in the middle of a presentation 8:14 AM

Tim Van Heule
Ah… Fun… leaving you to it. 8:14 AM

Cathy Nelson
bye 8:14 AM

My audience got a real kick out of the fact that I briefly chatted (using Skype chat as a text) with Tim. Since I had Skype open there was no disregarding it, so I just pulled it in as part of my preso! I had arranged to get Dennis Richards of Massachusetts to skype in, so instead of waiting for him to call (which is why i had Skype open) I just went ahead and called him. He was at the ASCD Conference in New Orleans. Using wireless on a conference connection is risky business indeed, too, but I forged ahead. It was a stop and go call, but Dennis did a fabulous job telling all how we knew each other from networking with the tools. He introduced himself as a school superintendent in his area, catching many LMS’s there off guard to know that a supt was using the tools as well. He shared that he had only been using RSS since last summer, but now thinks a whole new way about learning, particularly personal learning, now that he uses RSS. I didn’t drag out the conversation long since it was choppy, but do feel I left a strong impression about how RSS can help you develop a PLN (professional learning network) to grow and learn. In the mix I had the RSS in Plain English video as well as a video interview of Will Richardson where he spoke to the fact that educators must first learn the tools themselves before tryng to use them in school with kids. I also showed a short segment of an archived Ustream that Dennis Richards had on his blog where Sheryl Nussbaum Beach is talking about how a network can supplement your learning, and it was form the day before at her keynote at the NCAET Conference no less, going on simultaneously with SCASL–just about 175 miles up the road. Read about her keynote, and even view it here. I hope today I did teach how RSS can play a lead role in professional development, and I think I embodied the example of taking advantage of generous people in my network who helped me out. I thought this was one of the best presentations I have ever done. Of course, I’m biased too.

My audience seemed receptive to my message and now I have a TON of homework to do. I promised all the links I used would appear in the presentation link of this blog, and so I must set out to create that. I also have a 3-hour workshop to prepare for Monday. Am feeling very swamped!!

4 Responses to “SCASL Conference Reflections”

  1.   Dennis Richards Says:

    It was fun being able to say hello to your participants today. What your readers may not know is that I was notified by Google Alerts through an email that my name was used on the internet in your blog. That tool facilitates communication in that I then was able to read your post and leave this comment. Thanks for the invitation. Dennis

  2.   Cathy Nelson Says:

    Dennis I did ping your blog, but the blogger platform doesnt seem to handle pings very well, and leaves it up to the google alerts to let you know. Thanks again for skyping in. Ive had MANY compliments on the preso today, and I have to give you credit too! Thanks again. PS–loved the article you shared the other day. When does it go to publication again?

  3.   Dennis Richards Says:

    Hi Cathy,

    If you have any resources on the presentation, I’d love to see them. Glad your session was well received. Doesn’t surprise me given you passion for the topic.

    Perspectives, the journal the article will be in, is at the printers now. Should go out soon. I will post on it when it does.



  4.   Tim Van Heule Says:

    Ah… you mentioned me in your post… I feel super cool.


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