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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Refresh Yourself

Summer Refreshers! One day workshops for the busy school library media specialist. Summer can be a time of limboland. Many school librarians I know sneak into their libraries to putter. I personally enjoy locking myself in my office and filing and reorganizing my vast files since I never take time from students to do it during the year. I spent time at the beginning of the summer cataloguing an entire cart of books so that I would have new and exciting titles for my teachers (and the brand new principal) during our first days of school inservice. I am reading several books a day. But what I really need to do each summer is engage in professional development activities with other school librarians.
Diane Chen, Darlah Carman, Nancy Dickinson at KSMA
Enter the Kentucky School Media Association’s Summer Refresher Readers Are Leaders. Nancy Dickinson and I journeyed to historic Bardstown, Kentucky for this one day workshop and it was a worthy trip. Nancy has blogged about this on the AASL Blog which everyone should be reading whether they are AASL members or not. I enjoyed every session and admired the expertise of each presenter who willingly shared with their colleagues. We met in a school so we didn’t have huge overhead costs and they fed us well without having to pay exorbitant conference center catering costs. (Do you KNOW how much that cookie or soda at a convention costs?!)

Diane Culbertson presented a session on the "Future of Technology and Continual Partial Attention Disorder". I was impressed with her ability to bring the big issues together to present understandably within her time slot. All of those are characteristics of great presenters.

Nancy Kelly Allen shared her presentation on "Weaving Words" giving us practical suggestions for integrating books into library lessons. I enjoyed learning the behind the scenes info on her books. My students hope that I have met every author and can tell them something unusual about each book in the library. Nancy had a simple handout "Why Have Author Nancy Kelly Allen visit my School?" which included the concept that "Authors have the ultimate literacy initiative.When a child meets an author, the child knows more about the book-the ideas behind the story, the inspiration for writing the story – than any book he/she has ever read." You can read more on her website

Becky Nelson ad Carolyn Lynch discussed the 2007 titles that impress them mid-year. I was excited to hear about Cynthia Kadohata’s book Cracker! the best dog in Vietnam. Having one son in training to be an animal care specialist for the army, I am very interested in military dogs. The dog on the cover looks so much like my own dog Marshall T. Rex. (T for teddybear) that I agonized about Cracker’s well-being throughout their booktalk. Fun list of new books.

I love the mix of practical and technical that occurs at a refresher course saving the great theoretic thinking for our conferences. Laura Smith Crafton presented "Let the Learning Begin" with library tips for the beginning of the school year. Melissa Gardner shared "Podcast, Wikis, and Blogs! Oh, My!" but unfortunately that school blocked nearly every site. This just fueled my belief that the librarians are the ones needing the override passwords to enable access. Here were a group of adults engaged in professional development activities but unable to access videos and blogs due to fear. (I’ll step down from my soap box now)

There were so many other sessions I would love to have attended. Terri Kirk presented her Great Reads for Teens. Christy Havens shared "What’s Involved with Having a Library Advisory Committee?" Peggy Phelan demonstrated the character P4 (P.P. Plagiarism Police) in uniform for her session "Plagiarism Police." There were booktalks on the new Kentucky Bluegrass Award nominees, sessions on using state resources with students, information on forming book clubs, a workshop on honoring our heroes, a session on Drama in the Elementary, I-Safe Internet Safety and much more.

I’d love to hear from other states that have similar summer programs. It is much easier to extract myself from feeding teenagers at home during the summer than it is to pry myself away from my classes during the school year. I love attending my TASL conference, AASL conference, and SLJ Vision Summit, but add in the days missed for ALA Midwinter, National Library Legislative Day, state legislative day, and local workshops as a partner with teachers and you’ll see why I am so concerned about choosing only the best, most necessary activities away from school. I know that each workshop I attend during the school year must have immediate benefit to my students, my school, and my profession. A summer refresher need only benefit me!  Thanks, Kentucky and thank you to Darlah Carman the KSMA president for inviting me. Kentucky has great things going on. Wonder just how much more will occur at the 2007 KLA/KSMA Joint Conference on September 19-22 in Louisville.