Conference notes, Part I: MELS Symposium

The month of March was a busy one for me in terms of professional development, which is saying something seen asMarch break took up half the month.

On Tuesday, March 19th, I attended the annual Symposium for  Secondary librarians working in English (now that I think about it, that is kind of a miracle in itself, given the political climate in our pretty province. However, I digress.)

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.03.55 AMNow, confession time. The last couple of times I have attended this particular event I have not left it with anything new, besides the benefit I get from talking to my peers (we school librarians are lonely little islands unto ourselves). I am pleased to say that this year was the opposite. It shook me out of my own complacency and made me eat some humble pie (it is so easy to get arrogant about our own knowledge – it is good to have one’s mind blown from time to time.) Ok, so maybe mind blown might be an overstatement, but I definitely left with new ideas, and a lot of things I want to try out.

The learning was not only in the content but in the platform they used to deliver us the material for the symposium. They used an app called guidebook:

photoIt was an excellent way to organize a meeting, now that I think about it. Above you see the schedule for the day. If you tap on a session, you will get all the info attached to it:


I also appreciate having all the info in one place as I am writing this two weeks after the symposium and, well, let’s just say there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza….

Guidebook is something we might want to try for any large staff meeting or PD events. Wait for it!

The morning sessions were very interactive- I really enjoyed seeing how a whole conference could work on a same google doc. It was a good reminder that the simplest uses of the iPad- using a google doc- is also one of the most effective. I wonder how many teachers use this for collective note-taking?

Poster session

Even the poster session contained something interesting ( I know, I know. I sound so jaded, don’t I?) If you come to the library, you will see I put up some posters about the inquiry process. There is a new website, put out by MELS and in English and French. It provides resources to help teach information literacy specially adapted to the Quebec curriculum. Here is a screenshot of the website:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.43.01 AM

I highly recommend you check it out. This will be very useful as I develop my Digital Citizenship tool kit for the staff! (what is that you ask? Well, that, my friends, is a whole post on its own. So wait for it. be patient. I know you can…)

Afternoon sessions

The last couple of hours were by far the most interesting. Here are a couple of things that struck me.

First was the online book club started by Lester B. Pearson Librarians:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.55.56 AM

They had an interesting model- each month the librarians would choose three books. The students interested in the club would vote on the one they wanted to read most. The winner would be the book discussed in next month’s meeting.They used the built-in poll  widget available through wordpress.

Then there were two very excellent presentations:

The first on building your own personal learning network. Now, I thought I was pretty good at keeping up with my profession – I follow blogs, I use Facebook and twitter for professional purposes, I RSS stuff, I… But still, Raphaella managed to introduce me to some tools I was not aware of. I also got a firsthand experience of how tweeting can work in a professional setting:

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.50.55 AM

Here are Raphaella’s slides:

Then the presentation that really set my mind a buzz- Gaming Strategies to Improve the Library Experience by Sandra Bebbington. Gaming strategies include using badges when students reach a certain level, giving points for achievements and leaderboards (though the last one wouldn’t work so well in a classroom setting…) Sandra added so many different links that provides interesting game strategy that my head is still spinning. Though most have a library focus, some have some cross-curricular interest.

The one that was especially interesting to me was the GAP project (Gaming against Plagiarism) from the University of Florida. Alas, they are in Flash so they don’t work on the iPad.

Seriously, check out her presentation- it is chock full of good stuff and ideas!

Apparently there is a game that overlays on your library catalogue- students get points every time they check out a different aspect of the OPAC. I am going to try and see if I can get it going- it would be a great way for the students to learn how to search for a book!

All in all, a very worthwhile day.



3 thoughts on “Conference notes, Part I: MELS Symposium

  1. Hello! This is Sandra I came across your blog post while Googling. Thanks for the kind words- I love using gaming in libraries! There’s so many great possibilities!

    I noticed you mention you are also working on digital citizenship and that you like the inquiry process site. I am the coordinator for both projects at the ministry – anglo sector. I encourage to check it’s our newest (not complete yet) toolkit. You will also notice the inquiry process site change in the next few weeks.
    If you ever want to connect, have questions or concerns feel free to contact me. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Digital Citizenship | ipadyoupad

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