VSLA Conference 2015

On October 17 I headed to Thatcher Brook Primary School (K-4) in Waterbury, Vermont for the Vermont School Library Association conference. It was a great day with a small but talented group of school librarians from around the state, from the elementary level to secondary level.

The first session was led by Linda McSweeney, a former president of VSLA. Instead of talking at us, however, she had us go on “speed-dates” with the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) top web sites and apps of 2015. As we perused each resource, we ranked our impressions and thoughts and considered how we would use it in class or who we would recommend it to in our buildings.

I didn’t get a chance to look at all of the resources, unfortunately, but I looked at a bunch and some really stood out. One was called BeenPod, a tool you can use to organize web pages. Each “been” holds several “pods”, or links to websites. This would be invaluable as a student organized resources for a research project and would make writing a works cited page much easier. Another I quite liked was Booktracks, where students can upload their writing and set it to music. There were two great STEM resources that were absolutely incredible, BioDigital Human (which displays a model of the human body and highlights different systems and conditions that occur in the system) and PhET which has several models and games for science and math concepts. I learned so much and can’t wait to share these resources with staff!

During an “unconference” time, I met with a librarian from South Burlington and talked to her about the Red Clover Award and projects to go along with this year’s nominees. I also learned about the Global Read-Aloud Project, something I am considering suggesting for next year where students can read and collaborate with students all over the world on a selection of titles.

The last session was presented by Nancy Daigle, the librarian at Thatcher Brook. She talked about “dumping Dewey”(the Dewey Decimal System) in her K-4 library. Four years ago she switched to a new system called Metis, developed by librarians in New York. This system uses the letters of the alphabet to categorize books instead of decimals-which many students don’t learn until the 4th grade! Each letter corresponds to a different subject, and all of the books about that topic are shelved under that letter. “E” is animals, so, for example, a giraffe would be shelved under “E Giraffe.”

She says that this is more intuitive for the kids and that it is much easier for them to find materials in the library. She also says circulation of previously-uncirculated titles has improved–kids are finding poetry in the “animal” section and checking it out, etc! There were many challenges, too, and the process can get expensive if you use Metis’ labels and signage– but if you improvise, it could work on the cheap.

I enjoyed myself at this conference and learned about so many great resources. I can’t wait to have more librarian time at my district’s librarian inservice this Friday!

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