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Category Archives: Events

My cup runneth over (feeling the pride)

Filling my cup

Three times a year, I spend the day outside of the library doing a non-librarian task that is meaningful to me personally and to our school’s community. I’m the faculty adviser for the school’s blood drives.

2016-10-20 09.46.32As a large city school district, we have the ability to host three drives a year: October, January, and May and collect about 100 units per drive which is amazingly powerful. A smattering of staff, but the majority of these units are donated by upperclassmen looking to help our community.

In my eight years of overseeing the drives, I have never had to ask students to step up to be the student volunteers nor have we ever had a lack of enthusiasm from staff and administration in supporting the drives. Everyone rallies to help whether it’s the PE department giving up their space for the day, teachers giving during prep time, and the students overcoming their fear of needles or first time jitters. No matter what happens, I always finish the day down a pint of blood but feeling full of Falcon pride.

These are the moments that reinvigorate me. There are days I feel like I’m only fixing printer issues or checking passes. Then there are days that I’m riding high on research questions and inquiry. Then there are the blood drives. What do other educators do outside of their regular duties that make them feel as fulfilled as what they do each day?

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This year’s three senior student volunteers and me (second from right). Photo courtesy of Jake Planck, communications for our district. 

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Posted by on January 13, 2018 in Events, Librarian Life, Miscellaneous

 

We all “gotnicced”

This post first appeared on the Times Union Books Blog.

NicStoneDearMartin

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @getnicced

When Albany High School collaborates with the New York State Writers Institute, magic always happens. It was like that in 2015, when Jason Reynolds came hot off the publication of the nationally-acclaimed All American Boys. Fast forward to 2017 and Nic Stone. A fresh-faced debut author whose book is on the short list for the Morris Award and whose book, Dear Martin, is another contemporary look at social injustice.

As she explained to an room of fans, students, educators, and community members at the New York State Museum’s Huxley Theater yesterday evening in their capstone event, she hopes people who read the book take away the message to think critically in a world too quick to tweet, overshare, and not consider the experiences of others. Likewise, her entertaining presentation included a captivating reading of the first chapter of her book along with diving in to social movements past and present, and then taking questions from the audience before signing books. She was personable and relaxed, letting the message of her book speak for itself while indulging the audience in revealing a bit about her next few projects (can’t wait!) Plus, she writes a kick-butt book personalizations that show she’s paying attention and has a style to die for, making mention of her boots she bought to prepare her for heading to the arctic tundra that is upstate New York (she grew up in Atlanta before spending three years living in Israel, then moved back to Atlanta where she currently resides with her husband and two children).

And it was a different, more personal feel for her visit to Albany High School in the afternoon. While events that have already been shared in the media did interrupt the presentation for a brief time, students’ appreciation for her style and brains had them chatting on Washington Avenue during the fire drill and picking up where we left off once we were back inside. The questions from the students ranged from personal to professional and all needed a picture with her before leaving, looking forward to reading the book if they hadn’t already. It’s evident that she is comfortable discussing the issues that her books bring up and does not shy away from sharing her thoughts and picking the brains of the teens on what they think. It’s again what she wants the message of the book to be, think about your perspective but learn from the perspectives of others.

I’m sure the same could be said for the conversation that occurred in the University at Albany class that she taught earlier in the day, making for a long day but fulfilling day with an up-and-coming author. That she shared she’s working on a middle grade novel and literary fiction makes it known that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon. The fact that the New York State Writers Institute grabs these authors as their stars ascend is magical and to be applauded with the hard work of staffers like Mark Koplik.

Therefore, if you haven’t yet followed the New York State Writers Institute and their array of events, do so now. Their collaborative style is beneficial to the greater community and the institutions that they partner with enriching us all. But especially when it comes to connecting students with authors for those of us who work with a teen population and want to continue to encourage a love of reading, learning, and exploring.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Authors, Blogging, Events, Young Adult

 

Lock-in love

Two times in one day? Yes, I’ll post twice if it matters and I’m sitting here way past my bedtime, writing about the library’s second lock-in. Though, this time we decided to change the scenery and work with our fabulous public library friends and host the lock-in after-hours in their space giving our high school students the opportunity to stretch their legs in their own backyards.

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With a few meeting and study rooms and two floors, our students were playing video games, watching a movie, playing card games, having dance parties, and (wait for it) sitting quietly and reading. Double points for the two girls sitting together and reading out loud to one another. I know, don’t you feel the library love when high school students who we are led to believe don’t read are sitting together and reading out loud? Several students got library cards. Some students interacted with others that they never would have in school. They played life-sized Connect 4 and some sat at the children’s tables and played chess. It was what they wanted to do, safely, and in a community space past most of the adult’s bedtime and they had a ball. The pizza and candy at the end didn’t hurt either.

Pictures were taken, memories were made because two entities decided to work together. Doesn’t collaboration look good? Two public librarians, two school librarians, and a few volunteers including parents and community members and it was a perfect Friday night in the library.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2017 in Events

 

Unforgettable!

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on professional learning and conferences.

Things just came together so nicely for this week’s #edublogsclub prompt about professional learning and conferences because I knew I would be away at one. Now that I’ve returned, I’m ready to impart a few pieces of wisdom, though I know more information will seep into future posts as I had an amazing time at my first American Library Association annual conference (in Chicago!)

Now that I’ve settled back for a day, here are a few suggestions when attending a conference like ALA:

  1. LegsUptheWallDefinitely bring the comfortable shoes, though I know the temptation for those like me, were to also be a bit fashion-forward. So even if you wore the *almost* comfortable shoes to match the dress, do this stretch when you get back to your room each night since you’ll be on your feet all day.
  2. 2017-06-24 10.33.54Dress the part. By nature, I’m a dress-loving, dress-wearing kind of gal. That’s not to say you can’t be comfortable, so wear what works for you, as long as it doesn’t look like you’re going to run three miles when you leave the conference hall. Dressing the part may mean being photo ready when you meet your idol (see picture) or to use as a conversation-starter when swimming in a sea of colleagues from across the country who you don’t know, but want to get to know!
  3. Know your limits. Maybe you don’t want to stand in that line or you desperately need a mental break so you skip a session, it’s okay. Part of enjoying any conference is also enjoying the break it provides from the routine. I spent time walking back and forth between sessions enjoying the weather rather than taking the shuttles. It provided the space to go into the next session ready to learn.
  4. Remember when I said you’d be swimming in a sea of colleagues that you don’t know? Get to know them! Ask questions and listen. Promote yourself and what you do. Trade tips. Some people you’ll want to exchange cards with and others were just a fun way to pass the time and restore that good ol’ fashioned energy you get from face-to-face conversation. It’s invigorating.
  5. 2017-06-26 14.31.19Indulge in local food and try to do at least one touristy thing. I was in Chicago, so that did mean that I would have to stop for some deep dish pizza. I also took at a picture at The Bean and walked along the water in that picturesque city.

Of course, the list can go on of both personal and professional suggestions related to attending conferences, but the listicle above provides a good start. You can tell I enjoyed myself, so be sure to head to any conference with a sense of adventure.

 

SLJ’s day to shine: librarian love

It is the best and worst kept secret. The fact that School Library Journal changes venues each year for it’s annual Day of Dialog but never increases its footprint means that they like things just the way they are. But, once a librarian experiences Day of Dialog, they have torn feelings: do I tell other librarian colleagues about the most amazing professional day of our life so they can enjoy the same awesomeness or do we keep it a secret so that it’s mine, all mine (cue villainous music)? Yet, here I am, writing about it because it’s hands-down my favorite professional day of the year.

2017-05-31 17.44.32The format is simple– opening, lunch, and closing keynotes by engaging authors with something to say. Then, four ingeniously organized panels of authors and illustrators centered around a central idea. Interspersed within that are a few breaks for vendor time while publishers panels stump for their top five picks from their publishing houses. Then, putting the cherry on the sundae, there is an announcement by The Boston Globe/Horn Book on their award-winners.

I have come to love each portion of the event for its varied purposes: you can only keep up with publishing so much before it’s nice to have a little help, you can only love so many authors and illustrators before falling in love with more after each panel like the capacity to love each new child as they’re born into your family. You imagine yourself one of the moderators engaging them in dialog, especially the ones who just have a knack for it (I see you Deborah Taylor!). And, you also enjoy collecting galleys for giveaways for your students. Because, well, we know that librarians give it away for free…

So if you ever find yourself in need of somewhere to go to remember why you’re a librarian, be sure to take the day to attend Day of Dialog. I was able to spend a train ride from Albany catching up with fellow colleagues, see IRL the librarians I admire from social media, and laugh, cry, and sigh with prolifically talented authors and illustrators. And even as long as the day was and I devoured Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds like Thanksgiving dinner on my solo train trip home, I can’t help but appreciate the hard work and dedication of my professional magazine in bringing valuable insight into the publishing world.

 

In it for the kids

This post originally appeared in the Times Union Books Blog

It was evident from the moment our chartered bus from Albany to Rochester dropped us off on the Nazareth College campus that the Rochester Teen Book Festival is in it for the kids. There are signs around the venue’s various classrooms, opening ceremony in the gym, and in informational booklets that priority is given to teens– this means that if there are one hundred seats in a gym, you bet your butt that all one hundred will be given to teens first. Adults are last to be admitted and last to find a seat. And that is how it should be at a teen book festival- the adults (many of which are fellow middle grade and YA book lovers themselves) play second fiddle. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way because seeing the excited faces of the forty-three teens we brought on the cross-state adventure were all that should be needed.

A Saturday event dedicated to readers.

Bring in twenty authors where you have rolled out the red carpet is exactly what should get your blood pumping. As students scattered with their buddies across the campus to see their rock star authors in the flesh, I found myself listening to a graphic novelist who amazed us with some live illustrating, then a professor leading us in a workshop about graphic lettering, followed by the last two sessions with male YA authors that could captivate anyone with their oratory skills in addition to their amazing literary talent. Plus, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the food truck Macarollin’ for some lobster mac and cheese.  Phew!

So when we got back on the bus after my colleague, Kristen Majkut, counted, recounted, and triple-counted as the captain and all-around Wonder Woman of this trip, I settled in with a smile as we learned one of our students won a raffle drawing, another was given the sketches from her visit with the graphic novelist, and the students lovingly petted their new purchases… books. And you think reading is dead? These events serve as constant reminders about the nature of reading for teens. Plus, we have others to remind us too, since we were joined on the bus by YA author Eric Devine. Hours were spent talking about writing, other books, readers, and the target audience: teens.

So, if you’ve never been, mark it on your calendars for May 19, 2018. If you’re a librarian or teacher, bring your teens. If you’re a parent, bring your teen and their friends. If you’re in neither category, donate to the event which each of the twelve years it has been running is a runaway hit with its intended audience. Teens.

 

Embed THIS!

As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic focuses on embedding something.

Embedding is always exciting and sometimes aggravating but imagine my excitement when I realized that the Padlet I created to share resources on a presentation I was giving actually has a specific embed code for WordPress– as in, copy and paste this address rather than lines of code inside the body of the blog post and it will automatically embed. Cool, huh? When we talk about how integrated and networked devices, apps, and websites are, these are the shining examples.

Today I had the privilege of presenting at the New York State Council for the Social Studies. The first presentation centered on current books representing timely topics like child exploitation, trafficking, and social movements. And the second (back to back and in separate rooms leaving little room for error in disconnecting and reconnecting my laptop, cables, and bags) was about new literacy. For the attendees, I wanted to share websites, articles, videos, and images and decided Padlet was my mode of delivery. So if you’re interested in the topic, check out the collection of resources

Made with Padlet

Enjoy the resources and be happy that you were not me during the presentation (though I will say I think I handled it flawlessly) where many of the resources and videos I wanted to show live never happened since the Internet wasn’t working. But damn, my slides looked amazing! (see previous post about the importance of images for me)