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SLJ Summit 2010 PDF Print E-mail

by Sandy Kelly, Lynn Weeks and Kathleen PorterLynn Weeks

With thanks to our association and the event sponsors, we traveled to Chicago to attend the School Library Journal Leadership Summit October 21st-23rd 2010. We were beyond excited for the conference despite having mixed feelings about what the future of reading holds. For newbies on the national conference scene like Lynn & Kathleen, the summit was “school-librarian heaven”.  What an experience to participate in a conference being led and attended by the very same school librarians and technology experts whose books, blogs, and websites we follow for ideas and inspiration! The days and night were Kathleen Porterjam-packed with presentations on changes taking place in reading — from graphic novels to the Internet to hand-held reading devices and other emerging technologies. Here are some highlights of what we covered:

Changes in literacy and skills used when moving from a print book, hand-held reading device, to scanning an article on the Internet. “Skim-reading” vs.“diving in” . 

Changes in the text-books as they move from traditional printed books, to more digital & mobile formats.Sandy Kelly

The need for professional development and support as we move from primarily print-based resources to increasingly more digital resources. The need for all teachers at all subjects and levels to be literacy coaches too, and the changing (but essential!) role of librarians in this changing landscape.

The first annual School Library Journal “Trailer Awards” - the ceremony announced awards to book trailers and encouraged us begin using trailers with students to excite them about reading

Author Patrick Carman shared how he is using technology to create interactive books, while  Caldecott-winning illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky shared how he uses technology to create his artwork.

Need for new e-readers to share some core features such as text-to-speech, presentation control (ability to change colors, size, etc.), interactive dictionary, highlighting and annotation capabilities, bookmarks and indexing, and Internet connectivity.

There was so much more covered in this summit! The format was intense with  keynote presentations that were an hour to two hours in length, but the majority of sessions were scheduled rapid fire, TED-style, back-to-back every fifteen minutes.  We took in a lot of information, but the summit also raised a lot of questions about “the future of reading” and what it will mean for schools, libraries, educators and our students.  What will the dominant e-reader technology be and when will it emerge?  Should we be investing in these technologies now, or waiting for the “dust to settle”?  How will this be funded?

None of us come home ready to do a drastic “Cushing Academy move” and start ditching most of our books in an effort to move rapidly to the digital world, but we did come back excited about the possibilities that emerging technologies have for reading, differentiation, our students, ourselves and our colleagues. See our individual school library websites, wikis, Facebook pages, and blogs for some new ideas and websites as we “test the digital waters”. There’s much to explore in the integration of multimedia with print books, and of course we added e-readers or iPads to our Christmas lists!

One notable panel discussion was about the latest Carnegie Foundation report, "Time to Act." The Carnegie Corporation of New York, a nonprofit organization that promotes knowledge and understanding.  The panel consisted of Andrés Henríquez, Program Officer, National Program, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Dr. Catherine Snow, Professor from Harvard University, Gina Biancarosa, Assistant Professor from the University of Oregon and Dale Lipschultz, Literacy Officer of the American Library Association.

Anyone with a vested interest in literacy and would benefit from looking at the Carnegie Foundation’s report. (  Time to Act is the capstone report of Carnegie Council for Advancing Adolescent Literacy. Dr. Snow, who led much of the research, said all teachers must be able to support literacy development. She said, “It is important to teach students to read like a scientist and write like a historian.”  The research shows that content teachers do not see themselves as literacy teachers. As a result adolescent literacy is lagging and many students enter college with need for remediation programs.  Dr Snow sees developing all teachers as teachers of literacy is a key solution to alleviating adolescent reading problems.  She stated “writing a summary is not comprehension, we need to go beyond summaries to critique, evaluate, and synthesize. Literacy skills are complex.”

The work of the foundation is definitely full of interesting research and needless to say school librarians recognize the importance of teaching how to “critique, evaluate and synthesize.”  But the report has a major flaw in the eyes of SLJ attendees. There is a complete absence of the data supporting the impact school libraries have on student achievement. They did not include libraries, librarians or technology which even panelist Professor Gina Biancarosa, said was "really stupid."

Dr. Ross Todd, and Carol Gordon who has also done much research on reading literacy, were in the audience. Ross told the panel that the teaching focus of school libraries is inquiry, critical thinking, problem solving, and the transformation of information into knowledge. Both he and Carol offered to work with the Carnegie Foundation members, providing research and support for the final revision of this report.

We recommend that if copies of Time to Act were being passed around your school (and many have been distributed in MA) that you supplement that reading with Scholastic’s School Libraries Work.  Let others know that it was pointed out to the Carnegie Foundation that the importance of libraries was overlooked and will be included in the final report.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 03 January 2011 )

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