As MSLA president, last June I had the privilege of attending the Canadian Library Association’s 2010 National Conference. This conference attracted its greatest numbers in recent years when more than 900 delegates met from June 2-5 in Edmonton, Alberta. At this time, I was also able to join my provincial and national counterparts at the Canadian Association of School Library’s (CASL) Annual General Meeting . Two of our members, Vivianne Fogarty and John Tooth were presented with national awards, The Chancellor Grant and the Angela Thacker Award, respectively.

Due to a conflict with the Treasure Mountain Conference, I was only able to hear one of the two keynote speakers, Dr. Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair, Internet and E-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Geist gave a timely presentation on Canadian copyright law with an overview of key points in the government’s latest copyright bill that had been released only days earlier.
The other keynote speaker was Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, who spoke about the power of the positive in the collaboration of the volunteer editors of Wikipedia.

The conference program offered delegates sixty-five sessions on a wide variety of topics over the three days, as well as pre-conference workshops and library tours throughout the city. The teacher-librarian sessions were held on one day with the most well-known presenters being David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin. These presenters challenged delegates to “flip their libraries” and transform them into a learning commons.

One of the highlights for me during the conference was the reception for the winners of the 2010 CLA Book Awards, celebrating authors and illustrators of works for children and young adults. It was wonderful to hear the authors accept their awards and afterward, everyone in attendance received one free book for the author to sign. Winning authors included Barbara Reid for Perfect Snow, Nancy Hartry for Watching Jimmy and Lesley Livingston for Wondrous Strange. As well, the University of Alberta Libraries and Edmonton Public Library hosted a splendid welcome reception at the new Art Gallery of Alberta which is quite the architectural wonder.

At the Annual General Meeting of CLA members, Keith Walker succeeded John Teskey as President of the association. President Walker noted that his term will be a challenging one, as members passed resolutions directing the CLA Executive Council to develop plans for changes to the association. Due to the financial challenges facing the CLA, CASL was not permitted to hold elections this year which was disconcerting to the CASL members.

The next Canadian Library Association conference will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from May 25-28, 2011 at the World Trade Convention Centre. Hope to see you there!

For more information on CLA or CASL events and activities and membership benefits, to to:


It’s been a few years since I’ve attended a Manitoba Libraries Conference.  The first time I went as a newly qualified teacher-librarian, I found there was little for me in the way of professional development so I stopped attending.  Now, as president of the MSLA, I have learned that in the past few years, there has been a renewed effort in ensuring that the professional development needs of school library personnel are met at the conference.  This past year, one member of our MSLA board, Leanne Falconer, and our liaison officer from Manitoba Education, John Tooth, committed themselves to making sure that there were suitable sessions at the 2010 Manitoba Libraries Conference for both library technicians and teacher-librarians.

With this in mind, the library technician in my school, Edna Johnson, and I set off to participate in what was shaping up to be a professionally worthwhile activity.   I’m pleased to report that we weren’t disappointed.  As winner of the Manitoba Library Technician of the Year Award, Edna was fortunate enough to be able to attend all three days of the conference whereas I only attended two days. The pre-conference was especially meaningful to her as a school library technician since she was able to learn more about the new RDA cataloguing standard which replaces AACR2.  Other sessions that as a library technician Edna found valuable were:


  • What Factors Affect Health and Literacy? Lessons From the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (Facilitator: Marni Brownell)
  • Designing Dazzling Displays: Tips and Tricks (Facilitators: Dawn Huck & Jennifer McSweeney)
  • Reaching out to Newcomers (Facilitators: Ricardo Blanco, Guy Prokopetz, Janis Pregnall, June Shymko & Kathleen Williams)
  • The Power of Project Teams in Libraries: The Success of the University of Winnipeg Library Website Redevelopment Project (Facilitator: Michael Hohner)
  • Making Reports Highlight Your Successes (Facilitator: Denise Weir)
  • It Ain’t Over Yet: Continuing Education Opportunities for Library Technicians (Facilitator: Karen Hildebrandt)
  • Gale Databases

As a teacher-librarian, there were five sessions at the conference that I found valuable.  These included John Tooth’s explanation of the new school tariff on Manitoba school libraries and copyright updates.  School library staffs are constantly faced with challenging copyright questions and this was my opportunity to “ask the expert.”  Next, I attended a session facilitated by Pat Cavill regarding library advocacy.  As president of the MSLA, advocacy encompasses a large part of what I do but as a teacher-librarian, I’m also aware that I must be prepared to advocate on behalf of my school library program on a daily basis.  Although Pat’s session was geared more toward public libraries, at the end of the session I was able to connect with her and she offered to send me a document prepared exclusively for school library advocacy.

The third session I attended was sponsored by the MSLA.  It was my pleasure to introduce author and retired teacher, Larry Verstraete, and Lisa Sykes, teacher-librarian at Westgrove School in Pembina Trails.  Their presentation, P is for Partnership: The Tale of Two Alphabet Books, chronicled the steps involved in publishing a book written by Larry, G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet, and a book published by the students and staff of Westgrove School, W is for Westgrove, that was modeled after Larry’s book.  If you’re considering writing and publishing a book at your school, I highly recommend connecting with these two knowledgeable educators and writers.

Next, I attended a session sponsored by Manitoba Education’s Instructional Resources unit.  Lynette Chartier from DREF demonstrated an exciting new online resource for French teachers, students and parents from TFO Education (   Sam Davoodifar showed the latest offerings in English language streaming services (    Contact your school division for more information on these services or contact DREF directly at 945-4813 or Manitoba Education at 945-5371.

If you’ve ever considered using audio books in your library or classroom, you  first need to educate yourself as to what is legal and what is not.  Facilitator Chantal Fillion from Van Walleghem School in Pembina Trails took us on her frustrating journey spanning two years as she attempted to integrate audio books into her library and classrooms in a way that respects Canada’s copyright laws.  Perhaps the new copyright laws currently before Canada’s parliament will change the way schools can access audio books but from what I learned at Chantal’s presentation,  as it stands now, there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to using audio books legally in schools.

As you can see, both my school library technician and I found many worthwhile sessions at the 2010 Manitoba Libraries Conference.  Although geared more toward public libraries, we even found the keynote address by Gerry Meek, the chief executive Officer of the Calgary Public Library, to be highly inspirational.  At a time when budgets are tight Gerry discussed the need for ground-breaking partnerships between various libraries in our province and the need to learn from each other.   Certainly my attendance at the conference reinforced my feeling that as a teacher-librarian, I am vital part of the library community in Manitoba.   I hope you will consider taking in, or volunteering at, a Manitoba Libraries Conference in the future so that you can experience this partnership, as well.




As a teacher-librarian in a large junior high school, it’s a daunting task keeping the “cool” in I Love to Read Month. With such great teaching and activities happening in elementary schools, it’s difficult to keep things “fresh.” It’s also difficult to counter the often mistaken belief that many students and staff hold that I Love to Read celebrations are just for younger students. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Whereas it’s obviously vital to hook students into reading at a young age, it’s equally important to pump up the love for reading at the junior high level where reading for pleasure often takes a nose dive.

This year, my I Love to Read preparations took on a distinctly Web 2.0 flavour. I decided to take a fairly traditional activity that I had done a few years ago and infuse it with four Literacy with ICT activities that the students absolutely loved.

Working under the guise that students are far more apt to read books recommended by their peers, in the past, I had my students create an advertisement for other students about their favorite books. Their job was to “sell” their books so that other students would consider reading them. All the advertisements were then kept in two large binders in the library so that any student in the school could find out what other students were recommending.

Although this activity proved to be successful and the binders are still used by students two years later, getting them to create their advertisements took some encouragement. This year, by introducing four free Web 2.0 tools – Glogster, Animoto, Weebly and Skype – I had little trouble getting the students involved in recommending their favorite books to others and pumping up reading. (A sampling of all these tools and how my students used them to promote I Love to Read can be found on my library wiki)

Glogster is an online poster making tool that my grade 7 students just can’t get enough of. It is a tool that requires very little instruction but the possibilities are endless and so cool. In addition to text, students can download pictures and videos onto their pages, add animations and links to specific websites. Once the posters are created they can be embedded on websites, blogs or wikis or be printed. We used glogs to create posters of their favorite books. I managed all two hundred glogs created by my students by having individual classroom teachers create their own accounts who then requested accounts for their students. In doing so, the teachers were able to monitor all the glogs and comments and the students were able to view each other’s glogs and book suggestions.

Every one of my seven grade 8 classes created their own Animoto featuring their favorite books. As an educator, I signed up for an All Access Pass Animoto account.   This pass allows my students to create feature length animated slideshows that include text, pictures and videos. For their I Love to Read projects, students were asked to choose their favorite books to promote, download the covers onto a PowerPoint slide, add adjectives to describe them and then save the files as jpegs. Then I uploaded all their slides to Animoto, choose the type of music they wanted and Animoto did the rest with spectacular results. I then embedded the slideshows to my wiki for all to enjoy.

Weebly is an online tool that allows students to create simple websites. Again, I managed all eight grade 9 classes by having their teachers sign up for their own accounts.  Before the students arrived, I created a page for each of the students on the website that they could use to promote their favorite reading material. All 25 or so students were able to work on the website at the same time. To see what other students in their class were recommending, they simply had to click on their classmates’ pages. I then linked all the websites to my wiki for all students to see.

An added bonus of introducing these Web 2.0 tools to students and staff is that they can be used in any class in any subject. Every aspect of the LwICT Continuum can be reported on using these tools. In the Cognitive Domain, students can plan, gather and make sense, produce and communicate to show understanding and when using the commenting function, they can reflect on their own work and the work of others.

Since a social networking component is built into each tool, teachers are able to comment on the Affective Domain, as well. Using these tools, which can be kept private or made public, as desired, students have the opportunity to work collaboratively online with each other and thereby demonstrate their ability to use online tools ethically and responsibly. It’s also been my experience that the more students work with online applications such as these, the more their motivation and confidence to use technology in an educational setting increases.

As fun and educational using these tools was, by far the “coolest” Web 2.0 activity that I arranged for our students was to have a Skype video conference with an author from the West Coast of Canada (to protect her privacy, I’ve chosen not to share her name although I will say that she is an author nominated for the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award in 2010). Through the power of technology, my students were able to ask the author questions about being a writer and the process of writing. By coincidence, we interviewed her during the Olympics so the students were able to get a firsthand account of someone who was fortunate enough to attend a few Olympic events. Skype is a free download.  To see and hear who you are talking to, you need a web cam or a computer with a built in video recorder and microphone and a digital projector.

Contacting an author in a video conference was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as a teacher-librarian and my students were equally impressed. Using video conferencing is something that I will definitely not be waiting for the next I Love to Read Month to come around again. This is one cool tool that I’m convinced will change the face of education in the library and in the classroom forever.


ag00373_It feels so good to be finished my teacher-librarian courses at the University of Alberta.  I can’t say enough about how great the program is for preparing teacher-librarians for the 21st century but I’m glad to be finished so that I can move onto other learning challenges. 

I wasn’t sure how much I would blog after my courses were completed but a Twitter friend of mine, Chris Harbeck from Winnipeg encouraged me to get back at it and share my teaching and learning experiences so I”M BACK!

Recently, I put out a Tweet (there must be some word for this which I don’t know) that I was having difficulty using Google Spreadsheets for an online discussion I wanted to have with my grade 9 students about freedom to read and book challenges. 

The first time I tried to set something up with my class it was such an incredible hassle.  I tried using the students’ school email accounts to invite them to edit the spreadsheet we were going to use but only a small group of students actually got the invitation.  Then I discovered that the students needed to sign up for google accounts before they could edit the document.  What a waste of time – first collecting all the emails and then having them all get google accounts and then inviting them all over again.  Perhaps not too much work for one class but I wanted to do this with 8 separate classes!

And then I found I couldn’t edit my own spreadsheet so that’s when I sent a Tweet out to my PLN and Chris came to my rescue.  At first we tried to “fix” the spreadsheet problem but then he suggested I give a try. 

So the next day at school, that’s what I did.  I can’t say my first stab at it was brilliant (I didn’t know only 8 people could edit the document at one time and I needed to set more stringent online etiquette rules with the students)  but I’ve since done the same online discussion with several classes and it’s gotten better every time.

Using was a great way to teach students how to work collaboratively in an online group (one of the goals in Manitoba’s LwICT Continuum) and discuss a sensitive and timely issue at the same time.  Etherpad also allowed students who wouldn’t normally say anything in a regular classroom discussion to express their opinions in a non-threatening way.  Overall, I have been impressed with the high level thinking skills demonstrated by the students.

My only complaint with etherpad is that you can’t delete the URLs after the discussion is completed.  Because of this, I decided to have students use nick names which only I could track.  I took down the link to the site right after the students completed the discussion so that no inappropriate comments could be added by students later.

All in all, if you want a simple way to have an online discussion, I suggest you try


What a great feeling to be able to share what you have learned with others and keep on learning from others, as well.  I’ve just come home from giving a presentation along with three other educators – Michael Friesen, Rhonda Morrissette and Heather Eby – and I hope we have inspired others to get involved using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom.  All four of us were were asked to be panelists  for the Manitoba School Library Association’s L.I.T. Forum “Using Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom.”  Check out our page on Michael Friesen’s The Wired Librarian wiki.

I think the best thing about the forum was the panel talking to others about not needing to be an expert on Web 2.0 to get involved.  Clearly, we were all a bit nervous about putting ourselves “out there” since none of us really consider ourselves to be experts on Web 2.0 tools but the message was clear, it’s not as hard as you hink and the rewards with connecting with your students and taking them to a higher thinking level are more than worth it. 

My primary message to the group was that if I can use Web 2.0 tools in my teaching practice, anyone can.  A few short years ago I knew virtually nothing about computers and Web 2.0 (I was and still am a band teacher afterall) and now I find myself being asked to give a presentation on the topic.  Wow!  I’ve come a long way.

How did I get here so fast?  By asking a lot of questions and getting involved in the edublogosphere (afterall, isn’t sharing what Web 2.0 is all about?) and not being afraid to try things on my own and keep trying when things don’t go as planned the first time (something our students are so great at).  Once you learned one tool, moving on to the next isn’t quite as daunting and before you know it, you’ve made great strides. 

What a great priviledge to have been asked to share and continue to learn with others at the MSLA L.I.T. Forum.   We’ve already been asked back to do another educator presentation.  I’m pumped to share and learn even more!


Just thought you might be interested in reading Peter Jones’ full report on eBooks.  He has created a site called Smarter Books to host his reports and to encourage further discussions on this topic.  I’d encourage you to add your voice to the discussion. 

I have one final paper to write on collection development before receiving my diploma in teacher-librarianship from the U. of Alberta.  I think this might be a perfect topic.

Well it appears from some of the research I’ve been doing on the topic of eBooks that it’s not just those that have grown up with books that prefer reading them in print format.  Our divisional library consultant, Nell Ududec, just returned from the OLA conference in Toronto with a PowerPoint presentation by Peter Jones who is a visiting scholar from Ohio currently working at the University of Toronto. 

Combining research from surveys, user interaction and observation, and design research,  Jones has just completed a report for the University of Toronto on eBooks (final approval due out this week) that has tried to answer the following questions:

  • What do students prefer to read and use, and why?
  • Are students actually reading the books?
  • Are they reading online?
  • How do they want publishers to improve eBooks?

From what I understand from reading the presentation (wish I had been there in person to hear the details), eBooks have a ways to go for anyone doing research – young or old – an experienced scholor or not.  Although students have a positive expectation for eBooks (they don’t have to go to the stacks), not finding the information they’re looking for, difficulty reading the text, searching and printing more often than not leaves them feeling frustrated.

It appears that very little eBook reading is currently taking place.  As someone who loves to curl up with a good book or carry it with me everywhere I go, I can relate to the “coldness” and poor resolution of eBooks.  It appears that I am not the only one who has difficulty “deep reading” books in an electronic format.  If I can’t concentrate, how will my junior high students be able to concentrate for long periods of time to actually read an entire book.  And if they’re just interested in gleaming facts from a book, no doubt a Google search or their favorite database will provide the answers they need just as quickly. 

Until eBooks become more than scanned books, I’m not sure my students nor I are ready for them quite yet.  I’m not quite ready to throw my precious book budget at eBooks just yet.  If anyone has a different opinion on this topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts.