Scholarship Recipients – FY16

Continuing Education Scholarship Reports – FY16
Articles from recipients of scholarships awarded in FY16 (7/1/15-6/30/16) – you can apply for one by clicking here!

eLearning Conference – July 27-28, 2016,  Becky Stouten, Library Media Specialist, Mounds View High School

Thank you for the scholarship to attend the eLearning Conference.! I am very happy to be able to share some of my learnings with you.  One of my big take-aways from the conference was knowing that nothing will replace an enthusiastic and engaged teacher.  In this new paradigm of blended and online learning, when teachers come to class, students will have been introduced to the material, have knowledge about it, and the teacher will know and address where the students are struggling.

The keynote speaker on the first day was Dr. Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English, Georgetown University.  He spoke about learning shifting to the whole person, and that the change is being made from using digital tools to creating a new digital learning ecosystem.

If we were re-designing colleges right now, Bass says we must include educating the whole person.  He says we must include the following: “learning to learn, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, resilience, empathy, humility, ethical judgement, and striving to cultivate a balanced person, with intellectual, effective, imaginative and reflective capacities.”   He asks, “do your learning environments support engagement in the context of empowerment and ownership of learning?”

He also asks, does your learning environment help students to maximize their connections? Are students establishing an ePortfolio as part of their learning process? ePortfolios advance student learning and success, and they make student learning visible.

The next session I attended was on Cyberbullying.  1,587 participants were included in the study held at Inver Hills Community College and they found that 40% were bullied “less than monthly” and 1 in 10 “monthly” or more frequently.  Ninety percent of the staff they interviewed were not prepared to handle a cyberbullying situation,  yet one in five had already intervened in a cyberbullying situation.  Right now in colleges, students may or may not get help, they don’t all have policies, and they are unprepared to deal with the problems.

What should we be doing?  We should be introducing the concept, initiating dialogue, developing clear guidelines or policies, and empowering educators.  The ideas I learned here will be helpful in my “Tech Take Away” session on digital citizenship at Mounds View on August 16th.

The next session was on making online courses accessible for students with disabilities with Cynthia Sarver from the University of St. Thomas.  They found that the key to helping instructors make their courses accessible was engaging them empathetically.  Many faculty have little context for understanding disability, accessibility, or the experiences of disabled persons, so it wasn’t all about compliance, but about building empathy.  Studies have shown that brain activity is much more intense when you actually know the people.

A couple of tips to making course content accessible, is using the rtf toolbar, using the Wizzywig editor on the top of documents, and introducing to educators how using youtubes to show how screen reader users access documents.  Headers should note the organization, lists should be numbered and bulleted and tables should let the screen reader know the table is there and give an overview.  Complex images need to have textual equivalents.  This will be helpful in assisting teachers if they have a student in their class with special needs online.  I will share information with our adaptive special education district head.

Next I attended a session on open source course (learning) management system (OSCMS) providing online learning experiences and positive alternatives to addictive internet use.  We learned about some of the behaviors indicating internet addiction.  What can we do at the high school?  I think we could hold an inservice on internet addiction. Statistics show about 4% of students in the study had an internet addiction, but surely, that means many more students have disordered behaviors and a session could bring about an awareness.  That is something that I could offer in the ILC for a lunch seminar.  Internet addiction is associated with substance use disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, hostility, and social anxiety disorder

What else can we do?  If we can’t get them off the internet, we must meet them there.  Challenge students academically by using the same platform, flip classes when you can, use a lot of online activities and eLearning tools.  Here are some open source tools to use:  openEd (, Google Classroom, Schoology, Khan Academy, and Open Office.  The one new to me was openEd so I have created an account and started exploring.  These resources can be tied to the Google Classroom.

The next session was on Google Forms, I have used Google Forms quite a bit and am creating some for an online class right now, so I knew there would be some tips I could use.  Here are the ones for me, at the end of the Google form, add “Are you interested in learning more?” and include one to four links for more exploration.  Have students always check, “send me a copy of my responses”, and ask for some feedback on all your learning tools.  Throw in some images and ask questions like, what kind of emotion does this provoke?  Cartoon’s are great for, “what is happening in this cartoon?  Who is suspected of carrying out the action?”  A great chrome extension is Lazarus:  Form Recovery, if you are filling out a form and it disappears or freezes, it will bring it back (from the dead).  Also included were some instructions on turning forms into quizzes.  How do you find a picture in the public domain?  Add….i.e. Water

At Totino Grace they will be using a research notecard that they have created.  They have replaced Noodletools with free materials.  I will be sharing that document with my English teachers at Mounds View and all the secondary LMS’s in the district.

Polleveryone might be a really good way to introduce books by using book trailers.  If you want a screenshot, use Screen Capture, I’ve Screencastify quite a bit but that was a tip, Speech Recognition is a speech to text add-on, a really cool tool to show students in the ILC that come in with a broken hand or arm!

Next I went to a session on Voice Thread.  There are a lot of challenges in project based learning, especially in the development process in STEAM projects and other design classes.

There has to be an exchange of ideas during the development process that can be challenging in some traditional classes and almost impossible in a hybrid or blended class.  Even more so, with those that use external critiquing, like outside professionals.  Using a tool like Voice Thread or another voice tool can overcome much of these obstacles.  The first people I would like to bring these tools too are the speech coaches.  They can critique their students online and give immediate feedback.  It will also document the development process.

I will be trying, it allows users to create an interactive web-based story, pulling content from online sources, including photos, music, animated GIFs, and videos. Once a project is completed, viewers click their way through each story, one webpage leading to another, whether it’s a series of GIFs, or captioned photos, or just plain text. It’s FREE!

The second day of the conference, I attended a lot of sessions on web design.  Here are some guiding principles on making your website usable.  1.)  Understand the underlying problem before attempting to solve it.  2.)  Don’t hurt anyone.  3.) Make things simple.  4.) Have empathy. 5.) Users are all different.

Here are some quick notes:  You should have images of the instructor or something a user can connect with, note:  you might not want your picture or video on the site, but that is what you look like! 😉  Use the left column, too much text is missed text.  Syllabuses are relied on HEAVILY.  It must be interactive, students are expecting to click on things.  The left navigation bar is used a lot.  Number the questions otherwise they can be missed.  I.e.  Lesson 2 Discussion Activity (Due 11/29).  Ask for feedback at the end of each lesson. Make sure each page has a quote or image, develop your own style guide; heading, font and size, text, font and size, use fonts, colors, contrast, and space.  The teacher’s personality should come through.

The final session of the day was on Digital Storytelling.  Linda Buturian has already contacted me personally about some ways we can further Digital Storytelling at Mounds View High School.  I have forwarded some of the resources to the English Department  and our sister school Irondale and I am hoping that we can do some collaborating on the implementation of digital stories in the secondary schools in Mounds View in the coming year.  This was a fabulous conference, thank you again for the scholarship to attend.


Kathleen Conger – ALA 2016 Report

Theme and Current Events
ALA sets the theme of conventions months in advance, but current events always play into the tenor of the speeches and sessions. In 2015 ALA was set in San Francisco, one of the most gay-friendly cities, against the backdrop of the Pride parade, with the added bonus of the historic SCOTUS decision on marriage equality. The atmosphere felt as if it had moved beyond LGB, and on to T, I, and Q. Two of the bathrooms were designated as gender neutral. Many sessions on diverse books brought up the issues of transgender and intersex (people born with ambiguous gender). The themes of many of the diverse books explored what it means to be male or female, and how threatened many in the mainstream feel when someone does not fit neatly into those roles or identities.

This year we were in Florida, a state with “Stand Your Ground” laws still in effect, in Orlando one week after the worst mass shooting in US history, targeted at a gay nightclub. We have a major presidential candidate calling for building walls, deporting immigrants, and monitoring Muslims. With the Brexit vote, England decided to withdraw from the European Union. Against this background the opening speaker, Michael Eric Dyson, talked of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the importance of libraries and librarians to persevere in these tumultuous times.

I was able to erase one of my biggest regrets from 2015: missing Congressman John Lewis, author of March Books One and Two, and (soon) Three. This year I had read both graphic novels, and made sure I got a good seat at his open session. John Lewis is a natural born speaker, from his childhood of wanting to be preacher (and practicing by preaching to his chickens), to becoming a community organizer to his role of Congressman. His story of being an organizer for civil rights sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and the March on Washington was naturally compelling. What I didn’t expect was to be equally touched by the stories of his coauthor Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell.  Andrew’s publicity photos show him clean shaven; growing up in Atlanta, GA, he was careful to hide his Muslim heritage. But in these times of Islamophobia, and inspired by John Lewis’ work, he very deliberately sports a beard to embrace his roots. Nate Powell talked about how simply being published is not enough, that getting important and difficult stories into schools and curricula is a constant battle, sharing a story about meeting a sympathetic school librarian who declined to purchase March with her limited funds because it would most definitely get removed from her school library.

Being on a Committee

  • Publisher events: Being on a committee gets a person invited to many lovely publisher-sponsored events. Beyond the quality food and drink, these events allowed us to get up close and personal with authors. We left each event with a bag of books.
    • Bloomsbury Tea: Kate Messner (The Seventh Wish), Emery Lord (When We Collided); Brian Conaghan (The Bombs That Brought Us Together). Brian was seated at our table, and probably delighted to have another man (my husband) there to talk to. As a resident of the UK (Scottish, now lives in Dublin), he was devastated by the breaking news of the Brexit vote.
    • Simon & Schuster Author Speed-Dating: Simon Curtis — Boy Robot; Tim Federle — The Great American Whatever; Shaun David Hutchinson — We Are the Ants; Morgan Matson —The Unexpected Everything ; Amber Smith —The Way I Used to Be; Siobhan Vivian —The Last Boy and Girl in the World. This event welcomed plus-one’s, so my husband came along. Although he normally reads news articles and technical manuals, he was so enthralled by meeting the authors and hearing what went into their writing process that he started reading We Are the Ants (he has yet to finish, but he’s seen the carrot).
    • Little, Brown: Authors Laini Taylor (And the Trees Crept In) and Monica Hesse (Girl in the Blue Coat). I sat across from Laini Taylor, and got to hear her writing process; I’m looking forward to reading And the Trees Crept In because there is a dearth of true horror books for teen readers. Monica Hesse is a reporter for the Washington Post, and got her inspiration from a photograph of Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, of Jews being marched down the street while residents walked on the sidewalk carrying bread; Girl in the Blue Coat came out of her wondering what life was like for the non-Jewish population during this time.
    • Random House: A four-course dinner at the Ritz. I’m not making this up. Featured authors: Donna Gephart (Lily & Dunkin); Kathleen Glasgow (Girl in Pieces); Peter Brown Hoffmeier (This is the Part Where You Laugh); Jennifer Holm (Full of Beans). I was seated across from David Levithan, who is one of the quietest authors I’ve ever met! Each featured author presented to the group; they also rotated tables to give guests a chance to chat with them.
    • Tu Books (Imprint of Lee & Low): The purpose was to talk about diversity in young people’s literature. No authors at this breakfast, but the publishers of Tu books (Lee & Low’s multicultural imprint) shared infographics showing the lack of diversity in the staff of the publishing world, and how that affects what books and authors get published. It also plays into cover designs. I said aloud how we need books with actual photographs of people who are not white (this issue came up in 2015 at several of the We Need Diverse Books/Authors sessions) so our young patrons can see themselves reflected in the books. At Tu books they strive to make their covers represent the characters of the books, but it is difficult. For instance, there is such a shortage of Native American images (many stock photos are of white people in headdresses) that for the cover of Killer of Enemies they had to go through personal connections to find a Native teenager who fit the look of the character. You can read the full story here:

conger pic

There is a somewhat disturbing trend developing, where diverse characters being written by white authors. So the We Need Diverse Authors struggle continues to ensure we get authentic voices writing about diverse characters.

  • Mango Languages: This was a general invitation, a party with open bar and a too-loud band playing cover tunes. After five days of extreme heat and AC, I was not interested in alcohol or tired food from catering trays—last year I got violently ill at ALA, and I blame the catered food from the exhibits opening. I put in earplugs, sipped a glass of bubbly water, briefly made conversation with a librarian, and made for the door.
  • Teen Feedback Session: Our committee work started with a feedback session where we heard from local teens. I didn’t know what to expect, but I welcomed all comments, particularly the negative reviews, which really help us know what to look for and what to beware of when evaluating teen literature. Some of my colleagues were disappointed at how many nominated titles had not been read, so we had many gaps in the teen feedback. We hope for a more thorough response in Atlanta at Midwinter.
  • Committee Discussions: This was my first committee ever, so I had no standard by which to judge our discussions. We began with a straw poll for each of the nominated books, then began discussions: in author order, 8 minutes per book. Members who have served on other committees commented on how civil and respectful our discussions were. It is helpful to remember that a “no” vote on a book is not a personal attack on the person who nominated it. Our discussions did remain about the literature, and I look forward to future discussions. We ended with a straw poll, which wasn’t terribly different from the beginning, but some of us had moved our positions.
  • Trending Themes in YA Literature for 2016: Rape; Gender Fluidity; Mental Illness. We discussed three rape novels in this round, and I plan to nominate another for Midwinter. There is no standard or guideline on how many books of one theme or genre can or should make the list, but I know I would like to strive for a balance of themes, genres, and diverse authors. There are many “problem” and “issue” novels published for teens. There are all kinds of fantasy and science fiction books, but very few comedies, mysteries, or horror—genres that are extremely popular in both children’s and adult literature.

For the Future (preparing for Midwinter)

  • Refine system for recording observations: Every committee member had their own way of keeping track of the books. I used an Excel spreadsheet on OneDrive. I made some changes to the layout because I found it difficult to view on my 7” tablet, and wanted the most important parts (Yes or No vote, Notes) up front.
  • Create system for evaluating what to read next: I have hundreds of books sitting in my cubicle, and more will arrive as the year goes on. I vow to read every nominated title AS they get nominated to ensure I’ve done all my required work (I missed 10 books for this first discussion).
  • Solicit teen feedback: Because I work in adult services I have a hard time hearing from teens. I plan to work with our Youth Services department, our Teen Team, and Teens Know Best coordinators to solicit teen feedback.
  • Buy mobile device? The tablet wasn’t cutting it, and my laptop is too big and heavy to carry around. We might buy a slim, up-to-date laptop or a Surface. But by the end of discussions I was happy enough with the printouts of my spreadsheet, so a device might be as much of a distraction as a convenience.

Practical Advice for Orlando and ALA

  • A cheap hotel is not always the best choice. I chose the Extended Stay America for kitchenette, which I never actually used (plus there was a cockroach) & “easy” access to Orange County Convention Center. There was a walkway over the freeway that put me at the OCCC’s west door in 5 minutes, BUT it took 25 minutes to walk to the registration area on the east side. The ESA was the 1st stop on the shuttle route, which means it took 45 minutes to get to the convention center. It was faster to walk a mile to the convention center, which I did most days.  Plus, the shuttles and I-Ride didn’t start till 8:00 a.m., so I had no choice but to walk when I had a 7:00 a.m. breakfast meeting. If I return to Orlando, I would stay at the Rosen Center or Rosen Plaza or the Hyatt, as these are directly connected to the OCCC by elevated walkway.  For future ALA’s I will book a hotel close to the convention center, even though it will be more expensive.
  • Orange County Convention Center is the largest convention center I’ve ever seen, and that doesn’t even include the additional south building. It’s a 25-minute walk from one building to the other. The Hilton is connected to the south building, so it would be a good choice for someone whose events are being held there.
  • Walk a Mile in Those Shoes: At ALA you will walk for miles every day, even if you take shuttles. Leave any uncomfortable shoes at home, even if you plan to dress up. I never wore my dress-up sandals because I knew they would give me blisters if I walked for miles in them, and I would not have a chance to go back to the hotel and change before the Random House event.
  • What to Pack: One pair of pants, two skirts, 1-2 pairs of shoes/sandals, light sweater, light jacket, swimsuit, 4-6 tops, PJ’s. Go business casual and dress for comfort.
  • How to Pack: Pack light and carry-on to avoid baggage fees, at least one way. It could be worth it to check a bag on the way home if you pick up 40 lbs. of books, like I did. I had the advantage of having my husband’s checked bag, where I stashed the majority of the books I acquired.
  • Share the wealth: distribute all duplicate copies of books to fellow librarians. It’s a great way to make acquaintances while lightening the load. I already had copies of many of the titles from the publisher events, so some of my colleagues got my autographed copies!


  • Oppressive heat, tropical humidity. Stay in the shade or AC during the day.
  • A place for people interested in theme parks and packaged entertainment. Not a place for natural beauty or an active vacation.
  • Unfriendly to pedestrians, lacking sidewalks.
  • Stay on the West Side of International Drive, where there is sidewalk.
  • I-Ride shuttle is unreliable. At times we waited 45 minutes for it. There also seems to be a shortage of taxis. Many people called Ubers for transportation.
  • Over-AC. I had to wear long pants, sweater, and jacket during our committee meetings because of the extreme air-conditioning in our room. Then I stripped them off the outer layers to walk around the exhibits or go outside.

I would like to thank Metronet for helping sponsor my attendance at the 2016 ALA Annual convention in Orlando.  Serving on a national committee is proving to be a fun, enlightening, and labor-intensive endeavor. I love feeling so connected to the latest teen literature, the authors, and the publishers.  I am glad for the chance to make a contribution. There are sacrifices, particularly in how much screen time I must cut out. I miss movies and surfing the internet, but it’s good to get back in the habit of intense reading and critical thinking.

Thank you for making these scholarships available to library staff.

Kathleen Conger


Carol Tracy
2016 Steltzner Scholarship Winner

2016 ALA Midwinter

Attending ALA midwinter was one of the best professional development experiences I’ve ever had. This was the first time I had attended, and hopefully it will not be my last. The YA Media Awards Ceremony on the last day is generally the highlight of the conference, from what I understand. For me, this was definitely exciting, but there was so much more. It wasn’t only the keynote speakers and the sessions I attended, but also the camaraderie with other library professionals.

As a high school library media specialist, I am interested in preparing my students for life beyond high school, to make them college and career ready. In doing so, I feel it’s important to provide them with the type of environment that will allow them to independently manage their time and workload. As part of this process to prepare our students for the experiences beyond high school, it is important to look at what those new experiences might look like. I spent a good deal of time during this trip connecting with university librarians to get their input on what current high schoolers need to be prepared for.

On one of the days, I was able to make a trip out to Harvard and visit a couple of the university’s libraries. It was great to see the differences between the libraries within the same university and also the differences and similarities between my library and some of theirs. While visiting the recently renovated anthropology library, I had the opportunity to meet with the anthropology librarian, who talked me through their process of a transformation of their library. The building was undergoing some construction, so they decided to transform their library space into a comfortable and more flexible space for the students. Although the space was small, there were various places and modes of studying that were offered to students.

The most impressive library I visited was the Widener Library, which boasts 57 miles of shelves! Rather than seeing much in the way of transformation, I got a glimpse into what this university looked like when it first opened. They had one area blocked off for viewing only that was in the original decor and contained some of the original volumes housed in the collection. The artwork was museum worthy, the halls were expansive and the quiet was something I have never experienced in a high school library. It was very different from a library where students collaborate and create this was a place of deep, independent research. Not a single conversation could be heard. It was important for me to see a library like this. This has inspired me to create some quiet study spaces as I continue my library transformation.

Of the keynote speakers I heard, the most compelling were Ken Burns, Isaac Mizrahi and Lizzie Velasquez. Each of them, in their own unique way as a filmmaker, designer and antibullying advocate, brought with them a message of allowing children to express themselves, to explore their passions and to never be hindered by others’ expectations of them. These virtues are so important for librarians to practice. We are the ones who might inspire a student to explore a career path, to research a new topic, to invent something and to read a good book! I felt empowered by these speakers.

I attended a number of great sessions, ranging from ideas to transform the culture of a library to how to track movement in a particular area of your library. The most intriguing for me was the tracking of the movement. On the surface, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but working in a public school necessitates the need for statistical data. The presenter showed us how he was able to use cameras (with blurred imagery) to measure not only the number of people entering a space, but also the movement in particular areas of the library. This is useful when trying to figure out where to place certain displays, where to put certain types of furniture, etc.

With my evolving media center transformation and my involvement with a new group of advocates TYSL (Transform Your School Library), this trip to ALA Midwinter was important in so many ways. From getting to meet new colleagues in the profession to listening to engaging speakers, to visiting the oldest university in the country and finally being a part of the exciting YA Media Awards, I could not have picked a better conference or a better time.

I appreciate the generosity of Metronet in providing the Lars Steltzner Scholarship Award for new media specialists and librarians. The burnout rate in public schools is very high, especially during the first few years. Offering a scholarship of this nature to someone in their first five years of service can be a life changer. Thank you, so very much, for this valuable and priceless opportunity.

Carol Tracy, Media Specialist – Robbinsdale Armstrong High School

Jackie Chitwood
2015 TIES Conference

Thank you to Metronet for providing a scholarship so I could attend the 2015 TIES conference in Minneapolis. At this conference I learned about many resources that will be helpful to the staff and students at my school. One of the sessions that stood out the most to me was by Kayla Delzer. The one thing that she said that stuck out to me was, “If it’s boring on paper, it will be boring on an iPad too.” She emphasized using apps for students to create. Some of the apps featured were:

Explain Everything

Her honorable mentions included:
Book Creator

Thanks to the ideas I got while attending TIES, I am currently working with teachers on how to use SeeSaw. With first grade, the students are using PebbleGo to find out information about an animal. Then they find a pciture of their animal and put it into ChatterKid. The students draw the mouth on the animal and record themselves talking about the food that their animal eats. When they are done, it looks like the animal is talking about what it eats. Students add the video, which they created in ChatterKid, to SeeSaw. In SeeSaw, they add their citation at the bottom of their video. Once the teacher approves it, parents will be able to access SeeSaw and see what their students have been doing at school. Due to the creativity in this project, the students have been fully engaged in the research process.

Thomas Redd
ELM Expo

I would like to thank those who provided the Metronet Scholarship for $30.00 which allowed me to attend the Electronic Libraries of Minnesota training. I gained a wealth of Knowledge about the databases that are available through the ELM. Programs like Britannica Kids have been very helpful when assisting students on projects in Youth Services. And Job Accelerator is a great resource to access because Brookdale Library has many patrons looking for job search assistance and resume building tools.

These two databases are just a small example of what I learned while attending the training. And overall I have a lot more confidence when serving patrons of Hennepin County Library due to attending this training.

Donna Ohlgren

Thanks to a Metronet scholarship I was able to attend the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This was an amazing opportunity for me. While there I was able to: meet colleagues (old and new), meet authors (I knew them from Twitter or Skype), get inspired by both of the aforementioned people, receive affirmation from speakers, gain a greater knowledge about diverse books, and learn from everyone!

Below is a list of quotes which are words of inspiration from people who presented sessions to keynote speakers. I really appreciate hearing words that affirm my beliefs.

Best to get caught trying.
Imagine yourself from the perspective of the copyright holder.
Artist + writer= cartoonist
Trust that children can fill the gaps on pages without text.
Voice + Audience= Engagement
Be brave. Your voice is the one who should be telling your story.
Readers want an experience so familiar and close, but yet distant and safe. Fantasy gives them that.
Good teachers save lives.
None of us would be here without teachers in our lives.
We need to make decisions to buy controversial books because students need them.
Kids read books at the levels they are reading for. It’s the adults who freak out about content.

The organization called WNDB We Need Diverse Books did a great session where I met a diverse group of authors and looked at books with diverse characters. After the conference I found a valuable resource on their website. The link is Explore the website for other pieces of information. In addition to this session I went to a session called Bring Your Own Diversity. During this session authors spoke about their experiences about being diverse and writing about diverse characters. My goal is to increase the diversity in our school’s library collection. Having resources and knowledge from the conference will make this easier.

I walked away rejuvenated and ready to try some new things. I have already shared ideas with teachers and will continue to do so. I have made new connections with teachers who live in other states. There are no boundaries to where learning happens. The event was a whirlwind but worth every minute!

Paul Lai
ELM Expo Write Up

The ELM Expo on Friday, November 6, 2015, provided instructional sessions about the various databases provided through ELM. What I found particularly helpful was the in-depth look at specific databases, with the instructors pointing out tips and quirks of those databases. In all of the sessions I attended, I found myself learning things about the databases that I would never have thought to ask or that I probably would not have noticed on my own.

In the ELM Advanced session, I learned where to look in EBSCO databases for advanced search features and how to browse for articles with subjects/thesauri. In the Britannica session, I was introduced to the different interfaces of the Britannica databases, and the instructor also explained how the content was mirrored across the grade-level interfaces for ease of finding content. It was helpful to see the range of multimedia resources available in Britannica. In the Science Resources in ELM session, I learned about a handful of databases for science research, many of which I had never explored before, and I especially found useful how at least a couple of the databases had science experiment plans available. Another session I attended on LearningExpress Library helped me see the different sets of databases provided by the vendor and also revealed how many layers there are to some of them for access. The hands-on session allowed us to experience what some of the barriers might be to patrons accessing the resources. Finally, I enjoyed the session on promoting ELM resources because there was a zine we got to take with us (with coloring pages) but also because the participants all had a chance to share ways that we as librarians and media specialists can connect with patrons (public, teachers, and students) to teach them about ELM resources.

As a public librarian, I will be able to share what I learned at ELM Expo when I help patrons one-on-one. Many of the job resources, for instance, will be very helpful to patrons who wouldn’t necessarily even know to ask about databases that have resume templates or job search engines.

Mary Ann Rentas
ELM Expo

The ELM Expo was very worthwhile even though I’ve been an ELM user for several years. It was helpful to learn about the databases that have been or will be re-named or re-designed so I can update my school web page. The new integration tool with Google Drive is a great new way for me to channel ELM content as well as my fellow teachers. With some extra upfront effort teachers could relatively easily differentiate material for their students by selecting articles with a different Lexile. I also like the subtle 1-2-3 reading level option in Britannica for high school students with various reading levels.

I will be preparing staff development on ELM for my building next month. My expectation is teachers will feel more comfortable with ELM and thus encourage increased student use for many learning opportunities beyond just History Day. Creating bookmarked URL’s to a folder page is a great way to get students focused on ELM content before letting them lose so to speak to begin researching. I’m beginning to narrow my recommendations on the number of ELM databases to access to help make the process more approachable and comfortable before branching out further.

Rachel Panitzke
ELM Expo

I recently attended the ELM Expo on a Metronet scholarship. I’ve used ELM regularly with staff and students over the past several years and participated in a number of ELM webinars, and as this was a first-time event, I questioned whether it would advance my knowledge of the databases. What a fantastic event! The topics were well-chosen, the session layouts provided for plenty of hands-on work in addition to questions, and I came away with strategies and materials that I can start using with staff and students immediately. In fact, along with another attendee, I’ll be doing a presentation on ELM for English and Social Studies teachers at an upcoming districtwide professional development day, incorporating much of the information that we learned at the Expo, including:

How to search by reading levels
How to search by benchmark
How to export Gale resources directly into Google Docs
How to find primary sources
How the Points of View Reference Center supports the research process
How ELM can be used to support History Day
Professional publications that are available through ELM
Thanks to Metronet for providing me the opportunity to participate in this invaluable experience!

Dhaivyd Hilgendorf

AASL Ramps it Up!

The biennial conference of the American Association of School Librarians (#AASL15) was held in Columbus Ohio, November 5-8, 2015, held in conjunction with the 22nd and final Treasure Mountain Research Retreat (#TM2015), hosted by David Loertscher and Blanche Woolls. Thanks in great part to the Continuing Education Grant offered by Metronet, I was able to attend both events both as a presenter and participant. I was given the honor of presenting the conference summary in a musical format for David Loertscher’s final Treasure Mountain. I wrote and performed an original song in the 24 hours of the conference, with a rowsing sing-along chorus that helped bring an engaging and emotional end to 22 years of retreats focused on the Learning Commons model for school libraries. Video of the conference procedings, including the closing song, will be publicly available once it is edited and distributed. At the AASL conference, I worked with Joyce Valenza and a team of some of the most acclaimed school librarians in the profession to present an energetic, fun, and intellectually stimulating unconference, trivia quiz and smackdown. It was an unforgettable event for all who attended, and I hope to bring some of these ideas to the ITEM annual conference next year. My roles included acting as “UnCon Man” (photo attached), creating the unconference grid, documents, and backchannels. Groups were singing and dancing around the conference room with abandon as they worked together to answer challenging library-related trivia questions.

In addition to the content-driven educational fun, I also attended a myriad of top-notch concurrent sessions with authors, school librarians, academics generating data related to the profession, faculty at college information science programs, and vendors with new interfaces to share. The most productive of these workshops were those that provided tools that I can use with my student population and share with Minnesota library communities. One theme that ran through many of the sessions was documentation of ones actions. Joyce Valenza emphasized that the camera provides an excellent tool for such documentation. I also was especially interested in learning about systems for student portfolio creation, such as Easyportfolio and See Saw, and about applications for creating flipped instructional content, such as Edpuzzle, Educanon, and Zaption, apps which allow for interaction and learning through video. In addition to exploring these apps, I will also be looking into using Snaps and Quicktime to screencast lessons. When lessons are recorded, they can be reused by school staff and students, thereby stretching my work, and that of our teaching staff, further. I attended one session focused on the use of augmented reality apps in education, and plan to explore apps like Ishu, Quiver, AR Flashcards, and Daquiri before the next ITEM QR Code Social, to see if we might incorporate other forms of sharing our ideas and inspirations.

Although I have only had a few days back in my building since attending these conferences, I have already connected with several colleagues about the content, and how it can help improve instruction. Just yesterday, I used Flipgrid for student self-assessment and Padlet for student idea-sharing, two tools which I have not used previously in the classroom. I look forward to using Plickers to poll staff after professional development sessions to see whether the instruction was adequate for the intended takeaways.

I am grateful that Metronet approved my grant proposal, and am confident that the investment in my professional development at these events will pay off in Minnesota library communities through my support of and sharing with regional library professionals, including ITEM, Park Center High School, Osseo Area Schools, the West Metro School Media Specialist group, and those who participate in the annual ITEM QR Code Social and Aurasma Gallery.

With gratitude,

Dhaivyd Hilgendorf, Library Media Specialist
Park Center High School
Brooklyn Park, MN

Morgan Wylie
ELM Expo

On Friday, November 6, 2015, I attended the ELM Expo, co-presented by Minitex, CMLE, and Metronet. As a recent hire to Hennepin County Library-Brookdale, and new professional to the field of public librarianship, my supervisor recommended attendance at the Expo as a means to become more familiar witht he ELM database tool which features valuable resources for our patrons in general, and my audience specifically: teens.

I chose sessions that appeared suitable to a new public librarian working with youth. I began with “ELM Basics” which I found to be a valuable overview of the many different resources within the ELM suite. Beyond that, I completed more hands-on sessions with deep dives into the Pro-Con database; resources specifically geared toward research for students grade 6-12; scouting out primary sources through ELM; and using features in the LearningExpress suite of resources.

By the end of the day, I came away with a whole toolbox of resources, tips, and suggestions to bring back to my patrons. Specifically for teens, I discovered new ways to introduce them to research tools that are easy to use and provide high-quality, vetted information sources. Moving beyond “one-stop research shopping” via Google and other search engines, the ELM databases are a valuable means to introduce and explore principles of information literacy with youth. Additionally, I found the Expo provided me with a jumping-off point to explore future programming that could integrate the LearningExpress suite of features, particularly for teens who may be preparing to take college entrance exams, complete a high school equivalency, or pursue other career paths.

Many thanks go to the organizers and presenters of the event. I am also grateful to Metronet for the financial support in pursuing this professional development opportunity.

Nicole Martinson
ELM Expo

I wish to thank you and the scholarship committee for paying for my attendance at the first annual ELM Expo on November 6th in Anoka. At the Minnesota Educators Academy, I attended a workshop on ELM and found out about the expo through the ELM booth.

The Expo was a fantastic learning experience! I learned about different search tips, mainly delimiters, different databases and their strengths, how to access more visual resources (i.e., videos and pictures), and learned a little bit about Minitex and ELM. Some of the things that stand out in my mind that I know I will use are:

Lexile levels and curriculum standards can be accessed on certain resources
Britannica – you double click and word and the definition pops up!
You can download and save many of the videos and images
MyBritannica – this was not working during the session but I am very excited about this resource as I understand it contains teacher lesson plans and resources
You can listen to articles and some cites automatically provide citations
You can narrow your search to document type: product review
Comparing countries and then the statistical graphs of many topics was interesting although I’m not sure how I will use them.
Publications A-Z – I now have access to many scholarly journals in speech/language pathology; normally very expensive! Also, I can easily find journal articles that I search for on the internet by knowing the publication.
ELM’s main page – I know feel much more comfortable navigating the front page based on how I want to search something.
Some other information that I was exposed to and left me with more questions:

Minitex will come to your site and train staff
Gale vs. EBSCO – I still don’t quite get the big picture on these but they were frequently referenced throughout the day.
Databases, Indexes, Publications, Topics – I am really confused on how they all tie in and what is Gale; what is an index; what is a database. I think my main concern is this – what if I’m looking for something specific – does any one search tool look across all the resources that ELM has?
I have already been asked to create a very short presentation for our special education staff in our building in December. I am reviewing my notes and will need to spend hours researching the ELM website so that I can present information that the special education teachers find useful. This will force me to use the skills taught at the Expo and delve deeper into the databases that were presented.

I was so excited to learn more about ELM. Having the opportunity to learn more about this amazing resource through your scholarship will empower me to help my students access information that will help them on projects; find resources that will help me build more engaging lesson plans, and be a source for colleagues who are looking for materials.