The Best of ALA and ISTE 2014

SLJ's session picks for these two key professional development gatherings.

 SLJ140601w_FT_ALAISTEFor many librarians, June brings dueling conferences: the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference takes place in Las Vegas from June 26 through July 1, while the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2014 conference happens in Atlanta from June 28 through July 1. Both promise a robust lineup of programming.

Which conference is best for you? The children’s literature focus at ALA annual make it a slam dunk choice for many. This year’s offerings also feature a strong array of youth-oriented panels covering tech, summer reading, gaming, diversity, and more. Big-ticket literary events include the President’s Program with “Giver Quartet” author Lois Lowry and actor Jeff Bridges, and the Newbery-Caldecott Awards Banquet (a paid event requiring advanced tickets). Additional ticketed receptions recognize winners of ALA’s other Youth Media Awards, including the Margaret A. Edwards Award, sponsored by SLJ. Meanwhile, publishers’ display booths offer an alluring peek at upcoming titles.

For the tech-oriented, ISTE is a stronger draw, abounding with options for professional learning. As part of a rebranding effort, ISTE brings a new Young Educators strand for those who recently joined the field, as well as interactive lecture sessions using mobile devices. The Special Interest Group for Librarians (SIGLIB) has tagged sessions that librarians shouldn’t miss. Whether you’re meeting colleagues in the bloggers’ lounge, attending a Learning Playground, or joining panels and lectures, ISTE has opportunities for all. Here are our session picks for the two events. Sessions are free unless otherwise noted.—SLJ editors and Carolyn Foote

SLJ140601w_FT_ISTE-AtlantaSignISTE Event Picks By Carolyn Foote (Room numbers were not available upon publication.)


Hack Your Education (8:00 AM–5:00 PM) During this all-day unconference, formerly known as Edubloggercon, attendees come together for self-directed conversations around teaching and learning.

iBooks Author and iPads: Tools for Student Publishing (8:30 AM–3:30 PM) This paid event shows how students can publish interactive books with embedded images, movies, audio clips, and more.


Mobile App and Game Creation Using Mac-based GameSalad (8:30–11:30 AM) A hands-on, paid session about creating Mac-based apps and games ebooks or games for the iPad.

ISTE Ignite! Sessions (Round 1: Sat 2:15–3:15 PM; Round 2: Sun 8:30–9:30 AM) The Ignite! programs are short, rapid-fire slide presentations in which 12 presenters have just five minutes each to present 20 slides.

The Global Education Summit (2:00–5:00 PM) “The Learning Revolution” project director Steve Hargadon and educational consultant Lucy Gray spearhead activities focused on global connecting and learning.

Keynote Address (5:45–7:00 PM) Actress Ashley Judd revs up the conference with this keynote, followed by a welcome reception with singer Eric Hutchinson.

Record, Link, and Share: Book Trailers for Readers (Poster session, 7:00–8:30 PM) How students can create digital book trailers using the app and QR code reader apps.

Global Student Blogging Challenge (7:00–8:30 PM) Geared for all blogging experience levels, this international collaboration is open to all student and classroom bloggers.

Primary Kids Can! Let’s Tweet, Blog, or Skype to Connect (7:00–8:30 PM) How, why, and what it looks like when young students work in connected classrooms.


The Tech B@r Is Open: Students at Your Service (Poster session, 8:00–10:00 AM) How a student help desk can ease your tech support problems.

Flipping this Library (Poster session, 8:00–10:00 AM) How to use the flipped classroom model in the library.

Digital Age Library Playground (8:00–11:30 AM) A must-attend smorgasbord of librarians sharing best tools—and a great place to make contacts and explore lesson ideas.

The Iron Chef 2014 Experience (Three sessions: Sun 8:30–9:30 AM; Tues 8:30–9:30 AM; Tues 11:00 AM–1:00 PM) This new gaming event has three sessions, the “appetizer,” “entrée,” and “dessert.” Participants get a challenge and ingredients to collaboratively solve by the dessert round.

Genius Hour 20% Time (12:45–1:45 PM) Consultants Angela Maiers and Sylvia Martinez and “Cool Cat Teacher” blogger Vicki Davis share ways to engage students in passion-based learning.

Telling the Story (12:45–1:45 PM) Ways to engage student in digital storytelling with education technologist Kathy Schrock.

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (2:30–3:30 PM) Gary Stager, co-author of Invent to Learn (Constructing Modern Knowledge, 2013), inspires the maker in all of us.

Untangling the Web (2:30–3:30 PM) Catch up on the best web tools with Steve Dembo and Adam Bellow, co-authors of Untangling the Web: 20 Tools to Power Up Your Teaching (Corwin, 2013).

Connecting Your Students to Collaborate with the World (2:30–4:00 PM) Register early for this paid workshop to learn and about using Google Hangouts and Skype for author and expert visits.

That Was Then, this Is Now: Digital Age Library Design (Poster session, 2:00–4:00 PM) Hear about a team approach to a library redesign process and take away a roadmap for your own renovation project.

The New and Improved Library Is Digital Central (4:15–5:15 PM) Three librarians describe how they transformed the space and purpose of their libraries.


Keynote with Kevin Carroll (9:00–10:15 AM) Rules of the Red Rubber Ball: Find and Sustain Your Life’s Work (ESPN, 2004) Author and consultant Kevin Carroll explores how to maximize creativity and play.

Taming the Ebook Monsters: Managing a Successful District Virtual Library (12:30–1:30 PM) The challenge of managing ebooks is addressed by Lisa Perez, library manager at Chicago Public Schools.

Instructional Partners in Library Spaces: Flipped, Blended, and Fully Online (Poster session, 1:15–3:15 PM) Learn to distinguish a variety of online instruction methods.

ISTE Librarians Network Forum: Marketing Your Library (4:00–5:00 PM) The TL News Night crew shares strategies for reaching stakeholders.

Common Core: Spotlight or Chopping Block? (4:00–5:00 PM) Promises to be a spirited panel on implementation and assessment questions.


SIGLIB Breakfast Meeting (8:00–9:30 AM) Hosted by keynoter and “Adventures of Library Girl” blogger Jennifer LaGarde. Pre-registration required.

Berwick Innovation Center (Poster session, 8:00–10:00 AM) How the K–12 Berwick (ME) Academy’s Innovation Center supports student inquiry in concert with the library.

From QRazy to SuperstAR: Learning with QR and AR (8:30–9:30 AM) Pre-register for this paid workshop and learn to use augmented reality apps and QR code apps with Killeen(TX) ISD’s 2TechChicks, Anna Adam and Helen Mowers.

Makers Faire and Agile Learning Playground/Interactive Playground featuring iTunes U, iBooks Author, and iPad (9:00 AM–1:00 PM) Check out maker tools and how to create iBooks or iTunes U courses with Apple Distinguished Educators.

E-book Fantasies Come True (10:15–11:15 AM) How Atlanta school media specalists who received $300,000 in grants augmented ebooks in their collections.

Top 10 Classroom Tools of the Maker Movement (10:15–11:15 AM) Invent to Learn (Constructing Modern Knowledge, 2013) co-author Sylvia Martinez shares helpful maker tools.

Angry Birds to Minecraft: What Games Teach Us About Learning (10:15–11:15 AM) Ideas for gamifying learning.

Game on! Gamify your Professional Learning. Powered by Blendspace (10:15–11:15 AM) How a school IT specialist gamified PD for teachers with Blendspace.

Library + Tech = LibTech (Poster session, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM) How librarians and instructional technologists can build better collaborations.

Gamification and Flipped Instruction: A Winning Combination (11:45 AM–12:45 PM) Session participants play games to reflect on gamification in their learning spaces.

Digital Citizenship: Doing It Right (Poster session, 1:15–2:15 PM) Explore and reinforce digital citizenship education.

Learn How to Use a 3-D Printer—Right Now! (1:15–2:15 PM) Hands-on time with a 3-D printer.

Closing Keynote: National Teacher of the Year, Jeff Charbonneau (2:45-4:00 PM) Leave inspired by Charbonneau, a Zillah (WA) High School teacher and the 63rd National Teacher of the Year.


ALA Program Picks By SLJ Staff


Connecting Youth: Key Findings from the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums Projects (8:30–10:00 AM; Room S224) A conversation about grant-funded, nationally recognized teen “Learning Lab” spaces and their impact.


Conversation Starter: Storytime: Not Just Reading Aloud (8:00–8:45 AM; Room N239/241) “Storytime Underground” blog joint chiefs Cory Eckert and Kendra Jones on how to hit all five Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ERR2) directives: sing, talk, play, read, and write.

Accessible eBooks: Ensuring that Your Library’s eContent Is Universally Accessible to All (8:30–10:00 AM; Room N237) Advice on making electronic content accessible to customers with print disabilities.

The Apps Are All Right! Exploring the Role of Apps in Children’s and Teen Services (8:30–10:00 AM; Room S230) Panelists share relevant research and examples of new apps for diverse youth.

Every Child Ready to Read 2: Does It Really Work? Evaluating the Program (8:30–10:00 AM; Room S228) Hear the findings of two Institutes of Museum and Library Services research grants that addressed this question.

Get HIP: Highly Interactive Programs for Multicultural Communities (8:30–10:00 AM; Room N231/233) Programming techniques for embracing diverse communities with finger plays, action rhymes, current books, music, and more.

AASL Awards Ceremony (9:00–10:30 AM; Caesars Palace, Octavius 09-11) Honors school librarians who model excellence. Also spotlights the 2014 AASL (American Association of School Librarians) Best Websites and Best Apps for Teaching and Learning.

AAP Children’s Author Speed Dating Event (10:30–11:30 AM; Room N112) More than 15 authors will participate in traditional speed-dating fashion during this first-time event from the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP) Children’s Library Marketing Committee. Free, but reservations are encouraged.

What No Tchotskes? Creating an Experience-Based Summer Program (10:30–11:30 AM; Room S231) Librarians who’ve incorporated 21st-century skills and created customer-driven summer experiences share their wisdom.

Creating Fun, Accessible Programming for Youth with Disabilities (10:30–11:30 AM; Room N237) A look at technology options for children with varying disabilities. With Jordan Boaz, children’s librarian at the New York Public Library’s Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library.

Ignite Saturday Session: Play, Baby, Play! (11:30 AM–12:00 PM; Room N239/241) Inspiring examples of early literacy spaces and programming.

Creative Collaborations: Successful Partnerships that Serve Children with Autism (1:00–2:30 PM; Room S227) Librarians who’ve created partnerships with outside organizations to serve young patrons with autism share their expertise.

More than Fun in the Sun! Building Collaborative Relationships and Using Real Data to Increase Summer Learning (1:00–2:30 PM; Room N262) How libraries, schools, and community partners can advocate, share funding, build data, and reduce summer learning loss.

Creating a Safe Library Space for All Youth (3:00–5:30 PM; Room N256) Jenny Betz, education manager at the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, and Susan J. Harmon, director of Safe Place National Operations, on how to make libraries welcoming for LGBTQ kids and everyone.

AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning (3:00–4:00 PM; Room N264) The 25 best education apps of the year.

Teens, Turntables, and Tater-Tots: Lunchroom Outreach with CLP-BAM! (3:00–4:00 PM; Room S221) Librarians from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s award-winning program CLP-BAM! show how to develop cafeteria-based outreach for school populations at lunch.

Project Connect Panel (4:30–6:00 PM; Room N259/261) A discussion on the future of the school library and the role of the librarian, with pivotal members of the education community.

Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, from AASL (4:30–5:30 PM; Room N264) The 2014 picks.


Designing Effective Library Experiences for African-American Male Youth (8:30–10:00 AM; Room S231) Current research on best practices for school libraries’ literacy instruction of young black men, including pedagogy, text selection, and community empowerment.

The Future of Library Services for and with Teens (10:30–11:30 AM; Room S223) A discussion of YALSA’s year-long study on this topic with Linda Braun, youth services manager at the Seattle Public Library.

Common Core IRL: In Real Libraries 10:30–11:30 AM; Room S228) Stimulating read-alouds and just-right books of increasing complexity.

Whet Your APPetite: Rapid Reviews of Apps for Children from Preschool to Tweens (1:00–2:30 PM; Pavilion 11) Showcases new and favorite apps selected by ALSC’s (Association for Library Services to Children) Children and Technology Committee and Digital Content Task Force.

The Art of the Author Visit: Connecting Teens with their Favorite Authors (1:00–2:30 PM; Room S221) How to build bookseller partnerships and leverage social media for author visits.

AAP Library Family Feud (3:00–4:00 PM; Pavilion 06) Five authors face off with five librarians in this AAP event.

Dynamic Digital Día: Promoting Cultural Competence in Digital Storytimes (3:00–4:00 PM; Pavilion 11) Selection criteria for digital materials that celebrate literacy and diversity in storytime programming, with Cen Campbell, Little eLit founder; Jamie Naidoo, associate professor, University of Alabama School of Library & Information Studies; and Karen Nemeth, Language Castle.

Ideas and Practices in STEAM Learning (3:00–4:00 PM; Room N243) Funding agency reps and librarians share insight about STEAM funding and programming.

Stepping Up: Providing Effective Library and Information Services, Program and Resources to Students with Disabilities (3:00–4:00 PM; Room S224) Explores disabilities law, advocacy, communication disorders, and motivation and instructional design.

Leading the Way: Strategies for Moving School Library Programs Forward (3:00–4:00; Room N235) A strategy discussion for school library supervisors and school librarian leaders.

ALA President’s Program: Lois Lowry and Jeff Bridges (3:30–5:30 PM; Room N249) Preceding the author and actor’s marquee appearance, “Lemony Snicket” author Daniel Handler presents the inaugural Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity.


Care and Feeding of Teen Volunteers/YALSA Program (8:30–10:00 AM; Room N259/261) How to recruit, train, and recognize teen volunteers, maximize programming, and evaluate outcomes.

Teen Spaces 201: What’s Next for Teen Spaces in Libraries (10:30–11:30 AM; Room N253) Speaker Maureen Hartman, youth services coordinator at the Hennepin County (MN) Library, on how to create great teen areas that meet your budget requirements.

Energizing Teen Creativity by Letting Go (10:30–11:30 AM; Room N259/261) How 10 teens planned a multimedia summer program with a murder-mystery theme.

Play, Play, Learn: Games and the Common Core Library AASL Program (1:00–2:30 PM; Room N243) SLJ columnist Chris Harris and Christine Ferris, K–12 Librarian at Elba (NY) Central School, on learning through games, with Common Core connections.

Teaching Digital Citizenship to Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (3:00–4:00 PM; Room N231/233) How school librarians can help youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders interact with digital information.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to 6000+ annual reviews of books, databases, and more

As low as $12/month