Thursday, July 16, 2015

What A Wonderful Time At BLC in Boston.....A Week of Connecting, Making, Learning, and Amazing Friends!

One of my favorite events each year is the November Learning BLC Conference in Boston.  
This is my sixth year attending this wonderful conference that Alan November hosts at the Boston Park Plaza.  It is a beautiful location, filled with amazing conversations, learning, and especially....
incredible friends that meet up each year. 

This year was one of the best....bringing us together to celebrate education, educators, families, and the impact our children and students have on all of us.  

I had the honor of working with the attendees throughout the week.  
On Tuesday, I conducted a workshop about Makerspaces called Create, Learn, and Share In Our BLC Makerspace.  
We kicked off our day together doing a straw tower challenge.  I picked out two leaders and they put themselves into groups to create a tower that would support a roll of tape.  
It was very inspiring to watch everyone work together.  It was a great activity to kick off the day.  
Everyone had a lot of fun.  It made all of us think about how we can engage our students in similar maker activities.
I love opening my Makerspace presentations and workshops with one of my favorite Maker books Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts.
This time I thought it would be special to have Andrea Skype into our workshop and read her book to all of us.  What fun!
We loved hearing how Rosie would be taking a trip to the International Space Shuttle this fall.   You can read all about her trip on the School Library Journal website.
It will be part of the Story Time From Space program, which fosters literacy and STEM.  I can't think of a better book to make this journey and inspire children everywhere.
As I spoke about Makerspaces and gave examples of teacher librarians and educators creating spaces within their schools, I asked a few rock star to visit over Skype too.  

First, we Skyped with my friend Diana Rendina who has created a wonderful Makerspace in her middle school library.  You can read all about her journey on her blog, Renovated Learning
Second, my Iowa friends Christine Sturgeon and Julie Graber Skyped with us.  Christine is a K-12 teacher librarian and Julie works for the AEA in Iowa.  Together, along with Christine's administrators and staff, have created a maker movement within her district.

I hope their stories and others that I shared with them will inspire everyone....and give them lots and lots of ideas.
 At the end of our time together, I broke out several maker activities.
Some that they could do in small groups of individually with a few tips and guidance.  And one that was completely open ended.  I wanted everyone to have several different experiences.  It gives all of us an idea on how these activities can be used within our spaces.
The day went fast....and we all learned a lot about making, tinkering, creating, learning, and teaching within these spaces. 
The first night I had the honor of going to dinner with my friends and fellow presenters at a dinner hosted by November Learning.  It was great fun catching up with lots of friends like Phil and Colin from Verso.
The next day I presented in the afternoon.  I love sharing all of the websites that have been picked to be part of the AASL Best Websites.  I am part of this AASL committee so hold a special connection to this list that we announce each year. 

My friend Erin Klein came to my session and used Periscope to broadcast from the room.  She shared this on Twitter so others around the world could be part of the conversation too.  

Thank you Erin for doing this.  
On Wednesday night after another day at BLC, we all headed to FableVision Studios for their annual bash.
 Erin, Mike, Caitlyn, (my awesome friends and fellow educators) and I went together.
 It was so special to see Jose, Peter, and Paul at their studio.
It is always nice to listen to Peter and Paul speak at the bash.  They always inspire me.
 After the party we went to the North End of Boston for a delicious Italian meal....
coffee at my favorite after dinner place....
and a cannoli to go at Mike's Pastry.  
 We ended the night laughing with our friend Amy.
This morning I presented Digital Tools and Projects for Your Library and Classroom.  

This is one that I update and add to each year.  There were many new digital tools to share today. 
I had so much fun sharing these digital tools and ideas with this great group.  I can't wait to see how they use them with their students and teachers too.
To end my time in Boston and at BLC, I went to lunch with one of my favorite people Steve....
and went for a walk in Boston's Public Garden.

Thank you to Alan, November Learning, and all of BLC family and friends for making this week special.  I am already looking forward to next year with all of you.


  1. Looks like it was a fantastic conference :) Thanks for including me - it was a lot of fun to Skype into your session.

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