Student voice in the library: OLA Super conference jot notes

February 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Second in a series by Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarians who attended the annual conference: 


From Feb. 1st to 3rd, thousands of librarians descended on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the 2017 Ontario Library Association Superconference

One of the most inspirational sessions at the conference was offered by this year’s Ontario School Library Association’s Spotlight Speaker, Shannon McClintock Miller. Shannon was a Teacher-Librarian with the Van Meter Community School District in Iowa. Now she speaks all over the world about education, librarianship, technology and giving students a voice.

Let Us Make a Difference: The central tenet of Shannon’s presentation is that when we’re given the opportunity to follow our passions and pursue something that we see as a priority, we feel empowered. Shannon asks educators to empower their students by asking them a simple question: What is important to you? Shannon told tons of great stories about the impact of empowering students to choose what they want to learn.

Let Us Be Connected: As a teacher librarian in Van Meter, Shannon helped students pursue their passions by using technology to connect them with experts, authors, and other classrooms all over the world.

Some ways she connected:

  • She partnered with a teacher in Illinois and, using Skype, they would team teach almost every day. They collaborated on a blog: Two Libraries One Voice.
  • After a student indicated his interest in the videogame Halo, she tweeted to Halo’s creator and coordinated a joint Halo game in the library
  • She connected 2 Kindergarten classrooms at different schools using Skype
  • To reach out to author Mercer Mayer, she motivated students to create a book of artwork highlighting why they loved his work, sent it to his publicist, and he eventually Skyped with over 250 students at the school

Let Us Create: Shannon also empowered students by allowing them to pursue their passions.  After one student indicated his love of I Spy books, Shannon reached out to the books’ author. She said that she would meet with Van Meter students — but only if they created an I Spy book of their own. So they did!

Let Us Have Experiences: Shannon used technology to allow her students in Van Meter to have experiences they may not have had otherwise.

  • They connected with over 26 other schools for World Read Aloud Day
  • To celebrate author Mo Willems, they read the book Happy Pig Day and Shannon brought in a pig. They shared their experience with students from another classroom in Illinois who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to see a real live pig.

Shannon closed her presentation with this message: “Our children’s voices have the power to make a difference. They have the power to change education. They have the power to change the world. You have the power to be the change.”

Shannon is now involved with the Future Ready Librarians project, an initiative designed to empower Teacher-Librarians to “lead, teach and support the Future Ready goals of their school.” Shannon’s entire presentation is available at this linkYou can also learn more about Shannon’s work on her blog The Library Voice and you can follow her on Twitter @shannonmmiller.



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