This past week I attended the MLA 2014 Spring Institute. It was my first time going since I’ve not previously worked specifically in a youth department at a library but I was really excited to see what it was all about.
I was hoping and planning to go both Thursday and Friday but was unable to make it work due to scheduling but was still able to make it out for the full day on Friday. It was an early and LONG day for me as it was almost a 2 hour drive and registration started at 8am. Yikes! I had a hard time deciding which sessions to attend as they all looked really interesting, but I finally nailed down my schedule:
10:30 am – Early Brain Development
1:45 pm – Makerspaces kid style
Let me just start by saying that I was 3 pages of notes in by the end of the first session. hah.
I haven’t yet actually looked back through and organized all my notes yet, but I hope to do that soon and will update if I end up writing anything decent.
The lunch with the speaker was great; I felt like a kid again listening to her stories about travelling around the world and writing about nature and animals as I caught myself thinking “I wanna do that when I grow up!” 🙂
I’m a staunch animal advocate and firm believer in their ability to help people and people’s responsibility to help them so some of her titles especially“Dogs on Duty” and “Saving Audie” really touched a nerve with me. I really enjoyed her presentation and had hoped to speak a bit with her during her book signing, but I had to hurry on to my next session.
The two afternoon sessions that I attended were also pretty great. I have been planning on starting similar things in the near future but am not quite 100% done brewing them up so it was really helpful to hear what some others had done and what worked or didn’t work. The makerspace session actually really clarified things for me; I have some basic experience with makerspaces and I was having a hard time figuring out how exactly I could take the concept and sort of scale it down both literally and figuratively so that it would work for kids, but this presentation made me realize that I was still dreaming a bit too big and that baby steps are ok and that I don’t need to make everything mind-blowing right from the get-go.
The iKids session was also neat, but I was already familiar with many of the things they talked about so I didn’t learn too much new info, but it’s still good to hear what people are using and how they work for them. They also talked about some good books that have information on research involving screen time and children.
The one I think I took the most from was the Early Brain Development session with Sally Keller, Noah’s Ark Preschool Director, and Stephen Williams, Retired Neuroscientist.
The presentation was quite science heavy, but they did an excellent job of presenting it in a way that was very accessible and easy to understand. I was excited to hear them talk about some of the things I’ve done in my storytimes that I’ve mentioned here in my blog like giving kids something to hold while you read to them, or the importance of having varied activities during storytime. Now I had some hard science to back all that stuff up! I loved learning that the more senses involved in an activity, the harder the brain works, therefore the stronger the connections become and the better the reception and retention of knowledge! Movement increases oxygen intake which also strengthens the brain and fun isn’t just fun, it’s a positive experience which releases healthy happy chemicals that also helps the brain to develop! Yay!
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find their powerpoint online, but I was able to find some other excellent information here.
All in all, I quite enjoyed the conference and think I was able to take a lot of good info away from it; I’m also looking forward to my next conference coming up at the end of April. I’ll be attending the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference. Unfortunately neither of the libraries for whom I work are small OR rural so they won’t be sending me and I’ll have to pay my own way and use vacation time but that’s ok, it just shows I’m committed, right? 😉 and being that it’s on Mackinac Island is an added bonus; I visit the island just about every year but it’ll be my first time staying at the Grand Hotel so even if the conference falls flat, I’m sure I’ll have some good updates about the beautiful hotel and island so stay tuned!