Main Take Aways: 21st Century Learning Conference Hong Kong

Wow! What an incredible couple of days. I just wanted to share a few of the many, many inspiring ideas and new tools that I learned about at this conference. 

If you also attended please feel free to share with me your main take aways, I am happy to add more to this blog post. 

First off, Joyce Valenza. What a true librarian goddess. It was incredible to have the opportunity to meet such an inspirational individual. 

My Conference strategies

What I do to try and make sure I am taking useful notes that I can actually refer to later and understand. With so much content and excitement during presentations it's easy to write too much and then not really know what you were blabbing about even a week later. 

  1. Focus on your own context - only write down what you think you’ll actually use

  2. Curate resources and information that you think would benefit your colleagues, social networks, friends, students, classes

For example, in my notes I make lists when resources pop up that I think would be helpful to the IT department, Art department, my advisory group, my students in upcoming lessons, my librarian Facebook groups, my blog or colleagues. It’s easy to just write their name in your notes and then search their name when you get back from the conference itself.

This is a really great way to also show your school that your PD is actually beneficial to the whole school community and that you actively giving back.

3. Divide notes up into section for easier reference later

For example, I put sections like buy these books, resources, and my own private comments and notes in another section at the end which I plan to just read over myself

4. I plan to divide up the presentations that I want to review later into manageable chunks. I have saved/downloaded all the presentations into a folder that I want to check out and have already Google calendered time slots for myself to read over this material. 30 minute little slots about once a week.

5. If the presenter shared the presentation with us while we were in the presentation. I copied and pasted out the most useful slides into a separate Google presentation for only my private use. I plan to read through all the resources on there and delete what turns out to not be as useful once I investigate resources and ideas deeper. I won't open up the full presentation ever again, to save time. 

Major Conference Theme

Finding your “why” has been a huge theme of this conference that both Keynote speakers, Ewan McIntosh and Joyce Valenza. From there it resonated throughout other speakers presentations, including my own.

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Why are you creating that lesson for your students?

Students, why are you learning?


Check out this fantastic TEDtalk by Simon Sinek to understand how and why this concept is so powerful:

Inspirational People (well, mostly librarians) to follow or investigate more:


Laura - Creates amazing makerspaces based off of books the students read. She reads the book with the students, i.e. Alice in Wonderland then 3D creates the world. Truly incredible, see her work here

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An amazing educator, Andy. Check out his work here:


He has his students be involved in the entire book ordering process - surveying students, picking books, making a budget, unpacking the books


@stony12270 Created an inspirational international book club - mystery Skype, mystery Hangouts (students are paired up with another school that they don’t know and discuss the books together online).

  • Library Media Tech Talk (blog)


Michelle Luhtala Awesome tutorial Youtube videos. For example: how to narrow topics, learning playlists, education and library related.

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passion projects, earthpals, crafting solutions to real-world programs, genius hour - ideas for projects with students

Great Resources - This section is HUGE, my apologies for not organizing it better!


Planner templates that you can use to keep yourself organized. For example, writing out your future goals to make sure you turn your ideas into real life projects.


Copyright Friendly Toolkit


Great tool for creating a word cloud live during a presentation or class


PearlTrees Wonderful resource for sharing, storing, and creating lists of useful resources. Very visual like Pinterest

Great for finding PD videos, educational videos

Hyperdocs - to display information, great way students can show their learning:

HyperDocs Website

See what these are all about:

HyperDocs Samples

Awesome list of resources for lessons on thinking critically about information:

Another option for a library management system?

Bad Science infographic:

Custom Google web search of news sources

This incredible person creates his own custom Google searches that only pull results from the websites that he has selected. This is shared for you to use with students!

Free Lessons:

Create posters that can link video content.

There is a free educator package: Try the image editor. No classroom management option with free version.

Microsoft Sway

More engaging, media rich presentation creating software.

Ask your IT department if you already have this at your school. If you already have Microsoft Office software, it may be a feature that they just need to turn on for you and then you have access to it. This was the case at my school.

Creating a poster that can have embedded links:

  1. Use something to make a poster such as canva/picktochart



Awesome Apps Ideas for Makerspaces:

Shannon McClintock symbaloo -

  • Have one one or two tiles up, but then by the end of the year keep adding books, take students suggestions and build up a board by the end of that school year/unit

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Great Article to check out

School library journal thrifty library hacks: Creative ideas for low/no budget libraries


Helpful Tip from Joyce Valenza:

Use a curated list of resources instead of Google, such as:

Podcast searcher - ListenNotes

Amazon inspire --- open education resources search


Naomi Bates’ Book Trailer Resources


Tutorial on Copyright


Open Education Resources:


Great Mindmapping tools

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Twitter handles to follow for great library related ideas:







Books to buy:

Research strategies book


Metaliteracy - Jacobson and Mackey


Eli Pariser - The Filter Bubble

Misc Notes: Random bits from here and there

Curation point guard = librarian (a fun name for librarian that Joyce Valenza mentioned that I loved)

Activity Ideas for the Library

Teacher/Parent Book Club - buy the books for book clubs, give to them as gifts

  • Book club exchange with other schools that have collections of books from their book clubs

Book ideas to read with parents:

Romeo and/or Juliet

Ready Player One

Tell me three things (romance)

The Librarian of Auschwitz

Contest to give away the extra copies - “Write a book review to enter the contest” - any book in the library or give to classrooms for classroom libraries


  • Book exchange - students/staff all bring books they aren’t interested in reading anymore (all languages welcome)

Ideas for your Art Teachers

  • mural on circulation desk?

  • Keeping her art program strong - never had funding pulled when other dept. Have lost support

  • Record of all of her students artwork, names not included so privacy is protected, creates instructional videos that she also uses in class

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Excellent Board Game list: (Thank you, Kurt Wittig)

Under 30 minutes & good for teens:

  • Avalon
  • Balderdash
  • Bang!
  • Citadels
  • Codenames Codenames Pictures Cranium
  • Dixit
  • Imagine
  • King Of Tokyo
  • Love Letter Premium Secrets
  • Tapple
  • Tick Tock Boom

Find your website/blog’s broken links quickly:

Maybe everyone has already heard of this? I had no idea this was a freely available resource.

If you have a website, blog or library page you can quickly run your website’s URL through a broken/dead link checker website and it tells you which links don’t work anymore! Amazing!

Watch this!

John Green - SLJ keynote 2017


Improving your online presence

Be consistent and post regularly (frequently)

Hard to do, but you can cheat!

Schedule your social media presence. This has a free or paid version. You can choose all different times for tweets to go out so you don’t have to actually be there posting regularly throughout the day or week. This is especially amazing when you are busy:

We were told that we should be tweeting 1-3 times a day! I definitely do not achieve this, but I should try to more frequently.

Find your TRIBE

  • Who are the most important people for you to talk to? Leaders in your field, leaders in another field? Colleagues? Authors? Educators? Tech?

A good idea for keeping yourself focused with any social media. Why are you on there? What are you trying to achieve with these tools?

TWITTER CHAT - I had never heard of this, curating your twitter so you only see what you want to see. This is amazing.

Follow the hashtags you love easily!

Repost the same content multiple times, people only look at the feeds they won’t realize that you’ve actually tweeted it many times.

On your Twitter account, make a pinned tweet at the top, pick something that defines you! This helps the reader to quickly assess if they are interested in you or not.

Use to brand yourself

For example, = all of Matt Harris’ content

Genre sign ideas:


Susan Grigsby’s (UWCSEA) Reader’s Advisory Survey:

Try this out all the way through to the end, the results pages are very well done!

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Collaboration with P.E.: Create a new sport project

  • Research a sport, history, rules, famous individuals, citations

Pair up the students and get the students to combine their sports together

  • Choose a way to display it (i.e. build the equipment needed, make an infographic, write an essay, create a poster -- something creative


  • Baseball on horseback
  • Steeplechase and Rowing
  • Hockey and Ice Dancing - Bladeball
  • Baseball and Mountain biking - Ball Biking
  • Cross country Equestrian and Swimming
  • Speed Skating and Javelin
  • Motorcross and Artistic Gymnastics


Susan Grigsby’s hyperdoc of amazing resources and ideas:

Karen Bonanno's Presentation

Link to presentation

Discover your genius. Helping you identify yourself to improve your library practice.

See her slide #5 for details to answer the quiz for yourself.



A couple of questions to think about…

What would I want others to say about me and my school library in 12 months time?


What would represent a bitter disappointing failure in 12 months time and what would the opposite look like?

Have you tested this with your community? Is it successful? Are you asking questions?

Kristin Ziemke (Keynote)

Stop and Jot

  • 3 personal stories that changed your life
  • 2 media stories from the past year
  • 1 thing you’d like to change in the world

Using technology to amplify children’s stories

List of stories that may be missing from our schools:


Thank you to the following presenters that I took all of this information and resources from, wish I could have attended more sessions!

Joyce Valenza, Kurt Wittig, Ewan McIntosh, Philip Williams  Matt Harris @MattHarrisEdD, Susan Grigsby, Karen Bonanno and Kristin Ziemke


Kendra Perkins

Ambassador of China for the ILN