As a novice blogger and soon-to-be school media specialist, it seems prudent to look to respected bloggers in the library field for guidance. I located some award-winning blogs that are teeming with useful ideas and engaging resources. While each blog was created by a school librarian, the purpose, audience, tone, layout and content varies. Each blog conveys a message to its readers, giving them an opportunity to respond and interact with the blog’s creator. I identified blogs that emphasized technology, digital footprints and connecting with social media–all topics stressed in Module 1 of SLM 508.
One blog that immediately drew me in was Tiffany Whitehead’s “The Mighty Little Librarian” blog. Her post titled “Digital Citizenship at CMS” demonstrates the role of the librarian as a leader and model in promoting a positive digital footprint. Ms. Whitehead provides numerous links to engaging tools and lessons that will hook impressionable teenagers into this important topic. Not only does she address digital citizenship with her students, but she includes them in the learning process by having them create a PSA-style YouTube video sharing what they learned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gldtoWX9g4 Whitehead also includes links to two lessons from the CommonSense Media website, entitled “Trillion Dollar Footprint” and “Oops, I Broadcast it on the Internet.”
Ms. Whitehead is passionate about the use of social media during the school day. Her post entitled “My case for Social Media” made me want to learn more about this controversial topic. Ms. Whitehead’s district blocks social media such as Twitter and Facebook during the school day, creating a challenge for her as she tries to teach her students about checking their digital footprints. She doesn’t let that stop her though. Her work-around is to take screenshots of her Facebook posts and Twitter feed results to show to students. “The Mighty Little Librarian” blog is one that I recommend following as Whitehead addresses tough issues facing media specialists and our 21st century learners.
Jennifer LaGarde, a Librarian Ambassador who travels to school libraries around the country has an informative, cutting-edge blog called “The Adventures of Library Girl” where she focuses on “student learning and libraries.” Her posts range from recapping her latest presentation to promoting upcoming Webinars to designing library physical space so that it reflects your priorities. LaGarde’s blog emphasizes technology. In a post titled, “Voices from the Trenches: The Teacher Librarian’s Role in 1:1/BYOD Environments,” she shares how she and Doug Johnson are devising a “Best Practices” guide for school librarians to use when implementing a BYOD policy in their schools. This topic is extremely relevant and one for which I am seeking guidance. I want to be able to help students use their technology to the fullest extent without being derailed because I don’t know how something works or should be handled.
Another topic that Ms. LaGarde is passionate about is being a “connected librarian” and by that she means someone who uses social media such as Twitter to stay connected with others in the field. She hooks people by telling them “why” this is worthwhile and how it has positively impacted her own life. The captivating slideshow she includes in the post sold me on the power of becoming connected!
LaGarde’s push for getting connected professionally through Social Media falls in line with the importance of creating a strong digital footprint. Starting a blog or following other blogs in the library field such as “The Mighty Little Librarian” and “The Adventures of Library Girl” are a step in the right direction. Sharing with students our own experiences with social media for professional purposes can model good digital etiquette.
Many of the library blogs I came across reviewed and recommended books, but for purposes of this blog post, I was seeking blogs that had a technology focus. I discovered Shannon McClintock Miller’s blog “Van Meter Library Voice” and knew this was one to follow.
As I learned in the SLM 508, Module 1 “Digital Footprint” readings and Jennifer LaGarde’s blog, it is important to connect with others in your professional field to network and grow. Miller, who works in Iowa, posted about a “connection” she made via Twitter with a teacher in California that she previously did not know. In her post titled “My Friend Arturo and his kindergarteners in Los Angeles Will Inspire All of Us with their New Movie” she demonstrates the power of social media and how it can positively impact students by enabling them to share and communicate with others regardless of distance.
Miller received a tweet from Arturo with an attached YouTube video of his kindergarten class’ dramatization of the story “Miss Nelson is Missing.” Ultimately, the two classrooms (one in Iowa, the other in California) connected virtually to watch the video and to talk about it. Not only do we see the power of social media for making connections with others in our profession, but we see the impact of using technology such as video cameras and Skype to capture dramatizations like this one and share it with students far away. This is an example I can see myself incorporating into my own media center one day, especially with younger students!
Miller also plugs recommended databases, such as PebbleGo, technology tools such as WeVideo, and Apps like the Vocabulary.com App. Her blog is a good resource for finding out about emerging technology tools that I may want to consider for my own school library.
I was inspired by a post by Miller that addressed an important topic for SLM 508 Module 1: teaching digital responsibility to our students. In this post titled “EasyBib Joins Rainbow Loom Project,” Miller explains that she invited two employees from EasyBib to Skype into her third grade media center classroom to help them learn research and citation skills for a “Rainbow Loom” research project. In the end, these students made Rainbow Loom bracelets and created special charms on a 3D printer as a thank you to their virtual instructors. One thing I especially like about Miller’s blog is that she uses a lot of pictures and screenshots to help readers follow along, especially when she is talking about new technology.
Incorporating digital technology into media center lessons requires that media specialists stay tuned into the latest developments. Knowing where to locate recommended tools is an important step in this process. The Blog “A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet,” created by Julie Greller, is brimming with resources such as links to Web 2.0 tools, tips for making your own infographics, teacher-librarians articles, recommended blogs, how-to guides and more. This one-stop-shop is a clearinghouse of information for all school media specialists, but particularly useful for new ones, since so many resources are in one central location.
One tool that Greller shares in her blog is “FlipQuiz,” a free tool teachers can use to create interactive game boards, instead of using bingo cards or card-stock boards. She also posts “39 Ways for Using iPads in the Classroom,” a great starting place for teachers and media specialists looking for innovative ideas for using digital devices with students. Greller’s “Let’s Teach Our Students About Copyright,” includes links to fifteen resources such as the Creative Commons, an interactive game for kids, and copyright lessons to help media specialists teach students about copyright. Greller’s blog is one that I will reference as a new media specialist because of the breadth of topics she covers and the wealth of resources she shares.
Having reviewed these blogs, it is apparent that each blog has its own style, focus and value for its readership. What they demonstrate is the ability to connect with others in your field. If librarians can communicate and learn from one another via blogs, imagine the potential for our students to learn via blogs. The opportunities are endless. Students can create a classroom blog to use among themselves or break down barriers and communicate with another class across the world via the blog. Students can use a blog to chronicle their journey through a course, a research project or for pleasure.
Learning to make a blog and starting to follow others in my field will empower me to integrate blogging into my media center. I see the potential for using blogging and social media in the classroom and will advocate for and seek opportunities to use it in my future school media center. In the meantime, I will take the advice of Will Richardson (Educational Leadership, November 2008) and read blogs, comment on blogs, use my professional name so that I am searchable, and start networking via Twitter and Facebook. I need to start laying my digital footprint!
Richardson, Will. “Footprints in a Digital Age.” Educational Leadership November (2008): 16-19. Print.