I’m excited to have the time to explore library blogs and see what other library professionals are sharing online! As I began exploring, the first blog that caught my attention was Beyond Survival in a School Library. I love the catchy title of this blog, and I think it reflects the feeling of a lot of librarians I’ve talked to lately. As we take on even more responsibilities than ever, we are trying to do more than just survive – we’re trying to use the opportunity to do make even greater connections with our students.
The purpose of this “Beyond Survival in a School Library” blog is to connect with other people who have an interest in libraries. And, I was surprised to see that the connections this librarian has made span the entire world! She is based in Canada, but people who have commented on her writings are from all over – New Zealand, Australia, London, Indiana, Arkansas, and more. I see this as one of the greatest advantages of blogs and other online resources – the ability to share ideas and materials with people you would never otherwise have a chance to collaborate with. I think we can get stuck in our own routines – doing the same things over and over again, and doing the same activities with our colleagues year after year. Taking time to explore and seek out what other professionals are doing is so beneficial – it puts a fresh spin on everything and can hopefully inspire some new ideas!
After scrolling through this blog, I discovered there are many different types of posts. In one entry, the author describes a guest visit she hosted with some local comic book artists who spoke with students about creating graphic works. In another, she describes a library reward she designed for a first grade class where everyone returned their books on time for an entire month. She also includes information about lessons she’s teaching, and she also links videos that she shares as part of her lessons. I think this is an especially valuable thing to do. Searching out appropriate online resources to share with students can be very time consuming, so it’s a huge help to find something that another educator has already used successfully.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the scope and organization of this blog. It has a professional look, and the author keeps it updated enough so that the information is relevant for readers. One layout feature that I think is extremely helpful is her “Categories” sidebar. In this sidebar, the author breaks down important topics she’s blogged about in the past. She includes topics such as Library Class, Poetry, eReaders in the School Library, Library Management, Online Resources, and more. These categories make it easier to locate information about a particular topic, and they will become even more valuable as she continues to add to her blog. Planning and sticking to a well-thought-out organizational system goes a long way towards making content easy to locate and use.
As I was browsing through library blogs this week, the second one that caught my interest was the Van Meter Library Voice. I recognize the author, Shannon McClintock Miller, from School Library Journal. After reading her author information and experience, I was excited to see what ideas she is sharing in her blog.
My first impression of this blog is that it is very professional looking. I can tell it contains a lot of information, but everything appears to be well-organized, and there are a lot of logical categories. The pictures and videos she includes are also embedded neatly, and there is a lot of white space, making it easy to focus on the content – not a busy layout.
The purpose of this blog is to share information about technology and how it is being used in this school library. The author shares information about the latest apps she is discovering and the technology her students are using. Her posts include pictures of her students in action as well as links to websites and databases that give more information about the devices she is discussing. She also includes screenshots of some of the technology in action. These shots are especially useful because they give a real-life glimpse of what she is talking about.
This blog is a lot more visual than the first blog I looked at. I can tell this librarian is involved in a lot of other things besides teaching. She works as an educational consultant, a writer, a speaker, and she is very involved in several professional organizations. Since she is so busy, this blog serves as a good landing point where she can share all of her accomplishments and ideas. I think this is important because it makes it easy to go to one place and have access to a variety of different resources – both educational and professional.
The third library blog I checked out was one by the librarian at Curtis Elementary School. I am especially interested in this blog because it focuses solely on the elementary grades, and those are the grades I currently serve. One of the first things I noticed about this blog was its header – it states that the librarian’s passion is to “teach, challenge, and inspire students to succeed in the global community.” I love this – it’s a great mission statement for today’s digital learners!
The purpose of this blog is to share information about what is happening in the library as well as information about new books and resources for teachers. There are clear, easy-to-spot tabs at the top of the blog so readers can easily navigate to whichever topic they are interested in. In the Library Happenings section, the author describes events scheduled in the library – a celebration for Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, an author Skype, and the Book Fair to name a few. I like how many of the posts are accompanied by pictures of the students in action or photos from the activity the author is describing. I think this makes the posts more appealing, and it also gives readers a better understanding of exactly what is taking place in the library.
One of my favorite parts about this blog is all the real-world information the author shares. She includes so much information that can be read and applied immediately. She includes brief book reviews that give fast highlights about a variety of new titles. She also shares short posts that spotlight different teacher resources. I think she’s smart to include short tidbits so readers aren’t overwhelmed and don’t feel like they have to sit down and devote 20 minutes to reading about something. Instead, they can visit this blog and in 5 minutes, they can come away with a good understanding of some of the latest books and apps to try with their students.
Another library blog I checked out was the Bulldog Reader Blog. The purpose of this blog is to share the author’s ideas about reading, books, library lessons, and technology integration. Like so many other blogs I’ve viewed, the author is quick to note that the opinions reflected here are hers alone – not her school districts’.
One of my favorite posts in this blog was about this school’s participation in the Washington’s Children’s Choice Contest. My school participates in a similar contest each school year where after hearing several nominated books, students vote for their favorite. I especially liked the video advertisements students created to encourage others to vote for their favorite book. Doing something like this with my students next year would be an easy way to integrate more technology into some of my library lessons. I also enjoyed seeing some of her students’ work, such as the original story they wrote based on the book The Day The Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers. I read this book with my first graders earlier in the school year, and doing a creative spin-off activity like creating our own version sounds like a lot of fun. I also liked watching some of the book trailers the author created. Throughout each school year, I also create several book trailers based on popular books students are reading. I’ve never really shared them publicly, but after viewing some of these trailers, I might consider adding mine to my own blog at some point. Overall, I thought this blog did a great job of meeting the author’s goals. It included examples of student work, information about what was happening in the library, and it also showcased some great technology-infused learning.
One way I might be able to incorporate blogs into my library program would be to have students write about books they are currently reading or have recently finished. My library circulation system has an option built into it that allows students to post comments and recommendations about books. This might be a way to get our feet wet with blogging and sharing opinions online.
As a way to get other teachers in my building interested in blogging and sharing opinions online, I might suggest a site like Edmoto that provides a safe environment for students to share their opinions. This is especially important at the elementary level where a lot of my students are too young to sign up for their own accounts on a lot of sites. A way to get other teachers interested in blogging might also be to share the links to one or two great educational blogs I’ve come across (maybe even some of the ones I’ve reviewed for this week). Sending the links to these blogs in an email or including information about them in a newsletter might encourage teachers to check them out. As for using blogs for professional development, I have already bookmarked several blogs I’ve looked at over the past 2 weeks. I plan to continue checking these sites periodically as a way to keep on top of some of the great things that are happening in the library world. Scanning the latest entries in a few blogs doesn’t require a huge time commitment, so I’m hoping this is something I can keep on top of!