As a new library media specialist, I’ve been struggling to effectively communicate the what, why, and how of my Learning Commons. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been my first steps however I struggle with how much or how little to share. After viewing Common Craft’s Blogs in Plain English, it occurred to me that blogging could be an easy way for me to easily share the learning that is happening throughout the week. The narrator posed the question, “isn’t everything news to someone?”
My favorite library blogs are those that allow me to experience the learning through thoughtful narratives embedded with carefully curated photos and videos. These same bloggers then post snippets of these blog entries on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram. In this manner, the blog author is addressing the learning styles and needs of the learning community. Those followers who prefer a quick visual glimpse will remain connected to the programming through the abbreviated social media platforms. Those followers who are interested in learning more can click through to the extended blog post to delve deeper into the learning and the processes involved in facilitating the learning.
Expect the Miraculous is the blog of an elementary librarian, Andy Plemmons. He documents and shares the learning experiences happening in the David C. Barrow Elementary School library media center in Athens, Georgia. Through reflective and thoughtful narratives, Plemmons keeps stakeholders within the learning community informed. As a colleague within the school, I would be able to make connections between my classroom and the work happening in the library in order to encourage transfer. As a parent, I would be aware of the content and be able make a home-school connection to extend the learning that is happening in the library.
As a library media specialist, Plemmons’ posts allow me to find inspiration and resources to use in my own library. Each narrative is enhanced by photos and videos illustrating not just students’ products but also the process of learning. By seeing and hearing the learning taking place, the reader can imagine what this might look like in their own library. Plemmons provides links to various curricular resources that allow the follower to use the posts as lesson seeds for work in their own libraries. In a post entitled “Students as Digital Leaders: A Digital Citizenship Lesson,” Plemmons describes in detail how he introduced the responsibilities of digital citizenship through the lens of being a digital leader. He shares how he collaborated with teachers both as a co-teacher in the same classroom and as a virtual teacher in classrooms he was not able to visit due to scheduling conflicts.
In another post entitled “Examining the Work of Ashley Bryan,” Plemmons describes the collaborative process used to plan a learning experience with the art teacher, Ms. Foretich. He provided an overview of each of the four stations he and Ms. Foretich facilitated with their students prior to visiting an exhibit of the puppeteer’s work at a museum in Atlanta and those that would occur after the field experience. The stations offered choice and addressed a variety of learning styles and needs. There were opportunities for students to create through hands-on activities, to read informational and fiction texts, and to process through the use of digital resources. While I wouldn’t focus necessarily on Ashley Bryan, the structure of the learning experience is something I could use in my own instruction. I’m looking forward to sharing this post with my school’s art teacher in hopes that we can develop our own collaboration project.
Overall, Plemmons effectively demonstrates how grade level content, library curriculum, and technology standards can be blended to create engaging learning experiences in the media center. I appreciate the narrative style of the blog and enjoy reading the posts as case studies for my own professional development. I aspire to keep my students and stakeholders informed in a similar manner.
The MHMS Daring School Library Blog is a middle school library blog for a school in Howard County, Maryland. The blog is maintained by “celebrity” librarian and blogger Gwyneth Jones who is also known as The Daring Librarian. I’ve followed her professional blog for several years after meeting her at the Maryland Society for Educational Technology conference in Baltimore in 2010. It hadn’t occurred to me to seek out her library blog so I was excited when I stumbled upon it.
The blog entries here include some narrative summaries of activities happening in the library, announcements for students, reminders of policies and procedures, as well as loads of book shelfies, pictures, and videos of students using the library. The main purpose of this blog is to keep students informed, entertained, and engaged. A post welcoming students back to school in September, includes a Library Orientation video. This post can be used by staff, students, and parents to refresh their knowledge of the library’s policies, procedures, and resources.
A post entitled “Warning: Do Not Read This Blog Post,” is a humorous play on the Series of Unfortunate Events series of books. Students are warned not to read the post in the same manner Lemony Snicket uses to discourage his readers from opening his books. The purposes of the post are to inform students of the release of the original network series, make a deliberate connection between the televised series and the books, and to remind students that the library’s collection includes the books. Posts such as this can help to increase circulation and traffic in the library.
I really liked the inclusion of a “Writing Quality Comments” tab at the top of the blog. Jones provides students with a step by step guide for posting a comment on the blog or any blog for that matter. While the guide was created by another blogger, Jones acknowledges the original author, Bridget Compton-Moen, and provides a link to Compton-Moen’s blog. This guide reinforces the work that has been done with digital citizenship and acts as success criteria for students who may not feel confident posting publicly. Even without the actual presence of the librarian, students are reminded of the appropriate way to comment on social media. This is an important life skill to hone as students begin to prepare for college and career paths. Providing this and other resources for students to access anywhere supports the transfer of skills taught in the library to other content areas.
The Daring Librarian’s school library blog is an excellent example of a resource that connects students, staff, and families to the library. The style of the blog is engaging for middle school students while not being too novel to discourage parents or staff from using the site as well. I’d like to incorporate aspects of The MHMS Daring School Library Blog such as an orientation video and book shelfies into my own library’s libguide.
The Book Nest is the high school library blog of Tompkins High School in Katy, Texas. The blog is maintained by library media specialist Michelle Tuttle. Posts announce upcoming events, contests, and library promotions. The blog’s clean lines and minimalist design would appeal to high school students. A post on September 6th provides students with an orientation to the library. The orientation presentation is brief and highlights expectations of and resources found in the library.
Tuttle’s posts are engaging and of high interest to students. A post entitled “Blind dating in the library,” invites students to visit the library to check out a covered book. Photos included in the post are colorful and include just enough detail, such as Rate the Date cards, to entice readers to try something new. Another more recent post, “Read it Forward begins TODAY!,” provides a brief description of an initiative to promote an upcoming author visit. The post includes a link to an outside source for students to access more information.
While the blog posts are not as frequent or as descriptive as the elementary and middle school library blogs, the author’s use of Twitter is more frequent. In a post regarding Banned Book Week, students are encouraged to tweet action items to speak out against censorship. As William Ferriter pointed out, it is important to help students see social media as, “vehicles for collective action around ideas they believe in.” This activity is an authentic, real world issue that is developmentally appropriate for high school students to explore.
The blog also includes a variety of links to digital resources and tools independent learners such as high school students would need regularly to complete assignments. An example of these supports, Tuttle posted an infographic to help students evaluate sources – specifically databases and websites. She models her own inquiry process by explaining that she discovered the poster while doing her own research. ISTE Standard 3 refers to modeling digital age work and learning through the effective use of digital tools. Tuttle demonstrates these skills for her students throughout the blog.
The purpose of this blog is to connect the students within the learning community to the library and its resources. At this level, there is less need to attract teachers and families to the blog however the resources found on the blog would be helpful to anyone in the learning community. This approach to blogging appeals to my own learning style and needs but wouldn’t work within my own elementary learning community. The use of Twitter to interact with students wouldn’t be developmentally appropriate as a method of communication between myself and my students. I could use Tuttle’s approach through a Google classroom platform where students’ posts would be public to classmates but not the larger digital community. This may be an interesting way to engage students during Picture Book Month this November.
Blogs provide everyone with an audience and allows news to be shared easily. As an elementary librarian, my audience includes my students, their families, and my colleagues. Helping these members of the learning community understand the what, why, and how of the learning taking place in the Learning Commons starts with sharing the news of our work together. By incorporating the narrative style of Andy Plemmons into my own library blog, I can help teachers and parents better understand the expectations of the library media curriculum. Including photos, videos, and other artifacts as Plemmons and Jones did, will reinforce stakeholders’ understandings and allow them to encourage transfer of knowledge and skills outside of the library. Including contests and opportunities for students to interact and connect with the Learning Commons even when they aren’t physically in the space as Tuttle has done, will help build personal connections within the learning community. These connections to each other and the Learning Commons will encourage students to use the blog and libguide as a reference while in their classrooms and at home.
“Blogs in Plain English.” YouTube, Common Craft, 29 Nov. 2007, youtu.be/NN2I1pWXjXI.
Ferriter, William M. “Digitally Speaking/Positive Digital Footprints.” Educational Leadership, vol. 68, no. 7, Apr. 2011, pp. 92–93., www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr11/vol68/num07/Positive-Digital-Footprints.aspx. Accessed 24 Oct 2017.
Jones, Gwyneth. The MHMS Daring School Library Blog, daringlibrary.edublogs.org/. Accessed 1 Nov 2017.
Plemmons, Andy. Expect the Miraculous: Barrow Media Center, expectmiraculous.com/. Accessed 1 Nov 2017.
Tuttle, Michelle. The Book Nest, tompkinslibrary.edublogs.org/. Accessed 1 Nov 2017.