September 10, 2011

Librarian Blogs

Posted in Module 1 Assignments at 1:24 am by lmt84

Blog 1:  A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet

About the Blog:

This blog was First Runner Up for the Edublog Awards of 2010. Julie Greller has been a media specialist for 20 years and works in New Jersey. This blog offers so many things, it is hard to list all of the benefits. On the homepage, Julie posts videos, articles, feeds to helpful Twitter and Ning accounts, and resources that would be of interest to any librarian or general educator. I thought the most fantastic aspect of her website was that she has tabs for different grade levels, Reference, New Teachers, as well as a tab entitled Free! These tabs lead to a wealth of resources!

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?

As a school librarian, this blog offers immense potential to increase my collaborative relationships. I feel that I cannot ignore the amount of resources that are literally at my fingertips—it is my obligation to pass them on to the teachers.  At my school, all 9th Graders partake in an English 9 Research Project, as well as History Day.  On the blog’s homepage is a resource I would share with any teacher, but especially to those who teach English 9—a video called “You Just Can’t Google It”. This humorous video shows students that Googling for research is not enough—they must use credible sources and determine the reliability of their sources in order to create a valid research assignment. As an English teacher myself, I am going to show this to my classes when we start our Research Unit.

Under the Reference tab, I located a source called Milestone Documents. This site offers virtual views of the documents that shaped our nation’s history as well as lessons, handouts, and other ideas for activities. I would attend the team planning session of the US History teachers and show them this resource. I would come to the meeting with some ideas of where they can fit this resource into their curriculum while at the same time using the resources in the library. Another resource that would be beneficial to share with the teachers is the History Engine. This search engine gets students away from Google, and has them actively delving into primary documents from the time periods they study. They get to play historian, and take a more hands on approach to examining the documents. They thus get to see how each piece of history works as a puzzle in order to form our society today.

This blog would certainly help me to improve my status as an educational leader in the school. It will help me to be a standout in my knowledge, which will lead to potential collaboration. Not only can I use the linked resources on the blog itself, but the other blogs that Julie recommends for further material. This blog then becomes another tool for me to increase my knowledge as a librarian and help me grow as an instructional partner to the teachers in the building. As Fontichiaro states, “Collaboration rooted in trust and respect among committed adults is the most essential condition for meaningful change” (83). As my partnerships increase, I have the potential to change the way students learn, making them more ready for the digital world in which we live.   

How do the posts assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy – or did they?

As previously mentioned, Julie uses tabs to sort information by grade level. I can use this blog to show teachers additional resources that match up exactly to their content area. Free lessons can be found for almost every grade and subject area taught in the school. My favorite lessons were via a link Julie provided called Teachnology–I found that most lessons on this page in particular do incorporate technology. While not all of the other lessons on the blog incorporate technology, they do  offer potential opportunities for collaboration between the librarian and content teacher. The librarian and teacher can take these lessons and figure out a way to incorporate information literacy. For example, I would bring this Beach Erosion lesson to the attention of an Earth Science teacher in my school. Knowing that this fits her curriculum, we could then examine the lesson together and determine how to use it/tweak it to our specific needs. I was happy to see that Julie even includes lessons for subject areas that would typically have a hard time using the library, such as math class. Using her blog I found a great lesson called Math on a Map, that has students using satellite images from Google Earth in order to solve specific math equations.  In closing, I believe that this blog makes a great effort to provide countless resources for content teachers. The librarian can view any of these resources, adapt ideas to fit his/her library resources, and bring them to the teachers in order to foster a collaborative relationship.

Blog 2: The Daring Librarian

About the Blog:

This blog placed 4th for the Edublog Awards of 2010 and was Second Runner up in the Edublog Awards 2010 category for Best Use of a Virtual Network. The blog is run by Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones, a middle school librarian in the same county as me—Howard County, MD! Upon first look, one could interpret this site as a bit loud… there are tons of graphics and the presence of pop culture is just about everywhere. I had my doubts about this blog for the aforementioned reasons, as well as the fact that the writing style is very casual—quite different than the tone of the other blogs I have visited. When going through the posts, I found that despite all of the “craziness” there was some useful information being presented. Gwyneth is constantly updating/reviewing/plugging different types of technology and social networking tools to use in the library as well as teacher classrooms. She also links to websites, articles, seminars, and professional development opportunities all related to the field of school library media.

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?

I could use this blog in my library because there were a few unique ideas for lessons/activities for students to complete using technology or the library’s space. One idea was a Library Scavenger Hunt using QR codes—a hip, tech savvy new twist on the typical scavenger hunt in which the kids learn the layout of the library. I would use this lesson as it  provides a more interactive approach to understanding the library, which I think would work exceptionally well with any student groups that are at risk for low performance, such as your ESOL program, or Resource/Review level classes. These are the kids who we need to get excited about reading and learning—and this technology based lesson is a fantastic way to introduce them to the library. I also found a neat Tech Ed lesson on Simple Machines, which allows students to use the Internet to complete research which resulted in a few group projects. It was great to see resources provided for all content areas. This allows me to reach out to all staff members and form a variety of collaborative partnerships.

I enjoyed the fact that Gwyneth advertises for all sorts of professional development opportunities on her blog. Fontiachiaro states that “There has never been a more exciting or potentially powerful time to be a library media specialist” (82), so it is crucial that we attend any PD sessions to make sure we are constantly serving our schools to the best of our ability. Attending such things also shows that we realize that we are a team, working together to help students across the nation. She was heavily involved with promoting the ISTE conference, and I actually found an online Back to School seminar that I am planning to attend. This blog is certainly one I will follow in order to stay up to date on professional development opportunities. What I liked about her PD notifications was that she made the seminars sound fun and worth my time to attend.

How do the posts assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy – or did they?

As cool as this blog is, I don’t think I would suggest it to a teacher to examine on their own. If a teacher is already not the most confident when it comes to technology, I feel that this site would overwhelm them. I also didn’t find a lot of material that directly applied to specific content areas. The information was geared more towards technology tutorials and reviews. However, on the blog she provided the link to her wiki, which would be much more appropriate to share with teachers. Here there are tutorials for all sorts of technology- from using LCD projectors and document cameras, to Microsoft Word applications, to using tools like podcasts and wikispaces. It is a very comprehensive and informative wikispace—more importantly it is very easy to understand. This will serve to give teachers the confidence to use these technologies in order to increase their students’ information literacy skills. On the wiki I also found an even better resource, a wiki for her entire school. This is where I found the best resources that connect directly to teacher curricula throughout the building. It had great ideas for lessons that use technology and I thought that they were really creative. A particular favorite of mine was the Twitter Style Book Review—a great resource that any librarian can take and rework for any level of English. As great as all of this information is, I wish it was truly located on the blog, instead of accessible on the wiki. I had to do a bit of searching to find the value of this blog (which included the links to the wikis and other resources), but in the end the results were worth the effort.

Blog 3: Hey Jude

About the Blog:

This is a blog that I already like to visit, so I was pleased to see that it took 6th place at the Edublog Awards for 2009. This gave me a sense that I was already onto a “good thing”. Judy O’Connell, who lives in Australia, serves on two boards, School Libraries Worldwide and Horizon K-12 Project, which focus on how emerging technologies influence libraries and K-12 education. I enjoyed this blog because it serves as an arena for honest reflection. I liked the tone used throughout the blog—there was no overuse of technological terms that people who are novices couldn’t understand. It was simple yet enthusiastic, which let Judy’s voice shine through. One recent entry I found particularly useful was Things Worth Tweeting About. Here she describes the recent updates to Google as well as changes in the eBooks world. Her post was straightforward in explaining the importance of these things to the world of education, for both teachers and librarians.

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?

Judy’s blog features posts about a multitude of new technology that she comes across. From explaining the different uses of Twitter, to the benefits of Google Apps, to exploring the use of computer tablets in the classroom, the posts cover technologies that can be used in any classroom. Judy even posts links to articles to help educators, parents, teens, etc. learn how to use these technologies. These articles would be an excellent resource to share with teachers. This way they can notify parents about the excellent learning opportunities that the students are experiencing in the classroom. I especially liked her post about safety online. It linked to a great resource for parents to use when dealing with children (of any age) about how to be safe when exploring technology (cell phone use, social networking sites, as well as ethical use). I would spread the word of this article to teachers, but also use it myself when dealing with the school community. This article helps to portray that I am an educational leader at the school, as well as someone who works to keep their students safe when it comes to using technology.

Aside from the posts dealing with integrating technology into education, I enjoyed the posts about accessories for the hottest technologies (MacBooks, I phones, etc.) and potential ways to integrate social media into the classroom.  This helps to keep me up to date as a professional expert on all of the technology that I can learn in order to infuse it into my school. Her language is very “user friendly” and it is clear that she keeps educators in mind throughout every post. I really feel that her goal is to keep classrooms in touch with our modern world, and to do this, the librarian must be involved. In doing so we can captivate the interest of our students and make them true lovers of learning. I will continue to use this blog to help me grow as a professional in this area.

How do the posts assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy – or did they?

While I didn’t find actual lessons that already had technology integrated into them, I found the page called Toolkit A-Z for Education to be a fantastic resource. It lists, in alphabetical order, technologies to incorporate into any content area. From Aviary, to Jing and Moviemaker, to Wordle, the list of tools can be easily inserted into any content. This is where it shows crucial to me that the librarian holds a general knowledge of the curricula for each content area. This ties to the fact that “Library media specialists have to be the initial instigators of collaboration” (Fontichiaro 208). If I have a hand in the curriculum, I can then match up a tool to a specific content objective and take it upon myself to set up a collaborative relationship with the content teacher. Even though there were no content based lessons, librarians should possess the ability to put themselves out there, work with the teachers, and insert these tools into lessons in order to help students develop their information literacy skills.

Many posts about technology did lend themselves to specific content areas, although it wasn’t specifically stated. I found a great post on Easy Bib for classroom teachers that require any sort of writing. I would share this post with them as it describes the benefits of the site, as well as how to use it. What a fantastic, easy resource for any teacher to use—especially great because it promotes academic honesty! Another post describing Zotero would be beneficial for any content area that does research. Curricula that involve research often have very specific standards/goals, and Zotero is a great way to integrate technology into the overall research process. It allows bookmarking, note taking online, citation information, and virtually everything needed for students to thoroughly understand each step of conducting research. Hey Jude is an informative blog that offers the librarian the freedom to use the resources in the way that they see fit. For this reason, it will be one that I continue to follow when I am a librarian myself.

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1 Comment »

  1. slm509cms said,

    Lisa,

    Your reviews are so in-depth and helpful! Thanks for sharing! I was hooked on A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet when you mentioned that resources are organized into tabs by grade. There are so many resources under the K-5 tab. However, I was surprised that quite a few links were dead. The resources that have active links are very good, but I wish there was a way for her to keep up on the links. I think that is a common problem for large websites/blogs since links to websites change so often.
    Christine


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