I am not a Library Media Specialist, but I decided to review three library blogs that I think you will find interesting. Library blogs are more specific than educator blogs, so keep this in mind when looking for a blog that suits you. Many bloggers have different content that they feature on their blogs. Common themes I have found in library blogs are providing access to digital technology, teaching strategies, ideas for increasing circulation in the library, advice for librarians, and book reviews.
The first site that I explored was The Daring Librarian. (https://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/). The Daring Librarian is Gwyneth Jones, a Library Media Specialist in Howard County Public Schools. She has multiple accolades related to being a LMS and technology specialist. The purpose of her blog is to share all of the wonderful things happening in her library, and the resources she has gathered to incorporate technology and a love for reading. She is a middle school LMS, so any middle school teacher can appreciate her content. She has not updated her page since schools were shut in March, but her prior posts highlight her love for being a librarian and seeing students discover new books. She has a “stream of consciousness” style to her writing, and as long as a few typos don’t bother you, you should find her blog useful.
Her latest post “Keep Calm and Read On” https://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2020/03/keep-calm-and-read-on.html was dedicated to sharing resources for students and parents to access while students are out of school. Her post was very school specific; however it is a good reminder that there are always more resources to discover. The focus of this post was to connect students with library resources. She discusses the Wattpad App, and it’s uses. Wattpad is an app that I would recommend to students who are avid readers because they can read free ebooks. She also shares a list of the 6 best audio books that you can listen to for free on Youtube. This post shows a great use of library blogs and how they can be used to share information with students and parents. Library Media Specialists don’t have specific classes that they teach, so this type of blog is great way to disseminate information. It is also a great way to inform teachers and parents of what is happening in the classroom.
Another post she published was titled “Musical Bookcases” https://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2020/02/musical-bookcases.html , a game that she plays with her students that is similar to Musical Chairs. The only difference is that students are walking around the room and when the music stops, they need to stop in front of a bookshelf and take a book. She broke down how to play the game and uploaded Youtube videos of her students playing. She goes on to explain the importance of making time in the library engaging. That the goal is for students to have books in their hands at the end of the day. She concludes by discussing the struggles that are faced by standardized testing. Because schools typically use the library for makeup testing and as an alternative testing location, access to the library becomes more limited. Overall it is apparent that her goal as a teacher is to get students reading and into the library.
The next blog that I visited was titled Never Ending Search. This blog is intended specifically for school Librarians. The content presented is timely (approx. a post a week) and relevant. Common themes throughout posts are school libraries, COVID-19, collaboration and conferencing, equity, racism, and technology. All of the posts that I reviewed were by Joyce Valenza. This blog is great because it keeps Librarians up-to-date on all of the issues related to being a librarian.
The first post I explored was titled “On the Importance of Making a (Reopening) Plan”. (http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2020/06/19/on-the-importance-of-making-a-reopening-plan/) In a time where the future of education is unknown, and the roles of educators may be changing, librarians need to make a plan when it comes to reopening. Establishing the importance of librarians and their critical role within a school was one of the primary focuses of the article. It shows that librarians play a critical role in providing students with the resources they need to be successful digitally. The article concludes by providing a bulleted list of what librarians can do when developing a reopening plan. This post would be beneficial to any librarian across the country who is questioning what the future of school and being a librarian looks like after the pandemic.
I found the other post that I reviewed on this site extremely useful. It was titled “Wakelet: Way to do a Conference (and a Heck of a lot More).” (http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2020/06/13/wakelet-way-to-do-a-conference-and-a-heck-of-a-lot-more/ ) This post outlines the many uses of the Wakelet (wakelet.com) and how it can be effectively used to organize material, create presentations, and collaborate. Wakelet is a great app because it allows the user to save content from many different sources. It also allows you to organize the content and share with others. Wakelet makes it easier for educators to share their resources with one another. I am looking to use Wakelet as I think it will be a good tool for collaborate with team members. Reading posts like this one remind me that there are so many technology tools available for teachers to use, we just need to discover them and give them a try.
The post that had the most impact on me was titled “Write a Report”. http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2020/05/20/write-a-report/ It urges educators to write an annual report to showcase their efforts throughout the school year. This was something completely new to me, but I can see how it could lead to more success as a teacher. Valenza outlines the reasons why educators should write a report. One of the reasons that resonated with me was recognizing accomplishments and challenges in order to set goals for the future. As an educator, I spend time reflecting on lessons, but I don’t usually do an overall reflection of the year. Writing a report would allow me to recollect my reflections from the prior year. This would also help me focus my efforts as a teacher. She then outlines all the reasons why you should write this annual report. After you read the list you will be completely convinced that writing an annual report is a professional practice that demonstrates your strengths as an educator. If you decide to write an annual report for your own personal records you should consider sharing it with your administration, and request that a copy be kept in your personnel file. It’s always good practice to clearly identify the importance and pivotal role that you play in a school. This is a great way to further your professional practice as a teacher.
The final blog that I explored was Ms. Yingling Reads – Books for the Middle Grades. http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/Ms. Yingling is a middle school librarian in Ohio. Her blog is very simple and the targeted audience is middle school students. Each post is a book review that provides a brief synopsis of the story, strengths and weaknesses of the story, and what Ms. Yingling thinks about it. Ms. Yingling posts a new entry approx. 4 -5 times a week so there’s always new books to learn about. This is a change from the two other blogs that I explored, because it is a book review blog. However, it’s good to see the varying types of library blogs that are available. This type of blog would not be hard to start. To make this blog even better, there could be an added tab where students give their own reviews of books. It would make the site engaging and even more student friendly.
I read one of her book review blog posts titled “The Stepmom Shake-up” http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-stepmom-shake-up.html This post gave a brief but compelling synopsis of the book. What I like about her posts is her take on the strengths and weaknesses of the book. By sharing her opinions about what worked in the text and what didn’t, she shows students that she has read the book. Her perspectives also may spark deeper thinking among students as they consider her review while reading.
I highly suggest visiting the blogs that I reviewed and sharing this information with your colleagues. Even if you are not a librarian, these blogs can be useful! The best part of library blogs is the focus on literacy and using technology to teach more effectively.