As I was writing my series about the 5 Essential Literacies for Students—reading, content literacy, information literacy, digital literacy, and media literacy—I realized so much of the knowledge and many of the ideas I’ve gathered over the years are a result of, not formal professional development, but rather my Professional Online Learning Community!
School Librarians need to keep abreast of changing subject and library standards, of useful strategies for research & information skills, and for new technology. Membership in my State library association and in ALA/AASL are advantageous, but the international LM_NET and my Texas State Library listservs provide my most valuable learning about how to infuse Information Literacy into my Library Lessons. In addition, my district Library Director schedules monthly meetings for our district librarians, and we learn about and discuss issues that affect us, such as educational trends and curricular needs or changes for different grade levels and subjects.
Another wonderful organization for school librarians is edWeb.net. Through their School Library Network and Emerging Tech for Schools and Libraries communities, they offer at least one FREE webinar every month on new ideas, best practices, and valuable resources. School Librarians need to keep up with the constant innovation and diversification of technology, and to keep our professional skills one step ahead of students. I seek out new tools to integrate technology into assignments and ideas for new or better ways to implement my technology lessons. I do take advantage of district training, but online videos and Webinars from vendors, curriculum providers, online services, and professional organizations help me learn much more.
My Favorite Blogs
Next to my listservs, my most essential professional learning tool is an RSS feeder that allows me to subscribe to and gather together blogs about School Libraries, education, and technology. I’ve used feedly for several years and recently began also using Bloglovin’; through them I can read numerous blogs that provide insight and ideas for improving my Library Lessons and my School Library Program. Here is a list of my favorites:
Cult of Pedagogy — Jennifer Gonzalez, education specialist and National Board Certified teacher. Best overall teaching blog ever, plus great technology implementations.
Never Ending Search — Joyce Valenza, the guru of all school librarians, writes this blog for School Library Journal. She’s a long-time tech leader and co-creator of #TLChat, TLChat Live, and TL Virtual Café. First as a high school librarian and now as professor of library science at Rutgers University, she keeps us all on our toes!
Library Media Tech Talk — Stony Evans, librarian at Lakeside HS in Hot Springs AR and a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator, offers great ways to use technology in the library to engage students and expand their global connections. Every blog post is a new inspiration!
YA Books and More — Naomi Bates, a Texas high school librarian with a wide range of knowledge about books and reading, library skills and technology. One of these days I’ll get in my car and drive across town to visit her library!
Blue Skunk Blog — Doug Johnson writes on all things library and technology. I became inspired by Doug during a group chat in one of my library courses. For many years he had the closing article in Library Media Connection [now School Library Connection] which was the first thing I read when I received the magazine!
500 Hats — Barbara Braxton, an Australian school librarian, has 3 Master’s degrees and over 40 years experience. Her posts on the LM_NET listserv always offers excellent professional guidance for school library programs.
The Library Voice – Shannon McClintock Miller, school librarian and currently the Future Ready Libraries & Project Connect spokesperson. She offers great resources for school librarians to become leaders in the digital transformation of learning.
Hilda K. Weisburg — another long-time guru, Hilda is a retired school librarian with over 25 years experience. She has a way of making us see the big picture!
The Absolutely True Adventures of a School Librarian – Nikki Robertson, a Georgia school librarian and Instructional Technology Facilitator, is co-creator of #TLChat LIVE! and TL News Night.
The Daring Librarian – Gwyneth Jones, a teacher librarian in Maryland, has a passion for edtech and shares all her creative and wonderful lesson ideas with the rest of the library world.
Renovated Learning — Diana Rendina, a media specialist/teacher librarian in Tampa, Florida is the guru of Makerspaces. Her ideas for redesigning the school library into a participatory learning environment with hands-on STEM learning experiences are the best!
Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day — This long-time ELL/ESL/EFL teacher is a librarian’s best resource for online curation. He has thousands—yes, thousands—of sites organized in dozens of categories on his website and in his Pinterest boards. He’s better than Google!
Free Technology for Teachers — Richard Byrne in Maine. The very best resource for all things technology, he also has a channel on YouTube with dozens of video tutorials for tech tools. My go-to guy when I need to know how to use a tech tool!
Educational Technology & Mobile Learning — Meg Kharbach, a doctoral researcher with 10 years of classroom experience, writes from Nova Scotia, Canada about dozens of technology tools for iPads, Smartphones, and Google/Chrome/Chromebooks. You need it, she can recommend something!
There are thousands of educational bloggers, so if you’re looking for more, try Teach 100, a daily ranking of the top 100 educational blogs recommended by educators around the world.
Many librarians rely on Twitter, but I’m not as enthusiastic, though I do follow a few dozen folks. I’m also starting to follow more librarians through Pinterest. My main social media outlet for library learning is Facebook and these 4 Groups consistently provide great professional learning ideas and links:
I just recently transitioned to my new Facebook professional page at www.facebook.com/barupatx because my personal family stuff was getting lost among so much of the phenomenal library and education information coming to me!
I hope these online professional communities help you as much as they’ve helped me. Happy Professional Library Learning!