Best Online Professional Learning Network for School Librarians

Best Online Professional Learning Network for School Librarians - Some of my best practices & ideas have come from my online Professional Learning Network. So, here's my list of bloggers, social media groups, and other communities that have had the greatest influence on my Library Lessons and School Library Program..and they may help you, too. #NoSweatLibraryOften while creating Library Lessons or writing my blog, I realize many of the best practices and ideas I’ve gathered over the years are a result of, not formal professional development, but rather my  Professional Online Learning Network!

The concept of a PLN has been around since the 1990s, and some folks refer to it as a Personal Learning Network; but whether we choose the term personal or professional, it’s where we can learn to be a better educator and School Librarian.

For a long time, I referred to my “Professional Learning Community,” but in a Schoolology blog post titled “Personal Learning Network (PLN) Benefits, Tools, and Tactics,” Elizabeth Trach explains that PLC refers to a structured, place-oriented group of like-minded or content-related educators, whereas the major feature of a PLN is exactly what the term network implies: it’s a digital, online community connecting educators everywhere, at any time.

And that isn’t all…as Brianna Crowley explains in her December 31, 2014 Education Week-Teacher article, “Although technology is often the vehicle to build connections, a PLN is about relationships.

If you want to know more about building a PLN, visit Edublogs’ Building Your PLN, a free self-paced course. And now, here are the connections and relationships I’ve built as my Professional Learning Network over my many years as a School Librarian.

LIBRARY ORGANIZATIONS

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 listserv and my Texas State Library listserv provide my most valuable learning about standards, information literacy and library lessons.

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.

Library of Congress is one of my favorite places to explore. Not only do they have a huge online catalog of nearly every book ever written (with both LOC & Dewey identifiers), they also have a vast digital collection of media about American life from the earliest years up to today, as well as a vibrant blog that regularly features interesting parts of their collection.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Many librarians rely on Twitter, but I’m not as enthusiastic, though I do follow a few dozen folks, as well as a few librarians on Pinterest. My main social media outlet for library learning is Facebook and these 6 Groups consistently provide great professional learning ideas for School Librarians:

PODCASTS

There aren’t a lot of library podcasts, but here are two that are the best you could possibly use for timely advice and information.:

MY FAVORITE BLOGS

Another 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:

Jennifer Gonzalez, blogger/author at Cult of Pedagogy.Cult of Pedagogy – Jennifer Gonzalez, education specialist and National Board Certified teacher. Best overall teaching blog ever, plus great technology implementations.

Joyce Valenza, blogger for Never Ending Search at School Library Journal.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!

Naomi Bates, librarian/blogger at YA Books and MoreYA 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!) She’s now vlogging: creating 2-3 minute video booktalks on current YA reads.

500 Hats image.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.

Shannon McClintock Miller, teacher/blogger at The Library Voice and spokesperson for Future Ready Librarians and Follett.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, author of her name blog.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!

Nikki Robertson, librarian/blogger at The Absolutely True Adventures of a School Librarian.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.

Gwyneth Jones, librarian/blogger at The Daring Librarian.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.

Diana Rendina, librarian/blogger at Renovated Learning.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!

Elizabeth Kahn, librarin in Avondale LATales from a Loud Librarian –Elizabeth Kahn, librarian at Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy in Avondale, LA. She has some of the cleverest ideas I’ve ever seen for library lessons that truly engage students.

025.431: The Dewey blog Everything you always wanted to know about the Dewey Decimal Classification® system but were afraid to ask025.431: The Dewey blog – Everything you always wanted to know about the Dewey Decimal Classification System but were afraid to ask. From OCLC, the folks in charge of keeping Dewey current, who also sponsor a Google Groups discussion forum where you can ask questions and contribute suggestions.

Larry Ferlazzo, teacher/blogger at Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.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. For us he’s better than Google!

Richard Byrne, author/blogger at Free Technology for Teachers.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 and Mobile Learning - logo.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 more educational bloggers, but if you’re looking for high quality sources, try Teach 100, a daily ranking of the top 100 educational blogs recommended by educators around the world.

I hope these online professional communities help you as much as they’ve helped me. Happy Professional Library Learning!

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Looking Back @ the Past Decade(s)

Looking Back @ the Past Decade(s) - Looking backward at the past decade—and the many decades of my life before that—I see so many changes in our lives, yet I also see that we have so many ways we can improve. Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me. #NoSweatLibraryAs 2019 draws to a close, bloggers and media outlets are reflecting on this past decade. As for me, I’m nearing a milestone in my life, so I choose to reflect back on the many decades I’ve lived on this planet Earth. This is a purely personal blog entry, so read or skip as you will…

I’ve seen the birth of the US Highway System and Rock & Roll, of McDonald’s and Disneyland, of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood & Sesame Street, of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, and the Environmental Movement. But I’ve also seen the tragic deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, John Lennon, and Princess Di.

Christa McAuliffe - NASA public domain photo

I touch the future; I teach.

I’ve seen the first launch of a chimp into space, man’s first Earth orbit & walk on the moon, the successful return of ill-fated Apollo 13, launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the building of the Space Station. But I’ve also seen the fiery deaths of 3 different groups of astronauts, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.

I’ve seen love-ins & Woodstock, Brown vs. Board of Education, Miranda vs. Arizona, and Roe vs. Wade, 3 Constitutional Amendments and the addition of 2 States to the U.S., the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR. But I’ve also seen Watergate, 2 Presidents impeached, race riots in Watts, Detroit and 100 other cities, racial shootings that motivated Black Lives Matter, and school shootings in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Parkland.

I’ve lived through the Korean War, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the war against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve also lived during the time of peace activists like Albert Schweitzer, Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Joan Baez, and Malala Yousafzai.

Symphonies Of The Planets 1 - NASA Voyager RecordingsI’ve listened to music on 78rpm records, 33rpm albums & 45rpm singles, on 8-tracks & audio-cassettes, on CDs & iPods, on Sirius & Pandora. I’ve heard harpsichords & zithers & pan-flutes, madrigals & Dominican chants & Celtic ballads, Big Band sounds & folk songs & heavy metal, yet my favorite background music is electronic sounds from space.

I’ve watched television on a 14” black & white screen with vacuum tubes and a rabbit-ear antenna, on a solid state 26” color screen with an outdoor roof antenna, on a 4-ft rear projector TV with cable, and an LCD HD flatscreen from a small satellite dish on my roof. I’ve viewed 4 channels broadcasting 6am-midnight to hundreds of channels broadcasting 24/7, and I’ve watched Betamax & laserdiscs & VHS & DVDs & on-demand live streaming at the touch of a remote. All that, yet I mostly read books.

I’ve seen the development of UNIVAC, IBM, Cray, DEC/VAX, HP, Wang, Commodore, Compaq, Apple & Mac, Chromebooks, Atari, Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox; Fortran, COBOL, BASIC, PASCAL, UNIX, C++, MS-DOS, Windows, LINUX, HTML, and Javascript; ARPANET, Ethernet, TCP/IP, DNS, LISTSERV, Gopher, FTP, HTTP, and the World Wide Web. My livelihood for the past three decades has been tied to technology, yet my relaxation is putting together a 500-1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Punchcard

Punchcard

I’ve used a dial phone, push-button phone, Princess phone, Nokia phone, flip-phone, and Smartphone. I’ve typed—as fast as a person talks—on a manual typewriter, an electric typewriter, a punch-card machine, and a computer keyboard. And I see students who can message that fast with their thumbs on a phone, yet they hunt & peck on a keyboard because we can’t take time to teach them how to touch-type.

I’ve seen public education go through 3 iterations of the same things given fancy new names—including the rise & fall of standardized testing and the respect & denigration of the teaching profession. We churn out the best & brightest of scholars, yet we lament that high school graduates can’t read, spell, form a complete sentence, or add numbers in their head.

Peace builders - Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me.As I ponder our achievements and fiascoes, I realize that nothing has really changed. We are still the same imperfect humans, trying our best to make our way in the world and to make the world a better place. My life has been much the same: I can take pride in my finest achievements and shrink in shame at my lowest failures, yet I remain hopeful that all is working its way toward a better future.

Let there be peace on earth…and let it begin with me.

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