As a human, I can mostly be summed up by calling myself a learner. It is my favorite thing to do, and it is my favorite thing to help or inspire other people to do. I think often about how quickly technology moves, and how it sometimes seems like language acquisition – the older I get, the harder it is to really become fluent. When I decided to go to school to be a school librarian, it was like a vow to myself that I would never become my dad – the man who refuses to text. There are so many resources on the web to keep us current, informed, challenged, and connected. As technology changes, and our access points/devices/practices change, I’ll remember that vow – you’re never too old to learn.
AASL is fabulous for putting together an annual list of the best websites (2015) and apps (2015) for teaching and learning. If you click through to linked pages, each year’s list is archived at the bottom of the page. These are usually my favorite sessions to go to at conferences, and favorite lists to peruse on the web. I like to see the roundup, and learn how people are using them in their classrooms/libraries. Since I’m not a teacher, it’s helpful to involve myself in that community to see how I might best support the school I will (eventually) work in. My favorites from this year’s list include:
Beenpod – Beenpod is a web companion that helps to organize a set of pages (a been!) in an easily-accessible fashion. Beens can be shared with other users (think a classroom, project group, group of teachers, teacher-librarian, etc.), used simultaneously (SurfTogether), and edited as needed. Users can comment in the been, and even pause if they are working together. I can see this used to collaborate with teachers as a way to compile resources, or even shared classroom by classroom or on the library page for specific topics that may be relevant to student work.
Gooru – Gooru in itself is a collaborative space. It reminded me of something a teaching and learning professor said to me about lesson planning – “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” Gooru is helping educators share ideas and resources in a free, easy, searchable-by-topic way. Because you can “remix” the resources found on the site, you can tailor your collection to be exactly what you may need. This is a wonderful way to find and share multimedia resources, and would be a great site to share with teachers and students on the library homepage. It makes collaboration easy, and can also help in differentiating instruction.
WhatWasThere – This tool piqued my interest as a history/map nerd. I fully believe in learning through stories, and I think WhatWasThere follows that idea. Users can search any location and find images related to that geographic location. You can upload photos and tag them to locations, so there is a mixture of current and historical images. I can see this being used in elementary school science and history classes, learning about place, direction, and change over time. I like the idea of creating a WhatWasThere scavenger hunt, and also challenging students to participate in the project by uploading their own images.
I find blogs to be very valuable in a more narrative approach to staying current. Even reading blogs sort of involves you in the conversation, or at least sparks your thoughts which will eventually contribute to it (through your work or writing). There are SO many library, educator, technology, edtech, etc. blogs that are relevant reading to school librarians (even those of us in training). I think who you follow closely depends on your visual and narrative preference. Will Richardson’s blog resonated with me because he takes on larger scale questions. As a big picture person, it’s nice to see his thoughts and reactions, alongside linked articles and multimedia. I’m still developing my person pedagogical frame, so while library-specific sites are helpful in thinking about..well..specifics, I’m not in that particular phase of my librarian development. His blog also focuses a lot on meaningful integration and understanding of technology, which I think is a humongous part of the school library profession.