I never could have dreamed that Friday, March 13, 2020, would be the end of “normal” for quite a while. As the school librarian I brainstormed ways to assist students and teachers in my middle school.
Public Library Collaboration
Then I realized that students already had an important resource available. I had collaborated with the public library during the National Library Card Signup month (September), so that my students could obtain e-cards. The e-cards allow access to thousands of digital books on Hoopla, OverDrive, Audiobook Cloud, and BookFlix. That partnership ended up being a lifesaver. I would never have been able to purchase subscriptions to those great resources with my limited school library budget.
I created a virtual library for students and shared it on social media, Google Classroom, and e-mail. I chose S’more Digital Newsletter as the format, because it’s user friendly with lots of options. I included step-by-step directions for using their e-cards, links to digital books, and digital newspapers. I scoured the Internet, searching for other enriching resources and found an abundance that kept growing daily; luckily the S’more was easy to update. I included virtual field trips, author read-alouds, illustrator tutorials, online museums, live animal webcams, Nikon photography classes, and lots more. Each day I updated the virtual library with new resources as they became available. I also included information about upcoming virtual activities that I would be hosting. An example was a Virtual Harry Potter Book Club in which participating students accessed the audiobook for free from Audible. We had three meetings on Google Meet to discuss all things HP, with our final meeting as an “HP House Party.” Everyone decorated their rooms and dressed up. Someone even demonstrated how to make ButterBeer. Students loved it!
For teachers, I used Wakelet to curate a virtual library of resources for teaching virtually. Wakelet is a simple tool to provide links, videos, PDFs, images, attachments from Google Drive, and now Flipgrid videos. I e-mailed this to the teachers in my building.
It was a fast and furious two and a half months of virtual school, but learning continued. I met with students on Google Meet, had Zoom meetings with my professional learning community, attended a ton of webinars, participated in video chats with authors and students, attended the Everywhere Book Fest, and even attended a few “virtual” happy hours to stay connected with friends.
Through this process, I have learned to think outside of the box; to be creative in ways of delivering resources to students. I know that my life as a school librarian has changed as I will continue to utilize many of these tools and resources when life goes back to “normal” or whatever the new school year will be.
Student Virtual Library: https://www.smore.com/5zn76
Teacher Virtual Library: https://wke.lt/w/s/SdCYOR
Author: Ronda Hughes
Ronda Hughes is a Middle School Library Media Specialist in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She has 21 years experience in public education as: a Physical Education teacher, 5th grade Literacy teacher and a library media specialist. Hughes has served as Tri-Lakes Reading Council President, Arkansas Reading Association Intellectual Chair, Alpha Delta Kappa Vice President, and Arkansas Association of Instructional Media Board Member. She has been on numerous committees such as; Arkansas Department of Education K-8 Computer Science Standards and Library Media Standards, Garland County READS, Arkansas Diamond Book Award Committee, Charlie May Simon Book Award Committee, just to name a few.