Social Media and Its Place in Education

Social Media

Before I jump into the world of social media and how it can be a productive tool in the education world, let me take you down memory lane.

It was 1992 and I was in second grade. We all loved our computer class that we attended once a week for about thirty minutes. This was my norm all through grade school until I was in junior high. I didn’t have a computer at home and we only had one land line to share amongst me and my two younger sisters (talking on the phone was our “social media” back then). In 7th grade I remember logging in on AOL messenger to chat with my friends for a few minutes a week at my grandparents’ house. It was dial up and super slow, so I didn’t get on very often. Until my ninth grade year, I had to use their computer for research and I can vividly recall Yahoo! as the search engine. In 1999 my mother remarried and we moved into a new home. It was then that we got our first computer which had no Internet, but gave me a place to type my reports and print them in the comfort of my home. Throughout high school, I utilized technology as much as I could at school and loved my BCIS class, which I believe set my foundation for my computer skills. It wasn’t until I graduated that I got my first cell phone which was a brick Nokia, but allowed me to at least text! And then came my first smartphone mid college career…life changing! Facebook had come out while I was in my first two years of college, but since I was at a junior college without assigned student emails, I was unable to sign up for Facebook because it required a valid college email address (yep, it was only for college students at one time). It was about ten years ago that I finally started an account with Facebook and from there I have added numerous other social media platforms to share my life’s journey on.

I say all this to show you how much our digital world has changed and yet, how much some of it has kind of stayed the same…for some of us. Facebook has been around for over ten years and unlike MySpace, which came first, it has continued to be a big part of the social media world. As a teacher, we hear our students talk about what they read or posted on social media, and through just that we know that Facebook is not the first choice among the kids. However, when it comes to communicating with PARENTS, it is still a valuable tool since they have been using it for years. You could say that Facebook (FB) has been the go-to social media outlet for most parents. But even this will shift as time passes and the go-to will change to a different platform for most parents due to what they grew up with.

Since Facebook is a great source to communicate with parents, I think having a page solely for your school library/learning commons is a great idea. I checked out several school library pages and found that most of them shared book reviews and/or information for events that were going on or coming up. I found that the book reviews didn’t get as many likes, but the pages that shared events and pictures of students AT those events, got more traffic. Neither of those really got many comments though. Some of these things have to do with FB algorithm and how they only allow a certain percentage of what or who you follow on your personal feed. This hurts pages that do not pay for advertisement within Facebook. Even still, I believe a page is a good resource for sharing information because it is still reaching some of those parents and students.

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The campus I will be at next year (as the new librarian) has a pretty meaty page on Facebook that has over 1,000 followers. With this being said, I will discuss creating a separate page for the library with my principal and the district lead librarian. Click on the photo below to open up my new school’s FB page.

 

Travis Elementary FB Page

 

If Facebook isn’t the end all, be all for communication with our students, then what is? That’s a tough question since so many apps and sites have been created since the spawn of MySpace and Facebook. Every time I turn around I feel like there is a new social media site the kids are talking about. However, there are a few that are super popular with the majority. Twitter and Instagram have been pretty tried and true aside from Facebook.

Twitter has been around since 2006 and is user friendly for all ages (must be 13 or older to sign up). My son, who is six and does NOT have any social media accounts had this conversation with my mother-n-law:

He may only be six, but he knows enough about social media from myself, television, youtube and older kids.

So what is Twitter exactly? I held off getting a Twitter account for a long time. I attempted it poorly in 2015 when I was trying to network my personal training business. I didn’t give it a fair shot and gave up quickly. Twitter is a microblog. This means that users’ posts are limited to so many characters. With Twitter it’s 280. According to a post on The Verge, Kastrenakes (2018) says that it was 140 character but increased to 280 in length. It makes the posts short and sweet and thus cutting down on fluff in my opinion. Twitter seems to be utilized by educators, authors, publishers, associations, etc. as their go-to for sharing out information. It is easy to post, retweet (share), comment and like others’ posts. It is super simple and can be a place to connect with your students, parents, colleagues, and friends. It is also a place where you can follow mentors and others that share information and posts that interest you. It can be a learning tool for all.

I began a Twitter account last year, @theMrsHargrove which I share to often (mostly via my Instagram account), but I do get on quite a bit to check out and read what else is going on in the library world and what other librarians are doing in their school libraries. I recently was turned on to several library and tech gurus to follow and found what they post to be useful as a newbie in the librarian field. I was immediately drawn to Jim Lerman, @jimlerman, who has lots of great information on STEM learning with students. I also enjoyed some of his links he shared that went to his scoop.it website found here. Below is one tweet of his that I retweeted:

 

An educational technologist that I came across was Kathy Schrock, @kathyschrock . Before I follow anyone, I always check out their bio first and if they have a website link, I follow it to learn a little more about them. Kathy had her website in her bio https://www.schrockguide.net/ and after a couple of minutes of perusing, I added her site to my Symbaloo board. She has created tons of pages that are resources for all things digital that can be used in classrooms and learning commons. I was floored at how thorough her information was and happy for additional resources.

Kathy’s posts are educational for all. I felt like even things such as the tweet above are beneficial for everyone and could be a good way to connect with parents and students.

Alan November, @globalearner, is the author of Who Owns the Learning? and is the host of the conference Building Learning Communities. He understands the value of teachers and social media!

Gwyneth Jones, @GwynethJones, author of The Daring Librarian has a fun Twitter where she shares not only informational tweets that link to other sites, but also lots of pictures and opinions about being unbiased and accepting all who come through our library doors.

 

The last name in educational technology that I was informed about is Linda Braun, @lbraun2000. Braun is an educator and librarian who was the past president of YALSA. She really seems to advocate for librarians and YALSA and shares lots of tweets by the association. Here’s one of her current retweets:

All in all, Twitter is uncomplicated to use which makes it a great social media tool for teachers and librarians to share through.

The last social media site I want to share is my favorite of all. Instagram.

Instagram is as simple as Twitter, but whereas Twitter shares with very little words, Instagram shares in pictures. We’ve all grown up hearing the proverb, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and with Instagram that is really put into action. This platform is fun for everyone and can get addicting. You can search by user’s name, handle as well as through hashtags (#) for certain topics or ideas you want to see pictures of. I have an account for my personal use, but also one for educational. IG

On my teacher account, I share pictures and videos that have to do with my graduate schooling, students and clubs at school as well as my new career as a librarian. My students, parents, colleagues and friends all follow me as well as community members within my district. I feel like sometimes we don’t have the words to say, but a picture can say it for us. You can also download apps such as Rhonna, Fotor or Font to add text or other clipart to photos or short videos before uploading them. You can also create collages using apps such as LiPix.

Instagram has recently added a feature called “Stories.” This feature only lasts for so many hours, but you can add spotlight stories that won’t disappear. I use this to be silly, to celebrate an event at school or simply to ask a question. Users can respond to the stories which uses the private messenger feature.

One other great thing about Instagram is that it allows you to share what you are going to post on multiple social media sites such as Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. I think this feature alone makes it pretty handy when you have multiple outlets to share to.

IG posting

I believe Instagram is a great way to share pictures of what’s going on in your library or classroom, share students’ creations and information about upcoming events while also giving you, as a professional in the education world, helpful links, sites and ideas too.

Feel free to follow me on IG @the_mrshargrove.

Questions and comments are always welcome!

Resources:

Kastrenakes, J. (2018, February 8). Twitter says people are tweeting more, but not longer, with 280- character limit. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/8/16990308/twitter-280-character-tweet-length

 

RSS Reader? What’s That?

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Photo from Wikipedia 

About five years ago I decided to stay home with my son after going back to teaching for a year once I had him. At the time I was going to a Crossfit gym, but once I was a stay at home mom I couldn’t get away as often, so I decided to bring Crossfit to my home. I used an app that let me gather my gym’s feed for the workout of the day (WOD) as well as other gyms around the United States. I remember it being called an RSS feed, and I remember it being pretty simple to put it into this app and see all posts from all the gyms in one location, but I had no clue that an RSS feed reader applied to more than that.

Flash forward to now…RSS readers have come back into my life, but in a very different way. I’m actually pretty impressed with what they are capable of and I’m also astonished that I have not discovered them sooner. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication which is a fancy way of saying that it puts all of something in the same location for easier access and viewing. The “something” it is referring to are blogs, articles and in some instances social media. I found a helpful post on Zapier.com that can be found here which highlighted the top ten free RSS feed reader apps in 2018. It was interesting to see how similar, yet different each was. Volvovski (2018) claimed all the sites she listed were free, or offered a free plan, allowed for full read of the blog post, had web apps for the site available and were easy to use. As I read the highlights for each of the ten readers, I found myself drawn to two. The first was Feedly because of it’s simple, clean and sleek view. I like things that are pretty and up with the times and I felt this one really looked current with it’s aesthetics and layout. The other one I liked was Flowreader. This one not only allows you to house all the blogs that you follow, but also social media which I thought was fantastic. I have a Twitter, Tumblr, blog, and Instagram that I would love to house all in one location.Flowreader screenshot

But there’s a catch, when they say social media, they meant Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest only. Also, I don’t like the aesthetics of Flowreader as much as I do with Feedly, but I was willing to use it to at least get my Twitter feed added to where all my blogs are. Then I ran into another problem. There was a blog that I really love and for some reason, no matter how I inputed it, it would not get added to my RSS feed. It kept telling me that no feed was found. I grew a little flustered and decided to sign up for Feedly and see if the blog would work with that site. Sure enough, it worked! As a matter of fact, all of my blogs worked seamlessly AND it gave suggestions for other blogs that were similar to the ones I uploaded into my feed. Both sites were simple enough to use and gave multiple views for reading your blog posts, but I still liked Feedly’s better. Feedly Screenshot

In the end, I found that Feedly was the right fit for me. All the RSS reader apps had unique things to offer, but as an educator and librarian, I found that Feedly was just the right fit for what I needed.

On another note, I did look into RSS apps that were meant for social media only and discovered that all of them have a price. They all allow for a free trial, but it doesn’t last long and you can only house 2-3 social media sites for the free trial. I think it’s a great concept since these sites also allow you to post to your accounts via their site, but I’m not up for paying for it. If YOU are interested though, a couple of the popular choices are Hootsuite and dlvr.it. This post can explain more about social media and RSS feed readers.

Here are a handful of blogs I enjoy following (especially now that I’m a NOVEL librarian)!

  • Mighty Little Librarian (Tiffany is real and honest and has great ideas for other librarians to use.I feel like what she posts is actually doable.)
  • Renovated Learning  (All things creative and Makerspace along with some other information sprinkled in. Diana is thorough with her ideas and also shares tips on management.)
  • 025.431: The Dewey Blog (This blog is informational, but it’s also FUN. Let’s face it, Dewey Decimal can be difficult to remember and tedious to figure out, but at least they know how to have fun while teaching!)
  • Teach Outside the Box (She has my heart with all her STEM and Makerspace ideas! Brooke has actual products like her STEM bins that come with everything an elementary librarian or teacher would need. She’s a timesaver for the rest of us!)
  • Elementary Librarian (Lots of good info, including library managing tips. This site also has resources and lesson plans specifically for elementary librarians.)

Feel free to check out my new Tumblr account here!

Hope you enjoyed! Feel free to leave me comments or questions!

Volvovski, Vicky ( September 21, 2018). The 10 best free RSS reader apps in 2018. Retrieved from https://zapier.com/blog/best-rss-feed-reader-apps/.

The Giver and Memory Journals

For the past few years I have held a reading club for my students. I do have a criteria I look at when I ask students to join my group. I try not to base it solely off their reading level, but also look at their maturity and how drawn they are to reading in general. I would love to invite ALL my students, but at the same time, I want to keep it small so we can really dig in and have a good discussion.

The past two years I have read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This year we are reading The Giver by Lois Lowry and my students are loving it.

I began searching for activities we could do with this book and I came across a resource by Scholastic here. It gave a lot of great information such as background information on Lois Lowry as well as questions she has been asked and then lots of great activities that allow students to really connect with the book. One of the activities was to create a journal of memories that line up with different emotions/feelings. Then then students share an emotion and memory and discuss what it would be like to lose that memory…would it be worth giving it up due to the pain even if that meant you have to give up the good part of the memory too? I thought this was brilliant!

Since we only get an hour once a week after school, we started making our journals early on, even having a working lunch one day to finish them up. We are about to begin writing in our journals (our awesome “junk” journals) and I can’t wait to see what my students write down. We have had so many “ah-ha” moments already and I know this will be one of them!

 

Bad Romance

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I was reliving my high school romance all over again when I began reading this book. It was scary. I read several exerts out to my husband since he knows the hell I went through with my high school boyfriend. Even the fact that the main character had a family life similar to mine in high school. I have found is uncanny how I have related to so many of these young adult novels I’ve been reading.

This book begins with Grace, the main character talking about how much she loved you (you, being Gavin, her boyfriend). She narrates like she is writing the story of their romance to her loved one. However, she says at the beginning that it’s at the end of their relationship but she will start at the beginning on when she fell in love with Gavin. (Does that make sense?) She has a tyrant of a stepfather, a mother who is always angry or depressed, a cute baby brother and a lucky older sister who has already moved out and doesn’t have to endure the crazy amount of chores and downgrading Grace has to deal with. She works and makes good grades and has two best friends. She ends up with a boy who she has worshipped for years. He’s a year older, a senior, and she says he’s gorgeous and all that. Things begin normal, and he is sweet and kind and then something slowly changes. It begins with talking down to her, telling her she isn’t deep. Then is moves on to not touching other guys, including hugging friends that are guys. Next it moves to reading her diary, HER DIARY! She keeps talking herself into the fact that this is normal and he doesn’t mean anything to hurt her. But we all know this is how abusive relationships start. I can relate so much. I felt like I was the main character in this book.

This book was on the Best Fiction for Young Adults in 2018.

Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Demetrios.

Demetrios, Heather (2017). Bad romance. New York, NY: Henry Holt.

50 Things You Should Know About Titanic

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Who hasn’t heard about the Titanic? Ever since I was a little girl, I have found it fascinating to read and hear stories about this ship that supposedly even God himself couldn’t sink. I remember being in 7th grade when the movie with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio came out (swoon). I remember watching it and crying and putting myself in the shoes of those on board. All the lives lost. Tragic.

This nonfiction book would be a good resource for fast facts about the Titanic. I liked how it was organized, beginning with history of liners, then to the plans and construction of the ship, on to the journey, then the terrible sinking and finishing with the aftermath. Each two page spread is themed and has several facts about that topic within the Titanic. It was interesting reading about the different classes, the drama between the officers, the fact that prior to the Titanic, only 6 passenger deaths had happened on the Atlantic prior. The pictures in the book are unbelievable! Real photographs of real people, families, of the ship. This book was engaging and easy to navigate through even if one is looking for something specific.

This book was one of the Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers for 2017.

Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Callery. He has lots to choose from! 

Callery, Sean (2016). 50 things you should know about titanic. Lake Forest, CA: QEB Publishing.

Streetwear Fashion

Someone say shoes? Yes please! Fashion is something I LOVE! My closet is the size of a bedroom because I enjoy clothes and shoes and purses and jewelry and ALL things related to fashion and style! What girl doesn’t it?! Over the years, I have bought books for my own book shelf that were full of fashion advice and do’s and don’ts and I still go to those books for information sometimes. I recently posted on my IG that no matter what the age, playing dress up is always fun!

As one of the books on the Quick Picks 2015 list, I can see why it is a popular book. A simple read, but full of fashion advice and even facts of when streetwear was born and celebs that dress in streetwear fashion. The book begins with a short quiz to see if streetwear fashion is for you. Then it talks about different celebrities and how they dress and moves on to specific pieces in the outfit, such as jeans, shorts, wedges, bracelets, caps, etc. It also has some simple DIY projects for tees and shoes and hats; things teenagers could do without help. It even dives into makeup and hair styles for streetwear.

This was a helpful book and could be fun for a girl who wants to amp up her style or merely wants some input on what to wear!

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Click on the image to find more books that are created by the same illustrator and have the same theme.

Watson, Stephanie (2014). Streetwear fashion. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications.

Ghosts

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I first had heard of this book last year at a book conference with Judy Freeman. I was intrigued, but never took the time to sit down and read it. I am sad I waited so long. This was a pretty good read and would be great for both middle grade readers and the younger students in the young adult spectrum.

Cat (aka Catrina) and her family move to a new town called Bahia De La Luna. She doesn’t want to move, but her little sister Maya is sick with cystic fibrosis, a degenerative disease of the lungs and digestive system, and apparently it will help her. Once there, they discover that the town is full of ghosts. Maya is in heaven at meeting ghosts, but when an accident occurs and they begin taking her breath, Cat freaks out and rushed her home. She ends up having to have a breathing tube and oxygen tank and her mother reminds her that her sisters disease will only get worse as she gets older. Cat realizes her sister could die. On Halloween the town trick or treats and then at midnight they have a party for the day of the dead. All the ghosts show up, and Cat ends up befriending a couple, one of which is the uncle to her friend Carlos (who likes her). His uncle died when he was eight. She wants him to meet Maya, and since she is too sick to come to the party, they fly to meet her at their house. The book ends on a happy note, but you can foreshadow of what is to come of Cat’s little sister. Both happy and sad vibes, but a good read nonetheless.

Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Telgemeier.

Telgemeier, Raina (2016). Ghosts. New York, NY: Scholastic.

100 Sideways Miles

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Most of the books I have read lately have been from a female’s perspective. Not all, but most. One that comes to mind that had a male character was The Knife of Never Letting Go, but this is a sci-fi type of book and not realistic. This particular book is from the perspective of a high school boy and could be deemed as realistic fiction.

So Finn, the main character is the son of a dad who is a writer and is an epileptic. He also talks in miles versus minutes or hours or inches or pounds…kind of neat, really. His mom was killed by a dead horse and his father remarried to a nurse named Tracy (who he likes). He has a love interest, Julia, who he is like a typical boy and drools over how hot she is. And he has a best friend named Cade who loves to talk about sex and his body parts. It’s quiet humorous really, because that is REALLY how high school boys are (insert eye roll🙄).

Julia ends up moving and Finn is devastated, but his fun friend Cade is there to rescue him. The boys go on a road trip to Oklahoma to look at colleges and end up being heroes in the midst. It begins pouring rain while they are driving, so bad they feel they need to pull over. They watch a car ahead of them spin out and go to help. They realize the van is in a river and Finn does what he has to to help save those in the van.

Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Smith.

Smith, Andrew (2014). 100 sideways miles. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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I enjoy books about the reservations and Native Americans and what life is like for them. Although not in the same age range as YA novels,  I loved the Longmire series.

The book begins with the character telling us that he was born with water on the brain and due to that he has some abnormalities, such as he’s skinny, has large hands and feet,  wears glasses due to his eyes not cooperating together. Then he tells us he lives on the reservation and that he is poor. Arnold, although his nickname is Junior, loses his dog to being shot because he’s sick and they don’t have any money. He also says that he gets bullied a lot and is part of the black-eye club. One of his teachers tells him that he must get off the rez as soon as he can so he decides to transfer to a white school. His best friend, Rowdy, becomes more like an enemy, but that’s okay. He ends up making new friends, ones who kind of stick out like he does, but in other ways. Penelope is an anorexic and Gordy is a genius. Because he is going to school off the reservation, he ends up identifying as a part-time Indian. He ends up going through a lot of loss, his grandmother passes away due to an accident with a drunk driver, his sister gets killed in a fire and a family friend gets shot in the face at a gas station. Although so much happens, Arnold comes out okay and even becomes “friends” again with Rowdy.

Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Myers.

Alexie, Sherman. (2007). The absolute true diary of a part-time indian. New York, NY: Little Brown.

Generation One

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This sci-fi spinoff of the I Am Number Four Series, is a quick read for those who like this type of book. I for one, am a fan of I Am Number Four so this was up my alley. Generation One is the first of the new series The Lorien Legacies Reborn.

In this book, this is the after the original series. The new round of Legacies, teenagers who have gotten Loric energy from their allies the Garde. These new Legacies are from all over and are sent to a training academy to develop their powers and use them responsibly to help save the world. Taylor is the main character. She doesn’t believe or pay attention to much to what’s going on with the Legacies until she discovers that she IS one. I have only read a couple of sci-fi books these past few weeks, but both were great!

This book was on the New York Times Best Seller list for Young Adult in 2017.

Click on the image to visit the author’s Amazon page to find more books written by Lore. 

Lore, Pittacus (2017). Generation One. New York, NY: HarperCollins.