Instagram of the Week – March 21

As a high school librarian, I am constantly tasked incorporating multiple literacies into my instruction. However, it is easy to incorporate technology into instruction, but it is hard to use technology to enhance teaching, collaborating, creating and learning. Sometimes large sheets of butcher paper with colored markers aid collaboration more than a Google Doc.

Library staff have understood this concept for decades. Ever since the first public libraries housed the first publicly available computers, our profession has known how much potential technology holds when planning programming and literacy instruction and learning. When planning an author visit (virtual or in-person), program, maker space, it is important to identify how and why technology will increase teen engagement and experience. Don’t just ask yourself how the technology works and how to troubleshoot. Ask what the teen encounter will entail. What will teens take away? Will it just be a neat 3-D printer model, or will it be something more?

For more information on technology and programming and media literacies, please see the STEM Programming Toolkit,  Making in the Library Toolkit, and DigitalLearn.org.

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Instagram of the Week – December 7

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Last week marked the end of Nanowrimo. In case you haven’t heard of Nanowrimo it is a writing challenge with a name comprised of the condensed words: National November Writing Month. This annual call to write has swelled to include more than 53,000 writers from 6 of 7 continents. This challenge attracts big named published authors like Rainbow Rowell and Carrie Ryan. Fangirl by Rowell is a Nanowrimo book. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan…that’s a Nanowrimo book too. Nanowrimo churns out a fair number of YA literature every year and attracts more and more young adults as participants each year. Since 2005, Nanowrimo has been hosting YWP – Young Writer’s Program – for students in grades K – 12. When users turn 18, they are directed to the main site, where the word requirements jump from 30,000 for the month to 50,000.

As we all know (and to the lament of Nanwrimo writers across the United States), with the end of November comes Thanksgiving and Black Friday. So in the midst of basting turkeys, Walmart brawls, football games and #ThanksgivingClapback dinner conversations, Nanowrimo writers continued to write – and guess what? Many of them actually finished, and then they did something even more awesome — they posted their experiences on Instagram! Nanowrimo writers posted quotes that inspired them, strategies for rising to the challenge, pictures of laptops, and furry writing buddies. There were lots and lots of pictures with coffee! Coffee with swirls, coffee in cute bookish mugs, coffee next to laptops, and then next to laptops and furry writing buddies… There were lots of pictures of food! My goodness, are Nanowrimo writers foodies or what!?

If you missed this year, get inspired for next year, or catch the motivation to start your own writing club. You could give your youth a monthly word challenge! Make it something fun with just a pinch of challenge! Empower your teens. Let them tell their stories, and maybe let them explore ways they can publish their work. Page 3 of the Future of Libraries for and with Teens report states:

“Now is the time for public and school libraries to determine how they can contribute to solving and alleviating the issues and problems that negatively impact teens. Cultural competence preparation for future and current school and public library and information professionals is one place where these issues can and should logically be addressed since many of the statistics cited above stem from structural issues such as institutional racism, classism, and sexism. However, research suggests that some LIS students feel ill-prepared to deliver this kind of culturally competent library service upon graduation. Cultural competence has to do with recognizing the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; and to come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into services, work, and institutions in order to enhance the lives of both those being served by the library profession and those engaged in service.”

By empowering your teens to tell their own stories, to start something and see it through to the end. Teaching teens to navigate the process of editing and publishing their own written work fills the cultural competency void, but it also seeks to narrow the #WeNeedDiverseBooks gap. Nanowrimo writers posted memes about the healing power of writing in fighting suicidal ideation and depression. They posted happy face selfies – the seal of empowerment for having met their literary goals for the month against school/work demands, against #ThanksgivingClapback, and family/home obligations. Page 3 of the Future of Libraries for and with Teens report also states:

Accordingly, preparing young adults for the workforce is a major concern in the United States. In the last three decades, the skills required for young adults to succeed in the workforce have changed drastically, but the skills emphasized in schools have not kept up with these changes.34 This has led to a widespread concern that young adults lack the necessary skills for job success and are entering the workforce unprepared. Several recent studies, including Workforce Preparation in the Context of Youth Development Organization35 and Literacy Skills and Self-Views of Ability among First Year College Students,36 have documented this skills gap. Now is the time for school and public libraries to reimagine themselves as 21st-century learning spaces.

Writing is a critical skill quickly being eroded in the age of text, tweets, and emoticons. Nanowrimo is a way for young adults to express themselves in a connected learning environment where they are able to say what they want to say in their own voice. Which brings us to our next point that can be found on page 8 of the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report:

At the heart of connected learning is the idea that young people learn best when that learning is connected to their passions, desires, and interests. This focus correlates strongly with the learning ecosystem and learning needs of the teen of 2020 that Rainie described in his summit presentation. As noted in the CLRN report: The connected learning model posits that by focusing educational attention on the links between different spheres of learning—peer culture, interests and academic subjects—we can better support interest-driven and meaningful learning in ways that take advantage of the democratizing potential of digital networks and online resources.

Having said that, enjoy this homage to the final week of Nanowrimo, and if your library participated in youth writer’s circles and posted on Instagram, maybe you’ll see yourself and hopefully you’ll be inspired to participate next year.

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Instagram of the Week: September 21st

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

As a school librarian, I cannot resist the opportunity to feature a “snapshot” of school libraries across the country in the midst of the opening weeks of the 2015/16 school year. I remain hopeful that this will be an exciting year for school libraries. This week’s storify montage features makerspaces, exciting academic tech, and various types of literacies (research, reading, digital, media, etc.). Exploring what other school librarians are up to can help inform your own 2015/16 school year goals. Do you want to take your makerspace to the next level? Establish more collaborative relationships with teachers? Incorporate yourself into an oft elusive discipline? Up fiction reading? Amp up your book club? Revitalize research literacy instruction? Establish self-checkout? Create a lego wall?

Sometimes it’s hard to see the opportunities available in the school library because of budget and staffing issues; however, I challenge all school librarians (including myself) to choose a small innovation that can be achieved regardless of available money, time, or man power. If you need ideas, check out some of these resources to get started: AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and Maker Ed Tools & Materials. Please leave your ideas, goals, and questions in the comments. And of course, good luck this year!

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Instagram of the Week – August 17th

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

While the most popular of public library summer programs, Summer Reading/Learning is only one of many activities that benefits and serves teen communities. Tapping into the various motivations within your own teen community are crucial to creating and implementing a well-received passive or active teen program. Are there other creative and publicly available spaces in your community, or does your library provide the only opportunity for free creative exploration? Does your library serve teens who seek to advance themselves academically during the summer months? Is there an independent maker space in your town or city, or is the library the sole source of maker activities? Do the teens in your community attend magnet schools or schools with advanced tech programs? Do those schools offer opportunities for summer tech projects, or does the library have a unique opportunity to provide the space and tools for coding, movie-making, and more? Exploring what teens already have free access to (and use!) and identifying what service and material/supply vacuums exist in your wider community will teen services librarians create and implement effective programming.

What research do you do before implementing a new program or innovating an existing program? Do you research other offerings in your town/city to prevent overlap or identify potential collaborative opportunities? How does the summer closure of schools affect programming opportunities in your pulic library? Please discuss in the comments below!

For more information, please see the Summer Reading/Learning section of the YALSA wiki, as well as the YALSA Teen Programming Guidelines.

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Instagram of the Week – June 15th

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

My school celebrates the conclusion of another school year with graduation tomorrow (by the time this is posted, it will be “last Friday”!). We have been celebrating our teens all week with awards, farewells, yearbooks, and more. Since I am in the celebratory mood, I thought it would be appropriate to close the academic calendar with a celebration of teen contribution to their libraries. We know that teens contribute in a myriad ways, but one of my personal favorites is with artwork and crafts. Nothing livens up a school library or teen section of the public library more than art created by the very teens we serve.

How is teen art incorporated into your space? Is it commissioned through official programs and their participants, or is it a casual collection of work given by various teens? If you are looking for new ways to incorporate teen art into your space, look at the ‘grams below for ideas and inspiration. If you have a fun and creative way to get teens (and their art!) into the library, please share in the comments!

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