The New Librarian: How to lead a tech-integration revolution

A librarian shares 5 important lessons for helping teachers & students love to use tech

I provided a LibGuide with curated source links and, to keep the final product simple, I made a Google Slide presentation to which each student would add a slide on their topic. I added two slides—directions and an exemplar—which were extremely helpful since I would not be in the classroom.

We librarians get excited about research and technology, but we need to remember a full inquiry project using cutting-edge technology is not always wanted or needed. Providing a virtual lesson and including my email gave me a presence without being present.

3. Refresh past lessons.

Setting aside time to plan with teachers has many benefits, including the chance to update instruction and tech tools. When I refreshed a science lesson on genetics, I changed the final product from a newsletter to a website. The simplicity of Google Sites allows students more time for preparing content. We set aside four days for the lesson and I was in the classroom each of those days.

I prepared and shared a Google Doc formatted as a research organizer in which students linked their sources and wrote their content. They used NoodleTools to generate citations. Having access to their docs, I checked sources for credibility and citations for proper formatting and made comments or met with individuals. As I checked sources and citations, the classroom teacher checked for clarity and content. Results were better than previous years and a clear indicator that as technology products become easier to use, our focus moves from tech instruction to content and creation.

4. Engage students by allowing them to be experts.

I like to begin technology lessons by asking students to raise their hands if they’ve used the tool before and then asking, “Who thinks they are an ‘expert’ or someone who can answer questions? When I did this in a sophomore health class that was designing digital stories, the teacher followed up with, “Look around; these are the go-to people.”

Students love to share what they know and in collaborative environments it’s easy to do. Bring up the student’s page on the projector and walk the class through the skill to be shared. Librarians are technology leaders but do not need to be the final expert. Enjoy learning alongside students.

5. Be willing to go above and beyond.

Freshmen at my school attend after-school tutoring sessions in the library. At the end of a long day of Google Sites instruction, I was picking up my coat to leave when a student stopped by my desk and asked for help. After answering his question, I noticed several of the students I had worked with that day. My coat went back on the hook and I spent the next 30 minutes circulating around the library to check citations, read content, and troubleshoot the technology. This small investment of time was appreciated by the teacher and students who may have fallen behind but were now on track to finish with the others.

Additional takeaways

Technology is just one component, but a significant one, of a strong school library program. Don’t neglect it or let it become your only focus; instead, use it as a catalyst for moving your program to the next level.

Stay visible, listen to teachers, and ask questions to clarify needs. Offer ideas for practical applications to create learning environments that support and challenge students. Strive to be a facilitator and let students take the lead when possible. And perhaps most important, remember the library does not need to be a physical space—it’s a state of mind.

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