PPS Secondary Library Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue #4: March 2015

In This Issue:


  • Tech in the Classroom
  • Using Online Tools
  • Tips for Better Research
  • Boosting Reading S.O.L. Success with Kindles
  • YALSA Teen Book Finder

Tech in the Classroom

By Alicia Gladwell, Media Specialist at Churchland High School


The new tablet initiative has faculty and students buzzing about technology. Whether you are thinking about fun ways to use the tablets or you can’t wait to get your students using technology now, there are many online tools to get you started.



Many teachers are already finding Edmodo to be useful in their classrooms. Edmodo allows you to connect to other faculty and parents and allows your students to interact, take quizzes and upload assignments.


Social media sites can be incorporated easily into lessons. Although some are blocked, sites such as Twitter can be used to tweet lessons or follow hashtags. If you find the social media you want is blocked, there are templates that allow you to create a safe alternative. Fakebook is a popular alternative to Facebook allowing your students to create profiles without being online. There are many sources online with suggestions for using social media in the classroom.


Another technology tool that is not only educational but also fun to try is gaming. Go beyond the trivia game templates and have your students build their own games. One popular game is Minecraft which allows students to build worlds and interact with one another.


The technology you can bring into your classroom can be limitless. Classes can start blogs, go on virtual tours, and so much more. The technology is waiting for you! Talk to your librarian and TRT to find out more about what they are using and safety tips for your classroom.

Using Online Tools

By Susan Catlett, Media Specialist at Churchland High School
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Does the plethora of online tools hinder or assist your teaching effectiveness? The sheer number of available online tools can be paralyzing to consider but I have found that by breaking the tools into three categories, the functionality of each tool comes into focus. The three categories I use are communication, organization, and presentation, with some tools (like Vine and Del.icio.us) crossing over into two or even all three categories. I have included a graphic from a regional presentation I gave last spring that illustrated how I grouped some helpful online tools. Below is an annotated list of some of my favorite online tools.


  1. Del.icio.us https://delicious.com/ Communication and Organization tool. Social Bookmarking utility.
  2. Dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/ Communication tool. Free service. Offers cloud storage and file synchronization. Allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers which Dropbox synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder with the same contents regardless of the computer that is accessed. 10gb per file per day, 20 gb per day of traffic overall – meant to circumvent people using multiple free accounts.
  3. Edmodo https://www.edmodo.com/ Communication and Presentation tool. Moderated tool like Facebook to use with students. Create shared digital libraries. Connect with other educators across the world. Create and communicate with parents. Available through the PPS Network, contact your librarian or TRT for more information about obtaining access.
  4. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ Communication tool. Used by 67% of adults. Not available through the PPS Network.
  5. Flickr https://www.flickr.com/ Communication tool. Photo and video cloud storage. 1 terabyte of free storage. Can upload videos up to 3 minutes long.
  6. Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/ Communication and Organization tool.

    Identify, organize, and review your books. You can simply search for one title in the series, click on the series title, and the series will appear in numerical order. Every book's profile includes the publication date, even if the book is not out yet. Cover Reveals, Genrefication, Listopia, Groups, Challenges/goals, Create your own shelves, Book content review, Trivia, Quizzes, Giveaways, free downloads (excerpts or whole books)

  7. Google Apps http://www.google.com/ Communication, Organization, and Presentation tool. Free 15gb of storage, Docs, email, Google +, Voice, Images – resolution limit of 2048 pixels. Google + features not available through the PPS Network currently.
  8. Instagram http://instagram.com/ Communication tool. Popular social network app that allows you to upload, edit and caption your own photos and videos (15 seconds or less). Then can share across social networking sites. A distinctive feature is the square photo requirement.
  9. Lib.rario.us http://lib.rario.us/ Organization tool. Like delicious and goodreads for your media collections. Connected to Amazon for cover art.
  10. LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/‎ Presentation tool. World’s largest professional network with 250+ million members.
  11. Prezi https://prezi.com/ Presentation tool. Zooming presentation format.
  12. Reddit http://www.reddit.com/ Communication tool. User generated news links. Users vote up or down to promote or demote stories to the front page. Markets itself as the front page of the internet. Used by 6% of adults.
  13. ScoopIt http://www.scoop.it/ Organization tool. “Build engaged audiences through publishing by curation.” Find something awesome, add your viewpoint, and republish to your social media outlets.Meta web crawler that scoops items on topics you specify. 2 free topics, can buy more. Can only link 2 social media sites for free.
  14. Snapchat http://www.snapchat.com/ Communication tool. Photo messaging app. According to a 2014 Forbes article, this is the fastest growing social media app.

    50 million users with a median age of 18. Take photos and videos, add text or drawings and send to a list of friends for a specific time from 1-10 seconds. Snapchat claims that at the end of the specified time, the Snap disappear from the friends’ phones and is deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

  15. Symbaloo http://www.symbaloo.com/ Organization tool. Visual bookmarking tool. Symbaloo.edu is free and no advertising. Webmixes from other educators can be accessed and modified as you would like.
  16. Teacher Librarian Ning http://teacherlibrarian.ning.com/ Communication tool. Active community of nearly 700 educators and librarians.
  17. Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/ Communication and Presentation tool. Can be used to: Find and interact with friends, Create a digital portfolio (ie, interactive writing, art work and web comics), Photo blogging, Travel blogging, Work blogging, Hobby blogging. Used by 6% of adults.
  18. Twitter https://twitter.com/ Communication tool. Useful for microblogging, crowdsourcing for quick answers, and keeping up with latest news. Used by 16% of adults.
  19. Vine https://vine.co/. Communication tool. Video sharing, owned by Twitter. Six second loop video. Think of it as instagram except with videos instead of pictures.
  20. YouTube http://www.youtube.com/ Communication and Presentation tool. Treasure trove of videos, some golden and some not. Can create your own account to save favorites. YouTube.com/edu and Teacher Tube are alternates.

Tips for Better Research

By Deborah Roberts, Media Specialist at William E. Waters Middle School


Students may think that using Google to search for information they need makes them good researchers. However, there is a lot more involved than simply choosing search terms! Share these strategies with your students for better research:


  • Use trustworthy websites
Websites maintained by the federal government, colleges, and universities are often more reliable sources of information than pages that are created by private groups or individuals. Students can locate better sites by typing .gov or .edu before their search terms. It is also a good idea to check when the website was last updated in order to receive the most current information available.
  • Ask a librarian
Suggest that your students tell the librarian about their research topics so that they can find the best sources of information. The librarian may share certain print materials in the library with the students or demonstrate how to access a reliable database. Resources such as Infotrac provide users access to many types of periodicals including current journals and newspapers.
  • Fact-check
Encourage students to find at least three sources to verify each fact they cite in their papers. Remind them that even a single sentence may contain several pieces of information that need to be confirmed. Using these tips will make research easier and more enjoyable for your students.

Boosting Reading S.O.L. Success with Kindles

By Jennifer Rascoe, Media Specialist at I.C. Norcom High School


As we explore the success of our students, one of the obstacles they face is the lack of familiarity with electronic format testing.


Many students already read and learn electronically, however, many are still spending most of their time reading for pleasure in the print format. Print is truly becoming a 20th century skill versus 21st century electronic reading. The format that they will see on standardized testing in Virginia is “electronic”.


I believe that the Kindle and other electronic books would be a good way to spark reading interest.

YALSA Teen Book Finder

By Rosemary Bakhtiari, Media Specialist at Woodrow Wilson High School


Deluged with request to find that “certain” book? There is a wonderful app to keep it all together. YALSA’S Teen Book Finder is a handy tool that allows you to look up the past three years of YALSA’s awards and lists by title, author, genre, award, year, etc. YALSA is my “tried and true” resource for book suggestions that never disappoint my students. For all the details about the app and a link to download to an Android phone or Apple product follow this link: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/products/teenbookfinder.