USING BLOGS TO PROMOTE READINGAND SCHOOL LIBRARIES Kelly L. Knight Librarian, Fork Shoals School
A LITTLE BACKGROUND…How Kelly became Knight Reader…
WHY BLOG? Blogs allow users to communicate about a variety of different subjects. In aschool library or classroom, blogs allow students to share information about whatthey’re learning or reading, making them active participants in their own learningand the learning of others, not just in their schools but in the larger world aroundthem. Students are going to communicate via blogging, social networking, and anyother way they can find, with or without our influence. Why not use those tools foran educational purpose? Along the way, we may just teach them how tocommunicate appropriately and safely.
B E F O R E YO U S TA RT BLOGGING… Consider what you want the mission of your blog to be. Do you want toonly focus on reviewing books? Do you want your blog to be a promotionaltool for your library or classroom? Think about what you want out of yourblog and who your target audience is before you start. Explore the different blogging programs. There are a lot out there, andsome are blocked in schools. Make sure you don’t start a blog that people inyour school will be unable to use. (Educators in Greenville County Schoolsmust use the district blog server if they want to promote it throughwebsites, email signatures, or other avenues.
W H E N YO U ’ R E R E A DY T O E N T E R THE BLOGOSPHERE… Share your ideas for your blog with your administration and teachers. If they don’t buy inand get excited about what you’re doing, your students won’t either. If you’re a school librarian, work with a few classroom teachers on some blogginglessons. Teach students about how blogs work, netiquette, how to post comments, writingbook reviews, and any other skills you deem important. If you’re a classroom teacher, work with your school librarian. I promise you that he/shewill be helpful in using this Web 2.0 tool! Look to other professionals for ideas if you get “blogger’s block.” When you’re teaching lessons on blogging, have at least ten posts ready to go so thatstudents have options when learning how to post comments.
THINGS TO CONSIDER Make sure you keep the safety of your users in mind. If you or your principal areuncomfortable using real names, have your students create pen names. (They have a lot offun with this, too!) It’s vital to instruct your students on the rules of netiquette. You may have to re-teachthese rules quite often. Post to your blog often (at least once per week)!!!! If you neglect your blog, your userswill, too! Have fun with blogging! Let your students know that you love what you’re doing. Yourenthusiasm will be contagious!
H OW C A N YO U U S E B L O G S T O P RO M O T E R E A D I N G ? Create a blog of book reviews. Establish an online book club where students discuss books they’rereading for class or for their own entertainment. Start a library blog as a marketing tool. • Promote library activities. • Announce arrival of new books. • Share award lists and themed book lists. • Post student reviews and invite parents, teachers, and authors to comment.
I F YO U P L A N T O C R E AT E A BOOK REVIEW BLOG… Read, read, read! When you think you can’t read anymore, keep reading! Post often. You’ve got to give people reasons to keep coming back to yourblog. Be honest. Don’t give a good review to a book you hated. Your readers willcount on you to lead them to books they might enjoy. Also, let your personalityshow in your writing. (This is especially true when writing YA book reviews.If you’re naturally sarcastic, don’t hold back!)
H OW C A N YO U P RO M O T E YO U R N E W B L O G ? Place a link to your blog on your email signature, your website, and on your school’s website. Send out information on the blog in your newsletter. Let the local media know that you’re doing something new to promote reading (or whateverelse you may be blogging about). Share the information with your colleagues at meetings and conferences and through emailand listservs. Provide incentives to students and teachers who comment on your blog. (I got permissionfrom my principal to do this for our summer reading program.) Tell all of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!
MY BLOGSKnight Reader • District-approved site • Blog I like the most and update most oftenFork Shoals Reads!Knight Reader JuniorAdventures in Library Land
HIGHLIGHTS OF MY LIFE AS A BLOGGERComments from authorsComments from readers around the worldPeople who use my reviews to create their reading listsStudents getting excited about communicating withothers about books, libraries, and reading
FOR BOOK REVIEW AND AU T H O R B L O G S …Visit Knight Reader athttp://knightreader.wordpress.com, and go to the“Blogs to Watch” page. Please add any other blogs you find in the comments, and I’ll add them to the main page.
FINAL COMMENTS AND QU E S T I O N S Don’t be afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work, adapt and trysomething else. Remember those all-important words—monitor and adjust. If you’d like any of the lesson plans or materials I’ve used to teach blogging atthe elementary level, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email me with questions, concerns, gripes, and anything else whenyou’re starting your own blogs. I’ll do whatever I can to help you create a successfulblog! Questions?