Monday, May 25, 2015

Value Added Hashtags?

    This year, I have dabbled in using social media to promote the library program.  While I have set up a Lakeside Junior High School Library Twitter page (@GoldenEagleLMC), a Library Facebook account as well as a library Instagram account, I have experienced very limited success in getting my students to integrate these library accounts into their social media diet.  In fact, the number of teacher followers on this platforms has generally dwarfed the number of student followers!

   Two Fridays ago, I took a great leap forward in using social media to promote the library through hashtags.  Previously, I have participated regularly in the variety of tweet chats. (If you are not familiar with tweetchats,  the way they work is that you post out to the questions posed by the moderator with a hashtag (#arkedchat for example) at the end of each tweet- it is a great way to grow your PLN!)

   This move forward with hashtags, all started when I got an email from one of the Spanish teachers asking if she would mind if the library was included in a photo scavenger hunt she had designed for her students in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  Of course I emailed her back that I would gladly participate!

     As I read the email, it got me thinking about how I might use hashtags to promote the library through this activity.  I proposed that we add a social media component to encourage students to share the photos they took during the scavenger hunt on Twitter and Instragram with the hashtag #cincodemayoljhs.  The teacher agreed to share the hashtag with her students for this activity.

     I created a few signs around the high traffic areas of the scavenger hunt around the school that featured the hashtag #cincodemayoljhs.  While no students posted to Twitter, students did add several photos on Instagram-12 in fact, with that hashtag throughout the day.  While a dozen might not seem like a lot, it meant that in each of the 7 hours of the school day, student groups were posting photos using hashtags as a part of the library program for the first time!

     The success of using hashtags in this scavenger hunt got me thinking about how hashtags could instantaneously improve student interactions with the library.  What if I publicized upcoming library events on Instagram with a library hashtag? (#GoldenEagleLMC)  What if I used the library hashtag to promote new books/services in the library? Would this encourage previously less interested students to participate in programs increasing our student attendance at these events, or increase circulation of library materials?  A question for my fellow library/media specialists-how have you best employed hashtags to promote your libraries?  I look forward to exploring these possibilities next year!

    My experiences getting students to use hashtags reminded me of when cell phones first entered into schools.  One of my favorite quotes about this was: "students have them, so we might as well put them to good use!".  I think that phrase definitely applies here: "if students are using hashtags on Instagram, we might as well put them to good use to promote the LJHS library program!"

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Twitter: @Brian_librarian

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Telenovellas Hangout

    My adminstrator asked the teacher leaders in a meeting the other day what was going on in our classrooms as the school year comes to a close.  I responded that as media specialist, I was working to "tiptoe around the testing schedule", and fit as much library programming in as possible for my students before the school year ends.

    One of my favorite (and unfortunately last) programming events of the 2014-15 year was our latest Lakeside Squared Hangout with students from 4 Spanish classes, 2 from Lakeside JHS Springdale where I work, and 2 from Lakeside High School in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  This Hangout was kind of a one year anniversary Hangout from when Stony Evans, media specialist at Lakeside Hot Springs, and I began the Lakeside Squared Hangouts tradition last May with a book club Hangout about Veronica Roth's popular novel Divergent.

   Not only was this the first time we had held a Squared Hangout with 4 classes at once, but it was also one with a number of other "firsts".  This Hangout was our first working with our foreign language departments, and also the first one that was conducted almost completely in a language other than English. This Squared Hangout was also our first one where students presented dramatic works they had created themselves. Student groups from both schools presented the telenovelas-short and often violent Mexican soap operas for each other through Hangout.  Students also had the opportunity to practice their Spanish skills by asking and responding to questions posed by their peers after the telenovela presentations.

   I am excited about the new ground that has been broken with this Squared Hangout.  Expanding into a new academic department, Spanish will give our students new possibilities.  Getting the Spanish department to participate gives us opportunities for ongoing Spanish language skill practice between classes/schools and has potential to be expanded to include more native Spanish speaking classes/schools from around the world to join future Hangouts through the Google Arkansas Network Group, (G.A.N.G.)


   If you are interested in having your students participate in the Google Arkansas Network Group Hangout Community, click here to sign up and join the Google Arkansas Networking Group (G.A.N.G.) today!