6 time-saving tech tricks for school librarians

School librarians can leverage edtech tools to engage with students, support teachers, and make their school libraries dynamic and welcoming learning spaces

Is there an educator on the planet who would turn down a bit more time in their day?

With time-saving technology strategies, school librarians can find ways to connect with their school’s teachers and students on a deeper level, forming relationships and helping with research and skill development.

During an ISTELive session, Kristina A. Holzweiss, a high school educational technology enrichment specialist librarian, shared her tips to help school librarians engage with students, support teachers, and make their school libraries dynamic and welcoming learning spaces.

1. Choice Boards
“Student voice, student choice,” Holzweiss said.

Why: Help foster independence, encourage student choice and decision-making, and offer differentiated instruction.
How: Google Slides, PPT, Buncee, Thinglink, Genially, Canva

School librarians can create choice boards aligned with different ability levels, and students can choose according to how they feel comfortable.

2. Newsletters

Why: Advocacy, community connections, sharing resources, showcasing student work
How: Wakelet, Padlet, Smore, Google Slides, PPT

“A newsletter is a wonderful way of advocating [for your library], Holzweiss said. “Work smarter, not harder.”

Using Wakelet, school librarians can work with librarians in their district–or even across the state or country–to draw attention to important resources in the library, offer research tips, and motivate students. Translation technologies can be included for students and parents whose native language is not English.

3. Handbook
: Creating a digital library presence, using a multimedia format to expand accessibility features, sharing resources, showcasing student work
How: Book Creator, websites, Google Slides, Mote, PowerPoint

School librarians can embed a link to a library handbook and put it in Google Classroom or Canvas, for instance. Handbooks can summarize library services, events calendars, and important updates. They’re also useful when students keep digital reading journals for summer reading projects.

4. Virtual help desk
Why: Creating a digital library presence, allowing for a multimedia format and responses rather than only text responses, building relationships through SEL
How: Flipgrid, Padlet, Google Forms

A virtual help desk can be instrumental in ensuring anyone who needs help is able to ask for it–but make sure you moderate and have notifications on, Holzweiss said–if you aren’t checking it, you might miss something important.

5. Audio bytes
Why: Creating a digital library presence, offering multimedia and accessibility features, sharing resources, and building relationships through SEL
How: Mote with Google Forms, Share through Google Drive, share through Onedrive

“Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Mote book request form where students can record their requests and responses?” Holzweiss asked. Letting students record and embed their voice responses directly into information fields in online forms does wonders for ELLs, younger students who can’t read yet, special education students, and students who have difficulty reading. Teachers can create multimedia assessments and activities for their students, who record and embed their responses.

6. Virtual book club
: Extends reading beyond the library, creates a community of readers, connects students across classes, grade levels, and schools
How: Flipgrid, Padlet, Wakelet, Jamboard

A digital reading journal is a great way to sustain a virtual book club. Students can find a video, photo, song, podcast, meme, or gif that illustrates a theme in their book. As they keep this digital reading journal, they’re creating a digital portfolio of your digital interactions with this book.

Holzweiss said she avoids outdated book report questions and formats. Instead, she includes prompts such as, “If you threw a dinner party, which character in this book would you invite?”

With tools such as Wakelet, ELL students can write in their native language and teachers can translate on their own.

Laura Ascione