Social Media in Elementary School Libraries?

I plan to be children’s librarian at a public library or private school.  I’ve interned at a public library and can clearly see the huge benefits of using social media in that setting.  In the fall, I’ll be doing an internship at a private K-8 school and it’s got me thinking about where (and if) social media fits into that puzzle.  Is there a place for it with the younger set?

The most obvious hurdle here is age.  Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, WordPress, Goodreads, and many others require a minimum age of 13 to open an account.  That’s good news for middle and high schoolers, where the possibilities are endless, but are elementary schoolers out of luck?

There’s also the issue of parents.  Some may not want their younger children on social sites, even ones geared toward younger kids like ScuttlePad and Togetherville.  According to “Kids Online,” a report issued by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, sites aimed at the under-13 set vary widely in quality: “evidence is growing that many of the virtual worlds for children that are currently available are impoverished compared to those for teens and adults…the comparable worlds designed for children often provide much more limited, homogenous texts, contain fewer affordances and action opportunities, and even promote bad grammar because of word filters.”

Obviously, librarians are free to use social media to network and cull ideas to enrich their student’s lives at any age level.  In fact, according to a recent report by MMS Education, librarians use social networking professionally more than teachers and principals–citing 82% usage in 2012.  But, what are some other options for connecting with younger students within the Web 2.0 realm?

The best idea I can come up with, given the limitations, is starting a book blog or wiki at a school.  Teachers, librarians and students could recommend books, write reviews, organize book clubs, have kids vote for favorites, etc.  Sort of a Goodreads for the youngins.

Do any of you have experience or ideas on this front?

References:

http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/12/k-12/librarians-use-social-networking-professionally-more-than-teachers-and-principals-according-to-report/

http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/11/social-media/kids-online-report-young-childrens-social-networking-habits-harder-to-track-than-teens/

http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/01/k-12/social-medias-best-kept-secret-goodreads-is-a-fabulous-site-to-revolutionize-your-literary-life/

http://www.npr.org/2011/07/11/137705552/ten-safe-social-networking-sites-for-kids

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3 thoughts on “Social Media in Elementary School Libraries?

  1. Nomi

    I teach kindergarten and while we do not use resources in quite the ways that you describe, we do try to make use of a variety of internet tools, etc. via the SmartBoard in our classroom. It’s not a resource that every classroom has, but it provides some great opportunities for interactive use of technology. One of the things that I’ve thought about a lot is the fact that when I was in elementary school, we had pen pals. With the ease of access to the internet, creating a Web 2.0 version of our elementary school pen pals should be very doable. It probably has to wait until after kindergarten – we’re working on learning to write , so typing letters is a bit beyond our curriculum, but the kind of dynamic conversation that can occur via Web 2.0 technology makes it seems like it would be worth trying. It would also allow teachers to help significantly shape the community in which their students are participating, by giving structure and guidelines to the conversation..

    Reply
  2. Christy Confetti Higgins

    I think using the SmartBoard is a great idea! My daughter recently did a paper about Jane Goodall and I showed her how Jane was using social media and the types of information she could get from those sources – she could even ask Jane a question. Maybe in using the SmartBoard, you could show students how people they are studying are sharing (another example is NASA astronauts).

    Reply

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