Elissa Malespina: Library Media Specialist

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi I am Elissa Malespina, the Library Media Specialist at South Orange Middle School in South Orange, NJ. I work hard to arm our more than 700 students with the library and technology skills they need. In my spare time I present at conferences on many Web 2.0 technologies such as Pinterest, Evernote, Livebinders, QR codes, and Twitter among others. You can see my presentations here http://emalespina.wikispaces.com/. I have written two articles for School Librarians Workshop on using QR codes and Pinterest in the library which you can also access on my wiki. I am a Trustee of the South Orange Public Library and am helping to plan this years New Jersey Association of School Librarians Conference.  ElissaI maintain an active twitter account where I tweet about technology and library issues @SOMSlibrary and have become addicted to Pinterest where I have 38 boards dealing with such topics as Common Core, Apps, Great Technology and more. You can follow me at http://pinterest.com/somslibrary/. Oh, I am also in the process of going back to get my Supervisory Certification and did I forget to mention that I am the mother to a sports loving 9 year old? I am also an avid Seton Hall Pirates Basketball as well as a Giants and Jets football fan. Yes, you can like both teams!! They play in different leagues 😉

What hardware are you using?

I am an Apple Girl! Once you go Apple you never go back :-). I use my iPhone for everything. I am lost without it. It works great at work to get around the filters especially when I need to research something for a student that is blocked by our filters. I also have a Macbook Pro and an iPad but I have to admit I use my iPhone much more than I use my iPad.

We are a Windows school, though, so I have a Dell Laptop for my use, 2  Desktops at the Circulation Desk and a Desktop computer attached to the Smartboard that we have in the library. There are 26 Dell Desktops in the library that students and staff have access to. We also have a lab across the hall with another 19 Dells that our teachers can use as well as 4 Laptop carts with 12 computers each that teachers can check out to use with their classes. We are piloting 1:1 computing with a team of 6th grade teachers.  There is a set of 32 Dell Laptops that are shared among the team. I am in charge of the scheduling of all of those computers. I have a Google Doc set up that teachers can view but not edit to see when the computers and lab are available. The teachers then email me or come see me to sign out the equiptment.

SOMS also has 34 Nooks that I have loaded with over 100 books that students can check out. I am piloting the use of these in the district. Thanks to a combination of grants and district money I have been able to purchase so many for our students. They have gotten an amazing response from the students and they love checking them out and reading the books on the them. I also love being able to say “ that book is checked out, but you can get it on the Nook”. Click here for more information about my program and the AUP that I use. I have no problem talking to anyone about some of the tricks that I figured out from my experiences with deploying Nooks in our library.

As I mentioned previously we have a huge Smartboard at the back of the library. I use it to give presentations to classes but also to connect with people around the world on Skype and Google Hangout. Within the last two years we have connected with Authors, different classes, Anthropologists, Directors of Technology and even Astronauts on the International Space Station. I could not do without that set up!

And what software?

At school and home I would be lost without the following software:

Destiny Library Manager (my card catalog program): I could not do my job without it!  It is my card catalog program. I use it to check out books, run reports, catalog books and equipment, do inventory, send email notifications to parents about overdue materials and so much more. Online card catalog programs have revolutionized libraries and made it so much easier for me to do my job. I really could not spend as much time as I do teaching students about all of the different technologies we use if I had to hand catalog books.

Edmodo: this has been a game changer for the students and staff who use it in our school. Thanks to Edmodo students can now safely communicate with each other and staff about school work. Teachers can post assignments, give quizzes, post documents for students, administer polls, keep a class calendar and so much more. Our teachers even use it to communicate with students when out sick and away at conferences. Edmodo has really given our the students the ability for 24/7 learning. In my library I use it in a different way than my colleagues because I don’t have a specific class. It is the one place where all the students in the school can come together to talk about school and books. One example of this is the South Orange Middle School Compliments page I created and moderate where students send me a Direct Messages with compliments about staff and students and I then post them on the page. It is all anonymous! The students and staff love this page. For digital learning day I posted a poll asking what their favorite Web 2.0 tool that we use in school was and they picked Edmodo as their favorite.

Evernote: I have taught all of our students about Evernote.  They have created accounts and have used it for at least one project. In the pilot 1:1 program my students use Evernote daily.  Students keep an eportfolio with all of their writings and make notebooks for each of the units in their English Class. They take all of their notes in it and can take pictures of charts and notes on the board and put it in their notebooks. Students then share their notebooks with me and their English teacher, my “Tech Partner in Crime,” 6th grade ELA teacher Melissa Butler @AngelinaShy. Evernote has organized the notoriously unorganized middle schoolers and has made it that students no longer have the excuse that they don’t have something (I forgot it at home, my dog ate it, etc.) because they can access all their information from everywhere. We have also seen great improvements in our Special Education students who use the software.  It keeps them much more engaged and organized. The other day I was teaching a class of students how to use it and I called it life changing. A student came up to me after school and said, “remember how you said Evernote was life changing? You were right it is. Thanks for showing me it.” That right there is why I do my job! Mrs. Butler and I also recently taught teachers and staff at the Teachers College at Columbia University how to use Evernote with Readers and Writers Workshop. Evernote came in a close second in the Edmodo poll.

Livebinders: I use this tool to make binders filled with information on different topics that I present on and also for staff to use for Professional Development. We have students curate binders with information that they are using for different research projects as well. I love the fact that you can easily organize websites, video, documents and more. Users also gain access to an amazing, searchable library of binders that other people created. There is a binder on almost any topic. I recently taught a member of my PLN how to use it and he is now using it as the textbook for the college class he is teaching.

Glogsterand GlogsterEdu: This is an online poster making tool and I have taught all of the students in the school how to use it. By the time they leave SOMS students have used Glogster for at least one project. I even have one of the PE teachers using it with his health classes!  Glogster allows students to put text, images, graphics, videos, audio and links to websites on an online poster. It takes that poster project that all teachers assign to the next level and really showcases the creativity of our students.

Animoto: My students love using Animoto to make book trailers and mini videos for their classes. It is a really simple, easy to use program that creates great videos. The 6th grade students have it as one of their choices in the author study unit and they have made some amazing videos!

Delivr: I use this to make QR codes for the library. I love this site because it has great free analytic tools and you can customize the QR codes. I make QR codes that I put on books and signs around the library. They link to book trailers, authors websites and more information about the book. I also have made QR codes posters for the teachers with links to the their websites and we put it up outside of their doors. It is a huge hit on back to school night with the parents. Another thing that I did this year is make posters with synopses of books and QR codes with links to book trailers and we are putting them up in the bathroom stalls in the the schools.I also teach my students how to make them and they attach them to different projects. The possibilities of uses with QR codes in endless and I stress that when I present on them at conferences.

Google Drive: I could not live without it. I use it consistently! Almost all of my documents are stored on it. I teach my students how to use it and it is an excellent cloud based alternative the office suite. It is great for students and group work because it is so collaborative.

Wikispaces: The libraries website is a wiki. It is so easy to use and looks great. I also love all the widgets and how easy it is to embed content. You also have the ability to make wikis collaborative.

Flipsnack: Love love love this site for taking word documents and making them into interactive flip books that can be embedded and is easy to share on facebook and twitter.  I use this site put the schools newspaper online .I also use it for the libraries year end report and the summer reading list. Their are so many great ways to use it in school and with classes.

Popplet: A great website where you can share your ideas and organize information collaboratively. The students love making popplets and I use it all the time in presentation. So simple to make and fun to customize.

BufferApp: I love this site and app for twitter. I can write different tweets and schedule them to go out at different times. It is great because when I find something that I want to tweet about I don’t have to tweet about them all at once I can spread out my tweets so that I can reach a wider audience. I also don’t need to be at the computer or by my phone to tweet. It is also very easy to use and have a great analytic tool to see just how many people your tweet reached and how many times the link was clicked on.

Twitter: The best professional development I have ever had! I have learned so much from so many amazing people and participated in chats with people from around the world on many great topics. It is also allowed me to advance my career. I have gotten asked to speak at conference, write articles and even got a chance to be featured on this blog because of it!

Pinterest: I have become obsessed with pinning! I have over 35 different board on topics ranging from Great Apps to Common Core Resources and Books Worth Reading It is an amazing professional development tool. I have gotten so many great ideas from it. I just wrote an article about it and how it can be used in by school librarians  that was featured in School Librarians Workshop. Click hereto read the article it is on page 13.  

There are so many more that I use but those are a few of my favorites and the best part is that they are all FREE!!

What would your dream set up be?

I would love to have a 1:1 computing environment. Having piloting the program this year I see how it has changed the way that we deliver instruction. I want all my teachers and students be able to learn in a 1:1 environment. As my friend, Tom Murray @thomascmurry Award Winning Director of Technology at the Quakertown School District says you can spend tons of money on equipment but without PD it is worthless. We need to make sure that we also do a good job offering teacher driven differentiated instruction to our staff so that the technology that we give to our teachers is implemented correctly.

Ideally at some point like to move into the role of Professional Development Coordinator for a District or Technology Integration Trainer or Director of Technology.( I like to keep my options open 🙂  Technology is my passion and l love being able to share my knowledge with others. That is one of the reasons I love presenting at technology conferences.

I can not thank Daniel enough for choosing to spotlight me on his blog. I am honored to be his first school librarian featured! I hope I am the first of many. And remember your librarian is their to help you so use them. They are a great resource!


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