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Virtual Learning Commons- Elementary



Image source: Public Health Ontario/ Santé publique Ontario







Participants will learn how to engage members of their school community with 24/7 access to teaching and learning resources, opportunities, and environments by creating and maintaining a virtual learning commons for the school library media center. 


Essential Questions: 

  • Why is it critical for your school’s library media center to have a current and visible virtual presence?
  • Does my school’s library media center have an active, current virtual presence? 
  • How can I create and maintain a virtual learning commons for my school’s library media center?



Background Information/ Professional Reading



Reflections on our Essential Questions:


Why do I need an engaging and active virtual presence?

  • The Virtual School Library is an important tool for making visible to all stakeholders the essential roles that YOU and YOUR SCHOOL LIBRARY MEDIA PROGRAM are serving on a DAILY BASIS in support of district/school goals for teaching/learning and student achievement.  It is a way to:
    • Extend your effectiveness as a teacher, instructional partner, information specialist, and library program administrator. 
    • Reach and teach all learners, beyond the four walls of the library media center and in spite of space and time constraints.
    • Demonstrate leadership in digital learning in conjunction with the S.T.A.T., by providing tools and environments for students to develop 21st century skills-- The 4C's:  Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity.
    • Advocate for your school library program and position in a meaningful way, by providing evidence of their value. 


Does my SLMC have an active and current virtual presence?

  • A recent review of current BCPS secondary school library websites/wikis shows:

    • Many elementary schools are not using the wiki pages as a virtual library.

    • Some school websites display NO link to any school library information, or the school library wiki is not "public."

    • Some school library wikis have not been updated, are not well-organized, or are not rich in content.

  • Is your school library Website/wiki ...
    • Responsive to the needs of students, teachers, and parents?
    • Relevant to students' lives and interests and reflective of school culture and community?

    • Engaging in its design and rich in media and digital content? 
    • Interactive and participatory, with opportunities for user participation? 
    • Organized for easy navigation and accessibility? 
    • Dynamic and current, not static or stagnant?
    • Connected to/from the school website, Destiny, district resources, social media? 


How can I create and maintain an engaging, relevant and current virtual school library?  


Exemplar Virtual Libraries




  • Make your Virtual Learning Commons a PUBLIC site.  In PBWorks Campus Edition, specific pages/folders can be set for invited users with customized permissions.

  • Ensure that a link to your Virtual Learning Commons is included on your school's Website; contact your school Webmaster.

  • Contact The Office of Digital Learning to have a link to your Virtual Learning Commons placed on your school's DESTINY Homepage sidebar.

  • Model digital citizenship by complying with copyright and citing sources. Use copyright-friendly images and media.

  • Check Parental Privacy Preferences before posting student photos/videos or intellectual property. These may be published on your schools' Shared drive. If not, ask your guidance secretary or an administrator. OR take pictures of students working from behind.

  • DO NOT post Databases home access passwords on a public Website/Wiki. If you have already posted the handout, TAKE IT DOWN. 

  • DO NOT display URL's; link URL's to article/resource title or keyword.

  • Post this disclaimer at the bottom of your wiki's front page:

Disclaimer: The BCPS does not guarantee the accuracy or quality of information located on the telecommunications networks. We have made every reasonable attempt to ensure that our school system’s Web sites are educationally sound and do not contain links to anything that can be deemed in violation of the BCPS telecommunications policy. The linked sites are not under the control of the Baltimore County Public Schools; therefore, BCPS is not responsible for the contents of any linked site, links within the site, or any revisions to such sites. Links from BCPS’ Web sites are provided as a convenience and do not imply an endorsement of the linked Web site. 


Requirements and Optional Inclusions

  • 5 Things Every School Library Website Should Have(from the Adventures of Library Girl blog) 

  • Library Vision/Mission statement - Example from AASL Empowering Learners: The mission of the school library program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information; students are empowered to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information.

  • YOU: Welcome message, photo/avatar/Voki, contact info, bio/credentials, blog

  • LMC: Hours, policies, procedures for using physical LMC facility, borrowing and returning materials, etc.

  • Library Social Media: Twitter feed, YouTube/School Tube channel, etc. 

  • Library Schedule and News: Embedded/linked Google Calendar, "This Week in the Library," etc. 

  • Standards: AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner/CCSS CrosswalkP21;  ISTE Standards

  • Essential links: 

  • Readers' Advisory: Book reviews, book trailers, Book Club, Black-eyed Susans, recommended reading lists, Destiny Resource Lists, reading promotions, reading promotional videos, reading comprehension strategies, etc.

  • Research & Information Literacy: Tools, tips and tutorials on searching, evaluating, citing sources, avoiding plagiarism, note-taking, organizing, etc. Database tutorials/videos.

  • Digital Citizenship: Articles, videos, tutorials, etc. Find resources on the Digital Citizenship page on ODL Resource Wiki.

  • Curated resources: Content area resources, research pathfinders, student-friendly news sources, digital citizenship resources, etc.

  • Showcased student work 



Connecting to Twitter 

  • Twitter   ** Use the Twitter widget to embed your Twitter feed on your Library wiki. Your library Twitter should not be be your personal Twitter account. It should reflect the name of the school and the library and is separate from your personal or professional Twitter account. 



Social Media Guidelines

Please adhere to the social media guidelines on the BCPS Social Media: General Guidelines document.