Tech Tools & Tips from TLA

Today’s contributor: Lorelei Scanlan, the proud librarian of Martin Middle School. This is her third year as an Eagle and she has been in education for ten years. Lorelei enjoys camping, listening to Taylor Swift, and watching the Bachelor (and all of its spinoffs).
Follow the Martin Middle School Library Twitter: @MartinMSLibrary

When I found out the date that I was given to write for the Technology Design Blog, I was very excited because it was the week of the Texas Library Association (TLA) conference. TLA is the annual conference where librarians across the state get together and discuss everything library related–which includes a lot of technology! I’d like to share with all of you the Top 8 Tech Design Tools & Tips I Learned at TLA.

  1. Start with the TEKS! Once you know what you want your students to learn, then go back and find the technology tools that align with it. While we want to be innovative and introduce our students to all of the “coolest tech tools out there,” our number one priority should always be the content.
  2. There are so many amazing digital resources out there that our district already subscribes to. Check out your school’s digital library catalog page to find which resources are more appropriate for your grade levels, but all of the resources available can be accessed at: If you’re on the Education network, you won’t need to login to access these. If you need to access them at home, talk to your librarian to find out the login information.
  3. We all know that teaching students about fake news & media literacy is very important, but it’s more than just teaching them to passively view the information. We need to be teaching them to analyze & create their own response and messages to that media. They need to be actively questioning what they are viewing and reading. Here is a list of resources that can help when planning these lessons.
  4. Utilize Google Calendar in the view only mode for students. Students can easily access due dates, special events, or other important information, like when the library is open.
  5. Even as a huge user & proponent of Google Slides, there is still so much out there that I did not know you could do with Slides! Here is a great resource that goes over even more amazing things it can do.
  6. Did you know that you can add emojis to your Google Drive names? I didn’t! It seems so obvious to me know, but it is such a cool and visually appealing way to organize your Google Drive Folders. (This trick also works great for organizing files and pages in Blend!)
  7. Personally, I think that Google Drawings is the most underrated of all the Google Apps. I always forget about it, but there is just so much that it can do. What a great tool to make posters, digital anchor charts, and all kinds of other visual tools. It is easy for students to use and a great bridge for those activities that seem like they have to be done with a paper and pencil.
  8. Your colleagues are your greatest assets! Yes, I went to many sessions and talked to various vendors, but the absolute best information I learned came from other librarians. Connect with your colleagues on your campus, across the district, and even outside of Austin. There’s an endless amount of information out there!


  1. Thanks for the reminder to use our district provided resources! I often get wrapped up in trying to find new things and forget about the great things we already have!

  2. Love all these tips from TLA and so glad you posted because I missed a couple of these sessions. Do you have the link for the fake news lessons? It’s not working from email post. I’m going to check out these emojis! That would really help.

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