School Librarian’s Favorite Websites for Teaching and Learning


6.29.12 | At the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference in Anaheim, Calif., last week, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced the recipients of the 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. The list recognizes free websites for learning and is now in its fourth year, according to a piece in School Library Journal.


A few noteworthy sites that were acknowledged in this year’s list include Gamestar Mechanic, a gaming platform that teaches kids to design their own games, and Inanimate Alice, a digital novel about a girl and her best friend set in the early 21st century. The site uses text, sound, images, music, and games to tell its story. Laura Flemming, a library media specialist from River Edge, N.J., said the multimedia book is important because it was not an adaption; rather, it was “conceived, written and created entirely within the digital domain.”

Vialogues, according to the AASL, allows users to do more than just passively watch a video online. Users can post a video and then invite participants to answer questions and comment.

Some other favorites include an online brainstorming tool, a personal history sharing site where users can post stories, photographs and memories from around the world, and a graphic novel creator.

In order for a site to make it to the AASL’s “best of the best” list, it must encourage a thriving learning community and support the organization’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner (pdf), which emphasize creativity, critical thinking, active participation, and collaboration.

“These are strong sites, and the committee hopes users find them useful for library, classroom and personal use,” said AASL chair Heather Moorefield-Lang. “This year, the committee will be recognizing the 100th site. This is quite a milestone.”

Winning sites are selected in the following categories: Media Sharing; Digital Storytelling; Manage & Organize; Social Networking & Communication; Content Resources and Curriculum Collaboration.

Educators and librarians are always encouraged to enter their most-used sites for consideration. While this year’s competition has passed, stay tuned for updates on how to submit nominations and useful feedback that will help determine the winners of 2013.

You can browse this year’s winners at AASL.

Plus: At its annual meeting last week, the ALA also adopted a new resolution supporting school libraries. Meant as an advocacy tool to help fight budget cuts, the resolution affirms the importance of school librarians and media specialists to academic success and calls on librarians around the country to advocate on their behalf. According to School Library Journal, the resolution encourages all librarians “to address the impact of the de-professionalization and curtailment of school library instructional programs on students and student achievement.” The ALA is expected to draft a plan for further increasing its advocacy on behalf of school librarians in the near future.


Picture of Craig Seasholes
Craig Seasholes (Seattle, WA)


Drilling into the AASL Best Websites is like heading down the rabbit hole with Alice…but with a guide on the side. Thanks for re-posting this list and the ALA resolution. Teacher-librarians provide significant and unique instruction in library information technology that students need to succeed. Go to and check out our LIT program framework to see how today’s libraries serve up 21st century teaching and learning.


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