Thing 14/2017: News Literacy

The interest in this topic is not only very timely based on the news climate, especially with the injection of politics, but also because I’ll be presenting about this topic in about a month to other teachers AND because there have been a few new great resources from others that continually contribute to “making sense” of news literacy.

I’ll start though with reflecting on some of the articles shared in the Cool Tools post including Valenza article from SLJ, but I didn’t find it nearly as helpful as some of the others that provided lists (my new favorite word is listicle after learning about it through my #edublogsclub challenge) providing questions and helpful approaches with students. Yet, as much as we’re needing to find ways to educate our students, these are helpful for anyone, including myself to be reminded of or provide a better way of approaching an article.

“The Six Principles Behind News Literacy” as well “False, Misleading, and Clickbait-y and/or Satirical News Sources” provided some much-needed definitions and understanding but the most basic of all of the reminders is that free expression is the foundation of our democracy. It is our job to work through and understand the information given to us because the information should keep coming (and as one article mentioned, it doubles approximately every few years) because we have the freedom to disseminate, create, share, and speak. Every rally both locally and nationally has shown students that we must speak up and speak out.

The other recommendation was about reinventing current events. I like this approach. Have students bring in current event articles (as they relate to a specific course or in any capacity to be able to infuse news literacy into the curriculum and take responsibility for its instruction) and then asking students to discuss intelligently things like who produced and what was its purpose? How can you verify the information or does it document sources within the article? These and many other questions are good approaches and absolutely bring current events to the 21st century.

Last, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I’d like to also share two additional images that help us understand news literacy. One is from Eric Devine’s blog where he “pumps up the volume” and shares a great graphic about news sources and their bias. The other has already been shared around, but for the sake of bringing it all together, our favorite Library Girl shared “Tips for Spotting Fake News” which is another well-organized graphic around the topic.

No matter what, this is a topic that needs to stay and be revisited often. And the concluding thought is that it must be taught. It is not something that gets developed over time, the instruction must be explicit, whether it’s discussing an edited image or talking about the credibility of an author, this conversation must continue so that everyone can be effective users of information.

Thing 1/2017: Blogging “301”

It’s ironic that once a repeat Cool Tools student has created their blog and likely reuses the one that they’ve had from previous years, that we quickly look to the other things. But, there’s so much more I want and need to learn about blogging, so I’ve revisited the first thing. Both because I’m killing two birds with one stone and I want to step up my blogging game.

First, as I’ve posted in our Canvas platform, I’ve joined the #edublogsclub challenge that began this past week. Each week, the administrators of Edublogs will post a prompt that you have one week to complete. It’s about upping your blogging game while connecting with educators blogging themselves. They rank the best blogs in categories like education, libraries, and blogs by students. So a lot of learning will be taking place over the next few weeks with that one and you can follow that journey with the above-mentioned hashtag.

Second, I have been blogging professionally on one platform on numerous blogs with different audiences. I am a contributor to The Hub, YALSA’s collection development blog, the Books Blog for the Times Union, and manage both this one for professional development and my personal/professional ReadersBeAdvised blog. Not-so-ironically, they are all powered by WordPress, so I want to get smarter about using it. I spent the better part of two hours last night alone, plus countless hours over the last several weeks really digging deeper into the support pages (which also include embedded Youtube videos that last 1-3 minutes which is fantastic). I am starting to understand the different between “menu” and “pages”, realizing that not all themes are created equal since I wanted to do a custom header but still love my theme (which doesn’t have that option), so now I’m going to not switch, though I’ve been toying with the idea of paying to get a bit more content available to me and “brand” a bit better. How many Cool Tools participants pay for their site?

Likewise, visiting other blogs for the Edublogs challenge and visiting those that I follow professionally and respect, ideas are taking shape. One article I stumbled upon was about blogging itself, which brings you back to some basics and provides some food for thought from Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian. I know what I like from some and don’t like from others.

But I’ve been happy with the alterations I’ve made so far on my ReadersBeAdvised blog. I’ve added the “text widget” called “Speaking of” which I like and modified some of my other widgets. I created a page that collects one of my categories from my main posts (my home is my blogroll) and puts it on that separate page. The idea here is that I want to diversify my blog– I don’t want to do book recommendations and reviews but talk about practice, library programming and activities, and other musings about the library life, but want to do it from the comfort of one blog rather than hosting several (which some bloggers do).

There’s also the intersection (which will be my next thing) with the site I created after I started giving presentations locally, both with my colleague and individually, using Weebly. Right now I’m at a crossroads of figuring out what has staying power, what should I be paying for (to get a bit more out of it, especially when sites get popular enough that they start adding premiums and costs to get the same content you did have for free originally) that add legitimacy to the message and I’m using Cool Tools as the vehicle.

As always Polly, thank you for this opportunity.

Thing 15/2016: Scanning the Horizon

Feeling overwhelmed almost seems like a natural extension of our jobs as librarians because as much as we are providing services in the present, we must always be looking to the future to move with the changing tides and interests of the community. And that is a daunting task simply because there are so many directions to go and few that people en masse gravitate toward. What to invest in? What to ditch?

That’s why I was particularly interested in the infographic embedded on the Thing 15 page about 10 things to know about student’s digital learning and number 1 & 8 particularly resonated because of a recent visit by a Renaissance man/author/scholar who came to our school. He has encyclopedic knowledge on a variety of topics and seamlessly transitions between the information, but his theme in all his talks with students was to harness the power at their fingertips– the internet and in particular Youtube. He showed no less than five videos of cool things to incorporate into his talks but even in private conversation with him, he continued to marvel at videos as instructional tools. His theory is that there has never been a time where information can so succinctly be delivered via video to stuff our brains with knowledge. And clearly this infographic demonstrates that kids appreciate this kind of succinct learning as well. I always learned better by being shown what to do, not being told. If you pair that with the Future Ready article  and you’ve got a recipe to begin re-thinking the library. I’m actually *shocking* printing out that two-page document to use to shape future initiatives.

I also emailed myself the 2015 and 2016 articles by Carolyn Foote that I found extremely useful and actually the 2015 article that discusses fusing and personalization (while seemingly dichotomous) are actually what our library is already doing and doing well. I have valued both of these as we have shaped the library over 10 years. For our school library every activity we plan is about cross-pollinating. How can we connect F to R when they don’t seem to have anything in common? And then personalization. Every four years we have a different feel in the library because the students change. Last year we couldn’t keep buying puzzles fast enough, this year, not one has been completed. What do your users need and want and listen to them (see exhibit 1 with the infographic– ask the kids!)

This “thing” has been eye-opening. I want to keep looking forward while honing skills from the past and present and knowing that there are people whose job it is to forecast new technologies and societal needs lets me focus on the present better.

Thing 3/2016: Twitter Part II

I revisited Twitter in my first post for the 2016-17 school year and wanted to do a second exploration both recommended by Polly but also my colleague and the article on Free Twitter Tools from the Cool Tools site.

I downloaded Hootsuite to my phone and began to play around with it’s features. I revisited the app several times over and first found it not to be intuitive. For the amount I use Twitter, my settings on Twitter and my phone essentially do what I need it to do because Hootsuite is another app that I need to visit in the hopes of organizing the information better.I want to limit my interaction with multiple apps, so I decided to delete this app after about a month. Instead, I use a banner notification on my phone when I’m mentioned in a tweet and Twitter sends me an email to my phone if I miss the banner notification. For the rare times I am mentioned, this works for me.

Now, for the library Twitter account, my colleague had set up IFTTT and I appreciate this app, though again, because you can have multiple accounts on the Twitter app (just like Instagram and Facebook to toggle back and forth with), I get these notifications as well as banner notifications that when I’m ready to use my phone, I can see. Though for the library Twitter account this add-on is useful, especially when we were hit with two questionable mentions from non-followers and we immediately took action. This has as much to do with the fact that both of us are monitoring it as having the notification send it directly in an email. This may be “old school”, but I’d rather have this. Plus, Twitter stacks tweets and if you’re a serial tweeter, then your tweets are lost chronologically, so when I’m mentioned or am connecting with an author or friend, I like having the email to revisit if it’s congratulatory or kind. Plus, IFTTT does not need to be logged in to and/or monitored, you set it and go.

This is also why I like Buffer which we use for the library because we have Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook connected. The one drawback is that Instagram obviously needs visual content and sometimes it just doesn’t work with what we need to share, but when we’re coming up on an event, I like scheduling the content and forgetting about it. The only limitation I found was that in the spring of last year, I was doing a question a day countdown and found that it does limit the amount you can schedule to under ten.

Ultimately, when I’m engaged with Twitter which may be several times a day for several days and then a drought of several after that, I am content with the tools I use personally and the two (IFTTT and Buffer) we use as a school library, especially for a busy librarian!

Thing 11/2016: DIY with Canva

After attending the 1/2 day PD session with Polly for public librarians on creating gifs and social media for libraries, I was excited to begin using Canva.While there is a learning curve to creating the different fliers, social media posts, and invitations, I am getting the hang of it and it is taking less time than the first one initially did. Plus, because I’m creating them for our library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, I’m also digging the share feature to share with my colleague.

To know that everything is layered and the top tool bar really is what moves and shapes images is what I need to understand more of, just like all of the kinds of advertisements it can create. I might even get up the courage to buy a Facebook ad if they’re looking as lovely as they can using Canva.

Check out the two that I’ve already created viewing our library’s Instagram account @AlbanyHighLibrary. One was for our author visit and the other is in promotion of our READ day this coming Friday.

Between the crispness of the fonts, images, and details, we have also began to use it to share out a quick image of a book we want to highlight to teachers featuring the book cover and a short promotion of why it could be useful in the colors of our school. When we talk about a professional image, one of the things we’re working toward is creating an image much in the way that Albany Public Library has their neon green and their owl. Regardless of season or platform, you recognize it’s APL because of these details. It may be a book recommendation or a program advertisement.

So the next question is, what should our logo be? What should our colors be? Does everyone’s color scheme align with their building/district or did they create one all their own because they wanted the library to be just a bit different than the building/school?

Thing 3/2016: Twitter

I wanted to revisit Twitter as I have grown exponentially comfortable with this technology both personally/professional as well as forming a presence for our high school library as well (the ability to toggle between two accounts has been amazing, though sometimes with a few hiccups when you forgot what entity you are! Luckily these worlds frequently collide so it’s never shocking in any capacity.

I wanted to address a few of the points in the first video “Social Media Revolution #socialnomics” and I’m wondering out loud– some say that Facebook died a little with the advent of so many adults and older adults joining that teens and twenty-somethings left en masse to use Twitter and Snapchat and with the video stating that Twitter is now being overtaken by older adults, will the same happen again? Is what is cool/used/acceptable where the younger crowd is?

I digress, but I did about a month ago participate in my first Twitter chat. I had creeped for a while, following the tweets afterward but finally was up and ready to participate in a topic I felt confident about. Two things: With bringing more people together, sometimes it is difficult for everyone to participate- I am an early to bed/early to rise person so when Twitter chats are taking place at 9pm and 10pm, I’m not able to participate in real time, but obviously following hashtags is so helpful. And while this Twitter chat about YA books was in my wheelhouse, I would have preferred more than the topic ahead of time (but as my colleague shared) the questions as well to better form my participating tweets and allow myself to relax a bit. The constant refreshing and hyper-awareness drained me! I wonder what other professionals’ experiences have been running and/or participating in a Twitter chat. My questions are: are you relaxed and feel fully engaged in the chat? Does that only come with constant participation in them to feel at ease? Is is a short burst of adrenaline? Do you take notes? With so many titles coming back at me, I actually wrote them down– counter intuitive to the digital world, but I rarely go back and revisit my tweets and prefer to keep my running record in my notebook. Is this an odd practice? I think not, especially when I read this Life Hack article that writing something down is equivalent to reading it seven times.

So yes, I love the Twittersphere for when I find an article and want to share or someone shares an article that I enjoy, but when it’s something really important. I still need to write it down myself to revisit.



Thing 40: Reflection

Addressing a few of the points that were brought up in the prompt to finish out this awesome course (at least the fourth time over?!) is where we’re heading.

  • I’m excited to begin the Common Sense Media digital citizenship certificate course with my colleague to explore and use the learning from there to teach and empower our teachers but also to find new, fun, innovative, and realistic lessons to demonstrate digital citizenship and tattooing to the high school students who need this more than ever.
    • Our TA is finishing up the Edutopia inspired bulletin board about the 9 P’s of digital citizenry, so I’ll post a picture when she’s finished. This may even become a permanent display because of its importance but also to point to whenever we’re doing lessons. (Plus it’ll remind the adults that they should always be reflecting on them themselves.
  • I’ve learned that it’s always nice to go back. As I mentioned in the photo fun post and another that so many tools are churned out (or replace once free ones that force educators to continue to learn new ones because free is always better). So what you think you know about a topic becomes obsolete and how are we to be on the cutting edge? There will always be something new to explore on an “old” topic. Tried and true doesn’t exist in the digital world as much as we’d like to think.
  • This coursework is empowering me to take a more active role in instruction with our teachers. Librarians have a specific lens, which is different than our awesome instructional technologist. I want to take more advantage of this and it takes adventurous teachers and a leap of faith from me.
  • I would absolutely continue this course for the exact bullet points, this is the best kind of recycling and refresher for those that have repeated and a great introduction for those that need it whether it be because they’re entering the field or getting over their fears. The self-paced activities are a double-edged sword for many, but for me, it’s a Goldilocks just right. I stop and start but always have this in the back of my head and apply as needed to lessons I’m doing in school as I’m learning myself. Showing and telling the students that I’m learning along with them is the best kind of modeling.

Thank you, thank you, Polly for always engaging us librarians in this work. Being able to wing a DIY, go back to a “thing 1”, reflect, and check in on colleagues is invaluable. You are tireless and awesome in person and online!