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To Kill a Mockingbird Digital Curation Inspired by Amanda Lawrence

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The November 2018 School Library Journal (SLJ) featured the article"Digital Curation of Classics: Instagram project helps students find relevance in To Kill a Mockingbird" by Amanda Lawrence.  Ms. Lawrence details a project she collaborated on with the freshman English teacher and piloted with ninth grade students. The project was designed to answer the age old questions "Why do I have to read this?" 
Ms. Lawrence granted me permission to discuss the article and share the resources I created for my students. Her response "Teamwork makes the dream work!" (I love my professional community!!)
While you can read more about the project in the SLJ article, briefly, Lawrence and her colleague asked students to create a thematic photo journal. The students selected a theme from To Kill a Mockingbird and connectedLee's work to present day. The students learned to use databases to explore and understand current events and to locate a present day primary source im…

National Honor Society Keynote Speech, LHS 2018

This is my keynote address for the 2018 Ledyard High School National Honor Society Induction Ceremony (November 19, 2018).

Thank you so much for inviting me here tonight. I am incredibly honored to be asked to speak to you. I want to begin by offering my heartfelt congratulations to the new inductees. You have worked hard to be here this evening and you should be very proud.

I am just a little bit  nervous. It was so much easier to talk a large group of students when you were smaller. For those of you who do not know me, this is my third year as the library media specialist at Ledyard High School. I spent 20 years before as the library media specialist at Ledyard Center and Gallup Hill Schools.

I have had the unique opportunity of knowing and working with many of these students since elementary school. And I can say it is an absolute pleasure watching them grow as students, leaders and great people.

One of very few drawbacks of working at the high school is that I do not have regular clas…

Understand Bias, Fact Check & Read Laterally

Disinformation, propaganda, misinformation are new but with advancement of technologies, they are certainly harder to identify, especially with artificial intelligence and the ability to combine media to create deepfakes. See "How the Wall Street Journal is Preparing its Journalists to Detect Deep Fakes" by Francesco Marconi & Till Daldrup, Nieman Lab 11/15/18.

The CRAAP test has been the tried and true method used to teach students how to identify whether a web site contains good information. Thank you to my School Librarian Workshop Facebook tribe for reminding me that CRAAP criteria is still important. However, it is based on vertical reading, as most of the items the currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, and purpose.

I recently read Alex Couros and Katia Hildebrandt's article Hildebrandt. “Developing Critical Literacies: What We Need to Know in a “Fake News” World.”Canadian School Libraries Journal, Spring 2018, which made me think of how I could improve how I …

I LOVE MR. SCHU!

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I LOVE MR. SCHU!!!! To say Mr. Schu is passionate about reading, children, and libraries is an understatement. He embodies everything I want to be and since I can't be him I want to be his best friend. Truly, if I could have spent then entire CECA/CASL conference listening to him...from right smack in the middle of the front row.

Mr. Schu (really John Schumacher) started his career as an elementary school teacher before becoming a school librarian (only he can tell the animated story of this journey).  He is currently is a lecturer at Rutgers University and the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic. He uses his blog Watch. Connect. Read and his Twitter feed to pursue his life's goal, to put the right book in every child's hand. 

His enthusiasm for connecting kids to books is contagious. He inspires kids to read because he genuinely LOVES kids books!  

He reminded me of why I became a school librarian. Every week when I was a child my sister, my mother and I would walk…

Intro to Research: An Interdisciplinary Project for Freshman

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Every fall the freshman history teachers assign an research project to introduce students to research skills and tools they will need at the high school. At the same time, the same students were writing a paper for English class. Last year we combined these assignments in to an interdisciplinary research project. 

Students are asked to choose a revolution and answer the question "What causes a revolution?" They are to find causes and evidence for each cause (the number of causes and the amount of evidence required depends on the level of the class).

The project requires close collaboration with the school librarian (me). One of the things we noticed during last fall's work with students was that students become frustrated with all tools they are learning for the first time.

This year we dedicated more in class time for students to complete their research. Each block the students had specific tasks and tools they were to use. This allowed plenty of opportunities for students…

How are we teaching students about reliable news?

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When I was a child, I did not read newspapers or news magazines nor did I watch the news. However, I recognized news brands because I would collect the newspaper and mail for my parents and because in our small house I would hear the nightly news broadcasts that my parents faithfully tuned in to.

That was almost 40 years ago. Both of my parents felt (and thankfully instilled in me) a civic responsibility to stay informed of local, national and global events. In addition, my father was a history teacher and taught me at a young age that today's news events are both shaped by and become history.  

Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Providence Journal, The Wall Street Journal, PBS Newshour, 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News were mainstays in our home. I did not read or watch them myself unless I was directed to by a parent or for a school assignment but I knew the names of these news sources that were committed to reporting facts. I would also hear my pare…

Digital Tools & Tips: Setting Students Up for Success

Tomorrow is the third day of school and we are about to have freshman students creating accounts for a variety of digital tools. I know their heads are spinning just trying to navigate their way around the school building. I also know when I was transferred to the high school library 3 years ago, I struggled with keeping all the tools and accounts straight, what to use when, how to logon, etc. And I am a school librarian, not a 14 year old! 

I created this slidedeck to help students keep all the accounts straight, as something to refer back to and to help guide any absent or new students who need to set up accounts later in the year. I am sure I will be editing and fine-tuning to meet student needs. Further lessons will go deeper in to each of these tools but I am hoping this helps our students remember what is what and to set them up for success!