Friday, October 13, 2017

Cross-posted from NCHS Library blog

S.T.E.A.M.4 T.E.A.M.
Our S.T.E.A.M. 4 T.E.A.M.  (Science, Technology Engineering, Art, Math, for Talented Enthusiastic Adaptable Makers) met this week as they do on the 2nd Wednesday of each month after school. Our new Club Fair recruits joined our veteran Maker Majors and Techxperts to review short term and long term projects for the year. They set up shift rotations on a Google calendar. It is our hope to have someone "on duty" every period of every cycle. We still have many slots open so we are still in recruiting mode. Please contact the Techxperts if you have an interest in joining the TEAM.

Texchxperts recruit new STEAM TEAM members at the club fair

We held our second Somewhat Virtual Book Club meeting on October 4 at 6PM in the library. The club meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 6PM in the library, but students who cannot attend the face-to-face book group can join virtually via Google Hangouts. This month's discussion focused on the book, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas which sparked a deep discussion between members of Dorman High School in South Carolina, James Caldwell High School in New Jersey and members of our club. Our next book is Light Years by Emily Ziff Griffin who will be joining us. We will meet on November 1 at 6PM in the library, we serve pizza and the meeting is open to anyone. Please consider joining us, but please RSVP so we have enough food for everyone.

#SWVBC meets with other schools to discuss The Hate u Give

Maker Magic:
So far this year, 16 classes have schedule makerspace time. Projects have ranged from creating 3D name tags in Earth Science to 3D representations of  Absolutist rulers for history class. Here is the list of makerspace-created projects since August. To document curricular connections for these innovative learning experiences, we link the teacher sign-ups to their assignments on the Makerspace calendar.

  • Earth Science: McLellan - 3D Nametages - 3
  • Earth Science: Haag - 3D Nametags - 1
  • Economics: Staffaroni - Posters/Economic Principals - 3
  • Civics: Goldhawk - What is Democracy - 1
  • Film as Literature: 3D writing prompt - 1
  • Global History I: Shwartz - Is Geography Destiny? - 2
  • Global History I: Bacon - Is Geography Destiny? - 1 
  • Global History II: Patrizzi - Absolutism - 3
  • Earth Science: McLellan - Timing Devices - 1
  • Game Design: Honohan - Board Games - 1
The Many Faces of Absolutism

MLA 8:
Last year, starting in February and based on student reflections provided through a research project exit ticket, we made several changes to our approach to teaching students how to document their research process. We moved away from online citation generators, we created a substantive MLA 8 Help Page, we created a template for research journals to facilitate consistency among disciplines and teachers, we started collecting and providing feedback on bibliographies from students twice per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), then created a script to expedite feedback retrieval for students, and we developed a series of lessons documenting common errors and instructing students how to avoid them. Some of those posts follow.

What we learned from collecting and scoring 380 bibliographies over the course of the last academic quarter of 2016-2017, was that students need more instruction on how to create bibliographies. Unfortunately, taking scheduled instructional time away from teachers to teach students how to perform a fairly mechanical task is inefficient. Instead, we developed a student-paced instructional experience in which students will be asked to participate at home. The virtual lesson (sign in as guest) is comprised of 14 mini-videos (1-2 minutes each; 22minutes in total), each followed by a 1-4 question "Check" (quiz that requires NCPS log-in and is thus not visible to the public). The entire experience should take 30-60 minutes depending on student retention of the video content. As a follow up activity, the teacher will administer a brief (5-7 minute) quiz in class to students to check for understanding. Once students have participated in the experience, they will receive a digital badge which will qualify them to submit bibliographies for librarian review and feedback.

This new system will serve grades 9-11. By June 2018, all NCHS freshmen, sophomores. and juniors should have earned a digital badge for mastery in constructing MLA 8 bibliographies.

A Lesson on MLA 8 in 14 parts
Our new 3D Printer!
We have a new 3D printer, and it works beautifully, silently, and quickly! Students can moitor their project's progress through the built in printercam which broadcasts to a phone app or through their computer browser. It is a work horse and it has been working all day every day. Students are encouraged to reach out to the Techxperts to learn more about becoming certified in 3D printing. and designing and programming their own projects.

Flex furniture:
We've hosted quite a few classes in the lower library (#lowerlib on Twitter) this year, the new furniture facilitates scheduling multiple classes at one. The new ColLabA is open for business and students and teachers alike are making great use the new flexible learning spaces for a variety of learning experiences. Even after school the space is in full use. The football team watches video, the math team meets regularly. the TED Club meets there too,  just to mention a few uses.

Double-Header of Global I "Is Geography Destiny?"

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NCHS Library 2017-2018

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cross-posted from NCHS Library blog

Please welcome Ms. Pacelli as the new NCHS Librarian! Ms. Pacelli comes to us from Stratford. She lives in Trumbull, where she also taught for many years. She has two grown boys; one who is getting married in October and the other who will graduate from Syracuse University in December. She loves to do yoga, read, knit and travel when she's not working with technology. She's had wonderful experiences visiting The Southwest, Alaska, Paris, Norway, and South Africa, and would love to talk about those adventures. Stop by and say hi!

We are so excited to have a fresh look in the library! Students asked for a lounge and they got one. This summer, the district upgraded the library flooring, painted the walls, transformed the old computer lab into a second ColLab, added cafe-style seating to the upper library, flexible instructional seating to the lower library, and moved the makerspace into any maker's dream space! We now have room to accommodate as many as five classes at once. Teachers are encouraged to sign-up through our Google Calendars (ColLabA, ColLabB, LibNorth, LibSouth, and Makerspace) to bring their classes. Students may do so upon request. Please scroll through the photos below to see how students are learning in our updated space:

NCHS Library 2017-2018
NCHS Library's 2017-2018 Flickr Album
When students enter the library, they can review the Library Use Schedule on the easels to determine which spaces are available to individual students.

The new flexible furniture allows us to now pair up overlapping classes for library instruction in the lower library (see below). This is great for grade-level collaboration and it improves alignment between librarian availability and teachers' instructional schedules.

Co-teaching made easier!
Seven classes have already made use of the makerspace. While we are still working on sorting and organization, students have made great use of the space to complete assigned projects. 

So far, we've hosted booltaks for three English class, and two social studies classes. We have several more scheduled over the next few weeks.

With the social studies classes, we showcased special collections: The Big History Read, and The Big Legal Read. These collections were curated with the course curriculum in mind. Students are asked to read one book per quarter in their class. Selection day is a fun and eagerly anticipated event by all.

Somewhat Virtual Book Club (SWVBC) met on September 3rd for the BYOBook season opener and will continue to meet regularly on the first Wednesday of each month. Next month's selection is The Hate U Give. We will meet in the library at 6PM on Wednesday October 4 and connect virtually with schools in 4 other states via Google Hangouts to discuss the book.

We sent out an invitation to social studies teachers to schedule librarian co-teaching on Friday, September 1. My Monday, we had enough responses to fill our schedules for the following three weeks. We feel very fortunate to teach in such a collaborative learning community!

We are returning to Flickr as a photo curation tool this year. We set up the album and it is streaming on our website (and at the top of this post). 

We made a few changes to the high school library website. Stay tuned for more!

Can you spot the changes?
The New Canaan Advertiser interviewed us about collaboration in libraries. Here is the article.

For those who are new to the high school library program, we offer both face-to-face and virtual instruction. All of our lessons are archived on THE ANNEX@ Here is our first 9th grade lesson of the school year:

Create your own Playlist on LessonPaths!
Our S.T.E.A.M. Team, which combines our Techxperts with our Maker Majors is growing fast! Students who wish to facilitate makerspace usage one period out of their 8-day rotation are invited to sign up in the makerspace. We are scheduling this old-school style on a sheet of paper until the calendar is set. We meet on the second Wednesday of each month right after school in the ... wait for it... MAKERSPACE! Ms. Pacelli is the team's faculty advisor and the Techxpert teacher. 

We met with freshman social studies teachers to give the first 9th grade research project of the year a makeover. It is now called Is Geography Destiny? Through collaboration, our butcher block paper meeting notes evolved into a multi-day co-taught lesson which launched in ColLabB today.

We set up a meeting with Special Education teachers to show them how to access all the resources available though our new interactive eBooks (LightBox). These resources will be valuable to learners of all kinds. Our initial collection is comprised of the following books, but Ms. Pivovar loved them so much that she requested several more. Needless to say, this collection is growing fast!

  • The Cold War    
  • Deforestation    
  • The Great Depression    
  • The Great Gatsby    
  • Macbeth    
  • Migrants and refugees    
  • New century conflicts    
  • Night    
  • To kill a mockingbird    
  • The Vietnam War    
  • World War I    
  • World War II 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Summer Reading 501

Can you believe it?

It's summer reading time already!

A couple of years ago, I did an webinar on innovative library programming to promote summer reading. I featured a number of inspirational librarians and their fabulous ideas. 
Jane Lofton

This year, I am revisiting that topic on Wednesday May 24 at 5PM with the help of next month's guest, Jane Lofton.
We would love to feature as many library programs as possible in this, thus we are looking for folks willing to submit to a 15 minute Skype interview about innovative strategies to promote independent reading.

Please complete this form if you wish to be included!

We hope to hear from you. :)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Strategy for Evaluating Student Work (Cont.)

In my last few posts, I reflected on what students understand and know how to do in terms of research. I apologize for the redundancy, but we added a few elements to what I posted earlier.

It may seem as though a bibliography is a fairly superficial instrument to measure student learning, but it can reveal a great deal about the students' approach to the research process.

New Canaan High School's research model
For example, when researching how today's nations have been impacted by a legacy of imperialism, currency is of paramount concern. When we see bibliographies featuring books such as Iraq: a Country Study or Libya Since Independence with publication dates of 1998 or earlier, it raises questions. Those books do not exist in New Canaan High School Library's collection. We would have removed them years ago as it would be hypocritical for us to carry such outdated materials while instructing students to focus on resource currency. A quick search for those resources reveals that they refer to book reviews published in academic journals which are indexed in our databases.

Such citations indicate that students are not doing one or more of the following:
  • citing their sources correctly.
  • evaluating the sources they find.
  • analyzing the relationship between their research task and the resources they use.
  • reading the sources listed in their works cited.
Lately, we've been collecting bibliographies using a very simple Google Form.

Students upload a link to their visible, but not editable bibliography. This provides us with a spreadsheet of data describing the nature of the assignment with which the bibliography was aligned and links to each learner's bibliography.

We set up a comment bank to provide students with speedy, yet comprehensive feedback on their bibliographies/works cited lists. We are still fine tuning its elements, but this is what we have so far:

Using the spreadsheet functions, we created a drop-down menu in 61 columns listing all the possible comments from the aforementioned list. While reviewing student work, we click across that student's row adding coded feedback. Ultimately, we hope to embed links to instructional materials for each comment so that the feedback does more than tell them what they did wrong,  it tells them how to fix it. This will take time, but it is a worthy goal.

We aggregated common mistakes. They are detailed in the chart below. We are working on creating a script to automate this process so that it updates live in our Research Help page. The most common mistakes for sophomores follow. They are different from the juniors' most common mistakes, which we interpret as positive news.

Using what we learned from the chart above, we built a lesson to help students revise their bibliographies. Then they resubmitted them. Once we review the revised drafts, we will look for overall growth within the cohort and individual growth for each learner. Here is the lesson. 

We recorded the lesson as a video for the teacher to use in class.

While creating a bibliography is a fairly mechanical task, the bibliography reflects more than just the mechanics of citation creation. Unfortunately many, many students lose points on critical assignments because their bibliographies do not reflect the hard work they invested in the research process. We are constantly looking for ways to help students understand why it is important to master this skill, and how to be successful. In college most students are expected to complete 3- 5 research papers per semester, and it is our aim to equip NCHS students with research skills that will follow help them succeed not only in high school, but in life beyond high school.

If you like this post, please add a testimonial (scroll all the way down) to my "Curriculum Champion" nomination for the AASL Social Media Superstar award. Voting closes on April 14, 2017. Thank you!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Finding the story

This is a follow-up to How to Grade 75 Bibliographies in Jiffy. We graded 10th graders' bibliographies last week. This week, it we graded the juniors'. The common mistakes are quite different. There is a story here. I am just not sure what it is yet. It may have to do with

  • Higher order thinking?
  • Depth of knowledge?
  • Growth?

A taxonomy might help me better understand it.

Still thinking....  (here is the comments bank)

If you like this post, please add a testimonial (scroll all the way down) to my "Curriculum Champion" nomination for the AASL Social Media Superstar award. Voting closes on April 14, 2017. Thank you!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Twitter is the New Bus - the lesson

In November, the  Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) released the executive summary of a study they had worked on for the past eighteen months. I've included the results in a few presentations lately and it keeps reminding me of a lesson I co-taught with a student teacher from my school back in 2012. Here are a few of the slides I use to reference the SHEG study in my presentations.

The SHEG instrument included a task that required college students to analyze a Tweet that featured the results of a public opinion survey about gun control. In their analysis of student responses, SHEG said:
  • Only a few students noted that the Tweet was based on a poll conducted by a professional polling firm and explained why this would make the Tweet a stronger source of information. 
  • Less than a third of students fully explained how the political agendas of and the Center for American Progress might influence the content of the Tweet. 
  • More than half of students failed to click on the link provided within the Tweet.
Researchers said responses "suggest that students need further instruction in how best to navigate social media content, particularly when that content comes from a source with a clear political agenda" (SHEG).

So because of the this study and the current frenzy to tech teachers how to help students recognize fake news, this really old lesson keeps coming up in conversation. I think it is time to resurrect and update it.

I co-created the lesson with our then student teacher, Danny Ambrosio. He now teaches in Foxborough, MA. Danny was a fantastic instructional partner. For one of his observations, we collaborated with a new English teacher who wanted her freshmen to microblog on Twitter about Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. As a fierce advocate for the integration of social media into K-12 learning, I was not about to tell the teacher or Danny what I really thought: "Are you nuts?" Encouraging ninth graders to Tweet about institutional racism and rape seemed like a really terrible idea - even to me.

Instead of nixing the idea, we created a lesson to help students Tweet carefully. They needed to understand how Twitter works, and to be mindful of its potential drawbacks as a medium for this particular activity as they created content.

If you are wondering about the title of this post, wonder no more. The phrase was coined by Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post during a 2012 interview with Steve Inskeep on NPR. Inskeep interviewed three reporters on the 2012 campaign  trail about a 40 year old book called Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse, which was about the 1972 Nixon/McGovern campaign. I transcribed the relevant segment below (it was also included in my February 22, 2017 post. I apologize for the redundancy but it contextualizes the Twitter lesson):

Steve Inskeep: “There’s another thing that strikes me about this book,  and it’s the way that there were a few reporters who are identified who seem to influence other reporters. In 1972, I think I think the leading guy was R.W. Apple - Johnny Apple of the New York Times.” 

Jonathan Martin of Politico: “Walter Mears too of the AP. There was a saying about, ‘What’s the lead, Walter?’ which was sort of the stock phrase these guys would say on the campaign trail - and that was to Walter Mears, ‘What is the news out of this event?’ ‘What’s the lead of the story?’ I think that there are still those individuals on the campaign trail, certainly. I think there is much more fragmentation now in the political news media and there are just so many outlets that you don’t quite have the same pack journalism that you probably did back in 1972.” 

Steve Inskeep: “Oh wait a minute, let me just challenge that and you guys tell me if I am wrong. I think if I follow the coverage there are many, many outlets who all will obsess over the same irrelevant story at the same time.” 

Martin: “Oh that’s fair. Oh sure.” 

Ashley  Parker of the New York Times: “But that’s less of turning to one person who's sort of the pack leader and I think part of that is a result of Twitter. Which is that anyone with a handle can Tweet out a story and generate buzz for a story so it doesn’t matter if you’re the senior correspondent or you’re a blog with a scoop. And then it all sort of gets retweeted.” 

Steve Inskeep: “If you see lots and lots of Tweets about something, do you feel compelled to jump on that story?”

Anne Kornblut: “ I think we at least feel compelled to look into it, if nothing else. In a way, Twitter is the new bus.” 

Even now, five years later, I regularly refer to that piece when talking about news literacy. During Emerging Tech webinar #74 on media literacy, I asked my guest, USA Today's National K-12 Education Writer Greg Toppo, about Ms. Kornblut's comment. He agreed that it was A bus, but maybe not THE bus.

"Twitter is the new bus." served as a possible answer to one of our lesson's essential questions "Why Twitter?"

We began the lesson with a mini lecture. I was a big fan of SlideRocket at the time (whoops!), and Danny and I created the slides in that now defunct software. I still have some of the screenshots we used, so I did my best to recreate it below.

After the 15 minute mini-lecture, we introduced the following activity. This was in the fall of 2012 and the presidential election campaign was in full swing. I searched Twitter with the hashtag #election for an inventory of 30 or so contiguous "clean" tweets (this SO would not have worked in 2016!), and I screenshot three sets of ten Tweets, which we arranged into one image:

Only ten of these Tweets were used in this lesson.

Students were asked to analyze the ten Tweets marked by a box with a letter. They are transcribed below:

KofiAnnan Foundation @KofiAnnan
US #election system criticised over finance rules and voting restrictions.…
View summary @ColorOfChange
RT @adv_project: make sure your #vote & voice are counted this election! Register to vote: MT @ColoOfChange

Truly @trulia
Is the Housing Market Better Off Today Than 4 Years Ago? Surprisingly, Yes. via @trulia #election #housingmarket

AlertNet @AlertNet
Somali militants brand new president a “traitor” #somalia #election

Matthew C. Nisbet @MCNisbet
In speech in Buffalo, Karl Rove offers interesting observations about role of turn out in upcoming #election: buffalo… #Romney Expand

Trevor Cox @Trevor_R_Cox
I’ve really bee struggling on who to vote for this year #decisions #election
View photo

Jeff Brady @jeffbradynpr
A pie chart showing why more than 46% don't pay taxes #election
View summary

MIT press @MITpress
Newsgames coauthor @iblogost on political games and communication (or lack thereof): #election

ElectionGear @ElectionGear
Anti #Obama Anti-Obama Confuse a Liberal Use Facts and Logic Bumper Stickers US #Election

Hans-MartientenNapel @hmtennapel
A Tight #Election May Be Tangled in Legal Battles
View summary

We designed 10 simple questions to help students identify 9 of the 10 labeled Tweets. I included the questions along with the correct answers below. We included this bit of instruction at the end, "There are more Tweets marked with letters than required. Omit one."
  1.  C_Which Tweet is from a real estate location service?
  2.  I_Which Tweet is selling a product?
  3.  __What is URL shortener (Short answer) 
  4.  F_Which Tweet includes a picture?
  5.  G_Which Tweet was posted by a National Public Radio reporter?
  6.  B_Which Tweet is from an organization that advocates for the political rights of black Americans?
  7.  A_Which Tweet links to British News publication?
  8.  E_Which Tweet was posted by a conservative Republican?
  9.  J_Which Tweet was posted by a Dutch liberal and links to a New York Times article
  10.  H_Which Tweet was links to a university publisher
There were a few challenges. The open-ended question threw a lot of folks off because they did not realize that there was one unaccounted for Tweet (D). Question 8 was impossible. It made the assumption that students would know at least one of the following four things and they did not. 
  1. Conservatism and Republicanism were often connected.
  2. Romney was a conservative candidate.
  3. Buffalo, NY was, to a large extent, a politically conservative town.
  4. Karl Rove was a conservative political figure.
Question 9 was tricky as well. The Tweet did not indicate that its author was a) Dutch or b) liberal but it was the only Tweet with a link that contained a url shortened with the root. Danny and I assumed that students would pick up on that but they didn't.

Were I to write this today, I would change question 6 to make it more inclusive. I (I vaguely remember Danny and I struggling over the language on this one, but I made the call and in hindsight, I think I called it wrong) chose not to use the term "people of color" in the question because I thought it would make it too easy since the Tweet contained the word "color".  Color of Change "design[s] campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion[s] solutions that move us all forward" but features the photo below on its home page. I would phrase that question differently today.

Oh how I wish we'd done a decent job of collection data from student responses. I remember just handing the answer sheets off to the teacher with the key. I never knew how the kids did. What a fantastic baseline that would have made! Arrgh! That is a mistake I would not make today. I collect data on everything now. I guess that's the upside of the teacher evaluation system overhaul.

Students were asked to complete a little exit ticket after the lesson:

Tutorial on how to set up your Twitter account:

Pew Research Center
Last Fall, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published  Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy (MIL). The first rule struck me as acutely relevant to the ongoing conversation about "fake news."  

Law #1
Information, communication, libraries, media, technology, the Internet as well as other forms of information providers are for use in critical civic engagement and sustainable development. They are all equal in stature and none is more relevant than the other for should be ever treated as such.

As Dr. Joyce Valenza puts it in her outstanding Never Ending Search post, Truth, Truthiness, and Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a “Post-Truth” World, "There are no guarantees of truth from any source." and we must "guide students in navigating a growingly nuanced universe of news."

According the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans get their news from social media. As UNESCO's rule number one states, this is not a bad thing - so long as we follow Joyce's call to action and teach students how to mine all kinds of media for information that is relevant and truthful. Lessons like the one outlined above are an important first step on that path. Unfortunately, there is much work to be done with K-12 administrators to make widely used social media portals accessible to students, but that's for another blog post.

If you like this post, please add a testimonial (scroll all the way down) to my "Curriculum Champion" nomination for the AASL Social Media Superstar award. Voting closes on April 14, 2017. Thank you!

Friday, March 24, 2017

How to Grade 75 Bibliographies in a Jiffy

This is super quick and a little sloppy, but super helpful. Sydnye Cohen and I started this system back in 2013-2014, and I thought someone else might find it useful. It is not tech-y or sexy. It's pretty old school, but it is efficient.

Problem: You've promised a teacher who is struggling with mediocre researchers (75 students, 10th grade, social studies) to help her evaluate bibliographies and provide students with feedback BUT you've had a crazy week and you've been pulled in 17 different directions and here it is, Thursday evening at 8PM, and you need to be done by morning. 

All nighter? No way. Those days are over for me. 

Let's just start with how we collected the assignment. The teacher's plan was to have students print their bibliographies, bring them to my colleague Jackie or me, and have us "sign off" on those that "met goal".We nixed that. It would have been a logistical nightmare - particularly given all those 17 directions I mentioned. 

Teacher form
So we created a very simple Google Form for her. Literally, this is the form. 

We sent students an email with a link to the form. The teacher gave students time in class to add their link to the form. You may have noticed that we did NOT ask students to give us editing rights. That was intentional. It takes too long. I don't know about you, but if I have editing rights to 75 bibliographies, I am going to spend 8-10 hours correcting them. This was a self-preservation strategy. 

So... using the student responses to the form, I now have a spreadsheet full of links to bibliographies. Cool. Well, not really, but let's pretend.

I split my screen into two browser windows. I open the spreadsheet on the left, and a blank document on the right. I spend some time on the first five works cited lists (to avoid redundancy, I will use the terms bibliography and works cited list interchangeably even though they are not interchangeable), typing into the blank sheet on the right all the comments I would have posted if I had editing rights to the bibliographies.

Then I use the "bullet" function to number them. Once I have the first 12 (or so) comments in the document on the right, I add a few columns to the right of the students' links in the spreadsheet on the left. Now I go back and review the bibliographies I already looked over.

Using lined notebook paper, I note in one row all the numbers of "comments" that apply to that bibliography. For example, in the one above, I would indicate an 8 and a 9 without having to read a word, but I would add more as I scanned the entire work. I do not recommend going in order. Just jot down the numbers as you notice things. Also, don't try to address everything. Hit the big things. The whole point of this exercise is to avoid getting bogged down by minutia (unfortunately the task itself is all minutia - therein lies the time-suck factor).

OK. I now enter the comment numbers into the column to the right of the link in the spreadsheet. Then I reflect on the comments and I assign the student work a holistic score on a 1-4 scale (this rubric needs an overhaul, but it was what I used -   loosely). I add the score to one of the other columns to the right in the row with the link for that bibliography.

Then you hustle on through the rest of the bibliographies. It goes faster and faster, because you start to memorize the numbers as you revisit them. Before you know it, you have given 75 students comprehensive feedback, and a teacher a holistic score for each student. Everyone is happy. Well, the kids usually aren't but hey, it's school and we're talking about bibliographies after all. You can hide the score column to preserve the students' dignity or just make a copy of the spreadsheet, removing that column and share that with the students instead. There is instructional value in having all students see what comments other students receive. One in-class work day with this spreadsheet will encourage students to help one another fix their mistakes. It's kind of messy - a lot of chaos and shouting across the room, "Hey, who got 18 wrong? How did you fix that?", but it is worth it.

One more thing: This only works if you have comprehensive online instructions for your students. Telling them what they got wrong is only helpful when you can provide access to tools that will teach them how to get it right. We are expanding this into a more fleshed out online research guide (Soon! It's coming soon!), but this is what we link to in comment #6.

Later... I crunched the numbers and here were our areas of concern:
So I created a slide show

Which became a video lesson for the teacher to use in class (I will be out the day she wants to teach it). 

If you like this post, please add a testimonial (scroll all the way down) to my "Curriculum Champion" nomination for the AASL Social Media Superstar award. Voting closes on April 14, 2017. Thank you!

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Unpacking" with Joyce Valenza this Week!

On the weekend of  Thanksgiving 2016, a Tweet caught my attention with the word "Truthiness." Originating from one of of my two favorite episodes of the Colbert Report (linked below), the "wØrd" prompted me to do a double-take.
The Colbert Report Sea. 1 Ep 1 - 10/17/05
The Colbert Report Sea. 2 Ed 96 - 7/31/06
It was posted by Dr. Joyce Kasman Valenza, Assistant Professor in the Masters of Information Program at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. Before Rutgers, Joyce worked in special, public, and school libraries from which she taught not only her students and faculty, but all of us in K-12 library world some of our very best literacy lessons. Joyce is the author of the NeverendingSearch Blog for School Library Journal, which was the subject of that Tweet.
Even though I had a house full of relatives, I sat down and I read "Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation: A News Literacy Toolkit for a “Post-Truth” World." And I read. And I read. Then I read it again. This was no blog post. For school librarians, this was a bible.
SHEG's Study
When planning this year's's syllabus, I was determined to spend some time focusing on information literacy. Joyce's post, along with the release of the Stanford History Education Group's (SHEG) publication of Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Online Civic Reasoning were the driving forces behind that decision.

I started last month by interviewing Greg Toppo, USA Today's National Education and Demographic Writer. We "tackled the big thorny issues" (as Joyce would put it) in journalism today. It was a really great discussion and I encourage you all to check it out. It was covered by eSchool News on March 10. Every week new webinars surface on how to keep kids from consuming "fake news" as if it were real news. Very few of them include conversations between journalists and educators. The webinar might have left a few participants with a nagging "Yes, but how?" Well that's what this week is about. On Wednesday, March 22 at 5PM, eastern time, I will have a chance to unpack Joyce's information literacy masterpiece with her. I am so excited to have this opportunity, and I hope you will join us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Media Literacy Part I

During my webinar today (5PM, eastern), I will interview Greg Toppo, the National Education Writer for USA Today, and author The Game Believes in You. “Fake news” is the buzz phrase of the season. For librarians, this is not a new topic. Teaching source evaluation is our bread and butter. So when I started thinking about what to discuss with Greg during this webinar, it occurred to me that I’ve been stockpiling questions for over five years. I am honored that Greg was able to join us today. Here are my questions for today's discussion:

1. About five years ago, I called the editor of a Wyoming newspaper, and asked him if his publication represented a conservative viewpoint. He bristled. He explained that this was an entirely new phenomenon; that he’d been in the news business for over three decades, and that he resented my assumption that all newspapers had a political slant.*

Question: Does objective journalism exist?

2. The newspaper business is apparently volatile. Interestingly, the Modern Language Association stopped requiring publisher information for periodical citations in April 2016. I can only wonder if that is because ownership changes so rapidly, In 2013, the Washington Post was bought by Jeff Bezos, the Boston Globe was bought by John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox (from the New York Times). In 2015, the Economist which had been owned by Pearson, was sold to the Agnelli Family (owners of Fiat).
Newspapers, which used to focus exclusively on article writing, are now expected to produce content that competes with a variety of other online journalistic entities. Newspapers compete for “readers” with cable and network television, streaming and podcast radio, and strictly online media outlets in ways that seemed unthinkable two decades ago.

Question: Do you consider yourself a newspaper journalist? What distinguishes the newspaper journalist from all the other kinds of media reporters out there? 

3. At the 2016 New Yorker Festival, Susan Morrison interviewed now retired late-night talk show host David Letterman. The interview was broadcast on the December 22, 2016 edition of the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast. During the interview, she made this statement,  “One of the things that is different about the crop of late night shows out there now … [they] seem to exist to create a batch of YouTube clips that everybody watches the next day.”

Question: To what extent, if at all,  does that pressure apply in the news industry? 

4. I had a conversation with an editor at the Wall Street Journal several years ago. She explained that while most of the publication’s journalistic content remains behind its paywall, they keep much of the editorial content, Review & Commentary and blogs, available to non-subscribers. She also explained that the publication periodically (no pun intended) released exclusive, or high-interest  journalistic content to the public for free for a short period (12-72 hours) hoping to drum up subscriptions once the article received extensive attention through social media and then dropped it back behind the paywall.*

Question: As a reporter, do you think we ought to explain the difference between “free news” and subscription news to our students, and if so, what is that difference? 

5.  This is a follow-up to the last question, and I will talk about this more next month, but it is very difficult to teach students how to differentiate between media producers. They do not understand the difference between NPR, the BBC, MSNBC, Newsweek, and USA Today. To them, they are all generating news either in video, audio, text, infographic, or some other format.

Question: Should students know the difference between the various formats of news or is news just news?

Ben Smith, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief
6. In the January 27 edition of the New Yorker Radio hour, David Remnick interviewed Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-Chief. During the interview, Smith made this statement: “There are certain kinds of decisions that I’ve certainly made through my career and that I think a lot of places that grew up in this new ecosystem have where the fact that older institutions have a reflex that’s rooted in their history and their traditions in this notion that they are - this sort of vestigial notion - that they probably wouldn’t even say aloud -  but that is in their culture and that their job to keep the gate and keep information from their audience at certain times.”

Question: Do you agree that long-standing news providers feel a gate-keeping responsibility when it comes to releasing stories? If so, is this sustainable? 

"In a way, Twitter is the new bus" - Anne Kornblut
7. Several years ago. NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed three reporters on the 2012 campaign  trail about a 40 year old book called Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse, which was about the 1972 Nixon/McGovern campaign.

Steve Inskeep: “There’s another thing that strikes me about this book,  and it’s the way that there were a few reporters who are identified who seem to influence other reporters. In 1972, I think I think the leading guy was R.W. Apple - Johnny Apple of the New York Times.”

Jonathan Martin of Politico: “Walter Mears too of the AP. There was a saying about, ‘What’s the lead, Walter?’ which was sort of the stock phrase these guys would say on the campaign trail - and that was to Walter Mears, ‘What is the news out of this event?’ ‘What’s the lead of the story?’ I think that there are still those individuals on the campaign trail, certainly. I think there is much more fragmentation now in the political news media and there are just so many outlets that you don’t quite have the same pack journalism that you probably did back in 1972.”

Steve Inskeep: “Oh wait a minute, let me just challenge that and you guys tell me if I am wrong. I think if I follow the coverage there are many, many outlets who all will obsess over the same irrelevant story at the same time.”

Martin: “Oh that’s fair. Oh sure.”

Ashley  Parker of the New York Times: “But that’s less of turning to one person who's sort of the pack leader and I think part of that is a result of Twitter. Which is that anyone with a handle can Tweet out a story and generate buzz for a story so it doesn’t matter if you’re the senior correspondent or you’re a blog with a scoop. And then it all sort of gets retweeted.” “If you see lots and lots of Tweets about something, do you feel compelled to jump on that story?

Question: What drives the lead these days? This interview is five years old. Was Twitter the new driver for media then? Is it still? What other forces are out there? 

8. There was a time when the newspaper was delivered to us on our doorstep and that an editorial board in a nearby city controlled the content in that publication. In that world, we read the paper, which was not tailored to our individual opinions, but rather designed to appeal to the widest possible readership. Ad revenue depended on that. We were exposed to information with which we did not necessarily agree, and content that may not have fit within our realm of interests. This is how we made discoveries about new perspectives and information.

In 2011, Eli Pariser did a little experiment that turned into a book called The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. Here’s a quote, “Ultimately, democracy works only if we citizens are capable of thinking beyond our narrow self-interest. But to do so, we need a shared view of the world we cohabit. We need to come into contact with other people’s lives and needs and desires. The filter bubble pushes us in the opposite direction – it creates the impression that our narrow self-interest is all that exists. And while this is great for getting people to shop online, it’s not great for getting people to make better decisions together.”

The concept of the Filter Bubble resurfaced shortly after the election.

Question: What role do you think our mechanisms for news retrieval have played in the political polarization of this country? 

9. This fall, The Stanford History Education Group published a study called Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning. Here is an excerpt from the executive summary:
“Our “digital natives” may be able to fit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped. We did not design our exercises to shake out a grade or make hairsplitting distinctions between a “good” and a “better” answer. Rather, we sought to establish a reasonable bar, a level of performance we hoped was within reach of most middle school, high school, and college students. For example, we would hope that middle school students could distinguish an ad from a news story. By high school, we would hope that students reading about gun laws would notice that a chart came from a gun owners’ political action committee. And, in 2016, we would hope college students, who spend hours each day online, would look beyond a .org URL and ask who’s behind a site that presents only one side of a contentious issue. But in every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation. For every challenge facing this nation, there are scores of websites pretending to be something they are not. Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors, and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed. But on the unregulated Internet, all bets are of. Michael Lynch, a philosopher who studies technological change, observed that the Internet is “both the world’s best factchecker and the world’s best bias confrmer— often at the same time.”1 Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded will depend on our awareness of this problem and our educational response to it. At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish.”

Question: What role does education play in the “gullibility” of news consumers? 

10. In 2008, Nicholas Carr wrote a piece for The Atlantic called Is Google Making us Stupid? Three years later, he published the follow-up book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Here is a quote:

“The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.”

Question: Do you think our attention spans are shrinking? If so how does that change the way news outlets deliver media? 

11. Very recently. Teen Vogue recently shifted its focus toward social issues, identity, and activism.

Question: What lessons can we as educators, and media outlets learn from Teen Vogue’s choice to focus more on social consciousness and civic awareness? 

12. That’s all I have for questions.
Question: What should we add before we close? 

* Had I known I would refer back to these two conversations over and over again for years, I would have approached them more "journalistically"and documented the names of my sources, and the dates of the conversations, but sadly, I approached them both as a school librarian trying to get questions for my next class. I will always regret this.