Monday, April 24, 2017

Announcing #calibchat Live Twitter Chat

A couple of weeks ago my friend Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) and I co-wrote a blog posting about all the wonderful state and region school library live Twitter chats cropping up around the country. You may have noticed, though, that my own state of California wasn't represented in the list.😓  I am 😊  happy, though, to now report that the Golden State is about to have one!

My friend Katie McNamara (@KatieJMcNamara) and I, in fact, started talking about a California live Twitter chat when we saw each other at the California School Library Association (CSLA) Annual Conference in February. Katie was a true "star student" in the first Twitter class I taught for CSLA, and she has since become my guru and go-to person for chats. I have primarily focused just on #TLChat chats, and I can't begin to keep up with all the chats she participates in! Each time I have done a new Twitter presentation or class, she's the one I consult for advice on the best chats to share with the attendees.

So, here's the plan, subject to change as we see how things go:

We will have our very first #calibchat this Thursday, April 27 from 6:00pm - 6:30pm, and follow it each 2nd and 4th Thursday until the end of June. We are going with just a half hour in hopes that a short time slot will be more doable for everyone.

We are starting this as a California chat, but we definitely welcome and encourage our school library friends from across the country (and even the globe) to join us.

One of the other "hats" I'm wearing right now is chair of AASL's Social Media Task Force, and our task force is busy working right now on the announcements of the AASL Social Media Superstars at 4pm on Thursday. With that announcement going out just two hours before our #calibchat live chat, I took the liberty of proposing a social media topic for our first chat. (I obliged Katie with the purple color theme, so figured I was entitled to select the first topic. 😉) We will be discussing why social media important and how you use it.

So, whether you live in California or not, whether you are a school librarian or school library supporter, whether you attend a lot of chats or this will be the first, please join us! And, if you are new to chats, please check back here for some tips on live chats, which I will have added to this post by Thursday morning.

Hope to see you on Twitter Thursday at 6pm Pacific Time for our inaugural #calibchat!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Great Tips from JLG's Deborah Ford

Last week, thanks to Junior Library Guild (JLG) and the Long Beach Unified School District Library Department as host, I got to spend Tuesday morning in a session with the awesome Deborah Ford. I have known Deborah since I entered the school library profession in 2002. As a district librarian in California, she presented regularly at California School Library Association (CSLA) conferences and workshops. Her sessions were always full of great ideas I could implement in my own library AND were entertaining as well. When I learned several years ago that she was leaving California to become Junior Library Guild's Director of Library Outreach, I thought, what a gain for Junior Library Guild, but a great loss for us in California. Well, happily, that proved not to be the case; Deborah continues to present at CSLA conferences and other events in California and around the country, and she does lots of recorded webinars we can watch as well.

Last week's session focused on two topics, "Revitalizing Research in a Google-Driven-Fake-News World" and "Keeping Up in an Ever-Changing World." Here are just a very small handful of the many great tips she shared with us:


Deborah shared a number of tips on how to help students evaluate information for accuracy. The process of determining accuracy has become increasingly more complex as misinformation proliferates online and there is clearly no easy, completely foolproof technique. At the same time, we librarians are best equipped and need to take the lead in teaching students the skills to evaluate sources. A new-to-me site she shared that can help with this is the News Literacy Project (, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that, according to its site, "works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age." One of its offerings is Checkology, a virtual classroom of 12 customizable online news literacy lessons. Teachers and librarians can sign up for either a free or premium version, and right now the premium version is being offered without charge. I just signed up and am liking what I see so far. The site also has a good handout with 10 questions for fake news detection you may want to use during lessons or share on your website.

Keeping Up

While they are not new to me, I loved that she shared the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and Best Apps for Teaching and Learning as go-to resources for finding good sites and applications for media sharing, digital storytelling, organizing, books, curriculum content, social networking, and more. Each year both of these groups identify 25 new sites and apps both for our students and our own work. As Deborah suggested, when you need a tool for teaching or learning, start with the current and backlist of tools. Here's a link to all the current and past websites, and here's a link for the apps. I am a former member of the Best Websites Committee, and I know both committees put many hours in to identifying the best of the best options! Another source to check for good tool ideas is Deborah's own LiveBinder of mostly-free online resources:

One of AASL Best Websites Deborah shared is Wonderopolis. Each day, the site shares an intriguing question that will get kids --- and adults! --- wondering and wanting to dig deeper to learn more. The site offers an embeddable widget with the day's wonder. I had this embedded in my library website. I just checked the site and learned that it is offering a Camp Wonderopolis this summer, with a maker theme, that would be great to share with your students, parents, and teachers. According to the site, "This year's Camp lets Campers build their own version of Wonderocity as they explore their way through 42 lessons about engineering, construction, and city planning." Check it out!

Keeping up with Books

And, of course, with Deborah's wealth of knowledge of the best books, the session would have been worth it for her book recommendations alone. Be sure to get and read her number one recommendation at this session: Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give. I listened to the audiobook after she recommended the title at a recent webinar. Here's my Goodreads review. It deals with very current issues of race and violence in an authentic, sensitive way, and is a book every high school library should have.

Deborah maintains a wonderful set of LiveBinders with "Booktalks to Go" for many of the JLG offerings, as well as links to information about the author, publisher, interviews, etc. You can access her Booktalks to Go LiveBinders at Here, for example, is a link to the Booktalk to Go and resources for The Hate U Give, which also includes links to author information, Thomas's Twitter account, and several interviews.

Deborah is a superstar for good book ideas. You can also follow her updates on Pinterest and Twitter.

And, next time you have a chance to hear her present live or online, do! But, before that, you can take advantage of her webinars. There are a number of archived ones sharing about new books posted on the Junior Library Guild blog, Shelf Life.

Monday, April 10, 2017

School library chats are cropping up all over!

by Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) and Jane Lofton (@jane_librarian)
cross-posted on both of our blogs
(see Nikki's at The True Adventures of a High School Librarian)

School librarians are incredible networkers, and many have discovered that Twitter is one of the very best tools for building and benefiting from a personal learning network (PLN). Those of us taking advantage of Twitter for our PLNs never go a single day without learning some new ideas from our colleagues and those in related fields. And, Twitter live chats offer a kind of “booster shot” of Twitter goodness in a short amount of time, typically an hour.

If you aren’t familiar with what a live Twitter chat is, here’s are the basics:

A live Twitter chat happens at an appointed/announced time. There is always a specific hashtag used to identify the chat. So, you can follow a chat by going to Twitter, searching for the hashtag, selecting Latest, and watching the tweets with that hashtag as people post. You join in by adding that hashtag to each of your own tweets.

Most live Twitter chats take place the same time each month or week. Each session will have a new theme or topic to discuss. Live chats typically have two moderators who prepare questions in advance and send the questions out during the chat. They start by asking everyone to introduce themselves. Then, they use Q1 for question #1, Q2 for question #2, and so on as a preface as they post the questions. The questions go out every few minutes. Participants start their responses with A1, A2, and so on. The participants can also interact directly with each other by responding to their posts. At the end, the moderators typically create an archive transcript of the chat so that people who missed the event or want to review it can visit a link and see the conversation.

We can't pretend that live chats are relaxing. They aren't! They are definitely a bit stressful, since you are going to see lots of tweets flying by at once while you are simultaneously trying to think and compose your own answers and comments. At the same time, they are amazingly stimulating, informative, and a great chance to interact in real time with your peers and discuss a topic of interest. We have connected with many new Twitter friends and gotten countless wonderful new ideas through chats. Just be prepared in advance that you can't read all the tweets in an active chat; you are bound to miss stuff, and that's okay. You aren’t even obliged to answer all the questions. And, feel free to lurk if you like until you are comfortable.

Educators of all kinds have started live Twitter chats in the last several years, for different subject areas, grade levels, states, regions, and much more. To find out about more chats you can participate in than you ever dreamed of, check Participate’s Chat site or Cybraryman's Educational Hashtags. Until recently, though, there was just one live chat specifically for school librarians: #TLChat. The #TLChat hashtag is used by school librarians all the time as one of the main hashtags for targeting school library tweets, but, once a month, it becomes a live chat, now on the first Monday of the month at 8pm ET. And, joining it as a live chat platform recently are at least 10 state- or regionally-based school library chats. Here are the ones we know about:

And, ever generous as librarians are, we believe that all these chats welcome anyone. For example, you don’t have to be from New Jersey to participate in #NJLIBCHAT.

Also, notice that we listed the chats above in an embedded Google spreadsheet, since we are hoping we can add to it as we learn about more of them. Recently, Nikki created and sent out a Google Form in which she asked school librarians to share state school library Twitter chat sessions and hashtags. We got the information about the chats listed above from the responses to that form. If your state or region has a chat, and you don’t see it in the table, please complete the form and we’ll add it. And, if your state or region doesn’t have one, perhaps this will motivate you to start one!

We hope to see you at a chat soon!