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 (www.thenewsliteracyproject.org/), 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: bit.ly/101mostlyfree

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 bit.ly/jlglivebinders. 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.

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