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1. Taking the Lead in Helping Kids Become Good Digital Citizens

Digital citizenship. It’s a complex subject that I’ve thought a lot about in recent years- and one that I’ve been figuring out how best to address in my role as a public librarian. For our kids to be contributing participants in the Digital Age, they need to be informed about a whole host of issues such as internet safety, privacy and security, cyber bullying, digital footprints, information literacy, copyright and creative credit, and more!

So when Mariah Cheng, one of my regular patrons who also happens to be an elementary school teacher, approached me about teaching a series of digital citizenship workshops at the library for children and parents I jumped at the opportunity to partner with her. Mariah had recently become a Certified Educator through Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Initiative which offers training and curriculum for free to K-12 educators so that they can teach their students and families how to be smart, safe and responsible online. 

During our planning stages I reached out to the Vice Principal of one of my local schools to see what topics she thought were most important for her students to learn and what ages would be best to target the classes towards. She and I had previously discussed how difficult it was for her teachers to find the time to address digital literacy with their students and how the library might be able to partner with the school to teach these topics. Unfortunately, whether she was overwhelmed with the start of a new school year or otherwise, I never heard back from her and moved forward with planning the classes along with Mariah and my Children’s Department staff.

Mariah and I decided to hold a series of three classes: one for parents, one for kindergarteners through 2nd graders, and one for 3rd through 5th graders. We capped registration at 16 attendees for each class, the capacity of the library’s computer lab. Ultimately we ended up cancelling K-2 session due to low interest, and we expanded the 3rd-5th Grades session to include older students after many inquiries by parents. For the Parents session Mariah addressed how to help their children use social media responsibly, how to address cyber bullying, and how to talk to their kids about their online activities. I especially loved that Mariah’s lessons were pragmatic. It’s a fact of life that adolescents are online and using social media already. Instead of being alarmist or didactic Mariah gave parents the tools they need to set reasonable limits on their children’s screen time and to help their kids be safe and healthy while doing so. She introduced parents to a variety of tools they could use to limit or monitor computer time and gave them some great resources for evaluating websites, apps and other media. For the Student session, Mariah talked with kids about their online activities and what to do if you see or are the target of cyber bullying. She also talked about “digital footprints” and reminded participants that and nothing is truly “private” or “erasable” online. The kids wrapped up the session by playing Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport, a collection of free computer games that teach kids about respect, safety and community online.

Mariah Cheng teaches digital citizenship to a class of 4th -8th graders at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library. Photo by Diana Garcia.

Mariah Cheng teaches digital citizenship to a class of 4th -8th graders at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library. Photo by Diana Garcia.

Students sorted unique and shared characteristics of bullying and cyber-bullying. Photo by Diana Garcia.

Students sorted unique and shared characteristics of bullying and cyber-bullying. Photo by Diana Garcia.

These programs were a great way to start the conversation about digital citizenship with kids and parents and we definitely plan to hold more to address subjects like information literacy, copyright and creative credit. I would encourage anyone who is interested in holding digital citizenship programs to take a look at the wealth of resources available from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum. There are ready made lesson plans, toolkits, online games and assessments, activities, videos and downloadable materials all free for librarians and teachers to use with students. There is even a list of Certified Educators on the website. You may have one working in your school or district already!

Have you offered digital literacy classes at your library? Did you work with local teachers or have you used Common Sense Media’s resources? Share your experiences and let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!

Diana Garcia is the Children’s Librarian at the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library in California where she has the privilege of serving a diverse community through storytimes, creative programming and tutoring. Her afterschool literacy program for English Language Learners won the PLA Innovations in Literacy award in 2013. Diana is currently serving on the ALSC Liaison to National Organizations Committee. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California and serves on their Awards Committee. 

The post Taking the Lead in Helping Kids Become Good Digital Citizens appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Best Practices for a Streaming Author Visit

This article will focus on using Google Hangouts on Air.

We’d all love to have our favorite author fly out and visit us in person, but the cost and logistics can be daunting. Streaming visits allow authors to connect with more readers and are easier on your budget- sometimes your author will even speak for free! Here are a few tips that will help ensure your event is a success.

Why Google Hangouts on Air?
Setting up a YouTube channel to associate your Hangout with will automatically archive your event to YouTube.  No problem that you weren’t able to get all the kids in one room at a time, they can watch later. See the King County Library System’s Hangout page for examples of past events.  Creating a new YouTube channel will automatically create your Google+ page for you. Alternatively, if you have a channel you can associate it with a Google+ page. You will need to verify your channel through SMS.

Technical Run Through
Set up a practice session with you author at least a week prior. Send them the link to Google Hangouts so they have the most current version installed. This also gives you a chance to chat with the author and figure out the flow of your event.

Equipment Set Up
You’ll need a webcam so the author can see who they are talking to, possibly a tripod to set it up on, a microphone for questions, and speakers so everyone can hear. For streaming events this is where you may incur some costs, but you only need to purchase these items once!

Hangout Settings
Hover at the top of the page to access your settings. Check that your microphone and speakers are selected and test your sound. You may need to change your main preferences through your Control Panel.

Inviting Participants
We’ve found the least stressful method is to click the person + icon at the top of the page.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.51.50 PM

Copy the permanent link and email the link to your author. Please note that if you send the invite through email your author will need to login to Gmail or Hangouts to see the invitation.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 3.51.58 PM

Starting the Hangout
After you invite your participants you aren’t broadcasting yet. To get your archived video you need to click the Start Broadcast button. When you are finished (yay!) click End Broadcast. YouTube will need to finish processing your event, but it should be finished in a few hours.

Final Tips
Don’t panic if people look reversed during the Hangout. During the processing everything will be flipped and anyone watching remotely will see everything correctly.

Concerned about recording student faces? Make your videos Unlisted and only share the URL with staff and parents.

Help Resources
How to Dominate Google+ Hangouts on Air
Hangouts On Air common questions

The post Best Practices for a Streaming Author Visit appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Cyber war and the question of causation

Everyone knows that the increasing threat of cyber attacks will place immense pressure on the operational capacities for various intelligence and defense agencies. Speak with anyone in military operations (from several countries), and their lists of security concerns are remarkably similar: Russia, ISIS, and cyber (in no particular order).

The post Cyber war and the question of causation appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. YALSABlog Tweets of the Week - October 23th, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between October 23 and October 29 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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5. What might superintelligences value?

If there were superintelligent beings – creatures as far above the smartest human as that person is above a worm – what would they value? And what would they think of us? Would they treasure, tolerate, ignore, or eradicate us?

The post What might superintelligences value? appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Biophilia: technology that transforms music education

In today’s society, technology is fundamentally embedded in the everyday learning environments of children. The development of educative interactive apps is constantly increasing, and this is undoubtedly true for apps designed to facilitate musical development. So much so that computer-based technology has become an integral part of children’s musical lives

The post Biophilia: technology that transforms music education appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Q & A: Neurology’s past, present, and future

To mark this month’s release of Martin R. Turner and Matthew C. Kiernan’s Landmark Papers in Neurology, we spoke with the two editors, to discuss their thoughts on neurology – past and present. We asked about the origins of neurology, the understanding of neurological diseases, milestones in the field, why historical context is so important – and their predictions for the future…

The post Q & A: Neurology’s past, present, and future appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. My Writing and Reading Life: Laurie Wallmark

Laurie Wallmark writes exclusively for children. The picture book biography, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, October 2015), is Laurie’s first book.

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9. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week, October 10-16

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between October 17 and October 22 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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10. Global Goals

In 2000, the world’s leaders joined together to establish the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. They selected 8 issues that impacted the world, and set a deadline of 2015 to address. In 15 years humanity joined together to reach most of the goals.

Now they have set new goals  for us to reach by 2030. They may seem huge, but humanity can be amazing! Everyone will need to reach beyond themselves to help reach these goals, but as providers of service to young adults we can help inspire and encourage everyone to think about these issues that impact the whole world.

To help promote awareness of these issues Global Goals has created resources and lesson plans  for educators to use to engage youth in discussions about these issues and inspire them to become active in helping to reach these goals.

At the heart of libraries we already work hard to address several of these issues every day, but like the video said, let us not stop halfway.

For example Good Jobs and Economic Growth is an area I see libraries all over addressing. Some are partnering to offer technology and other workforce training to the public. Others are out in the community helping to support small businesses. Lastly libraries have resources and materials like Test Prep books, Wifi, and computer printing will help support job seekers.

I recently met Elaine Harger, a middle school librarian, who was incorporating the life cycle of technology into her digital literacy lessons with students. She showed images of children mining for the minerals in cellphones, and computer recycling centers in India. This helps teens understand the true cost of throwing away outdated technology and meets the goal of Responsible Consumption.

Libraries are open welcoming places for everyone. We help reduce inequalities by exposing people to new ideas, solutions, and experiences. In some communities the library can be the only place that minorities feel welcomed and accepted. We encourage people to read, watch, and do things just outside of their comfort level, especially teens. At the heart that is why we fight for intellectual freedom and Banned Books Week.

So we know that libraries are already doing great things, but we need to be more deliberate about making the things we do more visible. Even if you focus on one goal, you can help make a difference in the lives of everyone on the planet by being a role model and advocate for global citizenry.

So as you think about your school year, displays, collection development, or the future libraries, try to incorporate the global goals into your libraries’ services or your vocabulary.

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11. Looking to Create a Makerspace in your Library? Here are some ideas


Makerspaces are popping up everywhere and the definition of makerspaces is constantly evolving like the spaces themselves. Makerspaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. The focus, actually, is on the type of learning that goes on, not the stuff.  Making is about learning that is: interest-driven and hands-on and often supported by peer-to-peer learning.  This is often referred to as connected learning.  Also, you don't need a set space to facilitate this type of learning.  You can have pop up makerspaces at various library branches, afterschool programs, community centers, etc.  Or you can set up a 'maker cart' that can travel anywhere in the library.  Perhaps what your teens need most are maker backpacks that are stuffed with resources and activities they can do at home.

Why focus on maker programs and spaces in your library?  These types of activities help teens explore their interests and build skills that they need for college and careers.  The Institute of Museum and Library Services has a great two page informational sheet (.pdf) that talks about making and libraries. Share this with your supervisor to help them understand why these types of learning activities are important.

If you are thinking about ways to bring in some maker programs into your library, begin with  identifying what kind of  learning activities your teens want/need the most.  Digital, craft, technology, a mix?   Maybe your teens want you to work with them to create activities to do a little  bit of the above.  What do you need to get started?  First, build your knowledge of connected learning.  Your one stop shop for that is the Connected Learning Alliance.  Be sure to check out their free webinar archive.  Another very good connected learning resource to explore is remakelearning.org

Here are some other resources and ideas to help get you started.  

YALSA's 2014 Makerspace Resources Taskforce put together this awesome (and free) Making in the Library Toolkit

YALSA's wiki on Maker and DIY Programs has resources, funding opportunities, program ideas and more.

The Makerspace Lab has a good starting list of websites of hackerspaces, list of starting supplies/resources/costs as well as videos so you can get a sense of what some of the spaces look like and what they do.  

Tech Activity Ideas

Makey Makeys are an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween.  Kits start at $49.95

Little Bits DIY electronics for prototyping and learning.  Kits begin at $99.  The Little Bits site has a forum for people to share, lessons that you can download and you too can share your work and get ideas for programs.  Lots of great stuff and a community of people!

Raspberry Pis are a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games.  The Raspberry Pi website has a lot of helpful videos and resources you can explore to help you and your teens get started.  The Pi’s are $30 a piece.  Youtube has lots of videos to see them in action and get adept at what you can do with them.  Recommended to play with them before breaking out for makerspace.

Squishy Circuits The goal of the project is to design tools and activities which allow kids of all ages to create circuits and explore electronics using play dough.  

What about low tech or tech maker ideas?

The Instructables website has lots of maker programs that are craft based, low tech, no tech and more.  Each of the projects are complete with pictures and instructions.

The Make it @ Your Library website Make it @ Your Library came together in association with ALA in 2012 as part of ILEAD USA, an IMLS grant funded library program, with the intention of helping librarians realize makerspace projects in their communities.

Some free stuff

Code Club World is a worldwide network of coding clubs for youth, they have some great resources and curriculum that can be used for your own code clubs.

Scratch is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. Scratch can be used with Makey Makeys, Raspberry Pis on its own and more.

Check out the YALSA Blog post in September that shared a bunch of free sites and resources.


What about finding funds to help support your maker activities?  

Here’s an article that can help get you started from Edutopia 

Here’s a list of makerspaces, resources, funding ideas, hashtags and more

IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) has a lot of grant information for small and large grants 

LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) is the only federal program for libraries and is administered through the IMLS.  These funds are distributed to libraries through their state library agency.

State library associations and state library systems will have grant resources available as well, look at your state resources.

YALSA has awards, grants and stipends and you could apply for to help with your maker programs for Teen Tech Week or a Summer Learning Grant 

How are you supposed to learn how to do all this making stuff?

YALSA has some free archived webinars to help get you started, but don't forget that you don't have to be the expert on everything!  Be sure to identify teens who can help you plan and carry out maker programs, as well as experts out there in the community who could be retirees, business owners, artists, teachers, hobbyists and more.  Use the Map My Community Tool to find other youth serving organizations in your area and connect with them.




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12. The power of the algorithm

Recently Google Inc. was ordered to remove nine search results after the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) ruled that they linked to information about a person that was no longer relevant. Almost ten years ago, that individual had committed a minor criminal offence and he recently put on a request to Google that related search results be removed, in compliance with the decision of the European Court of Justice in Google Spain.

The post The power of the algorithm appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites

Autumn has arrived here in Northeastern Ohio, bringing with it crisp weather, all things pumpkin, and beautiful fall foliage. The trees are only starting to reveal their brilliant hues of orange, yellow, gold and red here, but soon I’ll awaken to a glowing landscape that seemingly exploded overnight. As this season traditionally brings many requests for fall themed library materials, as well as special fall programming, I was inspired to think of ways that technology may add further enjoyment and educational opportunities to this time.

The best way to experience the beauty of fall is to strap on your hiking shoes and venture to the nearest wooded park (or your backyard!). Bringing along your smartphone or tablet, loaded with fall foliage apps, can enhance your exploration of autumn’s beauty. Children of a variety of ages will enjoy learning more about our natural environment with these  apps and websites highlighted below, although most young users not yet in elementary school may need some parent or caregiver help.

  • Yankee Leaf PeeprThis free app by Yankee Publishing Inc., available for Apple and Android devices, provides you with a very handy color-coded map that indicates where the leaves are changing anywhere in the United States. Users contribute to the map by posting photos and ratings of the foliage, making this app not only useful, but
    Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.

    Image from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ypi.leafpeepr&hl=en.

    interactive. The current foliage color is determined by averaging user ratings in a geographic area.
  • Chimani apps- These apps, offered as free downloads on all major mobile platforms,  are a really fun way to explore various National Parks. They help you with planning your trip, letting you know when Ranger-led trips occur, and more. These apps work with or without WiFi or a data signal, which is especially helpful when you are out on the trail.
  • LeafSnapOnce you’ve found some beautiful leaves, you may be left wondering what kind of tree they’re a part of. Make this a great learning opportunity with LeafSnap! Developed by researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, LeafSnap helps users identify trees by allowing users to take a picture of a leaf from the tree and then providing them with the species. The app is free for iPhone and iPad, and also has a website displaying tree species. The only negative is that this is only usable for species found in the Northeastern United States and Canada.
  • U.S. Forest Service website and Yonder app–  The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with Yonder, a free app, to help nature lovers share their adventures. The website also provides a map of fall color based on eyewitness accounts and allows users to choose their state or local forest to see specific fall foliage information. You can find weekly color updates in your state using this tool!
  • Foliage Network – The fall foliage prediction map on this website helps users visual the changing leaves around the United States and plan when to see the most beautiful colors in your neighborhood.

You can pair these fun apps and websites with traditional activities for a great autumn library program. How about leaf rubbing (which was recently discussed here on the blog), sharing a classic fall read-aloud such as Ehlert’s “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” and then using LeafSnap to identify the tree outside the storytime window? There are many possibilities to incorporate technology and nature into library programs and family time. What are some of your favorite hi- or low-tech autumn extension activities? ___________________________________________________________

Nicole Lee Martin is a Children’s Librarian at the Rocky River Public Library in Rocky River, OH and is writing this post for the Children and Technology Committee. You can reach her at n.martin@rrpl.org.

The post Exploring Autumn with Apps and Websites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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14. Media Mentorship & AAP’s New Digital Media Guidelines

media mentor cover

If you haven’t heard the big news, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released updated findings in regards to the use of screen time by young children  which emerged from their recent Growing Up Digital: Media Research Symposium. I’m excited to report that the AAP findings fully support ALSC’s position as outlined in the Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth white paper adopted by our Board of Directors back in March.

More than ever, families and children will be turning to libraries and youth services staff for help in navigating the digital landscape and in making sound, developmentally appropriate decisions on media use. Your professional association is here to help you rise to the occasion and embrace the role of media mentor with the white paper and other resources that offer helpful ways for you to respond to your families.

ALSC resources available to support you in meeting this evolving opportunity include:

  • Check out the professional tools for digital media on ALSC’s website. ALSC’s Digital Content Task Force collected a go-to list of resources and we’re always looking for more to keep the page fresh and updated, so don’t hesitate to submit your recommendations through the form.
  • The media mentorship white paper landing page has several resources including FREE webcasts such as “Best Practices for Apps/eBooks in Storytime” presented by ALSC member and littleelit.com founder Cen Campbell. Littleelit.com is a crowd-sourced, collaborative think tank focused on developing best practices for infusing new media into library programs, services, and collections.
  • This very blog has regular posts related to technology programming and collections, so check it regularly and stay on top of the trends.
  • Two new task forces are sure to keep us forging ahead as media mentors:
    • The Media Mentorship Award Task Force is developing a potential award for excellence in innovative use of media with children, including a process for recognizing an exemplary media mentor program.
    • The Expansion of the Notable Children’s Video Task Force is exploring the possibility of expanding Notable Children’s Videos to include new digital media.
  • Keep your eyes open for a new how-to book authored by Cen Campbell, Claudia Haines, and ALSC, scheduled for release next June. 
  • ALSC leadership has submitted a proposal to present media mentorship to educators at SXSWedu next March and at the 2016 IBBY Congress next August.

We’re all in this together! Let’s share our thoughts, successes, and requests for help on ALSC-L.  Do you use new media regularly in your programming and services? Want to share your know-how with colleagues? ALSC is always looking for new webinar content so please feel free to share your ideas with the Education committee here

Media mentoring is vital to supporting the lives and literacies of children and families in the twenty-first century. Each of us committing to the role of media mentor is crucial to our success as a profession that serves children. I look forward to continuing this journey together!

The post Media Mentorship & AAP’s New Digital Media Guidelines appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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15. Digital Writing Portfolios

If you have not started using writing portfolios with your students yet, give it a try. Start a collection of their work and build in a system of reflection.

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16. Telemental health: Are we there yet?

An unacceptably large proportion of mentally ill individuals do not receive any care. Reasons vary but include the dearth of providers, the cost of treatment and stigma. Telemental health, which uses digital technology for the remote delivery of mental health services, may help toward finding a solution.

The post Telemental health: Are we there yet? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. The science of rare planetary alignments

The alignment of both the Sun and the Earth with another planet in the Solar System is a rare event, which we are seldom able to observe in a lifetime.

The post The science of rare planetary alignments appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Build Your Library's Capacity to Engage Teens through Connected Learning

Want to offer more hands-on learning opportunities for and with the teens in your community?  3D Systems Corp., in partnership with YALSA, is giving away up to 250 3D printers to members of YALSA.  Learn more and apply online by Oct. 30th.  Are you not a YALSA/ALA member yet?  Membership starts at $60 per year.  Contact Letitia Smith at lsmith at ala dot org, or 312.280.4390, to get the best rate and to learn about paying in installments.  And don't forget to check out all of the great maker and connected learning resources on YALSA's wiki!

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19. New additions to Great Websites for Kids

GWS logo

Once again, on behalf of the Great Websites for Kids Committee, I’d like to share our newest sites and enlist your help.

In case you missed the recent ALA press release, the following are the newest sites to be added to Great Websites for Kids:

Great Web Sites for Kids (GWS) presents links to high-quality websites of interest to children 14 years of age and younger, organized into diverse subject headings such as animals; art; history; literature; sciences; and more. Each site entry includes a brief annotation and a grade-level rating. GWS users can also rate sites, save their favorites for easy access, and share sites via social media and email.

Only three sites were added during this round.  Because of  previous committees’ excellent work in ferreting out great sites, and the trend toward more app-based content, the task of finding websites that meet GWS standards has become more difficult.  If you know of a great site that you believe merits inclusion, please submit your suggestion via this link: http://gws.ala.org/suggest-site.

Similarly, if you find broken links, etc. on the site, please alert us to that as well. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Members of the 2015 Great Websites for Kids Committee:

  • Lara Crews, co-chair, Forsyth County (North Carolina) Public Library
  • Lisa Taylor, co-chair, Ocean County (New Jersey) Library
  • Emily E. Bacon, Yorktown (Indiana) Public Library
  • Ariel Cummins, New Braunfels (Texas) Public Library
  • Jill Eisele, Bellwood (Illinois) Public Library
  • Krishna Grady, Darien (Connecticut) Library
  • Joanne Kelleher, Kings Park (New York) Central School District
  • Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, Ohio
  • Alia Shields, Cherry Hill (New Jersey) Public Library


The post New additions to Great Websites for Kids appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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20. Back to School with Homework Help Apps and Websites

Homework with iPad (Source: ND Strupler)

Homework with iPad (Source: ND Strupler)

As the new school year gets underway, parents and teachers will inevitably look to us for advice about how to help their students take advantage of the many digital resources available to assist with studying, research, and homework. This can seem a daunting task for anyone, but as mentors of digital media, library staff should strive to stay on top of recent developments in educational technology so that we can guide families to the apps, websites, and services that will best fit their needs. Luckily, we aren’t alone in the search for quality apps and websites, as many aids exist to help evaluate, review, and recommend digital resources in this area.

AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning (Source: AASL)

(Source: AASL)

Every year, AASL releases its lists of Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and Best Apps for Teaching and Learning, identifying resources that “foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration.” Each year’s list is broken down into helpful categories, and the “Past Lists” links lead to sortable spreadsheets of all the apps or sites that have been recognized. The 2015 lists were released at the end of June, and offer some great up-to-date information to share with teachers and families.

appoLearning recently released a Collections feature, which allows educators to build and share customized lists of apps and websites for specific topics or lessons. appoLearning’s searchable database returns custom collections from users, as well as expert-reviewed resources pertaining to the same topics.

Don’t forget to promote the digital resources offered by your library, too! Many reference database providers have created specialized apps to give patrons quick access to their products both in and out of the library. Gale’s Access My Library (iOS and Android, free) and EBSCOhost’s mobile apps (iOS and Android, free) are some examples of these custom apps. If you’re not sure which of your database vendors provide apps for patron access, take some time to check, and be sure to download and explore the apps yourself.

Digital resources can also be incredibly valuable for special needs students, helping them access information, build skills, and organize and manage time and tasks. Smart Apps for Special Needs reviews apps that can help special needs students in many areas of their lives. ADDitude Magazine also frequently creates lists of apps for both children and adults with ADD or ADHD, available on their website.

Other sites to check out:

Tara Smith is a teen librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and is a member of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee.

The post Back to School with Homework Help Apps and Websites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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21. Recorded Storytime Music: A Primer

New recorded music arrived at the library today! [Photo courtesy of the author.]

New recorded music arrived at the library today! [Photo courtesy of the author.]

While on vacation, I found myself in a store trying to pick out a movie that my sister, brother-in-law, and I would watch. Since I’ll watch pretty much anything once, I left them in the movie aisle arguing. I walked away only to discover The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Collection on the shelves of the store. I had tried to pre-order the CD a few months ago using our vendor and it wasn’t available. I immediately snatched up it up and tucked it in my basket. It was the best souvenir of my trip!

It took me a long time to enjoy and use children’s music. There are so many benefits to using music, but I have a half-decent voice and got through many years just singing a capella. It took starting my Music & Movement program — Shake, Shimmy, & Dance — to really start investigating recorded music.

Since I’ve passed thirty, I consider classic artists anyone that I listened to as a child. These include: Raffi, Sharon Lois & Bram, Ella Jenkins, Hap Palmer, and Greg & Steve. These are great core artists to be familiar with as you start learning about children’s music. I don’t incorporate a lot of their music into my programs because my programs tend to be a bit more high energy and my patrons prefer a more contemporary sound.

These are the fifteen artists (in no particular order) that I absolutely adore. I recommend checking out their entire catalogs and listening to them immediately. I did include my favorite album in case you’re pressed for time!

  1. Jim Gill (Jim Gill Sings the Sneezing Songs & Other Contagious Tunes)
  2. Laurie Berkner (Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
  3. Caspar Babypants (More, Please!)
  4. Elizabeth Mitchell (Sunny Day)
  5. The Learning Groove (Rockin’ Red)
  6. Mr. Jon & Friends (Get Your Move On)
  7. Wiggleworms (Songs for Wiggleworms & Wiggleworms Love You — I can’t choose one!)
  8. Joanie Leeds & the Nightlights (I’m a Rock Star!)
  9. Bari Koral Family Rock Band (Rock and Roll Garden)
  10. The Wiggles (Hot Poppin’ Popcorn)
  11. Laura Doherty (Heartbeat)
  12. Aaron Nigel Smith (Let’s Pretend)
  13. Carole Peterson Stephens (Polka Dots!)
  14. Dreamtree Shakers (Come On a Picnic)
  15. Ralph Covert (Welcome to Ralph’s World)

And my top three tips for finding good recorded music:

  • Fellow librarians. It seems like a cop-out to say that, but Ally Watkins gave me Joanie Leeds. Storytime Underground introduced me to Mr. Jon & Friends. Jennifer Wharton is the first person I saw using Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day. Ask on Twitter. Read Angie’s M&M post. Read my lists. Check out Kelsey & Heather’s blog Song Catchers’ Library which is open for contributions.
  • ILL. Put titles on hold that sound interesting before investing your library’s money. I know budgets are tight. I have a fabulous library with a healthy budget, but I still want to spend our money in the wisest way that I can. I preview another library’s copy before purchasing our own. If you can’t do this, use Amazon’s song preview or check the artist’s website for YouTube clips.
  • Reviews & sales. School Library Journal will often have children’s music reviews. I also use our vendor Midwest Tapes for reviews/sale ranks. In addition to their magazine, they allow me to sort by what’s selling in the area. I’m able to see if I missed a big released from a familiar artist. I’m also able to see what new artists are selling at high numbers.

So that’s my quick primer about recorded music. Did I miss anything or any favorite artist? Let me know in the comments!

– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library

The post Recorded Storytime Music: A Primer appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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22. Celebrating five years of Oxford Bibliographies

The librarians at Bates College became interested in Oxford Bibliographies a little over five years ago. We believed there was great promise for a new resource OUP was developing, in which scholars around the world would be contributing their expertise by selecting citations, commenting on them, and placing them in context for end users.

The post Celebrating five years of Oxford Bibliographies appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Teens and How They Use Technology – What’s Our Role?

This semester I’m enrolled in a Collaborations in Feminism and Technology class. It parallels the larger organization, FemTechNet. During our most recent class, our discussion turned to a frequently talked about: children/teens and technology. What sort of access to technology should they have and how will they use it?

Part of our class veered towards the idea of technocentrism (technology is the center of our world and it controls us. See Seymour Papert’s paper to read more) or technological determinism (essentially get on board with technology’s pace or forever be left behind). We discussed just giving kids and teens technology and counting on them to “just know” how to use it. We discussed restricting access because they aren’t old enough to really know how to use technology. And we discussed that teens simply don’t understand the permanence of putting something online.

However, some of my classmates (myself included) were not quick to jump aboard the technocentrism train of thought. I firmly ground myself in the idea of living in a socio-technical system – where I impact and shape technology just as much as technology is shaping and changing me. People in positions of power and privilege are making decisions on how they design and create technology and that has impacts on how we use and think about technology. So shouldn’t we be having some of these conversations with the teens we interact with?

I think we should take some responsibility for this education and problem posing of technology and its impacts. Because in many ways, the decisions we are making affect how current and future teens will use and think about technology (and the digital footprint that has been involuntarily created for them). Recently I’ve been hooked on WNYC’s podcast, Note to Self with Manoush Zomorodi. The focus of this podcast is our relationship with technology and a recent episode lets us hear first hand from a teen interviewed on her views of technology (and smart phones). Teens are actively using technology and making decisions about it and we should respect and think about those decisions (Manoush also has a great “back to school tech” post with links on [mainly] managing kids and educational apps and technology). These posts and podcasts made me think of participatory action research that people like Rachel Magee and others are doing that digs deeper into the relationships teens have with technology (a field I’m very interested in. Also Rachel is a new faculty member at the University of Illinois so I’ve been learning more about her work).

So how do we do this? How do we have those conversations? How do we talk about our permant identity on the Internet? How do we help teens to see the ways in which we shape and our shaped by technology. My main idea is through dialogue – both informal and formal. Everything from a passing comment to longer workshops (I wrote earlier this year about a week long Twitter workshop that could be led to show how information is distributed, biased, and controlled through Twitter and what users we select to follow). Or…how could we incorporate resources like YALSA’s 2012 Issue Brief on Keeping Teens Safe Online (or revise it for 2015)? How might we incorporate idea of connected learning into these conversations for a greater and long lasting impact? How can we take this Social Media Guide and turn it into an engaging program or informal conversation? Granted, I know these programs or conversations would take time – time to plan, time to think through the ideas, time to get to know the teens, and time to actually implement these ideas (I get a little tired thinking about how I would do that once I enter the working world of Library Land). But, what keeps me going is the idea that we too can impact technology. The sooner we have those conversations with our teens, the sooner we start engaging in that critical dialogue, the sooner we can start changing the world.

How do you do this in your libraries with your teens? How do you not get trapped in the idea of technocentrism and instead, strive to empower teens to think critically about technology and their technological footprint?

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24. Hacking health - and literacy - in the library

How do students’ research skills turn into love of inquiry?  The answer is HackHealth!  I work in a middle school library with grades six through eight.  Because I serve a population of over 1,000 students, it is challenging to see all of my students on a regular basis.  When I did see them, their research skills were very basic and most of them knew only Google.  Although I love Google myself, I know that there is so much more that goes into research.  How can I teach these skills to students with the limited time that I have with them?

The Beginning

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park came to me with the idea to form a weekly after-school program, HackHealth, to teach students how to research health topics that interest them.  I jumped at the opportunity.  My first step was to recruit students.  There are several very effective ways to do this, but I will focus on the method that I used because it worked so well for me.  I approached my school’s science team.  I told them about the HackHealth program and asked them to recommend students who were interested and would benefit from this program.  I received responses back from almost 20 students who were interested.  We had an initial meeting with approximately 12 interested students where the program was introduced by the UMD researchers.

Implementing the Program

The HackHealth program at my school lasted for 12 weeks.  During the first session, I talked with them about choosing a topic.  Our students viewed short videos introducing them to the program. The next step was to explore possible sources for their research.  Students brainstormed sources which they would use to find credible information.  For example, would they use the Internet, ask a family member, read a newspaper?  They discussed the pros and cons of each of these sources based on prior knowledge.

How to Take Notes

sandwich boardsUMD researchers and I went over notetaking skills.  Three skills were introduced:  Mind-mapping, tables, and making lists.  The students were introduced to each method and then formed groups to practice these methods.  At the end, they were asked to present their assigned note-taking strategy to the group.  The group discussed which method is most effective for which circumstances.

Credibility Screenshot Activity

postit1 postit2

We used posters of various health-related Web pages for this activity.  The posters included: WebMD, Dr. Oz, Wikipedia, a government website (alzheimers.gov), a blog (“Sharing my life with Lewy Body Dementia”) and a kids health website (KidsHealth.org).  The students were given red and green post-its.  The red represented not credible.  The green represented credible.  The students wrote why they felt the website was credible or not on their post-its. We got together at the end of this activity to discuss the differences in opinion and how to handle the “grey” areas on assessing credibility of online information.


computerlabAnother activity that focused on the validity and relevancy of websites was an iEvaluate activity.  Students were given a list of websites that appeared at first sight legitimate, but were all hoax websites.  They were asked to evaluate these websites by looking at the website’s purpose, finding the author of the website, and analyzing whether they learned anything from the website.  Our students noticed a few red flags like no author name, no contact information, and facts that just didn’t seem accurate (like a tree-climbing octopus!)

The End

After all of the learning and hard work, it is finally time to show us what they know.  Our students were given several options to present their research findings and they did so very creatively.  We had an interview about discrimination against handicapped people, a Prezi about bronchitis, a song about thyroid disease, an interpretive dance about Kawasaki disease, and a chart presentation regarding sickle cell anemia.  

And best yet...they were very excited about returning again next year!

These are just a snapshot of a few activities that my students enjoyed during the 12 HackHealth sessions.

I would HIGHLY recommend HackHealth for library media specialists or any educator who is interested in teaching their students research skills.  The activities are so varied that students with different learning styles will benefit.  For educators who implement HackHealth, the options of lesson plans and activities are so varied that they can be incorporated into a variety of lessons.   To me, the abundance of lesson plans and activities, and the flexibility of this program are its strengths.  HackHealth can turn any student into a skilled researcher.

See http://hackhealth.umd.edu/about-us/project-phases/ to access the lesson plans and activities.

-Melissa Bethea is the school library media specialist at Charles Carroll Middle School in Prince George's County Public Schools.


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25. Archivist by day, audio enthusiast by night: an interview with Dana Gerber-Margie

This week, we’re pushing the boundaries a bit to bring you an interview with Dana Gerber-Margie, who publishes The Audio Signal, a “weekly digest about audio.” Troy and I are huge fans of the newsletter, as are Pop Up Archive and even the Wall Street Journal.

The post Archivist by day, audio enthusiast by night: an interview with Dana Gerber-Margie appeared first on OUPblog.

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