Teaching Newsletter: One Way to Fight Fake News

http://www.chronicle.com/article/One-Way-to-Fight-Fake-News/241726

This article brings up several good points about fighting ‘fake news’, and what we do versus what we tell students to do.  This article does encourage teachers, librarians, and other individuals helping to teach about information literacy, to think about how we do research and identify legitimate sources versus how we teach students to do the same.

The rest of the article encourages being more open to the students and meeting them where they are; time, technology, need, etc; to better serve their information needs.  I do see several pros and cons to this take on service.  It does make us, as professionals/experts, more accessible to students.  However I have noticed through experience the more accessible we are, the more we try to turn ourselves inside out to help, the less our time and help are valued.

 

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Leading the Green Revolution Library Sustainability

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/11/01/leading-green-revolution-library-sustainability/

This article begins by discussing proposals such as composting books that are to be weeded, providing outlets for electric cars and so many more eco-friendly options to improving libraries.  *I, frankly, think some of them are a little too extreme.  If you have a compost pile already on your campus, then yes, shred books and add them to the communal pile.  If not, then I do not think it is responsible to encourage rodents and other pests to the campus.*

I do appreciate the end of the article, I believe that solar panels might be a way for libraries to both become green and save the taxpayers money in the long run.

Fascinating article, well worth reading.

Mississippi School District Pulls “To Kill a Mockingbird”…

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/to-kill-a-mockingbird-book-mississippi-school-district-removes-lesson-plan/

This is an interesting article describing why “To Kill a Mockingbird” was removed as an active curriculum book.  The theory is that  compassion can be taught from a wide variety of materials that do not have the side effect of containing language that makes people uncomfortable.   The book has not been removed from the shelves in the library, it simply is not a book that students are compelled to read.

*I have mixed feelings about this decision.  I do understand that people are uncomfortable when faced with the institutionalized racism that occurred in the past.  Some harsh language can be very hard to take simply because it was so common back then and since we have understood how truly evil that sort of thinking is the language becomes abhorrent.  On the other hand, by not being exposed to abhorrent things we will never learn to recognize how truly horrible such things are.  Maybe by learning early that some things just aren’t meant to be said we can eradicate the “F-Bomb”; “Cracker”; “Breeders” and other currently acceptable slurs from our language.  While the truth of this next statement appalls me, People have to find someone who is different from themselves and put them down in order to feel better about themselves.  Perhaps if we could live in a world where someone didn’t find a name to call someone else, then it would be alright to avoid all difficult topics.  However, we do not, so we should consider exposing our children to some harshness before they grow up unable to cope with life.*

Alexa, Google Home and Smart Phones Could Make Illiteracy Unimportant

http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/22/alexa-google-home-smart-phones-illiteracy-technology-voice-recognition-662282.html

*I don’t know if this concept is useful or terrifying*

This article does begin by telling it like it is, Google wants Alexa in your home so that you get used to shopping just by talking to it.  There is a paragraph of the article that discusses how every conversation we have with our digital devices allows that device to learn a little more about human speech patterns.

There is some thought to the belief that this is taking us back to where speech controls our creativity rather than writing.  Essentially writing is an artificial construct, whereas speech is more natural.  This will allow individuals that are functionally illiterate to be able to better interact with the literate world.

Also, it allows some affectations to influence other aspects of society.  For example, many new bands have come to the realization that it is best if they have a name that people can pronounce.

*This should prove to be interesting, will this be an evolution or a devolution of society?*

Augmented Reality?

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/augmented-reality-pogue-checks-7-new-iphone-ar-apps-194000451.html

Augmented Reality is where you still see the real world but other aspects of the virtual world are superimposed on the real world.  This is different from the virtual world where the real world is replaced by what ever digital information you are seeing.

Ikea Place is one of the first augmented reality apps, While there are issues this app does allow you to place furniture in your living room and obtain an idea of the size and angles involved.

There is an app that allows you to drop a Porsche into your driveway, living room, etc.

There is an app that allows you to see a shark floating around in the middle of…whatever.

There is an app that allows the Very Hungry Caterpillar to come to life and live in your world, for a time.

There is a virtual tape measure, that apparently comes pretty close.

Modify your hair color virtually to see what it would look like.

Night Sky 5 allows you to see constellations, have the stars labelled, and the animal/etc. that the constellation is supposed to represent.

These are just some quick examples of what was made in the first 12 weeks of apple’s new release.  *Honestly some of them are very useful, I like the thought of not having to guess if something will look good in a space, or if there will be enough room.  Some are stupid, Yes a Porsche will look good there, but you cannot afford it after buying this device so dream on.  The Hungry Caterpillar looks like it might be useful and the future of gaming, but I am still very concerned about people getting confused about what is real and what is not.  Some people have serious trouble with that concept.*

Amazon Echo and Echo Plus

http://mashable.com/2017/09/27/hands-on-with-echo-and-echo-plus/#yXaqT3q6.kqY

This article details the improvements and differences between the new Echo and Echo Plus.  Much of this article is spend detailing how the new difference make the speaker appear and function much like the older version.

The next section of this article begins to detail how these devices can be used as a whole home solution.

*To my way of thinking the Amazon Echo is essentially a smart home device.  Like Evernote if it is a part of every aspect of your life then it is a useful tool, if it is not immersed in every aspect of your life then it is a minor convenience.*

Librarians guide readers by interest not level

http://www.slj.com/2017/10/literacy/fountas-pinnell-say-librarians-guide-readers-interest-not-level/

The creators of the “F&P Text Level Gradient™” state that their system should be used as a tool to help guide students to books with an appropriate amount of challenge.

“We designed the F&P Text Level Gradient™ to help teachers think more analytically about the characteristics of texts and their demands on the reading process, and the A to Z levels were used to show small steps from easiest to most difficult. The goal was for teachers to learn about the characteristics of each level to inform their decisions in teaching…”

Fountas and Pinnell agree that their levels were intended to label books, rather to assist teachers in finding the right books for their students based on how difficult the books are to read.  They never intended these levels to be used to label students, they certainly never expected students to be choosing their own books based on these levels.  It was their intention that students would choose books based on their interests, perhaps it would be above their reading level, perhaps below their reading level.  If the book was above their reading level then they might have an opportunity to expand their interests, expand their reading ability.

These creators make a very good point, choosing the material that you want to read, then discussing it or disseminating that material in some form even writing or drawing about what you have read, allows you to not only be interested in the material but to become a part of the experience.  *I do firmly believe that allowing students to choose their books helps to obtain their interest.  I do also believe that there are some books that students need to read in order to form a more complete picture of the world  and culture as a whole.*

Fountas and Pinnell also say that it would be a good idea to speak with the parents in a way that allows them to understand the progress that their child is making with reading.  To show progress, to help the parents understand how their children are progressing, what their interests are, and how involved they are with their reading.  *Realistically there are some students that will never ‘love’ reading.  I do firmly believe, as a librarian, that this is just because they haven’t found their genre yet…but considering how many times I go genre hopping I am not the right person to ask about not loving reading.*

  • I enjoyed this article, it really does point out the fact that as humans we tend to focus on a single aspect and intend to use that as the sole aspect of judgement.  We tend to take the lazy way out, to try and use a single tool to slot people.  I think that much of this is due to a plethora of students and a dearth of time.