JumpStart Your Educational Tech-xpertise!

JumpStart Your Educational Tech-xpertise! - To learn educational technology, you'll love JumpStart, an online course that uses best practices for integrating technology tools into your classroom or School Library. You can also be part of a wonderful professional learning community to support you through your endeavors! #NoSweatLibraryI’m a long-time techie, beginning with a Fortran programming college course in 1969. I worked with 5″ floppy disks on DOS PCs in the 1980s (I know why we originally had 7.3 filenames) , and I still have my original email account from 1992. In the 90s I used Gopher to find curriculum resources and learned a lot about technology & the Internet, becoming somewhat of a tech guru in my school district. For example:

  • 1993 – Built 2 working PCs for a teacher using parts of defunct ones; installed RAM upgrade (a 64MB that cost $400!) to classroom touchscreen/laserdisc computer.
  • 1993 – Learned HTML to create text webpages for Lynx, then later used Mosaic to add images to webpages
  • 1994 – Created homepages for schools & departments on the district’s new Website and became the District Web trainer for the next 8 years.
  • 1995 – Networked the Apple/Macintosh computers in our school so we could email each other and share files.
  • 1995-1996 – Took Microsoft System Admin courses, so district would let me handle hubs and PC connections for my school. District IT guys remote connected with me to help train their techs. (Ever hear of NET SEND?)
  • 1998 – Helped write first District Technology Plan and Acceptable Use Policy and was on the District Technology Committee for 8 years.

Now you must be asking, “Why am I telling you all this?” When I retired at the end of 2013, I sat back for awhile, so when I decided to share my educational knowledge and lessons online, I discovered so much of my background had been surpassed by the advances in Web, tablet, and Smartphone technology. I needed to learn some new tech!

Jennifer Gonzalez, creator of Cult of Pedagogy & the JumpStart online course for tech integration.My search brought me to Jennifer Gonzalez and her Cult of Pedagogy JumpStart course in the summer of 2016. It was a life-changer, and now I feel able to participate in today’s tech-rich educational landscape! If you want to go from technophobe to tech guru, you can JumpStart your tech journey as easily as I did, and you don’t need any tech background to do it!

What I especially like about JumpStart is Jennifer’s approach. The course is arranged by processes—ways to use technology—that apply to any subject, classroom, or grade level. First you read background on the process and then learn about a particular tool that works well for that process. As Jennifer states in her Teacher’s Guide to Tech (a must-have tool for everyone):

It’s essential to start with your learning objectives. Before you even consider technology, think about what you want students to know or be able to do by the time the lesson or unit is over. Then consider how technology could help you reach those goals more effectively. [Jennifer Gonzalez, Teacher’s Guide to Tech, p27.]

Next you view explanatory videos that show you how to use the tool, and then you use the tool to create a real project just as if you are your own student doing the activity. (Jennifer calls it “dog-fooding.”)  By the time you finish you’ll be so much more confident about these educational processes and tech tools, but the true value of JumpStart is that you’ll learn how easily you can integrate these processes and tools into your standards-based curriculum to make it more exciting for students.

JumpStart Modules How JumpStart can help a School Librarian
1 Blogging I’d had a blog for a long time, but this opened up so many possibilities for library advocacy and for helping students have a global presence. Students can use their own blogs for journaling, book reviews, a project learning log, and communicating with students in other states & countries.
2 Online Collaboration Better than email for communicating with colleagues on other campuses—we can have real group collaboration and sharing of ideas and files, or even online meetings.
3 Digital
Mind Mapping
A unique way to present information to students, and for students to brainstorm their research project topics and questions and even search terms.
4 Curation The librarian’s forte, but it’s not just having a list of websites; it’s providing context. We also need to show students how to do this effectively, so they can keep track of their myriad classroom assignments and projects.
5 Screencasting Eliminate explanations of how to do a book search, or self-checkout, or access online services, or use a tech tool. Create a tech club and have them create student how-to’s.
6 Slideshows Create training for aides & volunteers. Create a library orientation for students transferring in during the school year. Create a whole course on video broadcasting. Create thematic trainings for teachers.
7 Digital Assessment Create quizzes to track student learning of library skills. Make a digital “exit ticket” for learning a new tech tool or for online research activities (teachers love these for “daily grades” especially if it’s paperless).
8 Blended Learning Create WebQuests of online resources. Create a pre-research helper for students before they come to the library; create a post-visit research helper to reinforce what we taught during a library visit.
9 QR Codes Text/audio/video book promos on book covers, bulletin boards, and displays. Add to school-to-parent newsletters as links to pictures, resources, and information on the library website. And give students a total tech experience: attach a QR code to a computer screen that links to a screencast so they can use their Smartphone to watch how to use one of these other tools on the computer!
10 Podcasting Create booktalks for the library website. Guide students through research assignments. Have students reflect on their learning during project based learning.

When School Librarians introduce technology, we want it to support student learning. The JumpStart online course guides us through a series of hands-on projects to help us make those choices. The Basic course is self-paced, the Plus course adds a learner community & mentor support. Learn more... | No Sweat LibraryIf you’re already an experienced techie but haven’t tried some of these tech processes with your students, the JumpStart Basic course allows you to independently learn at your own pace. The course takes you through every step so you will be completely comfortable introducing these technologies to your students.

If you’re a novice tech user and still a bit intimidated, you can choose JumpStart Plus and join an online cohort of learners and course mentors to help you along your tech journey. You can even earn a Certificate to submit for Professional Development credit! The cohorts enroll 5 times a year (Jan, Mar, Jun, Jul, Oct) and run approximately 6 weeks.

So if, as I did, you want to become more tech-literate and enhance your classroom activities, head over to the JumpStart information page and find out how you can JumpStart your Tech-xpertise!

(That’s also where you’ll find the phenomenal Teachers Guide to Tech!)

At no additional cost to you, I DO get a small compensation for those who sign up for the JumpStart course. Just putting that out there …

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5 Essential Literacies for Students: Part 5 Media Literacy

5 Essential Literacies for Students: Part 5 Media Literacy - Our students need to be proficient in 5 Essential Literacies and School Librarians can integrate a Library Literacy component into any class visit. In Part 5 we look at ways to incorporate Media Literacy—which encompasses all other literacies—into library visits. #NoSweatLibraryIn our complex, information-rich, culturally diverse world, literacy is no longer just knowing how to read and write. Students need to understand and be proficient in Five Essential Literacies to be successful in our global society:

  1. Reading and Writing (the original literacy)
  2. Content/Disciplinary Literacy (content & thinking specific to a discipline)
  3. Information Literacy (the traditional library curriculum)
  4. Digital Literacy (how and when to use various technologies)
  5. Media Literacy (published works—encompasses all other literacies)

School Librarians can integrate at least one Library Literacy component into every class visit to the library, and I’m addressing each literacy in a separate blog post to offer examples and suggestions about how we might do that. Previous blog posts covered readingcontent/disciplinary literacy, information literacy, and digital literacy, so this final post of the series looks at Media Literacy.


Media literacy during the last half of the 20th century focused primarily on print and television advertising, but in the 1990s the growth of computers and the Internet spurred the appearance of organizations such as the Center for Media Literacy, which promoted an expanded view of media literacy, incorporating digital citizenship.

With introduction of the iPhone (in 2007) and Android phones (in 2008), teens and children gained ready access to social media, so media literacy became a major issue for educators. Then the “fake news” epidemic thrust media literacy into the spotlight and elevated its status. Here are some recent definitions:

  • Media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending. Common Sense Media
  • Media literacy encompasses the practices that allow the media consumer to access, critically evaluate, and create media to improve their communication effectiveness. Wikipedia
  • Media Literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, communicate and create using all forms of communication. Natl. Assoc. for Media Literacy Education

Our National School Library Standards promote the Center for Media Literacy‘s definition:

  • A framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms—from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.

Media is one of 5 specific literacies defined by our new National School Library Standards. Along with information literacy and digital literacy, the NSLS includes:

  • Text literacy: ability to read, write, analyze, and evaluate textual works of literature and nonfiction as well as personal and professional documents. [related to reading literacy]
  • Visual literacy: ability to understand and use images, including the ability to think, learn, and express oneself in terms of images. [related to content literacy, i.e. charts, graphs, maps, etc.]
The United Nations 5 Laws of Media & Information Literacy

click to enlarge

Thus, we can build in students a broader understanding of Media Literacy by including civic responsibility and further, by embracing UNESCO’s 5 Laws of Literacy and its general definition of literacy: the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, and compute, using materials associated with various contexts. (UNESCO 2006)


School Librarians may wonder why the sudden pressure for media literacy, since our Info-Lit lessons on source evaluation presumably help students decipher ‘true’ from ‘not-true’ resources. Unfortunately, we rarely have an opportunity to deeply immerse students in skills like evaluation, plus, many students lack the command of subject matter that sifting for correct information requires. No form of website evaluation overrides a well-rounded knowledge of a topic or issue. A particularly interesting article explaining this is Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?

I believe media literacy encompasses all other literacies—either by type of material or skills needed:

  • reading skills for printed media,
  • content-area literacy to understand concepts and place them in context,
  • information literacy for analyzing information, and
  • digital literacy because so much media is now digitally presented.

Thus media literacy must be incorporated into all Library Lessons, because we always have students using or producing media products: print, audio, video, or graphic media presented through books, newspapers, magazines, social media, games, radio, television, videos or movies.

Media Literacy Is More Than Fake News! - School Librarians can integrate the 3 aspects of media literacy--media messages, media forms, and media footprint--into any library visit during a few minutes or with a whole unit. Here are some ideas... #NoSweatLibraryIntegrating media literacy can be a 5 minute “media moment” or an entire unit, depending on the purpose of the library visit. When creating these lessons, I focus on these 3 aspects of Media Literacy:

  • Media Messages – including celebrity endorsements and ads that persuade us to act or purchase
  • Media Forms – the media products listed above, along with signs on businesses and billboards on the highway
  • Media Footprint – personal communication & using social media

The breadth of media literacy makes it all the more important to integrate it with classroom content—with the standards and objectives the teacher is using for a unit—and to coordinate our Library Literacy Lessons with classroom activities. We need to not only teach students how to analyze media, but also how to effectively and ethically communicate their own narratives through various forms of media.

Media Literacy Through a Persuasive Book Talk

One simple way to integrate media literacy into a Library Lesson is through student-created booktalks. Whether written book reports, oral book summaries, podcast book reviews, or video booktrailers, these are all persuasive media forms.

Introduce Media Literacy With This Persuasive Booktalk Library Lesson Unit - This Library Lesson unit coordinates with the study of Persuasive Text in the 6th grade ELA classroom. Lessons introduce 3 Key Questions of Media Literacy, along with the PACE problem-solving model so students can create a Visual Persuasive Booktalk using 1 of 3 product options. #NoSweatLibraryWith 6th grade ELA students studying persuasion, I introduce 3 Key Questions about Media Messages:

  1. Who created this message?
    (Concept: All media messages are constructed.)
  2. Why is this message being sent?
    (Concept: Media messages are designed for influence or profit.)
  3. How does this message attract my attention?
    (Concept: Media messages use creative techniques to attract attention.)

Students begin to more deeply understand the 3 media questions and concepts as they create their own “media message”: a persuasive booktalk given as a graphic book preview poster, a graphic booktalk brochure, or a timed booktalk slideshow. I integrate the media literacy component with ELA concepts studied in the classroom: the tone & mood of their book will influence their choice of a persuasive appeal (logical, emotional, ethical) and guide their product choice.


I’m incorporating media literacy into more student lessons and to help me, I’m curating online resources. Here are a few that I recommend to help you construct your own Library Literacy Lessons.

Civic Online Reasoning or COR uses everyday digital content, the COR paper, and online assessments to engage learners in credibility decision-making around three COR Competencies: Who’s behind the information? What’s the evidence? What do other sources say? The free assessments include Google Docs assessments to copy and digital rubrics to download. These tasks are perfect for learning across the curriculum and especially for librarian-led learning.

Common Sense Education's News & Media Literacy Curriculum Resources Common Sense Media‘s News & Media Literacy Curriculum Resources equip students with the core skills they need to think critically about today’s media. Classroom-tested lessons and teaching materials help students become smart, savvy media consumers and creators. Lesson plans on everything from fact-checking to clickbait headlines to fake news.

Project Look Sharp is a media literacy initiative of Ithaca College that develops and provides lesson plans, media materials, training, and support for the effective integration of media literacy with critical thinking into classroom curricula at all education levels, including integration with the new Common Core standards.

Identifying Fake News: An Infographic and Educator Resources

In an EasyBib blog post 10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article, Michelle Kirschenbaum states, “You want to be informed, but a good deal of the information out there is incorrect or biased. Here are some things to keep an eye out for when reading a news article.” The infographic at right was created from the article.

The National Association for Media Literacy Education sponsors a yearly Media Literacy Week in the U.S. and Canada during the first full week of November. They have events and resources that can help introduce media literacy to your students early in the school year.

Feel free to suggest other resources I can add to this list!

This concludes my series of blog posts on the 5 Essential Literacies for Students. I invite readers to offer comments and suggestions about any or all of these literacies.

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