“Fake news” has been getting a lot of attention in recent months. Many schools are taking the initiative to teach their students about reliable sourcing of documents, as well as how to share information online in an ethical manner. To this end, I would like to propose that schools tap into one of the most undervalued resources at their disposal: their librarians.
School librarians are specially trained to evaluate resources for authority, accuracy, relevancy, and currency. They can show students how to spot fakery, “click-bait” and content that’s been manipulated to elicit a specific emotional response. None of these techniques are new; librarians have been teaching these lessons for years. But information literacy has grown even more important as we have watched the seeds of doubt be sown about the validity of the free press.
In my district, we teach students research skills within the context of their learning targets beginning at a young age, using age-appropriate databases. One of these databases is PebbleGo, which provides our youngest learners with their first exposure to vetted, expertly curated articles. It’s a beautiful thing when students in K-2 find articles they can read and understand. It is so much easier to teach the research process to students if they have opportunities to use that process from the very early grades. This makes it easier for them when they go on to higher levels of research.
Librarians are crucial to teaching students how to curate and share information ethically, and how to be good citizens in both the physical and digital world. School librarians help students see that who they are in the information world reflects who they are in the physical world, and that they have the responsibility to value and promote accuracy and professionalism.
Susan Grigsby, Ed.S., is the district media specialist with Forsyth County Schools in Cumming, Georgia.
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