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    Rethinking Source Evaluation for a Digital Age

    By Kristine E. Pytash and Beth Walsh-Moorman
     | Dec 14, 2018

     originalAttribute=A recent study by MIT scholars found that fake information is 70% more likely to be retweeted than facts. Online sources can offer half-truths, manipulate data, or advance a political or social agenda in ways that look completely impartial to the reader. Moreover, Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) studied 8,000 student responses that required evaluation of information from social media (including advertisements, photo sharing sites, and news stories) and found that students in middle school through college showed an alarming lack of critical thinking skills. In an executive summary of the report, SHEG stated “Our digital natives may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are duped”  

    SHEG has identified “lateral reading” as a way to teach the strategic thinking employed by fact-checkers. When given an online article for evaluation, McGraw and his colleagues found that “fact checkers do not spend time observing the source itself; rather, they read “laterally, hopping off an unfamiliar site almost immediately, opening new tabs... They left a site in order to learn more about it” (see more in their 2017 American Educator article). In one study, fact-checkers were able to quickly note that an article about minimum wage was sponsored by a  public relations firm for service  industries.

    So how can classroom teachers help students read laterally? We suggest that this skill can be easily embedded in classroom instruction. For instance, Katie, a high school teacher, includes lateral reading when teaching Nick Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (W.W. Norton). While she has students evaluate Carr’s argument, she added a formative step: at each new reading, students worked in groups to identify what sources Carr used in his argument. Then, the groups would break off and research those sources, often finding original texts and reading other references to them. Throughout the unit, students read and watched clips of 2001: A Space Odyssey, look at a 2001 Canadian study of  hyperlinks, and read reference materials about Descarte—all to determine how accurate Carr uses the work of others to back up his own claims.

    “The process of lateral reading made the reading process more of an active conversation with the author,” said Katie. For instance, one student found a source behind a pay wall and told the class, “(If) I can’t read his sources without paying for them, I wonder what the sources really said. What if they said more than what he quoted?”

    Using lateral reading as part of argument evaluation shifted the burden from the teacher to the students. Importantly, lateral reading can be used for any informational text. Elementary students can do their own research about before Nikola Tesla before reading Elizabeth Rusch’s Electrical Wizard (Candlewick). By middle school, teachers can ask students to evaluate an editorial about a recent event by first reading coverage of that event and then researching the news organization itself. In high school, authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Ta-Nehisi Coates, or Sebastian Junger can be excerpted or read in full before lateral reading.

    The social aspect of the lesson strengthens the students’ ability to question the texts they read. Students’ lateral reading results can be summarized and shared through a Padlet or class blog. After the reading, students can use Poll Anywhere to rate the argument. Class discussions can focus on how sources were manipulated. Katie chose to have her students write a traditional essay, however, students can use Piktochart or other infographic apps to address the question, how effective was this argument?

    Preparing students for an information- and misinformation-rich society is a challenge that will take time. Strategies such as lateral reading will not stop the spread of falsehoods, but they could make our students more aware.

    Kristine E. Pytash is an associate professor in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies at Kent State University where she co-directs the Integrated Language Arts program.

    Beth Walsh-Moorman is an assistant professor of literacy at Lake Erie College in Painesville, OH. Her research interests include adolescent and new literacy practices, multimodal composition and disciplinary literacy. Beth spent 20 years as a high school English teacher and is editor of the Ohio Journal of English Language Arts.

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    ILA's Children's Rights to Read Pledge Hits 1,000 Signatures

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Dec 13, 2018

    rightstoreadMore than 1,000 individuals and organizations, representing over 50 countries; 30 organizations; 20 schools, districts, and universities; and 175,000 students, have pledged support to the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Rights to Read initiative. The global movement focuses on making sure that every child has access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. 

    Supporters have pledged to enact ILA's Children's Rights to Read—ten fundamental rights ILA asserts that every child deserves. The yearlong campaign will focus on activating educators, policymakers, and literacy partners to join ILA in their efforts to raise awareness of these Rights, with the long-term goal of ensuring every child has access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. 

    “Exceeding 1,000 supporters demonstrates the momentum and unity around our vision of literacy for all,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Now we’re focused on channeling this momentum into action.”

    Organizations that have signed the pledge include Child Smile Liberia, Kids Own Australian Literature Awards Inc., Poetry Ireland, Taiwan Reading Association, American Eagle Institute, DisruptED, and British Virgin Islands Reading Council. Individual supporters span a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, professions, and expertise. More than 50 countries are represented overall.

    “I commend the efforts of ILA for igniting the flame of such a critical movement,” says Stephen G. Peters, superintendent of Laurens County School District 55 and current ILA Board member. “[It] will create multiple pathways for success for millions of children across the world.”

    As part of the ongoing campaign, ILA will be developing and distributing practical resources that educators can use to enact these Rights in their classrooms, schools, and communities. The first, The Case for Children’s Rights to Read, is available now.

    Visit literacyworldwide.org/rightstoread to download the Children’s Rights to Read, available in eight languages, and sign the pledge in support.

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    ILA Now Accepting Proposals for ILA Intensive: Nevada

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Dec 11, 2018
    ILA Intensive: Nevada

    ILA is accepting session abstracts for ILA Intensive: Nevada, a two-day professional learning event focused on recognizing and addressing biases in literacy instruction, now through December 18.

    Designed and delivered by literacy educators, Intensives offer more personal, in-depth, and hands-on learning experiences where participants will learn the latest research and strategies while connecting and networking with like-minded practitioners.

    The upcoming Intensive, taking place June 21–22, 2019, in Las Vegas, NV, is designed to help educators create classroom and school environments that are diverse, inclusive, affirming, and culturally sensitive.

    ILA encourages abstract submissions that provide attendees with practical skills and tools they can immediately apply in their practice. Submissions should demonstrate a clear connection to the theme of Equity and Access to Literacy; highlight current research and best practices; and include participatory elements. Please review the submission guidelines for more detailed instructions for abstract submission.

    All presenters are responsible for their ILA Intensive: Nevada registration fees and any expenses associated with the presentation, including attendance at the event. Note that due to the small size of the program and the interactive format of this event, the selection process will be highly competitive.

    Click here to learn more about ILA Intensive: Nevada. For questions related to the event or the abstract submission process, contact intensives@reading.org.

    Alina O’Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Herstory: Achievements of Women in the Past and the Present

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Dec 10, 2018

    As educators, we are excited about the rising number of trade books being published that celebrate remarkable women and their achievements in the past and the present. The inclusion in classrooms and libraries of books such as the ones reviewed in this week’s column will inspire young people and enrich the history curriculum with “herstories.”

    Ages 4–8

    Elizabeth Warren: Nevertheless, She Persisted. Susan Wood. Ill. Sarah Green. 2018. Abrams.

    Nevertheless, She PersistedThis engaging picture book biography of Elizabeth Warren presents the senator from Massachusetts as an individual who, throughout her life, has been a fighter—a fighter for families, for those struggling to be heard, for those in need of help. And she has done that fighting with an insistent voice. While on the debate team in high school, she learned to craft persuasive arguments and to challenge her opponents. As a lawyer and law professor, her concern for the plight of struggling middle-class families led to a specialty in bankruptcy and work on consumer protection. During her first political campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, she promised to fight for equal rights for everyone, and she won. And since 2012, Elizabeth Warren has insisted, resisted, and persisted inside and outside the U.S. Senate chambers in fighting for equality for all. Back matter includes an author’s note and bibliography.
    —CA

    Have You Heard About Lady Bird?: Poems About Our First Ladies. Marilyn Singer. Ill. Nancy Carpenter. 2018. Hyperion.

    Have You Heard About Lady BirdMarilyn Singer's witty poetry and Nancy Carpenter’s whimsical pen-and-ink illustrations introduce readers to the women who have “served” as First Lady, from Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (“‘Lady Presidentess,’ dear wife of our first leader, / did not bemoan, she set the tone, / for all who would succeed her.”) to Melania (Knavsi) Knauss Trump. Back matter includes a “Being the First Lady” note, brief biographical notes on the women, and sources. You might consider pairing the reading of poems about the First Ladies in this collection with poems in Singer’s Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents (2013).
    —CA

    Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakeable Mathematician Sophie Germain. Cheryl Bardoe. Ill. Barbara McClintock. 2018. Little, Brown.

    Nothing Stopped SophieGrowing up during the French Revolution, when a woman’s education often consisted of learning about manners, marriage, and music, Sophie Germain (17761831) loved math. Even when her parents took away her candles so she couldn’t study at night, “nothing stopped Sophie.” After convincing her parents to support her studies, she secretly pursued a university-level study of mathematics by submitting written work to a world-famous professor under a man’s name, won a prestigious prize from the Paris Academy of Science for her work on predicting patterns of vibration, and made significant contributions to the field of mathematics and physics. Beautifully designed illustrations (created with pen-and-ink, watercolor, and collage) accompany this fascinating and inspiring story of a determined self-taught mathematician. Back matter includes an experiment on vibrations, biographical and historical notes, a bibliography, and author’s and illustrator’s notes. 
    —NB

    Ages 9–11

    Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote. Kirsten Gillibrand. Ill. Maira Kalman. 2018. Knopf/Random House.

    Bold & BraveSenator Kirsten Gillibrand introduces three “bold and brave” women in her family (her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother) before turning to 10 women who came before them, boldly and bravely fighting for justice and equality: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovit Idár, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell. Double-page spreads feature Maira Kalman’s vibrant full-page gouache portraits of these “heroes” and Gillibrand’s profiles focusing on the challenges they faced and the contributions they made to the suffragist movement. The book ends with a spread depicting the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and a final image of young protestors accompanied by the text “Now it’s your turn. You are the suffragists of our time. . . . Stand up, speak out, and fight for what you believe in. Be bold and be brave. The future is yours to make.”
    —CA

    Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World. Katherine Halligan. Ill. Sarah Walsh. 2018. Simon & Schuster.

    HerstoryHistory is often about “his” stories, but this book includes “her” stories that encourage readers to “take inspiration from these 50 women and girls and shake things up!” The book presents the stories of a diverse selection of women and girls from different countries, cultures, and eras, including Sacagawea, Theresa Kachindamoto, Mirabai, Frida Kahlo, Mary Seacole, Eva Perón, Ada Lovelace, Valentina Tereshkova, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Malala Vousafzai. Each profile is given a double-page spread on which Katherine Halligan’s skillfully crafted and informative narrative is complemented by Sarah Walsh’s captivating illustrations (created in gouache, colored pencil, and Photoshop), and photographs. Back matter includes a “When They Were Born” timeline, a glossary, and an index.
    —NB

    No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kathleen Krull. Ill. Nancy Zhang. 2018. HarperCollins.

    No Truth Without RuthKathleen Krull uses “No truth without Ruth!” throughout the narrative in this inspiring profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–present) as a “fierce fighter for fairness and truth.” Facing gender and religious discrimination and overcoming obstacles, she studied law, had a successful legal career, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1933. A “Top 10 Moments When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fought for Fairness on the Supreme Court” section in the back matter supports the importance of Justice Ginsburg as a changemaker and fearless advocate for justice and equality. The picture book biography, complemented by Nancy Zhang’s expressive mixed-media illustrations in soft colors, also includes a chart of the U.S. federal court system and sources.
    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor. Sonia Sotomayor. 2018. Delacorte/Random House.

    The Beloved World of Sonia SotomayerIn this middle-grade edition of her memoir for adults, My Beloved World (2013), Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor advises her readers to always “dream big.” Born in the Bronx into a working-class family of Puerto Rican descent, Sonia experienced tough times as a child (including poverty, juvenile diabetes, and the death of her father) but discovered how reading enlarged her world and gave her even bigger dreams. Most importantly, she developed techniques for succeeding in unfamiliar and challenging settings and found mentors who guided her through life, health, and career choices. The book includes an eight-page photo insert, and a glossary and brief history of the Supreme Court in the back matter.
    —NB

    She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. Lynn Fulton. Ill. Felicita Sala.2018. Knopf/Random House.

    She Made a Monster“Two hundred years ago, on a wild, stormy night, in a beautiful house on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland,” Mary accepted Lord Byron’s challenge to write a ghost story in just one week. With the help of a scary experience from her childhood and inspiration from the memory of her feminist mother (Mary Wollstonecraft, who felt women could do anything—even be writers), Mary developed a vision for her story. Only 20 years old when Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus was published in 1818, Mary became a trailblazer for women writers, especially creators of horror fiction. Felicita Sala’s illustrations, rendered in funereal tones with watercolor, ink, and colored pencil against dark backgrounds, complement Lynn Fulton’s account of Shelley’s creation of her classic horror story in the darkest hours of the night. Fulton’s author’s note provides background and indicates changes she made in the true story for this picture book.
    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper. Manuela Santoni. 2018. Graphic Universe/Lerner.

    Jane Austen-Her Heart Did WhisperThis graphic novel tells the life story of British novelist Jane Austen (1775–1817) through the medium of spare black-and-white manga-style artwork and text (translated from Italian into English). Through letters she wrote to her sister Cassandra, the narrative begins at the end of Jane’s life with “Do you know where the line is between fiction and the real world?” and winds its way back to Jane’s childhood, against the backdrop of a time in which women had few legal rights in England. Jane follows her heart and gains rights to her father’s library, becomes a passionate reader, writes short stories and novels, falls in and out of love, and dies at a young age. Back matter includes biographical notes and a timeline. 
    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Show Your Students Why Sourcing Matters

    By Eva Wennås Brante and Carita Kiili
     | Dec 07, 2018

    Many students struggle with sourcing, specifically, how to use source information to evaluate online sources or how to cite ones’ sources in the essay. Some students may not know how to source while others have knowledge about sourcing, but they don’t typically choose to apply that knowledge in practice This might be because they do not understand the value of sourcing.

    When investigating how children respond to information differently from adults and how they select whom to trust, researchers Paul Harris and Kathleen Corriveau found that, even for children, the source of information matters. For example, when two caregivers presented different statements, the children turned to the more familiar caregiver for confirmation. Children seemed to be nonselective in what they learn from others, but not in whom they learn from. This kind of spontaneous attention to sources of information may serve as a starting point for educators when explaining to students why sourcing matters. So, let’s do that!

    We will begin by sharing two examples that teachers could use to discuss the value of sourcing with their students. The first example from everyday life takes advantages of students’ spontaneous attention to sources and can also be used with younger students. The second example illustrates how information about the source may affect one's interpretation of a text's reliability. It also shows why one should pay attention to different aspects of the source during online inquiry.

    When students have understood the value of source information, they may be better motivated to cite their sources when reporting the results of their online research in a way that serves their readers. To provide informative in-texts citations, students need some guidelines. Our third example introduces two dimensions that students can keep in mind when formulating in-text citations.

    Example no. 1: Sourcing in everyday life

    Draw students’ attention to the value of citations by showing them a short message without a source (signature) and then, the same message with different signatures, following the stickers below (created with digital Superstickies).


    brante-kiili-1

    • After showing the first note, without the source, begin the conversation by asking students, “Would you like to know who has written the note? Why?”
    • After revealing the three other notes and calling attention to the different signatures (or sources) of each, ask students, “How do you interpret and react to the notes with different sources (signatures)?"

    Example no. 2: Sourcing when evaluating the reliability of a website

    Discuss the value of sourcing by asking students to evaluate the reliability of a fictitious website after showing them one piece of source information at the time, as listed below.

    • How reliable do you find the Web text that concerns health effects of chocolate when you know that:
      • An expert working at the health institute has been interviewed for the text?
      • The text has been published recently?
      • The text has been written by a web designer?
      • The text is published in the website of a chocolate manufacturer?
    • How did your interpretations on reliability change after each new piece of information about the source?
    • Do you think that one piece of information about the source is enough to make a proper conclusion about the reliability of the text? Why do you think so?

    Example no. 3: How to cite your Web sources in an essay?

    When older students are asked to formulate in-text citations in their essays, it is important that their citations are both accurate and provides rich information about the source. An accurate citation provides precise information about the Web page that students had actually read (e.g., it is published by The Washington Post). A citation that provides rich information includes two or more pieces of information that helps a reader to understand the nature of the source. 

    These two important dimensions can be introduced to students by using examples from the figure below. In the examples, source information is underlined.

    brante-kiili-2 

    After explaining the dimensions, encourage your students to apply these principles in their essays.

    Eva Wennås Brante is a senior lecturer at the University of Malmö, Sweden.

    Carita Kiili is a postdoctoral fellows at the Department of Education at the University of Oslo.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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