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Building Digital Literacy in the Library

technology class.
Published: 02/10/2018

As a teacher librarian, I have the opportunity to work with students in grades 5-8, which allows me to see their educational growth throughout their time in school.

I’ve always said that teaching is about lifelong learning. Throughout my 31 years as an educator, I’ve learned and evolved along with my students -- and this includes incorporating digital practices into my lesson plans.

With digital technology increasingly becoming a bigger presence in our day-to-day lives, I incorporate it into what I teach students at the library. Some of the digital literacy skills I teach are:

Curating your digital footprint

It’s no secret that most students are on at least one social media platform. I’ve found, however, that students are often unaware of the long-lasting impact they are leaving behind.

Teaching students about their “digital footprint,” or the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity is extremely important. I continually teach students about the importance of curating the digital footprint they want for themselves in the long run.

Not only do I teach students about this, I am also educating other teachers and parents. It is important for not only students learn about the power of their online presence at the library, but also have it reiterated in the classroom and at home.

Spotting fake news

Navigating the media today can be tricky at any age, especially in today’s political climate. Something that I focus on is improving students’ media literacy skills. With the rise of so-called “fake news,” identifying credible sources has never been more important.

I teach students how to spot “fake news” and what to do when they question the legitimacy of what they are reading. We also talk about the consequences of spreading illegitimate news and the problems that surround it.

“Fake news” is not only an academic issue, it’s also an issue when it is shared and spread on social media. I stress the importance of getting back to the basics, like fact checking your sources, for every kind of research my students do.Writing without plagiarizing

In the cut-and-paste world that we live in, we must teach students the importance of submitting work that is in their own words. I stress with my students that there are not only educational consequences when plagiarizing, there are also real-life consequences. The lesson can also be woven into the golden rule of “do not steal,” which is something I like to stress with my students.

Most students are unaware of what qualifies as plagiarism, so educating them on the different types is a priority for me. The most common types of plagiarism are direct plagiarism that is word-for-word transcription of someone else's work without quotation marks, accidental plagiarism when the sources are not cited, mosaic plagiarism when it there are borrowed phrases without attribution, and self plagiarism when the student borrows his or her own past work.

In the digital age, online sources are becoming the main route that students take when researching. By shaping a conversation around the challenges and issues with copying work and citing sources, I'm encouraging my students to break bad habits before they form them.

As tech becomes a bigger part of our lives, it becomes increasingly important to educate students on digital best practices when using it whether that be at home or in school. I strive to not only teach my students lessons that will benefit them in the classroom but also life lessons that they will take with them long after they’ve left these halls.

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.