Empower kids and teens during COVID-19

girl looking out window at virus
girl looking out window at virus
Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

Why empower kids and teens during COVID-19? They need it!

Taking action is one important way to make a problem seem more manageable and less frightening, so getting young people involved can actually help them cope with the situation we are all facing. Giving them a purpose gives them something else to focus on besides what they’ve lost or what they’re worried about. And reminding them that we are all in this together (even while six feet apart!), can help them feel less isolated and anxious during this challenging time.

We need them.

During a crisis, we need all hands on deck to get through it as well as we possibly can. And young people have a lot to offer, even in the case of the current COVID-19 crisis. But trying to come up with ways for a young person in your life to BE A CHANGEMAKER while complying with social distancing guidelines and keeping everyone safe during this COVID-19 crisis may feel like an impossible task. It’s true that life looks very different now for most people, but there are still many useful ways for kids and teens to give back.

So, how can we empower kids and teens during COVID-19 in a safe and responsible manner? Here are a few ideas and resources for them to choose from:

    • Do you play a musical instrument? Perhaps you can perform a “drive-by” concert to cheer up neighbors or schedule one for your apartment building. I’ve even heard of one group letting people “hire” them for this purpose, and then donating the money raised to organizations in need during the crisis — win, win!
    • Do you have some durable markers or paint? How about decorating some rocks with positive messages to leave along the sidewalk, in building entrances, or on trails in your area? I’ve also seen a lot of fantastic chalk art on streets, sidewalks, even the fronts of houses or buildings (be sure get permission before decorating someone else’s private property!). Art, especially that with messages of hope and connectedness, can go a long way toward lifting people’s spirits these days.
    • Write letters or draw pictures for senior citizens or anyone else who may be isolated now. Reach out to your local senior centers and ask if you can send photos of the letters and pictures for them to share with their residents.
    • Clean your room! Seriously. Now is a great time to tackle that overdue chore. Some items to consider purging include gently used clothing you no longer wear, sports equipment you’ve outgrown, toys, books, etc. You may not be able to donate them right now, but it’ll be nice to have them out of your way now, and organizations will appreciate them when things open back up again.
    • Check in on friends and family. Use the phone or other available technology just to see how they’re doing. Talk about how you’re doing. No matter how old or young you are, this is one that benefits everyone. It may seem trivial, but it may be just what the person on the other end needs.
    • Be kind to your teachers. Whether your current teachers are your usual teachers, your parents, your grandparents, or an older sibling, all of this is new to them (yes, even if you are homeschooled!) and they are doing their best to help you be successful while also doing all of the other things they need to do right now, many of which are also new to them. Offer a word of encouragement, a thank you note, or a genuine smile whenever you can.
    • Youth Service America has a bunch of other great ideas here, including holding a virtual dance-a-thon, organizing a teddy bear hunt, raising awareness for an issue you care about, and more!
    • For teens, look into mutual aid organizations in your area and see if you can contribute. Not familiar with mutual aid? The basic idea is that everyone has something to give and that we are all dependent on one another. You can read more about the idea here, but, in short, they are networks created by individual community organizers among specific groups of oppressed people or during local emergencies like natural disasters. With the current public health crisis, however, they’ve been sprouting everywhere. Paired with the power of today’s readily accessible technology, they are an even more powerful force. There’s a massive list of existing mutual aid organizations here. If you can’t find one that fits, start your own with this Mutual Aid 101 Toolkit, and be the hero of your community!

Whatever you do, be sure to check federal, state, and local guidelines to make sure you are complying with the most recent advice. And… stay safe, stay home!

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE resources for teachers and #GIVEAWAY!

Educator's Guide cover

It is with great excitement and gratitude that I give you this list of amazing educational resources that wonderful educators and designers have compiled to go along with TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE! and, hopefully, make it easier–and more fun–for teachers or librarians to put to use in the classroom!


Educator's Guide for teachersFirst up is the Educator’s Guide to Support Information Literacy, written by amazing 5th grade teacher Melissa Guerrette, M.Ed., NBCT. This guide is chock full of tips teachers can use to teach students how to evaluate sources and fact-check any materials they may encounter, whether they are reading the stories from TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE or just about anything else.
It includes a printable Fact or Fiction note-taking worksheet teachers can use to help readers analyze a text to determine if it is true or false and record evidence of their thinking processes along the way.
It also has a list of the Common Core State Standards supported by the activities in the guide, AND an impressive collection of additional resources for teachers of information literacy concepts.
Download the PDF of the guide HERE.

TTL Stem Game for teachersBut wait, there’s more! Awarding-winning Library Media Specialist and STEM Coordinator Suzanne Costner partnered with Curious City DPW to create a STEM Card Game and companion research activities. “As a school librarian with a passion for STEM topics, I saw this book as an opportunity both to explore interesting stories and to develop crucial information literacy skills,” says Suzanne. Using scientific topics pulled from the book’s sidebars, they created a 52-card card deck that teachers can print out for their classroom. In Round 1, Player 1 reads a statement to Player 2 from a card. Player 2 decides whether the statement is a “Truth” or a “Lie.” In Round 2, players choose a research topic from their amassed cards and make three game cards of their own – two truths and one lie on their chosen topic. In Round 3, players try to outwit each other with the game cards they have created. Each new game in the classroom grows the game deck with new STEM material!
Download the PDF of the Truth or Lie? STEM Card Game HERE.
Suzanne and Curious City DPW also put together the Two Truths and a Lie: What’s Your Source?, which provides teachers with links for students to explore for topic validation and gives them the chance to compare and cross-check the information before making their final decision on whether the stories in TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE! are fact or fiction; Two Truths and a Lie: Reaching for Resources, which provides educators with links connected with the book’s chapters to build information literacy lessons upon, and the Two Truths and a Lie: Rationale, Curriculum Connections & Grading Rubric.


To go along with all of this excitement, for a limited time Curious City DPW is hosting a GIVEAWAY! Read all about it and ENTER HERE, but hurry! Winners will be announced December 5, 2017!


I’m super excited about how these might spur classroom discussions around STEM topics and information literacy. If you use either of them with students, please let me know! I’d love to hear about how teachers are putting into practice and any suggestions for how it could be improved. And, of course, pictures would be fantastic!

Authors LOVE Teachers, with a HUGE book #giveaway!

Teaching Is a Work of Heart
Teaching Is a Work of HeartHappy Valentine’s Day to teachers and teacher/librarians!

 

I’ve never been very much into Valentine’s Day, but when Lynda Mullaly Hunt invited me to participate in this awesome book giveaway for teachers, I jumped at the chance! Authors do love teachers, and generally, teachers love books, so it’s a perfect opportunity for us to show a little love to those who are so often under-appreciated.

Just check out all of the amazing SIGNED books that will be won by one lucky teacher:

Beetle Busters coverBlue Birds coverBrown Girl Dreaming coverEmmanuel's Dream coverFish in a Tree coverThe Gossip File coverHowto Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel coverMark of the Thief coverOn the Road to Mr. Mineo's coverOne Witch at a Time coverPaper Things coverRandom Body Parts coverWalk Two Moons coverThe Way to Stay in Destiny coverWhy'd They Wear That coverWish Girl cover

To enter to win this fabulous giveaway, teachers and teacher-librarians just need to:
1) Leave a comment on Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s blog about anything you wish.
OR
2) Share a post on Twitter with a link to this blog post and the hashtag #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers.
OR
3) RT someone else’s tweet with both the blog post link and hashtag.

 

Rules:
***Giveaway ends on Wednesday, February 18th, at 11:59 p.m. Winner will be announced on the 19th.
1) This is to show our appreciation for teachers and librarians, specifically. Therefore, the winner must have a school mailing address and be presently employed at that school.
***2) Please remember this giveaway is all about appreciation. We know that teachers do not get the appreciation they deserve. This giveaway is a reminder that WE appreciate TEACHERS. They are often the ones putting our books into the hands of the readers who need them. For that we are truly grateful. THANK YOU for what you do everyday–and for visiting our giveaway!

 

But wait, there’s more…. Several YA authors have also banded together to show their love of and appreciation for teachers by giving away their books, too! For more information about the #YAAuthorsLoveTeachers giveaway, click here.

 

Whether you’re a teacher or not, please share this post with all of your favorite teachers and teacher-librarians so they can enter the giveaways, and don’t forget to show them a little extra love!

Thank You

Be a Changemaker introduction video

To my delight, I’ve had several teachers contact me about speaking to their students at the kickoff of a unit using Be a Changemaker in their classrooms. While I’m always thrilled to do a quick, live Skype call if the timing and permissions work out, so far it’s been easier for everyone if there’s a pre-made video that they can just have preloaded and ready to go.
So, here’s an informal “hello” video that anyone can use to introduce me and my how-to book for teens, Be a Changemaker. Enjoy!

2014 Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) Conference

I had a wonderful time presenting with Mary Cronk Farrell at the 2014 WLMA Conference last Saturday! The title of our talk was “Fostering 21st Century Learning with Today’s Nonfiction,” and we delivered it to a room overflowing with teacher/librarians (aren’t t/l’s the best!?) who were looking for new ideas and book recommendations.

Mary sharing BRAVE GIRL
Mary sharing BRAVE GIRL

Our presentation discussed how much of the nonfiction being published now is so much more than “just” its subject. There are innovative formats, emotionally-charged stories, cross-discipline explorations, etc. A just-the-facts approach simply won’t be published these days, as kids have easy access to information in a variety of formats AND are faced with so many options competing for their attention. This makes nonfiction a particularly compelling choice for students in and out of the classroom or library setting.
Mary presentingMary and I took turns sharing some of our favorite recent nonfiction titles–including Mary’s PURE GRIT and my BE A CHANGEMAKER and EMMANUEL’S DREAM– and how we felt they could be used in the library or classroom to achieve multiple learning goals simultaneously, including covering core curriculum subjects, social-emotional learning, problem solving and critical thinking, creativity and innovation, information and media literacy, and technology skills. We got the librarians talking to us and to each other, and we even had them try out some exercises they might use with their students. (Let me tell you, those librarians can write, too!)
Since several attendees asked for our slides, here is the deck we used in our talk, and, since we ran out of handouts due to the overwhelming attendance, here is the handout that we passed out with the list of books referenced.
Speaker goodie cup
Speaker goodie cup!
Thanks so much for having us, WLMA! Thanks so much for the book love and dedication you put into your work each and every day, teacher/librarians! And, thanks, Mary, for being such a great co-presenter and making everything easy!

My dog, Prim
My dog, Prim, catching up on some lap time
Of course, no matter how much fun I have speaking at conferences like this, it’s always good to be home again.

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