Best of the Best: Lists for the End of 2014

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‘Tis the season for “Best of” lists, so I thought I’d pull together a few of the very best.

Best Books

School Library Journal has a great slideshow of their Best Books 2014, separated into useful categories. I use SLJ all year round to help me select the very best books to add to the library, and this list is truly the cream of the crop. The slideshow format is great, since you get to see the cover of each book, which (despite the famous aphorism) really helps to give you an idea of the book. Continue reading


Common Sense Media

If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last two weeks, you’ve probably heard me talk about Common Sense Media. It is my new favorite resource for digital literacy. I first learned of Common Sense Media as a review site, and have been using its straight-forward book reviews to guide my purchasing for a while. It wasn’t until I started exploring a little that I discovered that book, movie, video game, and website reviews only scratched the surface of the content on this site.

As it turns out, Common Sense Media is an educational non-profit that seeks to teach parents, teachers, and students about using media responsibly. They have created an entire curriculum (grades K-12) on digital literacy and citizenship that is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. There are lessons on the basics, like Internet safety and privacy, but there is also content that addresses the influence of the media on kids and teens, how to manage your digital life, online bullying, and how to evaluate digital media for accuracy, bias, and relevance. There is a separate section that aims to show parents how to effectively teach the importance of media literacy, as well.

In addition to education, Common Sense Media is about advocacy. There is a section of the website devoted to research and policy, and the site makes it easy to contact lawmakers with your concerns and suggestions.

I am planning on beginning to teach the Common Sense curriculum in grades 1-4 starting in March, so stay tuned for more. If you’re interested in learning about the curriculum, you must sign up with Common Sense Media as an educator, but it is free and easy. They don’t spam with emails, though they do occasionally send out very informative articles on media and children.

This is a great resource for educators, but it is also something that I pass along to parents. If you’re struggling with what to tell kids about the media that bombards them every day, everything from the news to movies to the latest celebrity gossip, there is advice on Common Sense Media that is not alarmist or political, but just plain…common sense!

For more on Common Sense Media, come to our next Technophiles meeting. In the meantime, here are some relevant and informative articles to get you started: