Saturday, September 3, 2016

Stand Up 4 Intellectual Freedom

September is the month when libraries all across the country celebrate Banned Books Week and Banned Website Awareness Day.  I decided to merge the two events and celebrate all month long in the JCHS Library.

Part of our job as school librarians under both Every Student Succeeds Act (*ESSA), as a Future Ready Librarian, and as a member of the American Librarian Association (ALA) is to  "promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all ."

Teaching students how to be involved, knowledgable, active citizens and learning about their 1st Amendments rights as well as their right to intellectual freedom and how excessive Internet filtering in K-12 schools undermines 21st century learning, is a skill we should be teaching and encouraging, not squelching.  

I created an interactive display where students can write what websites and/or apps are currently blocked by our school district that they need or feel they should have access to at school. Additionally, I created a form letter students can use to email Dr. Fowler, our school district superintendent, to voice their concerns about banned/blocking in our district.  Below is the email I sent out to teachers at my school to get the word out about this month long activity:

Let students have a voice (#stuvoice) about access to websites and apps that are currently blocked by our school district.  
Banned Website Awareness Day (September 28th) will be observed all month in the JCHS Library.  Students are encouraged to email Dr. Fowler regarding websites/apps that are currently blocked by MCS and why they would like these restrictions removed. A form letter can be found here: 
I have witnessed students trying to research breast cancer and MCS blocks the search because of the word BREAST.  Also, students researching To Kill a Mockingbird have been similarly blocked due to the work KILL.  SnapChat is also blocked but is an important app I use to connect and communicate with students. These are just a few examples of the unnecessary and overly restrictive blocks currently in place in our school district.
This is a great persuasive writing activity and teaches students their role as an active, involved citizen and an advocate for intellectual freedom.

AASL supports the position that an effective school library program plays a crucial role in preparing students for informed living in an information-rich society. 

*Future Ready Schools & Future Ready Librarians:
“Future Ready Librarians can and should help students develop into responsible digital citizens. Librarians can empower students to constructively share their words and use their voices to advocate for positive change in our schools and communities.”

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