Every technology has been new at one point in time. Word processing was once cutting-edge, and now we do it daily. We must adapt to this mindset when learning about new technology or adapting to the “new-fangled AI tools.” There are so many tools that teachers can use to be ahead of the curve and nail down policies and procedures in their classrooms and libraries. If we resist, then we are already behind. It doesn’t do anybody any good. If we adapt, we learn a life skill and could better our classrooms and libraries. I have been reading into AI a lot. Here are my hot takes: If you use AI you will be more familiar with it, so you will understand it from the students’ perspective. Why do students get to have all the fun? There are content-generating AIs for teachers: curipod.com, chatGPT, MagicSchool.ai, and even Canva has adapted AI. One can turn a concept into a graphic. My point, it’s all about perspective. Go with the flow, be adaptable, and have some fun.
I am fortunate to collaborate with three excellent professors at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Dr. Julie Bell created a RAFT assignment in the Summer of 2022, and I implemented it in the Fall of 2022. The RAFT assignment asked candidates to support why a book should NOT be banned. Book challenges and bans were in the news, but did anyone see what was coming?
RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. Candidate's groups were created based on an assigned novel. The group then decided what role they would take; librarian, administrator, teacher, etc. The audience could be another librarian, teacher or administrator, school board member, or stakeholder. The groups were given free rein on the media types. My candidates used a letter to get their information across. All groups had to argue against censorship. I was so impressed with my candidate's submission. The infographic on not judging young adult novels based on one topic alone perfectly represented the importance of not banning books.
As the fall of 2022 ramped up, so did the news in Florida and Texas regarding classroom and school library censorship. As an adjunct professor and high school librarian, I spend a lot of time informing my students about book bans and challenges using the resources from ALA. Before the RAFT assignment, we spent an hour reviewing the history of book banning, the resources available to school librarians who experience challenges and bans, and why intellectual freedom is so important.
In the spring of 2023, Dr. Julie Bell and Dr. Melissa Caste-Brede approached me about presenting our experiences with the RAFT activity at the National Council of Teachers of English(NCTE). We will be presenting at the 2023 NCTE Conference in November. We have also been given the opportunity to write a chapter for a book on censorship.
Our experiences with the class, the chapter, and the presentation will benefit our candidates, which will help the schools they work in or will eventually work in.
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This blog is a joint effort by members of the NSLA Executive Board. We hope to provide relevant information, tips and tools to help you in your journey.