Professional Development Course on News Literacy, the Bechtel Fellowship, and More | News Bites

The News Literacy Project is offering a four-part professional development series; Choose Your Own Adventure in ebooks; a new Capstone platform; the final days to apply for the Bechtel Fellowship; and more in this edition of News Bites.

The News Literacy Project is offering a four-part professional development series; Choose Your Own Adventure in ebooks; a new Capstone platform; the final days to apply for the Bechtel Fellowship; and more in this edition of News Bites.

News Literacy Project Offers Fall News Literacy Series

The News Literacy Project is offering a free, four-part news literacy professional development series to hone your skills in helping students make sense of news and other types of information. Essential concepts for students to be reliably informed begins Oct. 6, with "What it means to be ‘news-literate’: introduction to news literacy education." Learn key news literacy skills that students must know to be reliably informed.

On Oct. 13, the course focus is "exploring the misinformation landscape." Attendees will learn why and how to teach students to stop using the term “fake news” and to identify the many types of misleading, inaccurate and false information.

In part three, educators will dive into "teaching digital verification to spark news literacy learning," discussing the tools and skills needed to verify the authenticity of information and learn to create engaging fact-checking missions that inspire students to investigate viral content online.

Finally, the course takes on the difficult subject of understanding bias by exploring what makes a piece of news biased, and who decides? What role do our biases play? And how to empower students to meaningfully evaluate the fairness and impartiality of news coverage.

Capstone Introduces Capstone Connect with Free Webinar

Capstone has released Capstone Connect, a platform that brings together a collection of standards-aligned content from PebbleGo and PebbleGo Next modules, Capstone Interactive eBooks, and compilations of instructional materials.

Organizing resources within one platform, Capstone Connect supports K-5 educators and students "in distance learning, supplemental curriculum development, literacy growth, and reading for enjoyment."

There will be a free webinar offering a guided tour of Capstone Connect for educators on Thursday, October 1. Teacher librarian Shannon McClintock Miller and Capstone's EdTech Marketing Manager Bryan Schmidt will introduce the modules, ebooks, instructional materials and standards search and highlight examples of how Capstone Connect can help teachers and students with distance or in-class learning. Registration is required.

Bechtel Fellowship Application Deadline Approaching

The Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship gives a grant of up to $7,500 to a qualified children’s librarian, who will spend up to four weeks reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature of the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville. The Baldwin Library contains a special collection of 130,000 volumes of children’s literature published mostly before 1950.

The application deadline is Thursday, Oct. 1.

New Register of Copyrights

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the appointment of Shira Perlmutter as the next U.S. Register of Copyrights and director of the U.S. Copyright Office. Perlmutter previously spent 12 years as chief policy officer and director for international affairs at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

“Ms. Perlmutter’s work with the library community on the U.S. implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty demonstrated a commitment to improved access to information resources and reading materials for print disabled persons in the United States and around the world,” ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. said in a statement.

Library of Congress Welcomes Albert Einstein Fellow for New School Year

Peter DeCraene is the Library of Congress’s newest Albert Einstein Distinguished Education Fellow. DeCraene will work with the Library’s Learning and Innovation Office to make primary sources from the Library’s collections more accessible to teachers.

DeCraene has taught math and computer science to middle and high school students for more than 30 years, the last 23 years at Evanston Township (IL)High School. He is focused on equitable access to math and computer science education across race and gender for students and teachers. In 2011, DeCraene was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government for K-12 STEM educators.

C-SPAN Continues Annual StudentCam Documentary Competition

Despite the ongoing pandemic, C-SPAN's StudentCam competition will continue for its 17th year.  The theme for students is: "Explore the issue you most want the president and new Congress to address in 2021." Middle and high school students can enter the documentary contest, which offers $100,000 in cash prizes.

The C-SPAN Education Foundation awards 150 student and 53 teacher prizes. The grand-prize winner will receive $5,000, and multiple cash prizes of $3,000, $1,500, $750 and $250 will be awarded to students in first, second and third places and honorable mention categories. Students can compete individually or in teams of two or three members. Documentaries must be the original work of students, but teachers can offer guidance and critiques. For more information and complete guidelines for entries, which are due Wednesday, January 20, 2021, go to

Winners will be announced in March 2021, and the winning videos will air on C-SPAN in April 2021. 

America’s Libraries Honored by FCC 

The Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Geoffrey Starks has named “America’s libraries” as an honoree of the inaugural Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program.  The award was established in 2020 “to acknowledge the tireless efforts of Americans working to close the digital divide in communities without access to affordable, reliable broadband.”

"Libraries across the nation have consistently bridged the digital divide by providing essential access to the internet, devices, digital literacy training, rich content, and services to the disconnected," the announcement said. "In response to COVID-19, 93% of public libraries surveyed by the Public Library Association said they provide (or plan to provide) free Wi-Fi access on their grounds even when their buildings are closed to the public; 44% of public libraries moved routers outdoors to improve public access; and 23% of libraries surveyed also provide Wi-Fi hotspots for patrons to check out and use at home. Additionally, at the time America’s libraries were nominated, the Public Library Association was in the process of providing 80 library systems with devices for over 160 branch and community locations."

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