Thursday, March 2, 2017

Back to School at Dalton

Every year The Dalton School hosts Back to School Night; an opportunity for parents and faculty to enjoy what their children and students experience in their classrooms every day.  Organized by the Parent Association, faculty are invited to teach a class of their choice.  A course list with descriptions written by the faculty is compiled and then the list is distributed to parents and the full faculty.  Back to School Night is held on a weeknight from 7:00-8:45pm.  This is always a wonderful evening of teaching, learning, sharing, and fun.

As High School Librarian at Dalton, I teach an information literacy class called "Be a Super Searcher" which encompasses effective searching techniques with strategies for evaluating information.  This year's class included a special section on "Fake News."  It was my good fortune to have a small group of highly motivated parents -- some wanted better skills to help their students with research, but all responded eagerly to the part of my course description that described learning how to "easily get straight to the most recent, most credible information without wading through pages of (diverting but irrelevant) search results."

First, I introduced our library webpages including the Subject Guides, Bibliographies, Research Tips, and Services that highlight the value of curated, vetted information.  With a sample search, I showed the difference between our Discovery System and an open Google search.  Since one of the parents is currently a graduate student in Public Health, we explored ways of performing site specific searches for information on "zika."  I distributed a handout of Web Search Tips and demonstrated most of them.  At their request, we explored the fabulous resources of New York Public Library and sites for government documents.  Next we talked about evaluating sources for currency, authority, accuracy, and bias.  We talked about fake news and the difference between edited news outlets and blogs from those same outlets.  I shared handouts of my page of tips on how to avoid fake news sites (which is adapted from Melissa Zimdars at Merrimack College.)  And, for those parents concerned about the research skills of their students, we talked a bit about citation and plagiarism.  Their questions took us as far afield as copyright, reverse image searching, the Wayback Machine, and more.

The time flew by, and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my passion for information literacy with a group of highly motivated parents.  If you'd like to learn more about Dalton's Back to School Night or my lesson, feel free to contact me at  I'd also be interested to hear if you are doing something similar and have any experiences or lessons learned you'd like to share.
Tobi Fineberg
High School Librarian, Dalton

1 comment:

  1. Hannah Mermelstein, Saint Ann's SchoolMarch 3, 2017 at 7:49 AM

    Thanks, Tobi! This is great! We're planning some similar lessons for our fifth graders, and I wonder if any of your resources will help us. Could you share any specific examples you used for the reverse image search? And examples of fake news articles/sites? Thanks!