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Going to Prison

Written by Deborah B. Ford

December 13, 2016

Scar IslandThat’s right. I’m going to prison. I’ve got one more trip to make this year and it’s to a correctional institution. The inmates are young men, aged 18-21. Before they are released, they must also complete their GED. I’ll be working with their teachers, providing resources for differentiation, lesson plans, and other resources. Offline. Yes. Offline.

For this trip there is no slick slide deck. The teachers have no classroom access to the internet. There is one secure location where they have access. The students have no access to the internet. Ever. Really. I have to leave my phone and computer in the car.

My plan for the teachers is to introduce our JLG LiveBinders as resources. Even though they don’t have access in their classrooms, knowing they can get lesson plans, info text, and other resources can help them plan lessons. For example, TweenTribune, Wonderopolis, and Newsela articles and tests could be printed out and used. If they have a SmartBoard, they can show one article or test and students can read it. I’ll make sure there is time for questions so we can troubleshoot and think of ideas and resources. (I’m pretty sure I’ll come back with homework, but that’s ok.)

Before I work with the teachers, I’ll be doing two sessions with the inmates. I’m calling it Real Men Read. No slick slide deck. No computer. No internet. I’ll be doing old fashioned hold-the-book in your hands booktalks. It almost feels like stump the librarian because I have to wait until I get there to decide what to talk about. (There’s nothing worse than hearing about a book you don’t have access to. And no Amazon.com to order it.)

I decided to take my advance copies that they can have, so I’ll talk about some of those. I’ll talk about how to choose a book you like. I’m thinking plop the books on the tables and give them a couple of minutes to read and then pass the books a few times. We can talk about what they think they might like and why.

My big closure is the JLG Catalog becomes the Sears Wish Book. I grabbed a stack of catalogs, and after I talk about some of the categories the librarian gets, I’ll have them mark what they want her to order. Ta Da! Now she has a vetted wish list for ordering.

As I wrap up, I’ll talk about choosing to read in the future. I’ll tell my story about the man who didn’t know we still had librarians–pretty sure he was almost sorry he chose that seat. I’ll talk about the public library and how it can save you time and money. Books, video, music, and other endless resources are free. All it takes is a library card. Let’s teach them to fish, no matter where they live. That’s my plan. Internet or not.

What about you? If you didn’t have online resources or access to the internet, how would you get your men/boys to read? #RealMenRead

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Deborah B. Ford

Deborah B. Ford

Deborah B. Ford, JLG’s Director of Library Outreach, is an award-winning library media specialist and international speaker with almost thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools. Traveling across North America, she does workshops, library coaching, and professional development for school and public libraries. Deborah is the author of JLG's Booktalks to Go @ SLJ. She also maintains an award-winning coordinating online resource at LiveBinders.com. Contact her at dford@juniorlibraryguild.com. Follow her on Twitter @jlgdeborahford.

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