There are digital resources called “school library databases” that contain tons of vetted information available online for K-12 schools. But until recently, these tools were not available for all K-12 students in California – only if the school district subscribed. (Private schools are pretty good at utilizing these tools. Public and charter school … well, it was hit or miss until now.)
State Librarian Greg Lucas pointed this issue out to the Governor’s Office, and the late Nancy McFadden (Gov. Brown’s former chief of staff) championed a project to bring these resources to all K-12 students. Before she died, she directed the State Library to work with the Riverside County Office of Education to get these resources for all K-12 students.
The result was announced in April, with three vendors set to provide access starting in the 2018-19 school year: Encyclopedia Britannica (with resources in English and in native Spanish with Britannica Escolar), TeachingBooks.net (with a comprehensive library of curriculum resources and lesson plans), and a host of age-appropriate resources from the ProQuest company. The informational pages about this project are at http://www.library.ca.gov/
For a lot of educators, these resources are new and training is needed. We knew that when we put out the RFP, and part of the project was a series of training opportunities for users provided free by the content providers. We have a comprehensive calendar of trainings for teachers, administrators and others, and we’d love help getting the word out. (The calendar is imbedded in our main page, or it can be viewed independently HERE.)
For Spanish-speaking parents
One of the ways we believe these resources can be used is by Spanish-speaking parents to assist their children in homework. We’ve learned that parents often feel hampered in assisting their children because the homework is in English. Britannica has a feature called Britannica Escolar that is written in native Spanish (not auto-translated) that can be utilized by parents so they can dialogue with their children about social studies and history subjects, science concepts, etc. There are three webinars in Spanish specifically designed for parents. They take place in the evening of September 18, 19 and 20. Information is included in the list.
The resources can be used by parents who know other languages as well, because of the auto-translation tools that are built in. But the Spanish-language entries from Britannica were originally written in Spanish.
There will be more information and trainings on how to utilize these resources to provide the best education we can for our students in California. If you’d like to stay up to date with this project and other resources at no cost to the public or schools (paid for at the state level), please join our mailing list and encourage others as well.