Monday, September 26, 2011

Sept. 26, 2011

PODCAST: Children and Young Adult Book Review  July 20, 2011

I chose this podcast because of the title of the book, How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy, by Crystal Allen; the review did not disappoint. All the participants of the podcast gave the book a 4 out of 5 rating; all of them just loved the book. For those of you looking for a book that a boy would want to read (10-14 years old), this would be one to recommend. Humorous main character, great writing in terms of theme and style, conflicts and concerns a boy will be able to identify with-all seem to be wrapped up in this book. Lamar (main character) learns to "bust a slobber" with a girl. He has conflicts with his big brother, Xavier (school basketball star, whereas Lamar shines at the bowling alley); and conflicts with his dad (who seems to favor Xavier, plus is having issues with being a new single father after the boys' mom dies of cancer). Lamar and his friend Billy share some of the same family issues, but make different choices on how to deal with them. These conflicts and resolutions are important "undercurrents" throughout what seemed to be a generally enjoyable read.
Second half of the podcast discussed an article out of the July 1, 2011 issue of The Library Journal entitled "Radical Change: As Libraries Reinvent Themselves, Are We Losing Our Leaders?" by Margaret Tice. I haven't read the article, but the podcast members seem to think that the author worries that coordinator positions for library childrens' services at the highest level (national, state or multi level organizations) are going to be eliminated since several of these positions were in New York state. Again, didn't read the article but the general consensus of the panel was that coordinator positions were very relevant, especially in our age of technology. Small libraries or single librarians rely on coordinators to sift through all of the information concerning digital media and children because, simply, they don't have the time to do it themselves. The panel also wondered if what happened in NY was due to budget problems or an example of a trend (as Tice seemed to suggest). They did agree that support may be best gotten from the local levels rather than the national levels.
The opening question was What is your literary boggart? Panel noted several character types (what is it with clowns, anyway? Everybody hates them!) and authors (Stephen King, et. al.). Mine happens to be A Clockwork Orange (hidious movie, but not sure if it's a novel?) and anything by Hemmingway - a horror for me to read (I feel guilty, but it's so).

BIT BY BIT by Bob Sprankle Sept. 22, 2011
Sprankle highly recommends  Web Literacy for Educators by Alan November as a resource for educators learning "the inner workings of search engines and how to fully control them to do your bidding." It is a must read to teach students how to use search engines effectively for Internet research.
He also recommends Google's game "A Google a Day" for both educators and students. Google asks a question and then times how long it takes the searcher to find the answer; Google then shows the path taken to get to the answer. Great for teaching search skills. Teachers/students can track their own progress or classes can compete in search competitions. Questions and answers could also lead to deeper researching on the topic.

WEBSITE OF THE DAY by Larry Ferlazzo  Sept. 19, 2011
"Simple, Great Chart to Show All Students" contains a graphic of the path to success. This blog contains a link to the graphic and the responses to it. I enjoyed this because it is a great reminder that progress is a messy business ( and I don't like messy. I like A is followed by B, which is followed by C....all in a straight line heading's predictable and comfortable, which most progress is not). Two responses I liked: "So do we encourage people to fail so they can grow? No, we encourage people to grow, which means they will fail." (Lance Griggs) and "Reminds me of the image of a swan on a lake: on the surface, so peaceful and graceful. Below the surface, paddling like hell." (Mykal Hall). I feel like a swan.

TEACHER 2.0 Posted by Med Kharbach Sept. 25, 2011
Med led me to an article I might be able to use for the budget proposal (to gather support for the plan): "The 21st Century Skills Teachers Should Have" . Teachers must effectively share and model the use of current internet tools; participate in professional workshops; provide sufficient learning opportunities for students to become digitally literate; and inspire every child to be quality digital global citizens. Teachers need to be skilled adaptors, communicators, learners, visionaries, leaders, models, collaborators, and risk takers. But the best part of the article is the 5 minute video by The Pearson Foundation ( showing professionals (university professors, corporate CEOs) expressing their ideas about what kind of learning today's students need in our tech world, and how education must change to met that need. Two comments that jumped out at me: students need to learn two skills 1)complex communication and 2) non-routine thinking; and they need to move from learning all the right answers to asking new questions. It's a great video for supporting the need for acquiring technological tools.

Laura Bowers suggests a great website with great websites (PBS, National Geographic for Kids, Kids Discover - there are so many I will use for elemetary students.
For Banned Books Week,  Sept 20, 2011 article by Rocco Stains "Ten books About Censorship for Kids and Teens" gives several suggestions for kids to read concerning censorship. Newest is Americus which concerns Christian groups trying to ban fantasy themed literature.
"Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope" by Robert Lipsyte discusses the continuing diffuculties in finding fiction that boys will read. Why? Publishing is driven by commerce, and girls buy. Most books deal with emotions boys don't relate to. And 'edgy" books that so interest boys are more likely to be banned by principals or teachers. Until educators are willing to address these concerns, boys may not have much to entice them.


  1. Rick Riordan and James Patterson talk about reluctant readers. I just got through listening to this on the "NY Times" podcast

    Ah.......I'm afraid we have to disagree about the quality of the movie, "A Clockwork Orange."

    I love this "A Google A Day" -- what a great learning tool.

    Great swan analogy. I think we're all there!

    The author of "Ten Books About Censorship" is Staino

    Unfortunately the "Boys and Reading" link doesn't work. It is imperative that we keep up this discussion about boys as reluctant readers.

  2. The "A Google A Day" is such a great idea. We were just talking in a meeting the other day at school how it is so important to teach students where their information comes from as well as how to evaluate it. I am going to have to check it out!