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.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept. 12, 2011

I went back to the CYA podcasts because I enjoyed the last one so much, and I was not disappointed. Listening to the conversations about young adult lit takes me back to why I want to be a librarian - the power of books to help define who we are, who we might become. Two books discussed: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Schulman and Legacy by Joshua Coleman (May 4, 2011). From the conversation I surmised Schulman's book is a fantasy set in a library where people could check out mystical or magical items that are organized in a Dewey style. At first the review was tepid (slow paced, sterotypical characterizations), but as they each remembered favorite parts of the book, the review was better. It averaged to a 3 out of 5. Legacy received a much better review (4+ out of 5). The theme is bullying, and the setting is high school, specifically the football team vs. the gymnastics team. A "must read," "powerful," "gritty," all the reviewers were on the same page except for how the conflict was resolved between the two groups of teens. Some thought the ending was realistic, a few thought it "hollywood." Be aware that a gang rape and suicide are parts of the plot, so read before you recommend. All the reviews end with recommendations by each member of the group. Some I will check out: Heads you Lose  by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, Hint Fiction by Robert Swartwood, Whiff of Pine, Hint of Skunk a Forest of Poems by Deborah Ruddell, and Modern Masters  published by Abbeville Press.

Bit by Bit by Bob Sprankle  "Who Has the Right?" Aug 19, 2011
Does a teacher have the right to ban a student from using _______________ (insert technology here) if it's an effective learning tool for that student? The piece of technology focused on in this blog is the Livescribe Echo, a pen, when used with special note taking paper, is also able to record the lecture at the same time the student is taking notes. The student can later point to their notes, and the recorded version of the lecture that matches that note will replay. The student can hear the lecture again to clarify their notes. Besides the issue of price, the most worrisome is policy and/or performance: would the teacher and classmates all have to sign consent forms? How could you keep the student from sharing so others don't have to attend class? How do you keep students from cleverly editing a teacher's/classmate's words and send on the Utube? Will the teacher/students alter their lecture/involvement in class because they worry about being taped? Does the help it may give the student using the pen outweigh the other issues?

Websites of the Day by Larry Ferlazzo Sept. 12, 2011
Again looking at the idea of how to help students listen more effectively (from last blog assignment), Larry had posted a link about that topic. Within that article was a 7 min TED talk by Julien Treasure about the importance of listening. He believes that conscience listening creates understanding, and it is a skill that is being lost: too much noise being produced, and filtering tires us out; connecting through technology deminishes the need for artful conversation (which requires listening to each other); we are impatient in today's world of now, now, now. His 5 tools to improve listening I think I will try to practice 1) 3 minutes of silence a day, 2)listening actively to all the channel of sounds that you hear, 3) savoring all the sounds that you hear, especially mundane ones, 4) change positions (active to passive, reductive to expansive, critical to empathetic) - don't stay in one mode, and 5) RASA: receive, appreciate, summarize and ask. Listening is the skill to connect us to the world.

Teacher 2.0 by Steve Hargadon "Personal Web Presence" Sept. 7, 2011
This is step #5 (I have to look up the first 4!), and he suggests that PWP's are important for both students and adults. Colleges are encouraging their students to create one for job application purposes to highlight their accomplishments, achievements, interests,etc., instead of relying on a google search or facebook account, which could both contain questionable material(I wonder if high school students are next for college applications); the same can be said for educators. These sites might become a chore to keep current, but worthwhile. I think that this idea could lead to a great discussion  with teens about what kind of web "footprint" they are leaving behind, and how it might hurt/help them in the future. Also, realizing this is going to be important in a job search, they may want to evaluate more seriously their current goals: What would my PWP look like? How/what could I do today that would enhance it? What would I include? I know it got me thinking about what mine would look like.

Quick interesting question posted-wondering if any of you have had to work around this: Animoto changed its user policy over the summer, and I guess a student must be 13 or older to use this technology. Poster wondered how this affected elementary librarians - has anyone had this come up?

"In the Spirit of Benjamin Franklin: 13 Virtues of the Next-gen Librarian" by Andy Burkhardt, Catherine Johnson and Carissa Tomilson
 1) Courage: act not from fear, but in spite of it
 2)Flexibility: prepare to be adaptable
 3)Service oriented: pay attention to your people more than your emails
 4)Balance: between budgets, time, technology, and user needs
 5)Collegiality: learn and share with colleagues
 6)Curiosity: be excited to learn and discover; don't be the person with all the answers
 7)Creativity: using the 21st Century technology to solve the 21st Century problems
 8)Thoughtlful: be a critical thinker of new educational "bandwagons"
 9)Playful: don't take yourself too seriously
10)Collaborative: find opportunities to collaborate with everyone
11)Direction: set goals and achieve them. Turn vision into reality
12)Passionate: spread excitement and enthusiam
13)Assertive: be an advocate for libraries!
These are not meant to be a checklist, but a guide for professional development.

Kidtopia  Dr. Michael Bell (
A great site for elementary librarians to find search engines for elementary age students. All sites are evaluated as safe and effective. Graphics are excellent. Colored pencils contain subject matter (Language Art, Science, etc.). I choose Language Arts, and my choices included Illustrators, Stories, Writing, Vocabulary, etc. I choose Authors and was given sites such as Yahoo Kid Author, Author Spotlight and Literacy Web. I will bookmark this site.