Archive for January, 2009

Our role in the learning community

January 29th, 2009

For the librarians outside of our district, you may find it helpful to see how we describe ourselves:

On Wednesday, January 28 we met as district librarians to address a statement of a common purpose as well as how to prepare our students for success in an unpredictable world.

We see our roles as educational partners for our learning community, both in the site-based and district-wide senses. Where we see success is when the library has become the nerve center for informational fluency, helping students to effectively and ethically use the resources available to them. Because reading is crucial to success in the academic setting as well as for lifelong learning, we will provide activities that encourage an enjoyment of reading as well as proficiency in workplace texts.

We also want to help teachers, especially new teachers, coordinate instruction in ways that engage their students. We want to see technology use flow seamlessly into instruction and not have technology just for technology’s sake. We want GPS to thrive in a complex information environment.

We want to make others look good.

Future Professionals Contest #1 Voting has Begun

January 27th, 2009

The photos look great. Remember that you’re picking the one that looks the most realistic, whether it looks like a screenshot from a game or a photo from a celebrity magazine.

Click here to vote. You’ll log in just like you log in at school.

We won’t be meeting on Wednesday since it’s a half day, but if you like PhotoShop, check out the web app Pixlr.

And yes, it’s free. Woohoo and all that.

Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman – Only if you don’t want to sleep tonight

January 23rd, 2009

I’m watching the final video and it’s cool to finally see Ryan, the narrator. Skeleton Creek is a stepping stone to change how stories are told.

This is not an ordinary YA book. Sure, you’ve got the boy and girl who have been forbidden to see each other. You have the adults who have no clue/you can’t trust. But the execution of these elements is what’s beautiful from Patrick Carman.

Have you seen his virtual touring? Intriguing…

Skeleton Creek is set up in part as Ryan’s journal. It’s from here that you see his thoughts and feelings on the situation. There is some plot, but for the most part it is character development as we see him interact with the people around him while he’s injured.

The creepier parts of the book, for me, were the online videos hosted at sarahfincher.com (if you have an ARC, it’s not sarahfletcher.com. I freaked out that I might miss some videos.) The craziest video is the last video, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Showing some of the earlier videos to students and staff made them jump. Mission accomplished.

The premise is that there’s a land-based dredge used in a small town to dig for gold. One of the workers may have gotten caught in the gears and could be the cause of the Old Joe Bush ghost stories. Ryan and Sarah are trying to investigate the dredge, but Ryan is seriously injured.

What’s crazy is that with so many sites out there and with the ability to put anything online, we don’t know how much is history and how much is Carman’s story. (Unless you use whois.com.)

It’s for that reason that I jumped at the videos (picture no soundtrack but only frogs, wood creaking, and trickling water). I love the ending, but you can’t skip to it. The only hang-up that I can think of would be if your school has a silent reading time and you’re not able to get to the computer to watch the videos. You can still piece together what happened from the journal, but you definitely can’t miss the first and last videos.

Update: One of the Science teachers took home my copy of the book over the weekend. She was just going to read a couple of entries and then spend the rest of the weekend working on grades. Instead, she read the whole book.

This is a must-have for your library when it hits in February.

Future Professionals: PhotoShop Entry #1

January 20th, 2009

Remember a couple of things with your PhotoShop entries:

  1. Your name will be attached to your photo. School rules still apply online.
  2. Your PhotoShop entry must look realistic – Could it be a screenshot from a game? Could it be found in a celebrity magazine?
  3. You’ll be logging in to a Virtual Classroom using your school login and password, just like you log in to the computers at school. If this is the first time you’ve used a Virtual Classroom, it will ask you to set up your profile first.

And without further ado: click here to submit your PhotoShop entry. Click on ‘Browse’ and then ‘Save and view’ to turn it in. Once everyone has the photo turned in, I’ll then set up the voting.

AZ K-12 Technology Leadership

January 20th, 2009

I’m at a technology conference and teachers/librarians, I totally recommend it. It’s the AZ K-12 Technology Leadership conference put on through NAU. What’s great is that I’m typing from a conference-provided laptop during one of the breaks. The sad thing is that I can’t take home the MacBook. (As a Mac fanboy it’s a lot of fun to see so many Macs here. I haven’t seen one PC yet, and this is a conference talking about pushing the limit of current technology. Interesting…)

One session that has blown my mind are the new features of Google Docs. I had followed this during the beta for Word and Excel files. Now have you seen Presentations and Forms? Why would anyone pay for surveys to be created anymore?

The best part has been hearing from the speakers. We’re hearing from Tony Vincent, Amanda Hughens, and Tim Tyson

The whole point? Find your vision and align everything to that. Whatever students do must be meaningful. Don’t just add technology: an interactive whiteboard used as an interactive blackboard is pointless. Use technology to have students create something that the world has never seen before.

Using YA Lit Class

January 12th, 2009

Session 2 was tonight. The handout is online at the Teen Lit section.

I must admit that I was somewhat nervous about tonight. Hunger Games is very dear to me.

Gone by Michael Grant

January 6th, 2009

You’re in class, bored by the teacher. You look around and the other students are starting to zone out, as well. When you focus back up front, the teacher has disappeared. As you explore the rest of the school, what looks like a joke seems more and more like reality: everyone 15 years-old and older is gone.

Gone by Michael Grant surprised me. It was definitely a quicker read and students are also liking it.

On top of the adults disappearing, everyone is on a countdown until their 15th birthday. One of the creepiest moments is when one twin blinks out and then we know that the other twin only has minutes to live. I was shocked and I loved it.

The other moment that still sticks with me is a teleporting stray cat. And it getting stuck in a reference book.

If you love action, if you love survival, you’ll love Gone. Teachers, it’s like Lord of the Flies, but now with superpowers.

How to Paraphrase

January 5th, 2009

Here are some great guidelines from Purdue:

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.
2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.
3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.
4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form.
5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.
6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

Click here for a link on how to cite a newspaper article.

Click here for your newspaper article.