Archive for April, 2012

Top 10 Leadership Qualities from HR World [a re-posting]

April 30th, 2012

This is a re-posting of an assignment for Ms. Redden’s class.

Read the article found here and be prepared to summarize the main points about the important leadership characteristics. While your class is reading The Girl Who Owned a City, you’ll be looking for these characteristics in the children who have survived the plague.

A real-life version of Caroline Cooney’s Face on the Milk Carton

April 27th, 2012

Steve Carter was adopted when he was four. He’s now 35 and found his picture on a missing children website, which caused him to dig deeper into his past. Check it out here.

A text-only help line

April 27th, 2012

Check out this TED talk about a help line for teens set up by Nancy Lublin, someone who understands how teens prefer to communicate.

Fantasy Election ’12

April 26th, 2012

MTV and PolitiFact are teaming up with a game to educate future voters (and maybe currently registered ones) about the candidates and the electoral process. PolitiFact explains it here and the game site is here. Thanks to Mr. Vales for the recommendation.

Google Drive

April 25th, 2012

Google Drive promises to be like Dropbox as a place to synchronize files across your devices. The added bonus is that you can set up your files to be shared amongst specific Google users. The downside is now Google, supercomputing powerhouse that it is, would now have access to those files. If I were a comic book supervillain, I wouldn’t take over a building. I would subtly take over Google.

Teach the books, touch the heart

April 23rd, 2012

A friend of mine shared this article with me about the importance of keeping meaningful literature in the hands of students. Check it out here.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

April 17th, 2012

I’ll be honest. It’s pretty tough to convince me that the world needs another Cinderella re-telling, especially since so many stories out there are rags to riches. Re-tellings of fairy tales are huge right now, which makes sense because literary agents were actively seeking fairy tale re-tellings a few months ago. The fact that there are two Snow White movies competing in the theaters at the same time is evidence enough of the trend.

How does Marissa Meyer stack up in a world already dominated by Gail Carson Levine and Robin McKinley? What does she bring to the table?

Simple. Cyborg Cinderella.

Those two words have been all that I have needed to get students excited about the book. What’s fun is that Marissa Meyer is a Cinderella story herself. She started out by posting Sailor Moon fan fic to the Internet and then went all the way to sell Cinder, her NaNoWriMo project. I can support that.

But is the book more than just cyborg Cinderella? Gimmicks can only last so far.

The characters are interesting takes on the traditional story. By changing the setting to a future where the Earth dominions are at war with the Moon, there is a purpose behind the ball at the end – more than just, “Eh. Prince Charming needs to get hitched.” Prince Kai is a round character who is diplomatically fighting to protect Earth from a Lunar invasion. He’s not shallow by any stretch of the definition. Cinder is an accomplished mechanic that is trying to save her step-sister and can’t be bothered by going to a dance.

The relationships are definitely the focus of the novel. The Lunars can control minds, and there are some cool stand-offs using those powers, but for the most part they’re spiteful and covert. Since this is book one in a four-book series, maybe we’ll see some more overt uses.

It always amazes me in a sci-fi book/movie when the audience (myself included) connects to an alien/robot and sees humanity in them. For example, E.T. is ugly. He’s weird. And yet we love him, we care for him, and we don’t want him to see harm. Marissa Meyer wrote in a robotic sidekick that I really was rooting for. Yeah, I know. But it does go to show her talent in characterization.

This is also an interesting experiment in imagery. When I read a book, I tend to picture the setting and characters on the grittier side. I’m sure that the author of Watership Down would be surprised at the amount of battle scars the rabbits had when I read the book. Why I bring it up is that I started reading Cinder and pictured it a little on the grim (Grimm? Get it?) side. We meet Cinder when she’s detaching her foot, after all. When the Lunars show up, though, they’re straight out of anime in their descriptions. I could see them menacing Sailor Moon or the Gundam Wing pilots. No complaints from me, it just was something that caught me off guard.

Cinder looks to be a popular book. With testing going on, I haven’t been able to booktalk it, but the handsell will be easy. The cover is amazing and even caught my youngest daughter’s attention. “Dad, why is that girl’s foot evil?” “She’s not evil. She’s just a cyborg.” And that, my friends, sums up the whole conflict of the book in two sentences.

The NY Times on ebooks in the library

April 13th, 2012

The New York Times has an article about the status of ebooks in the library, both in the limitations that publishers are putting on circulations and a how-to for getting the books to your devices.

The author of the article talks about one trilogy having 193 holds. For a physical book, like the Hunger Games or the Gallagher Girls, that doesn’t seem like an insane wait list (when those first came out, my library had at least that many holds). It’s a long wait, but not insane. What makes it more interesting is that the article is talking about digital copies. There are no physical limitations here, just policy that the publishers are dictating.

“… but also was inspired by a book in which a character was told to bring a bus under control by turning off the ignition”

April 10th, 2012

And this, my friends, is another reason why I love YA fiction – and why it’s important even for fiction writers to get their facts straight. Check out this article about a real life School Bus Sam. is like Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo

April 10th, 2012

Hubble takes a lot of photos, so many that astronomers need help categorizing them. That’s where Galaxy Zoo comes in. It’s a social computing site where users learn the difference between spiral and spherical galaxies and then, once they prove their skill at labeling sample galaxies, are set free on actual data. Moon Zoo is similar, but with sorting moon images (thus the name). from MIT works on the same principal of a division of labor. This time, though, the user fills in the gaps of a neural network inside the retina. A computer has started the work; a human finishes it (take that, Cylons). MIT is trying to track how messages travel from your eyes to your brain. They are also trying to discover more ways in which the human brain functions. Not everyone gets a chance to be a research scientist, but now you have a chance to help out.