Archive for the ‘Art’ Subject

Educators That Rock!: Sarah Brannen

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Sarah S. Brannen

Sarah S. Brannen.

We first met Sarah Brannen, children’s book author, illustrator and blogger, at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference in Charlotte, N.C., where she cohosted a panel on censorship.

FindingEducation recently reconnected with Brannen over the phone to learn more about her first book, “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” (UBW), published in 2008. “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” features a young guinea pig, Chloe, who is worried her favorite uncle won’t have time for her anymore because he’s getting married.

“The fact that it’s a same-sex wedding is absolutely irrelevant to the story,” Brannen says. But according to the American Library Association, “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” was one of the top 10 most challenged books in 2008, due to ”homosexuality” and because it was deemed to be “unsuited to age group.” The book was also selected as an American Booksellers Association Book Sense pick for Spring 2008.

“Some of the stories that I write are about people, and I illustrate them with animals to keep the story universal,” Brannen told findingEducation.


Related Link Resources
American Booksellers Association
American Library Association

Cultivating Kids’ Creativity Online

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Rather than merely watching media or reading information on the Web, kids today want to interact with media and information—and create their own. Fortunately, the scope and quality of Web sites that provide a forum for child-generated content has never been better. Are you looking for kid-friendly sites that are both educational and entertaining? Read on to find sites that provide a portal for content created by kids that will keep them engaged while they learn.

Civic Involvement and Social Networks

PBS’ Speak Out Web site, which launched during the 2008 presidential election, “is a youth collaborative project to create a digital open letter to our presidential administration.” The site encourages 6 to 12-year-olds to share their ideas on how President Obama should deal with important issues, such as health care and education. Ideas are voted on, and those receiving the highest number of votes are then “featured on in the form of a message to our President.”

Think social networking is only for adults? Not anymore. The My LEGO Network is a social networking portal for children that allows them to “create and control” their own Web pages. “You can collect, build, and trade with virtual items. You mail with your friends, and show off your creativity to the whole wide world!” the site explains. Users can also compose music and make stickers or virtual LEGO structures.

Documentary and Photography

BYkids encourages kids to create socially conscious films. Five kids per year are paired with “master filmmakers” that act as mentors in the making of “short documentaries that educate Americans about globally relevant issues.” Kids aged 8-21 are selected from around the world to participate in the month-long projects. Film subjects are decided on by “UNICEF and a group of nationally-recognized journalists, filmmakers, teens and non-profit leaders,” according to the nonprofit organization’s Web site. Once completed, the films are distributed at film festivals, for TV broadcast and “DVD distribution, school programs and web downloads,” targeting at least two million viewers.

The nonprofit organization Kids with Cameras “teaches the art of photography to marginalized children in communities around the world.” There are many benefits of photography, including empowering children by building their confidence and self-esteem, and giving them a sense of hope for the future by tapping into their imaginations, the organization’s Web site suggests. Kids with Cameras shares children’s photos in “exhibitions, books, websites and film,” and works to improve children’s communities by partnering with “local organizations” and donating print sales.

Related Link Resources
PBS Kids Speak Out
My Lego Network
Kids with Cameras

Educators That Rock!: Patrick Sweeney

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Patrick Sweeney with a model home and blueprints created by his fifth-grade students.

This week findingEducation sat down with Patrick Sweeney, a fifth-grade teacher at Boones Ferry Primary School in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District of Oregon. Sweeney teaches all subjects in his mixed-level, self-contained classroom. How does he keep 27 students with different ability levels engaged and excited about learning while covering the necessary curriculum?

Sweeney is a big proponent of project-based learning and teaming, both within and across grade levels. By bringing interests he’s passionate about into the classroom, and combining them with project-based learning principles, he’s come up with some pretty creative ways to get kids excited about coming to school every day.

fE: What exactly is project-based learning?

PS: Project-based learning is using open-ended projects, usually based off of research, as a model for teaching. You can also define it by what it isn’t. It isn’t where subjects are broken up into sections: Math is taught is in a math class or math block, and literacy is taught separately and technology is taught separately. Project-based learning takes all subjects and integrates them. You’re interconnecting them so that everything seems to have a sense of purpose.


Related Link Resources
Boones Ferry Primary School
Kids with Cameras
Green Dollhouse Project
Green Tech Architecture