Archive for the ‘Other’ Subject

5 Ways to Encourage Boys to Read

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Nationwide, more boys than girls seem to be struggling with reading. Here are five tips from teachers, librarians, authors and literacy strategists to encourage boys to read.

First, “[e]xpand your definition of reading to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, comic books, wordless books, fantasy, science fiction, magazines, online, audio books, [and] comic strips,” children’s author Jon Scieszka told Scieszka is also the founder of the Web site Guys Read.

Second, do more than shelve “boy-friendly” books; actively promote them. Boys know when the books they like are being ignored. “And they’ll recognize the implication: books that are funny or action packed or fantasylike aren’t any good,” Sullivan wrote.

Third, use reading logs, Kristen Bevilacqua, a literacy volunteer in South Africa, suggests. The log’s purpose is as a “milestone tracker” more than a diary, which might be considered “girly.” The log is a place for boys to record the number of genres or chapter books they have read. “Since reading is an activity that is often too abstract for many boys, the concrete proof of their success will be beneficial to their reading confidence and independence,” according to Bevilacqua.

Fourth, another idea Sullivan suggests to teachers is to have a story hour during students’ lunch hour. In 2005, Greenland Central School, an elementary school in New Hampshire, held a program called “Literary Lunch,” where a teacher or local librarian read to students as they ate. “Each book takes one week to read, and on Fridays, we celebrate it with cupcakes for dessert,” school librarian Margaret Kelley told the Portsmouth Herald.

Fifth, enlist help from other male role models. The guide “Me Read? No Way!” highlights a mentor program at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, where men in their 20s developed “informal educational relationships” with male students, who they met weekly for two years.

“Male-teacher librarians need to read books—lots of books. Always have a book on hand. Carry it. Know a wide selection of books that boys will read,” Joel Shoemaker is quoted as saying in the guide, published by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Even younger boys can model good reading habits for their peers. Bevilacqua suggests creating book recommendation boards in school, where boys write a summary of the book of the month or week and explain why they liked it. “A book recommended by a friend, needs no other stamp of approval for boys to want to read it too,” Bevilacqua wrote.

Educators That Rock!: Sarah Houghton-Jan

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Photo by Marc L. Gonzales, SFStation.

Before the holiday break, findingEducation spoke with Sarah Houghton-Jan, also known as the Librarian in Black, about her roles as a blogger, lecturer and the digital futures manager for the San José Public Library.

Houghton-Jan told findingEducation that when she’s teaching a customer or student something new, she tries to pretend she’s speaking to her mother because “the unknown is really creepy. And that causes me to show a certain level of respect and patience,” she said. “[M]aybe that will work for other people [but] only if you like your mother,” she added with a laugh.

Houghton-Jan was chosen as a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal in 2009. She is also a consultant for the Infopeople Project and a member of the Library & Information Technology Association’s Top Technology Trends Committee.

fE: Could you tell us how you became the digital futures manager for the San José Public Library?

SHJ: I started out not even wanting to be a librarian, and not being very techy. I was just handed our library’s Web site, at the university where I went to library school, and they said, “You’re responsible for maintaining this part of the Web site. Have fun!” I had no HTML training. So I did just a lot of self-training. And I took what few Web-based classes were available.

When I got out of library school, I was looking to relocate to the San Francisco area and one of the jobs that was available was for a combination Web site manager and technology trainer.

I’d been a teacher for a while, and I’d also now managed a Web site, so that was perfect.


Related Link Resources
Librarian in Black
San Jose Public Library
Library Journal: Movers & Shakers: Sarah Houghton-Jan
Infopeople Project
Library & Information Technology Association: Top Technology Trends

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

Forest Kindergarten Gets Kids Active Outside

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Although forest kindergartens—kindergartens that require students to spend several hours outdoors each day—are common in Austria, Germany and Scandinavia, the concept is a new one in the United States.

The Waldorf School, a private school in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has taken the concept to heart, and opened a forest kindergarten in September. According to Liz Leyden, writing for The New York Times, the school requires students to spend three hours outside every day and focuses on nature-based, outdoor education. Students plant gardens, study animals and insects, and enjoy the fresh air. Sigrid D’Aleo, a teacher at the school, says the students have improved their motor skill development and social skills through “more imaginative play,” Leyden reports.

Play-Based Learning

Play-based learning has been implemented in Norway, Scotland and Australia. The concept makes environmentalism accessible to toddlers, while giving their brains a break from the rigors and monotony of the classroom. Play-based learning also incorporates aspects of the “green” trend. School gardens, for example, give students playtime outdoors, and provide lessons in horticulture and environmentalism.

Outdoor Playtime in Danger

Forest kindergarten is in stark contrast to research reported in May 2008 that showed that U.S. day care programs were not letting children play outside for surprising reasons. The research added to concerns over childhood obesity and inactivity. Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that children are kept indoors if they are wearing flip flops instead of sneakers, or are not wearing the appropriate clothing or coat for outdoor play.

Related Link Resources
findingDulcinea: US Schools Realizing Benefits of Forest Kindergarten
Play-Based Education Used to Teach Conservation
Day Care Centers Are Keeping Kids Inside

Dulcinea Media to Exhibit at AASL Annual Conference

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The 14th American Association of School Librarians National Conference & Exhibition takes place Nov. 5 – 8, 2009, in Charlotte, N.C., at the Charlotte Convention Center. The conference aims to inspire and reinvigorate library media specialists as they implement learning guidelines and standards within their schools. According to AASL, it is “the only national conference devoted to the needs of school library media specialists!”

Many school librarians and teachers lack the time needed to create and update a complete a list of links to Web sites that their students may find useful. To support educators’ efforts to introduce their students to useful Web resources, we created our Web Links pages. These pages contain links to scores of useful Web sites, categorized by school level, and divided into teacher and student pages.

All of the links have been thoroughly evaluated and approved by Dulcinea Media’s staff of expert Internet researchers, or its librarian and teacher consultants. We hope the school librarian community adopts these Web Links pages as their own, and actively suggests new categories and Web sites.

Take a look at the Web Links pages today, and visit us at the AASL conference at booth #1069 on Nov. 5 – 7.

Related Link Resources
Web Links

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!: David Lee King

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

taken by Amy Miller

David Lee King by Amy Miller Photography.

In Topeka, Kan., the library is the second favorite place for teens to hang out. “We’re sort of kicked out at the mall,” they tell David Lee King, the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library’s digital branch and services manager. As a result, the building, particularly the new media area and gaming room, are a little noisier than your average library. But King, a former DJ and assistant recording engineer, and now an author, blogger and librarian thought leader, takes pride in all the bustle. “Not too many people can say, ‘Yeah, teenagers think that the library’s cool.’”

On Oct. 28, King is launching the Library 101 Project with fellow information specialist Michael Porter. The project will include a music video, educator essays and 101 resources.


Related Link Resources
The Library 101 Project
Chris Brogan

Take a Leap Beyond Google to Other Search, “Knowledge” Engines

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

When Wolfram|Alpha announced its first-ever Homework Day, we took notice.

Homework Day is a live, interactive Web event that will feature step-by-step tutorials showing educators how to use Wolfram|Alpha in the classroom. It will also present panel discussions on the future of education. The event takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 21, starting at noon CDT.

What is Wolfram|Alpha, you ask? That’s the best part: Rather than a search engine, it calls itself a computational knowledge engine that makes “it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.” By collecting and curating objective data, models, methods and algorithms, the site aims to provide “definitive answers to factual queries” in the areas of math, physics, chemistry, geology, geography and even history. Simply enter your “completely free-form input” and the site promises to deliver “powerful results … with maximum clarity.”

The news media loves to ponder whether Bing or anyone else can ever dislodge Google as the top commercial search engine. But as Wolfram Alpha’s promise of “definitive answers to factual queries” shows, while Google may forever be the best search engine to use in most cases, there are a number of specialty search engines that will almost always produce better search results than Google in particular cases.

That’s why we created SweetSearch. It’s a more selective search engine that was built with students and academic research in mind. All of the 35,000 Web sites included in SweetSearch have been evaluated for content, quality and reliability. By combining human insight with search engine technology, SweetSearch excludes distracting clutter. It allows students to focus on determining which results are most relevant to their research, rather than waste time evaluating sites that are not worth their consideration. Due to the fact that SweetSearch only searches a small slice of the Web, sometimes a broader search engine will be a better place to start a search. But for research queries, SweetSearch will often display on the first page a “Eureka” result that may be buried many pages deep in a broad search engine.

Now educators and students have two tools to add to their online research arsenal, for times when a broad, commercial search engine doesn’t quite get the job done: Wolfram|Alpha for computations and SweetSearch for information.

Related Link Resources

Educators That Rock!: Joyce Valenza

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Joyce Valenza in a photo by Jim Graham.

This week, findingEducation spoke with Joyce Valenza, an information specialist and author who manages the Springfield Township High School Library in Erdenheim, Pa. Valenza is also a blogger for School Library Journal, a former tech columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and a lecturer on education issues and technology.

Valenza sets the bar exceedingly high for librarians. Inspired by the benchmarks set by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), she recently published “14 Ways K-12 Libraries Can Teach Social Media” (Tech & Learning, 21 Sept. 2009) and her own Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, which calls for librarians to acquire the necessary skills to guide learners in new and emerging information and communications landscapes.

“If you call yourself an information professional, you have to be a professional in the information landscape of your time,” says Valenza.


Related Link Resources
American Association of School Librarians: Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
Springfield Township Virtual Library
Springfield Pathfinders
School Library Journal
Tech & Learning
Information Fluency Wiki
New Tools Workshop
The Future of Education

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