Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Subject

Schools Around the World: South Korea

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Lee Jin-man/AP

After a visit to South Korea in early 2009, President Barack Obama applauded its education system, noting that students in South Korea attend school for an entire month more than American students. Obama suggested that the U.S. should consider changes to a school calendar, “designed for when America was a nation of farmers,” in order to remain globally competitive, according to The Korea Times.

In 2007, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked South Korea first in reading scores, and fourth in math among all participating countries. According to the BBC, “South Korea has made rapid progress since 2000, says the report—with its pupils improving by the equivalent of a whole school year.”

Yet there are glaring flaws in the South Korean system. In May 2005, teens staged a protest in Seoul after five students were driven to suicide by academic pressures, The New York Times reported.

“Schools are driving us to endless competition, teaching us to step on our friends to succeed,” Shin Ji Hae, a 16-year-old girl, said in a speech before an approving crowd of students. “We are not studying machines. We are just teenagers.”


Related Link Resources
The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times
The Independent
U.S. Library of Congress
The Korea Times

Need Funds for a School Project? Can Help

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Henny Ray Abrams/AP
Charles Best of

Just about every public school teacher can relate: There just aren’t enough learning materials and supplies available in our schools. Ten years ago, one teacher set out to change that by creating, a Web site that matches donors with public school teachers requesting donations for school projects.Though the program started in New York, it has since expanded around the country, first to North Carolina in 2004. According to Matthew E. Milliken, reporting for The Herald-Sun, “has funneled $3.6 million from nearly 19,000 contributors to North Carolina educators.” Across the country, more than 195,000 donors have given almost $47.9 million. Most of the money goes to classroom supplies (41 percent of all requests, Milliken writes), books (27 percent) or technology (22 percent).

In the Durham, N.C., school district, school administrators encourage teachers to try At J.D. Clement Early College High School in Durham, the Web site helped fund books, calculators, a laptop for a special-needs student and a new rug.

“It’s just been a nice way for us to provide for our students in ways that we couldn’t have before,” Kendra O’Neal-Williams, the principal at J.D. Clement, told The Herald-Sun. “We didn’t have the funds to—nor did the parents have the funds to—purchase this specific technology.” was started in 2000 by Charles Best, a social studies teacher in a Bronx high school. According to the Web site, Best “sensed that many people would like to help distressed public schools, but were frustrated by a lack of influence over their donations.”Best sought to change that by making a $1 donation just as appreciated and valued as a $100 donation: Regardless of the amount, every donation receives photos of the project it funded, a thank-you letter from the teacher and a report showing how every dollar was spent. In what the organization calls “citizen philanthropy,” every donor receives “the same level of choice, transparency, and feedback that is traditionally reserved for someone who gives millions.”

Choice is integral to’s mission. In a video on YouTube, Best shares the story of one donor who only wanted to contribute money that would support the preservation of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. He explains how he did a keyword search on “salmon” on the Web site and came up with five classroom projects on saving salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

The variety of projects is impressive, making “the ability for a citizen philanthropist to express a really personal passion” and “find classroom project requests matching their passion” one of the organization’s key features, according to Best.

Best isn’t the only one who thinks is worthwhile: Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” is a board member. Colbert hands out $100 “philanthropic gift certificates” to every guest of “The Colbert Report.”

Related Link Resources
The Herald-Sun

Educators That Rock!: Buffy Hamilton

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Photo by Sandi Adams.

FindingEducation was delighted to spend some time chatting with Buffy Hamilton, also known as The Unquiet Librarian. We met Buffy after attending her presentation at the Internet@Schools conference in Washington, D.C., in early April. Hamilton has been an educator in the Cherokee County School District, an hour north of Atlanta, Ga., for 18 years, and a librarian for six.

Hamilton talked about the Media 21 project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary project she and her colleague Susan Lester developed in their school. Hamilton examined the impact this project has had on her students. “There’s one student who was in that group that was out of their comfort zone. She didn’t have a lot of confidence [before] and she has just blossomed … Even if you only impact a few students that way, it’s very powerful.”

Hamilton, a frequent speaker, blogger and thought leader, earned her graduate degree at the University of Georgia. She tweets @buffyjhamilton.

fE: What brought you into libraries?

BH: In the beginning of my career, I taught high school English. After seven or eight years, I took a position in our district’s technology services department where I got exposure to a lot of schools and age groups, but I also missed being attached to one school.

Around 2000, I realized that being a librarian would be the perfect marriage of my love of reading and books as well as technology. I’ve been a school librarian a little over six years. People often ask me do I miss being in the classroom. (I actually did teach English classes at night school up until last year.) I love being a classroom teacher but it seems like as a librarian, I’m more able to be a change agent. I can be an avenue for helping teachers introduce inquiry and help them to see that you can address the standards for learning and improve student achievement, without necessarily having to be tied to all those traditional ways of learning. I’m not saying that the traditional ways are bad but you can add to the learning toolbox.


Educators That Rock!: Rachel Borchardt

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

FindingEducation met Rachel Borchardt, a science librarian at American University, at the 2010 Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, D.C. She and Jason Puckett, the instructional technology librarian at Georgia State University, gave a presentation about podcasting.

This week, we chatted with Borchardt over the phone about why she loves teaching, how her library is taking information literacy to the next tier and what podcasts can do for libraries.

Along with Puckett and Anna Van Scoyoc, a librarian in Mercer County, N.J., Borchardt hosts the monthly podcast Adventures in Library Instruction. “All three of us left [Emory University] to work in other libraries. We miss each other a lot, and we all enjoy bouncing ideas about teaching off each other. So Jason thought, ‘Hey, why don’t we start a podcast?’”

Borchardt earned her master’s degree in library science at the University of Pittsburgh, then worked for three years at the Emory University library in Atlanta, Ga., before coming to American University.

She tweets @butternutsquash.

fE: What preconceptions did you have about librarians before you became one?

RB: I thought that we would just sit at the desk all day and answer questions, which I was really excited about. I had no idea that you would spend so much time in meetings and at your cubicle working on other stuff.

I also thought there would be a lot more introverts. So it surprised me when I went to graduate school and everyone I talked to was super outgoing.

fE: What made you choose to become a science librarian?

RB: I worked in a science library my freshman year as an undergraduate, and I really liked it. After college—I graduated with a degree in neuroscience and psychology—I worked at a cognitive psychology lab at Carnegie Mellon doing MRI research for a couple of years, but it wasn’t really my thing. Being a science librarian seemed like a good way to be involved in science, without having to do the same thing everyday.


Related Link Resources
SlideShare: Computers in Libraries 2010: Podcasting
Adventures in Library Instruction
Adventures in Library Instruction: Episode 3
T is for Training
Emory University Libraries: Library Survival Guide Podcast
Arizona State University: ASU Libraries: The Library Channel: Library Minute: Academic Articles

Educators That Rock!: Geeta Rajan

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Geeta Rajan always knew she wanted to be a teacher. As an English teacher at St. Mark’s Public School, Meera Bagh in New Delhi for the last 16 years, Rajan has focused on making her instruction relevant to current issues while reaching out in a global environment. Through ePals, she’s involved in the Global Coalition Project, started by Bill Reilly in 2001. Right now, her students are working on a low carbon diet project with a school in Singapore. Last year, her students attended a Climate Camp in Copenhagen through an organization called Bright Green Youth.

“For me, my students are my inspiration,” she told findingEducation. “My organizing committee is designing a poster for Earth Day, and they won’t let me sleep until I approve of the changes, additions and deletions. We will have a good end product and that makes me happy, being part of kids’ excitement. I love their energy. And when I see them charged up, I get charged up too!”

fE: What inspired you to teach?

GR: I have always loved teaching. I spent a lot of my time with a neighbor’s family, which had three sisters who were older, and all were teachers. I also used to play teacher to the smaller ones in the neighborhood. I liked the writing on the blackboard, the use of chalk and then making lines to walk kids to their music classes. And if they weren’t around, I used to just act all by myself. Height of passion it was!!

fE: Why did you want to teach English?

GR: The three sisters—Shyamala, Kamal and Jaya—always used to get nice English books and magazines for me, hence I fancied English

fE: Describe some of the projects your students are involved in right now.

GR: Right now we are doing projects on climate change and sustainable development. We are planning eco cities for the future. The students will be ready with their presentations by April 23, when they will finally be judged by noted scientists. The purpose of the project is to encourage youthful ideas on preparing a more livable city. No pollution, more comfort, less diseases.

And we are sharing our information (with other schools) on a low carbon diet that focuses on how students can eat more nutritious food. No junk food. The students are doing this project with a Singaporean school.


Related Link Resources
The Global Coalition for Peace, Education and Cultural Awareness

Educators That Rock!: Lauren Pressley

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Photo ©Wake Forest University by Ken Bennett.

Lauren Pressley is the instructional design librarian at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. In addition to her role as a librarian, Pressley is an author, a blogger and a frequent presenter.

Pressley was named a Mover and Shaker by School Library Journal in 2009, and was sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Board to participate in the American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders Program in 2007. She also recently developed a very popular toolkit of short videos (two to three minutes long), which answer patrons’ frequent questions.

In a phone interview last week, Pressley told findingEducation about the impact online networks have had on her personally and professionally. “As a quiet person … I’ve been able to find my voice online,” she said. “It’s opened up a lot of doors that wouldn’t have been open to me otherwise.”

Learn more about Lauren Pressley at Lauren’s Library Blog.

fE: This past fall, Michael Porter and David Lee King published a collection of librarian essays for a project they called Library 101. In your essay, you describe the disappointment you felt after taking a personality test that listed librarian as one of the last possible careers for you to consider. What did it suggest you do instead?

LP: It actually said I should practice law or be a “professional philosopher.” I have no idea what that means. So the thing that is sort of interesting to me about that test is that all the qualities that it said that I had that would have made me a poor fit as a librarian were because they were assuming that the person needs to be really rigid and rule-following and not necessarily friendly. But the things that make me good at my job are actually the very things that that test thought would make me bad.

It’s indicative of how the field has changed, that people have such a clear idea of what librarians were and make assumptions based on that.


Related Link Resources
Lauren’s Library Blog
Library Journal
Wake Forest University

Educators That Rock!: Paul Diamond

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Photo courtesy of UNESCO.
Paul Diamond, center, on the beach outside of Praia, the capital city of the Cape Verde Islands, showing teachers how to use simple tools such as broom sticks to measure wave heights.

This week, findingEducation spoke with Paul Diamond, codirector of the Sandwatch project, a UNESCO project supported in great part by the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sandwatch aims to make communities more aware of their marine and coastal environments.

Dr. Gillian Cambers, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) formally established the Sandwatch program in 2001. Diamond joined a few years later and helped expand the program’s reach by building a Web site, and holding teacher trainings sessions on various island and coastal countries.

Born in Scotland, Diamond was raised in Canada where he studied archeology at the University of Toronto. He then spent several seasons in Belize at dig sites before crossing into the technology field. He helped IBM build computer labs throughout the Caribbean. Recognizing the need for technology instruction, he began teaching on the small island of Virgin Gorda before moving to Saint Kitts and Nevis, south of Puerto Rico.

In his work for Sandwatch, Diamond helps teachers create grassroots environmental projects in their schools and communities. As the senior technical director for the Nevis Historical & Conservation Society, Diamond keeps a watchful eye on the island’s beaches and historical grounds, while teaching students about biodiversity and technology.

fE: What attracted you to teaching?

PD: I did some teaching when I was in Toronto, but I didn’t really get into any teaching until I came here. I came originally to build computer labs for schools and quickly found out that governments would spend a lot of money—millions of dollars—to put in a computer lab, but then they wouldn’t give a few thousand dollars to train teachers how to use them. So very often, modern, state-of-the-art labs sit idle.


Related Link Resources
The Sandwatch Project
Nevis Historical & Conservation Society
The Nevis Historical & Conservation Society Biodiversity Project

Schools Around the World: France

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
Nationwide strikes in France hobbled public services from transport to schools, Tuesday, March 23, 2010.

The headlines have been full of news on the unemployment rate in France; above 10 percent, France has an even higher unemployment rate than the United States. How has the recession affected education in France?

As early as November 2008, thousands of people protested against education reform plans, especially plans to cut thousands of teaching jobs, Euronews reported.

By January 2009, the economic crisis had forced the French government to make job cuts, and announce reform plans for primary and secondary education. In response, thousands of teachers went on a one-day national strike. Job cuts were at the top of strikers’ list of grievances, along with “the end of teaching hours on Saturday mornings, which means they have less time to do their work,” The Guardian reported.

Massive job cuts in the education sector will certainly sound familiar to educators in the United States. But what about an emphasis on food and culture? This may be where the French education system differs most profoundly from the American system.

“While the country is cutting public programs and civil-servant jobs to try to slash a debt of about $2.1 trillion, no one has dared to mention touching the money spent on school lunches,” Vivienne Walt wrote for Time magazine in February.


Related Link Resources
Discover France
SnoValley Star
The Guardian
The New York Times

Schools Around the World: Chile

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Santiago Llanquin/AP
Students are detained by riot police officers during a demonstration to demand reforms in the Chilean education system in Santiago, Wednesday, May 13, 2009.

In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chile was pulling “out of its first recession in ten years,” and needed to make improvements in income distribution, market competition and education, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). OECD charged that the quality of public education at the primary and secondary levels needed work in order to help Chilean children “reach OECD standards in learning outcomes.”

Encyclopedia Britannica provides an overview of the education system in Chile.

In 2008, Andrea Arango, a research associate with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, outlined “The Failings of Chile’s Education System: Institutionalized Inequality and a Preference for the Affluent.” According to Arango’s report, the Chilean government favors the privatization of education in the country. As a result, only wealthier students have access to quality education. Meanwhile, the system “offers inherently unequal opportunities for students from low-income families, who consistently experience sub-standard educational achievements as a result of an ongoing bias in favor of privatization measures.”

Following Saturday’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake, however, Chile may be hard-pressed to improve its economy or its education system. An estimated 2 million Chileans—one-eighth of the entire population—have been affected by the earthquake, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Tuesday.

Aid began to pour into Chile after the country’s president, Michelle Bachelet, asked for help. Though most countries have responded with medical personnel and supplies, drinking water, electrical generators, mobile bridges and other essentials, the European Union said it would send “‘an assessing mission’ to look at damage to hospitals, schools and other facilities,” Catherine Ashton, an E.U. foreign policy chief, told AFP.

At a time when rescuers are frantically searching for survivors, it’s too soon to account for all the missing, injured and dead, or properly assess the full extent of the damage to buildings such as schools. Unlike Haiti, which suffered widespread structural damage due to a lack of building codes, in Chile, “building codes are strict,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Still, Bachelet estimates that one million buildings have been damaged, while Education Minister Monica Jimenez told AP that several “[k]ey structures in Santiago” were badly damaged.

Public schools were set to reopen on Monday, after summer vacation, but now are scheduled to reopen on March 8.

Related Link Resources
The Salt Lake Tribune
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Encyclopedia Britannica
The Wall Street Journal

Schools Around the World: Kenya

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Sayyid Azim/AP
Some of the hundreds of parents and children line up to register at the Buru Buru 1 Primary School in Nairobi on the first day of the year Monday, Jan. 6, 2003, eager to capitalize on the electoral promise of free primary education made by newly-inaugurated President Mwai Kibaki.

Last week, we spoke with Alex Grossi, a young man who helped start the Kenya School Libraries Program, a nonprofit that collects books for libraries in Kenya’s schools.

Education in Kenya has been in the headlines quite a bit recently. On Monday, tennis star Serena Williams arrived in Kenya to open her second Serena Williams Secondary School, this one in Eastern Province, Kenya. Williams is a global ambassador for Hewlett Packard and has been on several charitable missions to the region.

On Tuesday, reported on Kenya Dream, a class project at Cupertino High School. Students there adopted the Nthimbiri Secondary School in Kenya three years ago, with the aim of raising $100,000 for the school. So far, the students have raised $50,000.

In January, Ashley Seager reported for The Guardian on a new program to bring education to nomadic groups in Kenya. “My view is that people should not have to choose between their lifestyle and an education,” Mohamed Elmi, the minister for northern Kenya, told Seager. Now, 91 mobile schools have opened in the country, mostly in the north and east. Children begin lessons at 5:30 in the morning, study for a few hours, and then tend to grazing animals or gather water for the village. They may study again in the evening.


Related Link Resources
The Nation
The Guardian
Africa Renewal
East Africa Living Encyclopedia