Sunday, February 25, 2007

028.162 Books, Reviews, & Reviewers: So Many, So Good

I have been following many of the bloggers who review and talk about books the past few days to keep up with all the discussions surrounding the "controversy" stirring over the selection of the latest Newbery book and the word within its pages. In doing this, I came to realize that there are so many good sources out there for learning about books that I wanted to pull those blogs together for easier review.

I know one of these folks personally through professional connections and enjoy "virtually visiting" with her over her reviews and getting to know her better through her writing. Another I know through reputation and the many times I have been privileged to be a part of an audience enjoying her passionate talks about books. Still yet, another although her blog doesn't just speak to the subject of books, authors a semi-regular column about children's books for a newsletter and I get to call her friend and colleague and get to talk books with her all the time!

But through this great thing we call social networking, I have found others who share their thoughts and feelings about books. Their attitudes, passions, and humor on the subject of books make for such enjoyable's like moving to the next chapter in a great read to move to the next post these reviewer bloggers have written. Thanks you all!!

And here are some more book bloggers and great information about books in this wiki. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

025.3 Cataloging Tools: Especially for School Libraries

In preparing for a presentation this week, I had cause to review the various sources, both print and online, that I use to aid me in my cataloging adventures for the various schools in my circle of influence. Among the many things I cover, I will be telling the audience (made up of in-training and beginning Librarians) about the big red books (LCSH), but also the online counterpart in the form of subject authorities found on the LOC web site. I will be including some of the help books available...Scott Piepenburg's titles and things Joanna Fountain has worked on. I have been privileged to take a couple of workshops from her. I always learn something new from her every time!

I do not know all of the tools, much less everything necessary for "perfect" records. I don't pretend to even think I do. That is why i am very glad I ran across this website: Resources for School Librarians: Cataloging the Collection. It contains a lengthy list of both print and online cataloging aids. Hurray, all in one place!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

940.53 Holocaust Personal Histories: Primary Sources

I had not been on the United States Holocaust Museum site in awhile and through some random surfing for various things came across this online exhibit. Here are first-person accounts of various parts of that horrific point of time in history...written by the people who lived them, witnessed them, and survived them. The passing of time has not dimmed the details, but has increased the emotional stake in "studying history." It would be very difficult to read and experience these accounts and not take away something more than just plain ol' facts.

At least for me.

The emphasis in recent years on using primary sources in the the study of history allows the learner (whether student or life-long) to experience it almost in the same manner as if it were occurring at the moment.

The introduction of technology into this process of "preserving" and "presenting" history's important moments is only a good thing...a wonderful thing. I have not had the privilege of speaking with more than a handful of people involved in any part of the Holocaust. My father was a member of the military who took part in the liberation of some of the camps...he spoke of his involvement only once to me.

To have access to all of these personal stories...recorded by the people who lived them...and available to me at virtually any time I want them... is priceless.

For anyone who questions the value of the Internet, I will surely point to this site and countless others like it as proof that the Internet is a good thing.

Monday, February 12, 2007

973 Digital History: A Digital Collection

A wonderful collection of digitized historical information courtesy of the University of Houston.
Includes historical newspapers, movie clips, music sound clips on every era and significant event of American History. There is an interesting interactive timeline and loads of information for teachers to use in creating lessons and activities using this information. There is also an "expert" available online to help users locate information included in the site.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

745.6 The Art of Penmanship: It Is a Test

I saw a news article this weekend about the most expensive writing pen ever created . Can you imagine signing your name with something worth $730,000.00? I can not! I have never used fancy pens. I still have the pen I was given for high school graduation 37 years ago and the pen I received some time back for 20 years of school district service---they sit in their boxes with the original cartridges still in them!

Then in reading through the many blogs I review regularly, I came across an article about writing and penmanship of a different type and thought of the irony. The article is titled The Handwriting is on the Wall: Researchers See a Downside as Keyboards Replace Pens in Schools and originally was published in the Washington Post in October, 2006. Ian Jukes included it in his Committed Sardine blog in late January 2007.

From the article, some of the statements that are cause for concern (or at the very least thought):
"When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters.
And those college hopefuls are just the first edge of a wave of U.S. students who no longer get much handwriting instruction in the primary grades, frequently 10 minutes a day or less. As a result, more and more students struggle to read and write cursive."
As a parent, I worry about this as well. My 2 children do not write in cursive and basically have difficulty even signing their names when required. I worry that they will encounter adults in the workplace that do not understand their inability to "write" and will judge their abilities incorrectly.

"The loss of handwriting also may be a cognitive opportunity missed. The neurological process that directs thought, through fingers, into written symbols is a highly sophisticated one. Several academic studies have found that good handwriting skills at a young age can help children express their thoughts better -- a lifelong benefit."
The computer has become an essential element of the school day and that includes communicating on it with regularity. BUT then why do we insist on testing students with a format that we do not provide time for instruction. There are no practice copy books or penmanship tests (remember the days when we did that on our spelling tests?)

"When adults are given the same composition written in good handwriting and poor handwriting, "they still give lower grades for ideation and quality of writing if the text is less legible," he said.
Indeed, the SAT essays written in cursive had slightly higher average scores than those written in print, according to the College Board.
No one needs a $730,000.00 pen to communicative. I lovethe computer and how easy it does make communication on many level s possible. But everyone deserves a fair shake when competing using communicating skills. If cursive writing is indeed a lost art, no longer needed or even "in fashion," then let's update the way we measure our students' abilities!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

004.67 Web 2.0: Interesting Explanation

I hope you can see this! If you can't at your current location, please check it out from a different location some time soon! It is a great introduction to the power and usefulness of YouTube. But more importantly, if you have trouble explaining (or understanding) the power of the Web, this could help solve the problem!
It is making the rounds in various blogs so you may have already seen it.

I tried embedding the video in the manner that I have seen at other blogs, but it was too much technology for me to take in all at once. It was more important for me to share the information with any interested readers than have a "slick" presentation at this point. I will learn the "proper" method shortly and will be glad to pass it forward.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

375.001 Curriculum Integration : Thanks for the Memories

One of my favorite things I get to do almost every day in my job is suggest to someone an idea for a topic of study, a book to use to present a concept, or locate an online resource with just the right bit of information to complete a lesson. Just today, in helping a parent with reading ideas for her young child, I got to reflect on all the fun books I used to share with my own two children who are in their 20s now. An added bonus--they are both studying to be teachers so I will get to make suggestions "forever."

A correlate of this activity is getting to do it virtually and make suggestions to other librarians and teachers that I communicate with in the blogging world. Recently, I have been able to share movie and music ideas with a teacher in Arizona who teaches American history and likes to integrate these bits of the social culture of our country along with the traditional "dates and dead people" facts of the curriculum. She poses questions regularly in her blog asking for ideas for topics and I get to sit and think about favorite old movies and songs that fit the bill...and I always get to provide some of the "older" examples...courtesy of the fact that I have lived thru many of them time periods and events she is researching!! Does that make me a primary resource? (So much nicer description than "dinosaur"!)

For every suggestion I make, my mental rolodex spins thru many, many fond memories of movies, music, and books and all the fun times tied to them..both inside the school and out. How many people get to say that about their jobs?