Friday, December 23, 2011

Vampyres of Hollywood

Vampyres of Hollywood  (Vampyres of Hollywood, #1)Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I stand by my earlier statement in a review of a vampire book where the author had changed the vampire rules so that they could walk in the sun: YOU RUIN VAMPIRES AND YOU RUIN THE TENSION. There is something deliciously dark (no pun, or maybe, yes, pun intended) about having to live in the night.  Darn it! They are creatures of the night! When you change it, you ruin it.  I'm sorry, that's just the way I feel. Moving on....

So, the rest of this story features a madcap murder mystery that barely holds together.  It is told in alternating chapters by the police detective and the Chatelaine of Hollywood (head vampire and scream queen actress) as they both try to figure out who is killing actors, agents, directors.  There is some language and mentions of bondage and S&M clubs and the sheer brutality and gore of the murder scenes pop this up to 11th grade at least if not a faculty read.

I think the authors traded in a fast moving plot for character development.  I never felt an emotional connection to any of the main characters and therefore didn't care if they lived or died, making it hard to get through the end of the book.  I did finish it, but at the end instead of being breathless at the huge fight, I was ho hum.

And the huge fight at the end?  Doesn't make any sense.  It's not even worth writing a spoiler to try and figure it out.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Collection Development: A Few Thoughts

This year we have a new headmaster.  While, this is nothing new to us in terms of what we do, we have found some small changes in policy are necessary.

Fortunately, what that means is that we are getting more departments involved in the selection of materials.  Of course, one of those hot button areas is the health and sex education sections of the collection.  One thing I would advise that school librarians do is to periodically look over your section, take the whole section down and then ask the relevant teachers to come over (for coffee and donuts, wine and cheese, whatever works for your school) and have a short meeting and go over the books that you currently have and have some print outs of books that you may want to order.

By opening the dialog and asking for help on a proactive basis and by having the materials right in front of them, you can ask if the materials meet the curriculum and the needs of the students.  Since that section can be a hot button issue, you can also begin to create some allies and a conversation about what it is that they need and how you can help them with resources.

Furthermore, with this particular subject matter, I would advise that you treat material on it as you would graphic novels.  My policy with graphic novels is to never put one on the shelf until I have looked or read every page, because graphic novels can look innocuous and yet be very adult and you don't want to label them for middle school, when they are for high school only.  I don't trust reviews on graphic novels.

Death Comes to Pemberly

Death Comes to PemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's tough to take on one of the most beloved books of all time.  Well, at least if you love Pride and Prejudice, you REALLY love it.  So, anyone messing with it had better get it right.

I've tried to read several books that were "sequels" to P&P mostly because I miss those characters so much that I want someone to get it right.  PD James does and she doesn't.  She does what she does best, which is write a mystery.  She tries really hard to stay true to the characters and to move us down the road to finding out what has happened and what is going to happen in their lives and for that I think she deserves some credit because she did do it in a pretty entertaining way.  I was intrigued enough to read the whole book and I am one of those people who will drop a book after the first 50 pages.

I think she also had a vision in mind for Lydia and Wickham (Did he do it? Will he be convicted?) and for that I love her.  You can tell that for all these years the way Austen left Lydia and Wickham in Elizabeth and Darcy's world as their family connection has bothered her and James needed to write out her own version of how to correct it for the Darcy's.  You have to love her for going to this trouble.

However, what is missing from the book is characterization.  We get a lot of plot and little of the entrancing interactions between characters that was so entertaining in P&P.  And that is where my chief disappointment lies.  She tried so hard and obviously had a clear vision of where she wanted to go.  She was thorough in her use of language of the time (although not as gifted as Austen, but who could be), but she lacked the interplay, dialog, scenes and outright fighting and comedy that marked P&P as such a classic.

In the end, it is worth reading to see her unique vision, but it is not a true sequel.  I am still waiting for that to be written.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vesper (Deviants, #1)Vesper by Jeff Sampson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Emily Webb is a geek. Well, that's how it starts out.  Hmmm.  Actually, it starts with her half in and out of a window all dressed up and uncharacteristically tarted up for a night on the town that her usual 16-year-old self would be mortified she was considering having.

What is going on with Emily Webb?  In fact, what is going on in her town?  Emily Cooke is murdered, and a chain of events is kicked off that has the reader racing through pages trying to figure out what is happening before something either kills Emily Webb from the outside or from inside her own body (what are these strange changes that come over her?  Are they getting worse?).

And what about the chapters that are interspersed in between her story where it appears Emily Webb has been captured and is being held prisoner?  What is going on?  What are those noises? I think something wicked is coming down the road.  Something delightfully wicked. Something for which I need to turn the page and read on.

Please, let there be more in this series!  I just can't stand the wait.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Glass DemonThe Glass Demon by Helen Grant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished her first book, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, in a day.  I could not put it down.  It was smart, funny and uber-frightening.  This one ratchets the fright down and isn't funny at all, but is a speeding train of mystery and teen angst and murder!

Lin Fox is yanked off to Germany right when she should be in her last year of high school in England.  Her older sister is in the middle of a crisis, her mother and their younger brother Ru are something of an odd pair of ducks.  It is the father, a medieval scholar trying to get his professorship, who is the one who puts his family in danger with his obsessive need to find the Allerheiligen stained glass.  Glass so storied that many believe it to be cursed if not lost or destroyed hundreds of years earlier.

Faced with mounting bodies, all surrounded by pieces of glass, Lin and her new found (boy)friend Michel try to put it all together before something horrible happens closer to home.  Will she be able to find the Allerheiligen stained glass?  Will she find love?  Will she find the demon?

Read on!

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals HerselfGirls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale, an Activist Finds Her Calling and Heals Herself by Rachel Lloyd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was a little nervous about adding this book to the collection as it is a book about the sex trafficking trade.  However, it was a starred review and recommended for teens.  So, when it arrived, I put it on my list of books to read.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was fabulous.  Ms. Lloyd is to be commended, not only for writing a wonderful book on a topic that many Americans don't think about (the American sex slave, child prostitute), but for opening up her own life for as a lens to use for looking at the trade.

While there is harsh language and sometimes there are some situations that are described that are distasteful(abuse, etc.), she is able to convey all of it without resorting to graphic descriptions of the sex act itself.  So, while it is definitely a grade 9 and above purchase, it should be a purchase for any high school library that has a group of students who are into social activism, who are inspired by women who make something of their lives or who are involved in Model United Nations and might be working on committees with topics dealing with sex trafficking issues.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice; in every ban,
The mind forg'd manacles I hear

William Blake, London (and the Introduction to Fair Use Reclaimed)

In about three weeks, I will be giving a presentation to the faculty about fair use and copyright. It will be based on the book Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright by Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi.

It includes The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

I think the Code of Best Practices is one of the most important documents for educators and school librarians to come out in a very long time. It takes copyright from a place of fear and puts it back to a reasonable, fair use. And through the Code, it gives us a foundation to practice fair use, which is from which we get our our rights as educators and librarians. Legal scholar Kenneth Crews has an journal article ("The Law of Fair Use and the Illusion of Fair-Use Guidelines," The Ohio State Law Journal 62 (2001): 602–700) that is referenced in both the book and the Code and Mr. Crews is interviewed in the video below that is very interesting reading on the classroom guidelines many of may have been following for years. We can now throw those out and use the Code.

The Center for Media Studies uses for their downloadable videos, which is not very user friendly. I've reformatted it to youtube for those of you who need that format (say for a blog or prezi). The video is great.

I'm creating a prezi for this presentation to my faculty and I will post it when it is complete.

The Code is brief. I recommend you read it. Trying to give a synopsis, I think, would only confuse a concise and to the point document.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yep. This one is a super winner. As far as post-apocalyptic fantasy stories go, this one is ready made for for 8th grade and up. Perhaps, 7th if they have strong stomachs as it is rather violent.

The Hunger Games. Every district gives two tributes, children between the ages of 12-18 a boy and a girl who must compete to the death until there is only one winner. Katniss is from District 12, the poorest district, the coal mining district and she is also a girl used to living on the edge of hunger, used to hunting in secret, and she possess an edge that might help her. But is it enough? She volunteers to go in place of her 12 year old sister Prim, which puts her with Peeta, a boy with whom she has some history. But does Peeta hold true feelings for her or is it all for show? For the television cameras?

This book blends our love of reality TV shows with fantasy books and gives it a romantic twist. It is a great page turner and don't forget your tissues!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book quite a lot. Ultimately, I think that Marion was a stunted character and severely flawed. He is never able to overcome the desire and attachment to his first love and develop a successful relationship. In that he is like his father.

It would have been nice to have seen that the nurture part of the nature v. nurture argument have played more of a part in this story as their mother and father had such a great love story and displayed such a strong marriage. Even the parental bonds were wonderful.

I liked everything about this book, the history, the characters, the plot, the setting. It all seemed to work. I just found some fault with Marion and his development.

On the whole, I highly recommend this as a great fiction read,not quite historical fiction, but general fiction.

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In the Country of the YoungIn the Country of the Young by Lisa Carey

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

OK. This review is one big spoiler. So stop reading if you want to read this book.

It is billed as a ghost story. Hmmm. I guess. It does have a ghost in it. Technically. But she turns into a real little girl. Then she starts to grow quickly into an adult. All within a year. All of this takes place on the island in the cabin of an artist/recluse who hasn't had a successful relationship in his entire life and is in fact pining for his dead twin sister to return to him.

He thought perhaps the ghost was her.

Talk about inappropriate. Well, that is just the beginning, for this book is just awash in the inappropriate boners that the artist has for his sister, his mother, this young (10 years old to start!) girl. Honestly, it is rather disgusting.

I was intrigued at how the author was able to write it in such a lovely matter that you never actually said the words, pedophile, but it was there, in the back of your mind. Hovering. Ready to leap out. The writing is really beautiful and is the only thing that kept me going. However, I found the subject matter distasteful and the main character a hot mess.

I finished the book and it did come with the requesite bedding of the ghost for her to "experience" the fullness of life. Ultimately you are to believe that this causes the artist to change and make a real relationship with one of his one night stands, but it is so un believable. He is to damaged.

I say avoid this book and avoid leaving your door open with a candle lit on all hallow's eve. You just never know.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Librarian infographic

Well, they did get my glasses right. ;-)

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
Anatomy of a Librarian | Infographic |
Source: Master Degree Guide

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cynthia's Project Continued

New Project

Out of the 200 sacred heart schools I am the only one who is doing this. Need 100% commitment. starts in Sept. with a workshop in citation. The need 6 sources. We subscribe to Questia. We did history first. All the students choose their own topics. Choose a topic that you will learn something new. I told them that their lead teachers may run out of ideas so come to the librarian for more ideas.

I always emphasize that I am here for help. They are supposed to connect their topic within a discipline. History: sacred sounds. You have to have 100% commitment and support of the administration. It is an extra job for the teachers and librarians.

It is a requirement. It is a 1/2 day workshop. It has been going for 12 years. I'm the resource advisor now. I emphasize the use of primary sources. I wanted them to learn the difference between primary and secondary. It is due in April and they invite their parents to the presentation.

The sacred heart schools act as a consortium and share resources. They all have one IP range. They are buying less nonfiction and more fiction. Questia is serving most of their needs. Her kids like the print better.

Darwin Project

What would Darwin think of genetic engineering..... was one of the questions. Very interesting.

Sacred Heart Presentation continued

Cynthia is going to talk about the high school program:

Every year each teacher selects a goal. This year I selected building community. We invited four finalists, a priest from the vatican, a professor, science author, and Nobel Prize winner.

The Darwin Project. WAtched a movie about the project where the four speakers above were brought together and the kids discussed Darwin's theory of evolution.

They had the panel appear before the students and discuss the ideas. The students where then allowed to ask the panel questions. This was then continued in the classrooms with lessons in science, art, theology, etc.

friday live blogging: sacred heart school presentation

200 plus sacred heart school around the world. They are connected with each other and they do exchanges. There is a lot of networking and they are still in a familiar environment.

recently, they set up a global dance project. EAch school did this. There is a website where you can see each school's video. We used the same music, slow build up and then a back and forth of everyone dancing.

Cute video, with all the different schools and kids dancing. Builds a sense of community.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

fourth session paperless: brian Thomas

collaboration with teachers for paperless research assignments: wow that's a boring title. (his title, not mine! 8-)

Schools with strong libraries and strong collaboration between fac and librarians had better student achievement. colorado ststudy what is it about collaboration that makes it a positive?

Patricia Montiels model is more doable and simple. It's measurable.

model a


Model b:


model c: integrated instruction

model d; integrated curriculum

Obstacles: Biggest: time.

Cloud computing is good for collaboration. when time is a consideration, you do need to look for asynchronous solutions.

favorite tool is google docs and google apps

24/7 libraries continued

stealth marketing


let us be your info retrievers

course catalog: researchnotetaking, etc, Yudu....

They use moodle as well.

We use camtasia to record content. cost $92 dollars. for video.

Academic integrity tutorial. combines steps to avoid it. Has video, collaborated with teachers. They feel involved in the process. I think we will go and break out cheating from plagiarism.

teacher features::

24/7 library continued

All of our stuff is public.

There is a gale mobile app. Accessmylibrary: only have to authenticate once! if they go to new york once, then they can get into all of NYPL for ever!

We have seen an increase in authentic assignments. Students are in a mock senate trial.

The school has their own live stream channel. they have their own channel. it helps with storage space issue.

We recorded our parent meetings and put them up for them to see if they couldn't come.

Media 21: stem science technology math and engineering. We are also getting rid of print textbooks. we are looking at teachers creating their own curriculum.

Stem curriculum comes alive: above project was taking the construction project and making it a stem project.

Bringing faculty onboard. twitter as a personal learning network.

professional development: 23 things

She would do 10 things now. Do it differently if she did it now. She got 77 people to sign up. Her incentive was that they could wear jeans every Friday.

You dream it...

we will build it for you.

we will help you use it.

we will learn something new together

this is our job.

third session: 24/7 library

by susan geiger and and anne arria

1:1 laptop school
blended it and library staff
fully networked

managed not locked down network.

philosphy: yes kids are distracted, but they will learn how to handle it.

We were able to reinvent our roles as librarians. Our mission is the same.

transliteracy: is the ability to read write and interact across a ranage of platforms tools and media from signing, orality through ....definitation from wikipedia.

The use flat screen ads: book covers,

Their students are auditory learners.

They use QR Codes: quick response codes. each one has a you go to the link, it creates the QR code and you can create the parcode for the smart phones to use! google QR generator. Free apps for smart phones. QR reader for app for your smart phone! Don't link to a film. Test it on your mobile.

great way to collaborate with English teachers.

We have a facebook. We try to post regularly.

We do wikis. We consider ourselves to the be technology leaders. WE do it for them if they don't know how.

Rachel continued

"it must be so hard for teens to focus all day if it is hard for me to do this for 2 minutes"

For instance, I teach freshman, freshman seminar. I do a lot of things that aren't a part of being a librarian. 14 year old boys, teaching them meditation, we are int he drama room, and I hear something. Someone had thrown a ball at another student during meditation, but I had to be in the meditation moment and they were waiting for me to be mad. I just rang the bell. I was modeling the behavior. The more that you sit and do that, particularly as a mom, the more you can be open and be there. I also realize how many mean things you say to yourself. I'mnice to myself now.

We want them to be self reliant and empathetic, etc. How do we get there when they feel tottered when they don't have technology? Mindfulness and meditation helps with that. Some have become full on buddhists. Some just know about this tool and they will always have it and can use it in times of need.

The last thing I'll say is that this conference called Wisdom 2.0, google, facebook, etc. were there. These were not my people. They also had the big names in meditation there. They were talking about how tech companies are teaching their employees meditation. But while there is a commercial component to why they are doing it, it is a good thing for everyone to know.

after meditation

sit up straight, close eyes and find your breath

she rang the bell thre times. focus on the sounds and if you have any thoughts, bring them back to nothing.

we sat for 2.5 minutes.

Bell at the end.


second presentation

rachel shaw the bay school the mind unplugged

kids think of technology differently.

We don't teach them how to pay attention, we just tell them to pay attention.

Mediation is a path to pay attention. In brain research Monks have an area of the brain that is used more because of their meditation practice than other people. So at the bay school we meditate.

The bay school started 7 years ago. He had a vision of a secular high school that took religion seriously. We have a buddhist priest as our chaplain. We have meditation every morning. It is within our curriculum. We aren't a magical high school, but it is something inherent in the school culture. it's like prayer. For us it is mindfulness. Many teachers start their classes with meditation.

We will now try meditiation.

Abilock continued

A good rule of thumb might be to mind the gap between when it happened and when it was first reported.

rule of thumb: look for doctoring.

do an evaluation of journal article in science.

evaluate wikipedians: use their tools. who the contributors are and use the wiki dashboard. And use wiki trust.

Different kinds of contirbutors. sometimes it steers coverage.

take a look at grady harp in amazon. see how ha reviewed so many books!!

Twitter decides reputation by voting.

our job is to show them where to put their effort.

read the checklist manifesto! great book.

push back on brand loloyalty teach corroboration with factoids.

design assignments that have kids becoming civic contributors to wikipedia.
go to noodle tools. click on 21st literatices and click on who knows what


Debbie Abilock's Presentation

Member of BAAISL for many years and is wonderful! Has her finger on the pulse of independent schools.

Who Knows What... A school-wide lens on Evaluation

This will be online and I will give you the link at the end.

WE have a problem. Everything is misc. China completely censors every word that comes out of a news anchors mouth.

When we use the fake examples, it's a gotcha. It doesn't translate into real learning. Or we give them huge checklists with lots of acronyms.

new research on kids:

these are debbies words.

credibility switches based on point of view.

credibility also changes with expectations

credibility changes with sosource

credibility changes with your need

kids understand flexible criteria but they search by popularity when they use google

It is also important that librarians teach their parents!

Underpinnings of her program

Manta: educate and encourage and empower girls. We do use it like a mission statement although it isn't one for us. We are using it for a framework for teaching notetaking

Another underpinning is the AASL 21st century learning standards.

Used the terminology to send out to parents in the monthly newsletter!

Pat Basset wrote a letter in Independent Schools and we used it to create some Paradigm Shifts:

move from teaching to learning....
20th cent finite and knowable
21st exexpandable so 21st cent homework....skills skills skills....useless to us!!!

The system that works for us is that the girls is at the center, ....too fast....

working on a child center scheme to plan curriculum.

Programming in Your Library (Delmar Burke Library)

Moving into this new library, we deciding to use this library as an art gallery. We display art by female students. We have four computers dedicated to our online access catalog. 24 laptops in a laptop cart and seating for 72 and can accommodate 140. Students visit for researcerh. K-8 grades. 40,000 items in the collection.

Head of school: Library is the center of our campus. It is the heart of our school. It is the hub of what goes on. What is the future of libraries and information. We are at the cusp of a change. We need to honor reading and the love of reading. I'm a fan of the library. we make a big push for supporting the library. We provide food for thought among teachers, parents, students. Welcome! We are thrilled you are here. Librarains susan faust and Helen wily we are so proud of them and the job they do.

Susan faust's presentation:

the library is a learning center. we work closely with teachers. it is in our institutional DNA. Art science, classrooms, library, technology. Our program has proceeding on two tracks: literature and art. literature appreciation. We guide them to more adventuresome reading and more thoughtful reading. We ask them to read in more categories. we ask them to respond to their reading in different ways. Ask them to have a literary frame of mind. another way we foster this is through author visits. The visit is tied to something going on in the classroom. another major part of the theme for this year has been the idea of play. In many ways we have played that out this year in activities this month. We did one school one poem. Played hide and seek in the library. the other piece we pursue is information literacy. We do this K-8. Information needs, note taking etc.

We also want to deal with social responsibility. We created a human timeline of wilma rudolph's life as an example. Right now we have 4th framers trying to nominate someone to the hall of fame. The girls are putting their reports on the iPad. their reports are iBooks.

thur. live blogging attempt 2 Katherine del mar burke school

Introduction of Joyce, the Delmar Burke Librarian. She is also President of BAAISL. The local network of schools (over 100), Joyce has been responsible for many workshops, etc. she has been pres. for two years. She wanted to do something special for this conference.

Joyce: About 3 years ago, Tevis and Debra came to a BAAISL and said we have an opportunity and we should bring AISL to the Bay Area. I couldn't be more happy to see you all here. Stand up Tevis and Debra. They have been wonderful. I want to say, we want to have you have a little flaver of san francisoo. We are going to have a raffle of five California raffle of baskets with wine, books, etc. and we will pull it at end of the conference.

Susan is going to talk about programming in the library. and then a talk from Debbie Abilock.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Common Sense Media

!5% of the educators are librarians who are using their materials. They do have info on research and info lit and copyright.

Common Sense Media closing statement

goal to empower young people to be safe respectful and responsible.
comprehensive: safety/security: digital citizenship; research, and info lilit collaboration: harvard graduate school of ed
target: k-12 sstudents alignment NETS, AASL, ELA, ...

kids said to be successful: don't be cheesy!

Framework: yourself, friends and family, community. Most stop at protecting yourself. Key is to get out to the outer ring and do all three rings.

AISL 2011 Live Blogging Experiment first session

We are at Branson School in San Francsisco listening to a gal speak about Common sense Media and digital literacies. They take a comprehensive approach to media education. They do a l ot of reviews and then share them. Librairans have disagreed with them, but they do have a group that agree with the review component that they have on their site.

They also deal with sexting, cyberbullying, media images, etc. Schools are looking to them for help. They are also looking at advocacy and privacy issues. They want digital literacy and citizenship is on the radar for legislatures.

How many of you are doing work on digital citizenship? What is Digital citizenship?

Respect of online behavior. Treat them the same as your would treat them face to face.

By virtual of being born in this world you are all dwellers in the digital world. A DC in csm is someone who can make safe ethical and ....choices (spoke to fast) There is a balance. We try to help stuuents harness the full potential of technology. This is an in a more informal context.

From an informal context, we are talking about gaming, downloading, researching, socializing, creating, texting.

I'll talk first about the Net Effect. It's about whow the media landscape has shifted. The baseline is that there is an enormous scale about how kids are approaching tech. FAcebook: 600 million members. equals what country the #3 country in the world. Far bigger than the USA. Our students are engaging in this world. They don't know who they are communicating with.

They have no concept of the scale of the audience of what they are doing online. Because the audience is invisible. There is a disconnect between audience and person posting. if you are putting someithing out there you lose control of it. Cyberbullying is part of that loss of control. Things are replicable. Relationships are changing. Things are searchable. They need to know that things can be found and that they can be persistent once posted. College counselors can search for things you posted in high school.

Not only is it searchable, it may have been archived, cached, downloaded, etc. You may have taken it down, but others may have it. The digital footprints may be positive or negative. We need to be helping them leave positive footprints.

YOu are helping them create and be creators.

You want them to be able to show a digital profile that presents a portfolio that is positive.

we need to teach them about using them responsibly. It's about building a leadership team and identifying goals. This is really for a whole school. You want to include faculty, parents, and students. Add the guidance counselor. Who is responsible for this? Determine who this is. Meet regularly. This can't be done in one meeting. Define your Digital Citizen. create your mission statement and identify your goals. then develop polcies and procedures. consider comlince issues. May not apply to indepenet school as much. make sure the policy is comprehensive. make sure it is differentiated by grade. who has responsibilities for what areas. refine your acceptable use policies. make sure it is understandable!!! AUPs are usually written in GREEK.

Educate across the entire community. FAculty, parents and students.

Take an empowering approach.

They have resources at their website. Parent media education program. They have surveys.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Joyce Valenza's Libguides

[Note: You can Poster Yourself at the ALA Website (something I discovered by looking at Joyce's Libguides). ] I have to admit that there are some people in the world who make me tired and a little depressed. Joyce Valenza is the main one.

She is pretty amazing, just scroll down her library's website and you can see all of her awards. Her website is chock full of interesting things, and it seems like every new Web 2.0 tool that comes along is just another old notch on her gun belt.

How does she do it? I don't think she sleeps. At all! Ever.

It's the only explanation. Of course, she could have a towering intellect and an amazingly organized mind. I did hear her speak at an Association of Indepedent School Librarians conference several years ago, and she is pretty brainy and organized as well as super nice. It was overwhelming, the sheer number of things she does and knows about. Dutifully, we all took copious notes. Then as we all were leaving her very energetic and amazing talk (it truly was spectacular, don't get me wrong! Funny, insightful and informative.), it hit us. We aren't Joyce Valenza. It's as if we all became a pack of Eeyores. Our heads dropped, our voices became whispers and our pace slowed to a crawl. One of looked at the others and said in a moan, "We can't do a quarter of what she does!" The rest of us just patted her on the back and moved along in silence.

So I was actually feeling a little good about myself when I started playing around with Libguides. Springfield didn't have any libguides. She hadn't found that playground. But it was only a matter of time. She's like Mad Eye Moody. She sees everything! You can't keep any neat technological advance from her.

This morning, one of our IT coordinators stopped in to tell me all about Joyce Valenza's AMAZING LIBGUIDES on WEB 2.0 TOOLS.

Thanks. I think I will kill myself now. But I went and I looked at them, because she is the guru of all things and I do respect her. I, even in my most small and humble way, try to replicate a teen-nitzy portion of the things she does.

Imagine my surprize when I saw two other names on the libguide! Two other people created the libguide! Two other people! Not Joyce!

You know what this means? It means that she might sleep after all!

It means that there might be hope for all of us!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Am JI Am J by Cris Beam

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I have read Other than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that had a transgender character. J is the main character and is a transmale, although physically female. I found this book to be compelling and real. The struggle that J goes through, but his internal conflict, the familial conflict and the problems that arise with J's relationships with peers are told in such an unflinching and forthright manner that they seem honest, real and natural. I did not get that air or fakeness or preachiness not one might from a novel that is ostenstibly telling us about what it is like to be a transgendered teen.

I cannot imagine the heartache. There is one particular scene that take place midway through the book when J is having what he thinks is a heart to heart with his father. They are both talking about college and dreams and being what you want to be, then he father destroys it all inadvertantly by saying "You'll always be my baby girl." He has no idea how hurtful these words are. Each family member is in their own cocoon afraid to share anything. J is afraid to make a connection with anyone. It is no way to live.

It really makes one think about how difficult LGBT teens have it in school and how they need books for role models and they need librarians to have those books available for them. They need adults to read those books and at least get a small feeling for the confusion and pain they are going through.

Those kids are so brave just to go to school everyday. I can't imagine it. I just can't bear it if they didn't also have adults around to be safe havens for them to go to for help.

Read the book.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Discovery of WitchesA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I had high hopes for this one. It was touted as the next Harry Potter for adults, sort of an urban fantasy for intelligent women. Hmm. I should have know that it was too good to be true. There is no action. Very little romance and the mystery is buried so deep you almost don't even care.

Frankly, when the author of a vampire novel makes her vampires able to walk in the sun, YOU HAVE SCREWED UP THE BOOK. So you better have some amazing romance or something else to make up for the fact that there is now NO DANGER to the vampires. OK? NO DANGER.

Honestly. I was so bored I finally just stopped reading. The vampire wouldn't even make out with the main character, Dr. Diana Bishop. Something about you humans being so eager to get on with things. You should take your time. Blah blah blah.

You are boring me!!!!

Nope. I'm bored.

I stopped reading.

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Interesting. I really liked it and it was a quick read. I think it has some fascinating points on how to be an exceptional new leader and how companies can move past their paradigms that aren't working. I doubt this is going to work however because the corporate man is never going to believe that the little guy is going to be responsible enough to work without supervision or wants anything but money.

now i'm depressed.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Site to Add to List for Students to Research

I came across an interesting site the other day while grading the Honors Chemistry annotated works cited projects. It was for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights or CCHR. Since the student was doing their project on sleeping pills and this site has a particular view of psychiatry and the use of prescription drugs. Here is what the citation and annotation said:

"Lane, Christopher, Ph.D. "Pharmaceutical Scandal in Britain Sheds Disturbing New
Light on Benzodiazepines." Mental Health Blog . Citizens Commission on
Human Rights International , 12 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 Feb. 2011.
I did not find this website through one of the databases provided in the LibGuides. However, this source is credible because it is an organization with a .org website.

My head ALMOST exploded. How many times had I said that a .org meant nothing? About 1000 times. So I went to the site and sure enough there seemed to be a particular bias against prescription drugs. The paper calls for objective scientific facts, not persuasive argumentation. They are supposed to use library resources and since they are an honors class, I had also granted them the ability to use the science search engine with the admonition that they still needed to use their head when selecting sites.

So, I did what I always do. First, a link check. Go to google, put in and see who is recommending the Commission as a credible source. Then I do a search to see who owns the site and see if they have a PO Box or a street address. Then I look them up on wikipedia.

Interesting. What do you think? I think I will add them to my list of example sites.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Teddy Bear Hat: A Real Bear to Make

You wouldn't think that the hat above would be that hard to make, but it was. I actually made the hat three times before I made it correctly. I made it once without first doing the so-called magic loop. I didn't think I needed to do that. Big mistake. I just crocheted five SC and SL them together. Then, because it said you don't connect them ("Do not join rounds"), in my head I was thinking, Oh, turn! But it didn't say turn. So I ended up with a hat that had a huge gap in it. Stupid me.

I realized that it was a spiral. It would have been super helpful if the instructions had SAID, this hat is done in a spiral, rather than, Do not join the rounds. That really threw me off. As I mentioned in the beginning, there is a thing called a magic ring or adjustable ring, but I was too stubborn, so I tried it twice without and got this wavy crappy frisbee like thing. Man does my stubbornness suck!

Finally, I took the frisbee thing in to work to show Christina who has made oodles of these hats and said, what am I doing wrong. And she said, "Did you do the magic ring?"

"Uh. I don't know how to do the magic ring."

"Just go to Youtube. I learn everything from youtube!"

So here is how you do the magic ring. It's how I was able to do the hat AND the ears. If I didn't know the magic ring, I would have three small frisbee things and one unhappy Canadian friend with a baby with a cold head. Thank God for youtube. And this lady at for making a tutorial. I'm not going to give you the pattern because it's written really poorly and I don't think I will use it again. But if you really want it, it's on ravelry. Search Osito Baby Hat, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Google Books and Making Good Choices

Recently we had an AP US History paper assigned and I had one of the AP students select the following book as one of his sources from google books:

Here is a book one of our AP US students picked for his paper. The book is Phoenix Rising by Donald G. Lett. Now, the reason he picked this book is because it is about he Cuban missile crisis.
The reason I started to have a bad feeling about the book? One, when the student admitted in his works cited that he couldn't find much on the author, but the book still seemed credible (my emphasis added). So I looked it up. It was self published, which made warning bells go off.

Next, I invite you to look at the author's letter after the table of contents called The Pre-Liminaries. It is clear from this letter that the author has a particular bias and point of view, one that I am quite sure sailed right on past my AP student.

After you have looked at the letter, you need to go to the back of the book and check out the author's research, and I do use that term loosely. The author cites Wikipedia and Thinkquest (which is a site built by student entries, not unlike wikipedia) as authorities. To be sure, there are some credible sites in the research, but it is chock full of incredible sites, so much so that it makes it an excellent example of why EVERYTHING needs to be inspected and scrutinized, EVEN BOOKS.

The only additional information on the author I could find was at Amazon. It was rather disturbing.

This paper requires that they have monographs and the annotations need to have the author's credentials listed. So the kids are used to checking for author information and adding it to their annotations. What was interesting, upon asking the student why he chose this book over another, was that he only criteria was that it dealt with his topic and when he did a control-f search on his topic, lots of hits came up.

Good news is I have a great example for the kids to use next year for why they will be verifying books from google!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Berry Baby Hat

I've finished one of my hats. It's the Berry Baby Hat from Kim Werker's Crocheted Gifts.

It's going to be a christening gift for Lydia.

I think it turned out pretty cute. The leaves are a bit smaller than I thought they would be, but all in all, very smart looking and they crocheted up very quickly.

Now, I just hope it fits! Next up, a bear hat. 8-)