Friday, February 22, 2008

iPods Beyond the Music

A recent entry on the Online Education Database site entitled "100 Ways to Use Your iPod" says: "If you think that iPods are used just for listening to music, you obviously haven't been keeping up with the latest technology. The Apple-developed music player now features all kinds of accessories to help you study better, and now other companies are in a rush to get their designs in sync with the iPod. Pre-teens, college kids and even adults are taking advantage of the educational benefits an iPod affords them. From downloadable podcasts to just-for-iPod study guides and applications, learning on the go has never been easier. To find out about the many different ways you can transform your iPod into a learning device, check out our list below."

I'm not sure why the author skipped from pre-teens to college students but obviously, high school students and their teachers should be aware of how MP3 files can be useful to them as well.

The list mentioned includes sites like Raybook! which "combines texts, images, audio and video into a single package you can use on your iPod," iPREPpress, SparkNotes and SparkCharts, and NotePods.

It also gives lists of educational podcast sites, tutorials, iPod applications, and iTunes U (universities such as Stanford, UC, and MIT, which offer downloadable lectures)

In the Bessie Chin Library catalog we have begun to catalog websites which provide podcasts. Just search for the subject "podscasts" to see what we've got so far.

A great portal to all things iPod and educational, this page is well worth taking a look at.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Diversity Week in the library

This week was an interesting one. The library hosted two Diversity Week speakers on Monday and Tuesday and we had a full house for both presenters.

On Monday a group from the teen homeless advocacy organization, Ambassadors of Hope, talked about the problems homeless teens and young adults have in Marin County. The speakers someone who was homeless herself as a teen and determined to do something about it to help others. A young man who had recently been homeless also told of his experiences on the street. They showed a movie narrated by Peter Coyote, a county resident, about the particular problems homeless teens face here. Once they turn eighteen young people can no longer be part of the foster care system and with little or no support many become homeless.

Tuesday's speaker from Seeds of Learning explained the issue of fair trade to students who attended her presentations. She had worked in Central America with coffee growers who tend to be exploited under free trade agreements. The picture at the top of this post is from their website.

Both sets of speakers spoke to all seven periods of classes and as many as two-hundred students heard them each period--so they reached a lot of kids.
From the students comments, questions and answers I could tell there was a wide range of beliefs and responses to both speakers.

At Redwood we are fortunate that the Leadership class and it's teachers are not afraid to delve into controversial issues and consider that diversity refers to more than just ethnic or racial diversity. In Marin it's sometimes easy to forget that there's a great, wide world out there with issues and problems that we can make a difference about.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Greetings

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

For several years the library has provided candy on Halloween and Valentine's Day as a little treat for our patrons, students and staff alike. I find unwrapped, single-bite candy like candy corn or, for Valentine's, the little message hearts. I don't offer wrapped candy because of the trash it produces. Kids really enjoy it, of course.

This year I couldn't find the tiny candy hearts so I only got the larger ones. I guess I was just looking in the wrong place. The only little hearts I saw were in tiny bags inside a larger bag. Talk about a waste. I guess there's some concern about safety!? I also provided new (to me) white, pink and red, candy corn. Candy corn isn't just for Halloween any more. And finally I found heart-shaped Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper Heart Breakers (what a mouthful).

Kids (both girls and boys) were running around with flowers and other tokens of affection. But they really like the candy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Support the Bessie Chin Library

Although the Tam District is quite generous when it comes to providing support for district library programs, parents from time to time ask how they help the library as individuals. Of course, donations of used books and videos are certainly encouraged. When we receive donated books or other materials we make a decision about whether or not to add them to the collections based on condition and age, curricular connections, and usefulness for recreational reading. Books we cannot use we take to the Marin County Free Library bookstore in Novato where they help support MCFL programs.

The Bessie Chin Library also has three easy ways you can help provide funds for library and school materials.

• We have a close relationship with our wonderful neighbors at Book Passage in Corte Madera ( When a customer mentions Redwood as they are buying books a certain percentage of the sale (up to 5%) is rebated to Redwood in the form of a gift certificate. In the most recent quarter the library received a certificate for more than $125.00 which means supporters bought over $2500.00 worth of books and mentioned Redwood High School.
• A new initiative we discovered recently is called GiftLit. Their website ( provides a way to give the gift of books on a regular basis and have the school get 15% of whatever the gift costs. Their brochure explains: “our board of literary experts group their favorite books into unique collections delivered in 3, 6, or 12-month gifts.” Collections include: New Baby, Favorites for Boys Age 8-10, Favorites for Girls Age 10-12’ Teen Fiction for Girls, Teen Fiction for Boys, Favorites for Women, Nonfiction for Men, Food & Wine, Read Aloud, and Family Activities. Once you’ve ordered one of the subscriptions you will be prompted to enter the school code (for Redwood it’s RHS82302) and the school gets credit for that sale.
• There is a special search box on the library’s home page ( and when you order something from Amazon using this box we get a certain percentage of the sale. There is currently no way of ordering via the regular website for Amazon. Any proceeds from these sales come to us as a rebate on our regular library account with Amazon. You can also order books through LibraryThing and Redwood will get the Amazon rebate.

There are links to all of three of these services on the library website (Click on Support the Library). Take a look and make a choice. All of these are great ways to keep up with your reading (or in the case of Amazon, just about anything!) and support the Redwood library program at the same time.

Thanks for all you do for Redwood as volunteers and in so many other ways. It’s all for one cause—your kids and our community.