Monday, December 13, 2010

Google Apps for Education

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...Image via WikipediaA new book, Google Apps for Education: Building Knowledge in a Safe and Free Environment, co-written by San Francisco teacher librarian, Micah Melton, about Google apps for education is now available from Hi Willow Press. Micah's co-authors include David Loertscher and Roger Nevin and they wrote the entire book using various Google apps. As a matter of fact, Micah has never even seen Roger Nevin!
At a California School Library Association workshop in San Francisco on Saturday, Micah explained how he is working with teachers in his school to encourage them to use "cloud computing" to complete all sorts of school-related projects.
Many teachers at Redwood have also begun using Google apps such as Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations with their students as well. There is a Google apps for education account set up for Redwood.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Figment: A Literary Website for Teens

INVITO VASTAGAMMA - DEDICA 2009Image by Zellaby via Flickr

A literary website for teens called Figment went live Monday and provides an online venue for students to write, read and share original fiction they create on their computers and smart phones. A staff writer and a former editor at the New Yorker launched a prototype of the site in June, and teamed with libraries, schools and literary groups to recruit student participants.

An article in the NY Times on Sunday describes the site in greater detail.

It looks like a great place to test out your creative juices and share your passion for writing with the world.

Thanks to Lynda Lincoln for the heads up.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Google eBooks

Well, it's finally happened--Google is publishing ebooks readable on many different devices (except Amazon's Kindle).
Since Google's ebooks are stored in the "cloud" there is no need to download them to a device. When you are ready to read you just login and have access to the books you've purchased.
Could this be a game-changer? We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sept. 24, 2010: UTLA welcomes education scholar Diane Ravitch

This is a video of a speech education guru, Diane Ravitch, gave to members of the teachers' union in Los Angeles this last September. One of her primary targets here is the movie, "Waiting for Superman," and its supporters such as Oprah Winfrey, various business leaders, and the Obama administration in the form of Arne Duncan's Race to the Top program. Another target is charter schools and their effects on the success of students and the topic of merit pay for teachers. Here are links to some of the studies and resources she cites: CREDO National Charter School Study and the "Waiting for Superman" movie.

On her own website Diane suggests the following:

"Write your elected officials. Find out whether any Congressmen or Senators from your state are on the education committee in their House of Congress. Write the members of the education committees even if you don’t live in their state. Ask your colleagues to write letters to them. Write letters to the editor. Comment on education blogs. Call in to talk shows. Speak up at school and community meetings. Speak up, speak out.

As the great Southern writer Flannery O’Connor wrote in a letter to a friend, 'You have to push as hard as the age that pushes against you.'

This age is pushing mighty hard against children, against educators, and against the very concept of good education.

Let’s all push back as hard as we can."

NY Times Cyberbullying Article

Picture of notebook screen with Facebook and F...Image via WikipediaInteresting article on how parents are learning how to deal with cyberbullying.

"Ninth grade was supposed to be a fresh start for Marie’s son: new school, new children. Yet by last October, he had become withdrawn. Marie prodded. And prodded again. Finally, he told her.
'The kids say I’m saying all these nasty things about them on Facebook,' he said. 'They don’t believe me when I tell them I’m not on Facebook.
But apparently, he was.
Marie, a medical technologist and single mother who lives in Newburyport, Mass., searched Facebook. There she found what seemed to be her son’s page: his name, a photo of him grinning while running — and, on his public wall, sneering comments about teenagers he scarcely knew.
Someone had forged his identity online and was bullying others in his name.
Students began to shun him. Furious and frightened, Marie contacted school officials. After expressing their concern, they told her they could do nothing. It was an off-campus matter."

One certainly has to feel for parents of kids who are suffering from these kinds of attacks, especially since many of the attackers' parents either don't care or are in denial about what their kids are doing and how they are affecting others with their stupid "kid" brutality. In some cases, even if the parents know exactly what their kids are doing, they dismiss criticism of their child as an invasion of privacy or denial their freedom to do exactly whatever they want.
In such cases, until parents take their responsibility to parent seriously, it's very hard to see how schools and other social institutions can prevent such attacks. As the article concludes:

"Overburdened school administrators and, increasingly, police officers who unravel juvenile cybercrimes, say it is almost impossible for them to monitor regulations imposed on teenagers.
As with the boys who impersonated D.C. online, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said, 'That monitoring is up to the parents.'"

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Vote for "The Catch"

State Farm Insurance is conducting an online contest, Friday Night Feats, in which football teams from around the country submit videos which are then voted on by viewers. You do have to set up an account to vote. Once you've set up the account and logged in choose "The Catch" and vote in the upper right corner of the video.
Go Giants!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Student-painted Author Portraits in the Library

Several years ago AP art students made these paintings which were to hang in the English Department hallway. Fortunately for us, the fire marshal said they couldn't mount them in the corridor because of fire regulations. The teacher asked me whether we could use them in the Library. Of course, I said yes. It took several years before we got them mounted permanently but they have graced our walls for awhile now.
They are a neat tribute to the student artists as well a wonderful addition to the ambiance of the Library.
Since then we've had students make paintings for the ends of our fiction and non-fiction shelves. And last spring the Art Honor Society members made a wonderful mural of characters from "Where the Wild Things Are" which hangs on the front of our circulation desk. We have a very colorful Library, indeed.