November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for January 2011

A Storied Past: The best tales are often found right inside your own front door

A 1998 photo of Zetta Elliott in her classroom atDecatur Clearpool Beacon School.

When I tell people I’m the daughter of two public school teachers, many wrongly assume I grew up in a house full of books. According to my earliest report cards, I had an active imagination and at times my teachers had to curb my enthusiasm for sharing stories with my classmates. Yet when I look back on my childhood, I realize that storytelling skipped […]

Student Vaughn Hillyard Awarded for Defending Free Speech

It took former Arizona high school students Vaughn Hillyard and Sophia Curran 10 months to finally get a controversial story published in their Thunderbird High School student paper. But it was worth the wait.

The two are winners of the Arizona Freedom of Information Sunshine Award for battling censorship when their principal and the Glendale Union High School District refused to publish a front-page story that criticized a decision by school officials. That issue of The Challenge went to press with […]

Cool Tools: Create your own learning games for free

A quick web search for “educational games” or a variation thereof will yield thousands of results. Some of those games might suit your students’ needs, but you could end up with nothing. So rather than spending hours searching for a great learning activity, why not create your own game? Better yet, have students help devise one that they can play with their classmates.

Designing and building games used to […]

Reason2Smile | SLJTeen

What happens when two people—an American and a Kenyan—decide to improve children’s lives? The Jambo Jipya School renaissance happens! When Keela Dates took a year off after college to volunteer overseas, she found it difficult to leave behind the children she taught, many of whom were orphans. How could she help them get the education they needed to break the cycle of poverty that held them back? Along with the dedicated founder of Jambo Jipya School, Christine Mwende, Dates embarked […]

Hang in There: How to get a library job against all odds

Cash-strapped school districts? Shrinking budgets? School library positions under the ax? It’s enough to make a resourceful media specialist wonder whether she’ll still have a job at the end of the school year or will need to find a new one. And it’s not just experienced media specialists who are anxious.

A teacher completing her MLS recently wrote on LM_NET that she was worried about getting a job after graduation. With all the gloom and […]

Preventing Cyberbullying | Scales on Censorship

Who’s responsible for teaching kids how to behave online?

Our community has had several unfortunate incidents of students involved in cyberbulling. I’d like to work with our middle schoolers on this issue. Some of our faculty members are supportive of my plans, but others feel that our students’ parents are responsible for teaching their kids appropriate online behavior. What’s your suggestion?

This is a hot topic that affects every community, and it’s important for students to know how to conduct themselves appropriately […]

Immigration: Coming to America | Focus On

Give me your tired, your poor…
But not too tired, not too poor.
And we will give you the red tape,
the long line, white bread in its wrapper,
forms to fill out, and the looks, the stares
that say you are not where or what you should be,
not quite, not yet, you will never live up to us.

—from “Statue of Liberty Dreams of Emma Lazarus, Awakens with Tears on Her Cheeks” by Naomi Shihab Nye

To say that immigration is currently a […]

Why I Am Here: A school librarian’s creed | Editorial

Last month, Marc Bernstein, the superintendent of New York’s Valley Stream Central High School District, published an opinion piece in Newsday called “What Cuomo can do to improve schools.” His key advice for the governor-elect “in this information age”? Eliminate “the antiquated requirement that all high schools have at least one full-time librarian and a minimum number of books.”

I immediately decided to respond with an editorial—I expect we’ll be hearing […]

Altar Ego: In Ally Condie’s ‘Matched,’ the government dictates who you marry | Under Cover

Photograph by Matthew Turley.

Matched takes place in a dystopian society that controls who you marry, what you eat, and when you die. But 17-year-old Cassia challenges the established order when she falls for two guys—her state-approved match and someone a computer glitch accidentally reveals. I heard the story was inspired by a high school prom that you and your husband, Scott, chaperoned.

We used to chaperone dances on the weekend […]

Planet App: Kids’ book apps are everywhere. But are they any good?

Judging apps is difficult, especially when you’ve only got a tenuous grasp on what the darned things are. Having grown up back in the day when technology-centric libraries circulated Teddy Ruxpin tapes (check your local library, because someone, somewhere, is bound to have some sitting on their shelves), all these newfangled doodads and whizbangs are confusing to the old noggin. That said, it’s easy enough to get your hands on an app. You just whip out your iPhone or […]

Full Speed Ahead: Our leadership summit examines the wildly changing world of reading

Photograph by Daryl Grabarek

Better fasten your seat belts. The face of reading is changing, and it’s happening at a much faster rate than most people had imagined. Where’s it all going? What factors are driving the most significant developments? And what role do librarians play in this rapidly evolving world? These are some of the key questions that stakeholders—including educators, publishers, authors, and illustrators—recently sought to answer in Chicago during School Library Journal’s 2010 Leadership Summit on the […]

That’s Amore! Ten Nonfiction Books (for Adults) To Fall In Love With

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Thanks to Mark Rotella’s Amore: The Story of Italian American Song (see p. 34), Harry Warren’s 1952 “That’s Amore,” made famous by Dean Martin, is ringing in my head. Except I can’t help singing a library version of the lyrics: “When you see a new book by a favorite scribe—that’s amore! When those covers just shine like a glass of great wine—that’s amore!… When you walk down those stacks in a dream but you know […]

First Amendment Rights | The Gaming Life

As marketing for National Gaming Day, November 13, 2010, began at the Haverhill (MA) Public Library, potential participants were enticed by the list of games that would be available.

Rock Band and Mario Kart were featured, but a surprising number of children, some as young as ten, asked, “What about Call of Duty: Black Ops?, the highly anticipated game debuting a week before the event. When asked if they were allowed […]

Fully Loaded: Outfitting a teacher librarian for the 21st century. Here’s what it takes.

Illustration by John S. Dykes

What does it mean to be fully loaded?

I often consider the notion for my students. In fact, ever since I acquired the first apps for my iPhone, I’ve adopted the admittedly odd habit of pondering which apps I would “load” onto my students.

If, indeed, high school students were smartphones or iPads, I would do my very best to fully load them with the critical skills and tools they need to become information- […]

It’s Never Too Early: Parents should talk to their young ones long before they can speak | First Steps

The young woman sitting alone near the front of the MAX train car was speaking passionately, presumably to a friend on a cellphone. Nothing new—we overhear all sorts of conversations these days. But then, unexpectedly, she lifted a blue bundle to her face, and it became clear that she was talking to her infant son. Some assumptions, thankfully, are so wrong.

Somewhere, she had learned how important it is to talk to […]