November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for August 2011

U.S. Students Rank 32 in Math Proficiency, 17 in Reading, Study Says

By SLJ Staff, 8/23/2011

Our nation’s graduating high school class of 2011 had a 32 percent proficiency rate in math and a 31 percent proficiency rate in reading, leaving many to question whether schools are adequately preparing students for the 21st century global economy, says a new report. U.S. students fall behind 31 countries in math proficiency and behind 16 countries in reading proficiency, according to the recent study, “Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?” by Harvard’s Program on […]

Not Fade Away: Ten years after 9/11, how do you teach kids about a tragedy they can’t remember?

By Frances Jacobson Harris

September 11, 2001, wasn’t a normal day for most of us. The students at my Illinois high school packed into the library to watch the nonstop news coverage. Those in computer-lab classes kept trying their luck with CNN’s much-overburdened website. Administrators cruised the halls, looking for kids with relatives who worked at or near ground zero or the Pentagon or who were just too upset to […]

Game Station: Spare funds and some hand-me-down desktops have turned a forgotten room at the Flemington Library into tech central

Max, 17, downloads a multiplayer game a friend has sent him, while 14-year-old Isa checks out his Facebook page, at the same time, texting a friend. Joe, an 18-year-old high school senior, and Danny, 17, riffle through a pile of sample video games left for them to test, as several other teens chat and rove about a ragtag space stocked with patched-together desktop computers. Bookshelves are laden with games for just about every console system known to […]

Amazon Alters Rules for Kindles in School Libraries

Amazon has apparently created new rules governing the use of its Kindle ereader in school libraries. The website of the ecommerce giant states that content cannot be loaded across multiple devices at one time, and an Amazon rep told at least one school librarian, Buffy Hamilton, that ebooks cannot be ported to more than one device. Amazon also requires that each Kindle be tethered to its own account.

If permanent, the new rules could hamper the use of Kindles in school […]

Wonder Boy: If you loved ‘Hugo Cabret,’ wait till you see Brian Selznick’s new novel

Brian Selznick is having a very, very good year. Next month, Scholastic releases Wonderstruck, his new novel “in words and pictures,” with a hefty first printing of 500,000 copies. And Martin Scorsese’s much-anticipated 3-D take on Selznick’s bestseller, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (with a stellar cast that includes Ben Kingsley and Jude Law), arrives in theaters just in time for Thanksgiving.

Photograph by Tim Mantoani

As Selznick’s fans well know, this isn’t the first time the […]

The Obsolescence Battle: If it’s not Google, it’s another thing | Editorial

Back in the early part of this century, it seemed like you couldn’t go to a class reunion or a neighborhood cookout without someone sidling up to you just dying to pop the question: “If I can find everything I need through Google, why do I need the library?”

It’s true that we’re all able to satisfy many of our daily information needs thanks to the Internet. But while some people may […]

Leader of the Pack: The lives of our former presidents make for a compelling and fun read | Nonfiction Booktalker

Which president was the first to travel in an airplane? (Theodore Roosevelt) Which president weighed only 100 pounds? (James Madison) And the killer question: Which president was the first one born in the United States? No, it wasn’t George Washington. The fourth and fifth graders in my booktalk audience got excited when I asked them these and other questions about our various commanders-in-chief.

Kathleen Krull has updated her Lives of the Presidents: […]

Kinect Four and Win!: A fun way to explore innovative learning opportunities A fun way to explore innovative learning opportunities | The Gaming Life

Remember the classic tabletop game Connect Four where you drop colored chips from the top of a seven column six row grid until you or your opponent line up four of your own color chips in a row? What I love about the game is not just the sound of chips falling into slots, but also the many ways you can win depending on how you can connect, whether vertically, horizontally, […]

Frenemies: Jack D. Ferraiolo’s hilarious new novel features dueling superhero sidekicks | Under Cover

Sidekicks opens with Bright Boy, aka Scott Hutchinson, the teen sidekick of superhero Phantom Justice, getting aroused as he’s rescuing a hot young woman. The bulge in his bright yellow tights is caught on camera, and now everyone’s cracking jokes at Bright Boy’s expense. Is any of this autobiographical?

[Laughs] The whole thing is autobiographical, right down to saving a woman from falling off a building. Everything! No, actually, I mean like any […]

The Worst Is Yet to Come: Dystopias are grim, humorless, and hopeless—and incredibly appealing to today’s teens

Tomorrow isn’t what it used to be. The latest trend in young adult fiction features visions of the future, and most of them are pretty grim. In Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008), the teenagers of a fractured future U.S.A. are pitted against one another in televised battles to the death. In Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (Little, Brown, 2010), the oil has run out and child […]

Dystopia: Turn On the Dark | Focus On

“A place or time in which people’s lives are devalued or dehumanized.”

That’s basically what a perusal of a few dictionaries will yield when searching for “dystopia.” You may find additional keywords like “totalitarian,” but at the root, a dystopia is simply the opposite of a utopia. Classic adult dystopias like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are cautionary tales that envision future authoritarian societies when personal freedoms are severely limited. Dystopian fiction for youth also […]