Nonfiction Books for Common Core
Informational texts: XBOOKS is a nonfiction language arts program from Scholastic for middle school students that offers informational texts in both print and digital formats that cover science and social studies topics. XBOOKS is an interactive program that features print and online components to build student proficiency in reading, writing, and thinking critically about informational texts. The collection, developed and written by master teachers Dr. Jeffrey Wilhelm and Laura Robb, aligns with Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and is divided into five high-interest areas: Strange, Medical, Forensics, Total War, and Tyrants. For each strand, there’s a lead book, three reader’s choice books that can be used for small group or independent reading, and five stretch texts for students to expand their knowledge and reading comprehension. Multimedia content on the XBOOK website includes five introductory strand videos, book preview videos, class blogs, quizzes, interactive, and games. Among the titles are N.B. Grace’s It Came from the Swamp, D.B. Beres’s Sticky Evidence, Anna Prokos’s DNA Doesn’t Lie, and Candy J. Cooper’s Reporting from Iraq. Scholastic is offering a free trial. A one-year classroom site license (30 seats) provides access to all the print components as well as the digital learning platform.
Save the Date
Children’s literature program: The Port Washington (NY) Public Library is offering a yearlong series of special events to celebrate its 120th anniversary, including two focused on children’s literature. On November 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm, “Past, Present and Future: Insiders Look at Children’s Literature in the 21st Century will be presented as a discussion led by author/artist Jane Zalben. Among the panel of librarians, authors, artists, and publishers are Rita Auerbach, Sandra Jordan, Leonard Marcus, Renee McGrath, Neal Porter, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Caroline Ward. This illustrious group will examine questions about the future of children’s literature, such as: What is the influence of multimedia and electronic publishing? Where is the book in all this? How will professionals provide children with literature that inspires a lifelong love of reading? A reception and book signing will follow the discussion. In addition, there will be an exhibition of original art by renowned children’s book illustrators Brian Floca, Roxie Munro, Jerry Pinkney, Sergio Ruzzier, Amy Schwartz, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Jane Zalben, and others in the library’s main gallery from November 1 to 30.
Calling All Authors
YA mystery novels: The Poisoned Pen Press has created its first imprint, The Poisoned Pencil, dedicated to publishing mysteries for young adults. They are looking for manuscripts from authors of traditional and cross-genre novels featuring protagonists between the ages of 12 and 18. If you have written a YA mystery novel of 45,000 to 90,000 words, The Poisoned Pencil would like to hear from you. Authors, both adults and teens, are encouraged to submit their manuscript to the publisher for consideration. What to avoid: serial killers, excessive gore or horror, vampires or other heavy supernatural, sci-fi, or fantasy content. According to the editors, the publisher encourages “off-beat approaches and narrative choices that reflect the complexity and ambiguity of today’s world.” Check out the submission guidelines that provide information about content, cover letter, synopsis, and manuscript requirements.
World cinema: During International Education Week, November 12-17, 2012, Global Film Initiative (GFI) is offering high schools in the United States and Canada free access to screen their Global Lens world cinema series in the classroom. The Global Film Initiative was created to promote cross-cultural understanding through the medium of cinema. The Global Lens series is comprised of more than 75 award-winning feature films from around the world. By simply emailing GFI at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can make your school part of this event. And, in addition to screening the films, your school will get the actual DVDs for free. The films, such as Buffalo Boy (Vietnam) and The Kite (Lebanon) are narrated in their native language with English subtitles.
International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Education “to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.”
Video contest: By entering Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow contest, your school can win a technology grant worth thousands of dollars. The contest, open to 6th–12th grade public school teachers across the United States, asks teachers and their students to create a video to answer the challenge: “Show how STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) can help improve the environment in your community.” There are two parts to the challenge. First, teachers must fill out an application by October 31, and answer the following questions: How would you use the project to raise student interest in science, math, or the environment? How would you engage your students to enthusiastically participate in this project? Describe the school’s students’ need for technology. Seventy-five teachers chosen as semi-finalists will receive the tools necessary to make their video: a Samsung camcorder, a Samsung laptop, an Adobe Element bundle, and a quick start guide provided by Adobe. Teachers must use the products provided to produce the video—and the package is theirs to keep. The top 15 videos will be voted on by consumers, select Samsung employees, and a panel of education experts. Five schools will win technology grants worth $110,000 and be honored at an awards ceremony; ten schools will win technology grants worth at least $40,000.
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