Sunday, April 27, 2008

Teacher Refuses to Give State Tests

I know many of you have concerns about the impact of state testing on students. Here is how one Washington state teacher, Charles Chew, responded to the call for state mandated testing. Read his comments found in a Seattle newspaper paper, and post your responses. What do you think of his method of protest? What about his going public on the issue? Other news stories are now proliferating about his action, and perhaps you have read them or seen some videos online or caught a news story on television about the case. You will also notice that 40 reviewers as of today posted comments to his stories, so you might want to peruse the comments quickly before posting your own responses. The topic of state mandated testing affect us all, so please take the time to respond.

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Save Our Libraries

Now, you don’t have to leave home to check out books from public libraries. Better yet, you can forget those pest late fees. Libraries are now starting to offer books for download with expiration for loans built in, so access is denied after a pre-determined date, and no late fee is incurred.

For those with vision problems, libraries accommodate not only by offering audio books but also loan MP-3 players to listen to those books. Library videos also can now be checked out online, similar to movie online subscription services, but without the out-of-pocket fee.

To learn more about how public libraries are implementing technologies to accommodate patrons, check out this April 20, 2008
New York Times article. How do you think changes in the public library will affect school-aged children? What do you think your local public libraries should be doing technologically to make their services more attractive to this population? In general, what do you think of libraries offering more online services, which might affect their in-person patron services? Here is the link to The New York Times article:

Hope you can access it without having to log on. Even if you can’t access it, you can still post comments to the topics summarized in this blog posting. I have also heard that libraries might be opening cafes to duplicate the experience of bookstores with this amenity What do you think of that idea? What about ice cream parlors in libraries? Will that attract young patrons for the right or wrong reasons?

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Instant Messaging 's Effects on Our Brains!

Numerous linguistics experts have confirmed that instant messaging is not leading to the demise of the English language among our youth. Although some believe that shorthand used in instant messaging might be causing teens to transfer that form of communication to their academic work, studies conducted by reputable organizations such as the Pew Institute do not confirm that hypothesis. Rather, researchers have found that teens are smart enough to know to adjust their writing approach for the audience, and most teens will write differently for their teachers and adults than for peers.

To learn more about what researchers are finding out about the effects of instant messaging on teen’s communications styles, please refer to a thoughtful post found on Dennis Barone’s “Web of Language” blog. Note his posting on the topic also contains several hyperlinks to access the specific studies that he refers to in his post. You might want to read all are part of the studies. If you are taking an educational research course, you might find the topic of instant messaging and school writing worth exploring for a major assignment. The graphic above is offered by Dennis Barone on his blog and shows the screen of The Librarian General's warning as it is written. Please remember to post your comments after checking into Barone’s blog. Does his posting or the findings of research studies allay or intensify your concerns about the effects of instant message?

On another note, Barone also addresses concerns about text messaging while driving. As some of you might know, high school seniors in upstate New York were killed last year in a car accident when the teen driver was text messaging and hit a truck. However, that tragic accident speaks more so to cell phone use while driving than the effects of instant messaging on written communication for academic purposes.

Other concerns that Barone notes are students diverting their attention during classes to text message, but how is that different than in the old days when distracted students handwrote and passed notes to friends, or students at any time just sitting in class and doodling or daydreaming? Can we be “mind police” over the diversions students find during class time, or is the answer to create more stimulating lessons that engage students so deeply that the thought of diversions don’t even cross their minds? Moreover, do we blame the medium or the messenger?

Without further ado, here is the link you need to read more, and let’s hear from you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Teens Stymied by Writing Research Papers

Teen Space, the Internet Public Library, offers a website to help high school and introductory college students write research papers. A step-by-step guide in an easy-to-follow format is provided. Students can navigate the site on their own, but it would be a good idea for a teacher to introduce it and give an overview of what is available. Check the site. It might even have some applicability for students in the middle school. Let us know what you think and if you would recommend the site to other teachers.

Student’s Attack on Course Textbook Is Taken Seriously

A student who voiced concern about political biases reflected in a highly popular American history textbook has been taken seriously. Senior, Matthew LaClair, of Kearney, New Jersey, noted several incorrect statements in his AP government textbook, US Government, among them statements on separation of church and state and global warming. He brought his concerns to the Center for Inquiry, and the textbook publisher, Houghton Mifflin, has since agreed to review the well-used textbook for inaccuracies.

The concerns that LaClair raised about erroneous information about global warming have been taken up by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science, James Hansen, who is helping LaClair in his appeal to have the publisher make amends for the errors. The concern centers on how the book downplays global warming and indicates scientists really do not know the extent of global warming and whether we are really experiencing this phenomenon. In short, the textbook, widely used in high schools and colleges, simplifies aspects of civics and science, yet it is widely available to our students, and it has taken a high school senior to call attention to errors that appear to have gone largely unnoticed or ignored by others.

Visit this link from MSNBC to learn more about this story and post your comments:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Social Studies Resources

Here is a valuable portal to online resources for teaching social studies. The information might be useful to others. The list of resources was compiled by a librarian with the middle school social studies teacher in mind. The list is extensive, and chock full of resources for helping teachers design lesson plans, and find useful online resources for students. The resource is also listed as useful to parents. Check it out, and enjoy exploring:
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Let us know what you think. Post comments.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

States Mandate Teaching Internet Safety

Illinois, Texas, and Virginia have passed legislator regarding the teaching of Internet safety. In Virginia, teaching Internet safety is now a mandatory part of the curriculum.

In these states, lessons are prepared at all grade levels, K-12, to teach about Internet safety. Topics covered include the dangers of Internet predators, the risks of sharing personal information online, and permanence of what might be posted on the Internet.

Other states are requiring similar curriculum initiatives. Curricular kits have been put together for schools by such companies as Verizon and Symantec.

Do you believe it is the school’s role to teach students about Internet safety? If so, how do you propose the matter be handled? Who should do the teaching and how?

See this Education Week article for more details:
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Credible Sources

In the age of the Internet, we have all likely noticed that writers don't always use the most credible sources. Check out this excellent, entertaining websites to help students learn how to critique websites. It will take you between 5 and 10 minutes to go through the tutorial. be sure to the sound on, and use the Next button at the site to advance through the tutorial. Let us know if you think this tutorial will be helpful to use with students. Here is the URL:
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