Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teaching the Digital Generation By Kelly, McCain & Jukes

Teaching the Digital Generation: No More Cookie-Cutter High Schools by Frank S. Kelly, Ted McCain and Ian Jukes. Corwin Press (2008), Paperback, 280 pages 978-1-4129-3927-0

The basic premise of this book is not new by any stretch, but interestingly still needs to be said, over and over. Our schools are not functional in teaching our students what they need to be successful in the 21st century. Our student's brains are wired differently due to early and consistent exposure to digital media and we need to get on board. I agree completely and appreciate that the authors take a very bottom up approach in that they focus on the physical design of learning spaces as being the first step. If we don't change the spaces we teach in, we will have a much harder time changing our teaching. They are also very clear that a community vision must exist before design and construction begin and they do not mince words when they say that it will "take great courage, steadfast commitment, and a lot of just plain hard work to sustain the vision.” (67). After laying out their reasoning, the authors elaborate on 11 different school designs with the emphasis on the fact that there is no one right answer for every kid. Each of the 11 designs is preceded by a two-page graphic of the concept which is then followed by a short elaboration and a rubric which each design is evaluated against. While the need for professional development is stressed and the resistance of teachers, parents and administrators being asked to move out of their comfort zone is addressed, the book is focused on the physical design of the learning spaces.

The authors explore how the physical design of the school must support 21st century curriculum, but how that curriculum is designed would very much depend on the vision that the community creates and the specific model or models that used. The authors address many aspects of the digital age high school but as a school librarian, I am concerned that most of their models do not have an information center (library/commons) and that while there is much mention of online access to library materials and information there is no discussion of how those materials will be selected, evaluated, and where students are to get voluntary reading material is left out entirely.

I would highly recommend that anyone contemplating a school remodel or construction read this book immediately. If nothing else, it will make you question your assumptions and “the way we have always done it” which is not a bad thing at all.

Related Book: The New Learning Commons: Where learners win byDavid V. Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan; ISBN: 978-1-933170-40-4; Hi Willow Research and Publishing; 2008

Related Websites: No More Cookie Cutter High Schools

Review by Ann Morgester Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports

Take a look at this list of 10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports by Kelly Tenkely on . Talk about creating meaningful integration of technology for students. It isn't about doing more, it is about doing what we do differently!!

Thanks to Joyce Valenza on Twitter for this link (joycevalenza) - and this would be one of the ways to use twitter effectively in your job...... Where Teachers Meet and Learn

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chains: Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains. Simon and Schuster 2008 978—4169-0585-1 16.99

Isabelle and Ruth were told that when Mistress Finch died they would be given their freedom. It was written in the will. Mistress Finch’s greedy nephew denies that will was ever written and sells them to the Lockton’s, Torries who are returning to New York to work against the Patriots. Isabelle is desperate to protect her young sister who is “simple” and after Ruth is sold away from her by the Lockton’s she is convinced by another young slave, Curzon, to spy on the Lockton’s. In the end though, the questions raised by the book have more to do with who is to be free in this new nation and what Isabelle is willing to risk to be free herself.

This is a powerful book in many ways. I think the point of view on the revolutionary period is different than any other fiction I have read about the period. The colonists are people, not caricatures, with all the kindness and cruelty that exists in the human race. Isabelle is a character to make you cheer and cry and her ultimate decision reveals the power of love and the strength of the human spirit. While the book is appropriate for upper elementary and MS it also offers wonderful discussion points about the revolution for HS.

Also check out Terri Lesesne's Review on her Goddess of YA Literature Blog

Review by Ann Morgester Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District

Friday, July 24, 2009

Swimming to Antarctica: Lynne Cox

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox Biography 978-0156031301 14.99 2005 Harvest Books/Harcourt Inc

Lynne Cox discovered early that she loved swimming in the elements, and as a very fit swimmer with loads of endurance but not much speed over short swims, she is a natural at swimming for hours in open water. At the age of 14 she began by swimming the Catalina Channel between Catalina Island and Seal Beach just south of Los Angles (26 miles/over 12 hours). She then went looking for more challenges and set world records for the English Channel, was the first woman and one of only 5 people to swim the Cook Strait in New Zeland, and raced in the Nile River. She then set her sights on swimming the Bering Strait between Little Diomede Island and Big Diomede before the end of the cold war on her way to her most extreme swim in the life threatening cold of Antarctica. In the mean time swimming around the shark infested Cape of Good Hope, in Alaska’s Glacier Bay, across Russia’s Lake Baikal and in various other spots around the world.

I don’t usually like biography but I was sucked into this book from the first page. Throughout the book Lynne shares her fears, her determination and her triumphs with a humble spirit and with sincere acknowledgment of all the people in her life who have supported and encouraged her to follow her very extreme dreams. A fabulous read!

Review by Ann Morgester, Library Curriculum Coordinator Anchorage School District

7 Days at the Hot Corner: Terry Trueman

7 Days At The Hot Corner by Terry Trueman 2007 Harper Teen 978-0060574949
Scott loves baseball, more than anything else and this senior is set to help his team to a shutout season. So why has everything gotten so hard?

His best friend, Travis, comes out to his family and is kicked out of his house, so he comes to stay with Scott and his dad. But this is new to Scott too and he isn’t sure how to react, what is safe and who to trust. Worse, he worries about being HIV positive because several months before he got Travis’ blood on his hands when they were in the batting cages. It takes 7 days to get back the results of his HIV test and in that 7 days he learns a lot about himself, his family and what it means to be a friend.

7 days is a long time when you are stuck in the hot corner. I loved this book. At 150 pages it is a fast read, and the strong and believable characterizations make Scott’s emotional turmoil and his process very realistic. He doesn’t just overcome his fears or his anger but he works through it in a way that is very true to the age. Even though Scott is a senior I think this book would have strong appeal at the middle school level as well as HS
Highly Recommended

Review by Ann Morgester HS Librarian and ASD Library Curriculum Coordinator

Terry Trueman's Website

God Box: Alex Sanchez

Sanchez, Alex. The God Box.

Paul is a Christian, has a great girl friend, belongs to the HS Bible Study group and is struggling with his feelings about his sexuality. Enter Manuel. Openly gay but a self identified Christian he turns many things upside down. He forces many people to reevaluate what they think and how they act. Recommended for HS.

Review by Ann Morgester. HS Librarian. Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District