Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Saturday, July 21, 2007

oh, don't forget...

With the ubiquitous text messages flowing between student cell phones, here's a tool that can be put to constructive use. Oh, don't forget schedules text message reminders. Students can remind themselves of an upcoming research project deadline by simply adding their cell phone number, date and time, and the text message and voila, a message is queued up for you! Teachers can send reminders of upcoming quizzes, though multiple messaging appears to be labor-intensive...so best to teach students the "how to DIY".

Note: This is a free service, but regular text message fees from your service provider still apply!

photo credit to Jeff Hutton on flickr

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Off the Shelf 0607-30

A Long Time Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
By Ishmael Beah
Audio – CD – Undabridged
Read by Ishmael Beah
© 2007

Beah's story is an important one to read/listen to - but it doesn't make it easy. The majority of the book is centered on the violent atrocities of the recent genocide in the Sierra Leone civil war. The author was twenty-six when he wrote his story - in that relatively short lifetime, he had not only witnessed but participated in the ugliness of humanity gone wrong. Beah was twelve when rebels attacked his home, forcing him and his playmates on the run with only each other and their childish wits. A year later, at thirteen, he became a soldier and fought in the bloody and torturous war against the rebels, fueled by propaganda, hatred and drugs.

The plot takes you on a roller-coaster ride with hope and despair at many turns. Amazingly, Beah's overall perceptions about life took a lucky turn for the better and he outlived the negative aspects of the violence. Reading his account is almost surreal, but there is unquestionably the stark truth written in each line. As he indicates in this interview clip , his story is personal and unique and yet it also reflects a hidden secret about child soldiers world-wide. Though A Long Way Gone is understandably depressing, Beah advocates for the belief in humanity's goodness even through the eyes of evil.

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Playaways are here...

What's smaller than a deck of cards with earbuds and audio content? Well, no - not an iPod (though we have some of those for teacher checkout!)...it's a book downloaded into a battery-powered device that you can stick in your pocket or hang from a lanyard and 'read'!!

Playaways are a new addition to the library and are available for check out! Though limited in number as we introduce them to the Media Center, you'll find everything from The Illiad to Hoot to The Life of Pi to Eragon. All are unabridged editions and will provide you with hours of listening pleasure! Many titles are popular ones for English classes, thus giving support to literature reading. Try one and tell me what you think!


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Geni: New Way to Think about Family!

Geni is a pretty cool way to document your family tree and share that information with your family - even better they can contribute to the information, too! As one of the ubiquitous web 2.0 tools, it is currently in beta and is free. It is easy to get started and even easier to begin building your tree. I also like some of their other features: calendar with all of the birthdays (great way to keep track of old Aunt Edna really is) and global map with the locations of your relatives! You can also add photos and e-mail addresses - this could revolutionize how you communicate with and think about your extended family!

So could this have an impact in the learning environment? How about creating a school family or a classroom community with 'family ties'? Even better, I could see using such a tool to create families of
  • elements in chemistry,
  • characters in a literature book,
  • cultural perspectives in a geography class,
  • body parts in anatomy and physiology, and
  • timeline developments in world history class.
Okay, maybe you need a little bit of imagination to apply this tool in the classroom, but give it a whirl and post your thoughts!

photo by Savannahgrandfather on flickr

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Off the Shelf 0607-29

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood
By Ibtisam Barakat
© 2007

A Palestinian refugee from the Six-Day War, the author shares her childhood experiences in a homeless and landless environment. This is a story of humanity, survival and conflict – and being caught in the middle of it! Barakat was just 3 years old when her family fled their home on foot to avoid aerial attacks. The chaos that ensued nearly ripped her from her parents, but fortunately, she was able to reunite with them after a short separation. One appreciates the security of our relatively safe environment after reading her memoirs.

Extremely inquisitive, Barakat rivals her brothers’ adventures with endeavors of her own. She seeks security in the imaginary friendship of animals and in the manipulation of alphabetic objects, with interesting results! Her story is rich with cultural views and insightful anecdotes, as well.

Barakat purposefully gives tribute to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for even having the opportunity to attend school. Interestingly, her writing style appears very natural, flowing with sophisticated descriptors and personal reflections. Though the focus is on the author’s experiences, there is considerable historical perspective to gain, as well.

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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