Book donations and web stories

……………I can’t believe it’s past the middle of November, but I hope everyone is having a good school year so far.  I feel like I don’t have any one particular thing I need to share with anyone who reads this, so instead, think of this as a digital cornucopia of websites, observations and other such goodies as we head towards the Thanksgiving Day Holiday.

……………If you haven’t already tried using the HHS OPAC, I’m here to remind you that we have nearly twenty five thousand titles in our collection and that we are always adding new books we acquire through purchase and through the generosity of our school community. Last week we were fortunate enough to receive three boxes of books thanks to Mary Sullivan and Melanie Kutschke who remembered the Haverhill High School library. The books were all in excellent condition and were evidently part of the research for a PBS documentary on Latinos in the United States. We want to thank them for the wonderful addition to our collection and encourage our readers to check out these books. Among the titles donated are:

As always, I run across many interesting stories that make me wonder and I’d like to share a few of these with you:

  • 10 Scientific Theories and Laws You Should Really Know: I love lists and this one is especially necessary in today’s modern day. Plus how can you top a list that has Newton, Einstein and Archimedes on it?
  • 10 Things we’ve learned about fat: I told you that I love lists. And I especially love lists where chocolate and bacon get to be the “good” guys. Although it kind of makes me wonder when we’re going to get the health information “right”.
  • Foods with 100 calories: This is the last list, I promise, and I include it only because I love food and I do all the cooking for my family. I would love to print out all 24 of these foods (in color, 8.5” x 11”) and make myself a giant laminated poster to remind me what constitutes 100 calories (But I won’t, of course). 13 large steamed shrimp or 43 Okra pods, you decide.
  • Artist creates faces from DNA left in public: I consider myself a lover of art and a supporter of science, but something about this story makes me think of the worst Orwellian horror multiplied by Kafka.
  • Writing by hand improves learning. I’m a scribbler and a journal keeper and a list maker. I collect random lost pens and have notebooks full of poems, stories, cartoons, line drawings and all sorts of other doodles. So of course, I am absolutely biased when I think about how valuable putting pencil or pen to paper is for your brain. These two articles (How handwriting trains the brain and Is Writing better than Typing) support my belief that there are other positive effects to learning by writing it down.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a great week and thank you for stopping by.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2013. All rights reserved.

Welcome Back, 2013 – 14

……….I hope your summer was great, but even more I wish for you a successful and exciting school year.

……….September is a bittersweet time for me. It is like a New Year’s celebration as we open the doors to our building and gather together to do what we do. And then, there’s the saying goodbye to another summer of our lives.

……….There are a lot of new faces in the building this year, and I want to welcome them to our family. I hope they each find at least one ally and I want them to know they can always find a quiet corner to gather themselves in the library media center (LMC).

……….I would like to use this post to share important information related to the Haverhill High School LMC:

School Extension:      1143

Hours:                            Mon. – Fri., 7 am – 3 pm

……….The High School’s library catalog is online and available for anyone to use. You will find it listed first in out Major Links categories to the right. Please make sure to bookmark that page and use it often to find out what we have on our shelves.

HHS homepage

Review of basic library rules

  • Students may sign up for the library (if they have a scheduled study), before first period starts or after the last school bell (2:05 pm).
  • Subject teachers may send students with a pass (up to 3) to complete class work or take a test. (Please call to advise us if you are sending students out of a class).
  • Teachers can sign up to bring their classes to the library by checking at the circulation desk for availability. We have two computer labs, each with about two dozen working PCs (depending on how the network is behaving that day). We also have room for a class in the “pit”.
  • Hats, hoods, cell phones, head phones and personal electronic devices are not allowed. Every other rule in the student handbook also applies doubly true in the library.
  • Personal electronic devices may be used if the student shows that he/she is doing school-related work. (Please ask us first; don’t make us assume you are breaking a school rule).
  • The library is a large common space, available and welcoming to all who wish to convene (after making arrangements or getting a pass), thus anyone who disrupts or interferes with the WORK being done, will be asked to leave – and may be banned for some time, depending on the wishes of the all-mighty Oracle.
  • Remember to leave the library the way you found it. If you moved a chair, put it back. If your students moved chairs, have your students put them back. Better still … don’t move the chairs.
  • Food and drink are not allowed in the library. Food includes anything you put in your mouth that you intend to swallow or chew on. Drink includes water. I can’t make this any clearer.
  • We are here to help anyone and everyone who asks for help, especially when they ask with a smile.

……….Please bookmark or subscribe to the library blog, as I try to share news and information that is mostly related to education, our library collection or other ideas that I believe are important to consider. I encourage anyone who is new to the blog to check out the video resources page for a number of reliable sites that have free streaming videos and other educational resources you may find useful for use in your classrooms.

……….I think that’s it; for now.

……….I hope this was helpful and I thank you, as always, for stopping by.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2013. All rights reserved.

August Quick Hits: Online Finds

There’s less than a week left before school starts again, so I hope the summer has been good to you. I have been enjoying my time away from school and love spending time with my family, who I don’t get to see as much during the school year.

One of my great pleasures during my summers used to be reading novels. Nowadays, I find myself reading more non-fiction, and I also still love reading print magazines. We do have an Ipad, and my oldest son loves reading list sites such as Listverse, Cracked.com and others.

Here is an abbreviated list of things I’ve found interesting online this summer:

  • The Citizen Science page on the Scientific American website is a great place to find projects you can take part in, in various ways. One project, for example, is mapping the genes in American Cockroach and will take two of them from you if you’d like to participate in the study. Of course, there are many more interesting, less icky projects there.
  • I am a doodler, but vlogger Vi Hart, takes the art to a whole new level by taking stop motion animation to math class in a series of fast paced and well illustrated videos. Doodling in Math Class, so far, is a twelve-part collection that shares some interesting mathematical ideas.
  • Since I still haven’t won the Powerball or sold a startup company for millions of dollars yet, I’m still very much interested in the growing disparity between the “haves” and the “lesser haves”.  John Sutter’s list of “Must Reads” actually includes a number of videos regarding income inequality in the United States. The article can be found at CNN and it includes links to many of the recommendations.
  • I avoid going to see anything in the theater that I can catch later on for free, unless it’s the kind of affair that deserves to be seen on a large screen. I do, however, love seeing the previews because they give away how good or awful most movies are going to be. Even trailers have evolved, as this interactive article from Wired magazine discusses the art of this ever-changing bit of art and advertising.

waking life montage

  • The Director as Dream Figure” is a short essay in Harpers about one of my favorite lesser known movies, Richard Linklater’s animated, Waking Life, and how it is connected to a number of the director’s other movies. If you haven’t ever seen Waking Life, I highly recommend that you do (a few times).
  • Even if you haven’t yet created a movie about your life, there’s probably enough information on your Facebook to fill a museum all about YOU … and that’s the idea behind Intel’s “Museum of Me” which uses that info to create a 3D tour as though it were hung in a grand museum about your likes, friends, favorites and all that other good stuff you post. Depending on your perspective, it’s either a grand tribute to your life or a really scary visualization of how much information about you is already out there.
  • I love graphs and other visual aids that help you understand a complex issue or idea. This site is called information aesthetics, and its motto is “Where form follows data”. It has a collection of interesting and (sometimes) informative graphs.
  • Sometimes, the illustrators get it wrong, but the image they create is so catchy, that it sticks and is reproduced so many times that it becomes the “norm”. Icons are the memes of the artistic world and they went viral before the advent of video. Even science illustrators get it wrong (big time) and this short article about one scary looking dinosaur is a great example of how long it takes to correct it.
  • I am still fascinated by virtual tours (i.e. visiting places through our best electronic means), though I know nothing beats actually going there. Still, there are some vistas you won’t be able to get even if you really go there in person, and for that there is a great site at pixelcase interactive media. Most of the forty plus, 360 degree panoramic views are of New York and places in Australia, but there are some breathtaking shots of places in Canada, Brazil, London, Paris and Zimbabwe.

summerbooks

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2013. All rights reserved.

Quick Hit: HHS OPAC is online

The Haverhill High School Library Catalog is online and available for use!

HHS OPAC

For the first time in many moons, students, teachers, and anyone else in the world (thanks to the internet) can peruse the extensive print and material collection we still hold onto, even as we march bravely forward into the ephemeral digital world.

Of course, we have already created a link for the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) in the side bar, and the i-school folks are looking into whether or not they could get a similar shortcut placed somewhere on our HHS Launchpad.

Many thanks to everyone who finally made this happen and we hope that it will encourage everyone at Haverhill High School to consider our collection for future reading and research. We also hope that this online presence will generate feedback from our users to improve both our collection and the circulation.

Even as we integrate digital technologies into our everyday lives, I still can’t imagine a world without books or newspapers or magazines. I hope you can’t either.

Thank you for stopping by and please, tap into our resources.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2013. All rights reserved.

Video Resources Review

While updating the links to this blog, I decided to check in on some of the video resources available. I was thinking especially about teachers and students who now have access to the internet via their Mac Books and PolyVision Boards, in the computer labs and in the library. The video resources that we can stream and use for discussion are so much greater than the 3000 VHS video tapes we still have in our library collection. Here is a quick review of four video resource links I still think are useful.

Annenberg Learner/http://www.learner.org/

From their About Us Page: Annenberg Learner’s multimedia resources help teachers increase their expertise in their fields and assist them in improving their teaching methods. Many programs are also intended for students in the classroom and viewers at home. All Annenberg Learner videos exemplify excellent teaching.

I like it because: It is produced by a reputable organization whose aims have students and teachers in mind. I also like that their site allows you to search the videos according to discipline and grade level, which limits the number of hits you’ll get. Some suggested titles when I searched for High School (9-12) Science, for example, were (with descriptions lifted from their pages):

  • Earth Revealed: Explore the complex processes that shape our planet. Video instructional series for college and high school classrooms and adult learners. (Didn’t work when I tried it)
  • The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science: Learn about Earth’s natural systems and environmental science with this course for high school teachers and college level instruction.
  • Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth: Watch scientists investigate how microbes affect our world. A video documentary for college and high school classrooms and adult learners.
  • Physics for the 21st Century: A multimedia course for high school physics teachers, undergraduate students, and science enthusiasts; 11 half-hour programs, online text, facilitator’s guide, and Web site.
  • Private Universe Project in Science: Explore ways to correct student misconceptions about science in this video workshop for grade 1-12 educators.

Drawback: Video production is sometimes a little too “PBS” for students’ tastes. There is a very limited number of offerings, maybe two or three dozen per discipline, which may actually be a plus in the long run.

FREE: Federal Resources for Educational Excellence/… http://www.free.ed.gov/

From their About Us Page: FREE was conceived in 1997 by a federal working group in response to a memo from the President. The site was launched a year later. It was redesigned and relaunched for the first time in November 2006. FREE makes it easier to find teaching and learning resources from the federal government. More than 1,500 federally supported teaching and learning resources are included from dozens of federal agencies. New sites are added regularly. You are invited to link to FREE.

I like it because: It’s free. In an internet world that is constantly searching for new ways to monetize everything on it, it’s always great as a teacher to find free resources. This site breaks down information into long lists which is a little boring, but I do like that they also categorize their database into animations (only 27), primary docs (130), photos (79) and videos (40). What you’ll find as you search is that you will be redirected to sites such as the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. Here’s a sample of Videos available (with descriptions lifted from their pages):

  • American Memory : presents the photographs, manuscripts, rare books, maps, recorded sound, and moving pictures that are part of the historical Americana holdings at the Library of Congress. The learning section contains research tools, lesson plans, and activities for students. (Library of Congress)
  • Videos from Secrets of Plant Genomes Revealed! is a lively, upbeat video exploration of how plants got to be the way they are and how we can make better use of them in the future. Learn how plant genome research is revolutionizing the field of biology. Find out how scientists are unlocking the secrets of corn, cotton, potatoes, and other plants that are important in our lives. Discover why the study of plants is exciting and how learning more about plants can improve our everyday lives. (National Science Foundation)
  • NSF Multimedia Gallery provides nearly 100 videos and webcasts on a range of science topics: a fossil that may represent the first vertebrate to emerge from the sea, turning forest-industry waste into fuel and textiles, “superglue” produced by aquatic bacteria, a house built on a “shake table” (earthquake research), teaching robots to swim, 14 engineering challenges for the 21st century, solving a crime scene mystery, a 60-second history of the universe, earth’s deep-time archives, dinosaurs, and more. (National Science Foundation)

Drawback: This is a great clearinghouse for many organizations receiving money from the government and responsible for maintaining the “national memory”; the site itself, however, doesn’t do much more than act as a search engine for these resources. Unfortunately, for me, none of the three web animations I tried from the various links worked the day I tried them. Even after updating my Adobe Flash player.

Open Yale Courses/ … http://oyc.yale.edu/

From Their About Us Page: Open Yale Courses (OYC) provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the Internet. Registration is not required. No course credit, degree, or certificate is available. The online courses are designed for a wide range of people around the world, among them self-directed and life-long learners, educators, and high school and college students. Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, searchable transcripts of each lecture are provided.

I like it because: If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to attend a world class university, all these videos are evidence that it’s exactly what you thought it would be like. Smart person in the front of the room, talking to a bunch of people listening in the audience. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in group work and differentiated instruction and the student centered model, but what culture shock it must be for our students who work through these other models for all their years in school, only to find the “sage on the stage” or “chalk and talk” as the primary model in college/ university courses. If other models are used in any of the courses, I didn’t find one among those I surveyed. Among the titles I viewed were (with descriptions lifted from their pages):

  •  HISTORY 234: Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600: This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
  • ENGLISH 291: The American Novel Since 1945: In “The American Novel Since 1945” students will study a wide range of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces the formal and thematic developments of the novel in this period, focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the conditions of publishing, innovations in the novel’s form, fiction’s engagement with history, and the changing place of literature in American culture. The reading list includes works by Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Edward P. Jones. The course concludes with a contemporary novel chosen by the students in the class.
  • PHYSICS 200: Introduction to Physics I: This course provides a thorough introduction to the principles and methods of physics for students who have good preparation in physics and mathematics. Emphasis is placed on problem solving and quantitative reasoning. This course covers Newtonian mechanics, special relativity, gravitation, thermodynamics, and waves.

Drawback: These are all straight up lectures. Viewing them is just like having a friend tape all your classes for you so you never have to attend a 9 am lecture again. It’s not bad though, if you want to have a “guest” lecturer cover a topic, without having to pay the speakers’ fee.

FRONTLINE/ … http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/view/

From Their About Us Page: Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television’s flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as “the last best hope for broadcast documentaries,” FRONTLINE’s stature over 30 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience.

I like them because: They are PBS’ premier documentary program and they always have videos that lend themselves, in part or in their entirety, to the classroom. They now have 138 videos available and because they continually add the most recent broadcast to their catalog, it is an ever expanding treasure trove of high-quality, reputable documentaries. A sampling of their latest offerings include:

  • Dropout-nation: Aired 25 September 2012. Education’s hidden crisis. Four students are followed for a semester to highlight the pitfalls they face in places considered “drop-out factories”.
  • Money, Power and Wall Street: Parts I – IV: Aired 24 April & 1 May 2012. Four part presentation that attempts to explain what happened in 2008 with the financial meltdown. Incredible narrative involving really smart people in charge of incredibly large piles of money with no one double checking their work. They fooled themselves into believing they were alchemists, instead of bankers.
  • Digital Nation: Life on the Frontier. Aired 2 February 2010: I’ve recommended this film on this blog before, but it is worth revisiting just to see how much has changed in less than 3 years. Even more than when this documentary first aired, I see young kids completely connected to their digital pets and disconnected from their surroundings.

Drawback: I don’t have much bad to say except that there are less than 150 titles to choose from, and many of them cover controversial topics in a very traditional documentary style, which might not keep all students interested. That’s not really a criticism of Frontline, but of the audience we’ve become.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you find something useful.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2012. All rights reserved.

Recommendations for Black History Month

               I’m usually pretty bad about remembering the different themes for each month. When I was in high school, I don’t think we celebrated April as Poetry Month or March as Women’s History Month. Even though National Hispanic Heritage Month was approved by LBJ and expanded to a 30 day celebration by Reagan in 1988, I never heard of it when I was a student. As a librarian, though, I’m supposed to keep a track of such things and find useful resources to share with staff and students. Here then, are some recommendations for Black History Month.

  • Library of Congress:  The nation’s library is always a great place to start whenever you’re looking for information and resources about our own past. The first thing I noticed is that it is no longer called Black History Month. It is now the clunkier, but more PC, African-American History Month. One of the more interesting (and deeply saddening) links on the LOC website takes you to a database that catalogs more than 35,000 Trans-Atlantic slave trips. Worth examining to contemplate the sheer numbers involved, not just in terms of time, but in terms of lives. Also worth noting on the site, is the For Teachers section, which includes ready to use lesson plans and student activities. 
  • Biography.com: Unfortunately, this website and its accompanying television station are obviously geared towards profiling celebrities who are famous as actors, singers, and entertainers. Besides profiling the inspiring and timeless stories of Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith this month, Biography will also feature Barack Obama and Frederick Douglass, among others. Check local listings for other specials running this month. The Biography Classroom link also provides some school appropriate materials. 
  • Gale Free Resources: Here you’ll find about 70 short biographies for an interesting list of African Americans, both past and present. Included are familiar names like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Thurgood Marshall, as well as such contemporary celebrities such as Kanye West, Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah. 
  • Thinkfinity.org website. This website is hosted and organized by Verizon, a private telecommunications corporation, but its content providers are such non-profit, government agencies as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). Among the events it recommends are a National Youth Summit webcast which will happen live on February 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm Eastern. Registration for the event is FREE. 
  • Poetry Foundation’s Poems to celebrate Black History Month. Having just been one of the judges for the Poetry Out Loud contest here at our school, I was reminded again of the power of a good poem. At this site you’ll find a small but good selection of writers, past and present. 

 

BONUS: Mini Movie Review: Red Tails

 You would think that a story about the Tuskegee Airmen, Black World War II fighter pilots, would be just the kind of thing tailored for someone like George Lucas. Not many people after all are more qualified to shoot airborne fight scenes than the maker of the Star Wars franchise. Despite supposedly working on it for more than twenty years, what ends up on the screen is a mess of a movie, unsure if it wants to be a period piece, a war movie or a romance. What I imagine ended up on the cutting room floor (the stories about the families stateside, the struggles against racism in the military and back home, the history of Tuskegee itself, the role that black women played during the time) are all left tragically untold. Surely, Lucas and his financial backers must have believed they could sell more tickets by taking the story in the direction they took it. What they lost, however, was a greater opportunity to tell stories that needed to be told and that people would return to over and over again.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you found something worth sharing.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2012. All rights reserved.

Random Thoughts

It’s almost the middle of December and again, it’s been a while since I posted anything. Good weather has a way of distracting me from writing, and we have been having awesome weather since the Thanksgiving break. I hope you got to be surrounded by lots of family, friends and food. Thanksgiving is officially my favorite holiday of the year because it is mostly about these simpler things that I still believe in and that I enjoy completely. Now the Holiday Season is in full swing, and I, for one, hope that the weather continues to be the gentle gift it’s been so far. In that spirit of giving then, I’d like to share some random thoughts and links.

  • The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face, by Steve Silberman/ In the wake of the passing of Steve Jobs, a number of other Apple related stories have begun to emerge and I found this one fascinating for a couple of reasons. First and most importantly to me is the idea of getting to peak into someone’s notebook/ sketchbook/ diary/ journal. I blame my uncle Leonel, and his gift to me sometime around my 12th birthday or Christmas. The Sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci introduced me to my first icon and hero. But this love of mine to look behind the scenes at the creative process is not unique, of course, otherwise there would be no DVD bonus tracks to speak of. The commentary track on every DVD is basically a book without the reading. I found the Kare’s sketchbook both fascinating and nostalgic.
  • The Dwindling Power of a College Degree by Adam Davidson. The Occupy Movement has brought attention to the growing disillusionment of young college educated Americans who have little prospect for a profitable career and are burdened with crushing debt from that college experience. It’s not just a bunch of whiny, lazy people who want everything taken care of by the government. The reality is that there have been huge economic shifts in the last two decades, and the results are starting to shake the foundations of the “American Dream”. No one knows for sure what the future holds, but there have certainly been disturbing economic trends that indicate there are serious problems with our current version of capitalism.
  • Gabe Zichermann: How games make kids smarter. TED Talks … Do I ever write a month’s worth of posts without mentioning this site at least once? Whenever I have a few minutes, I make sure that I stop by this site to view their latest offering. This time around I discovered Mr. Zichermann’s provocative talk which asks, “Can playing video games make you more productive?” While I agree with the idea that games present novel challenges which may make some kids better problem-solvers, I completely disagree with the presenter’s conclusion that the days of sitting around with a cup of tea and a good book are over … that’s just plain ol’ ridiculous.
  • Frontline Videos: Among the many video resources that I have listed on the eponomously named page of this blog is the PBS offering Frontline.  You can find all their free streaming videos on their website. I purchased their College, Inc. video, but you can also find it here along with dozens of other interesting videos such as the Madoff Affair (Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme), Top Secret America (post 911 government and privacy), and The Card Game (credit cards and consumers). The great thing about streaming video is you can find the portion you want, and only play that for your class. Online resources like this are great now that we have video projectors in many classroom, and it’s another reason teachers and students should get into the habit of bookmarking these sites for easy reference.
  • Fahrenheit 451: the authorized adaptation by Tim Hamilton, with an introduction by Ray Bradbury: Not all of my reading is limited to text. I love a good story told using animation, and I try to add a few of the best “stories told in pictures” to our library collection with every book order.  I’m not saying that picking up this graphic novel is a substitute for reading Bradbury’s full length novel, but I would certainly use it to compliment any class room reading. Best of all, the introduction by Bradbury is not some thrown together blurb, but a mini essay about the creative process and the many forms a story can take.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you find something worthwhile.

Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2011. All rights reserved.