Friday, April 23, 2010

Smart and safe kids

During this last week, third through fifth graders have been learning about online safety and privacy during library time. We've discussed keeping your personal information private, recognizing and avoiding viruses and spyware, and making good decisions about the way you interact with friends online.

Each of the third through fifth graders had some library "homework" this week. First, their job was to go home and talk to their parents or guardians about the internet and online safety. Second, if they have a profile on a site like Facebook or Myspace, their job is to log on with a parent or trusted adult, go through it together, and set up the privacy settings so that strangers can't see any personal information. In the course of preparing this curriculum, I found out that many of our fourth and fifth graders have Facebook sites that I was able to view, as a person who is not "friends" with them online... which means that any stranger could also view a child's full name, their photograph, the town they live, their friends, and often even where they go to school. And (appropriately, I guess) once again, Facebook changed its privacy settings this week in a way that shares users' information with other websites -- so even if you set it up before, you need to go in and do it again.

I'm always here as a resource if you want to come in and talk about some of these issues, and I also have books and book suggestions available for anyone in the Emerson community who is interested. Here are some links to useful resources -- and I'll add others, so check back often.

Facebook Privacy Settings: What Parents Need To Know

Protecting Personal Privacy Online

Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens

BUSD's CyberSavvy curriculum for 09-10

OnGuard Online: chatting with kids about being online

Thursday, April 15, 2010

... and National Poetry Month!

Twice in the last week, intrepid Emerson Breaking News reporters have cornered me after school to ask about my favorite poem. As a real live reader of poetry, I had a hard time coming up with 1) a single poem that was 2) genuinely one of my favorites and that 3) I could share with fourth graders. I mean, yes, I like Shel Silverstein as much as the next person. But would he stand up against Mark Doty, Marie Howe, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Walt Whitman, Derek Walcott as my "favorite"? It felt disingenuous to give an answer that was predictable to students but not actually true. I ended up naming "The Illiterate" by William Meredith and "Night Ferry" by Mark Doty, two old favorites that I loved enough to memorize a few years ago.

I've been thinking of alternative answers ever since, and weighing which I could have shared with students. It felt risky, unsettling, to honestly share my adult favorites with such young people. At the same time, it was important to me to name poems that I love as an adult reader; it reminded me of how supporting our children to become readers doesn't just mean taking them to the library, but showing them that we ourselves read for pleasure. Browsing through some older books of poetry here in the library, I was struck by how many of them were not collections of poems written for children but instead adult poems that children, as intelligent readers, may revel in despite the challenge of understanding (or not understanding) them. The book I'm holding now has funny poems as well as serious ones; D.H. Lawrence's "Snake" juxtaposed with Ogden Nash's "The Guppy." Poems to grow with remind us that young readers deserve respect.

I hope you'll share poetry with the readers in your life this month, and take time to explore it yourself. If you find one you love, share it with your favorite school librarian!

Happy National Library Week!

We are halfway through National Library Week. I'm celebrating by spending lots of time in libraries -- my favorite places!

The Berkeley Public Library needs your help this week: they are conducting their annual survey, and need community responses about library services. It takes ten minutes or less and provides the library with valuable feedback that they need to improve their services and also to continue receiving support and funding in difficult budget times. Click here to take the survey.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How now, Brown Cow?

A visit from the California Dairy Council's cow Electron
National Poetry Month
Ms. Claire's personal mission to revitalize forgotten and neglected poetry books
some surprising finds in the 811s!

Here's what we're reading this week in the library!

How Now, Brown Cow? How Now, Brown Cow? by Alice Schertle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What better to pair with a visit from a real live cow than some poetry! The illustrations here go nicely with the short poems, generally illustrating the puns or wordplay where they might otherwise pass over students' heads. If you're looking for a nice collection of cow poems, this may be a good match for you.

View all my reviews >>

The Birds and the Beasts Were There The Birds and the Beasts Were There by William Cole

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of those big, wordy, un-illustrated old-fashioned collections of poetry for children: it's hard to get this one to circ, but with some love and judicious read-alouds I think we can change that. One of those books with a lot for a good reader to discover; this is a book to spend real time with. A good one to pair with more contemporary, accessible books of animal poetry, from Douglas Florian to Jack Prelutsky.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review: Fairies and the Quest for Never Land

This review by Chloe, in Ms. Gray's class! If you have a book review to share, see Ms. Claire to write or videotape it.

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land Fairies and the Quest for Never Land by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Chloe's review*:

When Gwendolyn, a descendant of Wendy Darling, gets escorted to Neverland by Peter Pan (a tradition) she is thrilled. She'll finally get to see real never fairies! However if she loves them so much, then why does Mother Dove say that Gwendolyn has to leave them alone?

I would recommend this book as a moderately easy read for 4th and 5th graders who like the Disney fairies stories and Peter Pan. I gave this book 3 1/2 stars because I thought it needed more descriptive language and a stronger plot.

*read as an ARC, may be changes in final published version. Now living in Ms. Gray's classroom!

View all my reviews >>

Thanks again to Mrs. Dalloway's for donating advance readers' copies to our intrepid young reviewers.