Monthly Archives: November 2008

What’s on your RSS reader?

128px-feed-iconsvg.png Have you noticed this logo either next to your URL address or on a website like a blog or news site? This is the RSS logo (really simple syndication) that basically allows you to subscribe to a site (like this blog), and every time there is a new post on the site, the new post title shows up on your RSS reader, or aggregator. Your blog has an RSS logo too so I could “subscribe” to your school blog and be notified when you have a new posting. You are not obligated to read every post unless the title of the post is something that you want to read about. The object here is to be in the know, not to be overwhelmed with information.

In order to use the RSS service, you need to choose an RSS feed reader. An RSS feed reader will check subscribed channels for updates automatically and let you browse the news that’s important to you. I have my RSS reader on my web browser, (Flock, which is built like Firefox), but there are other readers that you can use with the web browsers that are on our school computers. judges some RSS feeders for the Mac


1. Google Reader

According to, Google Reader is simple yet very usable and, thanks to a flexible labeling system, quite comprehensive web-based RSS feed reader. You can even share items easily right from within Google Reader.


2. Shrook

Shrook is a clever RSS feed reader that displays and organizes news in a smart (and customizable) way. It’s a pity Shrook lacks tools to put news in context and that its interface relies on a wide screen. shrook200__2_2.png

3. NetNewsWire

NetNewsWire is competent and flexible RSS feed reader that combines Mac elegance with smart tools that help you follow news updates efficiently. Fast search and smart folders make getting to the important updates a snap and reading news in NetNewsWire is a pleasure indeed.


4. Bloglines

Bloglines is a great, web-based way to read RSS feeds. There’s no software to wrestle with, and using Bloglines is smooth and easy. You can even subscribe to searches in either your or all feeds.




Interactive editing on the web

If we believe that all students should have their own laptops, then as teachers, we should want to become immigrants to the new digital world by teaching students to go beyond the idea that the computer is just a glorified typewriter or graphing calculator. I’d like to use this column to bring some ideas of web 2.0 tools for educators that will push literacy into the 21st century. If you’re interested in any of these tools, let me know and I’ll help you fit it into your curriculum as well as offer you literacy and technology support.

In order for me to talk about it, the site has to be:

* accessible to non-tech savvy users.

* free-of-charge.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* completely browser-based with no download required.

Book goo took me less than one minute to register and about a minute watch the infovideo.

Book goo is a new tool that lets you or students upload documents or webpages and then annotate and share them. Others can also then annotate the same document. You can draw on the documents as well. Students can upload their drafts, make notes, or draw on the parts that they need help on, and get feedback from their writing group members and you online either at home or in school. It eliminates the sometimes distracting noise from other groups who are all trying to do writing group together as a read aloud.

Students could also download web site information and write the notes to demonstrate reading strategies on webpages. I haven’t found glitches in my playing with this program, but if you do find glitches, the support staff at bookgoo is very friendly and willing to help.

This is a screen shot of my initial “playing” and I indicated where I needed help. The note decreases until you click on it and then reveals the note. I also was able to  send it to other people to get their feedback. Once they  help me with my feedback, then it all shows up in the folder labeled “my goo” with the icon of the other people that I got feedback from as well as their notes and annotations.


Reluctant Readers Demand Books they Can’t Put Down

In the last of this series, I’d like to offer up some young adult books that students will find difficult to put down. In fact, they may actually, ACCIDENTALLY, finish the book before even realizing it.

simon.jpgSome trivia from Everything You Need to Know About the World by Simon Eliot :

• The first wedding in a public toilet took place in 1996 in Taiwan
• Poop in Swahili is kinyesi
• Amazons were a race of heroic women warriors in Greek myth.  They each cut off their right breast so they could better draw their bow and arrow.  Mazos means breast. “ A”  means without.  Hence their name.
• Human mouths produce about a quart of saliva a day.
• Mind your Ps and Qs refers to pints and quarts.  A customer would indicate whether he wanted a pint or quart of beer in a pub by the angle at which he held his elbow.

disreputable.jpgThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club. Her father’s “bunny rabbit.” A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend:  the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
Frankie Landau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew’s lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

punch.jpg One Good Punch by Rich Wallace

Michael Kerrigan is about to start his senior season on the track team and he’s in the best shape ever, but when a friend of Michael’s gets him in trouble, Michael confronts the common teen dilemna of deciding whether to lie, tell the truth, or tell the other truth, the one with shades of gray, that no one wants to hear—all with his future hanging in the balance. The choices he makes may seem questionable to some readers; but while Wallace refrains from overtly moralizing, he does illustrate the very serious repercussions that one major mistake can have on one’s hopes, especially those with the drive to be the very best.

Imagine a world


I had the privilege of hearing author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson speak in San Antonio and the gist of the message was that education means hope. We’ve been talking a lot about hope recently. How audacious of us. Greg Mortenson’s book is called Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Change the World. . .One Child at a Time. This is the kind of story that will get our kids thinking globally, and thinking that change can come from us. His work has sparked many young people to change lives in big ways in their own community, one bake sale, or lemonade stand at a time.

The story starts when he attempts to climb K-2 and not only does he fail, but he is totally lost and alone, his life in danger. He happens upon a poor Balti village in northern Pakistan and the Korphe people nurse him back to health. He asks to see the local school building and find that the children have a traveling teacher and their “school” is an open area of dirt, their pencils are sticks, their paper is the dirt beneath their feet. He is so moved that he promises to build a school, even if he is now jobless because it took him so long to climb K-2. He tries to write letters to celebrities, but his first real money comes from a school of children that he talks to in America. They help by bringing in their pennies, and his first check of $648 comes from their penny drive. The school movement continues with Pennies for Peace. One penny buys one pencil. He finally gets the school built, but there is more to do in Pakistan, and if we want true peace, then education, especially education of the girls is necessary. Educated girls grow up to be educated mothers. The Taliban indoctrinates men/boys from poor undeducated communities, but ex-Taliban soldiers are ex-Taliban soldiers because their mothers spoke up and said what they were doing was not right.

The first word in the Koran is read and it’s meant for both men and women. There is an ancient proverb that says:

Educate a boy, educate an individual

Educate a girl, educate a community

Greg, his wife and their two children are trying to educate a community through the building of schools and the education of girls. His other organization is the Central Asia Institute. We as teachers have the power to educate our students. Imagine a world where education would be the catalyst for social change.

College Fair tomorrow

I’ll say it again, it’s never too early to look into colleges.  The annual college fair will be held on Wednesday, November 18 from 6-8 p.m. at Sangha Hall. This is an opportunity to talk to representatives, get information and learn about the different schools and programs. Check it out, it’s free 99.

2008 College & Career Fair
Academy of Art University San Francisco, California
The Art Institutes California
Azusa Pacific University Azusa, California
Biola University LaMirada, California
Boise State University Boise, Idaho
BYU Hawaii  Laie, Hawaii
Buena Vista University Storm Lake, Iowa
California College of the Arts San Francisco, California
California Lutheran University Thousand Oak, California

California Maritime Academy Vallejo, California
Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu, Hawaii
Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado State University Pueblo Pueblo, Colorado
Columbia College Chicago Chicago, Illinois
Concordia University St. Paul St. Paul, Minnesota  
Creighton University Omaha, Nebraska
Eastern Oregon University LaGrande, Oregon
Eastern Washington University Cheney/Spokane, Washington
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, Arizona
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Los Angeles, California
FBI Honolulu, Hawaii
George Fox University Newberg, Oregon
Gonzaga University Spokane, Washington
Graceland University Lamoni, Iowa
Grove City College Grove City, Pennsylvania
Hawaii Grad Nite – Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii State Public Library System Hilo, Hawaii
Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaiian Island Student Suites Honolulu, Hawaii
Heald College Hawaii, California & Oregon
LaSierra University Riverside, California
Linfield College McMinnville, Oregon
Menlo College – Silicon Valley’s Business School Atherton, California
Mesa State College Grand Junction, Colorado
Michigan Technical University Houghton, Michigan
Mills College Oakland, California
Mount Holyoke College South Hadley, Massachusetts
Naropa University Boulder, Colorado
New Mexico Institute of Mining & Tech Socorro, New Mexico
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona
Notre Dame de Namur University Belmont, California
Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon
Oregon Tech Klamath Falls, Oregon
Pacific Aerospace Training Center Honolulu, Hawaii
Portland State University Portland, Oregon
Regis University Denver, Colorado
Remington College Honolulu, Hawaii
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Beppu, Japan
Saint Martin’s University Lacey, Washington
San Diego Christian College San Diego, California
Santa Monica College Santa Monica, California
Seattle University Seattle, Washington
Simpson University Redding, California
Southern Methodist University Dallas, Texas
Southern Oregon University Ashland, Oregon
Ulupono Academy, A Paul Mitchell Partner School Honolulu, Hawaii
US Air Force Academy Colorado Springs, Colorado
University of Colorado @ Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, Colorado
University of Evansville Evansville, Indiana
University of Hawaii Army ROTC Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Hawaii College of Engineering Hawaii
University of Hawaii Manoa Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Hawaii – West Oahu Pearl City & Kapolei, Hawaii
University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho
University of Miami Coral Gables, Florida
University of Montana Missoula, Montana
University of Montana Western Dillon, Montana
University of Nevada Reno Reno, Nevada
University of New Haven West Haven, Ct.
University of Northern Colorado Greeley, Colorado
University of Portland Portland, Oregon
University of Redlands Redlands, California
University of San Diego San Diego, California
University of San Francisco San Francisco, California
University of Waikato Hamilton, New Zealand
Utah Valley University Orem, Utah
Utah Valley University Aviation Science Orem, Utah
Warner Pacific College Portland, Oregon
Washington State University Pullman, Washington
Western Oregon University Monmouth, Oregon
Western State College of Colorado Gunnison, Colorado
Westmont College Santa Barbara, California
Whitworth University Spokane, Washington
Willamette University Salem, Oregon
Woodbury University Burbank, California
WyoTech California & Wyoming

Opening chapters that HOOK

Reluctant readers may not have the stamina to get through difficult or dry text, but if books can hook them in the first page, they are more likely to finish the book. Some good ones:

quad.jpg Quad, by C.G. Watson is the adrenaline filled story of a school shooting.

5108fbjixsl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_.jpg In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hairm watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five. . . In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

51yrj1eeefl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_.jpg Essential Gear: It isn’t that easy these days to get hold of an old tobacco tin — but they are just the right size for this sort of collection. One of the authors once took a white mouse into school, though, considering what happened when he sat on it, that is not to be recommended. We think pockets are for cramming full of useful things.

Newseum – Interactive news museum

hi_ha.jpg The Honolulu Advertiser ca_bc.jpg The Bakersfield Californian fl_tbt.jpgThe Tampa Bay Times

The Newseum, a museum in Washington D.C. has an interactive website that is perfect for journalism studies. By the morning after the election, the site highlighted more than 700 front pages from around the country.

November book recommendations

This month’s TAB book club recommendations: Remember, if you want to order books, just go to the Scholastic Book Clubs page (look on the menu bar above this post). See it?
51ajcr9-tvl_sl500_bo2204203200_aa219_pisitb-sticker-dp-arrowtopright-24-23_sh20_ou01_.jpg This historical fiction personalizes the experience of the Little Rock 9, a group of black students who in 1957 tried to integrate the all white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. This is a heartbreaking story in that it is a true story. If you are a Sharon Draper fan, read this. If you’re really interested in the true account, read Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals, one of the Little Rock 9.

51bpr-zgvul_sl500_aa240_.jpg Did you know that graphic novels contain more rare words than most young adult fiction? This is the classic Brahm Stoker Dracula story done in the dope comic format that’s all the rage (again).

51dzfs3p8yl_sl500_aa240_.jpgI love quirky, and this book is full of quirky. For example, in the minute it could take you to read this page, the Earth will be hit by 6,000 lightning strikes; 2,137 pounds of popcorn will be eaten; 10,000 pieces of skin will be lost from your body; 21,000 pizzas will be baked; 954 camera phones will be sold worldwide; the International Space Station will travel 289 miles in its orbit around the Earth; and 750,000 gallons of water will tumble over Niagara Falls.

51l8hin6wal_sl500_aa240_.jpg5148kvx26tl_sl500_aa240_.jpg Ok, yes, I wrote about this before, but I really think this series has beaucoup (choke) potential. Dan and Amy Cahill are in a race with their other conniving relatives for the 39 clues that will reveal the secret of the Cahill power. Learn history the fun way. There’s also a 39 clues game on the website and I kind of got into that. Spent an evening trying to get through as many clues as I could, and so if you want to play the game and use the cards that are not in your book, Scholastic also has a card pack for sale with 16 other cards. You can also use codes from other people’s cards, so if you want to play online, you can use my cards too: 234W6MRGX2. Warning, if, like me, you are not adept at dexterity/skill type of video games, you will be frustrated by some of the online games. I can’t get certain clues because I can’t pass enough levels of flying, or whatever to get the clue. ARGH!