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National Digital Public Library

19 Apr

I found a blog called the School Library Journal that had some very interesting information about teacher librarians, instruction, and information literacy.  The most recent post, by Joyce Valenza, was about the Digital Public Library of America (librarians’ dream project).  Digital archives have been available, but they have not been aggregated into one portal, or a collection of collections. We have not been able to view all items easy to find and free online.  The DPLA’s main goal is “to create a resource that goes well beyond providing simple access to digitized or born digital content”.  It will officially launch, with approximately 2.4 million records, on April 18th at the Boston Public Library. It will enable any reader to consult works that were previously locked up or stored on shelves that are hard to access.  “The DPLA initiative sees itself as an advocate for open access and enrichment of the public spheres, encouraging Americans to hack the humanities”.

We all know the world is turning into a digital one.  I was definitely born into a digital world.   I know I have not even used a book as a reference on a paper in a couple of years.  If a book was used, it was assigned by a professor or it was an eBook.   The DPLA is moving in the right direction by attempting to move as many texts as possible online.  There are several texts that already exist online, but not all in the same place.     The DPLA is planning on including all types of media and formats such as books, pamphlets, periodicals, manuscripts, and digital texts.  The incorporation of all of this will make researching a lot easier for students.

Also, offering them for free online could encourage reading.   There would be no reason not to read something if it is readily available for free.  The more people that get involved and want their collections to be discovered, the larger the expansion of the portal and the more diversity that exists within it, so I hope libraries and museums and universities everywhere contribute.  This is something I would have loved to have throughout college as well as high school.  Not just for school related assignments, but for pure reading pleasure.  This could do great things for learning and literacy in general.


Health Literacy in the Classroom

7 Apr

October is Health Literacy Month and a group of committed volunteers in Florida helped spread its awareness.  Carol Scoggins put together an event that really took off.  She is very passionate about health literacy and she thinks that health information need to be distributed on a level that citizens can understand.   Scoggins came up with the idea for volunteers to read Curious George Goes to the Hospital to elementary school students across Florida.  It was a huge hit and over 900 volunteers eventually read to over 30,000 pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade students.  Goodie bags with pencils, stickers, and coloring books (with examples of what nurses, dentists, doctors, technicians, and other health professionals do) were given to each of the students that were read to.  This year, the book choice is The Berenstain Bears Visit the Doctor.  Since the program began in 1999, events have taken place in 32 states and 5 different continents.

I know don’t know much about Health Literacy.  It was never something that I studied in school.  A lot of what I know about health is through my doctor, family, and friends majoring in Nursing.  I think putting it in the classroom in a way that is enjoyable is a smart move. It is something I would have liked to have at an early age.   Also, the information is easy to understand.  Information on health and understanding it can be difficult because it is rarely presented on the level of an average citizen.  In addition, it gets kids reading!   Although health is the main concern of these events, it also gets kids excited about reading.  Maybe more events like this one would motivate kids to read .  I know that these volunteers are making a difference and I appreciate the work they are doing.

Where’s Wally?

29 Mar

Where's Wally fun run

On Sunday, March 24th, the National Literacy Trust held a fun run in London to support illiterate children   in deprived areas of the country. Although it was rather chilly, 1200 supporters of  literacy came out to run.  Where’s Wally costumes were distributed to all of the participants to wear during their 5K or 10K race.  So far, almost $70,000 have been raised for the charity.  The money raised from this event will be used to help provide books and storytelling events for low-income families and one-on-one support for parents who are uncomfortable with reading.

Many 5K runs support great causes, but most of the ones I have participated in have been for health causes. I think that it is wonderful to raise money for those who are sick and in need, but what about those who are healthy, just intellectually struggling?  Sometimes, I feel that literacy takes a backseat in these sorts of settings.   I wanted to acknowledge this event because it is clearly supporting literacy.  The theme is definitely clever and draws positive attention.  This is what the U.S. needs. They need to pay attention.  Literacy is powerful and in this case, it can help children get out of poverty.  This should spark more of an incentive to support literacy charities and to put on red and white sweaters!

National D.E.A.R. Day

17 Mar

National D.E.A.R. Day is on April 12th, the birthday of author Beverly Cleary.  D.E.A.R stands for Drop Everything and Read.  The day is a celebration of reading to encourage families to include reading every day in the home and to make reading more of a priority.

There are many community events held on this day that one can participate in, but simply reading in the home for at least 30 minutes is another way to participate.  The National Education Association, Parent Teacher Association, the Association for Library Service to Children, General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Reading Rockets, and several other organizations lead this celebration.

I support and admire this type of reading encouragement.  I know that when I was in elementary school, my favorite days were those when we read all together in class or when we participated in Accelerated Reading events.  These type of celebrations highlight the importance of reading in a fun, free way.   It seems like kids don’t like to read when they are assigned something that they have to read.  This day just requires that they read something, anything.

Beverly Cleary received thousands of letters from kids that had D.E.A.R at school and it inspired her to make Ramona in Ramona Quimby participate.  She saw the enthusiasm toward reading and the interest in reading that the children exuded and had to put it out there for the world to see.  This enthusiasm is what we want for the children in schools now.  Reading is a skill that everyone needs and starting early (with enthusiasm) is the best way to go.

Gaming and the Government

5 Mar

gamingandgovblog According to the CNN article “Game for students aims to make Congress  serious fun” by John Gaudiosi, both violent video games and Congress have been “under fire” in the media.  McGraw Hill Education has created a game for college freshman government students that they are hoping will eliminate that attack from the media.  The new 3D game is called “Government in Action.”  It is meant to demonstrate the intricacies of the life of a U.S. representative.  In the beginning, the player is getting elected to the House of Representatives and has two years to get re-elected. Basically, the goal is to build up political capital, awareness, approval and influence in multiple ways. Players have to work with both national and local media,  hold fundraisers and find co-sponsors of bills, appease local and national lobbyists and align with their own political ideologies.  Professor Jason Seitz of Georgia Perimeter College said the game helped his students tie all of the concepts in his course together to develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of the subject.

This is an example of learning the language and practices of the government through gaming.   There are several games that have attempted to stimulate and encourage learning about a certain subject.  What I like about this article and this particular game is what it has done for students.  It is developing a deeper understanding of the class content by creating a connection to “the real world” with hands-on (virtual) experience.  I have always thought that the subject matter I remember the most about and I am most comfortable with is that which I have experienced.  Experience is the best way to learn.  This game promotes “government literacy”,  an area where knowledge is often lacking and contains concepts that can be difficult to grasp.   It is also capable of being multiplayer and including other classmates in the “life” of the player (they can co-sponsor bills for example).   This way, other people can also aid in understanding government ideas.

If more video games were fun and educational and people were more knowledgable of government officials’ tasks, then maybe that negative light from the media would not exist.

X Collective

17 Feb

perspectivesoflitblogpic The X Collective is a group of five interested in expanding literacy in the Bronx.  The X is short for the Bronx, but also for the traditional symbol left by the illiterate.  Arismendy Feliz is the leader of the group as he began this quest for literacy running reading workshops for parents (mostly immigrants) at a struggling middle school in South Bronx.   Recently, the team has been using art to showcase the problems the “borough” is facing, one of them being literacy.  They have opened a show that is running through the end of February called “New Word Order” consisting of 26 pieces for the 26 letters of the alphabet.  The piece you see to the left is the depiction of the letter Y.  It also illustrates its title “Why Must I Be Here” with its angry red lines and stress shown in the image.  The group plans to stir up conversation about what makes the Bronx uncomfortable (their issues) and remain advocates for literacy.

This article is specifically addressing an adult audience.  Some people may be nervous or embarassed to attend reading workshops or classes.   Why not create an environment with virtually no pressure? It also offers familiarity.  If you haven’t been reading and writing all of your life, or reading and writing the English language, then you have probably been associating words and meanings with images.  When I was first learning the alphabet, i didn’t remember the letter A because it was simply the letter A.  I remembered it because it was the first letter in apple and I could picture an apple and associate it with the letter A.   That’s what this show is doing.   It’s using the visual to understand the meaning of the abstract.  I think what these men are doing for literacy is admirable.   Like I mentioned in previous posts, teaching literacy creatively can really draw and hold attention and it is worth trying.

Financial Literacy

8 Feb

Melissa Jenco’s article “Computer program aimed at teaching teens about financial game of life” discusses an expansion of financial literacy in high schools in Illinois. Subjects such as credit cards, mortgages, and tax returns are incorporated into an interactive computer game. “A foundatoin and a technology company are partnering to cover the costs of providing the financial literacy program ot public high schools and recently launched the initiative at Metea Valley High School in Aurora,” Jenco states. Jenco also mentions a study that discovered 84% of college graduates regret not receiving more financial literacy education in high school. This program is innovative including social networking, animation, and gaming to place students in financial scenarios that they must learn to work through and are tested over at the end of each module. Students that attempted the program claimed it was a good resource and will help to prevent financial setbacks in the future.

At my high school, I was not required to take a personal finance class. I was sure that it would be boring and I still am very ignorant of the subject. Providing a fun, interesting game to study financial literacy will hopefully create an incentive for a desire to learn and maybe even help students remember the material. Personally, interactive learning helps me remember what I’m studying and I like participating in it. Rarely are financial concepts such as these taught in classrooms, especially in high school, but the recession is calling for this teaching. I think that the economy needs a strong middle class and we will take that position. Not knowing how to handle our finances, such as college debt, will reduce the chances of a weak middle class. Learning these things as a teenager will help when money becomes a huge part of your decisions, especially educational decisions (like where to go to college). I know some people who still do not know how to deposit money in a bank or write a check. Even the most simple financial skills and literacy should be taught and doing it in an enjoyable way is key. I agree that financial literacy should show up more in the high school curriculum!

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