Saturday, June 29, 2013

Common Core and World History - Are YOU ready?

Common Core is coming!

Schools across the nation are prepping for adoption of Common Core Standards to ensure that all students are learning what they need to make it in the world and the workplace.

If you teach world history (especially elementary or middle school levels), I have created a helpful resource that connects the new Common Core with social studies education. I wanted to have a ready source of activities that could be used in the world history classroom and I have made my work available for social studies teachers.

For only $29.99, you can access my materials and use them in your classroom. I did the work to save you time so you can focus on having a great school year ahead.

Please visit my page on Teachers Pay Teachers to purchase your copy today!

I also have a PowerPoint presentation on cognitive complexity that will help you incorporate rigor into your social studies work. This cognitive complexity slide show is useful for social studies teachers on all grade levels from middle to high school!

Depth of Knowledge and Cognitive Complexity

Monday, June 24, 2013

Buy my book! It will change your life :-)

Last year was my twentieth high school reunion and, although it was great to reconnect with my classmates from Orange Park High School's class of 1992, there was a reunion that I had later on that meant a lot to me.

While cleaning up around my apartment, I found an old journal of poetry that I wrote during my freshman year of college. Two decades later, I revisited the thoughts of a vulnerable 18-year-old student who was on his own for the first time in his life. At first, I was depressed because I was surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. But, as time passed, I found my voice amid a heady optimism that marked the pre-9/11 world of the 1990s.

In my journal, there are poems of sadness, separation and then joy and life. I marvel at how I took the time to express myself in a journal when I thought that nobody was watching or listening. I shared my thoughts at a random poetry reading here or there, but soon put away my poetry journal for what I deemed to be more 'grown-up' things.

In the last year, I gathered the courage to publish a selection of my poems and share them with the world. Back then, when I was editing my college newspaper, I knew that my audience was limited to the faculty and students of South Georgia College in Douglas, Georgia. I don't know how I would have reacted to today's World Wide Web, blogs and the Information Age. The title of my book is "Twenty Years Later: A Collection of Poems from a Past Life."

As my work was intended to help me through dark times, I promise to donate proceeds from my book to help with mental health services for today's young people who need to find a way through what appears to be the great unknown in their lives. Please visit the link below and purchase a copy! It is only $4.75 on Amazon.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Public libraries are part of the Information Age

It is a half-baked idea to believe that our public libraries are obsolete. To believe that the Internet is making a redundancy of brick-and-mortar learning is akin to tossing out our ovens simply because our microwaves can also heat things.

The ability to boil water, however, does not immediately translate into being useful for something more elaborate, like Baked Alaska. Likewise, pointing and clicking may be great for someone who is looking up who starred in what or who sang what. This superficial ability to find fast facts, however, should not be confused for the deeper challenge of performing scholarly research.

Just because we have computers, tablets, smart phones and other devices that can access what appears to be an infinite source of knowledge, we ignore the quality of the information in favor or the quantity of what we think are facts. According to the Digital Library Federation (DLF), less than seven percent of online information meets the standard of being appropriate for educational or scholarly purposes.

Factor in to this how the DLF says that the average college undergraduate may be using search engines to conduct a comprehensive search but results in only a ‘surface’ web that consists of only .03 percent of the actual Internet. The other 99.97 percent of the Internet goes unread, including journals, periodicals and other publications that are central to research.

This global approach to fact finding actually enhances the need for local public library systems. Special collections in many libraries provide access to rare or unique media (e.g. photographs, newspapers, archives) that could not be either located through a search engine or purchased for an e-reader.

Libraries have the ability to loan these selected items to other libraries for public use or share through public databases. This is a free aspect of public libraries that would be a costly service for someone to maintain the same ties and services with the number of institutions that work with our libraries.

Public libraries have already survived their predicted demise. Bookstore chains went the ‘big box’ route with stores that became new gathering places for readers. Their coffee shops and comfortable chairs, however, may have invited a lingering customer to read a couple of magazines. I grew up at a time when it was taboo to pick up a magazine at the convenience store.

“What do you think we are? A library?” said the cashier. Then, if we wanted to read it, we had to buy it. Bookstores became libraries in that customers became used to previewing a book at the bookstore and then bought it online.

As the large bookstore chains close, with them goes the physical space that readers have for discussing books, meeting authors and sharing ideas. The public libraries were doing this all along and will continue to serve communities in this capacity – including reading to young children, organizing youth interest groups, teaching important job skills or promoting literacy.

The biggest misconception in the debate over the relevance of public libraries is that everybody has Internet access. It seems like everybody has a smart phone, a tablet or a laptop within reach. According to The New York Times, however, one-third of Americans do not subscribe to Internet services. This may account for the 26 percent of respondents in a Pew survey who visited their public library for wireless or computer services. It looks like our public libraries continue to be necessary in the lives of those who do not have the means of accessing information. This is why the free public library movement began and why it will continue to serve our community. With a Pew survey saying that over 91 percent of Americans believe that public libraries are important to their communities, the proof is in the pudding.