Quality Resource: PBS Learning Media

Are you looking for a free online platform designed to improve not only your effectiveness as a teacher but also the achievement of your students? Check out: PBS Learning Media As the site states, “PBS LearningMedia provides PreK-12 educators with access to free digital content and professional development opportunities designed to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement. PBS LearningMedia was developed in partnership with the WGBH Educational Foundation and is offered locally by 155 PBS licensees, representing 356 stations in 55 U.S. states and territories.” Some of my favorite finds thus far: Waadookodaading: Ojibwe Language Immersion School (checkout theways.org for more videos like this one) What’s the Deal with Fossil Fuels?  Earth Days: Rachel Carson & Silent Spring Happy exploring and happy learning! Your Librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

What Teachers Need to Know About the “Alt-Right”

Looking to learn more about the “Alt-Right”? Teaching Tolerance held a webinar recently that is excellent for those of you trying to get a grasp of what the “alt-right’ is as well as what you can be doing in your classroom in regards to this group. You can access the webinar via the Teaching Tolerance website at: What Teachers Need to Know about the “Alt-Right” As a bonus, you do get a certificate to print out certifying your participation. Ask your administration in advance if it can count toward your continuing education credits. In addition, before attending to the webinar, I would highly recommend reading: What is the “Alt-Right”?: White nationalism has come out of the basement and entered the mainstream. Would you recognize it if it came to your classroom? (Issue 57, Fall 2017) By Cory Collins This is the article that spurred the creation of the webinar and is highly useful information going into your learning session. The webinar will also give you all the additional resources but I have linked them here as well: Examining Your School’s Climate Shifting Out of Neutral: A history teacher leaves the struggle for objectivity behind. (Issue 52, Spring 2016) By Jonathan Gold 20 Face to Face […]

Quality Resource: TED Radio Hour

Do you listen to NPR? Have you listened to the TED Radio Hour? Have your students? Well, this program (along with many, many others) make for a great addition to middle and high school classrooms. If you’re looking for a new homeroom activity, one focusing on current events, or many other topics. Check out the website for archived audio. Then, use the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) website if you want to watch an entire TED talk. Students, just like you, love listening to stories and learning from others (especially when they are experts in their fields). Just make sure to listen to the content first before sharing! For one of my recent favorite episodes, check out: Rethinking School Happy listening! Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterious Birth of Children’s Books

Balderdash! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books Bringing you back to the 1700s, Balderdash! illuminates the life of John Newbery. John was a boy growing up in an England without children’s literature, or at least not children’s literature as we know it today. Written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, this is a book that held up to its expectations. It will keep you entertained while also providing you with a healthy amount of new vocabulary, information about book printing in the mid-1700s, and beautiful illustrations to keep your eyes entertained. Check it out at your local library! I was especially fond of the marbling in the end pages for giving a nod to classic book printing. This is a book that would fit in well with any elementary classroom learning about the John Newbery award, the history of books, or simply wanting an enjoyable, quality picture book to lay their eyes on. Best of all, after the story there is a history of John Newbery, additional information about the books mentioned in the book, and a bibliography including suggested further reading. While I would read this book to any elementary-aged students, it would be especially fun […]

Flying Lessons & Other Stories

Looking for a collection of short stories highlighting the lives of 10 diverse characters from 10 different authors yet all sharing the commonality of being an adolescent? Then you need to take a look at Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by Ellen Oh, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books. Dedicated to Walter Dean Myers, Flying Lessons & Other Stories includes stories from Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Ellen Oh, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson. From a boy’s love of basketball to a girl becoming a pirate, these stories will captivate readers by giving them a glimpse into the life of someone else doing their best to live an enjoyable life. I was lucky enough to meet Meg Medina at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena this past week. I asked if I could take a photo of her with my copy of the book thanks to the Los Angeles Public Library. Here’s her pose 🙂 I would recommend this collection to any 6th -8th grader interested in reading a collection of fictional stories that gives them a glimpse into the lives of a diverse group of characters. The collection would […]

Teaching about Black Lives Matter

Following up on the previous post about The Hate U Give and text complexity, I wanted to share a few resources I recently came across thanks to Teaching Tolerance. The first gives a history of the beginning, information on the hashtag, myths, criticisms, and a perspective on “All Lives Matter.” The second article gives elementary applications, middle school approaches, and teaching about Black Lives Matter in a High School. But enough of me telling you…read them for yourselves and share with anyone and everyone who may benefit from them: Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters: Part 1 (Issue 56, Summer 2017, by Jamilah Pitts) An excerpt from Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters: “Not all of us are like Thompson; the students who sit in front of us daily are not always directly affected by the killing of unarmed black people or any of the other injustices that plague our nation. But as teachers who function as caretakers, truth-seekers and advocates of justice, we can acknowledge how the threat of justice in one community is, to borrow from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a threat to justice in every community. We have a civic responsibility to be educated about Black Lives Matter and, as […]

The Hate U Give

Ever since I finished The Hate U Give, I’ve been meaning to write a post about it. This is an important novel recommended for 8th graders through adults. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is a complex, relevant novel about 16-year-old Starr Carter who is living in two worlds…her home neighborhood of Garden Heights (mostly Black) and her school neighborhood at Williamson Prep (mostly White). Mimicking contemporary society, Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of unarmed Khalil, her childhood friend, by a white police officer. The media explodes however both the police and journalists lack the information necessary to give an honest portrayal of Khalil. Starr needs to decide if and how she will stand up against the systemic racism present in her life. Grounded in family, friendship, reality, humor, and enjoyable nods to Harry Potter, Angie Thomas gives readers an intimate look into an all-too-familiar reality for far-too-many Americans. Read the book and check out a few interviews with the author: NPR Interview School Library Journal Interview HarperStacks Interview The Booklist Reader After reading, I used TeachingBooks to see the Lexile level and what other resources were available to connect to the text. It may or may not surprise you to learn […]

Quality Resource: CCBlogC

This is not the first time I’ve referenced the CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center), nor will it be the last; however, this is the first time I’m highlighting CCBlogC. The CCBlogC is a blog showcasing “Observations about books for children and teens from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.” It is hosted by the CCBC librarians and is filled with reviews of newly released literature. Check it out if you’re looking to stay informed about great books that have recently been published. The latest book-of-the-week highlights The Lost Kitten, a picture book; meanwhile, a recent favorite of mine they highlighted the first week of August was The First Rule of Punk, a book for the middle grades (ages 9-12). Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

When you realize classic books are racist

PBS recently aired a clip of Grace Lin talking about: What to do when you realize classic books from your childhood are racist  There are SO many books that fall into this category and many times people don’t even think about it because the book is so familiar and beloved to them. Next time you’re reading books from your childhood, or even earlier in time, take a critical eye and evaluate the words AND illustrations contained within the story. You have the freedom to read what you choose. Please, please, take the time to discuss the topics within these classic stories with the people in your life. If you’re interested in more resources of how to talk about these issues please email me, happy reading! Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Quality Resource: American Indians in Children’s Literature

American Indians in Children’s Literature is a blog that is maintained by the amazing Debbie Reese. Her site is full of highly useful information regarding children’s literature that is by or about American Indians. She started the blog in 2006 and since then has become a go-to source for many librarians and educators when it comes to the evaluation of books including American Indians (or representations of sovereign nations and peoples). Some highlights of the resources you will find while visiting AICL include: Best Books Native Writers, Illustrators, Scholars, Activists…on Twitter Revisions to Racism in Books Books that Reference Racist Classics Plus, I even made her blog back in 2013 thanks to Debbie video-chatting with our Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums (TLAM) class at the Information School @ the University of Wisconsin – Madison with the post, Indigenous Knowledge and Children’s Literature. Have a wonderful day and happy reading! Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez