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Beginning today, Ms. Waddle will no longer be updating Chaffey Library Lady. She will continue to review YA literature and any book that looks good for teens at:

School Library Lady

Please visit her there and subscribe to email updates or the RSS feed.

Thanks for your support!

Happy reading!

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The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring by Jennet Conant  irregulars

Most of us know Roald Dahl through his weirdly fun children’s stories. Even if you haven’t read those stories, you’ve probably seen some of the movies made from Dahl’s work—James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, Willy Wonka (from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). But Dahl’s entire life was wildly interesting, and his stint as a British spy in the United States during World War II is as engaging a story as anything he wrote for children.

The British Security Coordination had a secret mission to get the United States involved in World War II. The Irregulars, as these British spies in America were known, were named after characters in Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries.

This might seem odd now, but at the time (1939-40), there were many Americans who were isolationists and didn’t believe that the war was a U.S. problem. Unfortunately, there were also some famous anti-Semitic people (the popular aviation hero Charles Lindberg among them) who were Nazi sympathizers. A Canadian spymaster named William Stephenson (nicknamed Intrepid) was tasked with making Americans believe that the war was a danger to them. He and the Irregulars were to create sympathy for the British, and with that sympathy, generate funds for the fight in Europe.

So what to do? Well, it might surprise those of us without connections to power, but a lot of the work was achieved on the ‘cocktail circuit,’ that is, at parties in the homes of the very rich and very powerful. The Irregulars would spread lies through influential people. These men had to be suave enough to be invited to such parties. Dahl was not only very good looking. He was also a war hero—a pilot in the Royal Air Force whose military career ended with a crash—and a great storyteller (a very useful skill at a dinner table full of strangers). He was not the only interesting man on the job. Handsome Ian Fleming, creator of the fictional spy James Bond—007—was among the group. Needless to say, he loved tools that contained secret weapons, such as a pen that ejected gas. Other Irregulars were willing to try out spy tools such as truth serum. (That was an experiment gone wrong—one of the many entertaining parts of the book.)

The Irregulars passed more than gossip. To get then President Roosevelt to push for loans (and the Lend-Lease Act) for the British, the BSC created a map of South America and made U.S. officials believe it was a Nazi product. It showed how Nazi Germany planned to split up South America, including the (then U.S. controlled) Panama Canal. In fact, they’d do just about anything, including sleeping with married women and passing on false information.

Most of what they did worked. Reading about allies who were secretly (well, sort of) working to alter the course of the U.S. policies is surprising fun. A lot of U.S. citizens might have resented this ‘spying’ if they had known about it. J. Edgar Hoover wasn’t too thrilled. But from our current perspective, it’s amusing stuff, and knowing the how and why of the BSC will help you learn about truly important events from World War II.

High school housekeeping: If your history teacher asks you to read nonfiction, particularly about WW II, this is a great choice. It’s a little longer than some choices at nearly 400 pages.  But you’ll see how a well-researched document can be highly entertaining. You’ll learn about the BSC, but you find information on so much more as well. And Dahl and his friend are so much larger than life—not always in a good way—that you’ll find them quite human and fallible while deeply admiring their talents and their place in history. You’ll encounter several famous people, get some interesting background on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and learn other facts of Dahl’s biography—his success in writing, helped along by a very rich American mentor, and his life with actress Patricia Neal. Not bad for a single book.

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Pictures of students checking out The Fault in Our Stars after a book talk.

At Chaffey High, all twenty-one copies of The Fault in Our Stars are checked out!

I know you’ll love the book.

We received a donation from a teacher of one more book, so if you want it, it will be ready for check out soon.

Be a part of the 2012-13 “Ontario Teens Read” with The Fault in Our Stars.

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The Hunger Games: End of the School Year Fun 

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know that I loved every book in The Hunger Games trilogy as well as the movie. I put a lot of effort into having an event at both my schools to celebrate it. But I also think it’s OK to make fun of the things we love. And Harvard Lampoon, a parody franchise, has provided us HG fans that opportunity.

They have a book out entitled The Hunger Pains. While I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, the online trailer, which closely mimics the HG movie trailer, is pretty darned funny. I’m too cheap to pay WordPress for the option of embedding video here—especially since you can’t view it at school anyway while YouTube is censored. But here is the link to a good laugh: http://youtu.be/GjPTnW7bYUQ.

There’s also a blooper reel to this book trailer, not quite as funny, but a little chuckle: http://youtu.be/lr9LwM9OoQ0.

Study for your finals and then break with this. Good luck with all your tests!

 

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Congratulations to Mrs. White for her Special Service Award from the Chaffey District!

Well deserved!

Mrs. White is a wonderful teacher and a great friend who has done so much for so many Tigers. It was great to see her honored this evening.

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That Used to Be Us—Links on looking to the future

Last thoughts on how the book connects to educators

Places to find more information

“Who knew that being an educator meant you needed to be a student of technology?” Gregg W. Downey, Editor & Publisher eSchool News

I want to create three posts on where to look while we think about how we are changing—guideposts and cool stuff to use along the way. My goal is to have the positive, the negative, and the truth that lies between them. This first of the three posts is about online resources. The second will be on books. The third will be a counterpoint to the idea (expressed in That Used to Be Us) that poverty has no effect on educational success.


Online Items of Interest

The following links are all available on Victoria’s Diigo account, tagged with TUTBU: http://www.diigo.com/user/vwaddle

INTRODUCE YOURSELF

If you aren’t tech savvy and feel like the world is changing around you, and you need a place to grab hold as it spins out of control, this is it. It’s also good for students and teachers who do some social networking and use online tools, but would like to broaden their scope.

Introductions to a variety of useful online tools—these self-paced tutorials are available from the California School Library Association and are linked to and used by folks from all over the country.

For students:

Teen Learning 2.0 – An introduction to digital treats and new technologies

For educators:

Classroom Learning 2.0

The Must-Have Guide To Helping Technophobic Educators | Edudemic (Actually, this isn’t just for technophobes—it has ideas on educational use of Twitter, Google, iPads and more.)

READING

As they say, “reading is fundamental.” How will reading change?

What other media will be fundamental?

Apple and iPads

Justice Department investigating e-book pricing – Los Angeles Times

U.S. sues Apple, publishers over eBook prices | eSchool News

Apple iBooks 2 license agreement gets icy reception in higher education | eCampus News

iBooks 2: Reinventing Textbooks Or Lulu on Steroids?

Other eBook thoughts

Are Teens Embracing E-books? (An earlier study said teens didn’t like them. This one says they do, but, ironically, they want to download ebooks for the immediacy of starting the read, but then will buy a hard copy to keep and share with friends. A fun article.)

Digital textbooks get a boost with new offerings | eSchool News

The Googlization of Books (discussion with the author of the book The Googlization of Everything)

Other Media

Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Our Media, Ourselves: Are We Headed For A Matrix? : NPR Perhaps we fear technology because it will remove our stuff, reveling the emptiness of our lives?

CLASSROOMS

What will your classroom look like?

Khan Academy: The future of education? – CBS News

60 Minutes – Interviews, Profiles & Reports – CBS News

Online Teacher of the Year: Individualized instruction is key | eSchool News

Diane Ravitch outlines ed tech’s promise, perils | eSchool News

Gooru – Home Page

Gooru – Online learning

Gain a better understanding of how to use Gooru with these tools. Watch a brief video or view a tutorial. Download a PDF presentation and demo script for a step-by-step guide of Gooru product features.

Panarea Digital Debuts Nearpod For Schools

Ten education blogs worth following | eSchool News (good stuff on flipped classrooms, etc.)

Flipped learning: A response to five common criticisms | eSchool News

MentorMob – Learn What You Want, Teach What You Love – MentorMob

2012 Free Education Technology Resources eBook from EmergingEdTech

Considerations Before Deploying iPads and iPods « Socratech Seminars

Four keys to creating successful eLearning programs | eSchool News

Hyping classroom technology helps tech firms, not students – latimes.com

COOL STUFF We Should All be Using Now

Of course, there’s a plethora of cool stuff for specific content areas, but these links contain fun tools for students that are useful in classes now and will help them in using digital tools in higher education.

Top Web Annotation and Markup Tools

School Systems Blog – Four Ways to Use Pinterest in Education

Free Technology for Teachers: Embed Plus – Clip & Annotate YouTube Videos

STUDYBLUE | Make online flashcards & notes. Study anywhere, anytime.

Must See: A New Web 2.0 App Store Just For Educators | Edudemic

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I loved a couple of things that Gayle Brandeis, our guest author for the student writers’ conference on March 28,  had  to say about being a writer.

She spoke about her toddler son, and how motherhood–walking with a child who stops to explore the world–helps her to “slow down and see things in a new way.” She also mentioned one of the most important things a writer can do: “Read as much as you can–other writers’ words free you.” (I truly believe that whether you are a writer or not, writers’ words free you, teach you, give you examples of how to deal with life and all its drama–which is why I decided to be a teacher librarian, in the hope of bringing that fREADom to others.)

Seeing in a new way is the difference between a mediocre writer and a good one. In fact, writing itself will help you “explore the world with creativity and freshness.”

While I was thinking about writers and student opportunities for creativity, I opened my Sunday newspaper to find an article in the book review section about Figment, a “literary site for teens . . . launched in December 2010.” The managing editor, Jacob Lewis describes it as “‘a user-generated platform.'” Their slogan is ‘write yourself in.’ They are receiving the Innovator’s Award at the LA Times’ Book Prizes at this year’s Book Festival.

“‘Young writers want a place to experiment, to take a risk and get a response,'” observes [Dana] Goodyear [New Yorker staff writer], “to have that daring feeling of putting themselves out there.” Because of this, she adds, it’s key that Figment function as part of “their creative lives” — a telling choice of phrase that suggests the credit the site gives its users, the faith that they are serious about their work. This in itself is a radical concept, in a culture that tends to think of teenagers in terms of market share.

To read the entire article, go here. To go to Figment and try it out, go here.

As I think about creative opportunities for teens, I hope that those of you who find creative expression in writing will come out to our Open Mic Night at COHS on Thursday, April 12 (7:00-8:30 PM) or to the Ovitt Open Mic Night (downtown library–closer to Chaffey) on Wednesday, April 11 (5:00-6:30 PM) and read your best poetry.  We’ll have prizes and refreshments. Let’s honor the creative soul within!

Thanks to the students who came to the writers’ conference, with a special thanks to so many students from LOHS, who had a bit of a drive. (I wanted to post your pictures, but only have permission from one parent, so maybe next time!)

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