Friday, August 28, 2009

Get Ready to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was enacted into law in 1988. The day of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept.18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within this 30 day period. Incidentally, the word Hispanic does not refer to race, but is an ethnic term for diverse peoples of many races and origins who hold in common the Spanish language.

Explore the following online resources and bring Latino heritage to your home and classroom:

The library's subscriptions to World Book Online, Britannica Online and Biography Resource Center, which includes a category browse for Hispanic Americans, provide a multitude of background documents, timelines and biographical sketches to assist students with school reports. Just log in with your 10-digit Fauquier County Public Library card number.'s Celebrate Latino Heritage site includes lesson plans for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and high school students. Storytelling, writing and art are emphasized. Additional activities (Pinata Concentration Game) and background information (famous Latinos, Latinos in history, etc.) for all ages are part of the Celebrate Hispanic Heritage! section.

Gale Cengage Learning offers a number of free resources, including biographies of noteworthy Hispanics, quizzes and a timeline. celebrates Hispanic Heritage with featured biographies, study guides, online videos and a Latino trivia game.

Thinkfinity offers a rich collection of free lesson plans, activities and educational resources to educators.

The National Register of Historic Places web site highlights various properties listed in the National Register, travel itineraries, education lesson plans and National Parks that deal directly with the cultural and political experiences of Hispanic Americans.

Smithsonian Education features online educational activities and events at the various Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC. For example, Smithsonian Global Sound offers free music and videos from Latin American and from Hispanic communities in the U.S. A student activity is included.

The Library of Congress' National Hispanic Heritage Month online exhibit includes images and audio/visual presentations that bring history alive for young and old alike.

The National Education Association has compiled a list of Web sites to help teachers and students learn more about the history and culture of Hispanic people.

Finally, the library also has plenty of materials on Hispanic Americans you can check out and take home to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Test Your Technology Knowledge

I recently ran across some free technology assessment games from SimpleK12 that are geared at use by teachers/technology coordinators in the classroom. These games help students prepare for technology assessments that a district may require, specifically ISTE's Educational Technology Standards for Students (ISTE stands for International Society for Technology in Education). Whether you're a student or not, how do you stack up when it comes to technology knowledge?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

College Prep

Are you a high school junior or senior, or the parent of one? Looking for information on colleges? Check out the library's For the College Bound page where we list resources at the library and on the Web that will help you plan, prepare and pay for post-secondary school education.

If you're not even sure where to start, here are some handy planning calendars that spell out what you (or your son/daughter) should be doing depending on the year and month:

If you (or your son/daughter) plan on taking any of the college entrance exams, be sure to log in to Peterson's Testing and Education Reference Center. You'll be able to access online study guides, quizzes and timed practice tests for the SAT and the ACT for free.

Finally, before you get in the car for a road trip to visit prospective schools, you might want to check out and watch one of their videos on over 400 colleges. The videos highlight various campus features as well as interviews with current students and faculty/staff. Unfortunately they don't have a video of my alma mater, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, but hopefully that will be remedied soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back-to-School Reading

I sometimes "man" the Warrenton adult and children's reference desks, and lately have had a lot of anxious parents asking for titles on their child's summer reading list. Never fear, harried parents -- the library's Web site has a variety of book lists for school-age children. Highlights include:

  • Summer Reading Lists - We've aggregated the summer reading assignments from local area schools (when the school makes available online).

  • Accelerated Reader Lists - Access the list of titles that your/your child's school is using (Fauquier County Public Schools) from our Web site. Some schools provide access to online AR quizzes. You can also use the AR BookFinder to find the AR level of a book.

  • Battle of the Books - A nationwide reading incentive program; get this year's titles for local elementary and middle school students. (Pssst...there are also practice questions available on the Battle of the Books Web site.)

  • Book Lists & Bibliographies - For adults, young adults and childrens, these lists are prepared by library staff.

  • Find a Book with Lexile - Many schools are now asking parents and children to find books based on the child's Lexile reading level. This database allows you to search by a Lexile measure range (based on the VA SOL score) as well as by grade/interest.

  • Kiddosphere - This blog, maintained by FCPL Youth Services supervisor Jennifer Schultz, provides reviews of books, videos and CDs for children, tweens and young adults. You can subscribe by e-mail, making it easy to keep up with new titles.

On the Internet, you'll find a wealth of Web sites that provide suggested reading for children, including the BookHive,, Reading Rockets and Reading is Fundamental (RIF), to name just a few.

The library also has a number of printed bibliographies and book lists for all ages, including best books for beginning readers, books for horse lovers and read-alikes. If you visit the library in-person, be sure to ask your friendly youth services librarian for recommended reads.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hide & Seek

Familiar with the library's Letterboxing program? A low-tech version of geocaching, letterboxing is a fun way for the entire family to get to know the county. The nice thing is that you don't need a GPS or any high tech equipment to get started. Check out our online clues and locate/log your discovery.

More resources are available online to help you with your geocaching/letterboxing experiences: