Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Educating the world, one video at a time

If you read this past week's Sunday Parade magazine, you probably saw Bill Gate's mention of his "favorite teacher," Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Over 1800 videos covering math, science, the humanities and test prep are available 24X7. The content is made in digestible 10-20 minute chunks especially purposed for viewing on the computer as opposed to the more lengthy videos of a conventional "physical" lecture. The Khan Academy's goal is to cover all topics that would appear on A.P. tests, SATs, and other standardized tests. There are also several hundred videos devoted to the SAT, GMAT and other standardized test problems. According to founder/creator Sal Khan, because of the granular nature of the 10 minute videos, the content can be mapped to almost any state's or nation's standards.

I see Khan Academy becoming the world's first free, world-class
virtual school where anyone can learn anything--for free.
Sal Khan, founder/creator of Khan Academy

Monday, October 25, 2010

ResourceBlog Article: Resource of the Week -- MetaLib: A New Federated Search Tool from the GPO (Government Printing Office)

ResourceBlog Article: Resource of the Week -- MetaLib: A New Federated Search Tool from the GPO (Government Printing Office) - This article gives you the background/details on a new search engine from the GPO that you can use to access online catalogs, resources and databases from the federal government. For example, if you are doing environmental research, you may want to use the Advanced tab/feature and limit your search to Environment. Then you will access information specifically from the Dept. of Energy, the EPA and other national environmental publications.

Family History Month

October is Family History Month. Whether you are new to genealogy or have already completed your family tree, here are some resources that will help you celebrate your past.

Visit the Fauquier County Public Library Virginiana Room, which has an extensive collection of materials covering Virginia and local history/Fauquier County. If you are looking for copies of specific records (birth, census, death, etc.), be sure to consult our Fauquier County Records chart to determine whether a trip to the library or the county's records room is in order.

Access the library's subscriptions to Ancestry Library (in-library use only) and HeritageQuest Online (access from home with your library card). The library has also put together an online index to the Fauquier Democrat/Times-Democrat if you're trying to narrow down a birth, marriage or death date for a resident of Fauquier County.

Check out a how-to guide as well as the extensive list of staff-recommended genealogical/local history websites on our Local History/Genealogy page.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Typing/Keyboarding Practice

How are your typing skills? If your one of those people who use just their index fingers to type, you may want to check out Dance Mat Typing from the BBC Schools site. While the website is aimed at children/students aged 7-11, it's an easy-to-use tool for anyone needing to get beyond the "hunt and peck" typing style. Their are 4 levels, with each level divided into 3 stages. Each stage/level will recap previous lessons to reinforce what you've learned, and you will learn to type with both hands. In addition, at the end of each lesson, you'll be rewarded with a mini song and dance. Woo hoo! You will need headphones (if you're in a public space/using a public computer) or speakers to enjoy the song and dance in each game. Also, the games use the Flash plug-in - if your computer doesn't have Flash, you can find information on how to download it here, or you can play the alternative interactive versions available at each stage. Worksheets are available for each stage that can be printed out and used offline with a typewriter or computer.

Other keyboarding/typing tutorials:

There are numerous other free keyboarding/typing websites out there...just do a Google search for "keyboarding" or "typing lessons" and you'll see what I mean. Of course, there are also many fee-based programs (order software, etc.), so you may want to stick to those lessons available through K-12 schools (curriculum posted online by a typing teacher).

Friday, October 15, 2010

National Chemistry Week

National Chemistry Week, a program of the American Chemical Society (ACS), runs October 17-23, 2010. This year's theme is "Behind the Scenes with Chemistry!" and focuses on common chemistry topics which can explain the mystery behind the seemingly "magic" that is shown on television and described in books.

The ACS website includes a number of resources educators can use in conjunction with National Chemistry Week, specifically:

Along with the ACS resources, here are some links to some other trusted online resources that are focused on chemistry:

For more science-related websites for teachers, see our educators resources page for science/math.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bullying - Awareness, Prevention and Intervention

As we know from recent tragic events, bullying, and more recently, cyber-bullying, is a serious problem. Below are some online resources that can assist children and the adults who care/work with children learn effective strategies for recognizing, preventing and combating bully-type behaviours.

Out on a Limb - A Guide to Getting Along, is a website that covers common situations children will find themselves in and guide them towards making the right decisions when dealing with others. According to the teacher's guide, the activities on the Out on a Limb website are designed primarily for third graders, but can be used to entertain and educate youth from the second and fourth grades as well.

Stop Bullying Now, a site produced by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services - Health Resources and Services Administration and geared at parents/educators/youth advisors, etc., includes a section geared at kids, with webisodes and games that help children "Take a Stand, Lend a Hand."

STRYVE (Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere) Online provides online training and resources for adults who want to prevent youth violence before it starts. While the site mentions providing "online community workspaces," their Take Action section is still under construction.

The National Crime Prevention Council provides advice for parents on bullying and also has a safety section geared at kids (however, is just a bunch of text; the interactive games/webinars from some of the other providers would probably be more compelling to children/students used to enhanced content).

Websites such as TeensHealth and PBS Kids Go! - It's My Life also have content geared at children and young people dealing with bullying, and there are also materials available to check out from the library.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Keep Yourself Safe Online

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Stop by any Fauquier County Public Library reference desk and ask for the "STOP * THINK * CLICK - 7 Practices for Safer Computing" brochures or check out the tips outlined on the OnGuardOnline.gov and StaySafeOnline.org websites, including:

Keep your computer clean (keep software up to date, use anti-virus protection, etc.). Free options include:
Protect your personal information
Connect with care
Stay current with online security - find out what the latest viruses, hoaxes, etc. are with these web sites:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dear America - American History Resource for Tween Girls

Younger female readers and parents may be familiar with Scholastic's Dear America series, a collection of fictional diaries set during pivotal times in American history. Now there is a Dear America website with activities for children and teachers that allows students to experience American history through the eyes of someone their own age.

The Teach Dear America site, geared at educators and created in collaboration with the Library of Congress, includes discussion guides for the books, links to the Our America student journals and more. You can click on a specific era in history (Civil War, Great Depression, etc.) and access white-board ready slides, student activities (including arts and crafts, recipes) and teaching resources.

The Dear America Kids site allows students to explore virtual scrapbooks of specific Dear America characters that contain samples of the fashions of the time period, a recipe of the food she would have eaten and links to arts and crafts projects popular during the character's lifetime. There is also a discussion area (message boards) where the hope is that kids will discuss the books, themes, characters, etc. However, when I poked around, I saw lots of postings that had nothing to do with the Dear America series. The board is moderated, so you should be safe from having to view anything offensive, but be warned that you'll end up reading the random musings of bored tweens with screen names like "gigglygrl."

Because it's a Scholastic site (part of "The Stacks"), be aware that you will see lots of promotions (i.e., ads) touting other completely unrelated book series, games and websites.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Digging for Data - Global Statistics

Aside from being a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world, the World Bank provides users, via data.worldbank.org, with access to statistics and data about development in countries around the globe.

For example, did you know...
  • The United States ranks #11 on the list of Internet users per 100 people, just above South Korea
  • Monaco has the most passenger cars per 1000 people (the U.S. is #20 on the list)
  • In 2009, Liberia topped the list with the highest percentage of firms that are expected to make informal payments to public officials to "get things done"
  • Countries such as Luxembourg and Kuwait emit more C02 emissions (metric tons per capita) than the United States
The data catalog also includes a number of datasets on specific topics, etc.

Other sources of statistics can be found on the library's recommended websites page.

Friday, October 1, 2010

World Book Kids Upgraded

World Book Online For Kids has been redesigned and upgraded with new content and functionality. The site continues to offer all of the most useful features of the classic World Book Kids site, including simple navigation, easy-to-read articles, multimedia, maps, interactive tools, and activities. New features include:
  • An engaging new design
  • A tool to help students find information about important people
  • Dozens of age-appropriate science fair projects
  • Interactive maps and outline maps and flags
  • Compare Places, a tool for researching and comparing continents, countries, states, and provinces
  • Dozens of interactive educational games students will want to play again and again

World Book Online For Kids is available on our website (see Search for Articles & More) as well as on our Facebook page. Access to this database requires a Fauquier County Public Library card number. If you do not have a library card, apply for one online and gain instant access to this database.

October eResource - Bloom's Literary Reference Online

Have a paper due on British poet John Donne? How about contemporary author Dave Eggers? Look no further than Bloom's Literary Reference Online. With more than 15,000 entries on births, deaths, publications, and events in world literature from the ancient era to the present day, this online database includes...
  • Biographies of thousands of authors from around the world, searchable by nationality, type of writing, or time periods ranging from ancient to modern
  • Overviews, synopses, analysis, and literary criticism of thousands of works—from novels to poetry to plays—searchable by genre and time period or alphabetically
  • In-depth, full-text entries on literary movements, literary groups, magazines and newspapers, and historical events that help place literature in context, as well as definitions of literary terms
  • A dictionary of more than 34,000 entries with concise, informative definitions, many with pronunciation, etymology, and syllable breaks of the word
  • Information on more than 42,000 major and minor literary characters, including where they first appeared, what part they played in the plot, and how they are related to other literary characters
  • Essays on how to write about literature, including essays by Harold Bloom on popularly assigned authors
  • Harold Bloom's Western Canon: Professor Bloom's selections of the major works of Western literature through the present day

Bloom's also includes video segments covering a range of topics—from biographies of writers to critical analysis of plays to literary genres.

To access this resource, along with additional online resources to help you with your literature studies such as Books & Authors and Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, simply go to the library's Web site, click on Find Information > Search for Articles and More. Under Literature and eBooks, you'll see a link to the Bloom's log in page. You'll need your Fauquier County Public Library card in order to continue. If you don't have a card, apply for one online.