Movie Study Guides

A new teaching guide helps you learn how to use movies to teach important life lessons to children and youth.

“Teaching with Movies: A Guide for Parents and Educators,” provides insight, instruction and resources to help adults use any movie as a learning tool.

The guide is produced by F.I.L.M. (Finding Inspiration in Literature & Movies), which is a partnership between the National Collaboration for Youth and Truly Moving Pictures.  F.I.L.M. provides study guides and community service ideas for numerous Hollywood movies.

For example, the most recent addition to F.I.L.M.’s collection is a study guide to use with the movie, “My Sister’s Keeper” starring Cameron Diaz.

More info:

Book at no economic Cost

Nippon Foundation Offers Books on Contemporary Japan to Libraries – Must apply by June 30!

The Nippon Foundation will donate “100 Books for Understanding Contemporary Japan” in English to 200-300 libraries throughout North American. The book’s cover all aspects-politics/international relations,  literature, arts, history, society, culture, economics and business.

Academic and public libraries interested in some or all of these books are encouraged to request books by June 30th.  The list of books, reviews, and application process can be found at

The Nippon Foundation is an independent, non-profit, grant making organization that was founded in 1962. It supports projects both in Japan and overseas.  It works with other non-profit organizations, government, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, such as the Carter Center, in the resolution of humanitarian problems, including disease, poverty, and disasters.

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Bobbt Flay’s Latest Throwdown: Book Reviews

Earlier this week, I read a posting on Zetta Elliot’s blog, Fledgling, about the controversy between professional and non-professional book reviewers. I had an immediate reaction to the discussion (much ado about nothing!) but, I decided to step away and give it some thought.

This morning, I’m watching the Food Network and my response begins to take form. Of course it’s days late and a few dollars short, so I decided to create a blog post of my own that might bring an audience to my thoughts.

I’m watching Bobby Flay, one of the coolest guys on TV and someone I think I’d actually enjoy meeting, and he’s grilling it up with this neighborhood cook. I remember seeing Bobby on Throwdown where he goes into the domain of other cooks and challenges them at their specialty. The thing is, Bobby is a chef while these other people are cooks. (Did you know Rachel Ray is a cook?) This seems like a subtle difference to a consumer like me who is just looking for a good recipe, but Bobby has been academically trained on the art and science of food preparation. He enters a kitchen with a different perspective from someone who has mastered their skill from hand me down memories and/or trial and error cooking lessons.

Yet, Bobby respects their abilities, cooks alongside them and enters into a dynamic, collegial exchange with them.

This reminds me of so much I’ve read this past week: professional journalists disgusted with individuals on social networking sites who have the audacity to think they’re providing news while those on Twitter and Facebook are challenging professionals to report something, anything to give validity to what they already know.

I even think about how much more dynamic the learning experience is in my classroom when students bring knowledge to the classroom, teaching the teacher if you will. In breaking down the traditional Teacher-Student Barriers and allowing information to flow in the classroom, there is an emotional connect to the content and a deeper sense of learning.

See where I’m going with this?

For whom are you writing and what do you hope to accomplish?

Chris Brogan reminds us that from this economy forward if we wish to be successful, we’ll have to look at what we do and what resources we have in a new way. This is something that those of us who teach information literacy have always known

  • to be 21st century learners, we must be able to learn, unlearn and re-learn.

I see this as a message both to professional and non-professionals in any field.

In learning from one another, we begin to develop this new, 21st century perspective. If the non-professional is successful, one must ask why. Does that individual simply have a knack, a gift or have they identified a niche that the professionals have missed? Mitali Perkins tried to tell you this in her response to the original blog article on this topic and Bitch Magazine directly confronted the sin of omission.

I know when I’m reading a professional. I try to figure out what they’ve done, what elements are present in their review that make such a well honed presentation. I wonder how they’ve found such a wonderful book, how they uncovered such an interesting back story. I still write my little reviews and although they I will probably be embarrassed to read them years from now (because I will improve!), I will keep writing about these books because so few others do. I will keep writing because in composing my reviews, I force myself to  think more critically about what I’ve read and am better posed to discuss the book with students and teachers. I will keep writing because I am showing students that this art is accessible to them as well. And I will learn and unlearn how to do this better.

I doubt I’ll ever get the opportunity to cook with Bobby Flay, but one of these days I may have  Roger Sutton, Elizabeth Devereaux, Adriana Dominguez or some other well trained Book Reviewer comment on one of my reviews. They may even learn something from my unique style!

Twittering Tech Tips


One of the plans for the summer is to work on my tech skills. With technology today there is always something new to learn, improve or master! The more I learn, the more I can teach. Or teach with. So, I’ve bookmarked several free online courses with my Google bookmarks and in delicious.

This past weekend, I spent way more time than usual on Twitter, this time following the events in Iran instead of working on some of those courses. I felt so connected to the events and individuals who are in the midst of this historic event through their tweets. Information is coming unfilted, while CNN and MSNBC are rather quiet while waiting to verify sources and sanitize the information. For me, the way I receive news has certainly changed!

I broke from this intense blend of narratives, pictures and video by switching back to the regular mix of friends I follow. Among the information there, I found Starter Sheets. These are nice little sheets developed to help educators develop 2.0 skills. The pages have been uploaded to a wiki so that more can be written and added with the classroom teacher in mind. Simple instructions are provided so that the sheets all follow the same basic format. An essential element is that classroom implications are included in the usage.


The sheet I inspected was the Twitter sheet. So many people have an interest in Twitter these days, yet it has one of the most un-user-friendly sites on the ‘net! And, I’m noticing that the Starter Sheet for Twitter stops giving directions right where people get lost! It’s pretty easy to get registered, but then, you have this blank home page and no directions. What to do??

  • Decide how u want to use Twitter. Do you want to become the most popular person on the planet? Make professional connections? Get great deals from your favorite stores? Get the latest entertainment, political and/or world news?
  • Look over there in the right-hand column. Click on my Twitter link and add me as a friend. Do the same on all your favorite blogs.
  • Work through the tabs to decorate your page and upload a photo.
  • Use the “find people” tab to upload contacts from your address book.
  • You can manually enter friends, but it can be really tricky finding people you know. Enter their full name, often with no spaces.  Make friends with Mr. Tweet and he’ll use your profile to help you find new friends.
  • When you make friends, see who their friends are. Borrow them!

From there, one can find numerous applications to make Twitter work for you. You can use the Twitter home page to get updates from your friends, but most people don’t. Many people use Tweet Deck. I prefer the Tweet Grid. There are applications that allow you to tweet more than 140 characters, send photos, add Twitter to your Gmail page (I love that!!), add Twitter to your toolbar, to your blog, to your cell phone…….

And this was one of my goals for the summer. To teach Twitter. I hope this helps someone! Now, to put this on a powerpoint so that the visuals can make it more meaningful!

book review: Joseph

book review:  Joseph 9781416917526

author: Shelia P. Moses

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (October 2008)

main character: Joseph Flood

This is Joseph’s story. He owns it and he tells it in a clear and fairly reliable manner.  Joseph is a young high school student who is surviving life with his single mother. He is a very astute young man, sharing insights into his both his school and family life. He is well aware that his mother is an addict. He knows she is the only one who can save herself while she drags him down. Yet he does not want to leave her. He is so insightful, that it is easy to forget he is a child. Joseph’s father does all he can to support his son, but he is away fighting in Iraq. During most of the book, Joseph and his mother are living in a homeless shelter. Joseph attends school and attempts to maintain a façade of normalcy.

I wanted educators to read this book, as Joseph seems to be talking to them when he spells out how teachers and schools fail him. I wondered for whom this book was written? Will it give hope to young people whose lives seem hopeless because of parental shortcomings? Throughout the book, the reader maintains confidence that Joseph will overcome his surroundings, we just want someone to help him!

Joseph gives an insider’s view into lives that too many children have to live.  The language of the book is void of any slang, vernacular or even contractions thus bringing a sense of dignity to the characters. I felt the complete words slowing me down, making me pay attention to Joseph. It also makes the story universal. There are few if any stereotypes in the book, with Joseph being an academically successful student who plays tennis, like his dad. His aunt is an attorney, and his uncle an airplane pilot.  Any child living with a parent with any type of addiction problem could face the same daily fight to survive that Joseph so eloquently tells us about.

themes: reliance;  codependency; family; overcoming obstacles

One More

One more chance for you to win from Ms. Tanita Davis–I won a copy yesterday with a story of happenstance in Taiwan with my daughter.

Today’s contest:

Today’s challenge is one Tali would enjoy — it’s all about driving. Tali mainly drove her grandmother nuts, but she also did some driving with Octavia, too. I’d like to hear stories from people who were taught to drive by their siblings. What’s the worse little, um, scrape you ever got into driving, and never told your parents about? Spill. I promise I won’t tell your Dad who scratched his classic Impala.

You have until midnight on the 13th to unburden your souls, and three lucky winners will come away with a copy of MARE’s WAR, which Kirkus says is “absolutely essential reading” — preferably while someone else is doing the driving”

Good luck!