• From Pencils to Tablets: A Visual History of Educational Technology

    Posted by Mary Risi on 12/15/2014
    Technology is ubiquitous in the lives of our students. But, guess what? It always has been.
    Little more than 100 years ago, it was mass production of the pencil that revolutionized American public education.
    The pencil. 
    hi tech  
    Far from the revolutionary impact of wall chalkboards, overhead projectors and film strips, our students are juggling multiple devices and multiple software platforms that do everything from offer interaction with textbook content, help with learning math concepts, take instant polls of student understanding, and format bibliographic citations. 
    The pace of change is staggering. The latest thing becomes yesterday's news in the blink of an eye. It's amazing to think about the major technological shifts that have changed American schools.
    What was the hot new technology when you were in school?

    History of ed tech
    Courtesy of: http://www.onlineschools.com

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  • Welcome Back to Learning!

    Posted by Ms. Risi on 9/1/2014
     Pencils are sharpened, backpacks loaded, lockers filled with the supplies needed for the school year. Are we ready for learning?

    There is so much more to learning than the traditional back-to-school preparations we do to get our children back in the game after the summer break. Here in the RDMS Library, back-to-school means our thoughts turn to what it really takes to prepare our students for the highly complex world of information they must learn to navigate skillfully if they are to succeed here at River Dell and the worlds of higher education, work and family life that lie in their futures.
    Parents, teachers and administrators, the question we must ask is this:
    Is it good enough to 'Google'?
    If you know the Library Information Literacy program at River Dell, you know the answer to that question. We work with our youngsters from the moment they walk through our doors to become critical information consumers and users.  Please take a look at the presentation below and be our partner in helping your children become information-smart. It will serve them well. 

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  • The Book Fair is Coming February 13!

    Posted by Ms. Risi on 1/13/2012 8:00:00 AM
    reading teen
    Borrowing a book from the Library is a special treat that every child should experience. But having books of their own at home is equally important in the development of children's literacy. Don't believe me? There is math and science behind my claim that kids must be surrounded by good stuff to read at school and at home:
    buttonIt is the love of reading that makes reading a pleasure. When it is a pleasure, time spent reading increases. As grandmother would have told you and current literacy research confirms, practice makes perfect in any endeavor, including reading.
    So here is the formula:
    lots of good stuff to read = reading enjoyment = voluntary reading
    = higher academic achievement in all subject areas = higher test scores
    The key to all of this math and chemistry on the topic of reading? Access to good books that are fun to read - at school and at home. So spread the word that the RDMS Book Fair is coming to the Library the week of February 13. Once again, our book fair partner, the wonderful independent children's bookseller Books, Bytes & Beyond of Glen Rock, is supplying us with the goods.
    Buy a kid a book and make our world a smarter and happier place.
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  • Author Visit To Kick Off 2011-12 in the Library!

    Posted by Ms. Risi on 8/31/2011 11:00:00 AM
    Kenneth Oppel Young adult author Kenneth Oppel will pay a visit to the 7th and 8th graders at RDMS on September 22, kicking off another year of fun and learning in the Library!
    Mr. Oppel will present his latest novel - This Dark Endeavor - which explains the teenage years of Victor Frankenstein and the otherworldy circumstances that led him to his later infamous endeavor, creating one of the world's best known monsters. You know who that is, right? The one with the flat head, the clunky shoes, funny walk and bolts in his neck? This Dark Endeavor already has been optioned for a major motion picture by the producers of the Twilight movies! And RDMS is one of first stops on this exciting book tour! How can this happen, you ask? That's just how we roll at the RDMS Library!
    Here is a picture of the book's cover. Be sure to visit Mr. Oppel's web site, where you can learn about This Dark Endeavor and his other wonderful books, learn about how he started writing, or even email him to tell him how excited you are that he will be coming to your school!

    This Dark Endeavor

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  • Time to say goodbye :(

    Posted by Mary Risi on 6/2/2011 11:55:00 AM
    Remember him? The sad little boy forced to live under the stairs in the home of his cruel aunt and uncle, unaware that he possessed powers greater than any of them could have imagined.
    For those who have grown up or watched the children we love grow up with Harry Potter and the wonderful, whimsical world of Hogwarts, this is a bittersweet time. We have all read the last book and know what becomes of Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Ginny and the others, but with the final movie due out in July it is truly the end of a great literary era.
    Harry Potter profoundly and forever changed the world of children's literature and reading by children. Nothing has been the same since J.K. Rowling introduced us 13 years ago to the boy wizard and the amazing wizarding realm. We entered the world of potions, spells, invisibility cloaks, Quidditch, flying cars, talking paintings, three-headed dogs, Muggles and, alas, true evil.
    Using only her initials when the first book was published because boys were disinclined to read books by female authors, Rowling completely altered the landscape. Twilight was another children's publishing phenomenon, but it was a true girls' book and few boys were willing even to observe the paranormal swoon. There are still "boy books" and "girl books." And that's ok.
    But J.K. Rowling made it possible for authors like Suzanne Collins to introduce teenagers to characters like Katniss Everdeen, the fearsome protaganist of the 2008 title The Hunger Games and its sequels. Katniss showed us that girls can attain the same kind of cross-gender appeal and literary celebrity as boy characters and that most boys no longer fret about the gender of the author or the protagonist when the book is that good. Watch for The Hunger Games movie in 2012.
    Harry Potter changed everything. Thank goodness! So let us celebrate Harry. The RDMS Library Club is planning a gala sendoff on June 17. And the Club may go to the movie together as we did the penultimate movie in the fall.
    How will you recognize the end of the era of Harry?
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  • Talking @ YA Non-Fiction

    Posted by Mary Risi on 3/22/2011 2:00:00 PM
    It's been non-stop non-fiction this week in the Library.
    Ms. Pomeroy's 7th Grade English classes and Ms. Del Polito's 8th Grade English classes have stopped by for non-fiction book talks. The good news in Young Adult non-fiction is the same as it is for Young Adult fiction: some of the best writers in the world are turning their talents to writing for teenagers. And publishers are matching their efforts with beautifully produced books featuring visuals that enhance the telling of fascinating tales that just happen to be true.
    With topics that range widely from the truly terrifying shark attacks down the Jersey Shore in the summer of 1916, to the social impact of Barbie and her funny feet, to domestic espionage conducted during the American Revolutionary and Civil wars and the Civil Rights movement, to the things that forensic anthropologists learn when they find human remains encased in glacial ice, the Library's non-fiction collection is a treasure trove.
    What follows are photographs of the exhibit on display in the Library of artwork produced by Mrs. Keitel's Projects & Performances class. In a unit called No-Nonsense Non-Fiction, students produced artwork inspired by the non-fiction books they read for the unit.
    Chasing Lincoln's Killer
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  • Teaching & Learning Better Research

    Posted by Mary Risi on 2/9/2011 2:10:00 PM
    Among his many memorable utterances, Yogi Berra once famously said: "If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else."
    This truism is so relevant when it comes to the information habits of our young students at RDMS. None of us is born knowing how to search, locate and use information. Without instruction and a guide, students conduct aimless Google searches and end up with a collection of mediocre Web sites - exactly where they don't want to be. Colleges and universities are increasingly reporting concern over the poor research skills of their otherwise capable and educated students.
    In the second decade of the 21st Century, information skills are among the most complex, difficult and important skills that we must all have at work, at school and in our personal lives. To help our students develop a solid foundation on which to build their information skills for high school, college and the workplace, RDMS has a full information literacy program and a collection of print and electronic research resources for our students. And we take Web searching seriously. At RDMS, we believe these are critical skills that must be taught and practiced every day.
    The slide presentation below addresses what we need to do to turn our students into information literate citizens. Take a look:

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  • Talking @ Sci-Fi

    Posted by Ms. Risi on 1/3/2011 2:00:00 PM
    Ms. Pomeroy's 7th Grade English classes visited the Library today to talk about Science Fiction.
    We considered the question: Just what is it that makes a book Science Fiction? We talked about the characteristics of Science Fiction, the confusion that sometimes happens between Science Fiction and Fantasy, and some of our favorite Sci-Fi titles. Our Venn Diagram below explains some of the differences and similarities between Science Fiction and Fantasy.
    scifi venn
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  • Attention Teen Authors: Publish on FIGMENT

    Posted by Mary Risi on 1/1/2011 2:40:00 PM
    Big, big, really BIG news for young writers! It's called FIGMENT and it's a new social network for teen writers and readers. Teen writers are able to publish on FIGMENT. Your fans will watch your work in progress. You will be able to watch other writers writing. You can check out the most active teen writers, the most followed and the most "hearted." And some young adult authors will be serializing and previewing their work on FIGMENT.
    Most important is that you will be able to connect with other kids who are writing.
    Don't believe that teen writers actually get published? Consider these authors who got their starts in their teens:
    • S.E. Hinton published The Outsiders, still considered the first real 'young adult' novel, in 1967 at the ripe old age of 16.
    • Amelia Atwater-Rhodes's first novel, In the Forests of the Night, was published in 1999 when she was just 14 years old! She has since published another 11 books.
    • Christopher Paolini was 19 when he self-published Eragon, the first book of The Inheritance Cycle. Once he got his book on bookstore shelves, a real publishing house snapped it up and published the rest.
    • Mary Shelley was 19 years old in 1816 when she wrote Frankenstein, one of the most famous monster stories in history.
    • Walter Farley was 15 when the classic The Black Stallion was published in 1941.
    FIGMENT contains excellent tips and tools for writers. So if you write, check out FIGMENT. And be sure to let me know if you become a FIGMENT writer, because I want to start reading your work before you become a famous author!
    Check it out: http://figment.com/
    Here are some other places on the web and in print where teen writers can get their work published:
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  • To Wikipedia or Not To Wikipedia?

    Posted by Mary Risi on 1/1/2011 8:00:00 AM
    Wikipedia cartoon
    RDMS 7th Graders are in the middle of their Website Evaluation unit in STRIVE FOR SUCCESS. They are considering what makes a website authoritative, credible and current enough for them — they are raising their standards for information found on the Web.
    So it is timely that this piece was recently published on ZDNET Education by edtech blogger Christopher Dawson considering whether Wikipedia is a credible source for student use. Basically, I agree with Dawson and he says it well:
    The only major point of difference between Dawson and me: I don’t believe a student at the secondary level should ever cite an encyclopedia, be it Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedias are a starting place for background, a launching-off spot.

    Wikipedia shouldn’t work - it should be a holy mess - but somehow it does. It is now something in the range of 8 to 10 times the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica and most of it is well sourced and contains information that cannot be found elsewhere, at least not in one convenient place.

    Sure, Wikipedia has its problems. So, we need to approach it with the same critical eye as we would any information on the Internet. Just start acting like a 7th grader at RDMS and evaluate your websites!

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