Monthly Archives: October 2012

The 3 R’s, plus how does she do it plus my new glasses

There are schools in my board that lack a library and even a municipal library with lots of recent resources for kids.  From these schools, I often get requests for webliographies on a variety of topics.  This request is getting increasingly more difficult to respond to because so many websites, even websites that are supposedly for children, are chock full of ads.  In doing my research for websites on the 3 R’s of the environment, one website had ads IN BETWEEN the paragraphs.  How is a child supposed to read that?  For that matter, how’s an adult supposed to read that?

This is why it is so important to take a good look at every website that we recommend to children to be sure that it is accessible and appropriate. That includes films on Youtube.  I once was trying to explain to a class what a didgeridoo was.  I was hooked up to a smartboard, I had sound, and I proceeded to do what the Internet is good for.  Only the film showed a variety of drawings, one of which was a naked woman.  The kids hid their eyes and yelled, “EWWW!”  The lesson of the day for this librarian was never show a film on YouTube unless you’ve previewed it.

To find good websites, I sometimes check out the compilations for librarians that are out there but, the links are often dead…as the links below may well be by the time you read this.  It’s painstaking, but my next step is to use Squirrelnet (Google’s safe search engine for children) as well as Google itself.  Finally, I often use millionshort, a relatively new Canadian search engine that has the ability to separate out the million most popular sites and search the rest, the ones that receive many less search hits.  This knocks out Wikipedia right away, providing access to websites that you would not be able to find with Google.

So after you see the photo of me with my new glasses that definitely need to be refitted (you’re always supposed to throw in a photo of something), you will find the webliography of sites that are appropriate for Grades 5 and 6 on reducing, reusing and recycling (starred items were ones that I found to be really useful):

My new glasses and my pink walls

The webliography is below this happy photograph.

Canadian Museums Association                                                                                                                ,_reuse,_recycle_and_reclaim_%284Rs%29/?n=30-41-196

EarthCARE Waste & Recycling Related FAQs                                                                      

Environmental Protection Agency (USA) Reduce Reuse Recycle                                                               

*Fact Monster: The Three R’s of the Environment                                                                         

(Go to the bottom of the page and there are links to articles on recycling fact, a look at the recycling process and use of recycled materials)

Greater Sudbury: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink!                                                                  

Kids Be Green:

Kids Ecology Corps

*National Geographic: How to Reduce, reuse & recycle for kids                             

*National GeographicWhat is Reduce, reuse & recycle for kids                            has links to related articles)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

*The Smashing Story of Recycling Glass: (British video, but it’s interesting):                                  

Reduce, reuse, recycle just a start

(Has interesting statistics at the bottom)


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Happy National School Library Day

I avoid conflict like the plague, but when it comes to school libraries, I feel a little like a bull dog.  I always feel that I must do the best that I can to advocate for school libraries and show their importance to literacy, to students and to school life.  Sadly, this is not apparent to all.  Check out the film created by Indigo booksho that gives shocking statistics on how school library collections and programs across North America are dying and how this is failing our kids:
The Writing on The Wall

School libraries  are more than books, desks and shelves.  Frequent trips to the library makes reading more attractive if the library has new books that have been selected to be interesting and informative to children. It’s really sad to walk into a lovely space and find mostly 20 year old books. Moreover, any school library that is missing joke books and this year’s Guinness Book of World records is missing the kind of material that kids want to read as much as the most recent Rick Riordan novel!

School libraries can help elementary school students make the transition to high school more easily.  They are also safe havens for kids, especially if there is an adult who is welcoming, knows the students‘ names, and cares more about whether a child is reading than whether or not his or her book is late, as so many volunteers show a deep concern that kids enjoy the books that they are reading.

Massey-Vanier Library

Whimsical displays like this one at Massey-Vanier make the library a welcoming space. If governments really want to raise reading scores in our schools, they should take all the studies that show the correlation between strong school library programs and reading scores seriously.  Schools that don’t have libraries need them and those that do have a library should make it a place where students fall in love with reading.

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Databases of Leveled or Levelled Books

When a school board librarian receives a question twice, he or she can be sure that that others have the same question and are either too shy to ask or don’t realize that there’s a school board librarian to answer these questions.  I decided to take a deep breath and tackle the compilation of a list of free databases of leveled books.  Just writing the word leveled gives me shivers.  As a Canadian/American, do I spell it with one “l” or two?  How do I feel about leveling books?  No sixth grader wants to read a book that says it’s appropriate for 4th graders.  Do kids comprehend that an N-leveled book is supposed to be below a sixth grader’s reading level?  Is there a humiliation factor involved?
In any case, I am here to serve so please find below my not entirely comprehensive list whose links were working as of October 2012.  Also, you can click here to get a Reading Level Conversion Chart Be advised that I am not responsible for the accuracy of the leveling done by these organizations:

Beaverton School District Leveled Books Database:

Leveled Book lists:

Leveled Books Database:

Portland Public Schools Leveled Book Database:


Scholastic Book Wizard:

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Free Information Resources from the Bibliothèque Nationale

Send a class to Google and chances are, they will copy and paste something that they don’t understand from Wikipedia, or they will get lost in a sea of web sites that may not be appropriate for the topic being researched or beyond their comprehension.  Maybe you are spending hours putting together a webliography that children and teens can use safely and effectively.

For citizens of Québec, there are the free databases available through the Bibliothèque Nationale.  While it breaks copyright to have a whole class sign up to use the distance service and use it as a classroom lesson, it is certainly permissible for teachers and students to have their own memberships for research use.  For teachers, this creates the possibility of having students search tried and true resources that are at the right reading level for their classes.

The Ressources En Ligne includes the World Book Online, Encyclopedia Americana, Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Electric Library Canada, and Electric Library Elementary.

Here is a link to the Jing (video) that I made to show you how to sign up with a demonstration on what a useful tool it can be:

The link for the Bibliothèque Nationale’s form for signing up to this service is:

Please give these wonderful online encyclopedias and databases a try and please let me know what you think if you do try them.

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