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Information Investigator 3.1


A limited time preview of the 21st Century Information Fluency Project's online self-paced training and assessment course is now available to all educators.

We use a game based scenario that puts the student into the process of working their way into medical school as they complete real time search challenges. This is our newest approach to information fluency assessment and training.


This work aligns directly to ISTE NETS for Students 3. Research and Information Fluency.  It also promotes informational reading as called for in the Common Core Standards.


This package starts with a 10-level interactive tutorial that diagnoses and strengthens eight key search and evaluation competencies.


Research and Information Fluency Assessment: Online Self-Paced Class

Live search challenges are coupled with "first aid kits" that address the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.


A Certification Exam is provided after the tutorials to assess information fluencies in finding and evaluating information.


The entire experience can be completed in about 3 hours.

If you are interested in previewing the entire package for your students, please contact Carl at


The course and your personal performance assessment is completely free.

The 21st Century Information Project was originally funded by a Federal Department of Education grant. This course and assessment package is part of a 3 year project and was developed with feedback from teachers and library media specialists across the country. 

Over 900 students in middle school and high school took the course this summer and improved their information fluency scores by over 50%.

Take the first step!  Contact Carl at

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Common Core Standards for Librarians

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  • Video site dedicated to short instructional tutorials for the technology classroom.  
    • At Learn it in 5, you'll learn what is Web 2.0, and strategies for using Web 2.0 technology in the digital classroom - all in 5 minutes or less. Learn it in 5 is a powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, for the purpose of helping teachers and students create classroom strategies for today's 21st century's digital classroom. These step-by-step how-to videos walk teachers through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use Web 2.0 applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slide sharing and much more.
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Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Ostrich Boys (Definitions)Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great story of loss, bullying, and ultimately the power of friendship. Three friends from England decide to "take" their dead friend's ashes from the family home and spread them in Ross, Scotland which Ross talked about constantly. Friends Blake, Sim and Kenny are best friends who feel that their friend Ross's funeral did not honor him as the great person he was in life. They go through adventures on trains, in taxis, on motorbikes, meeting girls, bungee jumping and confronting their own involvement in their departed friend's final days. Each of the three friends have to cajole, embarass and psyche each other throughout the book to do this one last act for their friend,Ross. The only problem I see is that this book is so English teens will not understand their grammar, slang, etc. and may not persevere which would be a shame because this is a rollicking good, funny, sad, and in the end, redemptive read.

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Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry, #3)Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this third book in the Perfect Chemistry trilogy but the characterization of Luis Fuentes and Nikki Cruz seemed rushed. I didn't feel the depth of personality that developed slowly but surely with Alex and Brittany and Carlos and Kiera. There were not many adult figures that played a role model type role in the original two books and I would have liked to have seen more development of Officer Reyes instead of all three brothers believing he was trouble with no interest in their mother. Elkeles can still get the heat going with her descriptions of Luis and Nikki's yearnings or spurnings. Teens will enjoy this book, but it just didn't hit the mark of the first two with the human drama, drugs and gangs, it seemed too contrived, but I will be asking my students what they think as well.

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Meet the Flat Classroom®


We are delighted to invite you to an online 'Meet the Flat Classroom®' meeting early next week. This is an opportunity to learn more about Flat Classroom® Projects LLC and our non-profit organisation, Flat Classroom® Conference and Live Events Inc.
At this gathering we will -
  • Explain and review all current projects
  • Share Flat Classroom® Certified Teacher course details
  • Detail our upcoming live events and workshops
  • Talk about how to get involved with Flat Classroom® as a classroom teacher, as a leader as a pre-service teacher and as an expert advisor
  • Share excitement and details about our book, "Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time", due for release January 2012
  • and more.....!
Come and join us in BlackBoard Collaborate and hear how you can connect with other educators and students globally and embed collaborative learning into your curriculum.

Time and Date: Monday August 29 8:30pm EDT, Tuesday August 30, 8:30am China
Check your time at Meet the Flat Classroom on

For those who have already applied to projects for 2011-12, this is not the project launch meeting, but an opportunity to learn more about Flat Classroom®. We hope you can join us!
The online meeting room URL:
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Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Almost PerfectAlmost Perfect by Brian Katcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a good book, you will love Logan Witherspoon. He is such a great teen, angry, sensitive, and totally ambushed by his long time girlfriend; he is having a very difficult time getting over her cheating on him. Katcher does a great job of showing how very, very small Logan's hometown is, how his single mother's job is taking its toll on her and the stifling smallness of his trailer park home and high school where everyone knows everyone's business. And into this small town community, comes Sage Hendricks, tall and pretty with braces who seems to like Logan immediately (much to his surprise).As Logan and Sage learn more about each other, Logan finds Sage has almost no freedom to date, she was home schooled for much of her high school years. Logan finds himself becoming more and more attracted to Sage despite her limitations, until one kiss changes life for Logan as he knows it. It is then that Sage reveals why it is so important that she have a friend, one who will stand by her and understand her. Sage reveals her big secret--she is a boy. Now Logan has his own reasons for keeping this hideous secret; he doesn't want anyone to know he kissed a boy, he over-reacts and forbids Sage to tell anyone and that he can't be her friend anymore. There is so much about this book that you will love; Logan and Sage are characters you will relate to; they laugh, they cry, they endure. But I even liked Logan's friends, his mom, and his sister, Laura. Katcher definitely deserved to win the Stonewall Award for this book (he definitely gets the transgender issue, but he understands teens, high school and friendship and how important identity is in defining who we are; I highly recommend this for high school teens.

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Stolen: a Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

Stolen: A letter to my captorStolen: A letter to my captor by Lucy Christopher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As much as I know this book will be enjoyed by some of my students, it really was creepy. especially the reason her captor uses to justify why he was "took" her. Gemma is in an airport with her parents when she is drugged and abducted by Ty. He takes her far, far away to the outback of Australia where the isolation is complete- there are no roads, buildings, just endless miles of desert and hot sun and sand. Gemma is catatonic with fear for awhile but as she tries to escape,and really harms herself; she stops from planning an escape and gets to know Ty. His story (or lies) places him in London looking for his mother and seeing Gemma as a young child in the park and over the years, he falls in love with Gemma. Gemma doesn't really remember Ty but Ty is adamant about his love and devotion to Gemma and their life together in the outback. I really liked how Lucy Christopher was able to show the terror of Gemma, her initial horror at living in the outback, and then her gradual feelings of belonging and awe in this hovel of a home Ty created for them. The subtitle, "letter to my captor" is one of the ways her psychiatrist recommends Gemma deal with her captivity, by writing about it. This book is a study in contrasts and you will not be able to put it down (or maybe you will), there is nothing romantic about Ty and his world but you will feel compelled to keep on reading, there is a definite progresssion in story of abduction and obsession.

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Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

BruiserBruiser by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Neal Shusterman and his writing---no matter what he puts into words, he creates a very believable scenario. Bronte is a twin and her brother, Tennyson, is horrified when he finds out his sister is seeing Bruiser Rawlins, creepy guy, most liking to kill someone, need I say more? But what happens in this story is supernatural but it is so believable because Shusterman weaves a believable story about the pain of daily life; including divorce, dating, family, popularity, and acceptance. Shusterman takes 4 characters in the chapters they narrate and we see what is going on in their daily lives. There is a reason Bruiser has developed the bad rap of being a loner; his uncle makes him come home everyday after school and watch his little brother Cody and be family. Once Tennyson, sees that there is a whole lot going on at Bruiser's house; he begins to relent on his harsh assessment of Bruiser. Bruiser has all kinds of scars and marks on his body that Bronte and Tennyson think is the uncle'd fault. It is only when Bruiser shares his secret with Bronte that the reader realizes there is a whole lot going on...and Shusterman weaves a fantastical story with very memorable characters who find out the true meaning of friendship and caring.

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You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

You Are Not HereYou Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shutz's latest novel in verse is fiction about a Annaleah who has a secret relationship with jock, artist, basketball player Brian, who suddenly dies. Only 3 of Annaleah's friends knew and didn't necessarily approve of them being together. With Brian's death, AnnaLeah is plunged to the depths of despair and now we as the reader find out about Brian from Annaleah. Brian didn't always make time for Annaleah but it is her friend Marissa, who keeps calling her friend (will Annaleah return her calls?), is honest with Annaleah (at times at the expense of their friendship),and provides empathy which Annaleah desperately needs. Annaleah spends her days visiting Brian at the cemetery, and at home in her pajamas, annot talking to her mother. Friends Parker and Jess give a grief book to Annaleah, which she refers to as the "death book" but she does read it and even though she mocks what she must do, Annaleah begins to wade through this book. It is when she takes a job at a pizza parlor that we feel Annaleah confront her pain and loss and begin to try to ease back into her old life, and friends. Girls who enjoy a romance, and a quick read will enjoy this novel in verse about a lost love.

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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I waited quite awhile to read this 2nd book (loved Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)!!!) because sometimes the 2nd book is disappointing if you read it too close to the first one. Even though I am giving it four stars---many books I read I give 5 stars because I love them, this 2nd book was really, really good but you had to really hang in there with Ethan and Lena because their relationship is so unsettled---so you as the reader question what is really going on. I particularly enjoyed Ethan's best friend, Link because he ALWAYS is there for Ethan, even when he is scared to death! He is a real hoot, he doesn't push Ethan away with questions or judgments, he truly cares about Lena and still pines for Ridley and her lollipops! Ridley reappears and gets a come-uppance, we will see what the future hold for her. A new character I really liked was Olivia, the British Keeper-in-Training with Margaret, where Ethan has a summer job in the human library. But that doesn't stop him from exploring the tunnels under the library, trying to figure out why Lena is slipping away from him, a little bit each day, until one day she is gone from Gatlin. I love all the history in this book about the war, about the normals and the Casters. There is lots of horror, fantasy, and Ethan's love for Lena is definitely put to the test. I love their telepathic thoughts to each other (Kelting) and the odd cast of characters that mean them harm and vow not to allow a Mortal/Caster union. I look forward to #3!

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One of the most powerful things you can do for students is create a culture of learning and collaboration with your teachers.



The topic of the ASLA Twitter Chat Session on August 2, 2011 was drawn from the Educate Alabama formative assessment continuum that is to be implemented Fall 2011. Specifically, the topic discussed drew from Alabama Quality Teaching Standard 1.1: Facilitates professional development for the learning community.


“Annual performance assessment” can be a nasty phrase for school librarians as most teacher assessment/evaluation systems do not acknowledge the differing role librarians fill within the learning community of schools. Librarians felt that a separate document that reflects the specialized practices of their profession was necessary to successfully assess a librarian’s current level of practice. Twenty school librarians, most members of the AASL-affiliated Alabama School Library Association, were invited by the State Department of Education to revise the Continuum. Meeting in both large and small breakout groups, the librarians restructured the Continuum over the course of two months, hammering out a document that reflects the intent of the Alabama Quality Teaching Standards and the principles of AASL’s Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs and Standards for the 21st Century Learner as well as Alabama’s School Library Media Handbook for the 21st Century Learner. EDUCATEAlabama Continuum of Practice for Librarians, a formative tool for guiding and supporting librarians in the use of reflection, self-assessment, and goal setting for professional learning and growth, is scheduled to be implemented in the fall of 2011. by Carolyn Jo Starkey (@carolynstarkey Buckhorn High School, New Market, AL)



The moderator started the ASLA Twitter Chat Session with an introduction of the top and a reminder to use the hashtag #aslachat to ensure your tweets are seen by others participating in the chat session. It was also noted for participants to please remember that Twitter accounts that are protected could cause the moderator and a majority of Twtchat participants to be unable to see or benefit from your contributions to the conversation.


ASLA Twitter Chat Sessions are the first Tuesday of each month at 7CT/8ET and focus on the concerns of Alabama School Librarians, but can benefit from our colleagues in other states and countries. All are welcome to attend.



Guests from outside Alabama participating in the ASLA Twitter Chat Session on August 2, 2011 included Melissa Techman (@mtechman a K-5 librarian just outside Charlottesville, VA), Mary J. Johnson (@johnsonmaryj retired teacher/librarian from Colorado Springs, CO), Donna Macdonald (@dsmacdonald teacher-librarian from South Burlington, Vermont), M.E. Steele-Pierce (@steelepierce an educator from Cincinnati, OH), Pam Moran (@pammoran an educator from Virginia),and Shawn Hinger (@cmslibrarylady School Librarian from Athens, Georgia). Even Kyle B. Pace (@kylepace Instructional Technology Specialist and Google Certified Teacher and Edcamp KC organizer from Kansas City, MO) stuck his head in briefly to say hello.



Both Grace Williams (@gracewilliamsal Media Specialist at Cordova Elementary Birmingham, AL) and Melissa Techman discussed the importance of differentiated instruction to provide PD personalized for the needs of individual teachers. Identifying teachers who have the same PD needs and grouping them together to support each other can be helpful and sets up a great collaborative environment. Tips for presenting PD sessions that will stimulate, not anesthetize your target audience can be found from the following sources:



Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson from Auburn High School, Auburn, AL) shared her PD plans for the 2011-2012 school year through a “commercial” and Google Doc:




Developing and presenting PD sessions on your own can be an overwhelming task, especially for those school librarians who are not fortunate enough to have two librarians and an aide. Additionally, time can also be an deterrent when planning PD sessions. However, school librarians can still provide access to PD opportunities by connecting faculty with online PD experiences. Melissa Techman culls sources for her teachers and found a plethora of webinar sessions for her teachers at Mary J. Johnson suggested using The Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources ( as another valuable PD resource.


Other online PD resources mentioned were:




Bookmarking sources including Diigo, Delicious, and Symbaloo as well as data gathering sites like and were also mentioned as a way to keep faculty abreast of Web 2.0 Tools, websites, and webinar opportunities. Cathy Manis (@Cathymgm Librarian at Vestavia Hills High School, Birmingham, AL) even brought up using the newest social network, Google+.


For complete transcripts (excluding protected tweets & RT) click here:


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11023907089?profile=originalApplications are invited now for a selection of internationally recognised and award winning global projects run by Flat Classroom® to start in September 2011. Co-founders Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay are excited to be offering these opportunities for classrooms globally to connect, co-create and learn together in a carefully designed and supported digital environment.

The Digiteen™ Project explores digital citizenship through interaction and provides an opportunity for students to not only talk about digital citizenship, but experience via online connection, collaboration, shared research and presentation. It also has an action project component where a classroom designs an action to be carried out in their own school community and then shared back to the global partnership.

The Flat Classroom® Project is designed to develop cultural understanding, skills with Web 2.0 and other software, experience in global collaboration and online learning, awareness of what it means to live and work in a flat world, while researching and discussing the ideas developed in Friedman's book.

The ‘A Week in the Life...’ Project aims to join Elementary School classrooms globally with a view to exploring what life is like in each area/country through discussion, sharing and collecting multimedia to create final products together. The curriculum focus is Interdisciplinary, how we live, how we communicate, cultural understanding and awareness.

Entry to a each project is via application and subscription. In order to help meet the subscription price, teachers can apply for a limited number of sweat equity positions as ‘lead teachers’.

All details for each of these outstanding projects can be found linked from the Flat Classroom® website. We welcome inquiries to

Watch this space for more announcements of new projects coming, including the repeat of the popular ‘Eracism’ Project, as well as an opportunity for educators to join our next Flat Classroom® Certified Teacher course, also starting in September 2011.

Also, our book, ‘Flattening Classroom, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration one Step at a Time’ is due for release January 2012. Find out more at
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My new book for elementary school students

H11023909101?profile=originalello Everyone

My name is Ronald Hart. I am a primary school teacher and trained teacher-librarian in Australia. I have always loved children's literature and writing for children and I get a real kick when the stories I write a well received by my students.

I have just self-published my own collection of short stories called 'Dangerous Creatures: Crazy Stories from Wattle Creek Primary School'. The stories are aimed at 9-12 year olds, particularly boys. The cover illustration is by well known Australian illustrator, Craig Smith. The book is available in a variety of digital formats. I have created a web site to promote the book. There is a free story from the book there you are able to print and use with your classes if you wish. I hope your students get a good laugh from it. The address is .


Thank you


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