Using a word incorrectly, whether in written correspondence or in daily speech, can make you look ignorant. You don't want that! Educate yourself: to avoid future (vocabulary-related) embarassment, check out this list of commonly misused words.
Michael Sayman, a 17-year-old game developer who taught himself how to code, was recognized by Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's development conference last week. After he graduates from high school next month, Sayman will intern at Facebook over the summer. In this story from NPR, he discusses the app he created (4 Snaps), how he used the money earned from the app to help support his family, and how he thinks many schools overlook the value of technology education. Learn more here.
Do you think schools are "missing the point" when it comes to technology education? Do you agree with Sayman that teachers "don't want to embrace the technology because of the fear that...one day the student might outsmart the teacher"? Did you know you could earn real money developing apps? Would you want to develop your own app if you could learn the basics of coding?
"Where's the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss?" -YA author Matt de la Peña
Authors and publishers agree: stories with non-white protagonists are shamefully rare in books written for teens. The lack of diversity in YA fiction is not just about a lack of multicultural characters and books, but also reflected in the dearth of writers of color. So what can be done to ensure the publication of more diverse stories? In this article from CNN, Matt de la Peña, a Mexican-American author and teacher, discusses how the lack of characters that looked like him in books he read as a teenager made it seem like publishing his own stories was not a possibility--and how that all changed. Read more here.
Check out one of these great books from the WRHS Library Media Center!
Cover art via publishers.
The film of John Green's popular novel The Fault in Our Stars hasn't even been released yet, and already plans are in the works to make another of his popular books, Paper Towns, into a movie . Actor Nat Wolff, who plays Isaac in the TFiOS adaptation, will return as the main character of Paper Towns, Quentin (Q), a boy in search of the mysterious (and mysteriously missing) Margo.
Read more here.
Big changes are coming to the SAT ! Back in 2005, the College Board, creators of the SAT, updated the test to better reflect current standards in education. These changes included eliminating the analogy portion of the test, updating the math portion, and adding an essay. Well, those changes may not have been as effective as planned, as a major overhaul is scheduled for Spring 2016. Learn more by clicking the links below:
Learn more about the changes made to the test here.
Learn more about the reasoning for the overhaul here.
Yesterday, the American Library Association announced the winners of the 2014 Youth Media Awards!
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
Locomotive, by Brian Floca
Newbery Award for most outstanding contribution to children's literature:
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
Midwinterblood, written by Marcus Sedgwick
Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, written by Kirstin Cronn-Mills and Fat Angie, written by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo
Click here to read the full list of winners, as well as honor books and other awards (like the YALSA award for best nonfiction for teens and the Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences!)
A new study shows that reading a novel can boost your empathy and brain function "for days" at a time.
From Psychology Today:
"Researchers found that becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Interestingly, reading fiction was found to improve the reader's ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports."
When was the last time you read a great book? Read more about the research findings here.
Image: "Girl with book" by Leander Engström [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Last week, something really mind-boggling happened to one of my friends. On Monday, a humor piece my friend Zack wrote two years ago for our friend Mike’s website, The Inclusive, went viral. When I say viral, I mean VIRAL: MILLIONS of hits. It was on Reddit. Then the Huffington Post. Then the Yahoo homepage. Then George Takei's Facebook page. Then…it was everywhere. It even ended up on the Washington D.C. evening news! You may have seen it yourself. After two years of sitting quietly at the Inclusive, Zack’s satirical letter to Santa was now seen by millions of people. Well, the first page of the letter, at least. This is where the problem of attribution arises.
Before I get too ahead of myself, here is what happened:
December 19, 2011: Zack writes a satirical Christmas letter to Santa, and publishes it on our mutual friend Mike’s website, The Inclusive.
Sometime between December 2011 and November 2013: A Reddit user finds page one of said letter and posts it without attribution to the original source.
November 29, 2013: A German windsurfer going by the handle Gequeoman finds the letter on Reddit, and tweets the one-page picture.
December 1, 2013: The Huffington Post publishes Gequeoman’s tweet, as well as some commentary along the lines of, “Oh, kids these days…”
December 2, 2013: Tweet, and letter, go viral, showing up on multiple media sites in a matter of hours.
So what’s the problem here? Zack is getting recognition for his comedy, right?
All Zack’s friends and supporters were thrilled for him—I’ve known Zack since he was eighteen-years-old, and he is an incredibly dedicated, hard working, and all-around good human being. We, his friends, have known for a long time that he is a brilliant comedian, and now millions of people could enjoy his humor, too! But something was wrong—a big something. Nowhere, not anywhere on any of these secondary news sites, was Zack’s name listed with the letter, nor was the original publication site posted. In fact, many of the media outlets posting the piece and commenting on it guessed that the letter was written by an actual child. On top of that, while the original piece was a full five pages long, only the first page went viral.
So, why does this matter? As one student asked me earlier this year, “Don’t people who put things on the Internet just expect people to steal it?” The answer to that, in my opinion, is a resounding “No.” The Internet does not spontaneously create content—every funny article you read, picture you see, and video you watch was created by a real live human being. It’s easy to forget this fact, but it doesn’t make it any less true. In Zack’s case, he is a professional comedian in Brooklyn, and while its true that he created the letter to share his humor with readers, he also probably wrote it to get his name out there and possibly get hired to write professionally. Zack posted the letter because he had a funny idea, and wanted to share it. In the original incarnation of the letter, it was several pages long, and included Zack’s biography and contact information. Without attribution through proper citation, Zack is robbed of this recognition for his hard work.
….Because it IS hard work. Writing satire is not easy. It demands synthesizing humor, cultural themes, current events, and audience awareness in delicate balance. Zack planned, drafted, and composed the letter thoughtfully with a specific product in mind; that product clearly resonated with readers. While Zack definitely wanted people to read the letter, I’m sure he also wanted the credit for creating it--who wouldn't?
Additionally, in the letter’s original posting on The Inclusive, it was also readily apparent that the letter was a work of satire, and not actually written by a child. That matters, because it affects interpretation of the letter. On Mashable’s Watercooler blog (Mashable is a leading social media and technology site) the author of the article covering the letter stated, “While the letter's source hasn't been verified, it's not unreasonable to believe a small child wrote it.” By the time she posted the letter on Monday afternoon, that statement was already incorrect—the letter had been verified by HuffPo and Yahoo as written by a comedian, not a child, and Zack had been given credit in the corrections lines. The Mashable post is a clear example of lazy journalism, in that the writer did not do her job validating her source material. Laziness, often, goes hand-in-hand with incompetence and ignorance. I do not want any of you to ever be thought of as lazy, incompetent, or ignorant, as you move forward in your lives, and create content of your own. Is that, after all, who you really want to be?
Put yourself in Zack's situation. Would you really be okay with people taking your own original work, that you were proud of, and using it without your permission? How about without giving you credit? How about if they passed it off as their own work? Or if they felt they deserved more credit for sharing it that you did for creating it? This is the constant struggle of writers and artists working in our digital world. Students, casual users of the Internet, and even (lazy) journalists do this every single day, and it is just plain wrong. Don't contribute to the problem. Attribute the creators and sources--show those writers and artists the same respect you would want yourself. Choose to be better than the lazy way.
Whether you're a fan of the Harry Potter books or movies, or if you've never turned a page or watched a minute of J. K. Rowling's wizarding epic, there's a great message in this essay about how the choices we make determine the types of lives we lead. (But, to be fair, if you're a Neville fan, you're probably going to love this even more...) Click to read.
The finalists for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People's Literature were announced recently, and it's a diverse list of some heavy-hitting authors.
I, for one, am absolutely thrilled to see Gene Luen Yang's gorgeous graphic novel Boxers & Saints make the list, because it shows an increased acceptance of the literary value of graphic novels (really!). History scholars, take note! This is a fascinating historical-fiction work about the Boxer Rebellion, told from two perspectives. Check out the book trailer here. Yang previously won the Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2007 for his graphic novel American Born Chinese.
Also worth noting, is Meg Rosoff's Picture Me Gone. Rosoff previously won the Printz Award in 2005 for her novel How I Live Now, which will be released as a movie starring Saorsie Ronan in November. Cynthia Kadohata, author of nominated book The Thing About Luck, won the Newbery Award in 2005 for her book Kira-Kira. Kathi Appelt, author of nominated book The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp was a National Book Award finalist in 2008 for her book, The Underneath, which received a Newbery Honor that year. Phew! Winners for this year's award will be announced November 20th, 2013!
About Mrs. Stern
WRHS Library Director