Sunday, February 28, 2010

And About Time...

This morning I went from the depths of dismay and disappointment to the hyper high of exultation all in the space of about an hour and a half. OK I overstate. But when I read this morning that Wordle was down "indefinitely" due to a trademark dispute, and then went to the site and saw the message to that effect, I was sad and a little concerned. I had made it the centerpiece of an assignment for my Internet for Librarians class and then BLAM! It was gone. The original alert was posted to LM_NET or TLC (forget which), and this article was shared as a help in finding alternatives. You might want to mark it in case of anther Wordle disappearance:

Anyway, I had not had a chance for my stages of grief to move from disbelief to anger, much less all the way over to acceptance, when I received a tweet that Wordle was back! And it is! So I went from mourning to celebrating in a very fast turnaround. Such is the way of the wild and wooly Internet. And...welcome back Wordle. Reports of your death were greatly exaggerated. And I wonder if they were actually exaggerated by you, Oh Wordle, in your efforts to generate concern and better your case for your dispute. Ah whatever. I am just glad Wordle is back. Tag on, geeks and cloudies!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's About Time

Yesterday I my friend and hero, Dr. Teri Lesesne, posted a short video of herself talking about this year's Newbery winner, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This struck me as a neat coincidence because I was just thinking about that book and the theme of time. The reason time was weighing heavily on my mind was because I just finished ANOTHER book about time yesterday, also set in NYC, and also appealing to kids about the same age, Antsy Does Time. What a great pair of books!

In case you have not read either or both, When You Reach Me is a wonderful story about friendship. It does take place in NYC though back in the late 1970's so a bit different from today's NYC. The major things going on are a story of a very special friendship, time travel, coming of age, and mystery. It is a little difficult to read this book without being reminded of Time Traveler's Wife because of the time tricks involved.

Antsy Does Time takes place in Brooklyn and NYC. The book has a serious side despite the humorous events and dialogue. Time is again a major theme, though without the supernatural elements of the previous book. Instead Antsy tries to cheer up his pal Gunnar, who confides that he has a terminal illness, by "giving" him time from his own life and enlisting others to do the same. Good-hearted Antsy is a very likable protagonist with his smart mouth coupled with a generous and altruistic nature. By the end of the book he has learned some hard lessons about friendship, honesty, death and the importance of family.

If I had to choose a favorite between these two, I could not do it! I will admit I read both these books with my ears. Neal Shusterman read Antsy himself, and When You Reach Me is well presented by Cynthia Holloway.

Oh and...I think the covers are somewhat similar too. They are both cartoony with elements of the plot featured in a composite. Teri thought the cover of When You Reach Me was off-putting and so did some of her students, but I liked it from the first. Give yourself a nice winter treat and enjoy both of these books!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another--Musings About Leadership

The link from my title leads to a You Tube video that touched me just now. Take a look if you haven't seen it. It is the one about Johnny the Bag Boy and how he transformed his store. It made me remember something from Super Bowl Sunday. I stayed tuned in for the following show where the CEO of Waste Management went incognito and took the most menial jobs related with his company. He was clearly a very nice guy with a good heart. But he discovered that there were many practices in his company that needed change. There was the draconian rule for a very short lunch hour with pay docked for taking just one extra minute. There were the time constraints on truck routes that did not even allow for restroom breaks, which were disproportionally hard on female drivers. There was the overworked and under-appreciated office manager about to lose her house because of her low pay. The manager went back and changed many policies. He said his life was completely changed.

All this is very interesting to me because suddenly I realized that at this time I am more of an administrator than anything else, though I do still have teaching duties. I never really wanted to be cast in this role but accepted my present position because I thought it was the right thing to do. I want learn to treat people in my department with respect, honor, and fairness. I think of the woman who drove the truck and found the joy she brought to her job was diminished by the unreasonable demands imposed upon her. Taking people's joy is a serious mistake. There have been a few times in my life when I have worked for administrators that diminished their staff's joy and productivity by humiliating people, setting impossible standards, showing favoritism, and otherwise demeaning the people in their charge. I hope I can learn to be a bit like Johnny's boss and the Waste Management CEO and "get it right."

Oh and, the name of the show is "Undercover Boss," and the next episode is about the CEO of Hooter's. I am not usually a fan of reality shows but I will probably try to catch this one. Plus you can watch the first episode here:

Friday, February 5, 2010

School Bullying Program Worth a Listen

Thanks to Barbara Fiehn for recommending this broadcast via LM_NET. It is about bullying, both face to face and cyberbullying. In particular the story of Phoebe Prince, a beautiful 16 year old high school student who moved to Massachusetts this fall from her childhood home in Ireland. While there were some efforts to deal with bullying at her new school, South Hadley High, but not enough. The bullying never stopped, and the perpetrators were unrepentant even after her death. Even now her Facebook page is being defaced and the culprits are making light of her death. The striking thing about Phoebe is that she was beautiful, smart, and very unlike the sort of young person you might expect to be bullied.

We all know this happens. I have uncomfortable memories of my own. First, I remember as a child standing by as a classmate was ridiculed about her size. She was overweight and the kids were calling her "elephant." She was also my next door neighbor. I did not join in, but I did nothing to stop the taunts. I still feel ashamed of this many years later. Also I remember being aware of bullying in the schools where I used to work. I certainly stepped in and put a stop to such behavior, and I worked especially hard to create a safe and safe zone in the junior high library where I worked. I allowed students who were particularly targeted to eat their lunches in a back room. School cafeterias can be terrible for victims of such harassment. But could I have done more? Absolutely yes. We all could do more, I suspect. This program is well worth the 16 minutes that it takes to listen