Muddling through the blogosphere

May 5, 2012
by blogwalker

Thank You, Scholastic

There was a time when I was not a proponent of students’ having access to technology during class time. Twenty years ago, when we moved from San Francisco to a semi-rural district in the Sierra foothills, I pulled my then 1st grade son  out of a 1×1 desktop class he had been assigned to for a little remedial work in English/language arts.  I was not OK with his being plugged in for drill all morning.  He needed more opportunities to interact, listen, and speak, not multiple-choice exercises done in isolation.   Funny how quickly his reading, writing, and speaking skills jumped following his departure from the 1×1 desktop environment.

Image from

The following year, I was hired at the middle school in the same district.  And there, thanks to Scholastic, I came to embrace and advocate for technology as part of my 6th grade humanities program.  It started with Scholastic’s Authors Online program.  As I handed out Scholastic’s monthly book order form (another great Scholastic product), I noticed an invitation to sign up for an online discussion with author R.L. Stine, a favorite of many of my students.  Well, by the time I was able to get my computer hooked to the external box required for an Internet connection at that time (thereby becoming the first classroom in El Dorado County connected to the Internet), R.L. Stine had finished his 2-week session.

We were in time for a two-week round with Paul Zindel, author of Loche.  Neither my students nor I were familiar with this author, but, oh my, what an impact he had on a number of them, including a few very, very reluctant readers.  As students engaged with Zindel on an interactive writing assignment to change “telling writing” to “showing writing,” I was blown away by both their  level of engagement and their earnest desire to write something that was truly “good” (as opposed to “good enough”).

The following year, Scholastic opened the world of current events to my students by connecting them with Zlata Flipovic, young author of Zlata’s Diary, her first-hand accounts of surviving the Bosnian genocide.  Thanks to Scholastic, our tiny, semi-rural district no longer seemed as remote and isolated as it once had.

I’m in another district now and working as a technology integration specialist.  Although I do not have my own classroom, I often send great Scholastic resources on to teachers, such as:

Yesterday I visited Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers blog – and discovered another great resource from Scholastic: An Interactive Timeline of U.S. Immigration.  This rich resource includes five eras:  A New Land, Expanding America, The American Dream, A Place of Refuge, and Building a Modern America. Each era includes a video, such as the video below, which was  filmed at the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, with a historical interpreter taking on the role of Miles Standish:

Typical of Scholastic, each immigration era includes teacher guides and resources (books, teaching ideas, printables). Twenty years later, I’d like to thank you, Scholastic, for continuing to provide resources that take technology options far beyond multiple choice and that promote a love of reading and a window into events of the past for our students.

October 26, 2009
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Encouraging the Writer in All of Us

What do Truman Capote, Frances Farmer, Joyce Maynard, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Redford have in common?”

Answer: They all received Scholastic Contest awards as teenagers for their creative work.

So if you know budding young writers in grades 7-12, please checkout the California Writes site for information on how they can participate in The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Contest of 2010.

California students have the added bonus of sponsorship by the California Writing Project. With options of up to 3,500 California student winners (Gold Key, Silver Key, or Honorable Mention),  all Gold Key entries will be published online.  And if that isn’t enough…”California Gold Key winners’ work will also be judged for national awards and scholarships, with national winners honored during Scholastic’s National Celebration of Events in new York in June 2010.

Early submission deadline = December 18, 2009; Final Submission Deadline = January 8, 2010.

Have questions?  Need more information? Contact the California Writing Project at

Need a little inspiration for your YA writers?  How about joining Scholastic’s Goosebumps webcast with R.L. Stine? Scholastic has you covered with a complete teacher’s guide for the October 28 event.

Need a little inspiration for yourself (and I think your students will enjoy this too)? Checkout this YouTube clip on Inspiring Authors.

What great opportunities new technologies – supported by and in collaboration with  national organizations –  offer our students for writing for an authentic purpose and publishing to an authentic audience!

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