Summer reading is required of practically every student in grades K-12. In recent years, more summer reading lists have been modified to including newly-released titles and/or those that may be of higher interest to students. Just as frequently, though, we see required reading lists that contain an overwhelming number of classic titles. Now, we all know that there will be students each year who say that they hate reading. However, a more frequent complaint among my high school students is that they hate reading because of the titles assigned to them in the summer. My question for you is this: Is summer reading a beneficial program that ensures students are thinking critically while out of school for several months, or does it have more of a detrimental effect on students developing a lifelong love of reading and literature?
Also to think about, would the overall goal of summer reading be better served if students were allowed to choose their own titles to read over the summer (with certain guidelines, of course, such as reading level or number of pages)?
Search Engine #1: WolframAlpha (http://www.wolframalpha.com) - This search engine is most helpful for someone interested in mathematical equations, facts, or help. The site is very data-oriented and gives very little background to my "test" topic (which was "Alice in Wonderland"). Extremely basic facts with little information useful to those outside of a data-focused search.
Search Engine #2: Ixquick (https://www.ixquick.com) - The major draw of this search engine is that it is a private one, meaning, for example, that searches and cookies are not saved or recorded for others to view. Though it acts very similar to Google with regards to search results (bringing up external websites), clearly the unique feature of this engine is it's dedication to user privacy.
Search Engine #4: WebCrawler (http://www.webcrawler.com) - WebCrawler clearly advertises on its homepage that results are returned via Google and Yahoo! Search. Its results appear almost identical to the layout of Google's, so I would say that this search engine is useful to anyone seeking a comparable alternative to Google.
Search Engine #5: Wow (http://www.wow.com) - Wow offers quick link buttons to popular sites such as Twitter, Amazon, and Facebook on its homepage. When searching for a term, related searches appear on the right, offering a more detailed search option for information if desired. Again, the layout in which results are delivered seems a mirror image of Google's.
Search Engine #6: Yandex (http://www.yandex.com) - Yandex is a European-based company and is known for its popularity specifically in Russia. Though users are able to search in English, it does offer on its homepage a useful "translate" option. The look of returned search results certainly stands out from others that appear to just copy Google, and options such as searching for images or videos about the entered search term are easily located and usable.
Academic cheating is a problem that all educators face at some point in their teaching career. I believe that teaching students about plagiarism, as well as how to avoid it, from a young age is critical to their future academic success. One method that we can use to help students avoid plagiarism is to show them examples of plagiarized material and then how to use that same information in an assignment using the students' own words. I love the idea of making this an activity in class one day at the beginning of the year, especially for middle and high school students!
Since academic cheating/plagiarism is not confined to writing assignments, I strongly feel that it is so important as a school librarian to ensure that teachers understand the various forms that cheating/plagiarism can take. Leading a professional development session is one possible way to educate teachers about more technology-based forms of academic wrongdoing.