Monthly Archives: May 2012

What a WONDER!

I read a book recently and I have already recommended it to several people, however I feel the need to express how much I enjoyed this book.  WONDER by R. J. Palacio is one of those books that truly touched me.  Ms. Palacio wrote a beautifully crafted book that shows the trials middle schoolers go through, and how the events in their life affects those of the their family.  Now before you think this is just a normal middle school student struggling in school story, I want to explain something; the main character August, a Star Wars obsessed 5th grader, was born with a facial deformity that subjected him to several operations over the course of his life.  He was also, due to his condition, home schooled and spent the majority of his time with this family, never being able to make real friends.  The book begins with him embarking on his first year at a real school, with kids who have never seen him before, and who might not treat him like every other normal 5th grader.

So does this sound like the typical middle school story?  I didn’t think so. And it wasn’t written that way either.  Ms. Palacio writes in a style that allows each character their own voice and their own time in the spot light.  Though this is the story of August, there are many other characters involved, and their relationship with him affects all of them differently.  From his older sister who is finally able to be in a place (high school actually) where she is not known as having a brother with a deformity; to her new boyfriend who is hoping to impress her family; to August’s friends as school, each character is allowed to speak and show their side of the story.  After all there are more than 1 side and usually we as readers only see one.  Ms. Palacio delivers us a dose of reality, in the voices of children.

This is a book that truly spoke to me and I will recommend this to anyone who would want to read it.


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Social Networking in the Classroom

I would like to thank District Administration magazine for an article entitled: Social Learning Networks for K12 Education by Courtney Williams, in the product focus section of the magazine.  Ms. Williams writes about how even though “Facebook and Google+ are popular social networks for everyday life” they are not safe for the education world.  That is why there are several networks that have been created with the idea of providing a safe social learning environment that is not only effective but entertaining as well.  She talks about some sites that are free and others that require a fee based on school population but all have the ability to become a valuable tool for educators, administrators, parents and students.

Here are the ones Ms. Williams have mentioned.



This site allows teachers to customize the classroom experience online while providing the students with the necessary tools for in class collaboration.



CourseSites, free

Blackboard is an education technology and solutions company that offers free social networking to districts.  CourseSites allows the educators to add materials to the web in order to accompany five traditional classes per site.  Or they can teach courses online.



Pricing based on number of students

Gaggle was initialed used as a safe email site for teachers and students; however, it has grown to become a safe online learning experience as well.  Students can submit and store files electronically, as well as collaborate with other students.  There are also Social Learning Wall and safe SMS texting functions available.





This platform can function as a classroom management, online learning or social networking site and even allow students to collaborate on projects and classroom discussions.



Ning, starting at $19.95 per year for small groups

“Glam Media, a vertical media company with hundreds of lifestyle blogs and Web sites, acquired Ning last year. Educators looking for a custom social network tailor-made for their district should consider Ning.”  All pricing is based on size of the group, the bandwidth and storage you require, and the tools you wish to include.



Learning Space, pricing based on number of students

ePals allows for efficient collaboration and communication and allows users to create and organize safe Web 2.0 enabled groups for classes and project based learning, as well as communication with both local and global communities.



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