Thursday, August 1, 2013

Paper Clips (DVD)

Paper Clips

New York: Hart Sharp Video, 2005.  829567029220

Quantitative Reading Level: 

This video would be appropriate for grades 5 and up.  It could be with students or with educators.

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

I would rate this as Middle Low on the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Informational Text.”  The thing that moves this up to Middle High would be the references to the Holocaust.  These references are not graphic so I don’t think it would need to be rated as Middle High.

This documentary tells the story of Whitwell, Tennessee middle school students.  What began in 1998, as a class about cultures and prejudice grew into a worldwide phenomenon.  Students decided to collect 6 million paperclips to represent the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.  After a slow start, the school received media exposure and the project took off.  Students received paperclips, mail, and mementos from all over the world.  Holocaust survivors visited the schools.  Once the paperclips had been collected the idea came up to find an actual railcar from Germany that could have been used during WWII.  This railcar is what is used to house the paperclips, letters, and other mementos for The Children’s Holocaust Memorial that was created.

There is a book about the project called Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial by Peter W. Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand.  This book should be used in conjunction with the video.

Content Area: Social Studies – Holocaust, Math – Number Sense

Curriculum Suggestions:

Obviously this video could be used in conjunction with a study of the Holocaust.  This whole project really helps students visualize the number of people who were killed during the Holocaust.

Even if students are not studying the Holocaust this video is important in any discussion of prejudice.  In addition, it can be used as an inspiration to show students that they can make a difference.

Personal Thoughts:

I can’t watch this DVD without crying.  It is so powerful.  The fact that everyday students can make a difference, understand and bring attention to not only the Holocaust but prejudice in general, and leave us with a striking memorial helps educators carry on and gives us hope for the future.  What is also powerful is hearing the voices of the survivors.

I believe students need to be taught about the Holocaust and other atrocities in order to ensure that it never happens again.  This video is just one way to capture both the horror but also the hope and tenacity of survivors .  

High Interest Annotation: Kids can make a difference and bring awareness to difficult topics.

School House Rock: Money

School House Rock: Money

Elk Grove Village, IL: Disney Educational Productions, 2008.  1597531995

Quantitative Reading Level: 

The video says it is appropriate for grades K-9.  

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

I would rate this as Middle High on the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Informational Tax”.  The fact that these are cartoons makes it seem that they are “easy” but the content is actually quite complex.  There is a lot in these videos about tax, budgeting, and so on.  In addition, because they are songs the information goes really fast and it may be hard for students to get it all the first time.

This video has the following episodes:
Dollars and Sense: Talks about money, borrowing from a bank, and paying interest.  There is a good lesson about using common sense when using money.
$7.50 Once a Week: This episode talks about how a boy uses his allowance and how he can spend and save.
Where the Money Goes: This episode talks about budgeting and where a family’s income goes.
Tax Man Max: This episode talks about what taxes are, what they are used for, and how people pay them. 
Walkin’ on Wall Street: This episode talks about investing and stocks.
This for That: This episode talks about bartering and early money.  This might be one that could be used with younger students.  Sometimes students in second grade talk about communities and very early economics and they might be able to incorporate this.  Also when people study early peoples (Native Americans) they talk about bartering so this could be used then as well.
The Check’s in the Mail: This episode talks about checks. 
Tyrannosaurus: Oy, this episode talks about the national debt.  Goodness, comparing it to a Tyrannosaurus.  My oh my, this could open up a big discussion.

Content Area: Math - money

Curriculum Suggestions: 

 The best use of these clips is when you are studying the specific concepts in math class rather than watching the whole videos.  I would also say that they need to be viewed more than once to actually understand the “songs”.  There are additional resources on the DVD for teachers.

Personal Thoughts: 

I would not say this is appropriate for grades K-9.  The content would be way over the head of K-3 and would just be used for “babysitting”.  After about 5th grade it would be too childish.  I think the ideal ages for this is 4th and 5th grades but some of the concepts are a bit complex even for those ages.

When I think about watching School House Rock during Saturday morning cartoons I know I did not have a clue what they meant at first.  But, since I had listened to them so many times over the years when it came to studying conjunctions later in life I could remember “Conjunction Junction” or learning about government I remembered “I’m Just a Bill”.  If you did use this with younger students it would be with the understanding that it is being absorbed and may be accessed later.

High Interest Annotation: School House Rock is back with episodes about money.

Newton's 3 Laws of Motion - The Science of Disney Imagineering (DVD)

Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion: The Science of Disney Imagineering

Elk Grove Village, IL: Disney Educational Productions, 2009.  1597532428

Quantitative Reading Level:  

This is designed for grades 5-8 based on the National Science Education Standards

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

I would rate this as Middle High on the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Informational Text”.  Honestly whenever the informational text is discipline specific or academic you will have to classify the text as Middle Low or higher.  For my students (5th graders) the language would not be as familiar.  If this video was viewed at the junior high in 7th or 8th grade one might be able to classify this as Middle Low instead of Middle High.

In this video the host discusses the scientific concepts of force, gravity, velocity, acceleration, mass, momentum, inertia, and all three of Newton’s Laws.  To do this he uses demonstrations, drawings, and specific examples from various rides at Disney parks and resorts.  What is nice about this video is that he uses several rides and attractions to model the concepts so students get several opportunities to be exposed to and learn the material.

Content Area: Science - Physics

Curriculum Suggestions:

This video would be a good tie-in with a study of physics.  It includes force and motion, Newton’s Laws, and good old Disney fun.
This video could be used before, during, or after instruction and could be great for a discussion starter.  In addition, students could be encouraged to find examples of Newton’s Laws in their own lives – at home, at a nearby amusement park, at school, and so on.

Personal Thoughts:

I always loved teaching Newton’s Laws before doing Simple Machines.  There are several videos I would use as discussion starters and so kids could really visualize the laws at work.  I always like Bill Nye and there were others as well.  The nice part about this one is the Disney aspect and the “young” host.  I think the students would enjoy this.  

High Interest Annotation:  Who wouldn’t want to learn physics with Disney?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chatting About Books - Podcast

Chatting About Books - Podcast

This podcast is done by Emily Manning and is sponsored by There are 29 episodes available on iTunes.  She discusses books for ages 4 – 11 and provides activities and tips to do related to the books she discusses.  I listened to the episode about the 39 Clues series.

During the episode the host gave 39 reasons why people should read the series.  Here are the 39 reasons (paraphrased).

1.Cool weather approaching and need to have books to read.
2. It is a cross between the DaVinci Code and the Amazing Race.
3. It is a conversation starter -  million dollars or clue?
4. Your family will look normal in comparison.
5. There are collectible cards and an online clue hunt.
6. You can choose your branch and earn prizes.
7. There is a message board on the website.
8. There is an app available.
9. The books are educational and entertaining.
10. The characters are underdogs.
11. You can take an international vacation by reading the books.
12. There are audio versions of the books.
13. The books are written by award winning authors.
14. Rick Riordan wrote the first book and came up with the story arc.
15. Grace Cahill appears again in the Vespers Rising book.
16. Think of the books as a personality test – who are you?
17. If you are a leader or spy you may be a Lucian.
18. If you are an inventor or scientist you may be Ekaterina.
19. If you are an athlete or explorers you may be a Tomas.
20. If you are artistic you may be a Janus
21. Who are the Madrigals?
22. The books are an international hit.
23. The books are thrilling.
24. Have you ever wanted to be an Au Pair?  You can learn about them.
25. The world domination serum is revealed at the end of the series.
26. This is a Harry Potter alternative.
27. There is supposed to be a movie.
28. The movie will be done by Dreamworks.
29. The series is family friendly.
30. Series  books are good for struggling readers.
31. Justin Beiber fan?  Jonah Wizard is similar.
32. The series have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.
33. The adventure continues after the first 11 books.
34. She spoke about a new book as of this episode.  This is outdated now but there are new books continuing to come out.
35. David Baldacci is an author in a Cahills vs Vesper book.
36. There is a crush J for those interested in romance.
37. What is up with the number 39?
38. There are teacher resources at
39. Read the book already.

Peter Lerangis and Gordan Korman talked with Emily Manning about the series.  They gave a background to the books.  I thought it was cool how the two of them discussed the unique aspect of having different authors writing the books.  They also answered some of her questions about the series and upcoming books.

Curriculum Suggestions:

I can see teachers using this podcast before starting the series or I could use it before a literature with lunch group.
In addition there were over twenty other episodes that teachers can use to help promote certain books and certain genres.

Students could make their own podcasts about books and give their own reasons why people should read them.
Personal Thoughts:

I love the 39 Clues series.  In this podcast the host did a great job of giving reasons to pick up the series.  In addition, she spoke with two of the authors who gave some great background information to the series.  

High Interest Annotation: This podcast can encourage students to pick up the 39 Clues series.