Kid Reporters wrap up Election 2008 coverage

Hi everyone. It’s Tyler. We’re very lucky to have a team of brilliant people at Scholastic, many of whom have infectious exuberance for their fields. Suzanne Freeman, executive editor of Scholastic News Online, is one of these people…here’s what’s on her mind:

Election Day is almost here! As executive editor in charge of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps, I have to say, this has been more than an exciting year. It has been exhilarating! I’ve worked with Kid Reporters on the ground in New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, California, Michigan, South Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, and more. These kids are true professionals, ready with their questions, quick with their writing, and inexhaustible on the campaign trail.

A group of eight of the more than 80 kids who have been covering Election 2008 are coming to New York to recap their experiences in a live web cast on Election Eve November 3, from noon to 1 p.m.

Send in any questions you might have for these young journalists!

You can also get a feel for what they have done over the year by checking out the Kid Reporter blog. Don’t forget to click on the archived dates on the left hand side. The reports start as far back as November 2007, which is when we started the blog, not the coverage.

The very first election story was in February 2007 when Alonzo Webb and I were in Washington, D.C. covering a presidential forum held by the Building and Construction Trades Union. Alonzo met most of the Democratic candidates at that forum – from Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton to Joe Biden.

You’ll find stories about Jacob Schroeder’s interview with John McCain’s 16-year-old adopted daughter Bridget (he’s the only reporter who has been granted a one-on-one with her), and you’ll learn about the truth behind the supposed “snub” of Kid Reporter Sydney Rickhoff by Chelsea Clinton.

Here’s a little taste of what the kids had to say about their time on the trail.

This is a historic election and I have been privileged to cover it. This country will either elect its first African American President or first female Vice President. Right now our country is having some of the worst problems it has ever faced with its economy. The next president will have a tough job on his hands.
—Abigayle Lista, 12, Mississippi

One of the hardest parts about covering an event is the waiting and waiting. Most events start later than they are scheduled to. After a few events, I started taking my homework so I could work on it while we were waiting for things to get started. It is a lot of fun because other reporters from newspapers, magazines, and television will ask you questions, especially after a few events when they start to recognize you.
—Brittney Sheena, 13, Houston

The night before the event, I needed to prepare a list of questions to ask McCain. Just the thought of me getting to ask him a question made me want to jump up and down non-stop! My questions try to be fresh from the rest of the media and interesting to kids or relevant to local communities. I researched news on McCain to come up with a list of questions. My editor shortened my list to the final three questions to ask McCain in the event.
—Allison Tam, 11, Northern California

Reporting from the campaign trail has been exciting—like reading a great novel. Even though I love it, I can’t wait until the conclusion, because I’m dying to know how it will end!
—Mariam El Hasan, 11, Southern California

We are too, Mariam!


BONE debuts on the iPhone

Here’s some exciting news for all you iPhone geeks and/or BONE-lovers.

UClick, which distributes downloadable e-comics and other games, has made Out from Boneville it’s first comic downloadable as an iPhone App.

If you haven’t seen Jeff Smith‘s comic book series called BONE, you should check it out. The series has been described as epic, and his images are so incredible it’s like they’re moving in front of you. I can only imagine the BONE experience on the iPhone would fantastic.

Scholastic began publishing the 9-book BONE series in full color in 2005 under the Graphix imprint. The final installment in the series will be released Jan. 20.

Unfortunately, I’m not an iPhone owner, so it’s up to you to tell me what you think! Have any of you downloaded it??

The personalization of reading and learning

I wrote a post on Friday about how the Web and digital tools are changing the way I read and learn — allowing me (and in many ways requiring me) to choose the content I find important, and to consume it more rapidly and efficiently.

Listening today to Scott McLeod’s presentation at the 2008 K12 Online Conference helped me understand how what I’ve observed about my own learning habits recently is exactly what’s happening already in schools and is, in many ways, the future of education. It’s about “personalized learning.”

Dr. McLeod‘s presentation summarizes the concepts of distruptive innovation from the work of Clayton Christensen‘s books Innovator’s Dilemma and Disrupting Class (which I will certainly now read, posthaste), and is definitely worth a listen.

Schools, he said, are experiencing a period of disruptive innovation with the increased use of online courses, video games, user-generated Web content and other interactive tools that allow for personalized learning. Here’s the nugget:

“It’s becoming increasingly easy to personalize ones own learning, to pursue topics of personal interest and meaningfulness and relevance rather than having to subject oneself to a mass model of education.”

In my previous post, I said the wealth of information on the Web and abundance of media accessible by the click of a button has allowed me to take control of my reading and learning and choose what I think is interesting, and not. The same thing is happening to education — and will happen more and more in schools in the future as these technologies are perfected and improved.

For education, it’s not just about choosing which blogs and videos kids want to study and watch, and consuming content that they’re passionate about. The effect digital technologies can have is far more complex.

The Scholastic Achievement Manager system (SAM), which is embedded in reading programs like READ 180, allows for teachers to monitor students progress in real time. Technology like this allows for constant, personalized assessment of learning whenever a student sits down at a computer.

I’m wondering, what will learning look like in another decade?

Taking control of my reading and learning

Flipping through Wired magazine (yes, the paper kind) on the subway this morning, I realized something:

I read differently than I did just a few years ago.

I found myself flying through it — stopping when a headline or graphic grabbed my attention, then reading the article, then taking off again, skipping stories that didn’t immediately grab me.

I read the article headlined “Kill the Blog,” skipped the piece called “Bit Bot: Does food really taste better if you chew it slowly? The mechanical mouth knows,” then I read a short article under it about barcodes on clothing that can identify you and link you to your Facebook or Twitter page. Cool!

In 30 minutes, I got through most of the magazine.

I couldn’t slow down because I have two other magazines and a book in my bag, and a stack at home — not to mention the 100 or more articles in my Google Reader waiting for me at work from blogs about education, technology, PR and local ones about Brooklyn. And then I have Twitter to follow and e-mails.

There is so much information out there — so much to learn — that I choose. And I HAVE to choose, otherwise I’d drown in it. And my mind is trained to quickly pick what’s important (to me) and what’s not.

I get to work, open my RSS reader and start clicking like mad. I have a long to-do list for work projects and a meeting at 10 a.m. I’ve got to sift through my morning news in 25 minutes.

A few years ago things were different for me.

While in journalism school in Boston, for instance, I’d pick up the Boston Globe or the New York Times every morning (yes, the paper kind) and read it pretty much cover to cover. After all, the newspaper editors knew what was important that happened the previous day. They ordered it nicely for me. I read it in order, and when I was done I knew what I needed to know.

I visited news sites on the Web throughout the day and read what was breaking. I’d read a book on the way home from school or work.

With the exponential growth in the amount of information available on the Web, the reading and learning game has changed. More than ever before, I’m in control now.

Why should I let anyone else tell me what I want to read? I get recommendations from friends, colleagues and my personal learning network who all share like crazy. But ultimately it’s up to me.

Tools like RSS and feed readers and Twitter and CRUCIAL for me — they help me find the information I’m interested in and need, and filter out the noise. I can double or triple the amount of information my brain absorbs everyday — and do it in a fraction of the time.

This is reading and learning in the 21st Century.

It’s about figuring out what inspires you, being open to new ideas and feeling empowered to take control of your own learning.

Is this how kids are learning today?

Un-banning cell phones in schools

Have we turned a corner?

This story about disappearing cell phone bans in Monday’s Des Moines Register gives me hope that we have! The best part is right at the beginning, when the superintendent of schools in Waukee, Iowa, recounts what he said during a welcome-back meeting this fall.

Superintendent Dave Wilkerson held up his cell phone and handheld computer to a group of teachers.

“I said, ‘We’re fighting a losing battle,’ ” Wilkerson said. “We’re creating a false world for them in the school, a world so different from what they’re dealing with on the outside.”

He’s one of a slew of school superintendents who are doing away with cell phone bans in schools — partly because they said they were fighting a loosing battle, and partly because they want to meet students where they are.

The result, according to the news story, is more teachers are weaving cell phone use into their instruction.

And then the story says this: “Researchers predict U.S. students soon will use cell phones to photograph field trips, search the Internet and answer classroom polls via text message, among other things.”


Are you seeing similar loosening of cell phone restrictions in schools in your city? I’d be curious to know.

Live from New York…it’s Kid Reporters!

You can’t stop this election train! On the heels of the Scholastic Election Poll results, today we announced Kid Reporters Recap Campaign 2008. On November 3rd (or as we call it, Election Eve), eight of our best Kid Reporters will recap this historic year through video, photos and first-person experiences on the campaign trail.

The best part? It will be webcast live! To attend “Kid Reporters Recap Campaign 2008,” go to on Monday, November 3 at 12:00pm ET.

I must give some shout-outs to: Elizabeth Conway from New Hampshire, Shelby Fallin from Florida, Lya Ferreyra from New York, Jack Greenberg from Connecticut, Hayley Livingston from New Jersey, Jacob Schroeder from New Mexico, Aaron Broder from Tennessee and Mariam El Hasan from California (Aaron and Mariam will be joining us by phone).

One final shout-out to Scholastic MATH magazine for what is, in my opinion, the best election cover of any magazine I’ve seen all year: