What’s new in my feeds: QR codes, value-added scores and unemployable students

Here are a few blogs and posts I’ve stumbled upon in my trusty Google Reader in recent weeks. If you want to learn a thing or two, I suggest giving these folks a follow!

1) Linda Perlstein is the public editor of the Education Writers Association (she writes for Slate, as well). At The Educated Reporter, she blogs about what education writers SHOULD be writing about. Here’s a post where she wonders what parents think about the value-added teacher data some districts are releasing.
2) I haven’t been able to stop babbling about QR codes lately. (Just ask Ivy…) And it’s partly due to this great post on Jeff Utecht‘s blog where he predicts 2011 will be “The Year of the QR Code.” Check it out and maybe you’ll catch the QR bug like I have.

It’s a Cyber Monday giveaway!

There’s no better gift to give than a book, in our humble opinion. So today, on this Cyber Monday, we’re hosting a giveaway that’s all about books!

The Scholastic Top Picks site provides a rotating, season-specific selection of books for kids of all ages. Right now, it offers our top picks for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas titles for readers ranging from beginner to teen. (Be sure to bookmark the site, because it changes often!) And we’re so excited about the titles that we’re giving some away!

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Giving thanks on Thanksgiving

Between virtual field trips to Plimoth and chatting with a Pilgrim, you would think the OOM team would be all Thanksgiving-ed out. Nope! Not even close! Today, as we gather around the dinner table, stuff ourselves full of home-baked goodness and settle in to watch some football, here are just a few of things we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving:

Morgan: I’m thankful for my niece, who is wacky and funny and just plain swell, and my nephew on the way! And this year, I’m also thankful for my fellow OOMers, who make blogging so much fun!

Michael: I’m thankful for my husband, family and friends, who have been so supportive this year…my puppies for always being excited to see me when I get home, my Mom’s broccoli casserole and for Thanksgiving Day, because it’s one of only 2 days each year when the store is closed!

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A BIG Thanksgiving promise

Scholastic Headquarters feels very hushed today, as many of our colleagues are off traveling and preparing for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday. Our friends from Scholastic Media wanted to share a few thoughts about the holiday season and how the small actions inspired by a big dog can mean so much, this time of year and always. And if you’re on Facebook, why not stop by the Clifford BE BIG fan page and find out more?

We love Thanksgiving – mostly because it kicks off a season dedicated to helping others (not that we shouldn’t be doing it year round!), being kind and being truthful about what you’re grateful for. That’s exactly what Clifford’s BE BIG program is all about.

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5 Questions: The one in which we ask a Pilgrim about underwear

I never thought that one day I would get to ask a Pilgrim what kind of undergarments they wear.
You heard right. And the answer was quite a fun surprise! The silly question came about when we caught up with Goodwife Elizabeth Hopkins from Plimoth Plantation, during the Scholastic virtual field trip last week (pictured at right). We asked her five basic questions: What is she thankful for? What’s her favorite Thanksgiving dish? What’s her favorite story that she’s passed on to her kids? What’s on her mind? And – my personal favorite – what kind of undergarments do Pilgrims wear? See the answers in our video interview:

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Can you see what OOM sees?

A favorite pastime of OOMers is studying the amazing, intricate artwork that Walter Wick creates in his Can You See What I See series. Right now, for example, I’m sitting at my desk, squinting at my computer screen, trying to find the “golden bracelet with five gold charms” and “sea creature with eight long arms” in his just-released Facebook activity, Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship. And let me tell you, it’s not easy.

Can You See What I See is a mind-boggling puzzlebook series, and Walter has just released an exciting way for fans to play along online. Check out this brand new interactive Facebook activity – all you have to do is click here to play. (Bonus: you don’t even need to have a Facebook account to play, and because it’s not an app, none of your information will be captured.)

We asked Walter (who, by the way, is also the photographer for the I SPY series!) why he wanted to create this Facebook activity, and he said “I want adults to see the love that goes into making my books… My hope is that once immersed in the game, they will take another look at the behind-the-scenes articles too, and thereby have material they can share and discuss with my young readers.”

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Books-turned-movies: An OOM chat about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Yesterday we asked our Twitter community to talk about their favorite Harry Potter memories (#hpmemories), and the response was overwhelming. Of course, we’re all excited about this weekend’s release of the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – the final movie – in theaters, but as the OOM team discussed it, we realized we all had quite different thoughts on books-turned-movies, especially when it come to our beloved Harry. (Don’t worry – there are no spoilers in this post, and we ask that none of you post any spoilers in the comments, either!)

So we chatted about them, joined by frequent guest blogger Michael Strouse, and now they’re posted here for your participation, too. What do you think about books-turned-movies? Do they work? Do you love or hate them? Do you want the movies to stay as close to the books as possible, or are you okay with directors being flexible? Let us know!

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