In Our Feeds: Presidental pinning, in defense of libraries, and the best field trip ever.

Each Friday, we share a handful of links we found interesting, provocative, funny — or just plain cool. We call it In Our Feeds. Enjoy!

Breaking news: The President is on Pinterest! Yep, Barack Obama has eight boards, comprised of family recipes, photos from the campaign trail, cool “ObamArt” and other patriotic pins (the American flag cupcakes are my personal favorite).

Speaking of Pinterest, Lia (who needs a serious pintervention), sent over this way-cool infographic on why we all can’t. stop. pinning.

Spoken like a true librarian, Jess found this ode to libraries featuring 16 reasons why they’re still relevant. Number 10 resonates with me: “Eliminating Libraries would Cut Short an Important Process of Cultural Evolution” aka the democratization of knowledge! Lending out books for free is a wonderful, democratic practice (and reinforces Scholastic’s belief that every child has a right to read).

Is a Nook better than a book? Morgan shared this compelling piece from The New York Times on early readers and their enthusiasm over consuming books electronically. She poses a great and currently unanswerable question given the “newness” of the e-reader: Should parents and educators embrace e-books or ration e-reader screen time?

A heart-warming success story from Tyler about how READ 180 transformed the students at Jackson County Central Middle School. “Students who couldn’t read are. Students who couldn’t read well are proficient. Students who hated to read love it. Students who were not passing accelerated reading tests are nailing them.” Wow.

Have you ever wondered what your favorite writer’s bedroom looks like? Kristen shared Apartment Therapy’s round-up of famous writers’ eclectic rooms. We can learn so much about a writer from his or her living space (example: if you’re curious what Victor Hugo’s favorite color was, look no further).

Lastly, a find from Alex: kids around the country were taken on the ultimate field trip last week. They didn’t go to a national park, Disneyland, or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but to the movies to see The Hunger Games! Lucky ducks.

Have a great weekend!


Survey: Teachers work 53 hours per week on average

This post first appeared on The Washington Post Answer Sheet blog by Valerie Strauss.  Francie Alexander is the chief academic officer for Scholastic and is a former teacher. She has taught at all levels, was a district reading consultant for Pre-K through high school, and has authored numerous professional articles for educators and dozens of books for children.


By Francie Alexander

Teaching is a much talked about yet often misunderstood profession. Educators frequently hear well-meaning comments from parents and friends like “It must be so sweet to spend your days with children” or “How wonderful to be done for the day by three o’clock.” Are they serious?

Teaching is joyous, but it is also hard work! It is fast-paced, multi-faceted, and complex. I should know. I spent many years as a teacher and it is the hardest and most satisfying work I’ve ever done.

A new report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, finally quantifies just how hard teachers work: 10 hours and 40 minutes a day on average. That’s a 53-hour work week!

These numbers are indicative of teachers’ dedication to the profession and their willingness to go above and beyond to meet students’ needs. It never was, and certainly isn’t now, a bell-to-bell job. Continue reading Survey: Teachers work 53 hours per week on average

THIS IS JEOPARDY! (Scholastic Edition)

Today marks the day Jeopardy! made its first TV premier in 1964. To celebrate we thought it would be fun to play a little of our own Scholastic/literary Jeopardy! (Stay tuned in– Monday we will reveal the answers!) So lets play…
THIS IS JEOPARDY…introducing today’s contestants… That’s right YOU’RE on Jeopardy! And here’s your host of Jeopardy, Alex…

Continue reading THIS IS JEOPARDY! (Scholastic Edition)

Debate! Which should you do first, watch the movie or read the book?

Recently a certain movie came out. Maybe you’ve heard of it.  It is called The Hunger Games and it is based on a book.  It’s not the first movie and it is far from the last to start up the debate: which is better, the book or the movie?  Last week after the OOM team finally got to see the movie we got in an additional debate: which is a better experience to do first, watching the movie or reading the book?

It all started because I used to claim “book first” and after the recent bolster in book-based movies (The Help, Hugo, etc.), I think I’ve gone to the other side and prefer the movie first.  Now, let me be very clear.  This is NOT a reason to wait for the movie before enjoying a great book.  I would never suggest that.  This is more of a question if the movie is coming out and it piques your interest in a book which do you do first?  OK, now for the defense of my conversion, all while avoiding spoilers, will be based on two very Scholastic titles, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, with a few others sprinkled in here and there.  Continue reading Debate! Which should you do first, watch the movie or read the book?

An Anthropological Study: What Happens When Your Parents Are Your Teachers

As a child, I had a very unique upbringing in the sense that my parents weren’t just my parents, they were also my teachers. You see, my parents both worked at the school my siblings and I attended, and not only have they worked there for our entire educational experience, they met and fell in love—right there on the football field—in the summer of 1981.

Every day for 13 years, all five of us would pack up the station wagon, commute over an hour to school, spend the day together, then get back in the car and return home. Quality family time doesn’t really do it justice. Having my parents pervade my life at school had a distinct effect on me as a child. The experience proved to be at times comforting, mortifying,  and mostly just plain awkward. But I know I’m not alone. There are other children out there who live with the parent-teacher perplexity every day, which is why I’ve comprised a list of ten take-aways I’ve learned from my years “in the field.”  An anthropological study of sorts, if you will.

Continue reading An Anthropological Study: What Happens When Your Parents Are Your Teachers

Sitting out The Hunger Games

Working at Scholastic for more than four years, I’ve seen a few waves of Hunger Games excitement. But as the series gained in popularity, that excitement spilled into the outside world.  I’ve seen the numbers of people reading the trilogy on subways, on the street, and in coffee shops and bars increase exponentially over the years. My friends have read the books. My brother breathlessly bragged on Facebook about buying midnight screening tickets for the movie, and his friends posted jealous comments. And everywhere you turn a Hunger Games ad is staring you in the face as you wait for the subway or walk down the street.

The series is seemingly everywhere, but while all this is happening around me. I’m unable to participate. Because I haven’t read The Hunger Games. Continue reading Sitting out The Hunger Games

The Common Core is coming. Are you ready?

This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning.

I’ve been thinking about the Common Core standards a lot lately.

Well, last week (in case you missed it), we released a treasure trove of data collected from the “Primary Sources” survey of 10,000 teachers we did with the Gates Foundation. I thought I’d share some what teachers said about the Common Core.

  • 78 percent of teachers said they were aware of the Common Core State Standards.
  • Many do not feel prepared to teach to the standards. 27 percent said they feel unprepared, and 51 percent said they felt only “somewhat prepared.”
  • A large majority of teachers feel they need additional tools and supports to implement the standards: from student-centered technology to PD to formative assessments to new curricula and learning tools.

Teachers: Are you talking about the Common Core standards in your schools? Do you feel like you understand them and are prepared?