In Our Feeds: Better education = better life, Pippa Middleton’s new book, and using QR codes in education

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

It’s no surprise that education leads to better jobs and income, but now studies are saying better education can lead to a healthier life. Check out these neat statistics and infographics!

Are  you trying to find new cool ways to incorporate technology into the classroom? How about using QR codes?

Also, we came across this really interesting HuffPo article on why kids play hooky and ditch school. Apparently with growing class sizes, it’s harder for teachers to keep track of who is present and who isn’t. Makes sense. 

Check out this Labyrinth Constructed from 250,000 Books! This construction truly brings new meaning to “getting lost in a book.” Continue reading In Our Feeds: Better education = better life, Pippa Middleton’s new book, and using QR codes in education


Creating ‘academic discomfort’ in a Common Core classroom

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 like what Glenn Wiebe said on his History Tech blog the other day about effective teaching — that great lessons create “academic discomfort” in students.

Learning should be about trying to solve problems rather than memorizing answers. Everyday, scientists, historians, doctors and teachers are tasked with solving problems they’ve never seen before. How to cure a disease or treat a patient, how to resolve an international conflict based on lessons from the past, how to help a student with unique needs and unique interests. The best kind of learning is applications-based — “applying” what you’ve learned rather than regurgitating it.

This is certainly the direction that the Common Core is trying to go, with new assessments being developed and with the standards themselves focused on “reading, writing, researching, problem solving, using primary sources, asking questions,” as Glenn writes.

In his post, Glenn outlines a problem solving lesson for a social studies classroom that compares and contrasts Google Earth images and asks students to figure out why they look different. Turns out the two images are of Warsaw from before and after World War II. The point of the lesson is not about the answer, but about the debate and collaboration and research and application of tools and prior knowledge.

Great teachers are coming up with lessons like this everyday, and, Glenn says, the Common Core is only encouraging more of it.

(Flickr photo by goodspeed)

Book Nostalgia: Beezus and Ramona

It’s Thursday and you know what that means….time to dive into the archives for some book nostalgia! This week, I reread Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona.

Recap: Nine-year-old Beezus tries to love and to get along with her four-year-old sister Ramona, but Ramona’s temperament makes it difficult. Among Ramona’s many misadventures: she gets lost in the park trying to find gold at the end of a rainbow and the police have to bring her home; she puts her doll in the oven when pretending to be Gretel (from Hansel and Gretel) and ruins Beezus’ birthday cake for the second time in one day; she messes up her sister’s game of checkers with Henry and then locks Henry’s dog in the bathroom; and invites friends over for a party without telling anyone.

Continue reading Book Nostalgia: Beezus and Ramona

Summer Reading: How did we “stack” up?

Labor Day weekend kicks off tomorrow and ushers in the (unofficial) end of summer. Back before Memorial Day, the Minds and I shared our summer book stacks and talked about our reading goals for the season. I thought it might be fun to check-in with everyone to see how they did! (It’s kind of like our own version of the Summer Challenge!)

I managed to hit my target of 13 books this summer, but only three of them came from my book stack (which still remains as a pile by my bed… I’ll get there). The highlights? My book club chose Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn for our August read. I loved it so much I devoured her other two novels, Gone Girl and Dark Places right after. But my favorite beach read had to S.J. Watson’s thriller Before I Go to Sleep. It was so good I read it in one (long) sitting. I couldn’t put it down!

So how did the other minds do?

Alex: My summer reading was the Harry Potter series. I am currently about to start book 4, and I am still determined to complete the entire series (but it won’t happen by close of summer). I just wish I had MORE time to read this summer, I feel like the best reading time for me was on the subway!

Morgan: I was SUPPOSED to re-read all 7 Harry Potters…but I got distracted by the ton of amazing books that came out this summer and ended up reading all of them instead: Dare Me by Megan Abbott, The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker, the entire Sweet Valley Confidential eseries, The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner, several Baby-sitters Clubs, and a Sleepover Friends (for OOM!). I guess I’ll be postponing my Harry reading until the fall!

Nadia: I read 11 books this summer (many of them were middle grade books, so they were really quick reads!) and am currently on #12, a great book for teens, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I’m only 50 pages in, but think it’s my favorite of the stack so far!

Did you meet your summer reading goals this summer? What books did you most enjoy?

Bringing books and a message of hope to Pine Ridge Reservation

As part of Scholastic’s global literacy campaign, Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life., we’ve identified organizations that work every day to see that children learn to read, love to read, and have access to books. We call them “Literacy Champions” and we want to acknowledge their hard work here on the blog in our Literacy Champions series. 

Imagine a preschool with only five books for children to share; a middle school without enough copies a classic book to distribute to the students in a class; children living in homes without any books or access to the Internet. Chances are, you are imagining children in another country—not a nation in South Dakota, which is where Lakota Sioux children live.

The Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project, Ltd. (LPRCEP) works with families and schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the poorest regions in the United States, where drop-out rates are as high as 70%. The majority of the Reservation lives below the poverty line and children easily can – and do – lose interest in attending school.

LPRCEP fulfills book wish lists, (children’s book series are in particularly high demand) and has provided more than 5,000 books to schools, preschools and families. By making books available to children, books become companions and friends rather than work. And by improving literacy rates, encouraging children to stay in school, and making books accessible, LPRCEP is helping today’s children become tomorrow’s agents of change and tribal leaders. Go to to find out how you can help.

Anyone who helps a child to read is a Literacy Champion in our book, and we invite you to join our growing list of people committed to supporting childhood literacy. You can also support a Literacy Champion near you—browse a full list on our Read Every Day Lead a Better Life. site.

Literary pop quiz…and a giveaway!

It’s back-to-school and time to put those literary minds to work! Ready for a pop quiz? Don’t worry, it’s a fun one!

TO PLAY: Check out our pinterest board to see some random text blocks from some of our favorite Scholastic books.

Then, guess the book series for a chance to win a Storia tote bag filled with books and goodies! You don’t have to be right to win, just put your best answers in the comments below and we’ll randomly pick 5 lucky winners!

Thanks to Mental Floss and their Harry Potter “Lit Slit” for the inspiration! Good Luck!

GIVEAWAY: Enter for the chance to win the Storia Tote Bag giveaway. To enter, just leave your answers in the comments and be sure to include your email address on this blog post by August 30, 2012. Must be 18 or over and a legal US resident to enter. Find the complete rules here. GOOD LUCK!

REMEMBER — you must leave your comments here on the blog to be entered to win!

image via


UPDATE: the winners have been randomly selected! Congrats to Amy Bates, Jenn C, Nicki, Amy,  and Jenn Judge. Thanks for participating, everyone!

And in case you’re still stuck, the answers are: 1) Harry Potter, 2) 39 Clues, 3) Baby-sitters club, 4) Goosebumps 5) Hunger Games 6) Shiver.

Unveiling the NEW Instructor site!

Just in time for back to school, has added a resource teachers are sure to be thrilled about: the oldest teacher-facing magazine, Scholastic Instructor, is now online!  Founded in 1891, Scholastic’s Instructor magazine is a teacher’s go-to guide for practical and innovative teaching ideas, education news, professional development advice, and teacher-tested lesson plans, classroom management strategies, timesaving tools, and much more.

The new and improved website features everything teachers love about the trusted publication, including:

Plus, Common Core support in every issue and online—including hands on activities to help teachers meet the standards. The first article on Common Core shares advice from CCSS veterans on how to teach the new standards.

Teachers, take a look, share with colleagues, and post any feedback or comments here!