Blogs: Literacy and Literature

Willy Wonka asks if you write poetryIf you are trying to teach others about writing poetry, how should they get a start? Will they set out to rhyme? Will they rely on imagery?  Will they make a list of words they have to use? Will they use magnetic poetry as a tool? Will they be offended if their funny poem doesn't make anyone laugh?

If you can make the time, there are several poetry-building tools for your perusal. For example, Read Write Think is a top-notch resource for accessible activities. One of their most popular games is Word Mover-- a bit like using magnetic poetry, with the capability of resetting a word bank and including our own vocabulary. Other options include ReadWorks' lesson on rhythm for 1st grade and LearnZillion's learning-to-read poetry post for 3rd grade. For reluctant readers, try the PBS Haiku game or the Fun/Games page on the Shel Silverstein websiteFor specific lesson plans, try using Poetry Archive or the National Education Association

And if students don't finish writing their poems, there is always the Paul Valery quote, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned."

 

 

Logo for the Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon database

Curious about censorship or banned books in Oregon?  Need to know what's been published in the local news?  The Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon: A News Database, may have what you need.  The database is the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse's news clipping files, and is updated twice a year. The database includes news articles and editorials about intellectual freedom issues printed in Oregon newspapers over the past 65 years. The database can be searched by article title, newspaper name, date, city/location, name of challenged book or material, and organizations or individuals involved. After you have found what you want to read, contact the coordinator of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse, Katie Anderson, 503-378-2528 to request a complete text of the articles or editorials.  And if you have any trouble, don't forget to Ask a Librarian!

When I had a college radio show, I often played spoken word pieces by William Burroughs.  His odd cadence and bizarre subject matter made the strangeness of 3 a.m. that much more strange.  I’d broadcast the pieces into the dark quiet of the night, ghostly fog in the evergreens and the occasional glowing possum eyes outside the studio window.  After the heady description of a heroin high or alien sex, I’d follow up with something loud, dissonant and experimental.  That’s what student loans are made of.

A black and white picture of William Burroughs.  In the backgroud is a hat on a hook and an exit sign.William Burroughs instigated the Beat Generation and embodied the movement’s proclivity for drugs.  His book Junky basically made drug use glamorous.  When he lived in New York, his house (The Bunker) was like a supermarket for narcotics.  Burroughs was incredibly prolific and kept writing and speaking until his death in 1997.  His work influenced Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and more.  Punk and heavy metal owe him a debt.  He was open about sex and his own homosexuality in an age of repression.

For his 100th birthday, the BBC made a documentary about his work, life, and legacy.  For his 101st, This American Life rebroadcasted it.  It’s an unsentimental and fascinating hour of radio.  Take a listen.

 

Each year the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse (OIFC) at the Oregon State Library (OSL) collects data on challenges to Oregon library materials.  In 2013-2014,

“a total of 11 challenges to library material was received from seven public libraries and two school libraries. Of the 11 challenges, 7 of the items were books, 3 were videos, and 1 was a magazine.  Eight of the challenges were initiated by public library patrons and three by parents.  Ten of the challenged items were retained in the collection, one of the nine retained items was relocated to different area in the library, and one item was removed from the collection.”

To read the current and past reports, and see the list of challenged items, go to: 2014 Annual Report.  And if this isn't enough, remember to Contact a Librarian for more assistance!

Information Literacy. It’s a fancy term that teachers and librarians really like. There is an official definition from the American Library Association full of phrases like “locate, evaluate, and use effectively” and “proliferating information sources” and a bit about “escalating complexity”. So other than confirming that librarians like using lots of words, what does all of this mean?

Think of information literacy as the background skills (the Big Six, not to be confused with the Big Ten) that you need to be good at research. It is all about understanding what to do with what you find so you can get good grades and you know, learn something. While there are a lot of places that information literacy will serve you well, searching online can get really murky.

But you’re not alone! Check out these short and silly locally grown videos and other research tips for ways to make your homework all that much easier.

Our videos were made with the acting help and guidance of the teen councils of Midland, Northwest, Sellwood and Troutdale libraries.

 

Troutdale Library Teen Council  Mack the Labrador with Northwest Library teens  Sellwood Teen Council members  Northwest teen council member


Looking for more help? Contact a librarian!

How to do effective research. Five videos to help!

Bowtie Venn Diagram by H. Caldwell Tanner

 

If you’ve ever had to do a report you know that there are many ways to present what you want people to know. You can give a speech, write a 5 page paper, create a graph, make a movie or sing a song. A classic way is to make a poster.

 

A new spin on the poster approach are infographics. Basically, they put information in an organized and visual way that can make it easier to pull everything together and get the big picture. They can be complex like this chapter by chapter guide to The Great Gatsby or simple like the bowtie Venn diagram. They can be interactive like this wind map of the Earth or answer questions you may have never thought to ask like, 'how many teaspoons are in a cup?' (48, yeah I didn't know either.)

 

Here at the library we have made a set infographics about how to find good information online. Like this one:

 

How to Evaluate Websites

Why did we make infographics? So that you can look at research in a whole different way.

Want more information about research and infographics? Ask a librarian!

Whenever I have to write something, whether it’s a research paper or an article, the first thing I do is keep track of my sources. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a really good fact, but not being able to remember where you found it!

There’s two good online resources, called citation makers, that I use to help me. The great thing is, you can use them to keep track of your resources while you do your research, but they also help you format the citations, and generate your list of sources, or bibliography.

Many students in Oregon use the OSLIS citation maker to generate citations. It allows you to chose between MLA and APA style guides. Be sure to read through all the instructions before you get started. You can’t save a list of citations here, so you’ll have to create your list all in one shot. 

Easybib is a free service that offers you a lot more, and is good for high school and college students. You can save multiple bibliographies here, use their note taking system, generate a bibliography in Word, and generate citations for up to 59 formats of material, in MLA, APA or Chicago/Terabian style manuals. Watch the training video to learn more, and please contact a librarian if you need more help.

Are you trying to understand how maps work? Or maybe you need to find one for a school project? If so, this post will get you pointed in the right direction!

Maps Maps Maps is a great video introduction to the different types of maps, the symbols found on them, and latitude and longitude.Image of map

Have you ever looked at all those funny symbols on a map and wondered what they represent? Reading a Map is an activity that explains topographic maps, including legends (which describe the symbols on a map), and scale. Or at Adventure Island, you can practice finding items from the legend on the map.

What does Never Eat Soggy Waffles mean? It’s a phrase to help you remember the cardinal directions (north, east, south and west). Try this activity to help you master them.

If you need a map to use in a project, try National Geographic Map Maker One-Page Maps. Choose a country, check the items you’d like included on the map, and print! If you’re feeling a bit more creative, try Map Maker Interactive, where you can make a map of your very own. Choose to include features like climate zones, population density, or even volcanic eruptions! For maps of regions or entire continents, try the World Factbook.

The Lands and Peoples encyclopedia includes an electronic atlas with many kinds of specialized maps. You can find historical maps (on topics such as ancient cultures or U.S. expansion), exploration routes, time zones, and climate data. If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card number and PIN.

Still lost and in need of direction? Trying contacting a librarian for more help!

"Music is the poetry of the air." 
--Jean Paul Richter

If poetry lifts up your spirits, chances are really good that you are also uber fond of music. Legendary songwriters like Tupac and Bob Dylan are poets at heart. Writing a poem is already quite a task, but coming up with words that fit a particular melody is an entirely different journey.

Do you feel that there is an inner songwriter in your that is just aching to explode out of you? Our library collection can certainly aid you in creating musican content. Who knows? Maybe this is your songwriting year!

 

You may already be a fan of Sara Zarr's smart, realistic and heartfelt books, like Story of A Girl, Sweethearts, and The Lucy Variations.

You may not know that she also hosts a great podcast called This Creative Life where she interviews authors, musicians, illustrators & filmmakers & other folks about their process and challenges. It's an intimate look into the realities of writing and publishing, and what it's really like to be someone who's -- well -- living a creative life.

Here are six This Creative Life episodes where Sara interviews other well-respected authors:

 

 

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