DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

learning

Sep 25 2013

National Computer Learning Month

by Glenda

computerDid you know that October is National Computer Learning Month? Did you know that there is a place in your community that offers computer classes every month? Did you know that these classes are free? The DeKalb County Public Library has twenty-two library locations and just about all of the locations offer free computer classes, all you have to do is call a location that is having a class and register. The library offers classes such as e-mail basics and classes on how to use Microsoft Office programs. In addition to these classes, some locations even offer Book-A-Librarian opportunities. Book-A-Librarian gives you the opportunity to ask a librarian any computer or research question and receive one-on-one assistance and advice from a librarian. You can’t beat that, and it’s FREE. So the next time you are in a library branch location pick up a monthly calendar (or check out the online calendar) and start taking some of these free computer classes. Come on, you know you want to learn all the cool stuff the kids are doing!

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Aug 27 2012

On Thinkin’ Up Stuff To Blog About

by Jnai W

Sunday is the day that has become my default blog post writing day. There is that part of me that would love to have several blog posts waiting, cued up and ready to publish—one after another—so that I wouldn’t feel so rushed (and so guilty when perhaps the quality of my writing has suffered for lack of time and preparation). But that doesn’t always happens. My muse is capricious…and she likes to sleep in on Sundays.

I do other things while waiting for lightning to strike. I dumb out in front of my computer, scouring gossip blogs, checking my email and, mostly, clicking on video after video on YouTube. I click on a variety of videos—tutorials on roller setting afro-textured hair, tips on applying make up like Kim Kardashian and techniques for playing piano using the Nashville Number system.

The Nashville Number system? That’s extraordinary! is what I’m thinking instead of coming up with a blog idea. Since my muse appears to have gone on some day trip far, far away, I decide I’d be better served practicing what I’m learning from InstantPianoGenius on YouTube. The blog post will come together…or not. Who can say?

I run to my Yamaha keyboard and am astonished at the progress I’m making. While tentatively, yet proudly plonking my way through the 3-chorded “Twist and Shout” I’m thinking that I may actually be able to teach myself how to play keyboard. Rather out-of-the-blue, I remember a well-spoken little girl at Decatur library checking out a huge book about sewing the day before. When I asked her if she knew how to sew she said “No, but I thought I might check out this book and teach myself.”

This made me think of things I’ve learned or attempted to teach myself using library materials. There’s the Learn The Essentials of Piano DVD series featuring Talc Tolchin, a highly skilled, slightly extraterrestrial (in my opinion) piano master. There are the Origami Yodas I’ve tried (and failed at) making, inspired by the hilarious The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. There is the Eggs For The Infanta recipe featured in an anthology of M.F.K Fisher’s work A Stew or A Story. One idea for a delicious sounding tea I gleaned from a great novel American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar; I haven’t made it yet but perhaps I’ll give it a try next Sunday.

At that moment my muse, well-rested, refreshed and a little tanned, saunters in like the whole day hasn’t just passed. She’s pointing at the computer screen and the words I’ve just typed.

“You’re welcome,” she offers, blithely.

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May 27 2011

Ahoy lasses and laddies!

by Amanda L

With the release of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, there is renewed interest in all things pirate. Would you like to be able to speak in Pirate? One of the electronic resources that we  subscribe to is Mango Languages. The company is offering a free language course on how to speak Pirate. You have to go through this link to get to the course and leave your e-mail.  The course is available until June 30th. If you want to learn another language besides Pirate, Mango Languages offers a variety of languages including the standard ones such as Spanish, French, etc. They also have a few lesser known languages such as Irish, Tagalog, Urdu, etc.

Speakin’ pirate not your cup o’ tea? The library has movies and books about pirates.

Arrr, o’ course we have the Pirates o’ the Caribbean movies.

Ahoy, thar be se’eral stories that have been written about pirates. My favorite one is the Bloody Jack series. The story takes place in the early nineteenth century.  Mary Faber joins a pirate ship at the age of thirteen. The catch,  she joins dressed as a boy to get onto the high seas.  The first in the series is Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventure of  Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy

Aye, if a series is not what your lookin’ for, you might try Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton or the classic, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Ahoy, lookin’ for a book on the history o’ pirates? Try Pirates of Barbary by Adrian Tinniswood or Pirates: predators of the sea by Angus Konstam.  For true tales of modern day pirates try Terror on the Seas: true tales of modern day pirates by Daniel Sekulich.

Arrr, if you still have not gotten your pirate fill,  remember  Pirate Day is on September 19th.

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When I was five my grandmother tied one of her checked terry cloth aprons around my chest, stood me on a stool, handed me a butter knife and an egg and told me it was time I learned to cook.  That’s how I learned to fry eggs, eggshells in the egg, egg in the hot bacon grease and my five year old self just as proud as I could be.  Now, I know you’re horrified because none of you would ever put a five year old anywhere near a functioning gas burner or a pan of hot grease but let’s just recall that times were different—remember when child car seats hooked over the front seat and weren’t actually intended to restrain a child?  Sometimes I’m amazed I survived my childhood.

What’s particularly interesting  about my grandmother deciding I needed to learn how to cook (thanks to her I could put a full meal on the table for a family of six by the time I was 11) is that the only thing my mother could do in the kitchen when she got married was peel potatoes.  My grandma would be the first to tell you she  wasn’t a fancy cook, but that she was more than competent in the kitchen, yet it was my father who had to teach my mother how to roast a chicken, among other things.  I puzzled over this for a long time but the scales fell from my eyes the first time I tied an apron around a junior member of the Kitchen Patrol at my house.  I handed over an egg and butter knife and wound up a gibbering idiot with, quite literally, egg on my face.

It’s not easy to teach someone who is still developing fine motor skills and an attention span how to crack an egg and get it into a bowl.  It takes patience and a willingness to settle for less than perfect results.  Knowing my grandma, I imagine she decided it was just easier to do it herself than to fuss with the mess and bother of teaching my mother.  Of course, by the time I came around she wasn’t worrying about putting out three meals a day for a family of seven and I think she could afford to be a little more relaxed.

Cooking with my family is still a source of deep pleasure for me—most of the best moments of my life have happened in a kitchen.  The Junior Kitchen Patrol and I spend many hours cooking together.  We make bread, brownies, biscotti, pizza, jello.  Jello is in fact the hot favorite at the moment (don’t ask—there’s no way to explain it) with pizza  running a close second.  It’s not all fun and games.  Cooking with children is a scholarly activity.   We do addition (2 eggs + 2 eggs is ?) fractions (slice that pizza in into eighths!) we work on  fine motor skills (try peeling your own shrimp for dinner and see how good you get) and we even squeeze in chemistry (contrary to what some people at my house think the sugar in bread dough does not give yeast gas—we’re still working on that concept.)  Yes, sometimes I wind up gibbering, and I keep the frying-things-in-grease jobs for myself, but Junior KP can crack an egg with no mess these days and we’re both pretty proud of that.  Cooking with a child does take longer but it’s a pretty rewarding pasttime and I’m glad my grandma had the luxury of figuring that out.

Silver spoon for children: favorite Italian recipes recipes adapted and edited by Amanda Grant

FamilyFun cooking with kids from the experts at Family Fun Magazine

Salad people and more real recipes: a new cookbook for pre-schoolers and up by Mollie Katzen

Kids cook 1-2-3: recipes for young chefs using only three ingredients by Rozanne Gold

Children’s baking book recipes and stylings by Denise Smart

Toddler cookbook by Annabell Karmel

Kitchen science by Peter Pentland

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Feb 19 2010

OpenCourseWare

by Jesse M

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Such was the wisdom of American industrialist Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company and father of the modern assembly line. I agree with the sentiment and attempt to make every day a learning experience (working in a library is a big help in this endeavor). If you feel like I do, then you may be interested in checking out one of the many OpenCourseWare offerings available online.

OpenCourseWare can be defined as the free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses. Such courses typically do not offer certification, or access to instructors, but are excellent resources for furthering your own knowledge in a given area. The first OpenCourseWare selections were offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 and since then a large and growing number of institutions (including many highly regarded universities such as Stanford, Yale, and Harvard Medical School, among others) have published their own OpenCourseWare projects. As of 2009, MIT had over 1900 courses available online, with reading lists and discussion topics, homework problems and exams (often with solutions) and lecture notes. Some courses also include interactive web demonstrations in Java or MATLAB, complete textbooks written by MIT professors, and streaming video lectures. Other institutions boast similar offerings.

For a list of institutions offering OpenCourseWare resources, click here. The listings are divided into nine categories, including Academic Behemoths (MIT), Ivy League (Yale), and International (University of Tokyo). Or, if you prefer, you can utilize the OCW Finder, which, as its name suggests, helps people find OpenCourseWare.

Of course, if you are interested in autodidacticism you needn’t venture farther than your neighborhood library. The DCPL catalog contains two excellent educational series (Great Courses and Modern Scholar) available for checkout in both CD and DVD format.

So take advantage of these resources and keep your mind young for life!

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Dec 4 2009

Afraid of mice?

by Lesley B

Scary Mouse2A lot of seniors aren’t comfortable with their computers. They’d love to get email and photos from their families but struggle with the mouse and keyboard. They see the grandkids whizzing around on the screen and think it’s too late for them to learn the trick. Well, it’s never too late to learn something new. I often tell seniors in our computer classes to think back to when they were learning to write and had to figure out how to grip a pencil. Were they writing in cursive right off the bat? They just need to practice. A DeKalb County Public Library card gets you 2 hours of time on a library computer and our page for New Computer Users is a good place to start. From there I usually recommend the Palm Beach County Library System’s Mousercise. This website guides a beginning mouser all around the screen, then through the dreaded double-click, scroll bars, radio buttons and drop-down menus. The exercises aren’t timed and there are no ads or confusing links.

When Mousercise gets dull, what to do next? Any familiar game like Solitaire is a good choice. There are lots of places to play online and many computers have a version already installed. Knowing how to play the game makes it easier for seniors to understand where to move the cursor. WebSudoku offers several skill levels and a timer if you want to increase the challenge. A woman in one of our computer classes enjoyed playing Wheel of Fortune online. Other good choices for a beginning mouser: Bookworm, an addictive word search game with no timer so you don’t have to rush and Thisissand, an unusual website that lets you make sand art (click the gray box to get started). Once a senior gets used to the mouse, there’s no stopping them online. Next click, email or maybe – Facebook?

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Jul 14 2009

Johnny Can’t Read

by Ev S

straighttalk

I am so worried that my five year old still can’t read.  I see all these other kids reading and wonder “What am I doing wrong?”  Being me, I started doing some research.  There is a ton of literature out there for the worried parent.

The book that really started this out was Why Johnny Can’t Read – And what you can do about it by Rudolf Flesch.  This book was published in 1955 and parents are still using it at home.  It’s based on the phonics method of reading.  The  public schools have swayed from the phonics method to whole language  learning and back again since my husband and I were children (early to mid 1970s).  Until I started researching about reading I had no idea that there were basically two ways to teach reading.

Straight Talk about Reading: how parents can make a difference during the early years by Susan Hall and Louisa C. Moats pretty much details how the two different methods work and why phonics is a more successful method.  Actually, I did not find much that supported the whole language method.

Starting Out Right: A guide to promoting children’s reading success by the National Research Council specifically spells out activities to do with my five year old.  The book starts out with what is needed to be considered literate; and it’s not just about reading.  The National Research Council details activities and practices for every age group from preschool to grade three.  This is basically a how-to manual.

The best thing I learned about reading is that it happens at the child’s pace and not because the worried, conscientious, proactive parent is doing anything “wrong”.  I can finally sleep at night.

Here is a list of other titles in the library system:

Prescription for Reading–teach them phonics by Ernest H Christman

The Writing Road to Reading: the Spalding method for teaching speech, spelling, writing, and reading by Romalda Bishop Spalding

Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don’t : how it happens and what you can do about it by Mary Leonhardt

Building Blocks : building a parent-child literacy program at your library by Sharon Snow

Yes, if you’re wondering if DCPL has a building blocks program.  Just check out our calendar of events, look for the red.

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If you, like me, feel that time in your car is basically time wasted, you will be interested to hear that the library carries college level courses on audio CD.  DeKalb County Public Library carries two series, the Modern Scholar series and the Great Courses series.  Both series employ the talents of well-respected college professors to teach subjects like music, art, history, religion, and science.  The ones I have listened to have been very interesting and only one or two that I’ve come across sound like that dry, boring history teacher we all had at some point in our school career.  There are two series:

Check ’em out!

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