Writing Abstracts

FYI: An explanation. Our class has an assignment to find and write abstracts for 5 articles related to one topic of our choosing. My group has settled on a schedule of submitting 2 abstracts for review the first week, 2 more the next week, and then our final abstract with a few days left before the 5 are due to our instructor. In this way, we are able to review each others’ work in stages, offer feedback on each attempt, and apply that feedback when writing our next round.

My first attempt at writing abstracts for our Research Assignment produced results unlike any of my group mates. My abstracts were much shorter and more generalized, avoiding a lot of details of the individual study. I had focused on trying to include keywords that would be useful to anyone performing abstract keyword searches, since I’ve found that to be a very helpful way of searching for things in my own experience. The individuals in my group had mostly positive things to say about them (I had some problems with tense that needed further editing, etc.), and since I usually prefer to read shorter abstracts with less specific detail I figured these first attempts were alright for the time being.
For my second attempt, I decided to try a different approach to both reading the articles and writing the abstracts. I started by opening the article in question in one window on my laptop and having a word document open in another window. As I read through the article, I took notes about the details of the study, along with things that I felt would help someone who was searching for information determine if the article was worth their time or applicable to their own needs. After finishing the article, I minimized that pdf window and opened another word document that was completely blank. Having this window open side-by-side with the original note-taking word document allowed me to see my notes at a glance and reference them easily while crafting my abstract. The immediate difference that I see between my first attempt at abstracting and this new round is that my abstracts are MUCH longer and more detailed. They resemble those of my group mates much more. I am curious to see what their feedback is on them this time around.

My initial feeling is that I need to find a middle ground between the two attempts. Figure out what details from the study to eliminate so that I can decrease the length of the abstract without diminishing it, but also retain keywords for those searchers who are utilizing keyword abstract search techniques. From a personal standpoint, I definitely feel a higher retention of the information in both of these studies/articles. I imagine that I will continue to take notes in this manner for most of my article readings in the future.

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid

 

Author: Jeff Kinney

Age Range: 9-11

Interest Range: 9-11

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Greg is in middle school, and has started keeping a journal by his mother’s suggestion. This journal is how we hear Greg’s story about his school year, complete with illustrations since Greg likes to draw cartoons. Over the course of the year Greg muses about girls, his relationship with his friend Rowley, his family life with an older brother who constantly picks on him and a younger brother who can do no wrong, and trying to make a name for himself among his classmates, and all with a great sense of humor. Greg’s story is very much just like anyone else’s, and that’s what makes him so appealing.

Review: At first, I found this book to be very annoying. Greg is a mean kid. He writes very unkind things in his journal, even about Rowley who is supposed to be his best friend. He also admits to making some pretty poor decisions: joining the Safety Patrol only to get out of pre algebra, wanting to be a tree in the school play just so he can throw apples at the girl who plays Dorothy, allowing Rowley to get in trouble for things he did all by himself. But after some thought, I realized why kids like this series so much: it’s very true to life. Even the best kids will make poor decisions and do mean things. Especially in middle school, where kids are notorious en masse for being ruthless. Greg is truly a wimpy kid, never wanting to admit his errors or own up to being wrong about things. But even if he will never say the words exactly (or write them down for us to see), one can tell by his actions that he knows when he’s done wrong and should truly be sorry.

Themes: Coming of age, Relationships, Middle School

Additional Info:

Series Info: The first book in an ongoing series. At this writing, currently up to 7 released/announced titles.

Awards: New York Times best seller for 114 weeks, ALA Notable Book, recipient of multiple Kids’ Choice awards.

Main Character:

Greg Heffley: The writer of the journal, and an avid cartoonist. Greg is a normal middle school student, dealing with all of the changes that are happening to him in stride. His relationships are shifting with friends and family because of decisions he is making, and usually not in positive ways. His biggest downfall is an inability to admit when he is wrong, but he is also very self-centered (like most adolescents).

Bibliographic Info:

Kinney, J. (2007). Diary of a Wimpy Kid. New York: Abrams.

Tagline:

Greg Heffley’s just a normal guy, trying to get through middle school one day at a time.

Discussion: “Tough Issues” and the Importance of Advocacy

Bridge to Terabithia is a story about death. And not just death, but the passing of someone incredibly close to you, your best friend. For a lot of children, their first experience with death may be a distant relative that they did not know well and will not really miss in any every-day way. But for the others, who deal for the first time with the loss of a family member or friend (or even a pet) who was an important influence in their lives, this is going to be a very confusing and disorienting time. Jess’s reaction to Leslie’s passing goes through multiple stages of grief, and even though that portion of the book is rather short and not explained in great detail, it is explained vividly and in words that tweens can understand. Jess’s reactions range from confusion to disbelief to severe sadness to acceptance, with lots of thoughts both nice and ugly in between. The fact is that we all as humans will act unpredictably when faced with a great loss. It can be comforting to see an example of someone facing that same loss and not knowing which way is up, how they should feel or what they should do.

To me, knowledge is comfort. At any point in my life that I am feeling anxious about a situation, I try to learn as much as a I can about what is going on or what has caused it or what will probably happen from said situation so that I can prepare/react accordingly and put my mind at ease. It would be hard for me to believe that others don’t act in this same manner, benefiting from learning about what is happening to them or others around them in their world.

The articles I read this week had to do with various tough issues. A study on bullying (Villarica, 2010) revealed that the peak years for bullying are actually from 10-13, and the most popular kind has to do with relational aggression. Not surprisingly, there is also a correlation, between popularity and the amount of bullying one can get away with, and also how bullying can make non-popular students even less so. The study pointed out that often those who are victimized by the bullying of popular kids often go on bully others. These children can be very difficult to deal with, and are therefore often the only individuals in the cycle to get caught and be punished for their actions. The study pointed to the difficulties that these students are dealing with and the importance of letting these victimized students know that they are not alone in their hardships and that things will get better. One way for us to do that is to offer students both nonfiction and fiction resources that will let them see examples of how they are not alone, and how the cycle can be broken and they can emerge from it none the worse for wear.

In her lecture for this week, our professor stressed the importance of making the library a space where kids can receive access, respect, and support. I cannot agree more that these are by far the three things that children in the tween years need more than anything else. Give a child respect, show them that their thoughts and feelings are important, and you will learn so much about that individual that you would never have otherwise been given access to. By having that relationship with them, they will be less fearful of asking questions and gaining a more complete access to those offerings you have for them. All of this can act as a vital part of their support system, but that will hopefully extend beyond the library walls and into the other important places in their lives. We can only help them when they are under our roofs, and when they are there we need to make sure that we are giving them our all are ready and willing to act as their voice when they otherwise would not be heard.

 

Villarica, H. (2010, December 3). The tricky politics of tween bullying. Time Magazine. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/03/adolescents-anonymous-are-tweens-the-new-mean-girls/

Youth and Technology: The Search Is Concluding ::I Hope::

I just heard back from my instructor that both the more informal collection of case studies that I already found (and read through, and took notes on) and the articles that I keep finding about video games being used to promote information literacy with undergraduate students are going to be appropriate for my assignment! Allowing myself a quick breath of relief, knowing that the hours I spent finding nothing but these kinds of articles were not in vain and the end is in sight for this part of the abstracting assignment, before plunging in again.

Right now, I’m mostly looking forward to getting to read that article about the zombie apocalypse game that a Florida university created to help incoming students become familiar with their on-campus library, and having it actually count for something.

Zombies, here I come.

Bridge to Terabithia

 

Author: Katherine Paterson

Age Range: 9-12

Interest Range: 9-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Jess wants nothing more than to be the fastest boy in the 5th grade. He’s even been practicing running all summer long. But when the school year begins, there’s a new girl in school who changes everything. Leslie insists on running with the boys on the first day of school, and easily beats them all. Worst of all, Leslie is Jess’s new neighbor. He’s the only person in school that she knows, and she persistently follows him and talks to him until he realizes that they really are friends. Jess and Leslie understand each other better than any of the other kids in school, and they even create their own magical world: Terabithia. In this land, Jess and Leslie are King and Queen, and no one can touch them. This book is about the story of their friendship, and what can happen when someone comes into your life who understands you to the fullest.

Review: I never read this story as a child, and I managed to stay away from the movie too since I knew that one day I would want to sit down and take it all in. The story is sad, but not as deeply so as I feared it would be (EVERY person who saw me reading this book immediately responded with “Oh! I loved that book. [pause] It’s SO sad.”). The way that Jess is eventually able to come to grips with Leslie’s passing is inspiring and definitely admirable. People much older than him have a much harder time dealing with death, and I see his realization that he will never forget his friend is moving in an uplifting way. This book is appropriate for any child in this age group, and works as a solid way to introduce the idea of losing someone at close range, someone other than a family member like a possibly distant grandparent or great-aunt.

Themes: Coming of age, Making new friends, Overcoming fears

Additional Info:

Awards: Newbery  winner, 1978

Main Character:

Jesse: A 10-year-old boy from a struggling family who struggles with finding his identity in a school and family full of people that he cannot relate to. Jess is a talented artist, with no one to encourage him other than his music teacher (who only visits the school one day a week, and who Jess only sees for 30 minutes in class). His creativity is encouraged further by becoming friends with Leslie, who also pushes him to face his fears and anxieties.

Leslie: The new neighbor, Leslie’s parents have come to the country because they felt it would be good for them all to simplify their lives. They have no financial problems, but have chosen not to own a TV (a source of embarrassment for Leslie at school when her classmates find out). Leslie acts as if she has no fears, is incredibly smart, and lacks any friends in this new town other than Jess.

Bibliographic Info:

Paterson, K. (1977). Bridge to Terabithia. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Tagline:

Jess wants to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, for his father to notice him, and to be able to draw in peace. But then he meets Leslie, and everything changes.

Youth and Technology: The Search Continues

I need to go on record now to admit that the search for my first two articles did not really end with the articles I thought I had (at the end of my last post). It turned out that there were some issues with those two, which I discovered the next day as a sat down to review the articles and write my first attempts at abstracts. One of the articles was something that I could not gain access to. The other list of articles by Levine ended up being full special editions of professional journals that she had overseen and put together. While they definitely contained cast studies that would have been helpful for my topic, these were editions of journals that I could find no more than 10-page samples of for free.

For my second round of looking for more articles concerning Video Games and Libraries, I got rather lucky. For our Week 6 readings, one of the articles (Dresang, Gross & Holt, 2007) discussed technology and its use in the library environment, mostly dealing with the question of whether or not there really is a gender gap any longer when it comes to younger children and their experience/comfort level with computers. Along the way, there were a few articles cited that referenced video games. I also spent some quality time with the list of cited articles/studies after I finished reading the article to gain some starting search points for my second round of article round-ups. There were two studies done by Sandvig that had to do with young children and how they use public libraries for play, which often involves video game usage. I was able to locate both of those articles rather easily through Google Scholar, and after skimming them I will be looking at them in more detail to abstract them this week.

It was brought up in class this week that we really should only be using articles from peer-reviewed journals and that are primary research articles- reporting their own findings. One of the articles I ended up with last week was definitely secondary research, describing a bunch of different studies on video games and their potential usage in libraries to advance the learning process. Because of this, I was going to need to find a third article this week to read and abstract for my group so that I don’t fall behind. Finding this third article, I used a slightly different process than last time.

I started by using Google scholar and looking up the remaining articles from my list of works cited in the Dresang, Gross & Holt article. These particular articles were not specific to libraries, but because they had to do with video games and education or learning processes they were not too far off. I would start by looking for a specific article, scanning through the list of returned results, and then sometimes adding in the search term of Library or Libraries to see how the list changed. Any remaining articles, I would pull up and scan through the abstracts. If the abstract seemed like it was in the same vein, but not exactly something dealing with Libraries* then I would go back to the original list of search results and see how many works cited that particular article. Google Scholar does this wonderful thing where you can go the opposite direction of looking though the works cited in an article and instead look at a list of articles that have cited the work in question. If you click on the hyperlink, it will pull up links to the articles that have cited your original article. This function was new to me, and through a series of trial and error attempts, I eventually found a third article for this week.

Seeing the connections between studies and articles is very helpful. It’s a newer search strategy to me, and I can see why it works so well. If an article is talking about your topic, it has probably cited other works that will be pertinent to your own study or will have been cited by others that would also work for you. My new search strategy is to use subject terms to find a list of articles to start from, then look through cited works and the articles that are citing those. It can be strenuous to keep track of which direction you have gone and what articles you have already looked at, but also reassuring to see the same names coming up again and again. Obviously these people are all in the same field of interest, and it’s almost like finding your niche in a classroom. Like having your own new study group. I’m starting to feel at home among my search lists, and it feels good.

*I have to make sure that I’m looking for and using articles that specifically deal with video games in a library environment because another member of my Youth and Technology class group has decided to look at video game usage in education. We clarified with each other that she would stick to classrooms and I would stay with libraries so that we don’t have to worry about overlapping and potentially using the same articles.

Dresang, E. T., Gross, M., & Holt, L. (2007). New perspectives: An analysis of gender, net generation children, and computers. Library Trends, 56(2), 360-386.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

 

Author: Barry Deutsch

Age Range: 11-14

Interest Range: 11-14

Format: Graphic Novel

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Mirka lives in a town called Hereville, where everyone practices Orthodox Judaism. She is mostly happy with her big family and normal life, but the one thing she really wants is to slay dragons. And to do that, she’ll need a sword. One day, Mirka is tyring to help her young brother Zindel with some bullies from school when she happens upon a witch’s house. When she takes some of her siblings to see the house, she steals a grape from the witch’s garden and gains the wrath of the witch’s pet pig. It follows her around for days and eats her homework until she takes matters into her own hands. Mirka convinces the pig to stop terrorizing her, and eventually saves the pig from harm. The witch decides to thank Mirka by telling her how she can find a sword, and that is where her adventure truly begins.

Review: I originally found Hereville when it was just a webcomic. When the book was finally made, I never got around to finding it to see the finished product but I really appreciate what Deutsch has done. He has created a character who is believable, makes mistakes, and gets angry. She also introduces readers to the world of orthodox Judaism as something completely normal. The dialogue slips into Yiddish at times, and the translations are right there for you. The in-depth description of Shabbos (the Sabbath when no work is allowed to be done) is nicely handled- not too many details, but enough that you understand the meaning behind it and see its merits along with some of its quirks. And Mirka uses her words to get her sword, not violence, showing that you don’t necessarily have to be big and powerful to grow to fight dragons- and you certainly don’t have to be a man, no matter what her brother says.

Themes: Coming of age

Additional Info:

Adapted to book form from a webcomic. A second Mirka story is coming out soon: How Mirka Met A Meteorite.

Main Character:

Mirka: An 11-year old Orthodox Jewish girl who falls asleep while knitting, loves to argue with her stepmother, doesn’t care about finding a husband, and wants to fight dragons.

Bibliographic Info:

Deutsch, B. (2010). Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. New York: Amulet Books.

Tagline:

Mirka doesn’t want to learn to knit or find a husband. She wants to find a sword so that she can fight dragons!

The Night Fairy

 

Author: Laura Amy Schlitz

Age Range: 7-11 (publisher info)

Interest Range: 7-10 (possibly older if an individual really interested in fairies)

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Flory is a night fairy, but after an accidental run-in with a bat she loses her wings and is stranded in a human’s garden. Partly because of her new fear of bats and partly because of the beautiful flowers that surround her, Flory decides to become a day fairy. She enjoys the colors and the life that exists during the day and explores her new world, making friends with a squirrel, who she names Skuggle, so she can get around easier. Eventually, Flora discovers hummingbirds and decides that she wants to tame one to use as her own. Flora’s adventures in the garden are how she learns about the world around her. She discovers spells and makes a new life for herself as a day fairy. But when she learns the truth about the accident that took her wings, Flory will have a very important choice to make.

Review: Flory is a young fairy who has not learned manners and is still discovering her powers and abilities. In that way, she may be a good character for children to read about. She is often rude, although she does not know what rudeness is so the only way it is punished is that she might not get what she wants. She is left alone and has to fend for herself, and does so rather successfully. She also is faced with potentially dangerous situations (pretty much everything is dangerous when you’re only two acorns tall) and has to work her way out of them. I was not terribly fond of this story. It seemed very basic and straightforward, and Flory’s rudeness and desire to control things was a big turn-off for me. For a reader who needs a simple story to follow, this would be a good choice.

Themes: Coming of age, Making new friends

Additional Info:

This author previously won the Newberry Award in 2008 for her nonfiction title Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From A Medieval Village.

Main Character:

Flory: A very young fairy who has lost her wings and is left to fend for herself. She is of the night, but decides to live during the day even though it is against her nature. Flory is quick to learn how to survive and easily makes a home for herself in a birdhouse supplied unknowingly by the human who’s garden she is now inhabiting. Flory is often rude and does not like to do anything that will not get her something in return.

Bibliographic Info:

Schlitz, L. A. (2010). The Night Fairy. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.

Tagline:

Pretty much everything is dangerous when you’re only two acorns tall. Flory, a young fairy, must learn to survive without her wings.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

 

Author: Tom Angleberger

Age Range: 8-12 (from Kirkus)

Interest Range: 8-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Tommy is trying to figure out if Origami Yoda is real. Not whether or not it exists (it obviously exists- it’s folded paper!), but whether or not the advice it has been giving to the students at his school is coming from it or the weird kid, Dwight, who created it. Should he trust the advice of this little piece of paper? In order to find out, Tommy has collected stories from many of his classmates who have taken the advice of Origami Yoda to compile a case file. After each story, Harvey gives an argument as to why Origami Yoda obviously can’t be real in this case, followed by Tommy’s own observations of the event. The result is a very fun read told in many different voices- those of Tommy, his friends, and random students throughout the school. In the end, is Origami Yoda really something magic, or is Dwight just smarter than he seems?

Review:I had been writing this book off for some time, because I just figured it was another take on the fad for young male readers that seemed to ignite with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but I also was interested in reading it just to see why so many kids were flocking to the latest title in the series (the Fortune Wookiee) in our bookstore. This book was great. Not only was the storyline well-planned and quick to follow, but you get to hear about all of the insecurities and frustrations that these young sixth grade boys are going through. Angleberger keeps it very real, and I think young boys and girls can appreciate this. Plus, it’s all wrapped up in a fun Star Wars package. Any child who has seen the movies will enjoy the references and attempts to do Yoda impressions. All around, a great read for both avid and reluctant readers alike.

Themes: Coming of age

Additional Info:

Series: This book is the first in a series. Other titles include: Darth Paper Strikes Back, and The Secret of the Fortune Wookie.

Main Character:

Tommy: A sixth grade boy, who likes a sixth grade girl named Sara. Origami Yoda has tried to tell him that she likes him too, but can he really believe the advice coming from a piece of folded paper? This is something too serious to take lightly, so Tommy decides to make a case file to investigate whether Origami Yoda’s advice is real.

Dwight: The strangest of Tommy’s classmates. Very socially awkward. The creator of Origami Yoda, and the one through whom Origami Yoda speaks his wisdom.

Harvey: The nay-sayer. Harvey does not believe a word of what Origami Yoda says and is convinced that Dwight is making it all up. He eventually makes his own Origami Yoda to disprove the entire thing.

Sara: The object of Tommy’s affections. She is a believer in Origami Yoda.

Bibliographic Info:

Angleberger, T. (2010). The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. New York: Amulet Books.

Tagline

A folded-up piece of paper resembling Yoda gives students advice about how to solve their problems, or does he?

Dancing Home

Authors: Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel Zubizarreta

Age Range: 8-12 (from Kirkus)

Interest Range: 8-12

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot: Margie is American. She wants everyone to know that she is definitely NOT Mexican. She was born here and even though her parents were born in Mexico, she prefers to speak English and leave all traces of her heritage behind. But then her mother invites her Mexican cousin Lupe to live with them in their California home. All of a sudden the kids at school are mocking her again for her heritage, and now she has to share her parents and her home with another Mexican- someone more like her parents that she is these days. If only Lupe spoke English, or was more interested in American things. Who will win out? Will Margie convince her cousin to embrace America, or will Lupe remind her cousin why she should be proud of her Mexican heritage?

Review: This book was a very interesting look at how young children in immigrant families feel about their personal heritage. I can only imagine how hard it would be to find an identity when your parents are from another country and you are facing peer pressure at school to conform to the norms of our society. You really would have to lead two separate lives. Seeing the two girls and hearing both of their internal voices side by side really allows the reader to feel what each character is experiencing- either an entirely new way of life, or remembering to embrace the one your family has left behind. The friendship and mutual respect that the girls form for each other is inspiring.

Themes: Coming of age

Additional Info:

Main Character:

Margie: A fifth-grader who lives with her Mexican immigrant parents in northern California. She has wanted nothing but to fit in at school and has taken every step she can think of to do so: speaking nothing but English, insisting on getting her hair permed, and responding only to Margie (instead her full name, Margarita). She is not very keen on her cousin living with her family and having to share her parents with another child.

Lupe: Born in Mexico, her father had left the family behind to go north to America. Instead of sending them money and trying to get them to come with him, he stops contacting them and eventually starts a new family. Lupe’s aunt invites her to come and live with them in America, and Lupe agrees even though she is afraid. She remains very proud of her heritage while she learns English and adjusts to her new life.

Bibliographic Info:

Flor Ada, A. & Zubizarreta, G. (2011). Dancing Home. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Tagline

One should always be proud of who they are and where they have come from.