Teen Blog

03/19/2013 - 12:48pm
On Becoming a Fearless Computer User

From 2000-2003 I was a creative writing major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a university most well-known for its schools of engineering and computer science.  Guess I could have thought that decision through a little better, but I’m glad I didn’t.  I even lived in a private dorm adjacent to the engineering campus, Hendrick House, surrounded by some of the strangest, most intelligent and most wonderful people I’ve ever known, almost all of them engineers.  When I arrived at UIUC, I knew the bare bones of computering—how to type, how to use a Web browser, how to use a word processor, and play a few games, but not much else.  However, over the course of three years living with these technological elite, I picked up more than a few tricks not only about using computers, but about how to fearlessly teach myself more.  And now I pass that on to you.  

Attaining fearlessness in the face of learning more about the computer lies in the art of reversibility.  The most common fear my students express is that they will press the wrong keys or click the wrong thingies and destroy their computers.  I try to assure them this is highly unlikely, but that discomfort still remains. Certainly I felt that way 10 years ago.  I discovered over time that there are particular steps you need to take to ensure that, if the worst happens and your computer stops working, you can back out of your mistake or recover your computer.  With the following steps accomplished, you’ll find that you feel much less hesitant about stepping outside your comfort zone.

03/12/2013 - 12:19pm
My Boyfriend's Family by Alexanna Hengy

For our 18th Annual Teen Art Show we had a total of 87 pieces of art submitted:  18 from Grades 9-10, and 69 from Grades 11-12. There were 63 individual artists represented:  13 form Grades 9-10, 50 from Grades 11-12.

And the winners are ...
 

View this slideshow for all winning works (displayed in order). You can also view all winning works on Flickr.
 

Best In Show

Savannah Patterson for Luminescence - Massaponax High School 

Grades 11-12

1st Place: Alexanna Hengy for My Boyfriend's Family - Chancellor High School 
 
2nd Place: Summer Shank for Ladytron - Chancellor High School 
 
3rd Place: John Sampson for Amidst the Isolation - Saint Michael High School 
 
03/11/2013 - 11:40am
Book cover of Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

The 7th and 8th Grade Cafe Book participants at Chancellor Middle School know a good book when they read one. Here are this year's favorites.

Top Pick:

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Monsters walk the streets of San Francisco and three teenaged descendants of Medusa in Greek mythology must reunite and embrace their fates to overcome them.

Other favorites:

Starters by Lissa Price The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans

Ultraviolet by R.J. AndersonApothecary by Maile Meloy Cold Cereal by Adam Rex

Starters by Lissa Price

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Cold Cereal by Adam Rex

Cafe Book is supported by a generous donation from the Carver family in memory of their mother Ruth -- middle school librarian, literacy advocate, and lover of reading.

03/11/2013 - 2:31am
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Alina Starkov has never felt like she belonged. Orphaned and adopted by a duke, Alina meets an equally parentless boy named Mal. The two are inseparable, referred to by the duke's servants as melenchki, little ghosts, as they giggle  throughout the vast house. Of course, such things cannot always stay the same.

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo, is set in an alternate version of pre-revolution Russia. In this nation, known as Ravka, the new world is starting to infringe on the old. It used to be the Grisha who maintained order. The Grisha are powerful beings who can manipulate living things, the elements, and metals as if using magic. New weaponry and a multiple-front war are changing all of that though.

02/21/2013 - 3:16pm
Ubuntu Linux and Firefox Company Logos

Tech is moving faster than ever and what we might still consider novel is, in fact, quite dated.  Do you realize that the iPhone and iPad mobile iOS operating system is close to six years old?  And Google’s Android is not much younger than that.  While both companies continue to innovate marginally, it’s safe to say we know roughly what to expect from both platforms, being as entrenched as they are.  Is the mobile market then ready for fresh competition or are newcomers (and a couple of “oldcomers”) just a flash in the pan against Apple and Google?

02/20/2013 - 2:52pm
Kindle Fire H D

The Kindle Fire HD really is a fine piece of mobile computing hardware.  Everything from the high-definition screen to the staggering Dolby audio fidelity to the grip of the device has been well thought-out.  It’s designed with media consumption in mind, with access not only to Amazon’s vast library of ebooks, music, movies, and TV, but also to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, and more.  And it’s cheap too, starting at $200 for a 16GB wifi variety.  It's a shame then that such a great device is paired with Amazon’s App Store, whose offerings are laughably, pitifully lacking when compared to the Google Play store.  What’s worse, you can’t put the Google Play store on the device without some serious Android hacking chops and voiding the warranty in the process.  But, if you or a friend own another Android device with access to the Google Play store, like an Android smartphone, there is a way around this!

02/18/2013 - 3:31am
Cover of In Darkness by Nick Lake

"In Darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
      One: I am alive,
      Two: there is no two."

In Darkness, by Nick Lake, is set in Haiti immediately after the devastating earthquake of 2010. It is the story of Shorty, a boy who has grown up in a violent slum of Port-au-Prince called The Site. But Shorty's life is somehow interwoven with the spirit of Touissant l'Ouverture, visionary leader of Haiti's slave revolution of 1791 to 1803.

02/11/2013 - 7:46am
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Darcy Jones has been bouncing from foster home to foster home around Chicago for most of her short life. She remembers nothing from her early childhood. She has finally managed to spend more than a year with a foster parent and finally has some friends at her high school.

Little does Darcy know that there is an alternate world just like this one as well as an alternate Chicago. But in that world, the Great Chicago Fire never happened. In that world, The Shadow Society remains a deadly threat.

When a mysterious new boy at school, Conn McCrea, captures Darcy’s attention... her heart soon follows. She is about to find out though that Conn is from that alternate world, and so is she.

02/05/2013 - 3:32am
Alanna: The First Adventure

Don’t you love the new year’s big events--the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and the American Library Association’s book awards?  

Last week, librarians everywhere eagerly watched this year’s announcements, hoping to hear that their favorites were selected.  Many shouted in exaltation, while others shook their fists at colleagues who didn’t make the choices we preferred.  Although I did a little of both, one announcement was particularly thrilling.  Tamora Pierce, one of my favorite authors, won the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.