Category Archives: Database

Mango Languages (database)

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mango languages

Mango Languages database

Overview: This database provides tutorials for learning a variety of languages, like Spanish, German, Japanese, even English for English Language Learners. It operates similarly to Rosetta, in that you are learning the more conversational elements of the language. The site describes its software thusly, “Mango uses real-life situations and actual conversations to more effectively teach a new language. By listening to and repeating after material designed from native conversations, you’ll not only learn the individual words and phrases, you’ll know how they’re used in practical situations and conversations. You’ll learn more than grammar, vocabulary and conjugation, you’ll learn how to communicate.” The lessons start with introductory conversations and first play native speakers in the language. Then they break it down by word, and allow you to practice saying the words and comparing your voice to what it should sound like.

Critical Evaluation: One of the cool features I got to try during this tutorial was a wave sound representation. To compare your pronunciation with the correct pronunciation, they show you what a native speaker’s sound representation looks like, as compared to yours. It doesn’t seem as helpful as having a physical person to correct you or tell you how you are pronouncing it wrong, but with a little interpretation I could see that I was putting too much emphasis on the second part of the word, while native speakers have more emphasis at the beginning. They also quiz you immediately after learning the word, which ensures that you are practicing right away.

In a lot of ways, this can’t really compare to learning the language from another human, and I do think that Rosetta involves more human interaction, albeit through chat groups, but I imagine that this would help a lot to be certain that your words are understood. However, as a service offered for free to patrons, I think this has a good concept of how it is that people actually learn languages and get good enough to be able to use them. In contrast to some of my language classes in school, I got a lot of theoretical knowledge of the language, but had no practical concept of how to use it. As I continue to search around the site, I see that there are two tracks for learning: the basic, which takes a few hours and gives you simple practical skills, and the complete, which would incorporate comprehensive language and grammar skills. I think having both options will be very useful and allow users to find the track which better suits their present needs.

Reader’s Annotation: Learn languages your way! Choose whether you want basic conversational skills, or if you want to learn the language and grammar skills for a better understanding of the language. Great for helping with your language class or before you go on vacation.

Information about the providers: Mango Languages is the name of the company that provides this service. They are based in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Genre: Language Learning Database

Curriculum ties, if any: This has a direct correlation with what teens will learn in their language classes, and could be used to tie into class work or as an extension of what is done in class.

Booktalking Ideas: I would encourage teens to use this software to learn languages for fun, or if they need additional assistance with their class. I might demonstrate the page using a fun language, like Pirate.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Mango Languages is designed for older learners. There is also a Little Pim service for children. So this version is best suited for adults and teens.

Challenge Issues: None.

Why did you include this database? : I mention it for this database because I think that high school students in language classes will find it particularly helpful.

Reference Page:

User Dashboard (2013). Mango Languages. Retrieved from http://libraries.mangolanguages.com/dashboard (Need to create an account to see this page, but similar information is on commercial website.)

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Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center database

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ferguson's

Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center (database)

Overview: This database provides access to a variety of information about job hunting, particular job profiles, and internship opportunities. Pages on job profiles contain an overview and history of the type of job, information about what the job entails, what kind of schooling is required, typical earning, work environment, and the outlook for getting a job in that field. There are also lists of the highest paying jobs, the most in demand jobs, and the fastest growing jobs. Some pages have videos included as well, like the page discussing good interview habits. Career skills are also provided so that readers can begin to hone the skills that will help them in the workplace. Under the Resources section of the page is information for specific groups of people, like those with disabilities or women, and information about college planning and financial aid. In short, this website has a bevy of resources for teens to plan for college, jobs while in high school, and future careers.

Critical Evaluation: Most sections on this website are written in paragraph form, and separated by some subject headers. This makes it more difficult to skim however, since teens need to read more closely to find the information they are interested in. Articles are written in fairly plain language, which will make it easier for teens to absorb all the information presented. The directory of summer jobs is organized by interest and within are options for jobs, internships, and apprenticeships that appear to be recurring. Some actually seem to be more like study abroad terms, and require the intern to pay to participate, or for their room and board. From my own perspective, I wasn’t sure how to find library jobs on the website. That didn’t come up under government jobs, or literary jobs. I found it after searching specifically for it. For that specific career, there was a summary of important information on the right side that I found very helpful.

Despite some difficulty sorting through information, it seems like a valuable resource for teens to explore as they are thinking about their future. Perhaps if more teens were aware of what kind of jobs exist and what is required to get those jobs, they would think more before going to college or even graduating from high school about what they are interested in and best suited to do.

Reader’s Annotation: Planning for college or a job is easier with Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center. Check it out for resources on interview and workplace skills, the best paying and most in demand jobs, and specifics about different jobs.

Information about the source: This database is provided by Facts on File.

Genre: Database

Curriculum ties, if any: This will be a helpful resource for guidance counselors.

Booktalking Ideas: Whether teens are looking for information for college or a summer job, this can provide both specific opportunities for employment and more general information about careers. I think more ambitious and forward thinking teens will be interested without too much prodding, while others can be motivated to look at it by the potential for money.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  I believe older teens would be more interested in this resource, since older teens may be looking for jobs, or thinking about what kind of work they would like to do in the future.

Challenge Issues: None.

Why did you include this database? : This is valuable information for teens to have access to and be acquainted with.

Issues and Controversies database

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issues and controversies

Issues and Controversies (database)

Overview: For students that have to debate on a topic, or need to provide a balanced view of a current issue or controversy, this database can be of great assistance. The front page highlights particular issues in the headlines that might be of interest. You can also search by keywords, limiting information to a certain date range and by where it pulls the keyword from, making this a similar way to search as Google, though with more options for limiting results. It also provides resources for students like how to cite sources and create topical timelines, and for educators on how to use this service. Lists of possible topics for study contain a summary of the issue, additional sub-topics within that subject, articles, pictures, other places to contact for information, and a bibliography.

Critical Evaluation: In contrast to the Opposing Viewpoints, the structure of these pages is a little more confusing and difficult to skim. Each page does offer a summary of each side of the argument at the top, but further information is written in a longer piece that provides background information and statistics, and then goes into more detail about the differing opinions on the subject. There are links on the side of the page with overviews, news articles on the subject, and related articles, which might allow a student to pull primarily from this database for a basic assignment or more detailed one.

The resources specifically for students seem rather useful, and compile materials not specific to an opposing viewpoints assignment. There are articles on presenting your research such as writing and delivering a speech or how to avoid plagiarism. This section provides helpful bullet points that are further divided into a section so that teens can skim for the information most relevant. There are also resources on how to analyze and understand information, like editorial cartoons, or online sources. If students utilize these resources instead of just the straight facts, it could improve their future research and writing and presenting skills, but I suspect they are not as widely used as the other information.

Interestingly enough, there are tabs at the top of the website for encyclopedia, almanac, and curriculum tools. They did not seem as related to the purpose of the website, but do provide additional information on other potential subjects. The almanac has categories to search, but the encyclopedia does not, making it slightly less user friendly in my eyes, since I’m not sure what is available there.

Reader’s Annotation: Students looking for a controversial topic and a look at both sides of the argument can turn to Issues and Controversies for a variety of topics and plenty of balanced information.

Information about the source: Issues and Controversies is provided by Facts on Files Services.

Genre: Database

Curriculum ties, if any: This will be a helpful resource in history or sociology classes, and for class debates.

Booktalking Ideas: I don’t imagine that teens will necessarily flock to this resource without needing it for homework, so I would emphasize the ways that this can help students find resources for homework and advice on preparing it.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  The writing style will make this more understandable to older users, but I think it will be a valuable resource to people of a variety of ages, and not only teens.

Challenge Issues: None.

Why did you include this database? : Most high school students need to show that they can critically look at an issue and write or present a persuasive argument. This provides a cohesive place to get information on a variety of topics, and find additional resources if needed.

Novelist (database)

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novelist

Novelist (database)

Overview: Novelist is a database of books and connections between those books. It provides suggestions for read-a-likes, as well as lists of titles that share subjects, types of characters, settings, or time periods. There are several ways to search books. There are lists of recommended reads by category, such as adventure fiction, best of 2012, sports stories, or realistic fiction. There is also a search option to look for a particular author, book, or description, and ways to search by elements of a particular title.

Critical Evaluation: Novelist is one of my go to resources at the library when I get a “What should I read next” question. It provides ideas of connections to look for between books, lists of similar books, and options for searching, like only pulling up award titles, even book discussion guides. I find most entries have enough information to satisfy teens with pictures of the cover, number of pages, and descriptions of the book, as well as parents looking for the right level for their teen.

I do have two issues with Novelist. One is that it does not always have the book I am looking for. This, I’ll admit, is an unavoidable problem, as few places have every single book listed, much less cross indexed with other similar titles. The other is that some read-a-likes provided have very superficial connections with the original books. However, it seems the quality of connections is improving. I now see more reasoning for connections being written by individuals as opposed to being computer generated. Even when the particular choices given do not exactly match what I am looking for in a read-a-like, Novelist also provides search options that allow you to search for other titles that match the genre, storyline, tone, writing style, subject, and other applicable options. While I have occasionally been so specific that the only book that comes up is the same one I searched in the first place, with some practice, this is an invaluable tool for the reader’s advisor who has trouble remembering everything she read.

Reader’s Annotation: When you’re looking for the next book to read, Novelist can help. It provides lists of similar titles, award winners, and search options for read-a-likes.

Information about the source: Novelist is powered by Ebsco Industries.

Genre: Database

Curriculum ties, if any: Best suited for a literature class, however you can also search nonfiction books, so it could be used for history projects as well.

Booktalking Ideas: When talking to teens about why they should use this database, I would point out that sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what to read next, and Novelist provides an easier way to search lists of books and see what elements you might have liked about a book and what other books share those same elements. You can also search by lexile level, which at least in my area, is very helpful for some students.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Novelist has adult, teen, ages 9-12, and ages 0-8 sections.

Challenge Issues: None.

Why did you include this database? : It is one that I frequently use at work and I find that in general, it provides helpful suggestions.