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Choosing Privacy: Who’s Tracking You?


May 1st to May 7th , 2013 is Choose Privacy week.  The purpose of Choose Privacy Week is to raise awareness about privacy rights in this digital age. The American Library Association established Choose Privacy Week in 2010. This year they invite everyone to answer the question “Who’s tracking you?” In this technological era, our personal information is easy to access. Every time you search online or make an online purchase, a traceable record is kept. Government agencies also have the power to track your phone calls, airline travel and online purchases. The legal system has lagged behind in updating any privacy laws concerning privacy online. The government’s last major privacy law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, was passed in 1986.

Choose Privacy Week believes that everyone should have the right to know who is collecting his or her information. “People who understand how personal data is generated, collected, stored, and used are better equipped to take control of their personal data and demand accountability from the agencies and corporations that store and use their information,” says Barbara Jones, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom. Choose Privacy week will feature a week-long online forum with an introduction by Barbara Jones. Guest Commentators will include Khaliah Barns of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Mitra Ebadolahi of the ACLU National Security Project and many more.

For more information please visit: or inquire in your library!

By Norma R. ’14

Posted in Did You Know?, Student Work, Technology0 Comments

7th Grader Publishes a Book!

Do you know what a GUK is? Do you enjoy reading mysteries or learning random facts? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s time for you to learn something new and get hooked on mysteries (may I recommend Gukky Tales: The Quest for the Golden Quarter?). If you answered “yes” or something similar to any of the questions above, then I would also recommend you to check out Gukky Tales: The Quest for the Golden Quarter by Katie Mishra (unless you’ve already read it of course, but who doesn’t love reading a good book twice?). Katie is a 7th grader at Casti and she loves to hang out with her family and friends, dive and cook. She also hopes to inspire other young writers. According to her, this book is about Becka Donovan, an 11 year old girl and “the story of her summer adventure when she searches for clues to locate the mysterious ‘Golden Quarter’.” To quote a review from Amazon, “This book was so gripping I couldn’t put it down! It had a well-developed plotline, with clever clues and subtle hints throught the hunt. It included places from all over the country, so it had a very varied setting. There was a nice balance of chase scenes and quieter ones. The scenery was also fantastic! I highly recommend this book to middle-grade readers.” To learn more about Katie Mishra and her writing process, read the Q&A session below. Otherwise, go check out the book at our library!

(Article and interview by Sophia N. ’13)

What inspired you?

When I went to pitch-a-palooza (a contest for writers who had written a book, first prize having your book published) in March 2011, the judges Ariel and David definitely inspired me. After I won honorable mention, they agreed to help me for free with my book and came to my house once during the summer.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me about two years to write my book, starting at pitch-a-palooza to about February 2013. Although less than a year of that was writing, and the rest editing over and over again.

What was the process of getting published?

At first I wanted my book to be professionally published and work with the judges, but they told me otherwise. They said that if all the stars aligned (which is pretty hard to do in book publishing, especially for an 11 year old) it would take till I was in the middle of high school before anyone would even think of publishing it for me. Therefore, they suggested CreateSpace online. CreateSpace is totally free for basic needs that I wanted, cover creation, inside, and a few other things. Also, for small fees you can have a professional cover made, editing, and even more. It’s very user friendly and perfect for self-publishing, after you are done creating your book and the layout it is even put up on Amazon!

What advice do you have for students who want to be writers?

That there is no rule to writing, nothing has to be perfect because it is simply a work of imagination. Sometimes your fingers will fly over the keyboard or sometimes you’ll bang your head against them. Throughout you just have to persevere, and if you do you’ll be rewarded with something great then you could ever fathom.

What have you learned through the process of writing a whole novel? Were there surprises? What would you do differently next time?

I’ve learned many things, the first and foremost to ALWAYS have an outline. I found that when I didn’t have an outline everything went haywire and off-track and the story could simply not progress. I also learned that editing is a process you just have to deal with. Of course, I, as all writers do, thought my story was ‘perfect and couldn’t be changed’ let’s just say the editors thought otherwise. Over time I learned to deal with all the edits and accept them to further embrace my writing.

Posted in Student Work, Reviews & Recommendations, Cool Stuff0 Comments

Cassandra Clare is Coming to the Bay Area!

Cassandra Clare, author of the bestselling series The Mortal Instruments (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls), and The Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince) is about to release a much-anticipated new book. Clockwork Princess, the final volume in The Infernal Devices, will be released on March 19th, 2013.  To celebrate and promote this new book she’s traveling around the country in a bus wrapped in graphics from its cover, as well as graphics from the upcoming movie version of The City of Bones, which is scheduled to be released in August of this year. Here’s a link to the official trailer for the movie.

Kepler’s Books is organizing Cassandra Clare’s visit to our area. She’ll be speaking at Menlo-Atherton high school performing arts center on Saturday March 23rd at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and they may well sell out, so go to this link to reserve yours.

Posted in Author Visit, Cool Stuff0 Comments

Get the Inside Scoop on Online Learning

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Have you noticed a rise in online learning in recent years? You may even know someone who goes to school online.  If you have come across me in the library, then you do.  I go to school at SJSU for a degree of a Masters in Library Sciences.  The whole program is online.  This is very common for Library Sciences programs due to the technical nature of the degree.  But what about other programs?  Just about every major university is now launching at least some online classes.  This is true for homeschooled kids as well and even kids who go to a traditional school, but want to augment their education.  For example, there are some Castilleja students who have done the EPGY Program (school for gifted kids through Stanford) or OHS (the Stanford online high school which you can take full time or part time).

Or maybe you have been on iTunes lately and seen iTunes U.  This is an app in which you can download lectures from a plethora of universities. You can attend Yale or Columbia for free!

There are many reasons why online programs have become a popular form of education today. The online environment offers unprecedented opportunities for people who would otherwise have limited access to education, as well as a new archetype for educators in which vibrant courses of the highest quality can be developed.  Some of the benefits of online learning are:

  • Anywhere learning
  • Anytime learning
  • Any pace learning (especially helpful for those with learning differences)
  • Rich dialogue between students on discussion boards
  • Cost effective
  • Student centered (carve out your own learning plan)
  • Creative teaching is supported

Although there are many positive aspects to online learning, there are some drawbacks as well:

  • Lack of live social connections
  • Technology glitches
  • Syncing up with other students for group projects
  • Lack of a community feeling (sometimes, but this is being addressed in many programs)
  • Computer literacy & cost (one must have these to succeed)

So although it is still a new concept and opinions vary from person to person, online learning looks like it’s here to stay.  Below is a link to an article that was just published in the Stanford news regarding this topic.  Check it out!

By Heather B., Parent Volunteer Extraordinaire

Posted in Cool Stuff, Technology1 Comment

A Fan Girl Shares Her Love for John Green (VIDEO!)

Junior Libby B. talks about The Fault In Our Stars. You know you want to watch it full screen.

(note: you may need to turn the volume up on the video player 🙂 )

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Download Video

Posted in Student Work, Reviews & Recommendations, Video0 Comments

Blogs Get the Word Out

Have you ever wanted to start your own blog? Tweens and teens all over the world are blogging everyday.  Blogger, WordPress, Livejournal, and Tumblr are all free websites in which you can set up a blog within minutes.  Blogging is a great way to stay in touch with people, express your self, vent, stand up for a cause, or just have fun.

Check out some of these teen blogs from around the world and start one your self!  You may even recognize one of these controversial bloggers (her mom is Madonna.)

By Awesome Parent Volunteer Heather B.

Posted in Cool Stuff, Technology0 Comments