Monthly Archives: May 2013

Audio Books just a Little Cooler

Audio books have been praised as being a positive literacy source for listening and speaking skills, as well as reading comprehension.  Young readers find that hearing the story  allows them for better understanding of the text, and helps develop their own reading skills.  But some audio book sites are limited on materials.  Tales2Go is an online site and app for iOs devices (costs about $99.99 for the year), that provides the user with over 2,000 audio books from reputable publishers and book distributors. 

“Tales2Go is an award-winning kids’ mobile audiobook service that streams thousands of name-brand titles from leading publishers and storytellers to mobile devices and desktops in the classroom and beyond” (“Tales2Go.” Tales2Go. Tales2Go Inc., 02 Feb 2013. Web. 28 May 2013.).  The reason why it is so successful is its simplicity.  Just select your title stream from any device and enjoy.  They have everything from popular titles, to the classics. And this is not limited to younger or just starting out readers. This will help older already established readers as well.



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Filed under apps, Books, Technology

Books that Will Read Themselves

Getting young readers interested in reading can be a difficult task, especially if they have trouble.  We all know that some the best things you can do is to read to them often, and have them read aloud to you.  It helps them feel more comfortable with the act of reading.  Also using picture books helps with the comprehension of the text, which will help the child feel more confident in their reading abilities.  But what if you were able to add sound or music?  How about animation?  How involved do you think the child will be now?

Introducing Tumble Book Library. “TumbleBookLibrary is an online collection of TumbleBooks – animated, talking picture books which teach kids the joy of reading in a format they’ll love. TumbleBooks are created by adding animation, sound, music and narration to existing picture books in order to produce an electronic picture book which you can read, or have read to you.” (“About the TumbleBookLibrary.” Tumble Book Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May

This site provides the user with a collection of licensed titles from publishers such as Candlewick Press, Simon and Schuster, Chronicle Books, and HarperCollins Publisher.  The program provides support for both independent readers and those who require additional support and skill building.  Perfect for classrooms where you can have unlimited access to the materials and even download the TumbleBooks unplugged app onto you mobile device (not available on iPods, mp3 players or copied to a CD).  This is the perfect resource for today’s digital reader and learner.


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Filed under Books, Reading, Technology

Your Class can be Published Authors

So I was talking to one of the art teachers in my school and she was telling me how her class is learning about some of the great artists.  They learned about different periods of art and some of the more influential members of those periods. Than they had to pick a period and pick another artist from that period to write a brief biography about them.  They had to also choose one piece of work and try to reproduce.  Their work would on one page (she was not asking them to recreate the Sistine Chapel or anything),  just a few sentences about the artist and then their best rendition of the painting, sculpture, print, etc.   This got me thinking, how cool would it be to put all of these pictures and bios into a book,  a real hardcover book?  It’s a fun idea, but a rather expensive one.  Until now.

urlSchool Mate Publishing allows you to choose from seven different templates that allows students to write on and create a picture, or just create a picture.  Send  in  the finished products, along with order  forms and everyone in the class will receive their own hardcover copy of a the class book.  And the teacher receives one for free.  Pricing is very reasonable too.  For a class set of 10 or more (must be a minimum of 10)  with each book being a maximum of 70 pages, for only $19.95 a book.   You spend more on a regular hardcover that your student didn’t create.  Think about it.

School Mate Publishing is fun and easy way to highlight some of the work your students do throughout the year.

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Flipping Out in the Classroom

Everyone is flipping out, but in a good way.  The Flipped Classroom has become the latest craze in education and I for one am a huge fan.  Now educators and focus more on practicing the materials taught and more guided research instead of spending entire class periods lecturing.  Students love it too!  Homework is no longer just read from the book, answer the questions or fill in the worksheet; now they watch a video answer questions or be prepared to discuss the next class period.

Science and Math classes are especially enjoying this model because it allows the teacher to show how to solve a problem or run an experiment and the student can view it as many times as needed until they understand the concept.  Language Arts teachers love this too, because they can show how a book  influences the movie version or show an interview with the author on why they choose this style of writing.  History teachers, how great would it be to show video of the actual debate between Nixon and Kennedy?

But I am getting overly excited again (like I said I am a fan).  My fellow educators have been asking me how to create this videos. I spoke once before about aTubecatcher, but I feel I need to mention a few others so that you don’t have to wait for post after post to learn about them. So here are some of the ones that I highly recommend for flipping your classroom.  Most require you to download the program, but Quicktime for Mac based products should already be available to you and is easy to use. Remember once you create you video or screen shot you need to save/upload it somewhere.  My school created a Wikispace, while other educators choose to use YouTube, SchoolTube, TeacherTube or  the blog of their choice.

Have fun! Now go flip out!

Screen Shot Programs
Screen Recording Programs

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Filed under Flipped Classroom, Movie, Presentation, Technology, Video

The Artist in All of Us

As I said before I was very happy to see that the book The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery Medal this year.  I recently read it again and I must say I found it more enjoyable the second time around.  Here is actually one of my favorite excerpts from the book and it reminds me of what it feels like to be a writer.  How your biggest supporters are always there for you now matter what.  And that even at young ages you sometimes just know you want to create.

I think I’ve always been an artist.

Even as a baby, still clinging to my mother, I had an artist’s eye. I saw shapes in the clouds, and sculptures in the tumbled stones at the bottom of a stream. I grabbed at colors–the crimson flower just out of reach, the ebony bird streaking past.

I don’t remember much about my early life, but I do remember this: Whenever I got the chance, I would dip my fingers into cool mud and use my mother’s back for a canvas.

She was a patient soul, my mother.

I do hope that you take the chance to read this book. It is brilliant.


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Filed under Books, Writing

Cause some days are like that…even in Australia

I have had the most wonderful opportunity to write reviews for a library magazine over the past few months, and I have read some pretty amazing fiction.  Just recently I was given the opportunity to review two soon to be published picture books.  Now as much as I love reading YA literature and epic novels, I must say that my heart lies first and foremost with picture books.  Not only are they easier to read (I can get through quite a few of them at once) but I have seen first hand how picture books have sparked the a life long love of reading.  So picture books hold a very special place in my heart. Not to mention, I am working on a few of my own and hoping to have published (will keep you posted on that development).

But after reviewing the picture books I started to think about some of my favorite ones.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; The Lorax; Arthur’s Halloween; Dot (yes it’s newer but I still love it); It’s a Book; Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel; No, David!; Walter the Farting Dog (my nephew couldn’t get enough of this book); Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy, Town and many more.  But there remains one that I find myself quoting on the days when everything is going wrong.  When I am just snappy and snippy at everyone. When I just can’t wait to get back into bed and forget about the whole day.  And if you are picture book lover you might know which book I am talking about. But just in case, here is the opening lines from my favorite book.

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

–from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

and a side note…this is going to be made into a movie starring Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner. Pretty excited about this.


Filed under Books, Reading

Electronic Time Capsules

When I was in grade school we made a time capsule and buried it near the front of the school. Many years later the time capsule was unsealed and what a shock to see some of the items that were placed in there.  Now normally viewing older photos from say the 80’s always brings a laugh (the neon, the hair, the leg warmers) but after walking around New York City one day I can see that many of them are “laugh worthy” styles are coming back.  Ugh! 

But I move on.  The online site Capzles is a social storytelling site, that allows the user to upload pictures, videos, documents, blog posts, and music to create interactive timelines.  And if you don’t  have the time to upload everything, not to worry, simply send your images in hard format to Capzles and they will create one for you.  But really, isn’t more fun to do it yourself? Once created you can upload the capzle to Facebook, or through email.  It is a fun way to share your memories or moments with others.

Now since I bring all of my posts back to the library somehow…how does this work for the library or the school you might be asking?  When I have author visits, I create a Capzle from start to finish, from promotion of the author, to the speech, to autographing sessions, etc.  They I can upload the link to the library’s website.  Science classes use Capzles to document experiments; history classes find that creating an interactive timeline keeps the interest of the students; and language arts classes choose to use Capzles instead of standard written reports.  This site provides countless ways for online storytelling and it really allows the students, and teachers, to become as creative as they can.  But don’t take my word for it. Here is a link to a video that helps explain how Capzles is used in the classroom.



Video on how to use

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Filed under Digital Story Telling, Social Networking, Technology