Monthly Archives: July 2013

Summer Reading

August is coming up fast which means that we only have 31 days left to improve reading skills.  I have touched on this subject before but I wanted to give you a few more helpful sites that are proven to enhance your child’s reading capabilities.

Stone Soup

Little Write Brain



Storyline Online

It’s a Mad Libs World

Grolier Online


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Filed under ebooks, Language Arts, Nonfiction reading, Reading, Technology

Using Maps to Tell a Story

I don’t know about you but I use maps all the time. Mainly because my sense of direction is not so great.  When I travel I grab a map (not a fancy one just a cheesy one from the hotel or something) for the place I visited and hold on to it as a souvenir.  Meanwhile I have had friends attach pictures to wall maps as a reminder of places they have been to while some use push pins.  Now with foursquare and the maps on Facebook you can now follow where all of your friends are or have been.  Maps are not only a way to tell you where you are going, but it is a great tool to show where you have been; or where someone else has been.  What am I getting at with all of this rambling.  Well, lets see Napoleon was a great military leader, and who traveled all over Europe and into Russia winning and in some cases losing battles.  Wouldn’t it be more interesting to learn about his travels and conquests or defeats by examining them on a map with text summarizing the major events over reading straight from the textbook?  How much more interesting would a presentation be for the students to give if they had the opportunity to use a map to describe historical and even literary events.  Think about it, even family trips/vacations can be even more fun when using a map to show all of the places you have been.

Well if this has peaked your interest why not try the website MAPTALES www.    MAPTALES is  site that allows you to create map-based stories and share them with groups through emails, embedding into websites, blogs, etc.  You can use MAPTALES to chronicle news events, describe a trip, its great for scrapbooking and lectures.  Maps tell us their own stories but it is up to the users to embellish on those stories with our own personal flair.

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Filed under Digital Story Telling, Mapping, Presentation, Technology

Flipping a Classroom with Screeny

As I am working creating my how-to videos for my libraries, I have stumbled upon many screen capturing applications and sites.  I have posted about them on this blog and I would like to add another one to ever-growing list.

Screeny is a MAC based application that works on your computer and allows you to capture not only the whole screen but smaller sections of it.  Use the built-in camera or an external one to capture video and pictures at any size.  This is also supported by the Cloud where you can upload the images or videos directly to your cloud account. It allows for easy compression of videos for uploading to the cloud. The application uses Quicktime and is always saved at the highest possible quality.  You also have the option to capture audio as well, or add audio to your video.

This is a great app to help in your quest to create a more vibrant flipped classroom.

SCREENY iOS only $14.99


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

The Top 100…how many did you read?

I read Entertainment Weekly religiously.  I especially love their book reviews and recommendations, I have found some of my favorites there.  So when they recently published a list of The 100 All-Time Greatest books, I was extremely interested.  I then thought, let me take a better look and see how many of the top 100 I have read. So here is their list, with my note if I indeed read it, if I only got part way through, or if I haven’t even touched it yet. Check them out, and see how many you have read.

1. Anna Karenina.  I have not read all the way through…only a few more pages though just picked it up not that long ago. Do I consider it to be #1…not so sure. But hey I didn’t create this list
2. The Great Gatsby. Yep I did this one. As I am sure all of you did too.
3. Pride and Prejudice.  yes and I have read most of Ms. Austen’s works.
4. Great Expectations.  Yes I did, and why is it that there have been many movies and TV shows that reference this book?
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Sadly I  have not
6. My Antonia. Only a few chapters…just couldn’t get into it
7. The Harry Potter series. I worked for Scholastic for 10 years…so yea I read it.
8. The Rabbit quartet.  No, but it is on my list
9. Beloved.  Only a small part.
10. Charlotte’s Web. Loved this one
11. Mrs. Dalloway.  Not as bad I thought it was going to be.
12. The Sound and the Fury. No not yet
13.  To Kill a Mockingbird. Probably one of my favorite.
14. Crime and Punishment. There is only thing that I have a problem with, the names are so similar I confuse them sometimes.
15. Ragtime. No, I never have
16. Jane Eyre. My mother made me.
17. The Road. Loved it.
18. Moby-Dick.  Ugh…ok…so I started and stopped. Started and stopped. This is truly is my white whale.
19. Lolita.  Yep.
20. Lonesome Dove. I saw my father read it does that count?
21. An American Tragedy. Never touched it.
22. Wuthering Heights. Thank you HS English class.
23. The Brothers Karamazov.  Didn’t get to this one
24. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Thank you college.
25. Bleak House. Again, thank you college.
26. Invisible Man. I enjoyed it.
27. A Wrinkle in Time. Have recommended it to many students
28. War and Peace. Pass
29. The Handmaid’s Tale.  Yes
30. Native Son.  Only part of it.
31. Blindness.  I didn’t but after reading about it I want to.
32. The Catcher in the Rye. High School.
33. Maus.  Yes.
34. The World According to Garp. Only after I saw the movie.
35. A Personal Matter.  I never heard of this until this list.
36. Atlas Shrugged. Took me a whole summer.
37. The Sun Also Rises. Good, but not my favorite.
38. The Regeneration trilogy.  No I have not.
39. Middlesex. Love it.
40. A Suitable Boy. I have not.
41. Go Tell it on the Mountain. I have not.
42. The Stand. My favorite Stephen King by far
43. A Confederacy of Dunces. The main character made me think of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons
44. His Dark Materials. I read the first book.
45. The Color Purple. Only part.
46. The Age of Innocence. Yes.
47. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I haven’t but would like to.
48. The Talented Mr. Ripley. Took the easy way out, watched the movie.
49. Ender’s Game. Yes and can’t wait to see it on the big screen.
50. Snow. No.
51. The Corrections. Yes and loved.
52. Song of Solomon. No I haven’t
53. Gone with the Wind. My cousin, whom I am close with, reads it almost every year.
54. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.  Nope
55. A Fine Balance.  Again no.
56. Sophie’s Choice.  I don’t think I can. I have heard it is way to powerful and I don’t think I can handle it.
57. The Children of Men. I enjoyed it. It helped me get into sci-fi
58. Midnight’s Children. Nope, sorry.
59. Dracula. College, thanks.
60. Their Eyes were Watching God. no I haven’t
61. Love in the Time of Cholera.  Yes.
62. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Yeppers.
63. Portnoy’s Complaint. Never knew of it.
64. Infinite Jest. Working on it right now.
65. Herzog. Nope
66. Howards End. I heard it was very good.
67. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. This was a good one.
68. Middlemarch.  I will march my way right out to the library.
69. Money.  No but I would like some.
70. Neuromancer. Read a little, thanks to a friend of mine.
71. The Hobbit. Me and Bilbo are tight.
72. The Remains of the Day. sorry, but no
73. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. I have read le Carre, but not this one.
74. Cold Mountain. Again, only a little.
75. Madame Bovary. It is on my bookshelf, waiting.
76. The Golden Notebook. Never knew of it.
77. Tom Jones. Read very little in college.
78. A House for Mr. Biswas. Never heard of it.
79. Bring Up the Bodies. Not for me.
80. Swann’s Way. Nope.
81. Frankenstein. Yes and scary.
82. Disgrace. Only a little.
83. The Stone Diaries. Never.
84. Clockers. Yes and awesome.
85. Catch-22. Only a little, but I intend to finish.
86. A Home at the End of the World. No but I heard good things.
87. White Teeth. Yes
88. The Bonfire of the Vanities. Only a little.
89. Tristram Shandy. Only a little.
90. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. No
91. The Leopard. No to this one too.
92. The Glass Bead Game. No unfortunately
93. Bastard Out of Carolina. Never knew of it
94. The Moonstone. Nope
95. The Poisonwood Bible. Yes.
96. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. No I never have
97. The Big Sleep. I got so close to the end, and then had to put it down.
98. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. What woman hasn’t?
99. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Only my shelf.
100. The Joy Luck Club. With any luck I might.

So there are their top 100. But if I may, please allow me to add some of my own.
The Only Man and the Sea. My brother had to read it for school, looked interesting to me so I read it. Loved it. My first taste of Hemingway
2666. Took me awhile but I loved it.
Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy. See I told you I read le Carre.
This is Where I Leave You. I giggled a lot.
The Book Thief. READ THIS if you haven’t already.
The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Great book
A Cricket in Times Square. this is purely because I remember it from when I was a kid.
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff Christ’s Childhood Pal. My absolute favorite book.

Hope you enjoy and maybe see how many you have read.



Filed under Books, Reading, Reviews

Get in Touch with Your Creative Side

Another day and another way to express yourself.  So this time I would like to introduce some apps that provide the opportunity to get creative.  Similar to my post about the app Paper these apps allow you to create amazing images and videos. Now remember all of these apps can be used for school based projects.  Some might work for the educator while some might be more fun for the student. But don’t forget, all are fun for everyone!


TYPE DRAWING  for the web and iOS $1.99

This app is amazing for typography.  All you do is type the sentence you would like to use and then by using your finger or mouse to draw an image and the words from your sentence becomes the body of the image or use the text to go over current images.



OVER for iOS

Everyone knows a picture is worth 1,000 words, but sometimes only a few will do. Now a great way to enhance your images is with the app Over.  Over allows you choose from different fonts and type what you would like to say anywhere over the image.




STEfor iOS $1.99

I can not tell you how much I am in love with this app! I can devote a all blog post to just this but I would simply keep repeating myself with this one phrase: THIS APP IS AWESOME!!!  This app makes it easy to create amazing animated GIFs and Quicktime movies.  You get full control of everything from the frame rate, to deletion of images, to exposure and timer settings.  This is a great app for students to use to create amazing stop motion videos.




iSTOPMOTION for iPAD  $9.99
Another create stop motion app that was the winner for the Macworld Best in Show 2013.  This app is used in hundreds of classrooms and allows you to create your own animated movies.





WHAT THE FONT for the web iOS and coming soon for the Android  Free
Did you ever see a font used in media, like say a magazine, a website, and ad or even a poster, and did you ever say wow I really like that I wonder what font that is?  Well wonder no more. Simply take a picture of the font in question, and by uploading it from your photos What the Font will give you the details.  Like many barcode scanners for your phones, the technology can read the image and provide you with the information about the font in question. This is perfect for designers who might see a particularly interesting font and wonder how they can get that.


images-2LUME for iOS  $1.99

The first light only drawing app out there.  Instead of using paint or pencil, use light to draw images, text or enhance already taken photos.  A great way to make a photo stand out.  Just think what one can do with this app if you want to enhance an image of Thomas Edison?

unnamedCINEMAGRAM for iOS and Android Free

So lets say you have picture saved as a GIF, and you want to add a little animation to it. Well how about picking and choosing which part of the image you animate.  Similar to instragram but you are using video instead. Buy using the different features you can freeze certain parts of the image while the rest stays animated. Its definitely worth a look.



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Filed under apps, Art, Creativity, Images, Movie, Presentation, Technology, Video

Book Review: SYLO by D.J. MacHale

Happy Fourth everyone! I have been away so that is why my posts have been very irregular. Fear not, I will be posting some new items soon so stayed tuned. And to start this off I would like to share with you a book review. I have been very fortunate and I am able to review books for the Library Media Connection (or LMC) Magazine and it provides me the opportunity to read materials that are not out yet.  With that being the most recent book I had read was the book SYLO by D.J. MacHale.

The first book in a new trilogy whose hero is the Everykid that readers will be drawn too and root for.  Tucker Pierce prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Happy to sit on the sidelines of life as well as his school’s varsity football team on his tiny fictional island of Pemberwick, Maine.  However, when the island is quarantined by a military organization known only as SYLO, Tucker finds himself involved.  With members of the community dying, a mysterious drifter selling a drug called Ruby, and total lack of communication with the mainland, Tucker and his friend Tori begin questioning not only the government, but their own family.  D.J. MacHale knows how to entertain boy readers, and this is no exception. Highly recommend this read for anyone who enjoyed the GONE and THE MAZE RUNNER series.


SYLO by D.J. MacHale

416 pages

Grades 5 and up

RazorBill (Young Penguin Readers Group)


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Filed under Books, Reviews

Websites to Help With (and Create) Summer Reading

As a librarian my first love is to books and reading. So I want to share more ways to help keep those young readers on track during these summer months.  I know it can be hard to get them to read a book, but these are websites!!!  Yes, sometimes even reading works on the web.  For more helpful technology related sites that support reading and other core skills see some my earlier post series Apps for Summer Learning. But for now allow me to share with you some websites:

1. Stone Soup  The classic literary magazine that is written by kids for kids.  This offers a great way to kids to connect with others by reviewing books, or submitting their own imaginative work.

2. Little Write Brain Let your little ones create their own characters, choose a template, and create their own stories that can be saved as free e-books.  A great site for those creative minds out there.

3. National Geographic Young Explorers Increase nonfiction reading habits with the famous magazine where the highlighted text is read aloud by a narrator and the interactive links and games allow for further exploration.

4. Storyline Online  Classic stories read by famous actors? Sign me up!

5. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge  The famous challenge is back and it allows kids to track their reading minutes, and compete against other readers around the world.  Parents you can monitor your child’s progress and find helpful book lists, and activity ideas.

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Filed under Books, ebooks, Nonfiction reading, Reading, Technology