Category Archives: Creativity

Get Your eBook On

So I talk about books a lot, since well, I am a librarian and all. And I have mentioned some apps and websites to visit if you are interested in writing a book of your own.  Well here are few more, and these are super easy that not only are they great for classroom use, but those budding writers in your class or home might get a kick out of these too. These apps are perfect for both entertainment and education (well at least the eBook ones are, the comic ones are purely entertainment).  Teachers will be able to create original eBooks to use in their classroom.  Teachers will have the ability to add images, text, links, recordings and more to the eBook. Then simply share with students or colleagues to allow greater access to information.  These apps allow you to create and upload your eBook to iBooks and ePub readers.  You can access many of them through an app or online.  The prices vary but these are all well worth the look.

Students and kids will have fun with these apps as well (especially the comic ones).  They can take stories they have written and create a collection, or create a photo book highlighting a recent summer event or family function that you can share with just those who you would like. No need to put in bookstores for the world to access, unless of course you want to.  These apps are a great way to keep kids creative and writing all summer long. Heck all year long for that matter.

The comic apps are fun since you don’t need to be an artist to use.  By using pictures you already have you can add cartoon images and drawings to create funny one of a kind strips.   So check them out.

eBooks

 

book writer

 

Book Writer for iOS

 

 

IDEAL

 

IDEAL e-Pub Creator for Android and iOS

 

 

creativebookbuilder

 

Creative Book Builder for Android and iOS

 

 

Digital Comics

Comic Puppets

 

Comic Puppets for Android and iOS

 

 

Photo comics Pro

 

Photo Comics Pro for Android

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Filed under apps, Books, Cartoons, Creativity, Digital Story Telling, ebooks, education, Reading, Technology, Writing

It’s Harder then it Looks

As a librarian I read a lot.  When I worked in publishing I read a lot.  As a reviewer for a magazine I read a lot.  So I thought, how hard could it be to write a book.    I have a notebook that has a ton of ideas in them.  Some are just plot ideas. Some are characters.  Some are full chapters or scenes.  Some are picture books. And some are layouts for graphic novels.  So with all of these ideas,  I thought, hey this should be no problem to write a story.  Well let me tell you it is tough.

Moving the story along, using descriptive wording, having the voices sound realistic, all of these elements are hard to master.  I have tried my hand at writing only to face such terrible writers block that I abandon the story all together.  These stories soon find  a permanent place in a filing cabinet under the heading “Better Luck Next Time.”  I have had the opportunity to meet several authors over the years and to hear them speak about the writing process.  But it wasn’t until this year that it all really clicked for me.

I was able to have the incredibly talented Wendy Mass come to my school for an author visit.  While she was here she spoke about her process, and she even shared with us a form she uses to help her better create a character and develop a plot.  I thought, I have an idea, let me see how this form works. Well let me tell you, it worked great.  I was able to flush out my main character and several supporting characters. I came up with a plot and I broke down how I wanted each chapter to go to help with the flow of the story. I was going to be able to write now.

Not so fast.

It was great that I had all of this.  I felt like these filled in forms was success enough.  However, now I actually had to start writing.  And that is where it gets tricky.  So I just started writing.  A little free writing, just to see what might come out of my brain.  And low and behold, some good stuff did. Or at least I think it is good.  Now am I already on my fourth chapter.  It is no where near being the level I would like it to be at, but that is what editing is for.  I will have the chance to rework, and rewrite as much as I need to.

I thought writing a book would be easy.  Just put some words on a paper and make a story out of it. I can tell a story no problem, writing one should be just as easy.   Well I have learned that writing a story is difficult and not everyone succeeds.  But if you keep at it, you will have a product that you can be proud of.  So keep a look out, my goal is to see this published at some point (eBook or print form).  I hope to have the first draft done in the next week or so. Fingers crossed.  I will keep you posted on my progress.

Happy reading and happy writing.

PS I am currently in the middle of the book IF I STAY.  I hope to have it done by Friday for my review day.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, ebooks, Reading, Writing

Increase Reading Capabilities

So I have been asked by many teachers, how can we help increase the reading capabilities of our students. This is a tough one since no two readers are the same.  I have tried several promotions in the library, but more often than not only die hard readers are acting on them.  It is difficult to get those who are struggling on a daily basis to not only read what is required of them, but to read another book for enjoyment.

I started to search through magazines and professional resources to see what the experts and other teachers are doing. And after reading through The Mailbox April/May 2014 issue I found two great ideas that I feel I should share.

Both ideas come from Njeri Jones Legrand, of Sharon Elementary in Charlotte NC.
TISC (This is So Cool): reading with accuracy to support comprehension
Getting students to interact with their reading material by using text-message shorthand as reading codes.  Begin by brainstorming with students abbreviations that match specific reading strategies you teach. Then create a mini poster showing each abbreviation, review and discuss the meaning.  Next, provide sticky note flag. Have each student track his/her thinking as they read by flagging specific points and coding the flag with the matching text abbreviation. When the student finishes reading, have them use the sticky notes to respond to the selection, summarize it, answer questions about it, or discuss it.
Here are the Abbreviations this teacher used:
QQ (Quick Question): Use this if the text is confusing or makes you think of a question
RUS (Are your serious?): Use this to flag information that makes you think WOW!
WOTD (Word of the Day): Use this to flag important words in the text
IDK (I don’t know): Use this to flag text that is really confusing and if you can’t figure out what’s going on.
411(Information): Use this to flag text that is important information
TSIA (This says it all): Use this to flag text that is the main idea

Ready, Set, Read!
Energize students to build their reading stamina with a daily challenge. Begin by assembling a read-o-meter (example shown at the bottom of this entry).  Next, display the meter and challenge every reader in class to read, focusing only one his/her reading material, for a set amount of time. As soon as students begin to lose focus, end the session and move the read-0-meter’s arrow to show students how long they read independently.  Begin each reading session by displaying the meter and challenging your readers to read productively longer than they did the previous day.

 

 

read-o-meter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thank you to The Mailbox magazine and especially Njeri Jones Legrand for your amazing contributions to the reading community.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, education, Language Arts, Nonfiction reading, Reading

Open up the World of Culture

Sure students know who Vincent Van Gogh, E.B. White, and Roald Dahl are.  But what do they know about contemporary authors, and artists? Well now they can learn.  Culture Street is a organization that is based out of the UK that is determined to introduce students to contemporary artists, writers, filmmakers,  and performers.   Culture Street’s goal is to encourage creativity in the classroom…and beyond.

With four distinct channels to learn from (Arts, Film, Books, Stage)  students will have the opportunity to view videos, listen to interviews, have access to  interactive activities and watch workshops for better understanding of how professionals work.

The book channel (a personal favorite of mine) allows the user to create their own picture book, and comic book.  You must be a registered member to access many of the elements on the site so parents should be involved. Teachers have the opportunity to pre-made lessons and tie-ins to current learning trends to help integrate the arts into everyday subjects.  Even though the organization is based out to the UK, foreign educators and parents should not shy away from this fun rewarding activity.  Thank your

http://www.culurestreet.org.uk

 

 

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Filed under Art, Books, Cartoons, Creativity, Digital Story Telling, Reading

Support Reading

Being a librarian I teach my classes all about research,  inquiry learning, and how to use the library for both school and personal use.  But that can get boring. Honestly, how many times can a student sit and listen to me drone on an on about “writing a bibliography,” “how to create note cards,” “how to evaluate a website,” and so forth.   I want to change-up the routine.  So for a few times throughout the year, I play little games with the classes.  But there is a reading twist.  Each game, be it a crossword puzzle, or word search, or scavenger hunt, each game has a reading element to it. Meaning, they involve books the students might have read on their own, or in class, or at least have heard about.

The most popular one is by far and away the Wordle game. If you don’t know about Wordles, Wordle is an online program that allows the user to create a word cloud. See previous post  https://amongstthebooks.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/a-what-le/ ‎ or check out http://www.wordle.net

I start by selecting 7-10 books or book series that I think the students will be able to guess by only a few clues, usually these are popular books or books that have been made into movies.

Than I create a Wordle using key phrases, character names, plot points etc. that describe the book or book series.

I create an answer sheet that ask either ‘name the book’ or ‘name the book series.’

The students then have to figure out what book or book series I am talking about based on the clues given in the Wordle.

Some are very easy, while others might be  harder and a bit older so the students  might not know it.  But there is always one person in each group that has read the book

This is definitely my most popular game, because students sometimes don’t see a word or  a name and go in a completely different direction.  I also get asked many times, can we play that word game again only with different books?  So I think this one is a keeper.

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Filed under Books, Creativity, Word Cloud

Student Reviewers I give it 4 Stars

Students are reading more.  I love it. They are reading more and they are actually enjoying it.  Well some of them. But a majority of them are finally reading books they want to read and that interest them and as a result they are finding enjoyment. YES YES YES!!  I am thrilled at this.   But now we face the battle of getting them to talk about the books they read.

Some bask in the glow of the spot light, and  can not wait to get up and talk and talk and talk and….talk about anything and everything.  But than you have the shy ones. The ones that would rather crawl under the desk and hide than speak up in class.  Well good thing there are other options, and one that fell across my lap recently .

Allow me to  introduce LitPick (www.litpick.com) an online service that allows the students to read new releases or not yet released titles, write reviews, and then have their review posted on the site for other users to see. They are in essence becoming a book reviewer.  Only they won’t receive payment for it, instead they will be able to keep their copy of the book and have their work published on the world-wide web.

However, LitPick is not just a site for reading, with every review the students write there is a trained editor reviewing their work and editing were needed. Then the editor shares with the student their thoughts and comments, in turn helping to guide the student into becoming a better writer.

This is not a free service and students are not allowed to sign up on their own, they must have an adult signing up with them as well. But there is group pricing for libraries, classrooms, and home schools.  And titles are available in both e-book and standard book format.  This is a great site to get both active and non active readers finding books that peak their interest, learn about writing more efficiently, and most importantly, learning to be vocal about their reading choices and about any topic in general.

I suggest you check it out. It is a great program.

 

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Filed under Books, Creativity, ebooks, Reading, Reviews, Social Networking, Technology

Good Readers

At the beginning of the year I was asked by two eighth grade language arts/English teachers to work with their students twice a month by promoting books (mini book talks), help find new books they might not have thought of, and provide the opportunity for their own critique of a book.   This is both fun and challenging.

Talking about books is not a problem.  I can do that all day.  

Providing ideas for new books is in the bag.  I have a promotion I do where I only give the students a brief synopsis of a book. They do not get to know the author or see the cover. If they like what they hear they can check it out and then see the actual book.  Once they do, they have to give it at least one week, if they don’t like  it at the end of the week they can return but they have to give me or their teacher a detailed reason why they did not like the book in the end. They can write it in their reading response journal. We call this the don’t judge a book by its cover promotion.

So my real problem was getting them to recommend books.  They already have a response journal and they have to write papers about their books. How was I going to get them to participate in recommending books to their classmates.  Here are some ideas I had:

1)       Write a brief summary but also have the cast the book as if it was being made into a movie.  They have to sell this book to the public: what’s the hook; what would their posters look like; maybe the more ambitious ones make a trailer.

2)  Create an infographic about the book

3)  Draw a cartoon about the book

4) Select a character from the book and write reasons why you would be friends with this person and why you wouldn’t.

Those are just some ideas, however, getting the students to open up is still a challenge. Some are more than willing to talk for hours about a book, while others clam up and never even look you in the eye.   However, there is one thing that these types of students have in common. Social networking.

So why not bring social networking into the equation.  Classrooms and schools have really embraced social networking in all areas of the learning environment.  And one of the best social sites for librarians is (can you guess from the title of this post?).

GOODREADS!!!

Now I love GoodReads.  I have been able to see what my former co-workers are reading, what some of my friends are waiting to get their hands on; what some former students are recommending to me; and I get to see what strangers are thinking.  I have discovered so many new authors and learned about new books from GoodReads that I feel this is the perfect site for students to use to express themselves as well as learn about books they never would have thought of trying.  My GoodReads campaign has been embraced by my fellow teachers and the administration is happy with this also. However it was the reaction by the students that was surprise. They loved it and have come up to me countless times to ask if I have a certain book that they learned about from GoodReads.  I might not have gotten all of the students involved, but the ones I did, I love it.

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Filed under apps, Books, Creativity, Social Networking