Tag Archives: Education

Reading Strategies: Posters for Middle School and High School (that aren’t cheesy!)

One thing I always struggled with in the classroom was finding posters that weren’t too young for my kids.  There are so many resources out there for elementary teachers.  For middle school teachers? Not so much.  Thank goodness my husband is a graphic artist, right?

We made up these strategy posters a few years ago, and I absolutely loved how clean and nice they looked on the wall.  I went for a homey, interior design look in my room, so these helped.

 

 

Synthesize Visualize Ask Questions

 

 

 

 

Determine Ideas Infer Make Connections

 

 

 

 

I don’t use them anymore (more into the READ posters now, of course!), and I love to share.  I thought it would be a shame for these to go to waste.  They print up nicely on 11×17 paper.  I went to the office store, and I think it cost me like 2 bucks a piece to print them.

I couldn’t figure out how to link the file right to the image, so click below for the PDFs.

Enjoy!  I hope you like them!

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Visualize copy

Synthesize copy

MAKING CONNECTIONS copy

Infer copy

Determine Imp Ideas copy

ASK QUESTIONS copy

 

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Five Titles I Can’t Wait to Book Talk This Year

With the school year almost upon me, and a lot of free time on my hands (I am sitting in my recliner, recovering from a septoplasty), I am starting to get really excited about all of the great books I have read over the summer. Net Galley has certainly been kind to me.

While I have definitely worn out the new “New Adult” genre this summer (I kinda hate it now), I have also read a ton of great books in my favorite genre- Young Adult. I love reading YA for two reasons- first, the YA authors out there are putting out some really great stuff that isn’t all depressing or pretentious like adult fiction can get. Second, I LOVE being able to bring YA to my middle school readers that is just appropriate for them… that’s the stuff that they really get excited about reading. My eighth grade boys were drooling over titles like World War Z and Rot and Ruin a couple of years ago, and I like to keep it coming.

Without further adieu…

41TzYsSC84L._SY300_Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone. So many sequels fall flat or completely lose the tone of the first book, but this is an awesome sequel to Time Between Us. Since I am Bennett’s age, I love reading from his point of view, too. Going back to 1995, in my hometown (Chicago), is pretty cool- and I love the fact that teachers and librarians can talk to kids about when we grew up without sounding stupid.

51ZhFCzTS9L._SY300_The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is another sequel, but I have to say- Maggie Stiefvater is probably the best paranormal writer for teens out there right now. The Shiver series sees a ton of circulation every year, and now the Raven Boys has seen the same kind of popularity. I like the fact that Stiefvater’s heroines aren’t weak and her narrative voice doesn’t make kids sound stupid.

41SzknL9faLKindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman. So many books touch on the insecurities of girls, but not many capture the real emotions that go through boys’ heads these days- and so realistically. I actually felt the dirt under my fingernails as I read this one. The tone of the book is so gritty and the way in which the protagonist interacts with the world will resonate with introverts everywhere- whether down-and-out like this guy, or not.

51xb9EOj5HLThe Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston. I have read a couple of Witness Protection program books lately, and I watched My Name is Earl from start to finish with my son this summer, so I feel like an expert on the genre (insert sarcasm icon here). This one surprised me. I love the fact that this isn’t action- it is a classic mystery. Mystery is a genre that so often gets bogged down by paranormals and sci fi. When I find a good one that is just a good mystery, I hang on to it. I will be hanging on to this one for sure.

51g07mPX-7LBeing Henry David by Cal Armistead. Like number three, this is a “boy book” that isn’t cheesy. Even boys can only handle so many teenage spy books.  I loved this book when I read it a while back, and it stuck with me. Who doesn’t like a good amnesia mystery? The fascinating thing about this book is the fact that it is a mystery and a coming of age story wrapped in one beautiful, lyrical package. When I want boys to read deeper and experience more, I will turn to this one first.

I hope Net Galley keeps em coming, because I get a lot of my best stuff because of them.  I can’t justify buying YA for my middle school library unless I have a chance to read it first, you know?  If you like hearing about YA that is just appropriate for middle schoolers, let me know in the comments or “like” this post and I will keep the suggestions coming.  🙂  Thanks!

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Five Reasons Every Teacher Should Use Evernote

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I have been using Evernote for almost a year now, and I love it.  I feel like I constantly find new and exciting things to do with it, too.  I don’t really get the whole recipe thing, but I don’t cook, so that explains that!

There are ten main things that I do with Evernote, and that any one of us could implement immediately to make life a little easier.  That’s always good, right?

Evernote is a free app that is compatible with every device you have.  Here’s a little video from the Evernote folks that explains some of the basics.

So, for my Top 5 Reasons Every Teacher Should Use Evernote…

1. Penultimate.  Penultimate is a really good handwriting app that syncs directly to Evernote.  Whenever I have notes to take, I just open my iPad, take out my Bamboo Stylus, and take notes.  I really like being able to take notes by hand, and then Evernote lets me organize them however I like.  No more notebooks filled with notes that have nothing to do with the ones before and after them, never to be seen again.  I can even add tags to my notes so that they are searchable later- even if I am not looking in the Evernote Notebook where I put them.  If that helps me, just think of how much that would help kids.

2. Class Notebooks.  You can create a notebook for your classes and then share them with your students.  When you put class notes, printables, resources, homework, whatever- in the notebooks, they are immediately accessible to the kids from their own Evernote account.  It sure beats the process you have to go through on most websites to upload assignments.  And the media choices are endless- you can upload videos, pictures, audio, any kind of document- anything you can think of, really.  Want to record an important lecture?  Just hit the record button in the Evernote app on your phone, give the lecture, stop the recording, and touch the appropriate notebook for the class.

3. Student Portfolios.  Just as you can create notebooks for your classes, the kids can create notebooks of their work.  They can take pictures of drawings, add video, audio- all of the same things you can do.  They can share their work with you, their friends, their family, the world, or no one at all.  The best part is that they can take it with them.  They don’t lose it when they leave middle school or high school- they have it forever.

4. All of the Note Taking Possibilities.  I already mentioned Penultimate, but how cool is it that kids can just snap a picture of the work on the white board at the end of class?  Or record a brainstorming session for a class project?  One great idea is for kids to create a notebook for a research project, and then use Evernote’s web clipper to grab just what they need from a site rather than the whole page.  All of their research is stored in one place, without barfing from their folders and backpacks.  Pretty cool.

5. Digital Textbooks.  Instead of asking kids to lug a big book around, you can create a notebook and add all of the stuff you would normally want them to access from the textbook right in there.  Do it once, and it is there forever.  So, if you use certain content every year, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year.  Unlike those big textbooks, you only keep the content you need- not all of that extra stuff that just gets in the way in the textbook.  And, when you need something that the textbook doesn’t have, you add that too.  That way, kids don’t have a million different places to look to find that one thing they need tonight.

I use Evernote at home, too- I take pictures of receipts, scan important bills, scan and take pictures of all of my children’s artwork; I use Evernote Peek to practice states and capitals with my son.  I use it as a librarian and I use it as a student.  Like I said, I come up with new ways to use Evernote every day.  Give it a try!

Have a great weekend!

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A Brief Overview of Gamification

I am on a huge Gamification kick.  I love it- I think that there is a way to Gamify almost anything.

I had to create an infographic for a class that I am taking, and I wanted to embed it here, but I can’t figure out how to do that. 😦  If you are interested in learning more about Gamification, click the link below!

Gamification

Have a great weekend!

:)K

What do I have to say about ebooks in my school library?

nook

A colleague of mine wants to sit down with me to talk about ebooks in my library because her school is planning to roll out something similar.  It got me thinking.  What do I have to say about it?

At the beginning of this year, I added 12 Barnes and Noble Nooks to my school library.  As of this writing, two of them are broken.  I have emailed Barnes and Noble twice, and haven’t received a reply.  I purchased all of the Harry Potter books for two of them, and they still aren’t on the devices. Something on Barnes and Noble’s side was wrong, and they said that they are working on it.  That was months ago.

I also asked if I can switch from being Barnes and Noble managed to just locally managed, so that I can switch out devices easier if they break, and I haven’t received a reply to that, either.

Last year, I bought 12 Kindle Fires.  They were beautiful, but I had to return them.  The logistics wouldn’t work.  The Kindle Fires don’t work with Proxy Servers, and that is necessary with my school district’s web filters.  It is also next to impossible to purchase things on Amazon with a PO, and my district hasn’t moved to the credit card system yet, so we cannot purchase things from Amazon.

As an Educational Technology person, I like dedicated e-readers for reading.  I think that there are cognitive load issues associated with having all of these different choices when you have a device in your hands.  How can kids concentrate on what they are reading when the email ping goes off or a text message comes in or an alert pops up that a friend just messaged them or… you get it, right?    E-readers definitely have a place for those who want an uncluttered reading space.

The only economical library-friendly ebook retailer (that I have seen) is FollettShelf.  The problem with them is that they are not compatible with dedicated e-readers.  Their books are browser-based.  I can’t use Kindle Fires and I can’t afford iPads, and I think that dedicated e-readers are better for reading.

Do you see a problem emerging?

Now, the Nooks that aren’t broken get checked out all of the time.  I have them grouped into genres: Realistic Fiction for Guys, Realistic Fiction for Girls, Fantasy, Sci Fi/Dystopian, Mystery/Horror, and Paranormal Romance.  There are 20ish titles on each device.  That is an awful waste of great books.  There is no way that kids can read more than one or two books in the time I give them to keep the device.  So, all of those great books are checked out and no one else has access to them.

There is pretty much one game in town for library management of ebooks and audiobooks- Overdrive.  Their pricing structure is way out of my league as a school librarian with 1000 patrons.

Where does that leave me?  I thought about a DRM-stripping program… DRM is ethically wrong and goes against fair use law anyhow…  I thought- what if I stripped the DRM from the books, and then downloaded them to the kids’ devices and then at the end of the checkout period, I could take them off of the devices… wow.  I think that for all of that manual maneuvering of data, I would need at least three more parapros in my LMC.  And it is in legal gray-area, which my district wouldn’t be happy with (to put it simply).

I have a real dilemma on my hands.  Bigger than ebooks, I think.

I want to stay current.  I want my library to stay relevant.  I want kids to have access to all of these awesome books and to be able to read them their way.  Hell, I don’t ever read paper books anymore.  I am strictly an ebook reader.  How can I, as a middle school librarian, expect that these kids aren’t going to want to read this way when I see the benefit of it?  It speaks to the entire field of educational technology, I think.  How do we get all of these awesome advances into the hands of kids?  I can give you a thousand examples of things that would benefit my kids more than you know, but I can’t utilize them because I have no way of delivering them.

I emailed the public library to see if they would like to do a membership drive at my library so that kids can get library cards and check ebooks out from them.  I haven’t heard back.  Does no one read my emails?  Even then, about 20% of my students live in an unincorporated area where they do not belong to the library.  So they wouldn’t be eligible to get cards.

The only upside that I can offer my colleague is that the Nooks do get checked out- they are never not checked out.  But that means that 10 of my patrons are benefiting from the thousands of dollars I have spent at a time.  Ten!

I am at a loss.

 

 

 

Pinterest Threw Up All Over My Library.

In my little library, we have a full-sized computer lab that takes up a quarter of the space.  Sooo, with MAP Testing going on, the LMC is closed for business.  And very, very quiet.  Which is maddening nice, because we have time for special projects.

Special project time is when my Pinterest addiction becomes dangerous handy!

First, I ordered a used copy of Where’s Wally from Amazon for a penny and cut out the pages.  I was able to match up five full scenes.  Since they are back-to-back, not all of the scenes will be useable.  This was perfect for me, though, because I had five tables that needed some pizzazz.

After laminating the pages, I taped them to the table tops.

The five tables with Wally

Who could resist?

Who could resist?

That was Pinterest find #1.  I was far from done, though.

I decided to make a statement on my TV.  Note how awesomely vintage it is, by the way…

My Awesome TVSo that was #2.  We are just warming up.

Next, a freshened up display table.  I had a great classics door banner that I bought during my first year of teaching.  Ah, the days when we spent oodles of money on fun stuff for our classrooms, huh?  After the first or second year, we wizen up.  This is a gorgeous vinyl banner made for a classroom door.  My library is a 40 ft by 80 ft rectangle, so a little room dividing is always a good thing.  I made a Classics display.

I Love The Classics

Next, I broke out the Mod Podge.  Yep, my library stunk to high heaven.  Everyone who walked through stopped to ask what on earth I was doing.  The original Pinner (OP in Pinterestland) used wood, but I am much too lazy for such things.  I used foam core.

First, I Mod Podged strips of old dictionary to the foam core.  That dried overnight.  Then, I used a paint pen and some really neat stencils I found next to the paint pens at Hobby Lobby to add the places.  Mount Doom points to our district office.  I’m a Gen-Xer.  We buck the establishment.

Since I used foam core, I was able to use 3M mounting strips to attach the arrows to my incredibly ugly post.  I think it adds character.  I kinda like that the post is there now!

Directions

The last thing we did (I say we as in my parapro and I) was this.  It needs no explanation, but I will add it anyhow.  My husband is a graphic design teacher, so I had him make the “touch screen” for me.  All of the books on the display have been made into movies.  The kids love it.

Readbox

If you want more dangerous creative ideas, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!