Sunday, July 24, 2016

EdTech Review: Oooo! Gimme SMORE!

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It's not hard for me to get excited about something I know will help get the message of READING across to students, parents, and teachers.  At the end of the last school year, I found just that!  Sending home more than just a summer reading list was my goal.  I wanted to supply parents with resources to not only find books, but to foster reading love and fun.

Throughout the school year, I'd been sending home library media paper newsletters in the form of infographics (more about this in a future post).  Deciding to provide more content for the summer newsletter, I searched for digital newsletters and came upon Smore.  You can sign up for free and create 5 newsletters (called flyers) with this plan (to view education pricing for unlimited flyers, click here).

With Smore, my newsletter was nicely formatted and included images I could upload, links, and buttons (for summer reading lists).  There is SO much more that is possible to add--such as audio, video, events, etc.  You can share the newsletter via email or other social media platforms.

I emailed the newsletter to all teachers.  I asked them to share this with the parents of their students.  Since not all parents have email, I created a PDF through Smore and printed it for teachers to share.  Also cool, I was able to track how many people viewed the emailed newsletter.

Here is what my newsletter ended up looking like (note: the formatting is different because it's embedded in my blog: link here for original formatting).

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Kid Lit Review: The Secret Zoo

What would you do if you started to receive strange clues from Zoo animals about your sister's disappearance?  Think you were seeing things?  Investigate the Zoo?  Call on the other Action Scouts (friends) to help you figure it out?  That's what Noah does when his sister, Megan, disappears.  Noah, Ellie and Richie find themselves being noticed by the Zoo animals, as if the animals know who they are.  The animals seem to be helping the Action Scouts try to find Megan.

A secret world is opened up to the Scouts--where they befriend a polar bear named Blizzard, a penguin named Podgy, and a kingfisher named Marlo.  The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick is both wondrous and dangerous with adventure and wild animals lurking at every turn.  It won't be an easy task for the Action Scouts to find Megan.

I enjoyed this story because I loved reading about the animals befriending and helping the children.  Who wouldn't want to go the Zoo and have one of the animals recognize you and come up to you?!  The author says when he was 9, he "wondered what it would be like if zoo exhibits had secret passages that allowed kids to get in and animals to get out."  There are also themes of conservation and stewardship of the animals in our world.

Read a preview of the book here.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

EdTech Review: Biblionasium

I remember geeking out over finding Biblionasium last school year in some random thread or blog post.  I IMMEDIATELY emailed every teacher that had 1:1 in my school (3rd-5th).  Amazingly, my mind was rational and I told them all I would love to collaborate and use this tool NEXT school year!  What?!  I didn't say right here, right now?!  Ah-MAAZ-ing!  That's what I think of that moment and the edtech tool I had just discovered.  

Biblionasium is a kid-friendly online book tracking site, similar to Goodreads for adults (friend me).  Teachers can sign-up for free and they can add their students or send a parent letter the site provides asking them to do that instead.  Students keep track of their reading, review books, and recommend books to others all within the privacy of the Biblionasium world.  Teachers can track reading logs, create goals, challenges, groups, and run reports.

This is how I'm beginning to use Biblionasium...
I set up a group to:
  • share with students what I'm reading (I have a physical display of this in my library, too)
  • promote new books in the library which I can share with teachers and students
  • share books with Lexiles 1000+ that are appropriate for 4th-5th grade (and so I could get rid of the shelf on my Goodreads)

I'm looking forward to what others ways not only I can use this site, but all the ways students and classroom teachers will use the site during the school year.