Wednesday, December 31, 2008
My review of SLEEPLESS is here, but even better check out the book trailer here:
(These are posted on YouTube, so if you're in a school where it's blocked - you will see a blank white box - sorry!)
Monday, December 29, 2008
Each of these include photo storage & some version of slide show making. And they're all free! (click on icon to visit site)
SlideShare is really primarily to upload your PowerPoints or other types of presentations online. Then you can post them to your website, blog or elsewhere. But, you could use it for photos too.
There are many other slide show sites. Please share if you have other free sites that you like using.
You can make flashcards, do hangman, word searches... (click on picture for a bigger view)
A look at the matching & crossword puzzle features:
I like the options. You can print and edit a data set like with Quizlet. You can use this type of study tool in class or kids can use it at home. The only thing that I wish Quizlet & Study Stacks both had is a concentration (the memory card game) feature. Quia has it and my students enjoyed that the most out of all these tools. But, Quia isn't free. Well, you can use it for free, but you can't enter your own data or edit their sets. To do that you have to join. So, if the set you need is already in there, great, but if not, you will have to pay about $50.00 for a year membership. (which may be an option for you, but I mostly promote free stuff on this blog). So, I'm suggesting that Quizlet & Study Stack add a concentration feature.
Otherwise, Study Stack is still a pretty cool online vocab study tool to make things interactive & fun!
This was so much fun! The characters were realistic and enjoyable. Some were even hysterical (Mariah Mendes). I loved the dynamic between Lu and her sister. The jealousy pitted against the "taking care of you" vibe was totally believable. Plus, Lu’s two friends Izzy and Rachel round out the cast of characters nicely. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the fact that the mayor could grant a school two weeks extra vacation. But hey, it's fiction! And frankly if some school could really raise that much money for literacy - maybe it could really happen!
This dynamic duo has written several other books together.I reviewed THE BLACK SHEEP here. That was a really unique story! (the book has a new cover, but I kinda like this one still)
You can find out more about these authors and their books here.
I have this one on my "to read" list
Sunday, December 21, 2008
One of the reasons for it is that it could save money for the school. If most kids have one, then schools wouldn't have to provide so many labs. (obviously, this is easier in areas where kids can afford their own laptop - but you'd be surprised how many kids do already own one).
Reasons against it have to do with the fact that computers logging onto the school network could bring viruses & other harmful infections. (however, schools have found creative ways to deal with this issue)
For more, here is one article on the topic -
Anyway, whichever way a school decides on this issues, parents might like to know that there are inexpensive laptops out there that would certainly handle most jobs a students would encounter.
The Classmate PC
It's rugged & affordable. Some start out around $250.
Also, I've heard a lot of talk about the Acer computer. These also begin around $300
Lastly, I just noticed another small, affordable notebook at Target. The brand is Asus.
They also start out around $300
Here's a picture of one:
A few things to consider when looking at these affordable notebooks.
1. You want to research it fully to make sure it comes with the software you need. Sometimes adding software can substantially increase the price, so you have to weigh what you need versus expense
2. Some of your options will be using Linux operating system, rather than Windows. You might want to try it out and make sure it's for you (or your child, if you're buying it for him or her).
3. If you don't want to pay for expensive software, consider open sources software. For example, Open Office is a free to download & use. Google Docs is another free, online version to consider. Both of those include all of the most common programs (word processing, presentations, databases, spreadsheets). There are a few more online versions like Zoho. Here are some links to those programs if you're considering them:
Open Office (download and work on your own computer)
Google Docs (online - work online & save online - access anywhere - password protected)
Zoho (online - work online & save online - access anywhere - password protected)
There are more out there, but I've used all three of these and like them.
Anyway, just like any computer purchase, check the reviews and figure out what your child really needs. I'm just trilled there are so many affordable options out there to choose from.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Charles Dickens
I guess this one seems obvious. Well, I think the reason I love it so much is because as a language arts teacher, we read this book every year in all my classes. Each time I read it, I discovered more beauty, humor and genius in the language.
Here a just a few of my favorite parts:
The first paragraph! What a way to begin a book:
"MARLEY was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner." (somehow, that cracks me up)
NEXT: When the men come to collect for charity to help the homeless, Scrooge suggests that if they have nowhere to live then they should go live in the prisons.
So, the man says, "Many can't go there; and many would rather die." And Scrooge hits him with "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
Wow...really tells the reader what kind of man Scrooge is, huh?
THEN: When Marley comes to inform Scrooge of his fate later that night, Scrooge notices the chains Marley is dragging behind him:
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"
Then Scrooge denies any wrong doings and tells Marley - he was such a good man of business, where Marley replies with:
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
Wow - Marley has learned his lesson, for sure. Scrooge is next.
And I could go on & on. There are more creepy parts, more sad parts, as well as more funny and happy sections. But, I think you get my point. It's a lovely, lovely friend worth visiting each holiday season. By the way, I know most people prefer the George C. Scott version of the movie, but my personal fav is the Patrick Stewart version. (I love him)
FAVORITE non-YA Holiday Books
Every few years, Mary Higgins Clark & her daughter Carol do a Christmas book. They began the tradition by having characters from each of their own popular books meet each other during the course of a holiday mystery. (they're both mystery writers, if you aren't already acquainted with the authors). Then every few years, they write another book with this combination of characters. They are always amusing, suspenseful and just plain fun to read during this time of year. The most recent in this series was just published a few weeks ago. It's called DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW. I'd recommend reading all of them, but it's certainly not mandatory to enjoy the fun. (the books are totally appropriate for teens)
Another non-YA holiday book that I really love is THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci. I haven't read any of his other books, but one Christmas, some years back, this book caught my eye when I was browsing for a holiday treat. I read it, loved it, and since it still sticks with me after all these years, that says something. Here's a description from the author's website:
"Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight "misunderstanding" at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost."
Like I said, it's been a few years since I've read it, but I still remember it being really heart-warming and perfect for the holiday season. (it's on the shelf in my library, so totally appropriate for teens)
LET IT SNOW by Green, Johnson & Myracle. I just reviewed this a few weeks ago, so I'll just refer you there for more info. It's a humorous and lovely holiday gift.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE!
Any good holiday book you can recommend? Let us all know in the comments!
It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a psychological thriller. As an added bonus, it’s love story too. I had a ton of fun getting to know Trinity. She’s an intriguing character. I’ve heard there may be a sequel. I’m all for it, since there is so much more story here.
The writing is awesome; the book really flowed nicely. It has a perfect combination of humor, thriller, coming of age, and love. (Warning: it will keep you up at night! Oh and you may be compelled to get a dreamcatcher after reading)
By the way, I’ve had the pleasure of encountering Terri Clark in her day job, and she’s marvelous. I hope she still has time to write a sequel!
Here’s her website to read more about the her.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This site has a lot of possibilities. A few might be:
*Software instruction (that's the most obvious),
*0r any type of online instruction,
*Database instruction for libraries (my example below)
Really anytime you need something to be shown or demonstrated over and over multiple times or if you need it posted online for access anytime...think of all the options. What other uses could we use this for?
Here's my example of using it for teaching how to use the databases. I plan to make more of these with narration to post on the library website.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
All three involve love, but not in an overly mushy way. The stories are realistic and the characters feel like real teens. In fact, the characters are so unique and fun that I enjoyed spending time with them. Most of all, I laughed my rear off. In the first story, I bookmarked several funny parts, but I think the funniest part is about what happens to your body when you fall in a frozen creek. (too much to quote here, but original & funny enough that I had to show it to several people). One of the funniest lines in the second story is about a guy with greasy hair. A character says, "I feel like if you wrung out his hair every day or two, you could potentially end America's dependence on foreign oil." There were funny parts in the third story, too, but what I really liked was the realistic portrayal of a girl who is trying, but keeps getting in her own way. Perhaps that just felt a little too familiar to me.This would make a great holiday gift for someone or for yourself. Definitely one I'll have to revisit during future Christmases. Loved it!
All three authors have many other books to choose from. Here are their websites to check them out:
Sunday, December 7, 2008
"This site is an experiment in teaching great literature in a very different way. Using Google Earth, students discover where in the world the greatest road trip stories of all time took place... and so much more!"
I've found that students really like Google Earth, so this sounds like a great way to use a fun application so that the students think they're just having fun, but they're also learning.
These screenshots are from the novel MY BROTHER SAM IS DEAD Lit Trip. It was created by Carol LaRow It caught my eye because I used to teach a novel from the Revolutionary War time period, like this one. So, I wanted to be able to picture how I would've used this in my classroom. (If you click on a screen shot, you can see an enlarged, readable picture).
A lit trip can include questions, maps, pictures, and more, as you can see from these shots. You could take your kids to a computer lab for each person to work on their own. Or you could pair the students up or you could do this as a class with only one computer. I think the options are endless. Plus, as you'll see on the Google Lit Trips site, there are many trips to choose from and more are being added. They are grouped by grade level. You will need Google Earth to open a Lit Trip, but it's a free download. Google Lit Trips links to it for you.
Just a disclosure: the site states that this is a project developed by the Google Certified Teachers program, but not directly affiliated or sponsored by Google Inc.
This is quite different from those. It's creepy, chilling, and has the coolest opening line. "Grandmother won't tolerate occultism..." OK, but tell me what grandmother would! That cracked me up. But it was a great way to set you up for the time period of this novel, which is 1969, because she's actually referring to Bewitched - the TV show.
The main character Bliss has been dropped off at her grandmother's house because her hippie parents have had some trouble carting around a teenager in the midst of protesting the war and fleeing to Canada. So, Bliss has been deposited at her grandmother's house for a safer, cleaner environment. Her grandmother enrolls her in a private prep school called Crestview. It's an old school, and Bliss finds out the scary way that a girl killed herself in one of the creepy old buildings. She hears her voice calling to her. The voice implores her to come to her and tells her she is the key. The key to what? Bliss wonders. Bliss tries her best to ignore the creepiness of the new school by forming a few friendships and going about her life. But one girl will not let her and tries to involve Bliss in some really creepy activities.
This book is a delicious blend of late 60's prim, prep school and creepy, bloody ghost story. Plus, who would've predicted that both Andy Griffith and Charles Manson would ever be in the same book! You'll have to read it to find out what I mean. Really, I can't say much more without giving away the juicy parts.
Definitely a fun, entertaining, yet slightly disturbing book worth your time!
Check out Lauren's website here and her blog here
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Let me take a breath...
This site is a directory of Web 2.0 tools. It lists 2844 logos (each represents a tool), as of today. When you click on a logo, you get a brief synopsis of what the tool is used for. You can have the site list the logos by catgory or in alphabetical order.
Guess I have a few tools to check out!
Thanks to our wonderful Spanish Teacher, Ms. Tayler for this resource!
This site is great for teachers in the classroom or for students studying at home. You can either use a list of words from the thousands already in the database, edit those lists or create your own.
With a list you can:
*learn the words with flashcards
*use the variety of test
*play several games
*print out flashcards
It's really a cool little vocab tool.