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The Classics, Sans the Books

Myon classicsCapstone’s MyOn curriculum has just added a library’s worth of classic books and short stories that can all be read on a phone, tablet or notebook. Aimed at middle and high school students, the virtual library has 10,000 items that are now available at no extra cost to MyOn subscribers. The unabridged volumes in MyOn Classics include everything from "Oliver Twist" to “The Scarlet Letter.” There are categories for middle- and high-school classes.

Making the Most of Tests

116003bThere’s nothing better for a teacher or district than a good test that provides the needed feedback about the school’s instruction, and Susan’s Brookhart’s How to Make Decisions with Different Kinds of Student Assessment Data” can help interpret what the numbers say and don’t say about students, schools and districts. She explains how her four-quadrant framework for reading into assessments works. It includes examples and specific instances of how actual schools looked at specific test scores. The print and ebook versions edition go for $18.95 and $17.99 for ASCD members and $24.95 and $23.99 for non-members.

Everything is Awesomely Middle Ages

MedievalLEGO_058-059History books are all-too often dominated by huge blocks of text with a small map or painting here and there. No Starch Press’s “Medieval Lego” is totally different with scenarios made of the snap-together toy depicting historic events, from the Great Plague to the Norman Conquest. It may seem frivolous but kids will remember more about the Battle of Bosworth than from a conventional textbook, and maybe even make their own depiction of Henry Tudor and Richard III battling it out. It comes out in September for $15.

Teacher Togetherness

Teacher teamworkWhat does it take to collaborate in the classroom? Marilyn Swartz and Margaret Searle know and have put together “Teacher Teamwork: How do we make it work?” The 48-page book is deceptively small but is overflowing with real-world ideas and activities to bring teachers closer and create educational teams. It boils down to four ideas, from setting up guidelines and procotols and working through conflicts to fostering decision-making skills and building a teamwork state of mind. Published by ASCD, the print edition costs $10, but the ebook is only $6.

The Book on Classroom Observation

115010bWe all know that critical classroom visits can mean the difference between a static teacher and a growing one, but what’s the best way to do these observational visits? ASCD’s “17,000 Classroom visits can’t be wrong: Strategies that engage students, promote active learning, and boost achievement” may be a mouthful, but it’s a thorough how-to manual for classroom scrutiny with practical suggestions on creating engaging activities, using feedback and shifting the emphasis from teaching to learning. John Antonetti and James Garver show how to create valuable educational insight from classroom walkthroughs. The 190-page book costs $28.95, $21.95 for ASCD members.

Freebee Friday: E-Books in OverDrive

OverdriveIn an OverDrive-based digital library, ebooks are just like physical volumes, only better. The software lets students browse the catalog and check-out ebooks that can be read on free versions of OverDrive for PCs, Macs, Androids, iPads and Chromebooks. Everything has a due date when the ebook is automatically returned to the collection for another reader. Along the way, OverDrive can not only display the material in several fonts and sizes, but adds definitions, bookmarks and the ability to search the entire book. You can even use the software for audiobooks, which can be played at a variety of speeds.

Heard any Good Books Lately?

LibrivoxOften, hearing a book read by a good narrator or group can be as good as having the class read it to each other, but audio books can be expensive for a library to get. Enter Librivox, which collects and offers for download a good assortment of public domain books. From over 100 books by Charles Dickens and Rupert Brooke’s poetry to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and a variety of Shakespeare’s plays, the site has an eclectic mix that can augment many classes with spoken audio. Each comes with a description, rundown of chapters and often a link to online text downloads. While most of the roughly 20,000 volumes are in English, there are many in French, German and a smattering in Arabic and Urdu. If you like what you hear, you can either donate to help this non-profit or – better yet – set up a class project to record a book for others to enjoy.

Latest Sneaky Book

9781449445201_frontcoverLearning that doesn’t seem like education is the best way to teach, or so says Cy Tymony in his “Sneaky Math” book. The latest in Tymony’s Sneaky books, the math text covers everything from counting to calculus, but in a way that examines the world around us. Rather than a blackboard and chalk, he uses things like Frisbees and radio-controlled cars to demonstrate and explore math concepts. The book costs $13.

The Book on Math and Science

Shelter harbor booksIn an age where e-books, tablets and notebooks are trying to dominate science education, there’s still a place for the good book, or more precise, four good books. For example, Shelter Harbor Press’s Ponderables series provides not only a good look at the history of math, physics, astronomy and the elements, but includes wall timelines to adorn the typical classroom that show how each topic fits into our scientific and cultural history.

All four books are by science writer Tom Jackson and sell for $25, although you can get the set for about $70.  Each is organized around 100 small and mid-sized snippets of text along with lots of historical photos and illustrations. The set should be part of every middle and high-school classroom.

  • “The Elements,” not only provides a guided tour of the periodic table, but is organized by historical period so it can provide perspective on everything from the discovery of the electron to magnetism. The back of the book has brief illustrated biographical sketches of all the major players.
  • “Mathematics” is more abstract, dealing with the history and evolution of numbers and their manipulation. With sections that range from the Pythagorean Theorem to Pi, the book is a great companion to just about any math class. It’s up to date with the latest information on Mersenne primes that are key to current encryption techniques and fractals.
  • As its name implies, “Physics” deals with the physical world, from subatomic particles to string theory. Along the way, the book explains Newton’s laws, the Doppler effect and how the electron microscope works.
  • While the other three books deal with thousands of years of history, the “Universe” volume reaches back nearly 14-billion years to the big bang. A big bonus is that the back of its timeline has a star chart of the known universe.

Freebee Friday: Panel or Projector?

Display_Guide_LPWith interactive projectors, smartboards and touch-screen monitors around, how’s a school to choose? Mimio has a 28-page ebook that goes over the major questions and answers that deal with specific school and district needs. There are five buyer’s tips, a look at collaborative lessons and includes the factors for selecting a touch-screen over the competition. Be warned, though, you’ll need to register with Mimio to get the ebook.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.