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Reading the Media

ProductimageThe second edition of “Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom” is not only a good read and food for curriculum thought but an excellent text for teaching about the good and bad of the media. Compiled by Frank W. Baker of the media Literacy Clearinghouse, the 160-page book couldn’t be more timely in this age of fake news and alternate truths. It not only has practical advice for teaching about the ever-changing media landscape but a slew of resources for augmenting and customizing a class. It costs $38.95 ($35.06 for ISTE members).

Freebee Friday: Top eBook Sellers

Wonder ebook2016 was a record year as far as ebooks go. Not only have library users downloaded more than 1 million ebooks, but there was a 48 percent increase in the number of ebooks taken out of libraries with OverDrive’s software, based on a School Library Journal poll of K-12 schools. The top ebook for Children-Young Adult books was The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney, while the winning  e-text was Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  As to 2017, the prediction is that Jonah Winter’s The Secret Project will be the most downloaded book at schools.

The Big Read

116042bSchools need to emphasize not just reading for content, but reading for pleasure, and that’s what Literacy Unleashed does. Bonnie D. Houck and Sandi Novak team up to show how teaching reading remains one of the most challlenging and vital tasks a teacher can perform. By using the Literacy Classroom Visit (LCV) approach Houck and Novak can help administrators and district supervisors to evaluate and hopefully improve classroom instruction. The book has everything needed to set up a LCV program, from creating evaluation teams to maintaining common practices. The book costs $30, $22 for ASCD members.

Freebee Friday: Time to Study

Wps back to schoolThe summer is not only a time to relax and rejuvenate – for students and teachers alike – but both seem to take a few months to get back into the swing of school. WPS’s Back to School Guide can help clear the mental cob webs with tips for more efficient studying with advice on getting back into the teaching and learning mindset as well as help with formatting Word documents for more impact and excellent study habits. But, by far, the best advice it can give teachers and students is to get ready for the next summer break with assignments.

To Assign or Not to Assign

108071bFor it to work best, homework needs to have a purpose and design or it runs the risk of being a dead-end time waster. That’s where Cathy Vatterott’s “Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs” comes in. Published by ASCD, the $23.95 (18.95 for members) book takes the case for well-designed and enriching homework that helps with help in designing assignments and improving completion with a new generation of strategies.


More Gray Matter

COVER -Rubicon (front only)Getting elementary- and middle-school boys to read anything can be a teacher’s biggest headache and chore, but B.C. Tweedt’s series of Greyson Gray books can excite just about any male reader. Rather than mono-dimensional sports stars, astronauts or rap singers, the series shows characters for what they are: human and full of fun and frailties. The fourth in the Greyson Gray series, “Rubicon” is out and ready for reading groups. Available in Kindle, Audible and good old paperback book, it’s essential adolescent reading where the hero tackles everything from intolerance to terrorism.

The Book on Free Programming

Smallbasic_cover-front_0Learn to Program with Small Basic” is the latest in a series of books that show how kids and teachers can learn how to do elementary app development using a free language. In this case, its Small Basic, an extension and update of Microsoft’s Basic. Small Basic can be a powerful introduction to programming for any middle- or high-school class. It starts with apps for having your computer greet you and culminates with creating games, treasure maps and geometric patterns. The print edition is available for $35 or for $28 as an ebook from No Starch Press.

Linear Regression Comics

9781593274191Following in the footsteps of manga guides to statistics and physiology, the latest serious comic book is a look at what mathematical regression analysis is and how to use it. The 232 page book from No Starch Press is chock full of girls in Victorian costumes, big eyed characters with some high-level math thrown in. As is the case with earlier efforts, its key is that in a light-hearted way, the "Regression Analysis" treats the very serious topic with areas like calculating regression equations, confidence intervals and the ever-popular Chi-squared and F confidence tests. It costs $25.

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.

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