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Showing posts from 2015

Holiday break and reading

One of the things that I do love about my ebook devices, is their ability to carry so many books. Before during a holiday or work trip, I would be packing a number of books that I then had to cart around throughout the trip. Now instead, I just load up my Kindle, then turn on the Airline mode and I'm set till I get back home with plenty to read, and I'm usually able to make the whole trip on one charge. I often like to add books about where I'm going, along with other information. During my last trip I was in China, and I not only had my collection to read on the way there and back, I also (like a lot of others I saw) had something to read on the subway. As an extra I had downloaded the Beijing subway map as a PDF to my Kindle, and so I always had a map with me, that won't add more things that I have to carry.  So for those of you about to go on holiday break (winter in the northern hemisphere or summer in the southern), don't forget to load up your device for the s…

Even when not lots, some helps.

Here is an interesting situation, a Renaissance Learning the people who make Accelerate Reader report titled What Kids are Reading found that just having struggling readers read for about five minutes a day resulted in measurable improvement.

" found that roughly 200,000 of the 1.4 million fifth graders in its student database began the 2014-15 school year reading at a very low level, among the bottom quarter of fifth graders nationally. Most of them finished the school year in this unfortunate category. But 28 percent of these students somehow got out of the bottom quarter by year’s end. And a smaller subset of those students — five percent of the 200,000 — did something spectacular: in less than a year, they were reading as well as the top 50 percent of fifth graders."

"it does know that these spectacular students read an average of 19 minutes a day on the software. By contrast, the kids who remained at the bottom read only 14.3 minutes a day. Over the course of fifth…

Changing Times & Dr. Who

A couple of weeks ago I had "purchased" a Dr. Who comic book from Amazon (purchased, but free then).  And as I was trying out such a book on my Kindle to see how well it works (and it did work fine, although the zooming took a bit of practice). It made me think of a few things, first was that the comic book was based on the last three Doctors versus the "older" Doctors. I had watched one of the older shows from the 1960's just recently with Tom Baker and do enjoy the new ones Saturdays on BBC America.

While thinking of the two and the involved plot points in the modern show reminded me of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. And I think that this show is another good example that the premise of that book is true. Things today are more complicated that those from that "Golden Age" of television. I think that Dr. Who is an excellent resource for comparison as it is a show th…

Booktrack Classroom

Booktrack  has become a Google for Education partner and is now offering a free Booktrack Classroom version for teachers.  With booktracks you are trying to engage students more with the text by adding sound effects, music and other forms of audio to the material they're reading. Research on the concept has found that adding a soundtrack to text being read can increase comprehension and encourage students to read for longer periods. Teachers register for their free account and add a class, student names, and student password options. With your account, teachers and students log in and access an online text library with public domain books and chapters, you can also upload your own stories. Once a story is loading, you can add an audio track, by choosing the text and then specifying music by emotion, genre and style or sound effects. 

When reading, the reader can adjust the volume, speed (or let the system figure it out by page turnings), the text size, spacing and background colors…

The darkside of textbooks

This may illustrate what could (and most likely will) be the darkside of opensource digital textbooks. Any individual or small group could create a textbook and make it digitally available, but it could either be slanted to a certain view or not include information that an author disagreed with. Yes, teachers should be able to supplement information provided by the textbook to provide a better picture of the actual situation, but that too has issues. For many teachers, the textbook is the curriculum. For example, in science classrooms, teachers have been known to rely heavily on textbooks (Driscoll, Moallem, Dick, & Kirby, 1994).  The textbook, often a critical part of developing the curriculum for a school, and has relegated the teacher to occupy more of a passive role in the planning process.

Historically, published curriculum materials, such as textbooks, have been the main component for teaching in the US (Goodlad, 1984).  These textbooks provided a variety of aspects of the e…

Summer Reading for 2015 Let's Go Back in Time to 1915

Ok, schools out and perhaps you were planning on spending some time relaxing with a best seller.   Perhaps you were thinking on catching up with those from last year, or the ones just coming out for that great beach read. In 2014 that would include:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney Divergent by Veronica Roth Insurgent by Veronica Roth Killing Patton by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard Allegiant by Veronica Roth Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Frozen by Victoria Saxon But instead of just catching up with last year's reading, you might go back even further and read the best sellers from 100 years ago, those from 1915, with the added bonus that you can read them for free online or on your device.

The Best Sellers of 1915
The Turmoil by Booth Tarkington -
"The Turmoil", the first volume of Pulitzer Prize-winner Booth Tarkington's "Growth" trilogy. A narrative of loss and chan…

State of Kids and Family Reading Report

The every other year about how 6-17 year old students just came out based on the Fall 2014 data.  

Here are their big points about their findings:

Kids & Reading 

Half of all children ages 6–17 (51%) are currently reading a book for fun and another one in five (20%) just finished one. Both parents of children ages 6–17 (71%) and kids (54%) rank strong reading skills as the most important skill a child should have. Yet while 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, only 46% of kids say the same. Three-quarters of parents with children ages 6–17 (75%) agree “I wish my child would read more books for fun,” and 71% agree “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time.” 

What Makes Frequent Readers 

 Frequent readers, defined as children who read books for fun 5–7 days a week, differ substantially in a number of ways from infrequent readers—tho…

Ebook and School Prediction

In a recent survey by LightSail Education of 475 educators about their school districts transition from paper to ebooks the following was found: 

Concerning the migration to digital books embraced by school and district leaders:

Fifty-two percent want students reading in digital books.Eight percent prefer paper books.Forty percent expressed no preference for digital or paper books.If you eliminate the no preference group, then for the two groups left ebooks are preferred 6.5 times more than print.  Of course this isn't addressing the issues of connectivity/access and prep. I do think that ebooks as textbooks are the way to go and I do so as much as possible in my own classes. But, many schools will subscribe to an etextbook service only to find out that the interactions and video are great, but when all the students try to access there isn't enough bandwidth to access, or they don't have enough computers or wireless connections.  I think that it is great that admin…