Tag Archives: eBooks

eMINTS Conference: Session 1 (Friday)

How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices

Featured speaker Bonnie Davis facilitates this interactive talk, focusing on examining one’s cultural lens and learning strategies to improve the academic achievement of ALL students. Davis discusses culturally responsive instruction with an emphasis on students “who don’t look like you.” Beginning with an examination of one’s cultural lens, she leads participants through reflection and collegial conversation.

Using brain-based instructional strategies, Bonnie explores how to create a classroom community that honors every voice. Participants learn her award-winning strategies to engage all students to improve their academic achievement across the disciplines.

This presentation is based on material on Davis’s book, How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies.

SMART Board 800

Presenter Laura Brockman of SMART Technologies demonstrates how collaborative learning becomes an extraordinarily natural experience with the SMART Board® 800 series interactive whiteboard. Two people can instantly work together anywhere on the surface at the same time using either their fingers or a pen. This interactive whiteboard also features a multiuser Pen Tray with buttons that make it easy for users to switch ink color, right-mouse click and bring up the On-Screen Keyboard.

Google Forms = Easy Online Quizzes!

Suzanne Stillwell of Hallsville School District facilitates participants developing their own free online quizzes and surveys to use with their students. Participants see how to use Google Forms to create simple quizzes and surveys. The form can be easily embedded in a teacher webpage so that students can complete the quiz without having to have a Google account. There is even a script called Flubaroo that can be added to collect, grade and analyze the results!

Gaga for Gaggle

Presenter Diane McCormack of Affton School District demonstrates the tools available to classrooms through Gaggle and develops ideas of how to integrate it into lessons. An overview of the capabilities of Gaggle, what makes it safe for the classroom, and ways it can be integrated into learning are part of this presentation. Gaggle contains email, blog, profile page, message board, homework drop box, digital locker and collaborative writing space. The program is set up to meet the unique needs of classrooms and can be customized by each district.

Student and Class Created e-books

Cathie Loesing (eMINTS National Center) is back to show participants how easy it is to create ebooks and share ideas for classroom use. Creating books in the classroom to support developing reading skills, to share learning and as a component of writing instruction is not a new idea. However, eBooks make sharing those projects easier and more rewarding than ever.

eMINTS Conference: Session 4 (Thursday)

Return of the Speed Geekers!

eMINTS National Center staff Doug Caldwell, Ruth Henslee, Jen Foster, Amy Blades and Brooke Higgins lead this fast-paced and exciting session. Participants benefit from the knowledge of others in the field and walk away with a plan for incorporating 2.0 tools in meaningful ways. Workshop participants view actual, practical and rich examples of online technology tools and hear about implementation strategies used to enhance communication, collaboration, and cognitive thinking. The workshop’s activities are delivered in a “speed-geeking” format. Five stations are set up and participants rotate through each station in timed intervals.

Beyond Blogs and Wikis: Technology Tools for the Writing Classroom

Kerry Townsend presents how teachers of writing will learn new ways in which the collaborative writing process can be taught in the modern, technology-enhanced classroom. Web-based applications such as Google Tools, Twitter, Evernote, Prezi and Weebly are discussed as well as AV software and tools such as iPads/iPods, webcams, document cameras, Audacity, iMovie, etc.

Student and Class Created e-books

Cathie Loesing of the eMINTS National Center shows participants how easy it is to create ebooks and share ideas for classroom use. Creating books in the classroom to support developing reading skills, to share learning and as a component of writing instruction is not a new idea. However, eBooks make sharing those projects easier and more rewarding than ever. See how you and your students can use a free online program to create and share e-books that may be read on smart phones, iPads and other eReaders.

SMART Notebook Math Tools

Laura Brockman from SMART Technologies helps participants create, explore and evaluate math concepts with SMART Notebook™ Math Tools. This add-on to SMART Notebook collaborative learning software combines all the tools you need to teach math concepts and solve equations in a single application. It keeps everything at your fingertips, so you can easily incorporate shapes, measurement tools, graphs and tables into lesson activities.

Friday 4ALL: The Changing Face of Books & Reading

I have a family member, that will remain nameless, who can”t even fathom reading anything other than a REAL book. She doesn”t understand why anyone would want to have a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or any eReader for that matter. Reading to her isn”t just about words, its about words on a piece of paper held in her hands. It”s about feeling the texture of the paper, smelling the pages as she turn each one of them, sinking into a chair and losing herself in the story, and it”s about passing on that love to others (as she did with me). She is shocked, and a little annoyed, that I might “let” her Grandson read a book on our iPad.  She asked me how he will learn to love a book if he can”t hold it in his hands and turn the pages back and forth.

Needless to say, I wasn”t surprised when I got a frantic text from her the other day letting me know that Borders, the second largest book store to Barnes & Noble, is closing their doors for good. It made me think of You”ve Got Mail, the movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, where the big book store puts the Mom & Pop store out of business. But I wonder….is this such a bad thing??? Are ereaders going to be the end of the world…Judgement Day, Armageddon, 2012, The Apocalypse?

Now I realize, all book stores are not closing, just like not all magazines casino online or newspapers have shut down, but there is something in the air….a shift….a transfer of practice…a growing change in reading habits. A study that was done in September of 2010 found that only about 8% of Americans read on ereaders. But of that 1-in-10, 21% say that they now read more than they did before.

What this means to me is that a small portion of readers have changed reading habits and maybe it means that those that once didn”t read have now found a new way of reading that works for them. I don”t really care either way. What I care about is that people are reading. Whether they grab a book or their iPad, they have found the love of reading and that is what we, as teachers, try to instill in kids.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, realized that readers want more and that the use of interactive environments and social networking is very popular. In June, Rowling announced a new online environment where the stories and characters of Hogwarts will continue to develop in the years ahead. Readers around the world were so excited that her announcement video has over 1.6 million views on YouTube. Learn more about Pottermore, and possibly even be a beta tester for the site, by visiting the website July 31st. Maybe this is an example of another way to hook reluctant readers and encourage kids (and adults) to read.

I believe that reading is: fundamental, power, fun, important, essential, etc. Whether you choose to read a book or an ebook it”s really win/win. So what might this change in practice mean for schools, teachers, students, testing, bookbags, trees, etc?

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

lib-girl (Photographer). (2011). Diving into Digital Books 5. [Web]. Retrieved from

4ALL: Book Builder

The never-ending cost of replacing books and updating texts is a major burden for schools, classrooms, and school libraries. What if we could create and build our own books? Well, now you can with Book Builder!

This site allows you to create, edit and share digital books. Other books are linked for reading and rating. A list of public library books are accessible as well. Account sign up is free. There are professional resources on the site as well. Universal Design Learning is the sponsor of this site.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. A big hat tip goes out toe his colleague Carla Chaffin for finding Book Builder.

Tuesday’s Tools: eBooks in the eMINTS Classroom

A goal in all eMINTS classrooms is to make lessons relevant to students by having them create products and solve problems that are based on real life issues. One profession that lends itself to standards that many teachers teach is the job of an Author. Oftentimes teachers include writing a book as an end product in the Elaborate portion of the Constructivist lesson plan form. Having students write and publish original works requires students to think at higher levels including synthesizing information to create real world, authentic products.

There are tons of websites that allow people to create printed books for a cost, but what many don’t know is that some allow users to produce them electronically as well. Electronic books (or e-books as they are known) allow authors to embed code or link directly to the online story, thus eliminating the need to pay for a printed copy.  Here is a short list of some of these sites including the designer’s descriptions:

  • Snapfish Create books from templates using your photos.
  • Shutterfly Create books from templates using your photos.
  • My eBook Create and share dynamic books. Site needs to be previewed by teacher and possibly start projects to avoid interaction with some content. Shared in previous post
  • UDL Book Builder Use this site to create, share, publish, and read digital books that engage and support diverse learners according to their individual needs, interests, and skills.
  • Mix Book Photo books that are free and easy to create and share.
  • Story Bird Short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print.
  • Story Something Allows users to add kids names into books, save to their computer and share with kids – good Early Childhood resource.
  • Story Jumper A place to create and discover stories for kids. Free to create/publish but cost for printing hardback book.
  • Big Universe Get a free 14 day trial – see what other kids are writing and create project to see how you like it.

Whether you look at “new Bloom’s” revised by Lorin Anderson or the works of Benjamin Bloom, writing original works would be considered CREATING which on both hierarchies is a higher level intellectual behavior important for learning.

Written by: Brooke Higgins & Julie Szaj, eMINTS Instructional Specialists
Image by: alless&ro http://www.flickr.com/photos/regi_a/4462985171/