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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Digital media, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 93
1. Newsela: Engaging news stories for kids, with adjustable reading levels (ages 8-14)

Splashy news headlines can grab our attention, but it's crucial that we engage kids with deeper thinking about current events. Whether it's prompting dinner-table discussions or classroom debates, current events provide so many avenues for kids to question, think and discover. One of my favorite sources is Newsela. Here are my top 5 reasons why I recommend Newsela for kids, teachers and families:

1. Engaging content, easy to search

Newsela consistently engages kids with its content. They have a terrific sense of what kids will be interested in and yet they never underestimate kids' ability to think about big issues. They balance fun articles (Jedi lightsaber exercise class) with hard-hitting news (Flint, Michigan water pollution crisis). And they use great photos to draw kids in.

It's easy to search for specific topics or browse general interest areas--and this encourages kids to figure out what interests them, to discover the news that matters. I also love that there's a dedicated site for elementary kids, recognizing that some articles are better for younger kids than others.
screenshot of "latest news" from Newsela 1.22.15
2. Adjustable reading levels for every article

Kids can select the right reading level for them, adjusting the article with an easy click. Nonfiction is harder for many kids to read, especially current events about topics that are new to them. Newsela lets kids read an article at an easier level, with simpler sentences and less complicated vocabulary. They can read, change the level and re-read the same article. Kids with different reading levels can read and discuss the same article but at a level just right for each kid.
Kids can easily adjust the reading level
3. Easy ways to personalize & save content

We all like personalizing our reading experience. Kids sign up for free Newsela accounts--at school, I recommend that they use their school Google account to automatically sign in.  Newsela lets readers mark which articles they like and recommends other articles on a similar subject.

Teachers love the annotation features. Kids can highlight and annotate articles, saving their thoughts for later. This makes it great for prompting deeper thinking, discussions and further writing about articles. This feature promotes active reading, helping kids focus on main ideas and engage with the material. It's so easy to use that I have found kids enjoy it.
annotations made with a 5th grade class
4. Quizzes help kids check understanding

While I am not a fan of multiple-choice quizzes, I actually think these quizzes help kids check their understanding of the article. They also let kids practice taking this type of quiz in a low-stress environment. This helps them practice just the sorts of questions that will be on state tests, but helps them keep a growth mindset--noticing how they get better as they practice more.

5. Text sets encourage kids to broaden thinking

I love the way that Newsela editors are creating text sets to encourage kids to read more broadly. Some recent examples include text sets on animal ethics, bullying, and pollution. Teachers will especially like the PRO/CON text set to support students' persuasive writing.

Newsela App

And now, it's even easier to use at home with your mobile device--Newsela has just released its app for iPads and iPhones. See this Newsela blog article for more information. I've only just started testing this, but I like it already. It's easy to check the most recent news, and it's also easy to search for specific topics. I love the way readers can easily change the reading level on the app -- very well designed.
If you're looking for a way to engage kids with the news, definitely check out Newsela. I'd recommend the Newsela Elementary site for grades 3-5, and the regular site for grades 6 and up. I have only used the free site, and I hope that it continues to provide robust access for general free users.

We use both the free and PRO site in our school district. My daughter's 6th grade teacher uses the PRO subscription site and really likes the additional data he gathers. For families and many classrooms, the free site is a terrific resource. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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2. Online Resources: exploring Japanese Americans' experiences during World War II (ages 8 and up)

As a school librarian, I want to find many ways to engage young children in exploring the world around them. Sometimes that comes from sharing a picture book or novel, and other times it might be helping them explore online resources. Recently I have been very moved by historical fiction about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II, as they were forced from their homes following Executive Order 9066. Today I would like to share some online resources to help children learn more about these experiences.

The Remembrance Project is an initiative developed by the Japanese American National Museum which I highly recommend. As its website states, the Remembrance Project is
"a pioneering effort to build a permanent “living museum” online featuring the stories of those whose lives were forever changed by the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, which instigated indignities and injustices for over 285,000 people of Japanese ancestry residing in the U.S. and abroad."
This introductory video featuring George Takei sets the stage for learning about the way Japanese Americans were treated here in America during World War II and the mission of the Remembrance Project. A short video like this helps children start building visual images to use in their understanding of historical events.

The Remembrance Project starts with a short introduction to Executive Order 9066, but students will be most interested in exploring pictures, memories and descriptions of the prison camps and people who lived through this ordeal. For example, I really wanted to learn about Minidoka Camp in Idaho, because Kirby Larson set part of her novel Dash in that camp. Tomorrow I will share more about this moving novel, but I want to start off by sharing these resources.
Students preparing to plant rye between classroom barrack buildings. Minidoka, ID. National Archives and Records Administration via the Remembrance Project
I especially like how easy it is to browse through the Remembrance Project, discovering information, photographs and primary source materials. This site will bring home for children how this is living history for many families, whether grandparents or great-grandparents had to go through this terrible experience.

For even more resource, check out the National Park Service website about the Japanese American Experience. This includes links to three National Park Service website as well as six other sites that children and families will find interesting.

I am very excited to share Dash by Kirby Larson with my students next week. I can't wait until Tuesday, August 26th, when it is released! Come back to my site on Tuesday for a full review (and giveaways!). In the meantime, here is the publisher's summary:
Although Mitsi Kashino and her family are swept up in the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitsi never expects to lose her home--or her beloved dog, Dash. But, as World War II rages and people of Japanese descent are forced into incarceration camps, Mitsi is separated from Dash, her classmates, and life as she knows it. The camp is a crowded and unfamiliar place, whose dusty floors, seemingly endless lines, and barbed wire fences begin to unravel the strong Kashino family ties. With the help of a friendly neighbor back home, Mitsi remains connected to Dash in spite of the hard times, holding on to the hope that the war will end soon and life will return to normal. Though they've lost their home, will the Kashino family also lose their sense of family? And will Mitsi and Dash ever be reunited?
If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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3. Emerson's Museum of Amazing Women, Part 3

Women's History Month inspires kids in so many different ways. Here are two modern women that our kids look up to: author Jennifer Holm, and soccer star Alex Morgan. Each of these women gives the message to all our kids: you can follow your dreams and become whoever you want to be.

Emily had a lot of fun making an Animoto about her favorite author Jennifer Holm. Many of our students love Holm's Babymouse series (did you know Happy Birthday, Babymouse comes out in 3 weeks?!), but Emily also gives a shout-out for Turtle in Paradise, Holm's novel set in 1930s Key West.

Madeline honors Alex Morgan, an American soccer player and Olympic gold medalist. Madeline was so excited to try out using Animoto -- and I'm really excited to learn about a new sport hero our girls admire.
I just learned that Alex Morgan is writing a new series perfect for kids in 4th through 6th grade:
Booklist writes of the first Kicks installment, Saving the Team:
U.S. women’s soccer team player and Olympic medalist Morgan’s enthusiasm for the game is evident throughout this light and lively contemporary read. Though there are some predictable story elements, Devin is an appealing protagonist whose peppy first-person narrative incorporates abundant soccer details, along with familiar themes of making friends and the value of teamwork.
Stay tuned for my Animoto showing all the great posters that students have made. Thanks very much for celebrating Women's History Month with Emerson students!

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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4. Celebrating Earth Day: Developing an understanding of ecosystems & endangered species (ages 7-12)

I have always been fascinated by the interdependence of species within an ecosystem. As we celebrate Earth Day with our students, I want to highlight two books that help children understand the complex interdependence within ecosystems and our role in help ensure their sustainability. There are no easy answers, but we must help our children understand the factors at play.
When the Wolves Returned
Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
photographs by Dan Hartman and Cassie Hartman
Walker & Co., 2008
Your local library
ages 9-12
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent explains in clear text the changes that have come about in Yellowstone after the reintroduction of the gray wolf population. The Hartmans' photographs are bold and compelling, illustrating the environment and range of animals that live in this complex ecosystem. The design of this book makes it particularly successful for 4th through 6th graders interested in reading about more complex issues, but without lengthy text. The photographs always take center stage, but the text provides depth and understanding.
Can We Save the Tiger?
by Martin Jenkins
illustrated by Vicky White
Candlewick, 2011
Your local library
ages 7-11
Using straightforward but compelling language, Jenkins starts by introducing the concept of what makes animals extinct.
"Some of the other animals and plants that we share the Earth with have coped with the changes very well. But some haven't. In fact, some have coped so badly that they're not here any more. They're extinct. This means we'll never see a live dodo... or a Steller's sea cow, or a marsupial wolf, or a great auk..." (pp. 6-8) 
With clear writing, an almost conversational tone, and large print size, this book makes a great choice for 3rd through 5th graders reading nonfiction on their own. Jenkins next turns to species that are barely hanging on: tigers, Asian elephants, sloth bears and the partula snail. He helps children understand the pressure that humans put on large animals like the tiger, who need plenty of room and prey for hunting. Fierce tigers usually eat deer and other wild animals, but when human developments spread into tigers' territory, conflicts arise.

These environmental issues are complex and still hotly debated. Just last month, the New York Times ran a passionate, thoughtful piece in the op-ed section called "Is the Wolf a Real American Hero?" I would point interested students to a range of resources on the subject, so they can see the complexities and the biases involved. In particular, I found these interesting:
Text to Text: 
Is the Wolf a Real American Hero?
Hunting Habits of Wolves Change Ecological Balance in Yellowstone
New York Times: The Learning Network
Wolves at the Door
Audio & reporting by Nathan Rott
Photography by David Gilkey
National Public Radio
After Major Comeback, Is the Gray Wolf Still Endangered?
by Elizabeth Shogren
National Public Radio
Wolf Restoration
Yellowstone National Park
National Park Services
The review copies came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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5. Common Core IRL: Digital Resources for students studying Colonial America

As a school librarian, an essential part of my role is curating resources: selecting, organizing and sharing information. It can be overwhelming for students and teachers to search for good information; the size and scope of the Internet makes this all the more true.

As we have seen with the Common Core IRL project, print resources are not necessarily plentiful on the American Colonies. Digital resources are an essential tool for students.

I created the following Google Doc to share digital resources with our students (you may copy and share the Google Doc using this link). 

To make this document easily findable, I created a visual link on our library catalog, Destiny. You can explore the visual links in our catalog by going to http://library.berkeley.net/ and selecting any of the elementary schools. Click on the Visual search tab on the right. The Emerson catalog looks like this:

Within the History collection, you'll find different types of curated resources: books and encyclopedia articles, websites, maps and more. Keeping these links on the library catalog has many advantages. First of all, it's an easily findable place for students and teachers. In addition, we are training our community that the library is a central hub for information resources. Finally, we can hold onto these resources for teachers to use year after year.

These resources are an essential part of the Common Core standards for both reading informational text and writing. As students delve into these digital resources, they will need to read and identify the main point of a paragraph, page or article. ELA Common Core standard RI.5.1 states 5th grade students will "determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text." This is essential when reading websites.

How are you sharing digital resources with elementary students? Are you finding that they are able to read and digest them? Or are they surfing through them, without finding key information?

I am excited to read about other resources my colleagues have found in their search: Common Core IRL -- In Real Libraries. This week, we are excited to share:
If you are going to be at the American Library Association's annual conference later this month in Las Vegas, we hope you can come to our presentation on the Common Core IRL: In Real Libraries. Here are the details:
Common Core IRL: In Real Libraries
ALA Annual Conference
WHEN: Sunday, June 29, 2014 - 10:30am to 11:30am
LOCATION: Las Vegas Convention Center, S228
Hope to see folks there!

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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6. Reading Online: How will it affect developing readers?

I read with interest a recent New Yorker article, Being a Better Online Reader by Maria Konnikova, and I would love to explore my thoughts on this article. We all are reading much more online than we did ten years ago, but how is this affecting the way young children are developing as readers? How is this affecting the way teachers and librarians help students learn to read, discover a love of reading, and develop their critical thinking skills?

Over the past several years, I have observed these changes:
  • most adults read for work online -- mainly on desktop or laptop computers
  • many adults read for pleasure using digital devices, like the iPad, Kindle or Nook
  • most children (ages 7-12) read primarily print books when reading for pleasure or school
  • students are learning to research online, starting at about age 8-9
  • standardized tests are shifting to online assessments
I feel very strongly that if we are going to start assessing students online, then we need to provide specific experiences and instruction for reading online. Explicit instruction is crucial -- it is unfair to assume that our children are "digital natives" and learn through osmosis how to read online. If we make those assumptions, we will simply reinforce the digital divide that is created by unequal opportunities and access.

Konnikova points out that the way we read online is different than the way we read in print. She steers clear of passing judgment, but rather ponders how this affects the way we acquire knowledge. Konnikova writes,
On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.
I would argue that this skimming is an essential skill for coping with the huge amount of information we have to sift through online. We need to teach our students how we skim effectively. But we also need to talk with them about strategies for when we discover a nugget -- how we need to consciously slow down to digest the information.

Later, Konnikova looks at research that has explored this point -- that we need to teach our students explicit online reading skills:
Julie Coiro, who studies digital reading comprehension in elementary- and middle-school students at the University of Rhode Island, has found that good reading in print doesn’t necessarily translate to good reading on-screen. The students do not only differ in their abilities and preferences; they also need different sorts of training to excel at each medium. The online world, she argues, may require students to exercise much greater self-control than a physical book.
I have noticed this with my own daughter, whose high school is now one-to-one iPad. She likes reading her English texts online because she can annotate them well, but she prefers to read in print if she is just absorbing and enjoying a book.

Schools must specifically teach students in 4th grade and above how to apply their reading skills to digital reading. Starting in elementary school, they need to practice researching online and teachers need to talk about how this might be different from reading a print book. It is essential that our schools invest in technologies, so that teachers and students can learn these skills. But I would also argue that it's essential for schools to invest in librarians who understand this intersection between reading, information and digital experiences.

Adults often ask me if kids will continue reading print books. I believe the answer is absolutely yes. First of all, there's access and quantity issues. Children in first through third grade need to read 10-20 short books every week. They want to browse through physical copies. Schools, libraries and families need access to inexpensive paperbacks. Even highly digital affluent families are reluctant to continue purchasing ebooks at this rate.

I would also argue that there is something more tangible, more comforting, more reassuring for young kids holding print books. Konnikova quotes Maryann Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, as saying “Physical, tangible books give children a lot of time." Young children need that time. Families need that time.

It is interesting that I read this article online, following a link suggested by KQED's Mindshift blog. But I returned to it several times, reading it in different chunks, rereading it, skimming it again. This type of repeated reading might be what our students need to get comfortable doing, taking the time to dive into ideas and ponder them.

As you watch your children and your students, are you noticing that they are reading digitally more than they were a few years ago? Is the way they are reading changing? The digital world certainly brings more opportunities within easy reach for many students, but how are we preparing them to take advantage of those opportunities?

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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7. Freebie Friday: Oscar Wilde classic & an epic fantasy short story


Two free audio goodies – grab them now!

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is available as a free iTunes app from L.A. Theatre Works. Download this free app to any Apple device, and enjoy not only the full play, but also the entire text so you can read it standalone or follow along with the audio. The app also includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA as well as pop-up annotations that follow the audio. The production stars James Marsters as Jack, Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell, and Emily Bergl as Cecily. A must-have for any educational drama program!

The Jester (A Riyria Chronicles Tale), written by Michael J. Sullivan & narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, is a free short story download from Audible. This hour-long production will give you a stand-alone introduction to Sulivan’s action-packed epic fantasy world.

Happy listening!

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8. News you can use: Audiobooks coming to 3M Cloud Library

news clip art

More options for audio. Findaway World, the parent company of  Playaway, has partnered with the 3M Cloud Library to offer 40,000 eAudiobook titles though 3M’s established library download interface & app,  and all eAudio titles will be compatible on all devices. This new enhancement to the 3M Cloud Library will debut at the American Library Assoication’s PLA division conference in Indianapolis next week.  Find out more on this press release.

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9. Elevating the Art of the Audiobook: Deyan Institute of Voice Artistry & Technology

Bob Deyan

New media = new methods for a growing industry. Audiobook publishing is booming, with Audio Publishers Association statistics noting

6 million more audiobooks were sold in 2012 than were sold in 2011, representing a 13.5% increase in revenue reported by the publishers who shared data for both 2011 and 2012. The sales growth can be attributed in part to the fact that the total number of titles published in 2012 in the audio format has nearly doubled year over year. The format is thriving with the widest selection of titles ever available—13,255 titles were published as audiobooks in 2012, up from 7,237 the previous year. Publishers continue to increase their output to ensure that the most popular trade titles are released simultaneously in print and audio formats.

Even the Wall Street Journal is sitting up and taking note, in The New Explosion in Audio Books: How They Re-emerged as a Rare Bright Spot in the Publishing Business

As media combine into transmedia formats blending text, visuals, and audio there’s a growing need for trained voices and technical experts. There have long been audiobook narrator workshops, led by industry experts such as Pat FraleyJohnny Heller, Robin Miles, Paul RubenBettye Seitz. In response to this growing need for audiobook artists and technical gurus, Bob & Debra Deyan have announced the creation of the Deyan Institute of Vocal Artistry and Technology, a campus environment where, according to the Institute’s press release,

This believed to be the first of its kind worldwide… Institute’s initial lineup of courses includes introductory intensives and master classes for audiobook narrators, specialized courses for voiceover artists, as well as technical courses on production and post-production for both voice actors competing in the ever-increasing self-recording market and audio engineers alike. Deyan Institute instructors are each acclaimed experts in their respective areas of specialty.

I featured the Deyans in my “Voicing a Cause” blog post after the Audio Publishers Association honored the pair with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For over 20 years, Bob has been dedicated to creating great audios, in partnership with his wife Debra. But the couple has turned their focus to making a positive impact in the world of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Now Debra Deyan says,

It’s hard to express how much it means to me to launch this school in honor of my husband, Bob Deyan. Bob is riveted by excellent acting, loves the human voice and particularly the ancient art of storytelling. He spent his life’s work directing actors and preserving the human voice experience for generations to come. It is my vision that Bob’s legacy will live on through Deyan Institute.

Best of luck in your new cause, Bob & Debra!

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10. Freebie Friday: Audiobooks for your Easter basket from Christian Audio

This month’s free download plus a bonus title free until Easter – Two freebies for the Easter season from Christian Audio:

Normal Christian Life_largeNormal Christian Life, by Watchman Nee, narrated by Paul Michael. This month’s free download is a 7 Hrs. 45 Min. classic work which unfolds the path of Christian faith and presents the eternal purpose of God in simple terms


A Spiritual Formation Primer, by Richella Parham, narrated by Karyn O’Bryant. This two-hour audio lays out the basics of Christian spiritual formation, free until Easter.

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11. Digital projects to celebrate Emerson's Museum of Amazing Women

Emerson students are having so much fun creating projects to celebrate amazing women this month. Some are researching pop stars, others are celebrating their mothers or teachers. I'm excited to share two digital ways to create projects.

Animoto is an easy-to-use online video creation site that you can use to create short, dynamic slide shows. Kids love the music and movement. I love that you can add just a few words with the images to really communicate your ideas. Plus, it's free (for short videos)!

Here's an Animoto I created to celebrate Gabby Douglas, Olympic champion:

Our 4th and 5th graders are also learning how to use their school Google accounts, and some are taking the challenge to create a Google Presentation. Again, they love using images! For many kids, this is much easier than creating a poster board.

Here's an example I created about Jane Goodall. I really tried to show the kids how one simple picture with a short caption can communicate a lot of what you admire about a person. We talk about how this presentation doesn't have much of a conclusion, that I could have put in more of my own ideas.

I'm excited to see what projects the students create! Are your students creating anything using new digital tools that they love? There are so many to choose from!!

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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12. Love, The App -- winner of the BolognaRagazzi Digital Awards, 2014

Today, I'd like to share a guest review by Emily S., age 10, also known as my youngest daughter. This week, she read Love, The App, winner of the 2014 BolognaRagazzi Digital Award for fiction.

Love, The App
developed by Niño Studio
based on the book by Gian Berto Vanni
ages 6-12
review by Emily S., age 10
I just read the book app Love and I think that it is amazing. Why I think that because I love how the company that made the app have a lot of interactive features but not too much interactive items that the reader wouldn’t get distracted from the book.

This book app is about a girl who gets taken to an orphanage because her parents left and she has no relatives. And when she goes to the orphanage none of the other kids play with her just because she is ugly. But one day the manager of the orphanage almost kicks her out of the orphanage.
She didn't have any relatives.
I also really like the layout of this book app especially because of the transitions. Why I love the transitions of this book app is because you have to figure out how to turn the page, you don’t just swipe your finger and it turns the the page, you have to tap certain objects or you have to swipe the flaps in.

I think that the moral of the story is that even if someone looks different it doesn’t mean that they don’t have a kind heart or that they don’t deserve friends. And that you should always treat people the way you want to be treated.

In conclusion I think Love is a great book app because it is a great story,it has interactive features, and it has a great moral too. This book app is great for all ages (even grownups!). Why this book is for all ages is because it is heartfelt, interactive, and it has a great story structure.

Do you want to learn more? Watch this video trailer:

Thanks, Emily! I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this. It's especially interesting how much you enjoyed having to "figure out how to turn the page". I agree that the moral of the story really shines through in this story.

The review copy of the app came from our home library. We purchased it after reading about the BolognaRagazzi Digital Awards in the excellent journal Children's Technology Review.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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13. Emerson Museum of Amazing Women 2014, part 1

Emerson students have been so excited to share their projects on amazing women. I just love the way they're celebrating women who inspire them. Over the next week, I'd like to share several projects.

Orion was inspired by learning about Jane Goodall, through the Jane Goodall Institute and Patrick McDonnel's wonderful book Me, Jane. He worked with his parents to create a wonderful Animoto
-- click through to watch it.

Mykeia created a Google Presentation about Fantasia Bronno, an amazing winner of American Idol.

One of the things I've loved about this project is how excited the kids are to find out about these women and share their information in new and interesting ways. Because it isn't a required project, it's more fun to do! And, they've learned great presentation skills, while having fun.

If you see any projects that you like, it would mean a whole lot to our Emerson students if you left a quick note. Thanks so much learning about these great women --

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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14. Emerson's Museum of Amazing Women, Part 2

Here are two more great projects celebrating women that our students admire -- both have strong roots in the Bay Area as well as national garden movement.

Kaiyah honors her mom, Kelly Carlisle, founder of Acta Non Verba, a youth urban farm project in East Oakland. Kaiyah was particularly excited to try out using Animoto, and she did a terrific job combining bold text and pictures. Watch her Animoto by clicking through:

Bella honors Alice Waters, chef and activist. Our students at Emerson have loved having a school garden, a project that Waters has been particularly instrumental in spreading throughout the Berkeley schools.

Did you notice how Bella included her photo credits on the last slide? This made my librarian heart smile -- here's a student really incorporating Digital Citizenship lessons. Hooray!

These are the first digital projects that these students have done. I love how they've ventured into this new way of presenting information. If you have a chance, they would love to hear what you think about their projects. Leave a comment below if you can!

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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15. Free audiobook download: Her Royal Spyness

Katherine Kellgren reads this cozy mystery written by Rhys Bowen, a limited time freebie from Audible. Grab this 2011 Audies Award nominee for “Best Mystery/Suspense Audiobook” - pure fun narrated by Booklist‘s “Voice of Choice” Kellgren. No doubt they’ve decided to offer this introduction to the  Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie series to hook you on the series – be prepared to devour all five of these light, frothy treats! Here’s the download link

And check out the video below for a guided tour of Audible’s headquarters, an episode of Cubes hosted by the lovely Katy Kellgren

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16. Just for Fun: Three Little Pigs, Open Journalism style

Love. This. The Guardian imagines the story of the Three Little Pigs, 21st century-style, in print and online.  Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith – are you taking notes for The True Story of the Three Little Pigs 2.0??

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17. Simon Vance & Learning Ally

The importance of audiobooks for those with disabilities was Voice of Choice narrator Vance‘s topic in his most recent blog post. I know the resources available through Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) and  the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) are life-changing – the continued response to my Booklist article “That All May Read” has shown me that listeners of all ages depend on these services. If you serve patrons or students who have vision, physical or learning disabilities, please take time to learn about the huge variety of materials available for free – and if you have a family member that qualifies, assist them with signing up! In years past, specially-formatted audios came through the mail, but now digital technology allows instant downloads and app-based access. Many times, those with vision or learning disabilities are frustrated when a particular title is unavailable in a commercially-available audiobook through a vendor or public library – yet that same title (and hundreds more) are readily-available through the NLS, or you may even request that Learning Ally record that title for you! The amazing volunteers who record for these organizations provide a marvelous service and often go on to become top audiobook narrators – here’s what Vance has to say about…

Creating audiobooks for the blind, partially sighted or dyslexic.  When I began 30 years ago we recorded on reel-to-reel 1/4? tape machines and had one engineer between two recording studios – yesterday there was one engineer to each narrator and everything was recorded onto a computer’s hard drive using rather strange software.

I’m choosing this topic for my first blog on the re-designed “me” website because yesterday I donated some time in support of Learning Ally’s Record-A-Thon (the organization formerly known as “Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic”) and had a wonderful morning down at their studios in Palo Alto which made me recall the many pleasant hours I spent at the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s Talking Book Service (now more than 75 years old) in London in the 1980?s.  I always say it’s where I served my apprenticeship in audiobook narration.

Find out more by visiting the link to Simon’s blog & exploring both the NLS and Learning Ally websites!

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18. News You Can Use

What’s happening in the audiobook world? Here’s a round-up of interesting links…

I am totally inspired by the Contra Costa County (CA) Public Library’s “Snap & Go” project to bring library services to mobile phones, winner of the 2012 John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award. When I saw this promotion on the library’s website…

Now on WestCAT buses: Snap & Go QR Technology

Powered by WestCAT and the Contra Costa County Library

Listen to over 600 audiobook titles on the bus with the Contra Costa County Library’s Snap & Go mobile library access. Wirelessly download audiobooks directly to your cell phone for FREE. It’s a great way to pass time on the bus.

Easy as 1-2-3

1) Download a free QR code reader to your phone fromsnapngo.ccclib.org (1x only)

2) Scan the code from a library poster on Tri Delta Transit buses or wherever you see it posted.

3) Select an audiobook to download and enjoy the ride!

I immediately thought about how to make this happen in my school library, stole shared the idea and brainstormed with my public library partner George Morrison. We’re dreaming up ways to pilot this idea on school buses this fall, with the tag line “Stuck on a Bus?” How about QR codes for links to audiobooks of required classroom reads? Bookmarks with QR codes to a genre list of top teen audiobooks or list of always-available classics in both eBook and audio format? What a great project to tweak and tailor to your population – find out more in this article.

The National Endowment for the Arts has released the newest batch of ” “The Big Read” classic titles for adults and teens. The 31 titles each include a “Learn More” tab for an introductory Preface, a Reader’s Guide, Teacher’s Guide and an awesome Audio Guide for each title. The approximately 30 minute Audio Guide is perfect to expand a listener’s appreciation of a book, to add to your library website or for teachers to add to a novel unit.  The Big Read will highlight a different audio guide about a Big Read book and author every 2 weeks. You can subscribe the podcast using iTunes, or any other podcatching tool.

To Prep Or Not to Prep? That Is The Question” is the title of Grammy Award-winning audiobook producer/director Paul Ruben’s newest blog post on the positives & pitfalls of narrators preparing a book for recording. If you’d like an insider’s view of the art & craft of audiobook production, you can’t get much better than the revealing posts in Ruben’s blog.

NPR’s Press-Play Poetry website is the perfect antidote for listeners with heat-induced short attention spans. The newest post of audible poetry is “Summer Song” by William Carlos Williams, along with the poem’s text and background information.

Another audio production insider, Allan Toving of Tantor Audio, has “Tantorious,” an audio blog  where you can download and listen

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19. Promote new books with audiobook clips!

Post a clip of the first chapter of hot new titles along with cover art and satisfy fans and entice new readers of both print & audio editions. Libraries have full permission from publishers to include the audio files and widgets on library websites & social media posts. Hearing a short clip is a great way to gain  interest for new titles in your collection and increase circulation of all formats. Highlight your digital collection with direct links to download titles below an embeded clip to make things easy for your online-only patrons. Many audio publishers have email newsletters, such as Macmillan’s “Hear, Here!” newsletter, that will feature cover art and clips for you to use. Promoting Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card? Grab the clip. Book club reading Where We Belong by Emily Giffin? Play the clip to kick off your discussion. Check the Audiobook Reference Guide on AudioFile’s website for audio publisher websites where you can find audio clips, or sign up to get news alerts which will include links. No need to ask for permission – at the recent Audio Publishers Association Conference, I heard a panel of publishers begging libraries to make use of these promotional clips.

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20. Audiobook Freebie Friday

Olympic sports to family-friendly classics, teen favorites plus a Playboy short story – these 8 freebies have something for everyone. Enjoy but remember: these are limited time offers that may disappear at any time, so download now to build your audio library!

Two short podcasts from Naxos Audiobooks:

A History of the Olympics

Olympic Memories Podcast (MP3) British broadcaster John Goodbody recalls some of his favorite memories from the Olympic Games he has reported.

A History of the Olympics

London Games Podcast (MP3) John Goodbody on how London won the 2012 Olympic Games.


Poetry Games illustration

The Poetry of Sport. And speaking of the Olympics, don’t forget that you can listen to NPR’s broadcasts as audio links and create a playlist for download. Here’s a story on the Olympic sport of… Poetry!


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Read by Grover Gardner. Published by Blackstone Audio.

Direct link to zipped downloadable MP3 file or M4B file.


“Romance” by Chuck Palahnium. Read by the author. Published by Blackstone Audio.

Originally published in Playboy magazine, “Romance” is a twisted love short story like only Chuck could tell.

Direct link to zipped downloadable MP3 file or M4B file.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | [L. Frank Baum]

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Read by Anne Hathaway. One of Audible’s A-List Audiobooks – a classic listen, great for the whole family. And spoiler! – it’s different than the movie ;-)

This week’s free downloads from SYNC:<

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21. Back to School with John Green

YA author superstar, Nerdfighter & Booklist alumni Green has the solution to Back to School blues – this inspiring video ode to the value of public education. Perfect as I set off for a new day and new year in my school library. Thanks, John, for making my first day back AWESOME!


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22. Freebie Friday


Nine free audiobook downloads – classics & current favorites. Load up your MP3 player or phone with these goodies!

From Random House Audio: The “Try Audiobooks” promotion has something for every type of audiobook listener – and their promotional ideas are a great model for libraries to replicate ;-) .  Grab A Week in Summer by Maeve Binchy; The Cult of the Garage by Chip Heath & Dan Heath; Clan Rathskeller by Kevin Hearne; Lee Child’s Second Son, read by his partner in crime Dick Hill ; and Jack London’s classic The Call of the Wild, read by Luke Daniels, the tile that inspired my Voices in My Head column “It’s on the Tip of My Tongue.” Here’s the promotion’s website where you can download all five: http://www.tryaudiobooks.com/

From Naxos Audio: Two free classic downloads. The Call of the Wild  read by William Roberts will gives you a chance to compare how two different fine narrators can interpret a title when paired with the Random House freebie, plus Northanger Abbey beautifully read by Juliet Stevenson.  Naxos also has a free nonfiction children’s title, Famous People in History, Volume 1, along with a supplemental informational booklet. Grab all three here: http://www.naxosaudiobooks.com/m4b.htm

And this month’s free download from Christian Audio is The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and John & Elizabeth Sherrill, read by Paul Michael – still a best-seller fifty years after its first publication. Click here to download.

Happy listening!


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23. Top 100


What are the Top 100 audiobooks of 2013 as measured by library downloads? OverDrive Media released a list of the most popular audios downloaded so far this year. In this post on the company’s blog, libraries can take a look at the complete list in the OverDrive Marketplace, to beef up the audiobook collection. Or just click on the image above to read the list for yourself. I noticed plenty of the usual suspects – blockbuster bestsellers, novels turned into current movies, popular YA crossovers – and one surprise, Wheat Belly. But there are also titles that I’ve never heard of – I suspect these are the uber popular Romance titles that drive library downloads, a category that isn’t my strong suit. The titles aren’t ranked by number of downloads, so no one title can take the top dog honors. But take a look – you’ll find lots of great listening, and a good tool for library promotions & marketing!

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24. Fascinating! Origins of recording the oral tradition, lost & now found


New Sounds, Old Voices“, written by Jacob Mikanowski in this week’s New Yorker, holds interest for recording techies and audiobook historians alike. Mikanowski follows the research path of Carl Haber, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and winner of the MacArthur genius grant for his work on sound restoration. Haber and his team have developed a technology which can more or less photograph the earliest methods of recording sound and translate into digital audio – from disintegrating wax cylinders to the  phonautograph, or “speech writer.” The most interesting part of the article, for me, is Haber’s work with Milman Parry’s recordings – here’s a quote form the article (and you can see the inspiration for ALA’s Odyssey Award):

Since receiving the MacArthur grant, Haber has been working on restoring a collection of sounds that might shed light on the origins of the Western literary tradition. In 1933, a young Harvard scholar named Milman Parry travelled to Yugoslavia in hopes of solving the Homeric Question: How were the Iliad and the Odyssey composed? Classicists had debated for over a century whether the epics were written by a single, literate author or improvised in stages by numerous musicians and bards elaborating on a series of set themes. Parry believed that the answer could be uncovered by analyzing the work of living bards, mainly found among Bosnia’s Muslims, who still sang tales of heroes and wars, especially during the thirty nights of Ramadan.

In my book Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature, the first chapter looks at the history of children’s audiobooks. When doing the research, I became fascinated with the science of sound recording – and articles such as Mikanowski’s show that new discoveries are still in store. What might future researchers discover in those moldering reel-to-reel & cassettes in the basement ;-) If you’re interested in that first chapter, you can read it online here: http://www.alastore.ala.org/pdf/9780838911570_excerpt.pdf

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25. Audiobook news you can use: OverDrive coming to Roku

news clip art

Check out free streaming video & audiobooks from your library and enjoy on Roku. OverDrive will roll out its free Roku channel later this year, and those attending the PLA Conference can have a sneak preview March 11-15 in Indianapolis. Here’s a quote from the full press release:

Libraries and schools that have MP3 audiobooks and Streaming Video through OverDrive will have their library’s available titles in the new Roku channel. After registering their library card number in the initial visit, users simply choose the OverDrive channel from the Roku menu, select their library, and borrow Streaming Videos and audiobooks that their library has available for checkout.

Nice! Hope that Apple TV and Chromecast get similat treatment, as well.

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