Ebooks: Good Books in the Hands of Students

book-imageThe other day a student came into the library looking for a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  I pulled a copy off the shelf, excited to get a needed book into the hands of a pupil. She looked at the tiny print and the yellowed pages, handed it back to me and said, “Can I get this as an eBook?”

Fortunately for us all, many works in the public domain (no longer under copyright law) are freely distributed online.   The student had her laptop with her, so I showed her how to find the book at Project Gutenberg, highlight the html text, copy and and save it into a document. The entire play was on her laptop in less than a minute. When she opened it on her laptop, her face lit up. She was happy to see that not only could she change the background color of the page, but she could also adjust the font size and text typography of the work, using the “highlight” and “comment” feature to make notes as she read the book. She also noted how to decrease the light on the computer screen to make it easier on her eyes. Best of all? The book was hers to keep for a lifetime: no need to return it to the library.

Project Gutenberg, which offers more than 50,000 free eBooks for download in Kindle, epub, pdf, or html format offers free eBooks that were previously published by bona fide publishers. Users can find books by Dickens, Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Thoreau, Ibsen, Kipling, Agatha Christie, the Brontë sisters, Sophocles, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (without illustrations, unfortunately), the Works of Edgar Allen Poe, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and even the illustrated version of Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. Another free resource, Bibliomaniahas thousands of eBooks, poems, articles, short stories and plays, all of which are absolutely free.  Tumble Book Library,  an interactive online resource that supports younger readers with access to picture books and chapter books, is another resource that enriches our book collection. Our school subscribes to Overdrive, which allows students to access books twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where they are in the world.

When downloading free ebooks, I suggest making a folder to keep your collection handy, easy-to find, and easy-to-manage. In addition, iPad/iPhone apps such as Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks allow some free ebooks to be read on hand-held devices.

Connecting our students to the wide array of online options is a way of preparing them for the world-wide trend of moving books from print to digital form. E-books don’t replace the traditional library collection of print books. Instead, they enrich the collection, adding a vibrant and dynamic way to encourage young readers to access books in an environment that they are comfortable navigating.

It behooves us all, especially those of us in love with the printed page of a hardbound book, to be open to new options. After all, our job isn’t to educate our students for our past, but to prepare them for their future. Like or not, digital books are not only the future; they are the present.

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ISG Students Make Connections: World Read-Aloud Day

Last week during library class, upper elementary students celebrated World Read-Aloud Day. Six different classes held teleconferences with students all over the world via Skype.

Students in Siberia read to us one of their favorite Ukrainian folktales, “The Old Man’s Mitten” while we read to them Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw ’s book “Same, Same But Different”.  ISG students played “Mystery Class” with a fourth-grade class in an unknown part of the world. After many failed attempts to guess where our mystery class might be located, even with their helpful clues, we finally guessed by entering the longitude/latitude coordinates via Google Maps.

The class was in Chennai, India! Students jumped up and down when they finally guessed correctly. As a student in India read to us a chapter from their class favorite book, “Wonder” , the  tens of thousands of miles that separated us  melted away and we were all together in one place, captivated by a story. In exchange,  one of our primary students read to them a section of Michael Morpurgo’s “War Horse”. You could have heard a bookmark drop as the two classes, thousands of miles away from each other, listened.

Then we moved on to Birminghan, UK, where we were surprised to find out that some of our very own DBGS students have hometowns not far away. Even closer to us, across The Kingdom near Jeddah, the energetic students in library class at The KAUST School informed us that they love reading some of the same books, and some of the same authors, as we do.

One of the most important parts of  World Read-Aloud Day is that it demonstrates, in practical, concrete ways, that out there in the big, vast world of schools and desks and books and learning, there are students everywhere who love to read. This love of reading connects us in tangible ways.  Thanks to LitWorld and World Read-Aloud Day , for setting up this forum for connecting our young readers to the world.

For more photos and details of the event, check out our LRC Library in Saudi Arabia: World Read-Aloud Day #WRAD16 padlet.

Happy Reading, everyone,  from the LRC library!

~ Katrina Lehman, Library Media Specialist~

18 Professional Development Ebooks from the LRC

Greetings, teachers. Looking for an inspiring book to read? Check out any of the following ebooks, 24/7, all year long from the LRC digital library. If you have trouble accessing your account, please contact Ms. Lehman at lehma.k.04[at]isg.edu.sa.

Happy Reading! 

bookmappinBook Mapping Lit Trips and Beyond by Terence W. Cavanaugh, Jerome Burg

In Bookmapping: Lit Trips and Beyond, Cavanaugh and Burg show you how this dynamic, interactive activity is a cross-curricular tool that helps students not only develop a better understanding of places, cultures, and the books they are reading, but also make connections among the subjects they learn in school.

Continue reading “18 Professional Development Ebooks from the LRC”

Diigo: Organizing Links and Making Lists

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Do you have Information overload?

Do you find it difficult to organize all those cool links and multimedia sources you find online?

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to bookmark, organize and save online material, and then share it with whomever you choose.  It helps educators and students track and organize information they plan to use in their projects and lessons. It’s a great curation and organizational tool for the entire learning community.

A  simple 7-minute overview shows you how to create bookmarks in Diigo.

Check out a few lists I’ve made to help me learn new applications:  Diigo Learn , Google Learn, and Mac Learn. Since I’m new to GAFE (Google Apps for Education) and Diigo,  I will refer back to these lists this summer when I have more time to watch the tutorials and read the articles.

Since sharing and working together is what 21st Century Learning is all about, I hope that the Diigo lists and links that we gather and share will create an opportunity for collaboration, curation, and organization- a librarian’s digital dream! 🙂

The Art of Eliminating Distractions

crayons writing color

MULTI-TASKING TURNS TO SINGLE-TASKING, INCREASING THE ABILITY TO FOCUS.

Do you find it difficult to focus when you write? That “ding” of an incoming email interrupts your thought process. A Skype message or phone call breaks your concentration just as you’ve found the perfect sentence to wrap up a really juicy paragraph. Your flow is interrupted by that weird sound that Facebook makes when to indicate that someone has commented on a photo or status update. Interrupted by the distraction, you grasp to recover the thought you just had, but it has escaped into oblivion, never to be found again.

Enough of that. One tool that I’ve been using for years to help me concentrate in a clean, distraction-free writing environment is something called OmmWriter. The free download offers a writing tool for PC, Mac, and iPad. Ommwriter is your own private writing room where you can close the door behind you to focus on your writing in peace”. Gone are the icons at the bottom of your screen. Gone is the toolbar at the top of your word document. Gone are the webpages, tabs, and browsers. All you see is a clean, uninterrupted screen, just ready for a new idea or creative thought. Even spell check is turned off so that your ideas aren’t blocked by the obsessive need to edit mid-sentence. When you’re finished, just copy, paste and save your text into a Word document and move into the editing phase.

OmmWriter is a helpful application that helps writers focus. It’s clean and free –  a fresh, calm breeze in a world of technological distractions. Multi-tasking turns to single-tasking, increasing the ability to focus. Find out more about it here.

But Can’t I Just Google It?

Google_logo_2010Hello, students. I know that most of you use Google on a regular basis. So do I! I can’t imagine a world without the instant gratification of typing a phrase in the search bar and finding the answer to my question. Because you all love finding information by doing an Internet search, it can be hard to shift directions and use online databases.  You probably like performing a Google search because that’s what you’re familiar with,  that’s how you’ve found information for research in previous classes, and that’s how you find information in your daily, personal research. I, for example, do hundreds of internet searches each week  to find information. I can’t imagine my life without Google!  When it comes to professional or academic research, however, I  turn to databases.

Here’s why some of you might have trouble switching over to using databases in your research:

  1. Database research takes time and effort to learn
  2. GOOD research takes time (it’s not quick and easy!)
  3. New databases are unfamiliar online environments
  4. Previous teachers might not have required it.

ebscoSo, why are are teachers asking you to use databases in their research?

Here’s why.

1.    Anyone can post anything on the web. There’s no sure way to ensure that your first hit when searching for info on “embryos” won’t be the post that a 3rd grader in Australia did on his class blog. For scientific research, we want credible, timely information written by experts in the field. Databases have just that.

2.    University research requires that you know how to use online databases. In order to acquire research and information fluency, you will need to apply digital tools to gather and use information. This is necessary in order to be successful in college. Teachers would be doing you all a disservice if you left our school not knowing now to navigate, search, and research within online databases.

3.  Using a database uses time efficiently. If we were to do a google a search for, let’s say, “stem cell research”, we would get 120,000,000 hits. Who has enough time to sort through millions of webpages to find a credible site, especially when many of them are advertisements or business sites? Not me! I’d rather use a database that has a collection of articles written by experts in the field.

Finding information on an online databases might not be as “quick and easy” as conducting a familiar Google search. However, if you  give it time, you will most likely be rewarded with credible sources and the added benefit of using your time more efficiently.

Libraries: Expanding Print Text to the Digital World

The other day a student came into the library looking for a copy of a literary classic. I pulled a copy off the shelf, excited to get a requested book into the hands of a young reader. I couldn’t help but notice, however, the tiny print and the yellowed, discolored pages. I thought to myself, “I’d rather read this book on a clean computer screen.”

A lightbulb switched on in my bibliophile brain.

projectgutenbergMany works in the public domain (no longer under copyright law) are freely distributed online. One site that has been invaluable for educators and students is Project Gutenberg, which offers more than 40,000 free ebooks for download in Kindle, epub, pdf, or html format.

The student happened to have her Macbook with her, so I showed her how search for the book at Project Gutenberg, highlight the html text, and copy it into a Word document to save on her computer. The entire book was on her laptop in less than a minute. When she opened the book on her laptop, her face lit up. She was happy to see that not only could she change the background color of the page, but she could also adjust the font size and text typography of the work, using the “highlight” and “comment” feature in Word to make notes as she read the book. She also noted how to decrease the light on the computer screen to make it easier on her eyes. Best of all? The book was hers to keep: no need to return it to the library.

Check out Project Gutenberg, which offers free, digital books that were previously published by bona fide publishers. Here you can find books by Dickens, Dumas, Oscar Wilde, Thoreau, Ibsen, Kipling, Agatha Christie, the Bronte sisters, Sophocles, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (without illustrations, unfortunately), the Works of Edgar Allen Poe, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and even the illustrated version of Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”.

When downloading ebooks, I suggest making a folder to keep your collection handy, easy-to find, and easy-to-manage. In addition, iPad/iPhone apps such as Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks allow some free ebooks to be read on hand-held devices. Kindle offers access across platforms such as iPod, iTouch, iPad, iPhone, Macs, Blackberries and Androids.

In the end, the yellowed paperback was put back on the shelf. It felt strange to encourage a student not to read a print copy of a library book. But since part of the mission of our library is to “promote the life-long habit of reading”, I couldn’t help but think that connecting our students to the wide array of online options is a way of preparing them for the world-wide trend of moving books from print to digital form. E-books don’t replace the traditional library collection of print books. Instead, they enrich the collection, adding a vibrant and dynamic way to encourage young readers to access books in an environment that they are comfortable navigating.

It behooves us all, especially those of us in love with the printed page of a hardbound book, to be open to new options. After all, our job isn’t to educate our students for our past, but to prepare them for their future. Like or not, digital books are not only future; they are the present.