Exploring: Presentation Tools

20170621_013218900_iOSI know. I know you’re cringing. You read “presentation tools” and you thought “UGH POWERPOINT.” I promise, this is a PowerPoint free zone!

This week was so fun, I got to spend some time exploring some new-to-me presentation tools: emaze, Haiku Deck, Prezi, and Blendspace.

Take a peak below for my thoughts on a few of these tools!

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Book Review: The Cat Who Went to Heaven

Book Review- (1)Barely able to feed himself, an impoverished painter is displeased when his housekeeper brings home a cat from the market. Shortly after, the artist receives a visit from the local priest who presents him with a life changing offer. Deciding the cat must have brought him luck, the artist names him Good Fortune.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven captures the subtle details of ancient Japanese culture by describing the daily thoughts and actions of the artist and his housekeeper. Through the the artist’s paintings, we are introduced to the essence of Buddhist teachings and several reincarnations of Buddha.

Winner of the 1931 Newbery Medal, The Cat who went to Heaven is recommended for ages 8-12, but this timeless and thoughtful tale of historical fiction will be a delight to readers of of ages.  

Coatsworth pairs traditional prose with poetry in the form of the housekeeper’s songs throughout. Taken in isolation, the songs are short summaries of the plot and a wonderful way to introduce or review simple rhyme schemes. Coatsworth includes illustrations throughout, which help the reader to create an accurate image of the setting. The Cat who went to Heaven would enrich a unit both Buddhism or ancient Japan for older readers and could be read aloud to younger or struggling readers.

This novel is a lovely reminder that one never knows when or how Good Fortune might come their way.

Coatsworth, E. (1930). The Cat who went to Heaven. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.

Book Review: Secret of the Andes

Book Review-Secret of the Andes, by Ann Nolan Clark, is perhaps better known as the book that beat Charlotte’s Web for the Newbery Medal in 1953, Secret of the Andes introduces us to an unlikely trio living in relative isolation in the mountains of Peru. Cusi, a young shepherd boy, lives a simple life with his mentor Chuto and his beloved black llama, Misti. He learns from a mysterious man that he must go on an adventure and leave his mentor behind to discover Incan past and realize his destiny.  

The imagery is this novel is beautiful. The setting is described in such rich detail that anyone who reads this book would  feel as if they were the Peruvian mountains sitting by the fire alongside Cusi and Chuto. The reader can hear the hum of the llamas and taste the dried corn that Cusi takes on his journey to Cuzco.  

I highly recommend this book for both young and adult readers as a piece of historical fiction. While Secret of the Andes is recommended for ages 8-12 or  grade level three, it would make an excellent addition to a World History class studying the ancient Incan civilization..

This is a heartwarming story that will stay with the reader for a long time to come and should be shared.

Clark, A.N.(1952). Secret of the Andes. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.

Exploring: Video Tools

20170616_025626516_iOSI made it! Teacher summer has officially begun!

This week my assignment was to explore various video creation tools and their uses in the classroom. I chose two very muses: student art around campus and my sometimes cat Mr. Lucy.

To avoid the hassle of transferring photos from my phone to my computer, I started off trying a pair of apps: Animoto and RealTimes. Both apps offer the user an easy way to create eye catching videos using photos and/or video clips. Though I spent about an hour and a half with each, you can create a quality product in about 10 minutes (or less).

Animoto: I spent a little bit of time playing with the different themes available, but settled on one that worked well with my content. Big bonus here: there are LOTS of styles (themes) available for you to use with the free version. Lots of room for creativity.


Yesterday was the last day of school, and as I was walking around campus, I started taking pictures of senior art projects. Designing and painting the senior wall and the walls around the cafeterias is a long standing tradition. I’d love for you to take a look!

The free version limits you to 20 photos, and 5 second video clips. Animoto offers three different paid tiers: Personal, Professional, and Business.

Keep reading to read about my experience with RealTimes & Pixiclip.

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Ed Tech: Exploring Audio Tools

LSB - Audio ToolsLast week our task was to explore various audio tools and their potential uses in the classroom. I’ll be honest, it pushed my the limits of my comfort zone. I really don’t like listening to myself speak. My friends, it’s time to get a little comfortable with being uncomfortable!

In my Children’s Lit class we had to record ourselves reading a poem. I was actually satisfied with my final product until I heard all of the marvelous recordings of my classmates.

The tools I chose to explore were: Voki, Vocaroo, and AudioPal. They all have their pros and cons, but I think all could be very useful in an educational setting.

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Podcasts in the Classroom

LSB - PodcastsIf you know me at all, you know that I am absolutely obsessed with podcasts. I listen on my way to work, when I walk my dog, and when I’m doing chores around the house. Like so many others, I started with Serial and fell deep down into the rabbit hole of true crime podcasts.

In the past few months, I’ve started to venture out of my rabbit hole and explore new podcasts. When I saw that we were going to be exploring the use of podcasts in the classroom I was SO excited, so excited that I didn’t know where to begin.

I started off by reading this suggested article: Why Listening to Podcasts Helps Kids Improve Reading Skills on KQED. To summarize, a teacher used episodes of This American Life and Serial and noticed increases in the areas of critical thinking and engagement. He also saw something a bit unexpected: his students were showing more interest in READING. For a deeper look, I highly recommend reading the article The Value of Using Podcasts in Class published by Michael Godsey for The Atlantic.

As a forever bibliophile and future librarian, this idea is really exciting to me and it got the wheels turning. How can podcasts be used across the curriculum?

I’m pretty sure there could be an entire blog dedicated to this idea, but keep reading below for a few of my own ideas and podcast suggestions.

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Ed Tech: Infographics

canvaOver the past week, I’ve become best friends with Canva, a beautiful, user friendly, free, web based design program. You can create advertisements, invitations, flyers, cards, social media squares, infographics, the list goes on and on.

This week we focused in on infographics. While I’ve had a secret crush on infographics for years, I always assumed you would need high level graphic design skills to create one. I was mistaken!

I’m always looking for new ways to present and organize information for both myself and my students. The classroom applications for infographics are endless: timelines, life cycles, biographies, book reports, oh my!

At a time when students have incredible difficulties with paraphrasing information, an infographic forces them to work on these skills. Say good bye to the copy & pasted PowerPoints, colleagues!

Infographics make differentiation easy. Consider students that benefit from or require chunking of material or to have information presented visually. When used wisely, infographics can benefit all children.

Below you’ll find an infographic I created for a Geometry unit on polygons. It’s not perfect (yet). But I had a lot of fun creating it.

I’d love to hear how you use infographics in the classroom (or how you plan to)!

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