Saturday, December 14, 2013

Read All About It!

The best gift you can give a child is time with them.

Read, hug, listen, talk....

From the International Reading Association Reading Today Online:

Diverse and Impressive Picture Books of 2013

December 11, 2013
Pictures Books of 2013 on Reading TodayGloriously diverse and artistically impressive picture books filled the shelves of libraries and bookstores during 2013. Anyone wanting to add to their collection of picture books will find it quite easy to find something from the list. The problem might be deciding exactly how many books to purchase. As part of the end of the year round-up of titles that caught our eyes and delighted our imaginations, members of the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group celebrate the approaching holidays with our favorite picture books of the year. Since picture books may be used at any grade level, we have not separated our offerings by grade level.

Asim, Jabari. (2012). Fifty cents and a dream: Young Booker T. Washington. Illus. by Bryan Collier. New York NY: Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
Fifty Cents and a DreamWritten in a free verse style, this beautifully illustrated biography tells the life story of Booker T. Washington. Previous interpretations of Washington’s life have often run contrary to the concepts of the fight for freedom and true emancipation as seen in other versions and approaches to civil rights. In this version of his life story, author Jabari Asim presents the determination of a young man born into slavery, but given his freedom by the end of the Civil War years.
Through hard work and with just a few pennies in his pocket, he walked 500 miles to begin the academic life he so earnestly sought when he received admission into the Hampton Institute in Virginia. Working as a janitor while he was at Hampton, Booker earned his degree and went on to become a teacher, truly living the dream he had placed before himself as a young boy. Detailed author notes at the end of the book provide a timeline and further details of the life of this determined young learner.
Teachers will find an interesting interview with both author and illustrator at this popular children’s literature blog, Mr. Schu Reads.

—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Becker, Aaron. (2013). Journey. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
JourneyThis magical story takes readers on a journey to far worlds through the imagination of one youngster. Left to her own devices as her family goes about their own pursuits and ignores her, a young girl picks up a red marker from her bedroom floor and proceeds to draw her own adventure, starting with a door in the wall. She leaves her room quickly as the door opens into a luminous, lush, green-filled natural world. By turns, she then draws a boat, a hot air balloon, and a flying carpet that enable her to travel to all sorts of places.
Her travels enable her to make new friends and encounter enemies determined to imprison a lovely lavender bird and the artist. After drawing her own escape, she finally meets the bird's creator with whom she apparently has quite a lot in common. The watercolor and pen and ink illustrations are filled with imaginative details and prompt readers to stretch their imaginations amid this marvelous wordless picture book.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Belloni, Giulia. (2013). Anything is possible. Illus. by Marco Trevisan. Translated by William Anselmi. Toronto, ON: Owlkids.
Anything is PossibleTeachers looking for ways to introduce the importance of math in early childhood will want to take a close look at this book. Sheep is so envious of the birds flying overhead that she gets the idea to build a flying machine. Knowing that her “friend” Wolf is really good at mathematics, she takes the idea to Wolf and asks him to help with the project. Wolf isn’t so sure about this crazy idea, but he gets busy with his ruler and protractor and starts to scribble mathematical equations and formulas all over the place.
After several attempts, resignations, and failures, they are perplexed. Wings didn’t work and neither did helium balloons. With sparse text, the illustrations do a wonderful job at filling in the spaces for a young reader’s observation to take flight. Working together and showing determination and perseverance, the two unlikely friends discover a solution that works. A short YouTube video book trailer will help introduce the book to young readers.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Brown, Peter. (2013). Mr. Tiger goes wild. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Mr Tiger Goes WildMr. Tiger doesn’t do much roaring at the start of this picture book. In fact, as expected by cultural mores, any wild inclinations seem to have been buried deep within his striped body, and he has been thoroughly civilized, strapped into a coat, shirt, tie, and even a top hat. But he's bored with his lifestyle and longs to do something out of the norm. His first departure from what everyone else is doing is fairly simple, but as he continues to engage in increasingly daring acts, his friends and neighbors suggest that he leave so that his actions don’t offend their sensibilities. Although he does so, he misses the others' companionship. When he returns to civilization, it's on his own terms.
Mr. Tiger returns, but remains true to himself despite the efforts of others to enforce conformity. The accompanying illustrations, created with India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil and then digitally composed and colored, are filled with delights, including the opening pages filled with a muted palette that is relieved only by Mr. Tiger’s vibrant orange. As he frolics in the wilderness, the pages are covered in greens and flashes of Mr. Tiger's shimmering orange coat.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Chin, Jason. (2013). Island: A story of the Galápagos. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Group.
IslandStarting with a volcanic eruption over six million years ago, this narrative nonfiction is beautifully designed beginning with end papers that are entitled “Species of the Gal├ípagos” and contain thumbnail sketches for the very unusual plant and animal life that spawned on these unique volcanic islands. In rather simple language with beautiful paintings, the book is divided into five sections describing the evolution of the island: Birth, Childhood, Adulthood, Old Age and an Epilogue.
Interestingly, the epilogue is dated 1835, the year that Charles Darwin visited the islands and wrote about them for the world to know. The author has included detailed notes at the end of this biogeography to add further explanations for the appearance of the island and its strange inhabitants. This book was named one of the Outstanding Science Trade Books for 2013. Vist the author’s website with award news and more reviews or visit the publisher’s website for more enlargements of the interior art.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Cooper, Elisha. (2013). Train. New York, NY: Orchard Books/Scholastic, Inc.
TrainThe beautiful language coupled with beautiful pictures make this book about trains an invitation to climb aboard. Cooper has presented a look at many different kinds of trains and travel. Starting with the red-striped commuter train that leaves the city passing little towns as they whiz past. Then a look at passenger trains and from Grand Central Station, a freight train leaves filled with all kinds of cargo traveling to distant places. An overnight train chugs its way across the country and over the Rocky Mountains. Finally, a bullet-shaped high-speed train takes its passengers on to the big cities of the west coast.
Cooper repeats the phrase, “passengers on, passengers off” throughout the various journeys in addition to bringing beautiful vistas and also interior views of these different types of trains. Each ride or train brings new experiences for young readers. Read more about the creation of this book in an interview on the blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Daywalt, Drew. (2013). The day the crayons quit. Illus. by Oliver Jeffers. New York, NY: Philomel Books.
The Day the Crayons QuitDuncan arrives at school one morning and reaches into his desk to pull out his box of crayons. Much to his surprise, he finds a stack of letters instead. The letters are from the crayons and they have decided to quit! The letters are from each color of crayon in his box specifically, with each stating its complaints. Red is tired, Peach is embarrassed, Beige is tired of being boring, Black is misunderstood, Yellow and Orange are spatting with each other, Pink feels undervalued, and so the moans and groans from each color are represented.
Jeffers’ wonderful pencil, paint, and crayon illustrations personify the emotions and disgruntlement of each character so that readers will understand their labor issues. Photographs of letters and coloring pages add another dimension to this cleverly designed book. Duncan is able to offer resolution to the crayon group so that everyone has a satisfying ending. Teachers will appreciate some of the lesson ideas for this book at the blog, The Classroom Bookshelf, or sharing the short slide show at the author’s website.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Floca, Brian. (2013). Locomotive. New York, NY: Atheneum Book for Young Readers.
LocomotiveFrom end paper, title page, to page one and on to the last end paper, this beautifully designed book is a train-lover’s delight from start to finish. The front endpapers tell the story of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad so that the story within the pages shares the journey of an unnamed family traveling in 1869 from Omaha, Nebraska, to San Francisco, California.
Told in poetic prose, readers will truly be immersed in the trip with sounds, colors, and images of train travel in those early days. The use of a wide variety, size and style of fonts adds to the kinetic feel of the journey. Floca takes reader/passengers from the engine to the caboose. The job of the conductor, the engineer, the coal man, and the newspaper boy are visible. Travel with the passengers as they get on and off at different towns, stop for a bite of food, explore parts of the train and watch the towns and parts of America fly by. Floca has identified the regions where the train is traveling.
Peek through the train windows as this nonfiction book takes young readers on an unforgettable train ride. Detailed notes on the history of the locomotive add further historical background on this visual narrative of early trains. Teachers will find three short videos talking with the author about the book. Read an interesting interview from Publisher’s Weekly with authors Brian Floca and Elisha Cooper as they discuss their new books, both entitled, Train. A detailed CCSS guide can be found at Brian Floca’s website.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Fogliano, Julie. (2013). If you want to see a whale. Illus. by Erin E. Stead. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press.
If You Want to See a WhaleAnyone who has ever stared at clouds and imagined the possibilities in the sky or looked at the horizon and hoped to see something interesting approaching will be captivated by this picture book. Even while the story's two characters, a boy and his dog, wait as patiently as possible for a whale, there is much to distract them. While they’ve been advised to ignore everything else while they are waiting for that whale, they seem to be savoring the joys of the rest of the world during their vigil.
With its repetitive reminder “if you want to see a whale…” (unpaged), this title is a superb reminder that good things come to those who wait. Both the text and the illustrations, created with pencil and linoleum print techniques, are exemplary and sure to engage readers. The last two pages featuring a barnacle-encrusted whale swimming right under the boy's boat and then just the tip of the whale emerging from the briny waters are worth the wait. Readers may wonder if the whale was right there, beneath the boy’s notice, all along. Young readers will want to check out the animal-filled cloud shapes in the sky in one of the illustrations.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Global baby girls. (2013). Text by The Global Fund for Children. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Global baby girlsThe Global Fund for Children has produced several wonderful books for young children including Global Babies in 2006 and American Babies in 2010. This new addition to the series focuses on girls around the world. Full color photographs with baby girls in their native clothing present an emphasis on what girls can do. From countries as diverse as Russia, New Zealand, Liberia, India, Peru, France, China, Guatemala, Canada and the United States, the importance of young girls is visually brought to our youngest readers through this beautifully presented board book. Learn more about The Global Fund for Children and see some of the internal art for this book at their website.

—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Guiberson, Brenda Z. (2013). Frog song. Illus. by Gennady Spirin. New York, NY: Henry Holt.
Frog Song“CROAK! RIBBIT! Plonk! BRACK! Thrum-rum! Frogs have a song for trees, bogs, burrows and logs.” These are some of the opening lines to Frog Song, aptly named for the wonderful sounds and songs that emanate from this book. Teachers looking for a mentor text to teach onomatopoeia, look no further! Spirin’s beautiful double-page spread illustrations of frogs in their natural habitats around the globe provide the artistic backdrop for Guiberson’s poetic text about the music and sound of frogs.
From the strawberry poison dart frogs in Costa Rica to the tarantula-eating narrow-mouthed toad of Oklahoma to the Surinam toad with no tongue from Ecuador each worldly frog is more interesting than the next. The author also sends out a strong environmental message at the end when she writes that frogs are in trouble. Forests and plants are drying up and disappearing so the habitats for the frogs are gone and their songs will be silenced if we do not take care of the planet. This book is a science treasure and the teaching guide that goes with it will be ever so helpful to teachers. The author and illustrator have worked together to create a beautiful resource guide with activities to accompany their book.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Hillenbrand, Will. (2013). Off we go: A Bear and Mole story. New York, NY: Holiday House.
Off We GoCome along with Hillenbrand’s third adventure with good friends, Bear and Mole. This time patient Bear is teaching Mole to ride a bike and they begin by taking off the training wheels. Fastening on his safety helmet, Mole is ready for takeoff. Bear pats his friend on the back for good luck and Mole begins his wobbly first attempt that ends in a crash landing with leaves flying and little critters fleeing. Mole is crying and discouraged, but Bear is there to help him try again. The second attempt is a success and Mole gains speed and confidence as he zooms away, just in time for the Storymobile. This promises to be a great read aloud and Hillenbrand has painted wonderful expressions on the faces of characters and used language that will keep young listeners engaged and laughing, though reminded of their first, or yet to be, attempts at riding a bike alone.
Will Hillenbrand has created a 6-minute video on the work behind this book that includes a short video of his son learning to ride a bike. Young readers will get a look at the behind-the-scenes work of an author/illustrator.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Hopkinson, Deborah. (2013). Knit your bit: A World War I story. Illus. by Steven Guarnaccia. New York, NY: Putnam Juvenile.
Knit Your BitAfter their father leaves for service overseas during WWI, Ellie does her bit by joining her mother in knitting clothing for the service men. At first her brother Mikey considers knitting to be beneath him, but he changes his mind after his female classmates challenge him and his friends to enter a knitting bee in Central Park. Although the boys' work is nowhere near as professional as the girls' knitting, all of them feel satisfied to have done their bit for the soldiers by knitting.
Mikey is especially moved by the attention of one soldier who tells him how much comfort the warm woolen objects will bring. The pen and ink and painted watercolor illustrations evoke a sense of pride and allow the woolen stitches in the knitted bits to be visible to readers. This title would be a perfect pairing with Lita Judge's One Thousand Tracings (Disney-Hyperion, 2007) for a text set illustrating how those on the home front brought comfort to others on the battle lines and abroad. Back matter includes information on the knitting bees and knitting clubs of the time as well as suggesting websites that provide ways young knitters can get involved even today. The endpapers containing photos of school children knitting add authenticity to the story told here.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Idle, Molly Schaar. (2013). Flora and the flamingo. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
Flora and FlamingoClad in her pink bathing suit, bathing cap, and flippers, Flora happens upon a beautiful and stately flamingo. In wordless text and lift-the-flap illustrations, Flora attempts to mimic the graceful movements of the flamingo, but as the lithe flamingo flexes in directions the stout little Flora can’t manage, Flora burst into tears. The flamingo patiently begins to teach Flora the dancelike movements of the graceful bird. A double-page spread fold-out bursts from the middle of the book as Flora and the flamingo enjoy the dance. Molly Idle worked in animation at DreamWorks and this talent is brought to life in this fanciful and beautiful wordless experience in print.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Kearney, Meg. (2013). Trouper. Illus. by E. B. Lewis. New York, NY: Scholastic.
TrouperThis picture book captures perfectly the universal desire for a home and someone to love. Even stray dogs long for a forever home and some comfort. Trouper is part of a large dog pack of various sizes and breeds. As they search for a meal, they cause disorder, and they endure cruelty from others. When a dogcatcher lures them into his truck, the pack ends up at a shelter. All of them are adopted except three-legged Trouper, whose lonely heart "was a cold, starless night" (unpaged) once his friends have left. Luckily for him, though, a tender-hearted boy adopts him and brings him home. The bond between the two is clear in the final illustrations.
The text is filled with beautiful language that pays tribute to a brave dog and a boy who sees beneath an imperfect surface into that dog's spirit, while the watercolor illustrations capture perfectly the dog's anxiety, loneliness, and joy at having found someone "who liked the way I lean on those I love" (unpaged). Not only will this book inspire some to add a dog to their family, but it may convert a few feline lovers into canine aficionados. This is a wonderful book for sharing aloud and evoking a sense of compassion in others.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Kelly, Susan and Deborah Lee Rose. (2013) Jimmy the joey: The true story of an amazing Koala rescue. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Kids.       
Jimmy the JoeyJimmy is a koala joey that was rescued when his mother was killed trying to cross a highway in Australia. Jimmy was found the next day and taken to the Koala Hospital. The volunteers there kept him warm and named him Jimmy. Only six months old, Jimmy is cared for like a human baby, though he is a marsupial. A volunteer named Barb, took Jimmy home with her to care for him. He slept in a laundry basket and cuddled with Barb like a living teddy bear. Eventually, Jimmy started to munch on eucalyptus leaves like all koalas do. By the time he was a year old, Jimmy was placed in the hospital’s tree yard so he could be with other koalas and where he learned to climb trees and develop a community with the other koalas. As Jimmy grew bigger it was time to release him back into his natural habitat in the forest.
The final pages of the book include a map, additional information, websites and places to visit to see koalas. Teachers will not want to miss the detailed teacher’s guide provided by the publisher with CCSS connections and also Jimmy’s own Facebook page! Visit the Koala Hospital page to see where Jimmy was given a second chance at life or the author’s page with early videos of Jimmy.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Lewis, J. Patrick, editor. (2012). National Geographic book of animal poetry; with favorites from Robert Frost, Jack Prelutsky, Emily Dickinson, and more: 200 poems with photographs that squeak, soar and roar! Washington, D.C., National Geographic.
National Geographic Book of Animal PoetryThese animal poems were selected by J. Patrick Lewis to accompany the beautiful photography that only National Geographic can offer. The range of wonderful poets included makes this an exceptional anthology, but one especially helpful feature for teachers, in addition to the guide mentioned below, are the resources included in the back of the book. There are detailed indexes of poets, first lines, titles and subject, but also resources for many different kinds of poetic forms like portmanteaus, parodies, reversos, spoonerisms, lipograms, double dactyls, palindromes and more. “Writing Poems about Animals” is a guide for young writers to try their own hand at writing some animal poetry.
Teachers will enjoy this downloadable classroom guide to using this book. Listen to Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis read from this book at the Nat Geo Website.
Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Mader, Roger. (2013). Lost cat. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.
Lost CatFeline lovers will be worried once they begin reading this picture book of a lost cat named Slipper. Part of that anxiety relates to imagining all the terrible things that might happen to her, and part of it relates to how the story effectively evokes empathy for Slipper as she characterizes each person according to his/her footwear. When Slipper’s human companion, Mrs. Fluffy Slippers, moves in with her daughter, somehow the cat is left behind in all the bustle of moving boxes and furniture. Once the humans realize that Slipper isn't with them, they return to Slipper’s house. But she has tried to follow them and is nowhere to be found. After a series of encounters with Ms. Muddy Boots, Mrs. Iron Shoes, Mr. Cowboy Boots, High Tops, Mr. Big Boots, and Miss Shiny Shoes, the cat somehow finds her way home.
Rendered in pastels, the illustrations capture Slipper's physical features and personality in extraordinary fashion. Readers can see the affection she has for the slippers around which she sleeps and the determination with which she seeks out a new family. The artist is clearly familiar with the habits of felines, having captured perfectly Slipper's trust in her new family as she rolls onto her back and shows her belly and her delight in the sensuous pleasure experience while rubbing against a pair of fluffy slippers. Most of all, though, this picture book serves as a reminder to keep animal companions such as dogs and cats in carriers when moving from one place to another or when movers are present. Although Slipper's story ends happily, not every story like this does.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Nelson, Kadir. (2013). Nelson Mandela. New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books/imprint of HarperCollins.
Nelson MandelaKadir Nelson has once again created a children’s book masterpiece with his free verse writing and exquisite oil on birch plywood illustrations depicting the life of Nelson Mandela. Beginning with the full cover portrait of Mandela on the front, the title appears on the back of the book.
Kadir Nelson begins the life story of Mandela, or Rolihlahla, his Xhosa name, which means troublemaker. It was a schoolteacher who gave him the name Nelson. As a bright child, he listened to the stories of the village elders to learn of the history and exploitation of his country by Europeans. At the age of nine, he leaves his village to get an education and eventually becomes a lawyer. While he is on his path to education he also experiences the injustices of apartheid and gets a close look at what is happening in his cruelly segregated country. His decision to get politically involved to end apartheid eventually leads to his arrest and 30 years in prison. Upon his release from prison all those years later, he again returns to the political scene to become the President of South Africa and lead his country into a state of equality.
Kadir Nelson’s poetic prose does not go into all the difficulties Mandela encountered both politically and within his own personal life, but writes of the more philosophical journey of Mandela. Author notes at the end provide further back matter into Mandela’s life and triumphs. Visit Kadir Nelson’s webpage for a closer look at many of the illustrations in his new book or listen to this book summary on YouTube.
Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Sheth, Kashmira. (2013). Tiger in my soup. Illus. by Jeffery Ebbeler. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.
Tiger in my SoupAvid readers will relate to this title in which a boy's older sister is too preoccupied with her own reading to read aloud her sibling’s book. So intent is she on her own pages that she doesn't even notice when a tiger appears in his bowl of soup. When she finally agrees to read his story aloud, the boy offers suggestions for how it should be read, and she sounds so much like a tiger that he can’t differentiate between his sister and the tiger. This amusing story is accompanied by acrylic illustrations that blend effectively the story’s realistic and fantastic elements. This is a delightful read aloud that pays tribute to the power of a good imagination and the joy of a good story.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Rosenthal, Eileen. (2013). Bobo the sailor man! Illus. by Marc Rosenthal. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
BOBO the Sailor ManIn a continuation of the adventures of three friends, a boy, a toy, and a cat, that were first introduced in I MUST Have Bobo (Atheneum, 2011) and I'll Save You, Bobo (Atheneum, 2012), Willy heads off for a busy day, making sure to bring along his beloved stuffed monkey, Bobo. When they arrive at the river and find a bucket, Willy decides that they can be sailors. But before he knows it, the bucket in which Bobo is going to sail has been swept into the current, sending Bobo far from shore. Although Willy can't use the slippery rocks that cross the river to rescue his friend, Earl rescues Bobo while Willy goes home to get a fishing pole.
The pencil and digitally colored illustrations are appealing, allowing the growing annoyance of the long-suffering and under-appreciated Earl to be more visible with each passing page. When Willy fashions official explorer hats for Bobo and him, it's pretty clear that Earl is fed up with his treatment. After Willy falls asleep, he gets his revenge.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Roth, Susan L. (2013). Parrots over Puerto Rico. Illus. by Cindy Trumbore. New York, NY: Lee & Low.
Parrots Over Puerto RicoBy 1975, only 13 Puerto Rican parrots remained in the wild, a far cry from the multitude of birds that once filled the skies of the island. Through the efforts of determined individuals who didn't want them to disappear, artificial nesting boxes were placed in the forests, and some of the birds were captured and moved to an aviary. This inspiring story tells the intertwined story of Puerto Rico and its beautiful birds and how they came back from the brink of extinction, having battled hurricanes, invasive species, and human encroachment. The text is lively, engaging, and filled with appreciation for the birds and their struggle against long odds while the paper and fabric collage illustrations are almost as mesmerizing as the actual parrots must be. What a terrific story of survival to add to the classroom shelves!
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman

Singer, Marilyn. (2013). Follow, follow: A book of reverso poems. Illus. by Josee Masse. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Follow Follow: Reverso PoemsFollowing the popular Mirror, Mirror (Dutton, 2010), Marilyn Singer has written a second book based on fairy tales using the reverso format in which the poems are presented forward and backward. For example, in this new edition from the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” comes Singer’s “The Birthday Suit” (p. 5): “Behold his glorious majesty:/me,/Who dares say he drained the treasury/on/nothing?/Ha!/This emperor has/sublime taste in finery!/ Only a fool could fail to see./ Now read the verso poem of the same tale: “Only a fool could fail to see./Sublime taste in finery?/This emperor has-/ha!/nothing/on!/Who dares say he drained the treasury?/Me./Behold his glorious majesty!/ From “The Little Mermaid’s Choice” to “Your Wish is my Command” to “The Silly Goose,” Singer has cleverly created poems that beg to be read aloud with two voices, punctuation emphasis and perhaps a theatric or two for a truly enjoyable poetry experience. Visit Marilyn Singer’s website to learn more about her work.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Stinson, Kathy. (2013). The man with the violin. Illus. by Dusan Petricic. Postscript by Joshua Bell. Toronto: Annick Press.
The Man With the ViolinLike everyone else in the subway station, Dylan and his mother were bustling along. When Dylan heard the beautiful strains of music coming from a street musician playing a violin, he wanted to stop and listen. His mother did not want to listen though Dylan begged, but his mother grabbed his hand and continued rushing him along with the crowds. But the music stayed dancing in Dylan’s head. When he got home he turned on the radio and listened to the droning of the announcer until the same beautiful violin music that he had heard in the subway station flowed out of the radio.
The radio announcer went on to tell his broadcast audience that the famous violinist, Joshua Bell, had conducted an experiment playing his famous and valuable Stradivarius violin in a free concert in the subway station that day and yet only a very few stopped to listen for even a minute. The musician noticed that several children tried to get their parents to stop long enough to hear the captivating violin, but parents were too busy.
Based on a true story that Joshua Bell relates at the end of the book, teachers can download two of the songs Joshua played that day in the Washington, D.C. L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station when over a thousand people did not take time to listen to one of the world’s greatest violinists. Annick Press has created an excellent 5-minute book trailer with the author giving the back matter of this talented man.
—Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Tuck, Pamela M. (2013). As fast as words could fly. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. New York, NY: Lee and Low Books.

As Fast as Words Could FlyBased on the life of the author’s father, Pamela Tuck relives a moment in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in Greenville, North Carolina. Young Mason Steele is a good writer and when his activist father needs help writing letters to civil rights leaders or people who have discriminated against Negroes, he dictates letters that Mason puts into words and letters. At one point the local civil rights organization finds a way to get Mason a real typewriter to help with his father’s letters.
One day, his father calls Mason and his two brothers into the kitchen and tells them they will be going to the all-white high school that is much closer than their segregated school. The boys are very nervous about this new turn in their lives, especially when the school bus drives right on by them the first two days of school. When they finally get picked up they are made to sit in the back of the bus. Though Mason excels at school especially in typing class, it is a very strained and difficult school atmosphere for Mason and the other black students. Mason is able to get a job in the library typing cards for the school librarian that adds more experience to his typing skills. When his typing teacher, Mrs. Roberts, announces a tournament Mason is selected as the candidate to represent the school. At the contest, he has to choose between an electric and a manual typewriter for the tournament. He chooses the manual typewriter and when the contest begins, his fingers fly across the keyboard to win the tournament. No one cheers or applauds. No one congratulates Mason. He received nothing. Later, when his principal, Mr. Bullock, asked him why he chose the manual typewriter, Mason replied, “Cause it reminds me of where I come from, sir.” (p. 31)
The book concludes with detailed notes from the author about her father’s experience and describes the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Read more about the background of this story at the publisher’s website.
Karen Hildebrand, Ohio Library and Reading Consultant

Wiesner, David. (2013). Mr. Wuffles! New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin/Clarion Books.
Mr. WufflesJust like many felines, Mr. Wuffles is particularly choosy when it comes to toys. Despite his human companion's efforts to interest him in a series of toy mice, feathery creations, and a fish on a string, the disdainful cat is completely disinterested. He becomes fascinated by a shiny metal spacecraft filled with aliens. Filled with close-up depictions of Mr. Wuffles keeping a watchful eye on the craft, clutching it in his paws, rolling it along the floor, and blissfully rubbing his chin against it, this picture book with its distinctive watercolor and India ink illustrations is vintage David Wiesner.
Needless to say, all Mr. Wuffles’ rough treatment damages the craft, and the aliens set off on a dangerous mission right under the cat’s nose and claws in search of materials with which to make repairs. They form an alliance with several insects and eventually make their escape. Fans of this talented visual storyteller will recognize many of his favorite themes and images while being thoroughly entertained by his efforts. This is another winner in a long line of exceptional picture books by a master.
—Barbara A. Ward, Washington State University Pullman
These reviews are submitted by members of the International Reading Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Reading Today Online

So Many Toys to Choose From

Thinking about a potty with an i-pad built in?  Oh my, oh my, oh my....

Here are some qualities that make for good playthings for children.

From the National Association for the Education of Young Children:

Eight Things to Know about Toys

By: Susan Friedman
Toys, toys, toys! There’s a lot of information in the news about toys. Conversations about princess toys, a potty chair that holds an i-pad (is that even a toy?) and lists of the best and worst toys.
NAEYC offers content that focuses on children’s learning and development, and from that perspective we highlight a number of resources as you sort through your thoughts about toys.

1. Toys that are not strongly focused on one gender are better for learning.
What’s so bad about princess toys?  They’re gender typed to the max! Research on children and toys shows that if you want to develop children's physical, cognitive, academic, musical, and artistic skills, toys that are not strongly gender-typed are more likely to do this.

2. Time with adults matters in the digital age.
What bothers educators about attaching a tablet to a potty chair or bouncy seat? It’s designated time with an e-tablet without an adult, and in the digital age, time with adults is especially important! Michael Robb from the Fred Rogers Center wrote about the importance of infants and toddlers spending time with adults on the Fred Rogers Center Blog. For more guidance on young children and technology see the joint position statement on technology and young children from NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center. 

3. The type of toy matters.
Research shows that different toys impact children’s behavior in different ways. Some toys have a powerful influence on children’s thinking, interaction with peers, and creative expression.  Others do not.

4. The best toys match a child's development.
What makes a good toy?  Good toys for young children match their stages of development and emerging abilities.

5. Ask yourself some questions before selecting a toy. 
Dr. Toy (Stevanne Auerbach) talks about the value of toys and what to think about before selecting a toy for your child.

6. Some of the most engaging toys might be items you already have.
Ever see a 3-year-old with bubble wrap or a 4-year-old with some tape? See these no cost toy suggestions for infants, toddlers, and preschooler.

7. Simple toys and tools can support children's science explorations.
Young children don't need highly specialized or expensive equipment to learn how to explore the natural world scientifically. They do need, as Rachel Carson mused in The Sense of Wonder, “the companionship of at least one adult who can share it.”  Simple toys and tools with adult support can engage children as they explore natural phenomena in ways that will support their later science learning.

8. No matter what toy you select for a one-year-old she'll probably play with the box first.
We’ve all seen it - a baby who opens a present and plays with the box. Why do babies like the box more than the toy? The answer lies in her development!
Hope all this info helps guide you as you think about toys.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just For New Teachers Conference: A Fantastic Opportunity

This is a terrific conference and a wonderful opportunity for new teachers.  You'll meet with fellow educators and get tips on everything from classroom management, working with parents, assessing student progress, behavior, creating lesson plans, bully-proofing your classroom and so much more.  It's highly recommended and you'll bring home ideas that you can put to use right away in your own classrooms and teaching environments.  GO!!!!!!

Just For New Teachers Conference

Just For New Teachers Conference Banner
Date: Friday, December 6, 2013
Time: 8 AM - 3 PM
Location: Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel
181 Boston Post Road West
Marlborough, MA 01752
Description: MTA's Just for New Teachers Conference presents the perfect opportunity to meet with fellow educators and get tips on everything from classroom management, working with parents and assessing student progress to addressing bullying and creating great lesson plans.

This one-day conference, brought to you by MTA’s New Member Committee, will also offer workshops on licensure, teaching English language learners and legal basics.
Massachusetts Education Secretary Matt Malone will deliver the keynote address.
Who Should Attend: The conference is open to MTA members who are in their first four years of practice. NEA/MTA student members entering the final year of an educator preparation program or who have completed student teaching and any other students enrolled in education degree programs are also invited.

Districts may register individuals or groups by calling 800.392.6175, ext. 8305. District payment should be made by check or money order to the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

: $60 for New Teachers and $30 for College Students
Click here for online registration. Districts may register individuals or groups by calling 800.392.6175, ext. 8305. District payment should be made by check or money order to the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
NOTE: This conference is appropriate for use by school districts and teachers as part of induction programs for all new teachers (603 CMR 7.00). The MTA will provide all conference participants with a record of attendance.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On Saturday, October 19th, the Lesley New Teacher Community presented: 


How lucky we were to spend this glorious fall day together! The feedback was terrific...and we universally received top marks from the 24 participants who handed back their forms.  Thank you also to the Alumni Office for providing a delicious brunch for all of us.

Seeing and hearing the similarities and the differences from teachers who taught elementary, middle school and high school was fascinating.   What incredible work teachers do every day of your lives.

The enthusiastic participants left with ideas and strategies that made sense, which was the goal. 

Here are some of the insights: 

What was one new idea or insight you found useful from today?

Modeling steps will be very helpful to me.

It pays to be organized.

Bathroom tags, name tags, seating issues---explicit structure helps students know what to do no matter what the grade or level.

Visiting other classrooms and collaborating with other new teachers is really helpful

Saying "thank you.," or "I noticed," and not "I like" or I love..." helps students work for themselves.

Slowing down and teaching modeling about what seems to be obvious, but maybe isn't to students no matter what the grade.  They shouldn't have to guess what's in my mind or guess about what I think is success.  It should be explicit.

Power of words cannot be underestimated.  Being very mindful of my speech is a goal.

I need to remember:  I need to thinking and try to do my best and then let it go and remember to stay happy outside of school, too.

Movement activities are terrific for transitions, especially number shake downs. 

Explicit modeling of behavior helps all children be successful.

Colored behavior cards and "secret language" for the challenging child makes a difference.

It's worth it to play to your students strengths.

Breathe, do what you can.  Set goals for carving out a personal life and work towards it.

Make time to meet with colleagues to share ideas.

Use of responsive classroom techniques really helps with developing community and presenting techniques for behavior management.

I appreciate the insight about the kids not needing to please me.  The language used should be to get them to do the best for themselves.

Visuals around the classroom helps students remember expectations and routines. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lesley New Teacher Community presents


10:30AM-1: 30PM 



Join our panel of experienced teacher experts.

Leave with support strategies that you can put in place 

in your own classroom on Monday morning. 


Be inspired by our speakers

Come away with strategies for creating classroom behavior management that works

Network with other teachers


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Effective Classroom Behavior Management Strategies: Practical Tips and Resources from Teachers Just Like You

Saturday, October 19th 

Our first 2013-2014 NTC event is scheduled for 
Saturday, October 19th from 10:30-1:30 
in University Hall in Porter Square! 
Our topic?  

"Effective Classroom Behavior Management Strategies: Practical Tips and Resources from Teachers Just Like You."   
Check your email for more information. 
To RSVP please contact Somaliyah Al-Mahdi, Lesley School Partnerships Assistant at or 617-349-8399.

If only it were this easy...

Let's build on this!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Effort is what is all about! Mistakes are good, failure is not a verdict---they are critical steps to success.

This thoughtful article comes from   

Effort is what it is all about! Mistakes and failure are critical steps to success and greatness.  Greatness is grown step by step.  What do you think?

6 Secrets To Unlocking Your Child's Talent

Could your child be the next American Idol? The next American president? Perhaps.
Daniel Coyle, author of the bestselling book, The Talent Code, says you can up a child’s chances immensely by understanding one key thing: Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown.
Coyle spent two years bouncing around nine of the world’s greatest talent hotbeds—tiny, magical places that produce huge numbers of world-class performers in sports, art, music and math. And what he found is that parents have been sold an incorrect picture as to how genius happens. Immense talent isn’t written into kids’ DNA, Coyle says. It’s the result of a distinctive and powerful pattern, a pattern that combines three elemental forces: targeted methods of practicing, specific methods of motivating, and coaching.
How kids practice, how they deal with failure, how they get praised and how they are criticized all play a part in the likelihood of achieving greatness. “Of course, not everyone grows up to be a Michelangelo or a Michael Jordan,” Coyle says, but that level of genius is not an accident. A distinctive and powerful pattern helps parents unlock the neurophysiology of learning.
Whether he was on a crummy tennis court in Russia that produced more top-20 players than the entire United States, or thousands of miles away at a classical musical academy in the Adirondacks, coaches in talent hotbeds “would speak with the same kind of rhythm, give the same kinds of instructions, and look at their students with the same kind of gaze," Coyle says. "The practices would feature similar methods, like slowing things down to unbelievably slow speeds, or compressing the practice into a tiny space and speeding it up."
Want to create your own hotbed at home? Here are Coyle’s six strategies for unlocking kids’ talents:
Watch for tiny, powerful moments of ignition. It’s not easy to practice deeply—it requires passion, motivation, persistence and the emotional fuel we call love. New research is showing us that when it comes to motivation, we are all born with the neurological equivalent of hair triggers. When a child’s identity becomes intertwined with a goal, the trigger fires, and a tsunami of unconscious motivational energy is released. Coyle points to a study done with a set of young musicians in which kids who foresaw themselves as adult musicians learned 400 percent faster than kids who did not. “It’s not genes that made these kids succeed; it’s the fuel contained inside a tiny idea: I want to be like them,” Coyle says.
Understand that all practice is not created equal—not by a long shot. The talent hotbeds have long known a crucial fact that science is just discovering: Skill-acquisition skyrockets when we operate on the edge of our abilities, making errors and correcting them—a state called “deep practice.” The takeaway: Mistakes aren’t verdicts; they’re information we use to build fast, fluent skill circuits. Kids who are able to see errors as fuel for learning, rather than setbacks, are the ones who eventually become geniuses.
Recognize that slow practice is productive practice. This technique is common to virtually every talent hotbed, from tennis to cello to math. The reason it works: When you go slow, you can sense and fix more errors, coaching yourself to build a better skill circuit. At Meadowmount, a classical-music school whose alumni include Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the rule is, you should play slow enough that a passer-by can’t recognize the song. As one coach puts it, “It’s not how fast you do it. It’s how slow you can do it correctly.”
Praise effort, not natural ability. When we praise a child’s intelligence, we’re telling her that status is the name of the game, and she reacts by taking fewer risks. When we praise effort, however, kids become more inclined to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them—the essence of deep practice and learning. It’s no coincidence that talent hotbeds use effort-based language. Some Russian tennis players don’t say they “play” tennis; the word is "borot’sya"—to struggle.
Encourage mimicry. Copying is a neurological shortcut to skill. Vividly imagining yourself perfecting a skill is a great first step to actually doing it, whether you’re writing or dancing. Tim Gallwey, the author/tennis instructor, teaches beginner students to play a passable game in 20 minutes through mimicry—all without uttering a single word of instruction.
Stand back. The kind of deep practice that grows skill circuits can only come from within the kid, not from the parent, no matter how well-meaning. As Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck puts it, all parental advice can be distilled into two essential points:
1) Pay attention to what your child stares at.
2) Praise them for their effort.
In other words, notice when they fall in love, and help them to use the energy of that love wisely. When you start thinking about talent as a process—when you see the power of certain forms of practice, when you look for inner passion, when you tune into the teaching signals you can send—life changes, Coyle says. Like most big changes, it shows itself in small ways. “For our family, it’s when our son has a tough new song on the piano, and my wife encourages him to try just the first bar, or just the first five notes over and over, doing it in baby steps until it starts to click. Or when our daughters are skiing, and they excitedly inform us that they fell a bunch of times, which must be a sign that they are getting better,” Coyle says. (A concept that works better with skiing than it will with learning to drive a car).
Teaching kids that talent is built, not born, allows them to look at failure in a completely new way. Failure is not a verdict—it’s a path forward. And mistakes are not something to be embarrassed about. They’re steps on the path to success. Without them, greatness is not possible.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

More Great Technology Resources: Website Recommendations from the American Association of School Librarians

Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2013

The 2013 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover.

Media Sharing

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
  • 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and und understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess.
  • 3.3.4 Create products that apply to authentic, real-world context.

Create connections, encourage collaboration, ignite discussions, or simply share mutual interests through Pinterest. Uploaded or “pin” images and videos from websites, blogs, or your own computer, smartphone, or tablet to create boards. These boards can be private or public, and others can be invited to pin on any of your boards. Any “pin” can be "repinned", and all pins will link back to their source. Grades 6-12.
Tip: Have students work in groups to create research projects and share their sources visually.

Flyers and newsletters become a snap with Smore! Design and create professional online flyers by choosing from an array of templates, styles, and colors to compliment your individual style and audience. With Smore you can embed links, audio, video, pictures, and text into your flyers and newsletters and then publish instantly to get your message and information out quickly. Grades 6-12.
Tip: Use Smore to create handouts and flyers to announce school and community events. allows users to quickly create infographics and share visual ideas online. has an expansive library of elements and visual objects that can be added to personalize infographics of all kinds. Students and teachers can choose from pre-formatted infographics or start fresh and create their own. is intuitive and easy to use, relying on drag-and-drop features and streamlined menus. Grades 6-12.
Tip: Use as part of a research or inquiry project and combine math, research, and digital storytelling skills in the classroom!

Digital Storytelling

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
  • 4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.
  • 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Are you searching for technology that will motivate budding and reluctant writers to author the next great story? Inklewriter provides the format for writing interactive branched stories. While students focus on writing, Inklewriter handles the story paths that end and those yet to be developed. Students who love the "choose your own ending" stories will enjoy writing, editing and reading on this dynamic site. Branched stories with the potential for multiple endings will also intrigue those interested in game development. Finished projects can be shared with a limited or global audience at the author's discretion.
Tip: Use Inklewriter to explore decision making and consequences in secondary Health, Social Studies, Science, and English classes.

My histro provides a venue for stories displayed on maps. Watch and read thousands of fascinating timelines, or create your own complete with text, video, and pictures to create a dynamic timeline mashup. Use professionally developed maps or have students develop their own working collaboratively or individually. Export maps in a variety of formats including .csv, .klm, and pdf for offline viewing or embed them on your website, blog, or wiki for easy access. Grades 4-12.
Tip: Use myhistro to tell stories that include what, when, and why across curriculum areas and grade levels that work like a dream on your interactive presentation surface.

Flipsnack is an application used to convert PDF files into a flipping book that is easy to use. Simply upload a PDF file, customize the book, and share. The online flip books are designed to resemble regular print books. You can choose a classic, hardcover, coil, or interactive flip format for your book, as well as a book size. Color options for the cover and background are also offered. Finished flip books can be published privately or publicly and edited at any time. The final flip book is attractive and professional-looking. Books can be shared on Facebook and Twitter or emailed and embedded with a watermark. Grades K-12.
Tip: Students can combine reports or creative writing with pictures and graphics to create flip books that can be shared with parents.

Manage & Organize

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
  • 2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
  • 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
  • 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use and assess.

How many of you use Shelfari? Library Thing? Well, Biblionasium is the social network students in grades 4 – 12 can use to set up virtual bookshelves and keep track of what they’ve read, what they like, and what they plan to read. Students will read more consistently when they connect with friends to share and recommend their favorite books. English, ELL, and Reading teachers will appreciate the inclusion of Lexile ranges. Grades 4-12.
Tip: Use Biblionasium in flipped libraries and classrooms to inspire independent reading.

Litpik provides free electronic books to students in grades 4-12. Students take on the role of a book critic, reading books, developing and posting reviews anonymously on the Litpik site where other students can read them. Members can also participate in the Litpik threaded discussion forum with authors, publishers, publicists, and parents who are interested in learning about YA literature.
Tip: Use Litpik to provide access to free eBooks and promote reading reviews for students by students.

Padlet, formerly called Wallwisher, makes posting things on the Internet as easy as pinning notes on a bulletin board. Using the idea of a blank piece of paper, you can put whatever you want on your wall by dragging and dropping documents and images from your desktop, copying and pasting links to websites or videos or just typing notes on your page. When you finish posting things to your wall you will be able to collaborate with others using a unique URL as well as through a variety of social networks. Grades 4-12.
Tip: Use Padlet to brainstorm ideas for group projects or to collect and showcase student work.

Edcanvas is a connected space where students and adults can organize, present and share information. Gather, annotate and share presentations easily by dragging and dropping images, movies, maps, audio and text and embedding hyperlinks onto a blank canvas. Use multiple frames on each canvas to pre-teach a topic, provide 1:1 and differentiated instruction, and share pathfinders and explore connections. Use your own content or searching on the Internet, without leaving the Edcanvas page to create collaborative projects. Older elementary and secondary students can create collaborative projects by copying individual canvases to make a complete dynamic canvas. Grades 6-12.
Tip: Use themed canvases to share how-to videos with students and staff.

Workflowy is an easy to use outliner/organizer that also functions as a to-do list. Logging on, you see a blank page that looks like a word processing document. After you type your first item, everything thing you type becomes part of one giant list. You can have sub-lists and nested-lists and the best part is that you can click on any topic and you will see a new page with all of the related items. Workflowy can easily be used in many educational settings, but can really be helpful in organizing assignments. Grades 6-12.
Tip: Use Workflowy to plan and organize a group project or to collaborate with others on shared tasks.

Social Networking & Communications

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
  • 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
  • 4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.
  • 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

Socrative transforms multiple student devices into student response systems for free! Engage upper elementary and secondary students in classroom activities with educational exercises and games in real time via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Socrative is easy to set up and features formats including multiple choice, True/False, and short answer. Results can be viewed online in a Google spreadsheet or received via email as an Excel file. Grades 6-12.
Tip: Use Socrative to administer pre- and post tests to Common Core and AASL standards in your library program.

Quadblogging connects students in four different schools around the corner or around the world to blog with a purpose. Instead of having students write blog posts "that go in their tray to die" teachers sign up on this site and are linked with three other schools to provide an opportunity for elementary and secondary students to blog with each other. Over the last 12 months 100,000 pupils have been involved in QuadBlogging from 3000 40 countries. Grades 3-12.
Tip: Use Quadblogging across curriculum areas to develop student awareness of similarities and differences of people from different cultures.

Marqueed is an easy-to-use, collaborative, web-based platform for annotating images. Simply drag-and-drop images from the Web or add from your computer. PDF files can also be added. Type or draw annotations. Collections of annotated images can be created and shared publicly or kept privately. Best of all, multiple students can collaboratively annotate an image. Grades 3-12.
Tip: Analyze a historical photograph to deepen students' thinking about a historical event or period. Upload a poem for students to discuss.

Curriculum Collaboration

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
  • 1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within a learning community.
  • 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
  • 3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.
  • 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.

19Pencils is an easy-to-use online platform for locating and sharing PreK – 6 educational resources, assignments and quizzes. The site’s quality search engine enables teachers to explore the 19Pencils library for resources specific to their students’ needs. Teachers can also add their own content and customize quizzes to target specific learning goals. A helpful feature, especially for younger students, is the display of each resource as a thumbnail image instead of just the URL. After creating class pages of resources, teachers can monitor student progress and assignment completion. Grades PreK-6.
Tip: This website is a great tool to use across the curriculum for blended learning and the flipped classroom.

Order in the court. Hail to the chief! Roll call…yea or nay… iCivics is game, activity and resource filled Web site, founded by Justice, Sandra Day O’Conner to help young people of all ages learn about branches of government, citizenship, separation of powers, media influences on government, the budget, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Games can be accessed by topic or playing time. In addition to games and webquests, iCivics provides lesson plans with supporting resources for teachers. Grades 3-12.
Tip: Combine curricular learning with service learning by challenging students to participate in the iCivics Impact Project.

Wonderopolis is a whimsical, fun website providing "Wonders of the Day" such as "Do Rabbits Have Good Eyesight?" to "When is Technology Old?" A vocabulary list provides a learning base for each lesson. Related questions will spark students' curiosity and motivate them to learn more about the topic. The "Wonderize It" tool lets teachers customize a lesson based on a daily "Wonder" question. The engaging informational text can be used to address Common Core Standards in reading while incorporating related images and videos. Grades K - 12.
Tip: Let students pick a "Wonder" to explore and then research the topic more in depth.

Youngzine is a child-centered website that provides articles, images, and videos about world news, science and technology, society and arts, movies, and books. School-age children are encouraged to respond to the content and may submit articles, short stories and book reviews. All content is reviewed by Youngzine’s editors and updated every two weeks. Grades K-8.
Tip: Do you and your students discuss current events? Use Youngzine as a springboard for these weekly or daily discussions. Students can post comments and reflections in the comments section.

Garbology is an exciting and interactive website that answers the question, "Where should my waste go?" It helps elementary-age students better understand how they can reduce trash and stop polluting. In addition to the interactive game, the “For Teachers” section includes nine lesson plans and five fact sheets; the “For Students” section includes a waste assessment and seven useful handouts; and the “For Families” section will inspire families to reduce and recycle. Grades K-8.
Tip: Garbology is the perfect addition to your Earth Day unit.

Content Resources

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
  • 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
  • 2.4.4 Develop directions for future investigations.
  • 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.

Seriously Amazing  
How do you spur curiosity? Just ask the six quirky characters of Smithsonian's Seriously Amazing Website. The Wild will share the diversity of the animal kingdom; The Green reflects the wonder of the natural landscape; The New will show how technology and creativity collide; The Masterpiece embodies artistic expression; The Storyteller shares the tales of the people of America; The Discoverer explores the world and universe. Seriously Amazing links the knowledge and resources of the Smithsonian Institution and sparks a spirit of inquiry. Grades 3-12.
Tip: Challenge students to select one of the 6 areas of exploration and learn 5 new facts to share with the class.

Edudemic is more than just an educational technology website. For students and teachers it's a one-stop-shop for forums, articles, ideas, and resources on everything technology. Edudemic is explorable by topics such as How-To, Tools, or Online Learning. Or browse through the videos collection for amazing examples of teaching and learning. Have a great idea or story to tell? Try submitting a post to Edudemic for a global audience. Grades 6-12.
Tip: The All Topics word-cloud allows users to quickly see what's trending in educational technology. Click through and explore!

Science NetLinks  
Science NetLinks is a dynamic Website connecting K-12 teachers, students, and families to STEM resources produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science including lesson plans, interactives, and reviewed Internet resources. The lesson plan and tool databases are searchable by grade level, themes, and content area. Collections spotlight various themes such as Earth Day, Summer Science fun, and Science Apps. There is an Afterschool collection that offers hands-on science experiments which offers student activity sheets, online resources, as well as teacher resources. Grades K-12.
Tip: Check out the latest research findings about many interesting topics in Science News.

TEDEd allows educators to create and share lessons built around YouTube videos. The embedded lesson creator allows users to 1) FIND video content through an integrated search panel, 2) SELECT a video or lesson to be customized, and 3) FLIP a video by adding questions, notes, and content. The TEDEd library is continually growing and is searchable and browsable by series and subject. Grades K-12.
Tip: The best lessons are curated by volunteer teachers and TEDEd and compiled under the Best Flips tab. If you're looking for teaching inspiration, look no further!

What happens when you combine the knowledge and talent of a handful of techies that want to make a change in education? Visit Codeacademy and participate in the teaching and learning experience of the future! Codeacademy has set out to create an online social instructional experience that teaches programming to people around the world. Learn the fundamentals of various programming languages, participate in online coding language labs, and learn how to start a coding academy at your own school. Grades 6-12.
Tip: At the completion of the Codeacademy course, have students build their own websites with the code they have learned.

Digital Public Library of America  
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an online collection of millions of photographs, maps, sounds, manuscripts, books, and more accessible anytime, anywhere, for anyone. DPLA materials come from museums, archives, and libraries across the United States, and provides primary source examples of our American Heritage and human history. With DPLA, users can explore resources by topic, map, format, timeline, or exhibition. With a free account, items can be saved to lists and shared with others. Grades 6-12.
Tip: DPLA's programming interface and open data promote transformative use by designers and developers. Look for amazing tools and programs built by the DPLA’s partners that will turn in to indispensable resources for your students and staff.