Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chatting About Books - Podcast

Chatting About Books - Podcast

This podcast is done by Emily Manning and is sponsored by There are 29 episodes available on iTunes.  She discusses books for ages 4 – 11 and provides activities and tips to do related to the books she discusses.  I listened to the episode about the 39 Clues series.

During the episode the host gave 39 reasons why people should read the series.  Here are the 39 reasons (paraphrased).

1.Cool weather approaching and need to have books to read.
2. It is a cross between the DaVinci Code and the Amazing Race.
3. It is a conversation starter -  million dollars or clue?
4. Your family will look normal in comparison.
5. There are collectible cards and an online clue hunt.
6. You can choose your branch and earn prizes.
7. There is a message board on the website.
8. There is an app available.
9. The books are educational and entertaining.
10. The characters are underdogs.
11. You can take an international vacation by reading the books.
12. There are audio versions of the books.
13. The books are written by award winning authors.
14. Rick Riordan wrote the first book and came up with the story arc.
15. Grace Cahill appears again in the Vespers Rising book.
16. Think of the books as a personality test – who are you?
17. If you are a leader or spy you may be a Lucian.
18. If you are an inventor or scientist you may be Ekaterina.
19. If you are an athlete or explorers you may be a Tomas.
20. If you are artistic you may be a Janus
21. Who are the Madrigals?
22. The books are an international hit.
23. The books are thrilling.
24. Have you ever wanted to be an Au Pair?  You can learn about them.
25. The world domination serum is revealed at the end of the series.
26. This is a Harry Potter alternative.
27. There is supposed to be a movie.
28. The movie will be done by Dreamworks.
29. The series is family friendly.
30. Series  books are good for struggling readers.
31. Justin Beiber fan?  Jonah Wizard is similar.
32. The series have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.
33. The adventure continues after the first 11 books.
34. She spoke about a new book as of this episode.  This is outdated now but there are new books continuing to come out.
35. David Baldacci is an author in a Cahills vs Vesper book.
36. There is a crush J for those interested in romance.
37. What is up with the number 39?
38. There are teacher resources at
39. Read the book already.

Peter Lerangis and Gordan Korman talked with Emily Manning about the series.  They gave a background to the books.  I thought it was cool how the two of them discussed the unique aspect of having different authors writing the books.  They also answered some of her questions about the series and upcoming books.

Curriculum Suggestions:

I can see teachers using this podcast before starting the series or I could use it before a literature with lunch group.
In addition there were over twenty other episodes that teachers can use to help promote certain books and certain genres.

Students could make their own podcasts about books and give their own reasons why people should read them.
Personal Thoughts:

I love the 39 Clues series.  In this podcast the host did a great job of giving reasons to pick up the series.  In addition, she spoke with two of the authors who gave some great background information to the series.  

High Interest Annotation: This podcast can encourage students to pick up the 39 Clues series.

Can Young Kids Learn to Code - Podcast

Can Young Kids Learn to Code - Podcast

This is a podcast done by Level Up Village and their program Parenting & Education Chatting Over Coffee.  The guest speaker was Aimee Shuhart who is a media specialist.

The main questions of the podcast were can children learn to code and is it really the new literacy as is being touted in the media.  Ms. Shuhart said that coding is programming or giving instructions to a computer or machine.  She believes that it is great for teaching creative thinking through play and experimentation.  She mentioned some brain research that showed that gaming (and I think using computers to create games) can help with multi-tasking, problem solving, collaboration, and creative thinking.  She wouldn’t go so far as to say it is a new literacy and that every child should learn to code but she did recommend it.  In her school she does coding with students at lunch.  

During the podcast they also talked about gaming in general and she recommended games such as Lego Game Club, Club Penguin, Toon Town, Wizard 101, and Minecraft.

Her tips for coding with children was for parents and children to learn together and for parents to show an interest in it.

During the podcast the speakers referred to Scratch which can be found at ,  They also mentioned the idea that coding is the new literacy which can be seen at and is being promoted by Bill Gates, Steve Zuckerman, and others.

Curriculum Suggestions: 

For teachers or librarians who are interested in providing a coding club or extracurricular opportunity this podcast gives some background and ideas about how to do it.  Aimee Shuhart talks about some of the programs and websites that can be used.

Personal Thoughts:

Before taking LIBR 240 I was asked why I would want to learn to code when so much has already been done for us.  But there have been a lot of articles and media about students learning to code.  Now that I have taken the course I can see the benefit of kids learning how to code.  I am seriously considering a lunch group or an afterschool club using Scratch or Codeacademy.  It is funny how Will. I. Am talks about coders as being “rock stars” in the video on  I guess the question is why let other people code and make all the money?  Let’s teach our students how to code and be creative problem solvers.

High Interest Annotation:  Why should kids learn to code for themselves?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

STUDYJams - Website

STUDY Jams - website

Quantitative Reading Level:

 These videos would probably be best for grades 4 -7.  Although some of the topics are higher level the concern would be that the videos and karaoke would be too “cheesy” for older students.

Qualitative Reading Analysis: 

I would rate these videos, quizzes, and songs as Middle High on the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Informational Text”.  Although this site is not a text it does have some expectations for the viewers.  Students would need to have a moderate level of subject knowledge in order to understand the information presented on the website.

This Scholastic site is intended to help students learn about a variety of math and science topics.  It has videos explaining different concepts like volcanoes, place value, and plants with seeds.  Some topics provide step by step examples like ordering whole numbers or finding equivalent fractions.  There are also slideshows, karaoke sing alongs, and places for students to test themselves. 

Content Area: Science and Math topics

Curriculum Suggestions: 

These videos, quizzes, and even songs could be used for introductions, extra help, and follow-up during the study of a lot of science and math topics.  

Personal Thoughts:

There were actually some higher level content videos and quizzes on the site but the karaoke and the graphics were a lower level.  Although the content might be appropriate in some places for grades 7 and up I think they would be turned off by the graphics and karaoke.  The whole site had a mixed message.  I think 4th and 5th graders would enjoy it and be able to understand it.  6th graders would depend really on how it was presented to them and their maturity levels.
Organizationally I think the site could use some work.  It would be helpful to be able to see all the topics that have a slideshow or all the topics that have a karaoke component.  Some sort of index of the features would be ideal in helping a teacher plan out how she wanted students to use the site.

Subjects/Themes: Science and Math

High Interest Annotation: Videos, songs, and quizzes about math and science topics.

STEMbite - YouTube Channel

STEMbite – YouTube Channel

Quantitative Reading Level:  

Depending on the science and math topic being studied these videos could be appropriate for as low as 4th grade and up to 12th grade.

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

Although this is not a text you can use some of the concepts in the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Informational Text” to look at how difficult these videos might be for students to understand.  What is nice about these videos is that he looks at science and math through the lens of ordinary, everyday objects which helps with the knowledge demands.  Because these videos are about science and math a moderate level of subject specific knowledge is needed so I would classify these videos as Middle High.

This YouTube channel is made by teacher Andrew Vanden Heuvel.  These videos are all roughly 2 minutes long and cover topics in science and math.  I viewed a video on probability ( which could be seen as simply an intro to the topic for 5th graders and could involve some higher calculations for high school students.  Another video I watched was about gears ( .  Again this video could supplement a study on simple machines in 5th or 6th grade or could be a bit more advanced in looking at cars and how gears work with them.  His video on species and breeds using Jelly Bellies ( would be a great introduction to classification studies in biology.  

Content Area: Physics, Biology, Technology, Math

Curriculum Suggestions:

This site would be fabulous for introducing math and science concepts or following up a lesson.  I would love to see students then make their own videos following his model and see for themselves how math and science are all around us.

Personal Thoughts:

These videos were a lot of fun.  I could easily see using these videos as lesson starters or even as fillers when you have a few minutes here and there before a special or lunch.  Even if they didn’t specifically tie in with a topic being discussed they are short enough and engaging enough that students would get something out of them.

Subjects/Themes: Physics, Biology, Technology, Math

High Interest Annotation:  Explanations of Science and Math concepts in everyday life.