The WWW is Back in a New Format!

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  Long-time readers of this blog will remember the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website), an idea I came up with back in 2010 as a way to share a weekly internet resource with my teachers.  Each Wednesday I sent out an email featuring a relevant website, with an explanation of how to use it and suggestions for integrating it in the classroom.  A few years later I changed schools and I stopped sending out the WWW, but I’ve always thought it was one of my better ideas so I’m bring it back.

This time around I’m expanding the scope of the WWW from a single site sent in an email, to a weekly newsletter of resources for teachers to use themselves and/or share with their students.  Content will include websites for students to use independently, free tech tools for teachers, information about seasonal or timely events, tips and tricks to enhance virtual/hybrid learning, links to activities and lesson plan ideas, articles and blog posts about teaching, and self-care resources.  What better tool to curate such a collection than Wakelet?

  I’ve been a fan since Wakelet burst onto the scene a few years ago because of the way it integrates so successfully with Twitter.  I get daily professional development on Twitter courtesy of the people I follow there, and Wakelet provides an easy way to save and organize the tweets I want future access to.  My respect for the Wakelet support team has grown as I’ve watched how responsive they are to feedback from educators, and the number of new features they continue to add is astonishing — especially when you consider there are no fees of any kind for users!

This is just one of the many ways to use Wakelet, and I’ll be sharing more ideas in the future. For now, my newsletter is Public and I’ve set it to Copy, so feel free to use it and re-mix it and share it yourself if you like.  You can click this link to view, save, and copy it.


Finally Using Flipboard

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flipboard logo  I’ve had a passing awareness of Flipboard for awhile, but I never really investigated it in depth until this week.  Once I took a closer look at it, I realized that it definitely has a place in my Technology Toolkit.

Flipboard homepage

Once you sign up for an account, you choose the broad topics you want to follow.  Flipboard automatically curates collections of internet articles related to the interests you select. Admittedly, most of the preselected topics either aren’t Education-centric, or they’re too broad to really be useful. Yes, as an elementary librarian I’m interested in ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, but I don’t want to read articles about the lunch program, parent background checks, custodial strikes, etc.

Topic Results

Fortunately, you can also search for more specific terms and create your own “magazines” where you include resulting articles that are keepers.  (Example: Suggested topic = CHILDREN’S BOOKS, Searched topic = CALDECOTT AWARD.)  If an article is worthy of saving for future use, just click the plus sign to “flip it” into one of the magazines you created.

Flipboard also provides Share buttons that allow you to email or text links to articles to yourself or others, save them to a reading list for later, or (if you give Flipboard access to your Twitter and/or Facebook account) you can also tweet and/or share articles that you find.  You can favorite them and comment on them within Flipboard as well.


Flipboard will also recommend other topics as well as magazines created by other users that you might want to follow, based on the articles you are reading.  And you can email invitations to friends and colleagues offering them permission to add articles to magazines that you’ve created.  Instant collaboration!


I have no idea what algorithms Flipboard is using to locate the articles they present you within their service, which makes the results seem rather serendipitous.  This can be a good thing, in that you may come across something you would never have known to look for yourself.  It can also be a drawback because you know you are missing a lot of good web content, which is unacceptable if you’re using Flipboard as your go-to resource for organizing all that internet information you want to keep track of.  Enter the Flipboard bookmarklet, which allows you to save any webpage into Flipboard directly from your browser.

I’m mainly using this product on my iPad, and that’s where all the screenshots in this post were taken.  Your interface will look different if you are using a different device.  One thing I would change about the iOS app is the giant COVER STORIES box that takes up a double space on my Flipboard homepage and includes a jumble of pop culture articles that I have zero interest in mixed with the content I’ve chosen to follow.  I can ignore it, but I’d prefer to delete it and use the home page for something more useful.

Being a brand new user, I haven’t started following anyone on Flipboard yet.  If you’re a Flipboard user, please leave a comment and let me know!  If you’re using a different tool to curate web content, I’d like to hear about that too.


Live Penguins at the Library

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I always look forward to the Kindergarten unit on penguins.  I especially enjoy using penguin webcams in the library so that we can watch them in action.

Screenshot of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cam.  Feeding Time!

Screenshot of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cam. Feeding Time!

The Monterey Bay Aquarium web cam is turned on from 7 am to 5 pm Pacific time each day, and shows the rocky habitat of their African blackfooted penguin exhibit.  (If you tune in at other times it won’t be live; you will see highlight videos playing instead.)

Screenshot of one of the SeaWorld Penguin Cams.

Screenshot of one of the SeaWorld Penguin Cam views.

The Sea World (Orlando) webcam page offers a choice of three different views of their penguin habitat: above ground, shallow underwater, and deep underwater.  You can also use their camera tool to take a picture of the penguins and share it via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, email, or one of several other options.  I shared one of our photos to my Book-Based Activities Pinterest Board.

Penguins by Liz Pichon  After spending a few minutes watching the penguins, taking pictures of them, and discussing the penguin facts they’ve learned, I read the book Penguins by Liz Pichon.  This is the perfect book to follow up our webcam viewing because in it (as the cover hints) a group of zoo penguins discovers a camera one of the visitors dropped.  They have a wonderful time taking pictures with it (“Say FISH!”) until a zookeeper discovers it the next day and takes it to the Lost and Found.  Once re-claimed, the owner discovers some very puzzling and unusual photos!

Last page of PENGUINS by Liz Pichon.

Last page of PENGUINS by Liz Pichon.

Although the book is a bit anachronistic (the extra photos are discovered when the pictures are developed) the kids love the surprise at the end: a foldout of the snapshots the penguins took of themselves!  I just substitute the word “printed” for the word “developed” and the kids are none the wiser.

Fins and Grins CD  I also like to play the song “Rock Hopper Penguin” from the CD Fins And Grins by Johnette Downing.  It’s a great uptempo song that we can dance to – and when I say “dance” I basically mean “hop up and down until we’re too worn out to move” – before we check out books. (Click here to listen to a sample.)

My favorite non-fiction penguin books to use with Kindergarten classes are:

About Penguins About Penguins A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill

Baby Penguin Slips and Slides Baby Penguin Slips and Slides by Michael Teitelbaum

Egg to Penguin Egg to Penguin by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Life Cycle of a Penguin The Life Cycle of a Penguin by Lisa Trumbauer

My favorite penguin picture books to use with Kindergarten classes are:

A Penguin Story  A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

if you were a penguin  If You Were a Penguin by Florence Minor

Little Penguin's Tale   Little Penguin’s Tale by Audrey Wood

One Cool Friend One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

my penguin osbert My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmell (which I also wrote about here)

What are your favorite penguin resources for young learners?  Please share them in the comments!


Snapshot of My Reading Life

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World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For week 3 of the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge, bloggers were asked to “post a photo that gives readers a glimpse into your reading life.”  I decided to go with this screenshot of my NetGalley bookshelf, since this is a relatively new addition to my reading life.

NetGalley Shelf

Click photo to enlarge.


NetGalley is an online service that “delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles.”  Members look through the available titles and request approval to download the ones that look interesting.  There is no cost to join or to preview books.

I haven’t been a member for very long, but it’s a lot of fun to get a sneak peek at upcoming books, and it gives me a little edge when I’m preparing book orders.  Perhaps it’s something that you’d like to try!


And Now a Word From Our Students

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World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For week 2 of the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge, bloggers were asked to answer the following questions individually and with a child or children:

1. I think everyone in the world should read…

2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

I decided to open up two of these questions to the students at my school, and I created Padlet walls where they could post their answers.  Here are our results!

Click here to view our 3rd Grade Wall





Click here to view our 4th Grade Wall






Our students were excited about the opportunity to share their opinions with the world, and I think some of our teachers will begin using Padlet as a class brain-storming tool.   Win-win!


Netvibes to the Rescue!

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I know lots of folks are upset about losing Google Reader as a resource for managing their RSS feeds.  If you’re looking for a replacement, you might want to consider using Netvibes.  This free service has been described as a personalized start page, and it helps you organize all your web content in one place.

I’ve been using it for about four years, mainly to manage my blog feeds, but it can do so much more.  Because Netvibes allows you to add widgets and html coding to your pages, you can embed text, photos, videos, live websites and/or thumbnail links, Flickr streams, etc.  I can check the weather, check things off my To-Do list, and check my blog stats using a Google Analytics module.  I can even read and send Tweets via my Twitter widget at school, where Twitter is blocked.  (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)

Take a look at my public page (Keeping An Eye On…) to get an idea of how it works.  If your district blocks shortened links like mine does, you can click here instead.

I also use Netvibes to archive the websites I’ve shared as part of my WWW program, which I wrote about in a previous blog post.  WWW stands for Weekly Wednesday Website, and I used it in the past to share a new site each week with my faculty.  (Now that I have a flexible schedule, I can work more closely with teachers to recommend sites and tools one on one, so I no longer send out those blanket weekly emails.  I do still add sites to the Netvibes archive, though, for the convenience of my teachers.)

If you think you’d like to make the switch from Google Reader to Netvibes, they’re making it easy for you.  From the Netvibes blog:

As you may have heard, Google has decided to shut down its Reader service on July the 1st. Good news: you don’t need to look for an alternative, Netvibes is the perfect home for all your RSS feeds, and more. Judging by the increase in traffic since the announcement, it’s safe to say that most of you have already make the move, and we’re grateful for that. And if you haven’t done it yet, here’s how you can easily join our community.

It goes on to provide step-by-step instructions for importing your feeds from other services so that you won’t have to start over from scratch.  Apparently a lot of people are making the switch, because there’s a banner across the top of the site today that reads: If you’re experiencing slowdowns or feed latency, please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users. Thank you for your patience.

Whether you choose to use Netvibes or another service, I wish you all good luck on finding a new RSS manager!


Book Box for Your Website

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I added a new widget to my blog last week.  It’s called Book Box, and it allows you to display any selection of books that you choose on any web page that accepts embed code. 


I like Book Box because there’s no registration necessary.  You just search for the books onscreen, click to add the ones you want to include, give your box a name, and enter a password.  Grab the resulting embed code, and you’re all set! 

You can edit the box at any time without having to change your embed code – your box is updated automatically!  You can create as many boxes as you like, with a different set of titles in each.


Clicking on a book in your Book Box display will take you to Amazon, and if you have an Amazon ID you can include it so that if anyone clicks through and purchases something, you will receive a percentage of the sale. 

(Note: I did not include an Amazon ID with my box.  From the developers:  “If you choose not to use this option and leave the field blank, we can use our own associate-id, and in this case if someone makes a purchase, we will get a few cents from Amazon, that we can use to offset the costs of hosting and further developing BookBox.”  I’m cool with that.)

I know there are other programs that allow you to display a bookshelf on your page, but for ease of use and customization, I think Book Box is hard to beat!