Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Discovery Network

I recently joined a group with the Discovery Network called the Discovery Network Ambassadors.  Our job is to learn about all the cool tools that are available on the Discovery Network and then share them with our colleagues.  A lot of teachers have used the Discovery Network in the past for videos (they have a great collection of non-fiction videos if you haven't used them!).  As the media specialist, I'm hard pressed any more to buy DVDs because there are so many good ones available for free (at least for us because our district buys the Discovery Network for us). Video is a great way to engage your students immediately (who doesn't like to watch a video?) and with the new Common Core Standards, comparing video to text is a skill that students are expected to have.   One of the things that also makes this great, is that the videos are arranged in a searchable database, which allows you to filter your search by grade level, by subject, even by the kind of video you'd like to have.  It's very versatile.  Here's a video of how you can narrow your search.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Book Search

Do you teach reading?  Did you ever need to teach a lesson about a certain skill and draw a complete blank on which book to use?  Boy, I have and I really wished I had a list of all the books I ever read and what skills I could teach with them.  I totally get that you can use ANY book to teach almost ANY skill, but in my mind, there are books that lend themselves more easily to one (or more) skills than others.  So with that in mind, I created a database.  The database allows you to search for books based on the title or author or the level (either F and P or lexile, since that's what I use in my school district) but what makes mine different, is that it allows you to search by the skill you want to teach (either reading or writing).  Once you've pulled up a book title, it also includes books that you can connect to it... like fiction or non fiction or books on the same topic or theme and sometimes books that you can compare and contrast.
I also thought, "Gees, what if you are looking for a book in a place that doesn't have wifi?", (which is like no where any more, but ok.)  So I hired a guy to turn my database into an app.  And now it's on itunes!
So here's a link to my website (in case you are interested). And here's a link to my app in itunes (in case this seems like a fills a need for you!)