13 Websites That Provide Lots of Digital Books for Summer Reading

At the beginning of the 21st century, the definition of digital equity revolved around the provision of a digital device to every student. Usually, that meant desktop computers, iPads, and laptops, either in small groups or 1:1. As digital equity discussions matured and hyperbole became reality, educators found that those loudly-touted digital devices often became paperweights. The reasons were varied (teacher training, infrastructure, and professional support to name a few), but one of the most prominent was money. Good intentions to give all students access to the world’s knowledge were derailed by the cost of the websites and webtools that made that happen. Turns out — and not really a surprise — the cost of the digital devices was minor compared to the cost of the websites and webtools required to meet goals.

There is one bright spot in this story: Online books. Thanks to the efforts of many devoted professionals and the financial support of more, there are a wide variety of free/inexpensive sources for books that students can use for classroom activities as well as pleasure.

Here are a list of sites that offer digital books for kids to adults:

Bookopolis

Bookopolis is a large collection of fiction and nonfiction books for ages 7-12. Here, students can read, get ideas for new books, comment on books, and earn badges and points to reflect their love of reading. Educators sign up with a Teacher account and then set up classes and accounts for students. Students can practice persuasive writing, comprehension, and typing skills by completing reviews, reports, and reading logs online. Parents can sign up home accounts to help students keep track of favorite books. Available books include Newbery Award Winners as well as many other reader collections. Kids can even watch book trailers before making a selection.

Books can be read online or on most mobile devices.

Gutenberg Project

This site provides thousands of digitized books, audio recordings, DVDs/CDs from the public domain (or out-of-copyright). This includes Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, A Tale of Two Cities, Heart of Darkness, and more. These are great for all ages to not only read but research topics that might have been well-covered years ago but not so much now (like primitive tribes).

You can read them online, on a mobile device, or download them.

International Children’s Digital Library

The ICDL offers over 4,600 digital children’s books in over 59 languages that exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages, and ideas. Books are made available from a variety of sources including the Library of Congress. Readers search by title, author, country, or category (or several other options such as ISBN). By setting up an account, readers can add tags to books and organize them according to their preference. Many ICDL books are classified as “activities” meaning they are perfect for digital story times, scavenger hunts, and creative writing exercises.

Most books are only available through the website or a link to the website.

Open Library

Open Library is a curated list of over 20 million books (and growing) that are available worldwide to all age groups whether from the public domain or under copyright protections. Once you find a book, you access a scanned version (if available, say from Project Gutenberg) or purchase it at a linked bookstore. 

Access this catalog via the website.

Prism

Prism is a collaborative approach to reading books, poetry, and other written material whether for a class or personal entertainment. It includes thousands of books with comments, notes, and highlights from people who have read them. Notes are color-coded so readers can categorize them properly and readers know how many people contributed to the shared input. Resources include The Raven, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and The Road Not Taken.

Access this collection via the website.

Listen and Read

From Scholastic, Listen and Read’s fifteen non-fiction audio books are told through words, images, and sound. Elementary and middle school children can read the books or have them read aloud to them. The online activities can be used for one-on-one instruction using a computer, tablet, or class instruction on an interactive whiteboard.

Books are read on the website or a tablet.

Unite for Literacy

Unite for Literacy provides a variety of books that celebrate the languages and cultures of international communities with the goal of cultivating a life-long love of reading. Aimed at school-age children, categories include, earth, animals, STEM, family, create and play, know and learn, technology, and more. Some books are available in multiple languages and some are audio. The site is gorgeous, easy-to-navigate, with bright, visual, colorful books to entice readers. 

Books are read online.

World Cat

World Cat is a comprehensive curation of books, CDs, articles, videos, and more available at all libraries in a geographic area or around the world, for all age groups. This includes not only public libraries but colleges and universities. Once you’ve located a resource, you check it out from that local library. You can get help from a librarian, leave comments and reviews, even factual notes (much like Wikipedia). 

World Cat only includes libraries that have joined the World Cat group. 

Here are collections that require a fee, but much reduced from what it would cost to purchase the books:

Mighty Book

Mighty Books includes over 600 K-8 animated storybooks, games, songs, and puzzles that can be read online or on mobile devices. They are organized by age group and category. This collection is especially useful for ESL and special needs as students can highlight words that are then spoken to the reader. Many of the books include complete lesson plans and quizzes.

Books can be read online or on mobile devices.

RAZ Kids

RAZ Kids includes hundreds of K-5 interactive, animated leveled ebooks spanning twenty-seven levels of reading skill. Choices include fiction, poetry, and songs in English and Spanish (a limited availability). Titles include everything from My Body (for Level A readers) to Abraham Lincoln (for Level Z readers). Each book can be read or listened to by the student. Students can even record themselves to practice reading skills such as pacing and understanding punctuation. As a teacher, you can manage your class, track what’s being read, supervise equizzes, and more. Books are easily pushed out to students. When the students logs into the app, s/he only sees the books that fit his/her reading level.

Books can be read online or on mobile devices.

TumbleBookLibrary

TumbleBookLibrary is a curated database of over 1100 elementary age ebooks. It includes animated books, talking picture books, read-along chapter books, national geographic videos, non-fiction books, playlists, graphic novels, math stories, as well as books in Spanish and French. There are additional dedicated libraries for Middle School and audio books. Books include Ramona Quimby, Nancy Drew, and a collection from National Geographic.

Books can be read online or on mobile devices.

Thanks to this wide and varied collection of reading resources, no child should be consigned to the wrong side of the digital divide. Add “book collections” to the column of how technology successfully facilitates learning.

–Image credit Deposit Photos


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Tech Tip #27: Does MS Word Have ‘Research’?

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Does MS Word Have ‘Research’?

Category: Google Apps, Keyboarding

Q: Is there a quick way to research on a PC, like we can do in Google Docs?

A: Sure. Use the ‘Reference‘ tab on the menu bar. It used to be Shift+F7 but that is now ‘Thesaurus’. That brings up the ‘Researcher’ sidebar (on the right side of the document).

In Google Apps, use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+I to Explore

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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Teacher-Authors: What’s Happening on my Writer’s Blog

A lot of teacher-authors read my WordDreams blog. In this monthly column, I share the most popular post from the past month on that blog:

***

tech tips for writersTech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future tip.

There are usual ways to find the most recent article written on a blog:

  • Check the top of the blog--This might work, but often bloggers pin ‘Featured Articles’ to the top. It’s not always clear when those run out and the regular ones start.
  • Check the menu for ‘All Posts’–All bloggers don’t have that option.
  • Check the sidebar for ‘Recent Articles’–All bloggers don’t have that and some push it way (way) down the sidebar resources

So what to do if none of those work?

Here’s an example of what I did in one case. I’ll use a blog from a nature writer who wrote a book I loved (Christy Teglo–click to find out more–Christy has amazing adventures). Here’s what the home page looks like:

I clicked ‘Blog at the top and got:

It took a bit of sleuthing to realize these aren’t her most recent articles (though they are fascinating). I checked the sidebar, but you can see in the image above that there is none. Normal people give up at this point, but those who know me are more likely to ascribe ‘odd’ or ‘eclectic’ to me than ‘normal’. So I tried a trick that has worked for me in these types of situations:

  • Go to the search bar
  • Don’t type anything into it. Just push ‘Search’
  • The default if you don’t provide direction is to list all articles in date order

Here’s what I got:

 

Victory! I haven’t had a time yet where this doesn’t work!

How about you? Did this work? Or do you know a better way?

Other Writer’s Tech Tips you might like:


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

7 Ways To Use Technology For Exam Prep

As an educator, I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to help my students prepare for exams. And when it comes to exam prep, there’s no reason you can’t use technology to make the process more engaging for your students. Technology can be a valuable tool for accomplishing this goal, and in this post, we’ll take a look at seven ways educators can use technology to help students prepare for exams.

  1. Integrate interactive quiz modules into the course content

One way to use technology to assist our students in their exam prep is to integrate interactive quiz modules into our course content. This can help students identify areas where they need more review, and it also allows them to track their progress over time. I find that there is a variety of different quiz modules available online, so be sure to find one that meets the specific needs of your students. Based on my experience, this builds engagement overall because students know that they need to pay attention as there are quizzes at regular intervals. 

  1. Record lectures so students can review them at their convenience

Another great way to use technology for exam prep is to record your lectures so that students can review them at their convenience. This can be especially helpful if you have a large class size or if you teach remotely, as it allows students to watch the material again and take notes on key points whenever they need to. I found that this is a great way for students to engage with each lesson rather than worry about taking note of everything that you mentioned during the lecture.

  1. Have students complete interactive activities and exercises online

There are a number of websites that offer interactive activities and exercises for students to complete in order to prepare for their exams. These can be extremely helpful in solidifying key concepts and helping students to identify any areas where they may need additional help. Some of my favorite places to find these resources are Quizlet, Khan Academy, and even YouTube.

  1. Use social media platforms to engage with students and provide supplemental resources

You can also use social media platforms to connect with your students to help them prepare for their exams. There are many ways that this can be done, such as creating study groups on Facebook or Twitter, sharing relevant articles and books on these platforms, and posting online practice questions or interactive quizzes that students can complete to test their knowledge.

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13 Websites on Architecture/Engineering

Here are a few of the popular resources teachers are using for Architecture and Engineering:

Architecture

  1. ASCEville–Civil engineering jobs, activities
  2. Autodesk HomeDesigner–free; for olders or HS
  3. Classroom Architect
  4. The Geometry of Sustainable Architecture–in Google Earth

Design

  1. Design Evo–create logos for free

Engineering

  1. ASCEville–Civil engineering jobs, activities
  2. Concord Consortium–chemistry, earth science, engineering, life science, physics
  3. DiscoverE hands-on activities–also includes games, lesson plans, videos
  4. Gizmos
  5. Solving Problems with Simple Machines (video)
  6. Through My Window–free multi-media curriculum on engineering for grades 4-8
  7. Truss Me— design and test trusses
  8. What is an engineer–video for youngers or as an intro

Click here for updates to this list.

–Image credit Deposit Photos

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Tech Tip #147: 5 Ways to Involve Parents

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: 5 Tips to Involve Parents

Category: Parents, Classroom Management

Here are five ways to involve parents in the classroom:

  1. have an open door policy
  2. create a family-friendly environment
  3. offer parent technology classes
  4. communicate often with parents
  5. solicit help in/out of the classroom

For more detail on these, visit “5 Ways to Involve Parents in Your Class”.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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end of school year

12 Tech Tasks To End the School Year

I posted this a few years ago, skipped the topic with all the craziness of the pandemic, and am updating it this year in articles about how to wrap up your school year.:

Wrapping up your school technology for the summer is as complicated as setting it up in September. There are endless backups, shares, cleanings, changed settings, and vacation messages that — if not done right — can mean big problems when you return from summer vacation. If you have a school device, a lot of the shutdown steps will be done by the IT folks as they backup, clean, reformat, and maybe re-image your device. If you have a personal device assigned by the school but yours to take home, the steps may be more numerous but really, not more complicated.

Here’s a list. Skip those that don’t apply to you and complete the rest. I won’t take time in this article (I’m over 800 words right now) for a how-to on each activity so if you don’t know how to complete one, check with your IT folks or Google it:

Make sure your firewall and antivirus programs are working.

Many computers come with a built-in one to keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure yours is active. If you have a Chromebook or an iPad, don’t even worry about this.

Clean out your documents.

Sort through the documents you collected this year and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months –- or years — and is covered with spider webs. If you don’t do this regularly, the computer must finger through these unused files every time you search. If you hate throwing anything away, create an ‘Old’ folder, toss them all in it, and save that to a flash drive or in the cloud.

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How to Raise a Computer-Savvy Generation

Raising computer-savvy children is complicated, whether you are a geek or a luddite. If you don’t pay attention, they teach themselves and not always the right way. Guiding kids through foundational steps and then building on them so students enjoy using technology for more than games and simulations is the goal. We as teachers and parents want them to value tech as a tool that enables them to dig into raw data (not someone’s interpretation of it), get answers to questions when they pop into mind, and make everyday tasks easier (not waste time).

Our Ask a Tech Teacher crew has some great ideas for you in this next article:

How to Raise a Computer-Savvy Generation

Image source: Pexels

 

Being computer savvy in today’s world governed by technology is one of the most important things for parents to instill in their children. This is because the use of technology is important for personal growth and professional success.

Today’s generation is born into a world where everything revolves around technology. Fortunately, the modern generation is in love with it, meaning that parents do not have a hard time raising computer-savvy children.

As a parent, do you know what you should do to raise a computer-savvy child? Most parents did not grow up with the kind of technology that we have today, something that makes it a little bit difficult for them. Here is a guideline to follow;

Teach Children How To Code

Most parents are probably asking how to go about this when they cannot code themselves. Well, you do not have to know how to code to teach your children how to do it. Computer programming for children is growing in popularity every single day.

This is because people are relying on technology to run their day-to-day operations. Parents interested in raising a computer-savvy generation can, therefore, start by encouraging their children to learn how to code.

Children who learn how to code at an early age have high chances of succeeding in life. In addition, they find it easy to take courses such as Bachelor of Science in Computer Science later in life, which is vital for those who want a successful career in technology.

A computer-savvy generation can help in the critical evaluation of problems. In addition, they can look at alternative options and create innovative solutions to simplify processes and make things better.

Set Rules To Keep Them Under Control

Sometimes, we need to unplug to recharge ourselves and feel better. Setting rules for your computer-savvy child does not mean following strict guidelines but finding a routine that favors your family. 

For instance, you can set aside a certain amount of time every day when your children are supposed to engage in a certain activity or maybe not use certain devices such as computers. You do not want your child to suffer from computer-related injuries due to long computer usage.

At the end of the day, setting guidelines for your children is going to help them in the long run. They will understand that they need to be disciplined and follow regulations, something that can stick with them even when they are adults.

Get Involved With Your Children

When most modern parents were growing up, they saw how their parents were involved in their lives and made sure that they knew everything about friends, classmates, teachers, or even play-mates. This should not be abandoned especially when raising computer-savvy children.

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memorial day

Music for Armed Forces Day

Many Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day annually on the third Saturday of May. It is a day to pay tribute to men and women who serve the United States’ armed forces. Armed Forces Day is also part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyKfr8G04Qc&w=560&h=315] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI-_wAX1tV8&w=560&h=315]

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.