Digital Tools to Get Your Students Reading and Thinking Over the Summer

Friday, May 10, 2019 2 comments
Digital Tools to Get Your Students Reading and Thinking Over the Summer #ebooks #activities #elementaryschool #middleschool #highschool

I got a question from a colleague yesterday on the best ways for kids to access books online this summer. Specifically we were looking for free books because we are a Title 1 district and wanted the process to be as easy and as inexpensive as possible for the parents of our community.

As usual I went into a DEEP dive. I turned to my favorite Facebook Community, "Teach with Tech" . This community is affiliated with the Teach with Tech Online Conference that I will be presenting in this summer.

The conference is entirely online from July 22 - July 24. If you sign up and choose the free option you will have access on the 22nd to that days 21 presenters. You will have access to those 21 videos until July 29th. For $10.95, you will have access to all three days, 60 presenters, and can view all of their presentations for up to a year! I might be biased, because I am presenting, but I think that is a steal!

Anywho... I totally digress! I turned to the Teach with Tech community on Facebook and crowd sourced the answer. As usual, I was blown away at the amount of information I received and the willingness to collaborate of everyone involved! 

I got so many great ideas, I wanted to get them all together. I expanded from just ebooks because that is definitely a one size fits all topic. Students can work on their literacy skills in many different ways!

  1. Favorite Paid 

Image result for epic books

My absolute favorite is Epic! Books. It is free for teachers, but for parents to use it over the summer, they would have to subscribe for $8 a month. Teachers can print out flyers with directions from their accounts. Parents also get their first month free. For more information on Epic! Books, check out my blog post here.

2. Favorite Free

Image result for open ebooks

If you are a Title 1 School, you have access to Open eBooks, a free digital library for elementary, middle, and high school students. The easiest way to access these books is by signing up with First Book, and then follow the directions  for signing up with Open eBooks. Open eBooks has a pretty amazing selection and is good for students in PreK through high school.

3. Favorite Find

One of my surprising favorite finds is Sync: Audio Books for Teens. Every week during the summer, middle and high schoolers can download two audiobooks for free. Students will need to download the free Overdrive app to listen to the books. I have already downloaded this weeks books and I'm addicted! The website comes with flyers and handouts to give to your students before they leave for the summer. 

4. Your Library is Your Friend

The most suggested free reading option was without a doubt, your local library's digital resources. Many libraries use the OverDrive app to offer free access to eBooks and Audio Books. The Libby app and the Sora app are associated apps that help you search your local libraries for the books you need.

As a teacher, reach out to your local librarians. You can definitely take a field trip to the library but many librarians will come to your school and show the students how they can access the digital resources. Most importantly, if you are in middle school, take the time to let the kids take out their devices and walk them through the process of signing up.

5. Who knew YouTube was for more than just cat videos?
A couple years ago one of my middle schoolers told me that whenever she wanted to read a book and didn't have the money to buy it, she just went to YouTube and found someone reading the book aloud. She was totally right. If you are looking for middle and high school books, students can often find them on YouTube.

It is not true for every book but there are many titles available!

This is also true for elementary books! There are some fabulous people out there dedicating entire YouTube channels to reading aloud picture books.

This would be awesome to provide to parents. Many parents don't share literature with students because they don't enjoy it themselves or they simply are not good at reading aloud. The channels would be great to share so the whole family could enjoy reading together.

Below is a growing database of online reading options for summer. Toggle through the fields at the top to find what you need. Here is a quick link to the database

Lastly, don't forget about podcasts! I know they aren't books but if our focus is trying to get our students to read, listen, and think podcasts can help kiddos do that! Take a look at my podcast post. Below is a podcast database!

Please reach out and let me know of you have any suggestions to add to my list!

Digital Tools to Get Your Students Reading and Thinking Over the Summer #ebooks #activities #elementaryschool #middleschool #highschool

Quick Tech Tip: and Escape Rooms

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 3 comments
Quick Tech Tip: to make quick escape rooms! #edtech #escaperooms #digitalbreakouts #breakoutedu

Hey all! I wanted to jump on super quick and show you a cool tool. I always feel like I have to write a novel on here and then I posy great ideas on my Instagram but I really need to combine them!

I have been dabbling in the world on Escape Rooms and am really enjoying myself! I have made a couple of physical escape rooms and some digital ones and both kids and adults love them. I was teaching the concept in a grad class of current teachers the other day and they all loved the concept but realized it does take a chunk of time to create one.

On my quest to make their lives easier, I found the, which I already love to use for putting students into groups or choosing a random name. Has a quick and easy lock generator!

Basically, you enter your prompt, answer and hint on a spreadsheet and Flippity makes the locks for you.

I have embedded these in a Google site digital escape room but I can see this used in many different ways!

  1. Take a worksheet and cut it up to make the problems separate "locks". Make the answer the combination to the lock. Add even more engagement by placing these problems up on a wall or around the classroom.
  2. If you have a station activity, add an overarching question and answer that they have to unlock before they move to the next station.
  3. Us the locks for a whole classroom reward! Countdown to a an event, vacation, etc. and have a password for each day. If the class meets the expectation for the day, the receive the "password". When the lock are all unlocked, they receive their reward!
So, let's crowd source this idea: how might you use these locks in your classroom? Leave a comment below!!!

If you are interested in checking out some of my escape rooms, click on the links below!

Click here! This is a FREE digital escape room on digital citizenship!

Click here!

Click here!