Wednesday, February 28, 2018

App Review: Truss Me!

TRUSS ME! from Scientific Monkey is an inexpensive app that teaches students to design structures.
Available at both the App Store and Google Play, this physics-based simulation experience helps users learn how truss structures work through fun interactive experiences. The program applies state-of-the-art techniques used by aerospace, mechanically and civil engineers to simulate real-world designs.
Librarians will find that this fun app provides an excellent introduction to the physics of truss structures. Combine the app with a maker space area that provides hands-on materials for trying out designs. Also, incorporate it into the STEAM program in the engineering area.
To learn more, go to

Monday, February 26, 2018

Technology Review: Anchor

ANCHOR is an app and website for creating podcasts.
This free resource allows users to record high-quality audio programs, then easily share their work. Available in both the App Store and at Google Play, this podcasting tool is also available in a web-based format. Although a sign-in is required, the resource is free for both short and long form audios.
Librarians will find this to be a useful tool for teachers and students wishing to create their own podcasts. Use it across content areas for engaging audio projects.
To learn more about the app, go to

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: The Witch Boy

THE WITCH BOY by Molly Ostertag is a middle-grade graphic fantasy about magic and individual differences.
Aster has grown up in a world where girls learn magic and boys become shape-shifters. As he reaches maturity, Aster realizes that he wants to learn magic even though it’s forbidden in his society. Encouragement from an outsider, helps him gain the courage to trust himself and face his fears.
Librarians will be drawn to messages of inclusion and courage. Middle-grade children will enjoy the high-quality color illustrations and fast-paced story. Use the absorbing story, world-building, and well-developed characters to draw in new graphic novel readers.
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic on October 31, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Website Review: Making North America

MAKING NORTH AMERICA is an interactive map from NOVA that explores geological sites across the continent.
Designed for grades 6-12, this interactive tool involves students in geology and history through an interactive experience.
The project begins with an introduction video, then users can choose the explore, expedition, or water options.
The Explore section asks users to click on a map to explore geological sites or experience a video sky tour. Within each area, users follow geologists as they explore geological features.
The Expedition section contain three treks that ask users to search for clues about how North American was formed. The treks begin with a video, then involve students in engaging activities that involve clicking, dragging, and making choices.
The Watch section provides complete videos of three NOVA episodes: origins, life, and humans.
Librarians will find this to be an excellent addition to the earth science program. The visual and interactive features will keep students actively engaged in learning. Divide a class into three teams each exploring a different trek. Then, ask them to come together and share their experience.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Website Review: Scholastic Student Activities

STUDENT ACTIVITIES from Scholastic has been providing high-quality web and whiteboard activities for decades.
Hundreds of activities are available across disciplines. Activities are organized by grade level (PreK-K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8). Categories include games, computer lab, interactive whiteboard, listen and read, and writing activities. While many of the activities are associated with Scholastic products such as books, most can be used without special supplies.
Librarians will find endless ideas for the K-8 curriculum. Mine this website for classroom connections. Of particular note are the “listen and read” activities.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Website Review: Games

GAMES from the National Museums Scotland contains dozens of interactive games for children focusing on topics from history to science.
While some of the games have educational value such as building a wind farm and designing a clinical trial, others are simply for fun such as monkey business lunch.
Librarians will want to mine this website for curriculum related games. For instance, Morse Code for the STEM curriculum and Discover Ancient Egypt for the history curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: Disappeared

DISAPPEARED by Francisco X. Stork tells the powerful story of siblings navigating a world of kidnapping and crime in Juarez, Mexico.
When her best friend is kidnapped, Sara uses her skills as a journalist to attract attention to her friend’s case despite death threats to herself and her family. At the same time, Sara’s brother Emiliano faces the question of whether to take the easy path into the world of crime or work hard to establish a legal business. Stork’s well-developed characters and authentic situations will draw young adults into this suspenseful story.
Librarians will find this to be a popular addition to the growing number of thoughtful, coming-of-age novels focusing on timely issues related to crime and politics along the American-Mexican border. Although the setting is different than Stork’s other novels, fans will quickly become immersed in this fast-paced thriller.
Published on September 26, 2017 by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Scholastic. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Website Review: Chicago Project

THE CHICAGO PROJECT is an interactive, immersive project exploring Chicago’s history.
Incorporating photo, film, and sound elements, this website currently shares four stories. The Century of Progress project is a virtual reality experience connected with the 1933 World’s Fair. The Valentine’s Day Massacre uses photos and documents to bring an historical site to life through virtual reality. The Eastland Disaster explores a famous ship disaster through historical photos and newsreel film in an augmented and virtual reality environment. Finally, the Spaces project examines famous architectural photography.
Librarians will find this website serves multiple uses. First, it provides an excellent example of virtual reality, augmented reality, and multimedia. Second, it provides a fascinating way to explore history.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Digital Spotlight: Pioneering Women of American Architecture

PIONEERING WOMEN OF AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE profiles fifty women how have made significant contributions to architecture in America.
Contents: The easy-to-access collection is organized alphabetically by last name, chronologically by lifetimes, and pictorially through architectural drawings and photographs. Each entry includes background information, a well-researched biographical article, illustrations depicting the architect and her work, and a bibliography.
Classroom Connections: Teachers will find that high-quality articles to be useful for informational reading activities. Consider using the collection while studying pioneering woman across disciplines.
Featured Digital Objects:
Van Rensselaer
To visit the collection, go to

Monday, February 12, 2018

Digital Spotlight: Shakespeare Documented

SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED is a comprehensive online exhibition documenting items published during his lifetime.
Contents: A collaboration among the Bodleian Libraries, British Library, Shakespeare Trust, UK National Archives, and others, this collection includes nearly 500 primary source materials, this online project shares manuscripts that refer to Shakespeare during his lifetime, books printed during his lifetime, Stationers’ Register entries, printed editions of works, and documents connected to family members.
Classroom Connections: What makes this collection unique is the focus on his socio-economic status and profession during his lifetime. Use this collection to help students better understand Shakespeare’s daily life.
Featured Digital Objects:
Personal Property
Contemporary Accounts
To visit the collection, go to

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Book Review: Dog Man Series

DOG MAN is a new series of graphic novels for children by Dav Pilkey featuring a dog-headed police officer.
Like Captain Underpants who was created by George and Harold, Dog Man is an unusual superhero made by a pair of friends. In the first book, this “crime-biting canine” is created when a police officer and his police dog are combined to save both lives. The resulting new superhero has some quirks, but he quickly gets to work capturing criminals like Petey the Cat and other evil doers. Two additional books including Unleashed and A Tale of Two Kittens explore stories featuring evil Petey the Cat. The latest addition to the series introduces Dog Man’s new sidekick Cat Kid. Together they become an effective crime fighting team.
Librarians will find a huge following for this hilarious new series. With endless jokes focusing on the relationship between dogs and cats, this new series will appeal to pet lovers along with fans of Captain Underpants.
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Website Review: Type Terms

TYPE TERMS is a website explaining terminology related to typography.
The website’s entry page displays the word “terminology” with active links for over a dozen key terms. Each link provides an animated visual and a definition. Users can then return to the menu or navigate forward or backward through additional terms.
Librarians will find this website an interesting addition to the computer science curriculum. Weave the website into a lesson focusing on word processing, page layout, and typography.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Website Review: Unfairy Tales

UNFAIRY TALES is a collection of animated stories exploring the plight of Syrian refugees.
Produced for UNICEF, the website contains three sections: Malak and the Boat, Mustafa Goes for a Walk, and The Story of Ivine and Pillow. In addition, videos show the children telling their stories.
Librarians will find this website to be useful in talking with children about issues regarding child refugees. Students will be particularly interested in how the children narrated the stories themselves.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Website Review: I Spy (with my Five Eyes)

I SPY (WITH MY FIVE EYES) is an interactive website documentary focusing on global privacy issues.
This engaging documentary explores the tensions among citizens, governments, and intelligence groups related to government surveillance. Specifically, it examines the Five Eyes Alliance surveillance program established during the Cold War that continues today. Each of the five interactive video chapters focuses a specific aspect of government surveillance such as cyberwarfare and the search for terrorists. Each video includes interactive elements such as embedded questions and additional content. Further information is also available.
Librarians will find this interactive documentary to be an effective way to teach high school students about global privacy issues. Social studies teachers will also be interested in weaving the content into their social issues and history curriculum.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Book Review: Bizzy Mizz Lizzie

BIZZY MIZZ LIZZIE by David Shannon is a timely picture book that encourages children to “stop and smell the flowers”.
Bizzy Mizz Lizzie is so busy that she never stops to relax. When Mizz Lizzie’s over-scheduled life catches up with her, she learns a lesson about the importance of taking a break to enjoy the simple things in life.
Librarians will find this colorfully illustrated picture book to be useful in classrooms to address the importance of a balanced life. Pair it with a discussion about making choices.
Published by Scholastic on October 10, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Website Review: Black in History

BLACK IN HISTORY is a blog that highlights the accomplishments of influencers.
This attractive, and easy-to-use website features Black Americans from the past and present. Each entry includes a name, photo, overview, and short biographical sketch. An archive provides easy access to all the entries. Tags are used for each entry making the blog easy to search. In addition, readers can filter entries by subject such as medicine and music. Users are encouraged to submit their own entries.
Librarians will find this website to be a useful addition to Black History Month activities. However more importantly, it provides resources about influential Black Americans that can be woven into the history curriculum as a whole. Encourage children to write their own short entries and submit them to the blog.
To visit the website, go to