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2017 Reading Challenge and Using Goodreads to Keep It Fun

My 2017 Reading Challenge and Using Goodreads to Keep it Fun


Every year I set at least one goal/resolution for myself.  Big surprise, it’s to read more — or at least read!  Each year since before I can remember, I have set a reading goal for myself, and while in the beginning when I was still in school, it was very low and only included pleasure reading (even if some of my history texts were pleasurable), I have incrementally increased my goal every year since.  This year I’ve set a goal of reading 115 full length books, up from 2016’s goal of 110, a goal I feel that I barely eked out, thanks to lots of life events that prevented me reading as much as I would have liked.

Back in the dark ages, I used to keep my lists by hand, and track the titles, authors, pages, etc. of all my books each year, but would end up inevitably losing or misplacing my notepad and having to try to guess and try to reconstruct my list or just plain make something up.   That’s when I found Goodreads.  Now, I am sure most of you are familiar with Goodreads as it’s been the most popular social network for readers and books for years, and even more so now that it has been acquired by Amazon, so I won’t get into the details.  Just what I like about a feature I surprisingly did not know about until recently to help me decide what to read next since that’s always a problem for me!

WHAT TO READ?!?

So if you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for new books and something new to read and always seem to have a never-ending pile or backlog of books on your “Want to Read” list.  I can’t resist bookstores or the free and reduced e-book lists out there for Kindle.  My favorites right now are BookGorilla (an email subscription for free and reduced books based on your genre preferences) and AtoZWire (scroll their list for the daily free Kindle deals).  Unfortunately(?) this has left me with a “to read” list of over 1450 books!!

My biggest problem was trying to remember what I had, and then deciding what to read next.  I know there are always some books I will gravitate to, like superhero graphic novels (MARVEL!) or Star Wars books, but after reading something great, I struggle to find something new, or just in general I might want something new and different.  This is where I found a neat trick to keep myself guessing.

GETTING YOUR LIST TOGETHER

One of the great things about the merging of Goodreads with Amazon (though I miss Shelfari a little bit) is the ability to add your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads account. It is also very simple, if you know where to look.  After logging into Goodreads, click on the “My Books” link on the top banner.  Mine is set to show me my “To Read” list, but it doesn’t matter what yours shows, you can still find the “Tools” on the left hand side of your screen.  Make sure you scroll down the list to the bottom and you’ll see the link to “Add Amazon book purchases.” Click on that link and give the next page a little time to load and you’ll see all the book (print and Kindle) purchases you have made!  Under each, there’s a button and you can automatically add these to your “Want to Read” list!  Don’t want to add something?? there’s an option for that too! This comes in handy at the next step in your surprise reading…

 

SURPRISE!!

Now the fun can begin…  Jump to your “To Read” list and scroll all the way to the bottom.  There you will see a spot where you can sort your newly padded list.  The default from Goodreads is to show you 20 titles sorted by Date Added in descending order.  So in other words, the newest book will be added to the top of the list and everything else bumped down one. (but you knew that.)  All you need to do to give yourself a surprise next-to-read is click on the “sort” and choose “Random” like so:

Ascending and descending order doesn’t matter here and you can display as many titles as you like.  Now, each time you refresh, you will have a totally different list each time!  Here’s what I got for my test list for this post:

 

When I ran it a second time (F5 or refresh), I got this:

 

Two completely different lists!  SURPRISE!!  Now, you can pick and choose what you like from this first page, or what I have chosen to do is just take the top book on the list when I am ready.  So, I’ll finish Inferno, which I’m currently reading, and unless there is something I need to read, I will jump to my “To Read” list and take what Goodreads gives me!

I find this to be a big help, since I end up finding that I can’t stick to other reading suggestions or challenges that ask you to read certain books from certain categories, like the 52 book challenges you can find online.  Even though my personal goal is nearly double that, I can’t force myself to read something I am not interested in, there’s too much I am interested in out there, and I will always fall short on those.

Hopefully this little trick can help you find, or rediscover some of those “lost books” in your kindle or on your shelf that you forgot you were once interested in.  I know that since I found this out myself, I have read some very fun books (and some not so fun ones), but always something I know that I wanted to read — even if it was three years ago!

Let me know your challenge for yourself, if you have one!  If you would like to follow along with my reading on Goodreads, you can find my profile here.  Please feel free to follow me or send a friend request.

If you’re interested in my past reading goals and summaries:

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Blogs, Tips & Tricks, Websites

 

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Return to My Roots — App & Site Reviews

Return to My Roots — App & Site Reviews

It’s been a long time since I really dedicated myself to the idea of providing links and reviews to different educational apps and websites that you can use in your library or instruction.  This occurred for a multitude of reasons, namely my growing young family took up a lot of my free time (as they should!) and some volatility in my own employment between moving and finding the right fit in a school district and library.

Fortunately both of these have settled down a great deal and I want to get back into the swing.  I have to admit, I was putting this off a little bit until I attended a great Bureau of Education & Research (BER) Seminar on Monday — “Making the Best use of Technology in Your School Library Program to Support Instruction and Enrich Student Learning” with Deborah Ford.  Because my former district was not too keen on sending me out for seminars, trainings, and workshops, I found that I had missed out a lot on the technology end since leaving Palmyra where my tech side was encouraged in 2013.  Now at Cumberland Regional, where my inner techie again is being encouraged and fed, I feel the ability to grow and thrive and share and learn again.  Frankly, it’s exciting and I need more hours in my day!

While I work through trying and testing the various websites, apps, and tools I was introduced to on Monday (there are so many!!!) I’ll make sure I share them here as I plan and test them out to turnkey to my colleagues here at CRHS.  Thank you BER and Deb Ford for re-kindling this in me!

Thanks so much for hanging in and for your continued support.  I can’t wait to share and hopefully find something that YOU can use and love as your work through your own teaching and planning.

If you ever have any concerns, questions, or comments — plesae never hesitate to contact me!

–NJB

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Blogs

 

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Moby Dick Big Read Project

Moby Dick — Big Read

I came across this site through Open Culture which is a fantastic repository of all kinds of great free history and pop culture.  The Moby Dick Big Read Project was an enormous undertaking to record all 135 chapters of the novel into an audiobook format with each of the chapters read by a different voice.  Combining the voices of the known and unknown but all important this project has injected new live into one of the greatest American novels.

You can listen to the audio on the Big Read site itself, through iTunes, or through SoundCloud.

H/T to both Open Culture for the original post and Book Riot for pointing me their way.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Blogs, Websites

 

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PSA – New Book Review Blog

HI Everyone,

I just wanted to make you aware that if you are interested in my thoughts about new (and some old) books, please check out my companion site NJBiblio Reads for books and book reviews.

I will continue to update here daily, and add content to NJBiblio Reads as I finish each of my many reading adventures!

Thanks for all your continued support and for your  readership — it truly means the world to me!

Charlie (NJBiblio)

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Blogs

 

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Feedly — Your Google Reader Alternative

Feedly

With the inevitable demise of Google Reader, I, and many others I’m sure, have been scrambling to find a new feed reader to have access to all our blog subscriptions.  After a little searching, I have settled on my choice:  Feedly.

Like many others already, I was impressed by the look and feel of Feedly, which is very graphic oriented, giving options to preview blog posts as if through a newsfeed as well as providing an easy to use archive interface to catch up on back posts.  What most impressed me about Feedly, however, was the ease of transition away from Google Reader.  A simple add-on install in both Firefox and Chrome were able to integrate Feedly into my browser, so I can receive new post alerts, and one click completely synched my feeds from Google Reader – including read and saved blogs!  Feedly is also available as a free app for iPhones and iPads, as well as Android devices.

I’m not sure how many readers access the content of this blog, be it through e-mails, direct links, or a feed reader.  If you are using Google Reader though, I’d advise you to pick up Feedly today, and save yourself the trouble or lost and missing posts from this, or any blog, come July.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in Apps, Blogs, Tips & Tricks

 

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100+ Great Video Sites for Educators

100+ Great Video Sites for Educators

Looking to bring more multimedia resources into your classroom but you either are not able to find what you like on YouTube or are not allowed to show YouTube in your district, why not try some of these fantastic video sites that have content specifically made for teachers and education.  This list was complied in 2012 by Edudemic and all sites have been checked and as of this posting are live and functioning.

Educational Video Collections

Specifically designed for education, these collections make it easy to find video learning resources.

  • TeacherTube: This YouTube for teachers is an amazing resource for finding educationally focused videos to share with your classroom. You can find videos uploaded by other teachers or share your own.
  • Edutopia: An awesome place to find learning ideas and resources, Edutopia has videos, blogs, and more, all sorted into grade levels.
  • YouTube EDU: A YouTube channel just for education, you can find primary and secondary education, university-level videos, and even lifelong learning.
  • Classroom Clips: Classroom Clips offers media for educators and students alike, including video and audio in a browseable format.
  • neoK12: Find science videos and more for school kids in K-12 on neoK12.
  • OV Guide: Find education videos on this site, featuring author readings and instructional videos.
  • CosmoLearning: This free educational website has videos in 36 different academic subjects.
  • Google Educational Videos: Cool Cat Teacher offers this excellent tutorial for finding the best of Google’s educational videos.
  • Brightstorm: On Brightstorm, students can find homework help in math and science, even test prep, too.
  • Explore.org: Explore.org shares live animal cams, films, educational channels, and more for your classroom to explore.
  • UWTV: Offered by the University of Washington, UWTV has videos in the arts, K-12, social sciences, health, and more.
  • Videolectures.net: With Videolectures.net, you’ll get access to browseable lectures designed for the exchange of ideas and knowledge, offering videos in architecture, business, technology, and many more categories.
  • TED-Ed: From a site that’s long been known for big ideas, you’ll find TED-Ed, videos specifically designed to act as highly engaging and fun lessons.
  • Zane Education: Zane Education offers resources for visual learning, including the very popular on demand-subtitled videos.
  • Backpack TV: In this educational video library, you’ll find a special interest in math, science, and other academic subjects.
  • MentorMob: Featuring learning playlists, MentorMob is a great place to find lessons you want to teach.
  • Disney Educational Productions: This resource from Disney is a great place to find videos for students at the K-12 level.

General Video Collections

Network TV, inspiring talks, and more are all available in these collections. Check out special categories and searches to find videos that will work in your classroom.

  • Hulu: A great place to find the latest TV shows, Hulu is also a source of educational videos. Documentaries, PBS, even Discovery videos are all available on the site.
  • Internet Archive: Find so much more than videos in the Internet Archive. Images, live music, audio, texts, and yes, historical and educational videos are all available on Archive.org.
  • TED: Share seemingly endless inspiration with your students through TED, a fountain of talks based on compelling ideas.
  • MIT Video: Online education giant MIT has an incredible video collection, offering more than 10,000 videos for science, technology, and more.
  • TVO: TVO is a really fun and useful online TV station, with great ways for kids, parents, and educators to learn about the world.
  • Big Think: Much like TED, Big Think offers videos (and more) from some of the world’s top thinkers and learners.
  • @Google Talks: On this YouTube channel, you’ll find talks from creators: authors, musicians, innovators, and speakers, all discussing their latest creations.
  • Metacafe: Find free video clips from just about anywhere, offering educational videos, documentaries, and more.
  • Link TV: On Link TV, you’ll find videos and broadcasts meant to connect you and your students to the greater world through documentaries and cultural programs.

Teacher Education

Featuring higher-level learning, these video sites are great resources for finding education that’s fit for teachers.

  • Academic Earth: Learn about science, justice, economics, and more from some of the world’s great universities. You can even earn a degree from this site!
  • Teacher Training Videos: Specifically created to teach educators, Teacher Training Videos is a great place to find online tutorials for technology in education.
  • Classroom 2.0: Check out Classroom 2.0′s videos to learn about Web 2.0, social media, and more.
  • Atomic Learning: Visit Atomic Learning to find resources for K-12 professional development.
  • iTunesU: Find university-level learning and more from iTunesU.
  • Videos for Professional Development: An excellent collection of professional development videos, Wesley Fryer’s post shares some of the best teacher videos available.
  • Learner.org: Annenberg Learner offers excellent teacher professional development and classroom resources for just about every curriculum available.
  • MIT Open CourseWare: The leader in Open CourseWare, MIT has free lectures and videos in 2,100 courses.

Lesson Planning

Put together your lesson plans with the help of these useful video sites. (Most are full videos that take up at least a full 40-minute period.)

  • Teachers’ Domain: Join the Teachers’ Domain, and you’ll get access to educational media from public broadcasting and its partners, featuring media from the arts, math, science, and more.
  • Meet Me at the Corner: A great place for younger kids to visit, Meet Me At the Corner has educational videos, and kid-friendly episodes, including virtual field trips and video book reviews by kids, for kids.
  • WatchKnowLearn: WatchKnowLearn is an incredible resource for finding educational videos in an organized repository. Sorted by age and category, it’s always easy to find what you’re looking for.
  • BrainPOP: On this education site for kids, you’ll find animated educational videos, graphics, and more, plus a special section for BrainPOP educators.
  • The KidsKnowIt Network: Education is fun and free on this children’s learning network full of free educational movies and video podcasts.
  • Khan Academy: With more than 3,200 videos, Khan Academy is the place to learn almost anything. Whether you’re seeking physics, finance, or history, you’ll find a lesson on it through Khan Academy.
  • Awesome Stories: Students can learn the stories of the world on this site, with videos explaining what it was like to break ranks within the Women’s Movement, the life of emperor penguins, and even Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “We Shall Overcome” speech.
  • Nobelprize: Cap off lessons about Nobel Prize winners with videos explaining their work and life, direct from the source on Nobelprize.org.
  • JohnLocker: JohnLocker is full of educational videos and free documentaries, including Yogis of Tibet and Understanding the Universe.

Science, Math, and Technology

You’ll find special attention for STEM subjects on these video sites.

  • Green Energy TV: On Green Energy TV, you’ll find learning resources and videos for the green movement, including a video version of the children’s book Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet.
  • BioInteractive: Find free videos and other resources for teaching “ahead of the textbook” from BioInteractive, part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
  • ARKive: Share images and videos of the world’s most endangered species with your students, thanks to ARKive. These wildlife films and photos are from some of the world’s best filmmakers and photographers, sharing stunning images that everyone can appreciate.
  • MathTV: Students who need extra help with math can find support on MathTV. This site offers videos explaining everything from basic mathematics all the way to trigonometry and calculus.
  • The Vega Science Trust: A project of Florida State University, The Vega Science Trust shares lectures, documentaries, interviews, and more for students to enjoy and learn from.
  • The Science Network: Check out The Science Network, where you’ll find the world’s leading scientists explaining concepts including viruses and the birth of neurons.
  • PopTech: Bringing together a global community of innovators, PopTech has videos explaining economics, water, and plant-based fuels.
  • PsychCentral: Students can learn about what makes people tick through PsychCentral’s brain and behavior videos.
  • How Stuff Works: The video channel from How Stuff Works offers an in-depth look at adventure, animals, food, science, and much more.
  • Science Stage: Find science videos, tutorials, courses, and more streaming knowledge on Science Stage.
  • Exploratorium TV: Allow students to explore science and beyond with Exploratorium TV’s videos, webcasts, podcasts, and slideshows.
  • SciVee: SciVee makes science visible, allowing searchable video content on health, biology, and more.
  • The Futures Channel: Visit the Futures Channel to find educational videos and activities for hands-on, real world math and science in the classroom.
  • All Things Science: For just about any science video you can imagine, All Things Science has it, whether it’s about life after death or space elevators.
  • ATETV: Check out Advanced Technological Education Television (ATETV) to find videos exploring careers in the field of technology.

History, Arts, and Social Sciences

Explore history and more in these interesting video collections.

  • The Kennedy Center: Find beautiful performances from The Kennedy Center’s Performance Archive.
  • The Archaeology Channel: Students can explore human cultural heritage through streaming media on The Archaeology Channel.
  • Web of Stories: On Web of Stories, people share their life stories, including Stan Lee, writer, Mike Bayon, WWII veteran, and Donald Knuth, computer scientist.
  • Stephen Spielberg Film and Video Archive: In this archive, you’ll find films and videos relating to the Holocaust, including the Nuremberg Trials and Hitler speeches.
  • Culture Catch: Students can tune into culture with Dusty Wright’s Culture Catch.
  • Folkstreams: On Folkstream.net, a national preserve of documentary films about American roots cultures, you’ll find the best of American folklore films.
  • Digital History: A project of the University of Houston, Digital History uses new technology, including video, to enhance teaching and research in history.
  • History Matters: Another university project, this one is from George Mason University. Sharing primary documents, images, audio, and more, there’s plenty of historic multimedia to go around on this site.
  • Social Studies Video Dictionary: Make definitions visual with this video dictionary for social studies.
  • The Living Room Candidate: From the Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate features presidential campaign commercials from 1952 to 2008.
  • Video Active: Find Europe’s TV heritage through Video Active, a collection of TV programs and stills from European audiovisual archives.
  • Media Education Foundation: The Media Education Foundation offers documentary films and other challenging media for teaching media literacy and media studies.
  • English Central: Video series to help learners of English as a second language.

Video Tools

Make it easy to find, share, and view videos with these tools.

  • DropShots: On DropShots, you’ll find free, private, and secure storage and sharing for video and photos.
  • Muvee: Using Muvee, you can create your own photo and video “muvees” to share privately with your class.
  • Tonido: Tonido makes it possible to run your own personal cloud, accessing video files on your computer from anywhere, even your phone.
  • Vidique: On Vidique, you’ll find a video syndication system where you can create your own channel of curated content for the classroom.
  • SchoolTube: On SchoolTube, you’ll find video sharing for both students and teachers, highlighting the best videos from schools everywhere.

Network and Program Videos

Check out these sites to find public broadcasting and other educational programs.

  • PBS Video: Watch and share PBS videos online with this site.
  • National Geographic: Find some of the world’s most amazing videos of natural life on National Geographic’s online video home.
  • NOVA Teachers: NOVA shares highly organized videos for teachers, with 1-3 hour programs divided into chapters, plus short 5-15 minute segments from NOVA scienceNOW.
  • Discovery Education: Use Discovery Education’s videos to inspire curiosity, bringing the Discovery channel into your classroom.
  • C-SPAN Video Library: Find Congressional and other political programs and clips in this digital archive from C-SPAN.
  • NBC Learn: Check out NBC Learn to find excellent resources for learning from NBC, including the science behind just about everything from the summer Olympics to hockey.
  • History.com: Watch full episodes, clips, and videos from the History channel.
  • Biography: Get the true story behind peoples’ lives from these videos from the Biography channel.
  • BBC Learning: BBC offers an excellent learning site, including learning resources for schools, parents, and teachers. One of BBC’s most impressive resources is a live volcano conversation discussing the world’s most active volcano in Hawaii.

Free Movies and Clips

Documentaries and other educational movies and clips are available on these sites.

  • Free Documentaries: On Free Documentaries, “the truth is free,” with a variety of documentary films available for streaming.
  • SnagFilms: On SnagFilms, you can watch free movies and documentaries online, with more than 3,000 available right now.
  • Top Documentary Films: Watch free documentaries online in this great collection of documentary movies.
  • TV Documentaries: This Australian site has excellent documentaries about child growth, historic events, and even animations about classical Greek mythology.

How-Tos

Satisfy students’ desire for knowledge and hands-on learning by sharing how-to videos from these sites.

  • 5min: If you’ve got five minutes, you can learn how to do something on this site. Check it out to find instructional videos and DIY projects.
  • Wonder How To: Learn everything about anything from Wonder How To’s show and tell videos.
  • Instructables: This community of doers shares instructions (often, video) for doing just about anything, from making secret doors to tiny origami.
  • Howcast: Find some of the best how-to videos online with Howcast.
  • MindBites: Check out MindBites to find thousands of video lessons, how-tos, and tutorials.
  • W3Schools: Through W3Schools’ web tutorials (video and otherwise), you can learn how to create your own websites.
  • Videojug: Videojug encourages users to “get good at life” by watching more than 60,000 available how-to videos and guides.

Government and Organizations

Offered as a service from government organizations and other groups, these are great places to find top-notch educational videos and often, historical treasures.

  • US National Archives: Explore US history in this YouTube channel from the US National Archives.
  • National Science Foundation: From the National Science Foundation, you’ll find a wealth of multimedia, including instructional and educational videos.
  • NASA eClips: NASA offers a great way for students and educators to learn about space exploration, with clips divided by grade level.
  • NASA TV: Tune in to NASA TV to watch launches, talks, even space station viewing.
  • Library of Congress: Through the Library of Congress, you can find videos and other classroom materials for learning about American history.
  • American Memory Collections: Search America’s collective memory to find videos and other multimedia from the American past, including film and sound recordings from the Edison Companies and 50 years of Coca-Cola TV ads.
  • Canadian National Film Bureau: Check out the Canadian National Film bureau to find hundreds of documentaries and animated films available online.

The original list of the 100 best videos for educators can be found at Accredited Online Colleges

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Blogs, Tips & Tricks

 

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Numberphile — Cool Math Videos

Numberphile

Their slogan is “Videos about numbers and stuff” and these are indeed fun, informative videos about all kinds of mathematical properties.  The goal of Numberphile is to take some of the more complex and abstract mathematical concepts and make them more accessible through their video series.

Stretching the gamut from explaining about the value and properties of pi (Π) through infinity, dividing by zero, complex encryption, through how to successfully order 43 chicken nuggets Numberphile has close to 100 individual videos available.  These are all hosted on YouTube, so make sure that you would be able to show them at school – or use a converter.  Videos range from about 3 minutes up through about 15, so they can be used as a supplement to a lesson or perhaps an alternate explanation of a concept you can direct students toward.

Numberphile does assume a level of competency in basic mathematical principles and operations in their videos, so this would most likely not be for lower level or struggling students.

Also of Interest – My post about Downloading Streaming Video and other Media might be helpful if your school filter will not allow access to videos through YouTube.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Blogs, Websites

 

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