RSS

Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Flipped Classroom – Infographic

The Flipped Classroom

You may have heard the term “flipped classroom”, but do you really know what it means?  Simply put, it’s flipping the roles of the teacher and student in the process of learning, but it’s really much more than that.  Traditional classrooms still have the teacher at the head of the class, delivering instruction or lecture, then assigning homework and projects based off of that.  In a flipped classroom, however, the students take a much more active role in the class, while the teacher acts as facilitator, arbiter, and expert in the instruction.  This idea ties in very nicely with the increased use of technology in the classroom and while it takes practice, it can be a very useful (and less stressful) environment for teachers and students alike. [VIA]

Click image to enlarge

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Infographics, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Show Off Random Activity Generator

Random Activity Generator

Are you bored?  Looking for something to do?  Do you want to learn or try some new and fun skills?  If so, check out this cool little site — Show Off.

Show Off is the promotional site for a book by the same title that is a “how-to” book for kids.  They promote over 208 pages with 1500 illustrations that walk you step by step through some interesting activities that can easily alleviate boredom and teach you some new life skills at the same time.  I clicked through a few times and got activities like building a solar compass, learning how to skip a stone, how to dry and press flowers, and how to encode secret messages.

Each “lesson” in Show Off is about 4-5 panels long and even though the activities look easy, you will spend a good deal of time practicing and perfecting each one.  So, what should you do today?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

iBrainstorm — Collaborative Creation App

iBrainstorm

Another in a great line of creation and creativity apps, iBrainstorm allows students to collaborate on projects through their iPads.  It is essentially a free form drawing and writing app that can allow students to set up flow charts and graphical designs, storyboard their creative writing, or even create notes or comics.

iBrainstorm allows multiple users to create place their ideas on the board as well as add annotations, suggestions and notes through a sticky-pad feature.  This is ideal for group collaborative projects and allowing students who might need the added help to map out their thoughts and ideas.

A sister app, iBrainstorm Companion is also available for the iPhone or iPod and allows up to 4 students to work on the same document at once.  They can add or create notes and pieces on their iPhone or iPod then “flick” them to the connected iPad to produce their final product.

iBrainstorm would be ideally used in a collaborative, project-based learning environment where students are comfortable with, and responsible enough, to use their own technology independently to produce great content.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Apps, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MyScript Calculator – Intuitive Handwritten Math App

MyScript Calculator

This is my new favorite app!  The MyScript Calculator is a unique tool that allows students to handwrite complex equations and formulas into their iPad or iPhone and obtain instant results.  Not only can this be used to perform simple arithmetic operations, but the MyScript Calculator can also handle more complex operations, including trigonometric functions, logarithms, and certain constant expressions.

From the developer, the full list of supported operators includes:

Basic operations: +, -, x, ÷, +/, 1/x
Misc. Operations: %, √, x!, |x|
Powers/Exponentials:
x, xy , x2
Brackets: ( )
Trigonometry: cos, sin, tan
Inverse trigonometry: acos, asin, atan
Logarithms: ln , log
Constants: π,
, Phi.

One of the only drawbacks of the MyScript Calculator is that while the technology is intuitive, it is not perfect as assessing what students intend as they write.  Therefore, it is important that they try to do so neatly in the app.  Also, variables are not written as they would in a common algebraic expression.  For example, MyScript reads “x” as multiplication instead of a variable.  Simple single variable expressions can be solved but students need to use “?” as that variable, as opposed to letters.

The applications and advantages of this app are enormous, however.  Students who are unable (or unwilling) to use a basic calculator can try MyScript for a more tactile math experience.  This would also be a help to those students who need to solve more complex calculations that would be difficult with pen, paper, and a traditional calculator.  While MyScript will not, and should not, replace more traditional methods of computation and equation solving it is a fantastic tool to have in your belt.

MyScript for Android Devices

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Apps, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two Free Photo Editing Apps for School

Free Photo Editing Apps

Lots of our students want to create presentations and projects, or just fun things with their iPads, iPhones, or iPods while in class.  Sometimes they need a little help with this, especially if they need to touchup, crop, or edit photos they’ve taken in anyway.  Today, two free apps that can let them do just that!

Photo Editor by Aviary

This app is a very simple one for editing photos quickly.  Aviary has a very similar interface and feels very much like Instagram.  Students can choose from an Enhance menu where they can adjust the color and lighting in the photo, Effects where they can choose different tones and blurs, frames, stickers, and text.  Aviary also supports basic photo editing like red-eye reduction, whitening, blemish removal, brightness, saturation, and sharpness adjustments, as well as simple cropping.  Aviary is available for both the iPhone and iPad.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Similar to the full version, Adobe Photoshop Express offers hundreds of photo enhancement, effects, and adjustments options for students.  From a simple auto adjustment by clicking on a want icon to choosing from the hundreds of effects and borders Photoshop Express offers a great deal of choice in adjusting photos.  Also included are the basic editing tools, including brightness and contrast, hue and saturation, tint, sharpening tools, noise reduction, and red-eye reduction.  The interface is not as graphically appealing as some other editors, as Photoshop Express chooses to allow the photograph to maximize the real estate on the screen, rather than its menus.  Photoshop Express is available for both iPhone and iPad.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Apps, Tips & Tricks

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,