Sunday, August 30, 2020

BookCast - EPISODE #2: Review of ‘The Perfect Blend: A Practical Guide to Designing Student-Centered Learning Experiences’ by Michele Eaton / ISTE Books

Welcome to BookCast, a review by educators of high interest books for educators

EPISODE #2: The Perfect Blend: A Practical Guide to Designing Student-Centered Learning Experiences

The Perfect Blend

A Practical Guide to Designing Student-Centered Learning Experiences
ISBN: 9781564848451 - Published: 2020

Hosts: Mark Gura and Michele Haiken

Mark Gura:
Michele Haiken: ISTE Profile:
Also from ISTE Books
Make, Learn, Succeed
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New Realms for Writing
Inspire Student Expression with Digital Age Formats

Sunday, July 26, 2020

DIGITAL BROWSING of BOOKS: A new, high relevance, high interest Reading Instruction Approach

EDITOR'S PREFACE: Nothing is more central to literacy instruction than reading books. In long association with the formal act of reading, though, is the more informal act of browsing for books to read. With so many books available, browsing is an essential element of the life of an individual who actively seeks books to read. Oddly, while schools provide a great deal of instruction in the various aspects of approaching, understanding, and reflecting on and analyzing books, browsing is rarely taught. If the field’s goal of inculcating in students the intellectual habits of lifelong learners (and readers) then this should change.

In the past, the question “where can kids go to browse books?” would have seriously represented a barrier to their engaging in browsing. After all, kids really can’t be in class and at the bookstore or public library at the same time. And requiring them to visit these, assuming they live in an area and milieu in which it is possible at all, would transform the act of browsing from the casual, informal, curiosity-driven, authentic experience that makes it valuable, to a contrived, formal, “special” experience requiring planning and effort that would spoil it.

In today’s world, though, the impact of the Internet to connect and make accessible information, makes true browsing possible and easy, and a highly valuable practice to add to overall body of activities designed to deepen the reading sophistication of young readers.

The article below is from Dr. Rose Reissman, a long term advocate of students learning books and expanding the body of approaches by which teachers can accomplish this…  (See her full bio at the foot of the article).

Rose reports...

I’m a lifelong print reader, something that predates and goes far beyond my life as a teacher, I habitually browse books by cover, looking for blurbs and quotes from other authors who write endorsements, by mentions of book clubs the books are chosen for, and by awards the books may have won. I value these indicators of the quality of books I consider and they often serve me well.

I also check out the author's websites, interviews, and videos. I also look at Twitter feeds and Instagram posts. I've done this for the last 3 to 4 years as reader, not as a teacher. And quite understandably, this habit has made its way into my life as a teacher, too.  I check books and authors I teach now, the same way.

I am proposing to show students how to "digitally browse" an author or book title through checking out (free of charge) reviews, endorsements, book trailer s or author appearance videos on YouTube, as well as free audible excerpts provided by publishers that are sometimes available.

I think that, not only in these current, kids at home and taught online times, this is particularly relevant and valuable. But even before quarantined instruction, the ways books are now promoted online, we now have available a wonderful, new set of free resources that make: teaching and inculcating kids in the joys of digital browsing (directed at knowing and understanding print books). Like window shopping this costs nothing - we browse to sample and decide what to fully taste and consume - it shapes us as readers.

Digital Book Browsing - 21st Century Habits of Effective, Inspired Readers

By Dr. Rose Reissman
There is a brand new, award winning book that would be perfect for your class. Unfortunately, you have no budget to purchase copies or time to teach it. The traditional approach would be to bring the print book in to class, read an excerpt quickly, and in that way you would motivate and engage students in the narrative of the book.  
21st century books can be “digitally” accessed and browsed by student readers with the support of a simple  body of links to online resources that is previously curated by the teacher (on average, this can be done in roughly 10 minutes) – The teacher creates a list of those links that are most useful and provides it along with target questions to focus their thinking.
What sorts of commonly found free resources are these? Good ones to curate include: book trailers, audio excerpts (from verbal readings of the book), author sites, and videos of author interviews, and author participation in other online productions to name a few.
But how does this play out with a new book that you, at least, want your students to browse?
As a sample experience try digital browsing the 2020 Newbery Award winning New Kid by Jerry Craft (Harper Collins, 2019). This graphic novel is about a new kid at school; he’s from an urban public school and with financial aid has the experience of attending a luxury middle school in a well to neighborhood.
Digital Browsing the book? Here’s how!
- Use the book trailer

  • Instead of leading with the standard book title discussion or cover walk, why not captivate students by starting with a quick viewing of the book trailer .  Focus the students’ viewing by challenging them to come up with the themes and questions raised by the trailer.  Have them debate whether they would want to go to a beautiful, physically imposing school but be different from the other students.  Open up the discussion to allow them to talk about whether they feel their parents want a future for them which they do not personally want.  Give the students the opportunity to reflect on continuation of the plot or write their anticipations of it based on this animated trailer.   Break the students out in groups and have each create a chart to predict the plot.  Group forecasts can be compared with the actual Craft plot later on.
2.   Use the Author Site

Show the students the nicely designed author site for Jerry Craft.
Challenge them to examine it for the following focus questions.
1.   Why did Jerry become an author? 
2.   What other authors is Jerry promoting?  Why would he promote other authors?
3.   What other free preview media formats of the book does Craft include on his site which do not require you to spend any money, to sample the book?
4.   What fun fact did you learn about Craft from using this resource?

3-  Use Videos of Interviews and Author Appearances

-  Harper Kids Interviews Jerry Craft.
Have the students watch this video and then ask:
1.   Many authors and illustrators who write books that are fiction, really write about themselves.  List all the facts Jerry uses from his own life in this fiction story.
2.   What challenges did Jerry experience as a black male in his neighborhood of Washington Heights and then after traveling to Riverdale?
3.   What does Jerry say about his process?  In what ways does he contrast his art process with his narrative text story telling?
4.   Should readers check out author videos or is that a waste of reader time? Explain your reaction.
Students can look up videos or interviews of other contemporary favorite authors and compare them with this way. Does Craft use this format well to get his purpose across? What proves that he does it well?  Explain how the tempo of his presentation and his clarity help him,
5.   Blindfold Drawing Challenge
This is a wonderful way for English teachers to get across procedural narrative structures and to collaborate with art colleagues. Jerry Craft uses his precise telegenic arts talents.
The students should listen to the calm and measured procedural steps that Craft uses as he draws his lead character blindfolded.
Students should list them in order.
Students good with a craft should attempt to do so at least with closed eyes.  They can detail their steps and check the results.
This activity is one which captivates and engages learners of many types and also accesses some key components of cartooning to readers.
4.   Jerry Craft reaction to winning the Newbery Award 2020
This video is worth watching because before it, students can be asked:
Are graphic narrative books worthy of winning the equivalent of an Oscar, Emmy or Grammy in the Young Adult literature world?  Are their ideas as important as an all prose narrative story?  Explain your answer.

Once kids discuss their response, have them listen as Craft shares his joy over his win. He explains, as a graphic novelist, this social justice and equity theme, and its significance.

As adult readers in the 21st century, we teachers can inform and enrich our experience checking out authors and their books online. Why not extend that to modeling this delightful 21st century act of digital browsing for students, too?  It’s a powerful way to expand the circle of digital and print readers, one accessible link at a time.

Mark Gura, Co-Chair of the ISTE Literacy Network edits this blog...

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Interview with Andrew Easton, Runner-Up Winner of the 2020 ISTE Literacy Network Spotlight Literac

markgura · AndrewEastonInterviewISTELiteracyNetwork

Interview with Andrew Easton,
Runner-Up Winner of the
2020 ISTE Literacy Network
Spotlight Literacy Practice Award
 Interviewer: Mark Gura – Co-Chair Literacy Network

BIO: Andrew Easton is an educator and thought leader who advocates for the
personalization of learning. He also shares on topics ranging
from blended best practices to games in learning to learning space design.
He is cur
rently authoring "Beyond Choice" a book on personalized learning
from Dave Burgess Consulting Inc, and he recently accepted the position of
 Digital Learning Coordinator for Nebraska's ESUCC.

You can connect with Andrew via Twitter @EastonA1,
his blog at,
or by listening in to The Good Life EDU podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Twitter: @EastonA1
iThrive Games Museum of Me Curriculum: