Featured Post

ISTE 10 Recap: From Add-on Technology to Essential Technology: Constru

One of the sessions I attended at the ISTE 10 conference was Elliott Soloway and Cathie Norris’s entitled: “From Add-on Technology to Essential Technology: Constructing 1-to-1 Aware Curriculum”.  It is hard to go wrong with a session by Elliott Soloway, his humor is contagious. I was interested in this session because I am currently working on a proposal for a 1-to-1 iPad pilot program and study for next year.  I came away with some new perspectives on mobile technologies that I will share at the end of the post.  To begin, here is the gist of the session: “Within 5 years every child in every grade will be learning with mobile technology, it will be bigger than the Internet”- Elliott Soloway There are 7 billion people on the planet and 4 billion mobile devices. The greatest challenge we face as educators is to teach ALL kids.  We need to teach kids “brain jobs” not “back jobs”.  This is 21st Century skills and content. “Right now looking at all the school data is just like moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.” – Elliott Soloway Mobile technology is the game changer. In Singapore, Nan Chi Primary school saw a significant increase in tests scores after introducing smart phones in the 3rd grade science classroom. In a classroom using 1 to 1 mobile devices, not a single child failed to turn in a single homework assignment all year.  Why did that happen? Because they are engaged. Time on task = success The tools have to be used as essential tools, not supplementary.  Supplementing with technology doesn’t move the needle.  Essential means that technology is in hand 24/7 students have complete access to the tool.  Essential means that students are actively engaged in doing and creating.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other tools being used. Most things can be done on a mobile phone device. Mobile devices connect students to the real world.  Learning doesn’t end when school does. When you look closely at the studies that show that technology has no impact, you will see that it is because technology was used as a supplement. Technology should be like oxygen, invisible but essential. Mobile devices like the cell phone are ideal because the cost of the device is $0 and what you pay for is the connectivity.  It is a cheap solution. It is about the kids, not the technology.  Let them use their own tools. Mobile devices are growing at a rate of 50% a year, this is the fastest growing technology.  We used to tell teachers to get on the technology bus, now we have to say get on the technology bullet train because it is moving! Elliott mentioned that he doesn’t think that the iPad has a place as a learning device.  His reasoning is that it isn’t what kids are using.  He argues that kids are using cellphones and mobile devices, that the iPad isn’t natural for them. Elliott was an excellent presenter.  He made some great points about using cellphone technology in the classroom.  I have to disagree with his assessment that the iPad isn’t a good device for kids.  While I like the idea of using cellphone technology and just paying for connectivity, it isn’t what every classroom needs.  The conclusion that I kept coming to is that no classroom situation is the same.  While an inner city school with low access to technology and resources might benefit best from a smart phone for learning, it might not make the same sense in a suburban school with more ubiquitous technology access.  In a poorer neighborhood you will find homes that lack wireless Internet access, putting an iPad in the hands of those kids might not be as successful as giving them a cellphone that they could use to access a cellular data network.  But in a wealthier, suburban neighborhood where wireless Internet is around every corner, an iPad is the perfect device.  What I realized is that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to education.  One solution isn’t going to solve the education problems of the world.  We need to look at each population and each classroom and choose the solution that makes the most sense for that instance.  Education has to be tailored to the individuals, not the masses. Soloway is right, we keep trying to make the data tell us a new story.  Policy makers implement new standards and tests as a way to save education.  But that is like moving deck chairs around on the Titanic.  Sure things look different, but it is still a sinking ship.  We need to cut our losses and build a new ship all together.  That new ship should be tailored to fit the needs of the students who are boarding it.  For some that means mobile phone technology, for others iPads, and for some netbooks.  I can argue all day long for the benefits of the iPad in learning but when we get right down to it, the reason I hold that view is because it is perfect for the student population I work with.  It makes sense in our situation.  That may or may not be true of you. To learn more about the session visit here. Ten Ways to Boost Learning with Technology

Read More

Extreme Speed Booking:Using Technology to help kids love reading

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2012

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


What it is:  What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun.  Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading.  Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis.  I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor.  Drag and drop website building is where it is at!  The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups.  How does Extreme Speed Booking work?  A whole lot like speed dating.  :)   Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”,  “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”.  Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)?  This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors.  Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find.  It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
How to integrate Extreme Speed Booking into the classroom: Extreme Speed Booking is a fun way to build book groups/literature circles.  I love this method of exposure to a variety of books, authors, and genres.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon.  Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students.  Don’t have technology?  No problem!  Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions.  If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book.  During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures.  The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read.  It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about.  After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch.  Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book.  Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book.  Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink).  I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading.  The form gets emailed directly to the teacher.  Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading.  I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking.  Great idea!  She is so smart.  This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
  • Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
  • Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
  • Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE author.  After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE genre.  Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
  • Choose a variety of books on a similar topic.  Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc.  This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
  • Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
  • Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc.   Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:   Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech!  If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above.  Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school.  You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below.  If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Speed Booking in  your classroom!

Comments (10)

What an awesome idea! A couple of questions…are you a paid subscriber to Webly? How did you embed the amazon books onto the site? And how did you set up Shelfari to just be recommended books?


This is an absolutely fabulous idea! I love it so much! Thank you for sharing!

I’m a school librarian and I do this (the non-tech version) with my 8th grade students to get them more excited about classic literature. They love it and teachers request it year after year.

love this idea! It would be great for helping to fire up a love of reading in kids by giving them tools to choose what they want to read.

Hello my name is Sarah Webb and I am in the spring EDM 310 class. I love the speed reading idea. I really want to teach elementary age children and think this idea would help the children to be more engaged in books and help with vocabulary. I know when I was in elementary school reading was a war between teacher and student. This idea, however, will let the students choose their own books and learn to not judge a book by the cover. I hope that when I start teaching I will be able to use this in my classroom and know I will be able to see improvement in children’s reading levels.

I will be summarizing my visits to your blog by posting on my blog. You can go to my blog or the class blogto read the summary if you would like on February 12, 2012

Deanne- I am not a paid subscriber to Weebly- I just use the free education version. I didn’t embed the books…I faked it. I took a screen shot of each book and linked it to the “look inside” page.
I had to go through and build a shelf of my own to recommend the books. It was not a quick process as I gave each book a summary and grade level appropriateness. Then I just embedded the bookshelf as HTML in Weebly.

Hope that helps!

Hi, as a school librarian I too have been doing th elow tech version for years. We are just entering the one-to-one device arena so I would love to see a working version of your weebly website to get some ideas. Can you give me the URL?

Also check out my Senior School Blog. Loads of good reading and research links throughout.



A wondeful idea! And it’s so important to interest kids in reading books: it’s not something they normally do, and won’t unless you get them excited about it.

If you’re going to use their feedback to pick a book to read with them (I’m thinking class readers), Google Docs Forms (as mentioned) is a fantastic way to do so.

Think that might also be a way to get them to take it more seriously: what they say MATTERS!

Link is in the post :)

For children learning the basics of reading, there are a lot of good apps that read along with the child. A Jazzy Day app is perfect for learning and recognizing words at an early age, as it has a storybook within the app. In addition, it will teach a young child about jazz music; there is a game within the app in which the child must recognize certain instruments by their sight and sound. Here is the website:

Write a comment