Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: This Is How It Always Is: A Novel

This Is How It Always Is: A Novel This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A well-written and timely story about a family that does it's best, but sometimes even the best isn't enough. Penn and Rosie have a fairytale life. Their "love at first sight" romance blooms and grows into a family with five amazing boys until one of them doesn't want to be a boy - he/she wants to be a girl. Readers watch as Rosie and Penn do all of the right things - they embrace Claude's wants/needs, trust that he/she will figure out what's right, do research, consult professionals, and continue to love their children as they are. But it's not easy to manage a "secret" like this, and ultimately, things explode.

Frankel's writing brought an authentic voice to each of her characters, but I found myself wanting to know more about Poppy's brothers, about their stories that were introduced and then forgotten.

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Create Hand-Drawn Animations with Brush Ninja

Brush Ninja is a free tool that allows users to create simple hand-drawn animations without any logins. Sounds great for students, right? It is!!

Check out the tutorial below to see Brush Ninja in action, and try it with your own students. The classroom applications are widespread, and consider pairing the animations Slides and a screencasting tool like Screencastify to allow students to explain their animations in their own words.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen by Kate Fagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate Fagan takes readers into the world of a teen who, on the outside, looked like she had it all. Maddy Holleran grew up in a loving and supportive home, excelled academically, was an all-star athlete, and had many friends. Heading off to college wasn't an easy transition for Maddy, but none of her family or friends knew just how bad things had gotten for her. When Maddy tragically took her own life - those who knew and loved her were in shock.

Fagan reconstructs Maddy's emotional deterioration through access to her social media life, text messages, emails, and detailed interviews with family and friends. But this isn't just a tragic story of suicide, it's an exploration of the lack of access to mental health professionals on college campuses, a lens into the exponential growth of depression in teens, a study of the impact of social media/technology on mental health, and a book that should be read by teens, parents, and educators everywhere. Hopefully, Maddy's story will serve to start conversations that will be difficult and emotional, but simply must happen.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Google Classroom | Random Student Selector

A recent update to the Google Classroom Android App allows teachers to use a built-in random name selector to pick names from your class roster and keep track of who has been called on.

To use the feature, simply open the Google Classroom Android App on your mobile device - select the class from the list - select "people" at the bottom of the screen - click on the random name selector at the top of the page. From here teachers can call on the selected student by clicking next, mark a student as absent, or skip the selected student by choosing later.  Check out the demo below.

*at this time the Student Selector is only available on the Android App

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Review: Lily and the Octopus

Lily and the Octopus Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you are a "dog person" you'll find yourself chuckling and maybe even crying as you jump into life with Ted and Lily. Ted Flask is a middle-aged gay man who may have some issues with relationships, but the one thing that is true and good in his life is his adorable Dachshund Lily. That is until a metaphorical Octopus (aka - tumor) suddenly appears on Lily's head and the reality that life with Lily by his side was not guaranteed. Ted, and sometimes Lily, takes readers on an adventure filled with love, grief, confusion, and ultimately compassion. We all know that dogs are great companions, but we also know that they typically don't outlive their human companions, and this knowledge is what breaks the heart of any reader who has their own Lily (or Fido, or Ruger, or...).

Filled with magical realism, humor, and just enough reality to keep you wondering what's actually happening, Rowley's story of "man's best friend" will resonate with many readers.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

TECH Note of This 09/29/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Where have I been?

I haven't disappeared, I promise!
If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm a reviewer of books and curator of awesome technology tools and tips. You likely also know that I often take a summer hiatus from my blog as a time for me to rest my mind and reflect on the upcoming school year. With that said, I was a bit shocked to see that the dozens of book reviews and tech tools I've shared this summer are not here - WHAT??? I'm all about automating and simplifying my life, so my reviews and curated tools are supposed to post automatically to Hey, Mrs. Library Lady!, but clearly something has gone amiss.

Well, I'm on it! With a little luck, you'll start seeing some new content soon. Thanks for sticking around.