Monday, September 20, 2021

Technology Tips - September 2021

                                                                                                          by Steve Woods, Instructional Technology Specialist

We understand the importance of keeping your students’ attention in class. Because of this, the expectation tends to be “keep the phones off and stowed.” As content and opportunities for content creation increase, it’s only natural to ask if now is the time for cell phones to make an appearance in classrooms and school libraries. 

Here are some examples of how cell phones can be a welcome educational tool in your learning spaces...

Ask your students to use iMovie or other video editing apps on their smartphones to create book trailers -- short videos highlighting a book's plot and characters in interesting ways. If you have a smaller space available, set it up with a green screen so students can schedule the space to create their content together -- a great alternative to book reports.

Your students are TikToking, Instagramming, and YouTube-ing. Because of this, they are always searching for content. If you’ve spent any time on these platforms, you’ll find a lot of copy-cat content (dancing to songs, mouthing to movie clips, taking on less-than-advisable challenges, etc.) What makes a TikToker stand out? Unique and meaningful content. Have you considered hosting content brainstorming sessions for your young creators? Bring them together to talk and share ideas in a safe environment, and steer them to create meaningful messages that help them stand out as individuals.

Break out the QR codes! Did you know QR codes can link a scannable code to websites, blogs, book reviews, podcasts, movie trailers, author interviews, and more? All your students need is a webcam with an Internet connection to freely scan codes and view content. How about supplementing your books with TeachingBooks content, which is available through the ERS Portal? There are many free QR code generators online that will turn your URLs into codes. Download the code images, rename them, and print. QR codes can be put inside book covers, placed on posters, and anywhere else.  
   Extend this beyond the classroom by linking to online school surveys,  
   cafeteria lunch menus, the yearbook order form, and more.

Bring your students back to encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauri in your classroom and library. World Book Encyclopedia, ProQuest, and Encyclopedia Britannica are available through the ERS Portal and accessible on a student’s mobile device. These sites tend to have mobile-friendly versions available for performing research. Because so many libraries have limited research stations available, allowing students to use their phones brings many more opportunities.

Teachers and Librarians in middle and high schools may want to consider looking into Google and Apple podcast services. There are hundreds of educationally rich podcasts on science, math, English, and history by podcasters who bring content to life. The podcast apps are free, as well as almost all of the podcast episodes. If you find a wonderful podcast to share with your students, why not assign episodes and discuss them in class?

eBooks and Audiobooks! The ERS Portal contains eBooks and audiobooks from a variety of sources, including Sora and MackinVIA. All your school district needs to do is connect their district Google account to these services (we’ll help!), then students can access thousands of audio and ebooks through their mobile devices.

With these suggestions, perhaps it’s time to consider safe and effective strategies that make space for those tiny phone screens to appear in educational ways!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month Resources from Britannica Digital Learning

To help students explore the history and importance of Hispanic Heritage, Britannica’s Curriculum Expert Team has put together a few activities and resources for you and your students. Included are resources that discuss Hispanic Heritage, the history of Latin America, key achievements and contributions from both ancient civilizations and the modern-day world, and the importance of cultures and ethnic groups across Latin America.

Click here to get started!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Free SLJ Webinar: She Blinded Me with SCIENCE! Women Writing STEM

She Blinded Me With Science: Women Writing STEM
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
3:00-4:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM-1:00 PM PT

A STEM education creates critical thinkers, ignites curiosity to explore the way the world works, and inspires a new generation of innovators. We live in an era that has seen the rate of scientific and technological advancement increase dramatically. Making sure kids are not only prepared, but are enthusiastic participants and leaders in the coming waves of advancement is a difficult task made easier with resources kids can sink their minds into. Join four inspiring women authors who are writing exciting science books for young readers covering astrophysics, anthropology, biology, and engineering and technology.

Executive editor Alyssa Mito-Pusey joins Pamela S. Turner, Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, Heather L. Montgomery, and Kristen Nordstrom to discuss their fascinating new books that explore the many possibilities of science, writing about evolving science, and how kids are natural scientists—always exploring and always discovering. Attendees take away a guide filled with practical classroom activities, as well as a whole lot of inspiration.

Register Now!


Pamela S. Turner, Author

Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, Author

Heather L. Montgomery, Author

Kristen Nordstrom, Author


Alyssa Mito Pusey, Executive Editor, Charlesbridge

Can't make it September 15th? No problem!
Register now and SLJ will email you when the webcast is available for on-demand viewing.

Follow SLJ on Twitter!
@SLJournal #WomenWritingSTEM

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Did You Know? - September 2021

Have you checked out our eBooks recently? In addition to our ever-growing print collection and new class novel/themed sets, we have added over 1,100 new eBooks to our ERS digital collection! These are available in the ERS Portal, both through our MackinVIA resource and, once you open MackinVIA, you will find the titles linked in our Follett Destiny online library catalog so you can search whichever way you like.

The 1,100 new titles, spread across all grade levels, feature both English and Spanish content. Primary grade eBook fiction includes such popular series titles as Pig in a WigYasminMercy WatsonOwl Diaries, and Rosie Revere. Primary grade nonfiction series includes I See Animals and Places in our Community. We have added new Spanish nonfiction series titles with topics ranging from Community Helpers to Animals to Math-related books in the Raton Matematico series.


Popular titles for higher grade levels include ten books from the classic fantasy Oz series, A Boy Called BatEfrén DividedClayton Byrd Goes Underground. Older-audience YA titles such as Monday’s Not Coming and The Poet X are also available. Be sure to check out our new nonfiction series like the History of Technology and Extreme Animals.

Recently added graphic novels such as Knights vs. DinosaursEl Deafo, the March series by John Lewis, New KidMax Axiom, Super ScientistHey Kiddo, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and The Infamous Ratsos round out our collection! 

The titles listed barely scratch the surface of this impressive collection, so be sure to take a look for yourself! If you need help getting into your MackinVIA account, please send an email to

Friday, September 3, 2021

FREE Science Classroom Posters from STEMscopes!

As you gear up for a new school year, STEMscopes wants to send a small thank you for being the amazing teacher that you are. Download three colorful science posters highlighting women in STEM, science safety procedures, and scientific discourse. Here's to a bright, successful school year!

Fill out this form to receive your free 11x17 science posters. Then keep an eye on your email. Simply download, print, and hang in your classroom!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Upcoming Holiday & Observances with Teaching Resources - August 2021

This year marks the 20th anniversary of September 11th. On that date, multiple airplanes were hijacked and flown into American landmarks. Two crashed into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York City. A third hit the Pentagon just outside Washington D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The ERS Library has many resources available for those interested in learning more about this tragedy. 

Digital resources available on the ERS Portals include:

Learn 360, Grades 3-5, "Freedom Tower"

Learn 360, Grades 9-12, "What Happened on September 11th?"

World Book Kids: "September 11th Terrorist Attacks"

Titles available in our circulating collection include:

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

SLJ Summit 2021: In Community -- FREE event

Join School Library Journal on Thursday, October 28 for SLJ Summit: In Community. Beyond geography, community can mean a lot of things. We all work and live in the context of community, and the fact of our interdependence—how all aspects of our lives, our very fates, rely on how we function together—has never been made more apparent than in our shared experience of the pandemic.

Date: Thursday, October 28

Time: 6:00 AM - 2:00 PM PST

Cost: FREE

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

MacKids School & Library: "Winter 2022 Preview -- FREE Event


Join MacKids School & Library for their exciting Winter 2022 Preview!

MacKids School & Library will preview their Winter 2022 list of titles, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult titles from all of their imprints at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. Special guests include Lizz Huerta, young adult debut author of The Lost Dreamer, and Gary Paulsen, three-time Newbery Honor winner and author of the upcoming middle-grade novel Northwind. Register to receive digital review copies of The Lost Dreamer and Northwind, plus access to their Winter 2022 featured titles.

Can't make the date? Register for Booklist's upcoming webinars and we'll send you the archive after the event!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Technology Tips - August 2021

                                                                                                          by Steve Woods, Instructional Technology Specialist

These days we’re all busy, and discovering ways to learn how to do our job better adds additional time, as we search the Internet for good content to read, watch, or listen to. Wouldn’t it be great to have continuing education topics conveniently arrive in our inbox? Enter podcasts.

What’s a Podcast?

In the distant past, information was shared via radio, broadcast on the same day of the week and time. This ongoing and reliable series of topics was known as serialized content. Today, podcasts are short, recorded broadcasts on various topics, and rather than broadcasted live, they are digitally recorded and saved to a “channel” of casts by the same author(s). If you register to follow the podcasts, you’ll be alerted by email or through the app or website -- another form of serialized content.

How do I find great content to follow?

Here is where Google Podcasts shines. Located using the 9-dot apps menu at the upper right corner of most Google products, Podcasts is a single click away. You can also visit to find their main page.

As with all Google products, there’s a built-in search tool. Type in “education” and click the Enter or Return button on your keyboard, or try a more specific term such as “social-emotional learning” or “school library” to see a host of ongoing podcasts on these topics from great broadcasters.

To learn more about a particular podcaster, click on the name of the podcast. You will land on a page in Google Podcasts devoted to the host. Along with a podcast logo, title and description, you’ll see a list of current podcasts by the author(s). Click on the play button to listen in, and if you like what you’re hearing, you’ll also find a Subscribe button for that podcast. 
Where do I find all of the new content from providers I’ve followed?

Great question. Whenever you’d like to see new episodes from all of the podcasts you’ve subscribed to, go back to Google Podcasts and click on the Subscriptions button on the left-hand side. You’ll have all of the new content episodes in one easy-to-find location, all within a single click on your mouse.

On the run? Google Podcasts is a free download for mobile devices running Apple’s iOS or Android. Log in with your Google account, plug your phone into your car and listen to your favorite content while you focus on your drive.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

JLG: Fueling Young Minds & Bodies webinar

Do you ever wonder what happens inside your body after you eat? Take a journey through the digestive system and get a better picture of how what you eat affects you. Helping kids understand how the different systems in their bodies work from a young age can teach them how to take care of themselves and encourage them to make wise choices as they get older, all while having fun and a laugh.

Join Junior Library Guild (JLG) Thursday, August 19 at 3pm ET as they sit down with Dr. Jennifer Gardy in honor of August’s Kids Eat Right Month. They’ll be chatting all about her new book, It Takes Guts, the importance of educating our kids about eating well, and how we can best prepare them as they go back to school.