Why I Stopped Selling on TeachersPayTeachers

TeachersPayTeachers is this fantastic website with nearly TWO MILLION resources made by teachers*, for teachers. Prices for materials range from free to $1,800, although the average price is $5.

(*Actually a lot of people that sell aren’t educators although they still make some awesome stuff.)

I used TPT a lot when I was an elementary school librarian, particularly after having my first child. I knew what I wanted to do in class, but all of the resources I had were old and unattractive. While I know it’s about the content and not about what it looks like, I just couldn’t stand to look at the yellowing transparencies. However, I didn’t have the time to recreate everything. Many a time I would hop on TPT and find this amazing ^free (because I have yet to buy something on there) resource and use it the next day.

Well, during that time I had heard how first-grade teacher Deanna Jump made $1,000,000 (yep, 6 zeros) by selling on TPT. Now, there are over 12 teachers that have earned over a million dollars and over 300 have earned more than $100,000.


I was (and still am) totally broke and was spending hours creating what I thought to be awesome teaching resources. TeachersPayTeachers seemed like a perfect option for me. So, I listed a few things. One of my resources (free) was downloaded over 20,000 times! Awesome, right? So I began putting a price of some of my things. I had bookmarks, a call number game, etc. I never marketed my products and I never bought the premium version of TPT, so I got about 20 cents on the dollar for anything I sold. But whatever – when you’re that broke, an extra $10 a month is awesome!

But then, it just started feeling yucky. I’m a librarian for crying out loud! Sharing is what I’m all about! And despite the fact that my mother raised me to be a coupon clipping, never-buy-anything-unless-its-on-sale kinda gal, this just felt wrong. I couldn’t help but picture the new teacher scrambling for resources on TPT and whipping out their pre-paid credit card that their grandmother got them for Christmas to purchase my dumb worksheet.

…Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit dramatic.

…And maybe I’m just seeing myself. Anyway.

So yesterday I made all of my “products” free. I still think TPT is a great place to go for resources and I will probably continue to list items I create on that site (for free), but I will also list them on my blog (stay tuned!) as well as other resource sharing sites.

Til next time.

Be the Change – TYSL

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama

I began studying library science in 2007. We were told that jobs were going to be in high demand due to retirements and that job satisfaction was among the highest of all careers in education. I learned as much as I could about librarianship and instructional technology. Fortunately, the university I attended had the Instructional Technology and Library Science departments combined, so I was able to immerse myself in emerging technologies as well. I had fun. I was excited to begin my career as a “21st Century Librarian”.

Then came 2008. Librarian positions began getting slashed. Library support positions were slashed. Funding was slashed. Some libraries closed altogether. It was heartbreaking. Yet, despite this devastation, it brought about a great deal of good.

For the few years following the economy crash, students and teachers found ways to survive without us – without the “traditional” us. And now that we’re back, we can’t be the librarians we used to be.

We need to transform.


Which is why I’m so excited to be a part of Mackin’s movement, Transform Your School Library (TYSL). TYSL is a forum where like-minded educators who are excited about the transformation of school libraries can have an arena to work within and help to secure the future of school libraries and school librarianship. I love reading through the Q&A section – they just get it! I’m the only librarian in my school, and it’s sometimes difficult for teachers to see the library as anything other than a warehouse of books. After all – that’s what their library was like when they attended school. And although it can be frustrating, it’s also invigorating. I want to be the librarian that they wish they had when they were in school. I’m not quite sure what that looks like – its still evolving. And it probably will continue to transform. 

I can’t wait to see what this group comes up with. I’m so excited and honored to be an advocate of TYSL. Stay tuned for more to come!

After all, “progress is impossible without change.”


It Didn’t Work…but It Wasn’t a Failure

Last year I immersed myself in maker education. I followed everyone imaginable, read every book published, and learned as much as I could. As my knowledge grew, I became more and more excited about what a makerspace could look like at my school. Our district was also immersing itself in blended education and was big on the idea of the library as a Learning Commons. After working with our Director of Infrastructure Technology, Director of Instructional Technology, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and my building administrators, a makerspace vision was developed.

I also made this infographic.

Knowing I would be on maternity leave for the 1st marking period, I did as much planning prior to the start of the school year. Unfortunately/fortunately, my bundle of joy arrived nearly a month early and I wasn’t at the spot I needed to be in order to officially “start” the Makerspace.

I returned to school a few weeks ago and had the official “grand opening” of the HMS Makerspace. Kids flocked to the library. I mean FLOCKED. It was chaos. Beautiful chaos. And I loved it! It was the best distraction from being away from my children.


And after a few days, the beauty disappeared and it was just chaos. Pure and simple. 



And I was devastated. 



So I paused. I put everything on hold and just watched and observed. I needed to know what was going wrong in order for me to fix it. And I’m so glad I did. I learned that some of the “best” things about my school and my library were actually working against the way I had set up the Makerspace. 

Wide Open Spaces

Our library is this large, open space with huge ceilings and glass wall/window overlooking our courtyard. It’s a beautiful space. Unfortunately, the echo is AWFUL. Imagine having a library in a natatorium without any sound barriers (yeah, it’s that bad). So the echo is great if you’re trying preserve the traditional quiet library space, as even a whisper travels across the room. Without saying too much more, you can see why this is an issue.

Staggered Classes and Study Halls

Our middle school operates on a traditional 7 period day, but each grade level has a slightly adjusted schedule (don’t worry if you don’t understand, I don’t either). Students visit the library before school, after school, and during “flex” (study hall). Since each grade level has a slightly adjusted schedule, 7th grade could be in core classes while 8th grade is having their flex period. I work on a flexible schedule which is AWESOME, except for when the class overlaps with flex (which it ALWAYS does). Because of problem #1, I am forced to close the library for flex when I have a class scheduled.

Not Everyone Wants to Use the Makerspace

This was big for me. I think I was trying to make the entire library a makerspace. I think I was so excited to eliminate the notion of the “traditional” library, that I forgot that it still serves a purpose. School libraries are first and foremost a place to support the students and the curriculum. And while the makerspace has a huge curricular impact, it addresses one piece of the pie. I still needed a place for students to read quietly, work on homework, and makeup tests. Not every student comes to the library to code or make Justin Bieber’s eyes light up with LittleBits. And while it seems obvious now, it took me a while to realize this. Fortunately, everyone around me realized it and pointed it out to me. Some kids explained that they couldn’t concentrate in the library. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to enjoy the makerspace, but they had priorities and I was making their decision difficult by tempting them with these cool things. Teachers explained that they really counted on the library as a place to send kids if their study hall was noisy and kids needed to focus.

What to do?

It was clear that we had students that wanted to come to the library for the makerspace and students that wanted to come to the library for a focused, academic purpose. Unfortunately, because of our open floor plan, they were on top of each other. So I was sitting in my office drawing up some plans of how I could once again rearrange the library (my maintenance department was going to kill me). And then it hit me. My office. Let’s move the makerspace into my office. 

It took me all of 30 minutes to clean out my office. It was only my second year at this school so I hadn’t accumulated much stuff. Further, I hated being in there anyway. Even though the office has glass walls (which makes it PERFECT for the makerspace), I always felt as though there was a barrier between me and the students. Again, barrier = PERFECT for this situation. 

I had already scheduled my maintenance department to come in and help me move things, but while they were there, I ran by an idea that I found at AASL. And it worked AWESOME! We have these beautiful, sturdy oak tables, but they aren’t the best for flexible spaces. So we purchased some castors and my maintenance department replaced the feet with wheels ūüôā It’s awesome! Now I have beautiful, study furniture that is also moveable!
So here are some pictures of our “NEW” Makerspace. Although its a little cramped, it doesn’t seem to bother the kids.

LittleBits station (on our “new” moveable tables)
MakeyMakey station (my old desk)

Ozobot station
I learned so much through this process. 

1. Makerspaces aren’t a one-size-fits-all model. Keep your school’s vision and mission at the heart of the space.

2. Creating a makerspace doesn’t mean abandoning your library.

3. Succeeding after a failure is SO much more rewarding. And after all, isn’t that what we’re trying to teach our kids through maker activities?

Bursting to Use Buncee!

If there is one tool I am super excited to use this year, it’s Buncee. I used Buncee with my middle schoolers last year, but Buncee has had some major upgrades over the summer and I can’t wait to share them with my kids.

Here’s a short video explaining Buncee

We’re a 1:1 iPad school, so I’m always on the lookout for tablet-friendly presentation tools. We are a GAFE school, and kids are very comfortable with using Google Slides. Unfortunately, it takes the kids far too long to add the creative touches to their Slides presentations simply because there are so few built-in elements. That’s actually my absolute favorite part about Buncee – there are loads of options for clip art, animations, and colorful fonts. And although I want my kids to be creative, I also don’t want them spending too much time making it “pretty” and not focusing on the actual content of the project. Fortunately, Buncee can help with that too. Even though there are a lot of decorative elements, there are also a ton of educational elements built in.


For example, here is a template for a state project (the only thing I added was “Pennsylvania” – everything else was already done). Now, the kids can have a super-cute presentation, but won’t be spending hours on the design.

As a librarian I love that there are loads of book review templates. Here is a popular one with my middle schoolers.

You can also merge multiple templates together (or create your own) and share with your kids. Once they view your Buncee, they will have the option to “Copy and Create”. It’s as simple as that!
As a teacher, you can take advantage of the “Copy and Create” feature by searching through Buncee’s large gallery.
When its time to personalize, it’s incredibly simple. Choose a category or type in a search term (awesome!) You can even add in media from other sources like Vimeo and YouTube.
Buncee was definitely designed with kids in mind – the animations are super kid-friendly!

These animations look a little “young” to you? That’s okay – Buncee has a load of clip art and animations that will appeal to your older kids. For example, here are some of the results when I searched “chemistry”
I’m fortunate that most some of my middle schoolers know how to type. When I was an elementary librarian, I dreaded any activity that involved using the keyboard. It’s painfully exhausting to watch second graders finger punch the keyboard. And 10 minutes later…they’ve typed “OK”. It’s awful. One of the unique features of Buncee is the ability to voice annotate anything you’ve added to your canvas.
For example, let’s say a student is doing a presentation on a country. They add an image, and click “Audio”. After enabling the microphone, your students can record up to 5 minutes of audio.
Not only is the audio feature awesome for kids, it’s also great for teachers doing flipped lessons.  Let’s say you’re having your students analyze a piece of artwork and you want to do some modeling. Instead of filling up your slide with text, you can make the image large and voice record.
Buncee also makes it easy for you to share your presentations with students by marking them as “assignments”. This allows students to easily share their creations back to you by submitting their slides as an assignment. There are also other ways to share your creation if you’d rather email or embed it on your website.

As you can see, Buncee is a lot more than a simple presentation tool. If you’re interested, click here to get a FREE month of BunceeEDU Plus! Once you’re finished with your free trial, use the code “WELOVEHEATHER” to get a 50% discount for up to 100 students.

Interested in collaborating on a project? Get in touch! I’d love to work with you on something.

Making Digital Reading Easier




Literacy is the ability to read and write. Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. [www.transliteracy.com]

As a librarian in a 1:1 school, my students are consuming most of their information in a digital format (eBooks, websites, databases, video clips, etc.). In addition to consuming information, students are doing a great deal of producing via digital tools. While there are tremendous benefits to using digital tools, they can also pose some challenges. Finding. Reading. Organizing. Saving. Sharing. All of these can be difficult for some. Not only can it be difficult, but some students and teachers just prefer reading print.

At my school, my students and teachers have access to eBooks via MackinVIA. Fortunately, MackinVIA has a bunch of built in features allowing my students to adjust size, color, contrast, and even highlight text. And since MackinVIA works on virtually all devices, my students can customize their reading experience no matter whether they are reading.


Unfortunately, these customization options aren’t as easy to access or as obvious when reading text on the open web or through a database. Here are some of my favorite tips and tools to make reading online text a bit easier.



1. Change text size

Seems obvious right? The easiest way to change text size is using your keyboard shortcuts. If you’re on a Mac, use Command +. PC users use Ctrl +. Unfortunately, the keyboard shortcuts will zoom your entire screen, which can sometimes distort what you’re trying to read. If that is the case, you can always change the default text size through your browser settings.
I am a lover of Chrome (there’s no place like Chrome), and it is very simple to change the text size. I had to get into the Advance Settings to see the text size options. As you can see, I have multiple options and I can also change the font (note: depending on how the website is formatted, not all fonts will be impacted by this change).

2. Readability

Readability is my go-to for making reading easier. It removes all the clutter and makes online reading much more like print.

Readability is available as an app on both iOS and Android and is also available as an extension for Chrome.
BEFORE READABILITY
 
 
AFTER READABILITY
I love that you can send to Kindle or print this version.

3. Clearly by Evernote

If you’re a user of Evernote (or even if you aren’t) another option is Clearly. While Clearly has some more customization options than Readability, it isn’t available as an app. Clearly is an extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.

BEFORE CLEARLY

AFTER CLEARLY
ADVANCED OPTIONS

4. BeeLine Reader

I am so excited about this one! BeeLine Reader is different than anything I’ve used before. Instead of changing font or size, it changes the¬†gradient¬†(crazy, right?). I’m totally digging it! It took me a few paragraphs to figure out which gradient I liked best (I like dark), but it made a huge difference.
Want to see if BeeLine Reader can help you? Take the challenge.
BeeLine is a web extension but you an also copy and paste text to be changed. You can also upload PDFs. As a librarian, I LOVE that BeeLine reader works with Overdrive and Amazon Kindle books.
BeeLine Reader is free with unlimited use for 30 days and 5 times per day after that. The Premium plan is still very reasonable at only $10 year.
There are many other tools out there that can help make your digital reading experience more enjoyable. Although a lover of technology, I prefer reading text in print. However, most of my reading is done digitally simply because it isn’t available in print. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. But you don’t need to suffer. Since using these tools, I have found reading text online to be much easier. Do you have any go-to tools that you or your students use? Share your favorites in the comments!

[For more information on the advantages of digital resources, check out this EdWeb.net webinar]

The #1 Makerspace Resource: Your Students!

If you are looking to start a makerspace at your school or library, there are a wealth of resources available to help you get started. I would be so lost if it weren’t for many of these. They also have a lot of research supporting the maker movement.

In addition, there have been a few key individuals whose blogs I follow religiously.
Renovated Learning Рblog of Diana Rendina @DianaLRendina
Create, Collaborate, Innovate – blog of Colleen Graves @gravescolleen
Worlds of Learning  Рblog of Laura Fleming @NMHS_lms

These resources have been invaluable to me in determining projects, designing the space, and the many planning and logistics that are involved. They’ve also helped me anticipate and work through any issues that may arise.
What these resources didn’t provide was the voice from my students and teachers. No matter how many reputable sources or blogs I consulted, I wasn’t getting the input and feedback that really mattered.

Student Voice from Day 1

I’ll be honest – starting a makerspace was not on my list of things to accomplish this year. But in October our 7th grade students were in the midst of their campaigns for class president and many of their campaign posters had things about the library. Some of them recommended adding a second floor, some of them recommended adding a pool table. One of our students suggested a LEGO wall for the library. I had no idea what it was until he showed me an image he found on Google. Turns out, that image was from Diana Rendina’s blog. Anyway, this was the start of it all. Although that student wasn’t elected class president, we decided to continue with the LEGO wall. We had about 6 students involved and they planned the entire thing from start to finish. Take a look at their Google Doc here.¬†
A ton of learning went into the planning of the LEGO wall. The kids researched the required materials, did all of the math to figure out what was needed, and then did research to compare prices. Once we had a materials list and a cost, we brainstormed some ideas for fundraising. Things got really interesting here! We had everything suggested from a car wash (in November) to selling $0.25 bags of chips in the library. In the end, we followed in Diana’s footsteps and I did my first DonorsChoose project. The kids were awesome at marketing the project. In fact, their parents were some of our biggest donors. It makes sense that parents would contribute to something that directly impacts their child.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about our makerspace (yet). Instead, I really want to focus on why I think its going to work – the students. All of our purchases, arrangement, and programs have stemmed from the students. We have a group of students called the “Creative Council” (they wanted to be called the Imagineers but then they had an argument about copyright…again more learning). This group serves as representatives for their grade to provide input on our library space. Essentially, there job is to ask their peers what they want and then report back. Our 7th grade team decided to post a huge banner in the hallway asking “what do you want to see in the library?”¬†WARNING: DON’T DO THIS. Especially if you’re in a middle/high school. Let’s just say we got some pretttyy interesting and grossly inappropriate responses.

So if you’re currently thinking about starting a makerspace (or even if you already have), please include your students on the decision making process. Just because something is successful in another makerspace, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be successful in yours. So while there are loads of great resources out there (and growing), the most important resource is right in front of you.

P.S. When asking your students for suggestions, be prepared for some wild and crazy ideas. We’ve had suggestions for a petting zoo, skate park, a pool table. We also had a suggestion for a beehive and a goat to put in our courtyard to mow the lawn. And while those ideas won’t work, it was so fun having the discussion. And remember, amidst those 50 crazy ideas, you’ll have a few amazing ones!

MIA

It has been a mighty long time since I’ve published a blog post. Although I have many in draft, I haven’t posted anything in months. I’m flattered to say that someone actually noticed (thanks!) After attending ISTE and a few EdCamps this summer, I really want to focus on blogging regularly. Some of the educators I look up to blog religiously and they are always testifying to how their blog helps them reflect, share, and organize the things they’ve learned. So I decided to revamp my blog and give it a bit of a makeover (like it?)

And then…I lost it. My energy was all gone. I had nothing. I couldn’t even make it through Jeopardy without falling asleep. I slept through many alarms reminding me of my favorite Twitter chats. I registered for numerous webinars that I napped through. I just couldn’t do it.

But now my energy is returning and so I’m excited to announce the arrival of Betty Louise Lister!

Betty turns 3 weeks old tomorrow and although my energy is still wavering (I also have a 2 1/2 year old), I am determined to finish my blog posts that have been collecting dust on the ‘draft’ shelf. Although maternity leave isn’t leaving me with as much down time as I’d hoped (again…the 2 1/2 year old), I really hope to take advantage of some learning opportunities that I just haven’t had time for. I really hope to finish my Google Certified Educator courses, read all those articles I marked as “Read Later”, and perhaps even do one of those DIY’s I have pinned on Pinterest. 
Things to come:
  • Part of my leave is going to be spent curating more ideas for our Makerspace. Stay tuned for our adventures ūüôā
  • I am so excited to attend AASL for the first time. Thanks to Bound to Stay Bound Books for awarding me with the travel grant. If you’re attending, be sure to attend Hack the Association on Thursday from 10pm-12. We’re going to reinvent AASL and we want your input! Follow the conversation at #HACKAASL15 and #AASL15

Reflections from a First Timer

The fact that it’s been two weeks since ISTE is the first sign that my brain is still processing all of it. Now that I’m starting to come down from my ISTE high, I still can’t believe how much of an amazing experience that conference really was. My days typically went from 7:30am until midnight. Oh, and I’m 7 months pregnant! Needless to say, I was exhausted every single night. But that was probably a good thing. I tend to think too much when I’m laying in bed, which usually prevents me from falling asleep. With all of the amazing things I had seen and learned about each day, it was probably good that I was too tired to even think.
I heard amazing things about some of the sessions and I really enjoyed seeing schools implementation at the poster sessions. But those didn’t have much of an impact on me.
The most invigorating part of the entire conference was the exhibit hall. Thousands of products and education entrepreneurs sharing their story of how they want to make a positive impact on the lives of students…it was so empowering. My heart was racing. I met as many founders and CEO’s as possible and talked their ears off as much as they could allow. The best part was – they LOVED sharing their story with me. Many of them have been in business for years, but you would think they just launched their product last week from their enthusiasm. Keep in mind that these entrepreneurs have been standing for hours on end talking to 21,000 educators. And they still gave ME the time of day. [Shout outs to¬†Buncee,¬†Tynker,¬†LearningBird,¬†Tackk,¬†and¬†TeachersFirst¬†for letting me talk your ears off.] It spoke volumes about their company. Because even if I wasn’t sold that their product would be good for my students, I truly felt that some of them would change their product (even drastically) if they thought it would have a better impact on student success. ¬†¬†That. Is. Awesome.
 
I also got the chance to meet a ton of edu-rockstars. You know, the ones that have like 60,000 followers on Twitter? Travel the world speaking to educators? I’ll admit I was totally star struck and didn’t approach as many people as I wish. But for those that I did get the chance to interact with, I was amazed at how real they are. Even the ones that have been out of the classroom for years still spoke as if they had a classroom of students waiting for them.
This wouldn’t be a true reflection of my ISTE experience if I didn’t mention my time at the MackinVIA¬†booth. I had the amazing opportunity to show educators how I use MackinVIA with my students during some “Expert Presentations” in the exhibit hall. What a nerve-wracking experience! I even had a microphone (so tempting to start singing show tunes).
 
Mackin is a prime example of the companies I was referencing above. They really want to the best product out there. And I don’t mean make the most money. They really just want to be the best option for kids. When I gave my presentations, I kept emphasizing to the audience about how you can use Mackin completely FREE and you don’t have to buy a thing from them. A part of me felt a little awkward because they are, after all, a business. When I was joking around with the owners afterward, they said how much they loved it and if they wanted a salesperson sharing their product, they would have done so. That. Is. Awesome.
 
I also participated in my first #TLNewsNight. We librarians are so funny ūüôā
The playgrounds, karaoke, the students, the city. Everything was just so…amazing. Can’t wait to see you in Denver.
 

Technology Tools Galore!

Hello world,

I have been swamped preparing for several professional development sessions and therefore, haven’t given my blog much attention. 
One of the PD offerings I gave was through EdWeb. It was part of MackinVIA’s Exploring eBooks for K-12 learning community. I had a ton of fun presenting. People from all over the world attended and I learned so much through reading the chat log. If you missed the live webinar, you can view the recording here. There are many more webinars planned as part of this series, the next being “Digital Tools for the Social Studies Classroom”. This webinar is presented by the amazing Rachel Langenhorst, a K-12 Technology Integration Specialist and Instruction Coach. This webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st at 4pm EST.

In addition to the EdWeb webinar, I’ve also offered a few professional development sessions for my district. If you’ve ever attended one of Brandon Lutz’s 60in60 sessions, they are beyond amazing. Simply put, you learn about 60 tools in 60 minutes. The tools are talked about in depth, but you gain exposure to SO many things in such a short amount of time. These are hard sessions to present. I admire Brandon and his ability to stay on time. I can only manage 30in30’s and even then, I tend to go over in time. I offered two sessions – 30in30 Creation Tools for K-5 and 30in30 Creation Tools for 6-12. I’m also planning 30in30 sessions for Assessment, but those aren’t quite finished yet (stay tuned..)
Here are the slides from the 30in30 Creation sessions. Hopefully, you can take away at least 1 or 2 tools.

Why eBooks? Top 5 Reasons

My library recently made the leap to including eBooks in our collection. The biggest question I’ve received isn’t about the platform or the prices, but WHY. After answering this question to many fellow librarians, I decided I better just write a blog about it.

So – why eBooks?


Well…why not?

This is my first year in my new school and I inherited an immaculate collection. Both fiction and non-fiction are very up to date, with all of the hottest books and a well rounded mixture of the timeless classics. The collection was recently weeded too (yippee) so we don’t have a lot of older materials cluttering the shelves.

Our school embraces BYOD (bring your own devices) and our 7th and 8th grade students are given an iPad mini (with plans to push to 6th grade in the 15-16 school year). When talking with my students about their favorite apps, students repeatedly listed the following apps (among others):

What do these apps have in common? They’re all eReading apps! Some of the students I spoke with are actually my best customers in the library, so I asked them “Well why don’t you just check out a book from the library?” Their responses have led me to the following reasons WHY I have embraced eBooks and why you should too.

1. Anywhere – anytime!

I’m sure this doesn’t hold true in every school, but our students are no longer permitted to carry backpacks for safety concerns. Therefore, the students store everything in their lockers aside for items necessary for class. Many students expressed that their iPad allowed them to carry around thousands of books, while only carrying their iPad. While our school library permits 4 books at a time, some students whip through them in a night. We are just finishing our Thanksgiving break and I logged in to see the circulation statistics of our eBooks and WOW! I was so amazed at how many students were checking out books from our MackinVIA page over the holiday vacation. Unless their parents would have taken them to the library, they wouldn’t have been able to exchange their books.

2. Privacy

Not everyone is ready for “The Fault in Our Stars” or “The Book Thief”. Some students are ready, but choose to read titles that aren’t as challenging or as serious as some of the NY Times Bestsellers. While that’s always been okay, the fact is this is middle school. Kids can be cruel sometimes and judge people for the simplest of things – including the book you’re reading. eBooks allow a student to read whatever they want without anyone knowing. 

3. Text Size  

My school has amazing kids. Three of those kids happen to be almost completely blind. If one of these students wanted a book from the library, he/she would tell the teacher and his/her parent and the book would be ordered in large print. By the time the book would have arrived, the kid has moved on to something else (again – they’re kids). I’m in my twenties and can see perfectly fine but I’ll admit to loving the ability to increase the text size on my eBooks. 

4. Cost

Books are expensive. Particularly ones with library binding. We’ve tried our luck with paperbacks but even with covers, they just don’t hold up. Our ‘well-loved’ hardbacks look pretty nasty after a year. And then there’s the issue of student’s moving away without returning items. This happens pretty frequently and while I know it’s not always the student’s fault, it is so frustrating.

Did you know that some eBooks have UNLIMITED, SIMULTANEOUS USE?

Amazon: $9.16 for 1 book for 1 user
MackinVIA eBook: $36.99 for 1 interactive eBook for UNLIMITED users (for life)

$36.99 gets you the same title with many more features (see a demo here) and all of your students could access it at the same time. Think of how that would benefit teachers doing class book studies? *Note: not all books are available as unlimited, simultaneous use (up to publisher)

5. It’s where the kids are

A part of me agrees that kids spend far too much time using technology. I’m guilty of it myself. But I’m not spending hours playing Flappy Bird or Farmville – I’m using it to be productive and usually I’m using it to learn. As teachers and librarians, our job is to show students how to find and use information. Ignoring the fact that students can read using technology is like ignoring the existence of Google. We have to show them how to use it. I did a quick poll and 50% of my students say they still prefer a print book over an eBook. Some of my fellow teachers made comments like “Yep – I thought so – we just aren’t ready for eBooks” HELLO!? There is still 50% of our students that PREFER an eBook! We can’t forget about them.

Right or wrong, I have decided to only purchase eBook titles that we can also purchase in print. I don’t want to force a student to use an eBook if they don’t want to, so I don’t want to purchase titles that are exclusively available as an eBook.

So there you have it. My Top 5 Reasons. Of course there are more, but I these reasons may apply to many of you. If you’re interested in starting an eBook collection, I urge you to look into it. There are many options out there and one of them is bound to fit the needs of you and your students.