12 Days of Bookmas and Techmas

Celebrate our countdown to winter break with recommendations for books and tech that you and your students can enjoy and use over the break and when you return.

DAY 12

Book

Nothing beats A Christmas Carol. It's themes of family, forgiveness, tradition, and helping those less fortunate are universal whether you observe the Christmas holiday or not. I used to read it to my classes for about 10 minutes at the end of the period for the weeks leading up to winter break. The twist: I read it in a British accent which they found either fascinating or funny.


Tech

I just discovered PicMonkey which I found easier to use for photo editing than Paint, Microsoft Office Photo Viewer, or other photo-editing software. If you want to post holiday photos on a website, in a S'more like this, or create a photo album, I suggest checking it out. Best of all, like every app, website, database, etc. that I've included IT'S FREE!


DAY 11

Book

Social Studies teachers: have you looked over the multi-volume set "Fiesta!"? It discusses the festivals and holidays of each country and how the songs, foods, and traditions associated with these celebrations reflect the culture of the people.


Tech

FreeRice.com donates rice to hungry communities around the world through the World Food Programme. How do you support this effort? Answer questions (educational and trivial) and rice is donated for each right answer! Choose your subject and answer away.


DAY 10

Book

Walter Wick's Optical Tricks is a fun look at photography and how it can trick us. I saw Wick set up some of his "optical tricks" in person at a conference...fascinating. He's the guy that has done all the photography for the I Spy books.


Tech

Need non-fiction reference material in Spanish? Have you looked at the Spanish-language encyclopedias in the Knowledge Portal databases? Translations of World Book, Britannica, and two encyclopedias published in Spanish are available for your ELL students.


DAY 9

Book

Check out As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Newbery Award-winning author Lynne Rae Perkins if your students have no idea what it was like to not be in constant communication with family and friends. Set in present day, everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong, leaving the high-school-age protagonist, his parents, and his grandfather totally out of touch in far-flung locales. One of those books that leads to chuckles and sniffles.


Tech

The Library of Congress website has photos, prints, newspapers, sound recordings, and so much more available. The website is phenomenal as the library itself and so much easier to search!


DAY 8

Book

The author of Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek was in 8th grade in Brownsville, TX when she began writing this autobiographical 2015 Lone Star Award-winner. Taking her cues from a 1950s etiquette and self-improvement book, Maya Van Wagenen set about discovering that popularity is not about being a "mean girl." Now with the film rights optioned to Dreamworks, she has set about writing a novel. No small feat for a 10th grader.


Tech

Appy Holidays from AVAI Mobile is an app available in the App Store and Google Play that lets you take selfies and regular portraits with holiday frames and themes. It's fun to see what you look like as a penguin or reindeer.


DAY 7

Book(s)

Hook a reluctant reader who's an athlete with realistic YA sports books by Mike Lupica, John Feinstein, and Tim Green. One that deals with immigration and baseball is Heat by Mike Lupica.


Tech

Learn 4 21 is a collection of TEKS aligned, inquiry-based lesson plans for grades K-12. Region 20 Education Service Center offers access to online academic databases through the K-12 Databases and Digital Knowledge Central programs. The lessons plans found in Learn 4 21 model the integration of online resources across the curricula. (Not limited to Region 20. Region 20 maintains the K-12 Databases and DKC for the entire state.)



DAY 6

Book

The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya not only tells a heartwarming story of Luz, a girl living in San Juan, New Mexico, but also explains the Mexican/New Mexican tradition of putting sand-filled sacks with candles in them around the community during the Christmas season. Two editions of this picture book have been published with different illustrations (I'm partial to to the first illustrations, but the newer edition is lovely also).


Tech

Sway is a Microsoft product that makes it quick and easy to create and share polished, interactive reports, presentation, personal stories, and more. Add your content, and Sway does the rest.


DAY 5

Book(s)

Awareness of different points of view and voice is important for students. The stories in these three books are told by three friends. The events are the same, but the reader sees how differently three kids can view and experience those events.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius

Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time

So Totally Emily Ebers

all by Lisa Yee


Tech

Rawshorts lets you create great "animated explainer videos" by simply dragging/dropping on one of their many templates. And it's FREE!



DAY 4

Book

This one is for educators. Invitations to the World by Newbery-winning author Richard Peck is a memoir, a social commentary, and a writing manual (flyleaf). Peck, who began his literary career as a high school English teacher has valuable insights into writing, education, and what grabs kids today.


Tech

http://www.wordhippo.com/ offers synonyms, antonyms, different tenses of words, sample sentences using desired words, on and on ... go ahead click it, and see what all this writing and editing tool offers.


DAY 3

Book

Girls and STEM is a topic at the forefront of education today. At the turn of the century (19th to 20th) 11-year-old Calpurnia Tate is curious about science and technology to the dismay of her mother who wants her to learn to cook and embroider. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is by Texas author Jacqueline Kelly and is set in Fentress, Texas. Map (The sequel, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, is available at our book fair.)


Tech

http://www.citationmachine.net/ and http://www.easybib.com/ make it easy for students to create bibliographies when doing research projects. Citing sources is one of the skills that high school librarians emphasize we need to work on in middle school.


DAY 2

Book

Kids need to read about their peers--past, present, and future--who overcome dysfunctional families, even abuse. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt is an uplifting read about a middle grade boy who works through his family problems with the help of friends and Audubon prints found at the public library. National Book Award finalist


Tech

Joomag is a FREE service for creating digital interactive content, including digital magazines, photo albums, catalogs and e-books. Upload your students' digital content to create a literary magazine or digital journal. https://www.joomag.com


DAY 1

Book

Most everyone loves a caper! The Great Greene Heist by Austinite Varian Johnson is Ocean's Eleven set in middle school. NYTimes review


Tech

Have you tried emailmeform.com to allow students to submit short assignments online? The answer document is sent directly to the email account you set up to receive it. The basic plan -- which is probably all you need -- is FREE.

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