Don’t Miss This Techie Tuesday Webinar: Blogging, Digital Writing, and Personal Learning Networks

Blogging, Digital Writing, and Personal Learning Networks

with Cynthia, Pippa, and Beth

When: Feb 20, 2017, 3:00 p.m

What:  Join HCOS Curriculum Consultant Cynthia Duncalfe, as she gives an overview of how blogging using platforms like our HCOS KidBlog subscription can enrich learning experiences and even serve as a portfolio of learning for your students.  Beth Johnson, our Subscriptions Facilitator will walk us through how to set up a KidBlog account.  Pippa Davies, teacher-librarian and Director of our Learning Commons will share the importance of digital writing and how simple it is to develop your own personal/professional learning network.

Who:  Students, parents, teachers

Where:  Zoom classroom: Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: UPDATED LINK:

Tips for Tuning-Up Your Grammar Skills

Annual Grammar Day is March 4th




1.  Try Out a New Tool

Grammarly:  This online proofreading tool checks your text for grammar, punctuation, and style, and features a contextual spelling checker and plagiarism detector.  It is available as an add-on for Office, for Windows, and as a Chrome Extension.

2.  Follow a Facebook Page With a Little Humour

  • Grammar Girl:  This page is a good mix of light-hearted fun, and short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Grammar Girl makes complex grammar concepts simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules.
  • The Grammar Police:  Because sometimes we need a bit of humour to engage our minds with grammar.  And yes, I just began and sentence with “because”.  Oh, and there again with “and”…


3.  Check Out Some Books in Overdrive


overdrive-bookSkin Like Milk, Hair of Silk:  What Are Similes and Metaphors? by Brian P. Cleary.    

Overdrive description:  Are you as clever as a fox? Or perhaps you’re as sharp as any spike? If so, this book will be a piece of cake! Clever rhymes from Brian P. Cleary and humorous illustrations from Brian Gable present similes and metaphors. When it comes to grammar, this team is not as slow as thick molasses. Oh no, they’re as bright as polished pennies! Each simile and metaphor is printed in colour for easy identification in this gem of a book. Read it aloud and share in the delight of the sense – and nonsense – of words. 


the-grammar-teachers-activity-a-dayThe Grammar Teacher’s Activity-a-Day180 Ready-to-Use Lessons to Teach Grammar and Usage by Jack Umstatter

Overdrive description:  This must-have resource features 180 practical, ready-to-use grammar and usage lessons and activities–one for each day of the school year. The activities included help students in grades 5-12 to acquire, improve, and expand their grammar skills, and become more adept and confident writers.


4.  Have Some Fun with Apps, Videos, and BrainPop

  • Grammar Wonderland Apps available on iTunes and Google Play

Inspired to Lean in and Learn #FETC!

This past week I was privileged to enjoy some professional development at #FETC in Florida with thousands of other amazing #edtech leaders and our HCOS curriculum consultant Natalie Sing!

Here are some of my take-aways!

1.  Gamification of learning is a popular educational route and as IMT is big at HCOS it was interesting to hear Jane McGonigal, Director of Game Research, Institute of the Future share emerging technologies in this regard.   Do games make us better?  Here is a short video on her reasons for gaming!

2.  Augmented reality is here to stay!  Lesley Fischer presented on this topic with excellence.  Top apps that caught my attention:

3.  Other notable apps shared by different leaders!

4.  Maker Movement!  I was thrilled to listen to Sylvia Martinez author of Invent to Learn.  All I have to say is READ her book, and see how she is inspiring younger makers with the Superawesome Sylvia shows!  This young entrepreneur takes making to a new level.  Martinez has so many amazing things to share including the process, the plans, some ideas for establishing a #makerspace, and the encouragement to take risks and make mistakes!  We are very blessed to have our own makerspace this year in the learning commons, and are eager to learn from maker teachers/library staff in our schools who are running Lego-Mindstorm camps, Makey Makey camps and other 3D printing learning.  Here is Sylvia sharing on makered in your school.

5.  Innovation– Inspiring learning from David Sengeh, Innovator from IMT Lab and his inventions for comfortable prostheses.  His advice for innovation in education was to encourage the why questions, motivated from empathy, compassion and a desire to help others in community.  I loved his message of ‘Hack your own community’ to discover how to help others!  Here is his TED Talk.

6.  Change– Preparing for change requires listening skills, surveying your patrons, a planning process, patience and remembering who you are serving.  Important tips to remember before implementing change from Google guru Rushton Hurley.

7.  3D printing is happening in your neck of the woods.  Watch for all kinds of applications as students connect real life applications, and become engineers and designers.  Makerbot is the printer we purchased for our learning commons, and I was pleased to glean more about these machines from the keynote CEO of Makerbot. Making 3d in your classroom has never been more fun!  Our learning commons team is learning the ropes via your students as they make. 🙂

8.  Global collaboration and open access!  Stuff of which our learning commons thrives on!  I loved sharing on Twitter and met some other amazing educators in the process.  I also met the CEO of AT&T while flying to Florida and gleaned some wonderful tips re innovation! Professional development is a wonderful process to be appreciated and shared! #longlivelearning




Changes to Overdrive E Library with New Apps

OverDrive Media Console 3.0 is Live! 

OverDrive is proud to announce the release of OverDrive Media Console 3.0, which is now live for iOS and Android users. Once you update your OMC app on your smartphone or tablet you will see a number of new features including:

  • A redesigned user interface with an all-new look, streamlined navigation and a one-stop reorganized menu. App functions are just a swipe and tap away.
  • Users will be able to sync bookmarks and reading progress across multiple devices using a free, opt-in registration service called OverDrive One.
  • Variable speed playback for iOS: audiobook users’ most requested feature.
  • Guidance for first time users: The app now prompts users to add libraries and get books.
  • System Requirements: OMC v3.0 for Android requires Android OS v4.0 (or newer). OMC for Android v2.6.6 will remain available for download. OMC for iOS requires iOS 6 (or newer).

The app can be downloaded from, the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. You can also view help videos for both iOS and Android devices here which will walk you through all of the apps new features. OverDrive Media Console v2.6.6 is still the current version for all other compatible devices.

Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive. 

New Nexus 7 (2013) reviewPosted: 20 Aug 2013 06:07 AM PDT

The new Nexus 7 has the highest ppi screen (323) on the market. It’s easier to hold than a paper-back book, and it’s responsive as heck. Put all that together, and you’ve got one killer device.

For reading, it’s nigh impossible to beat the new Nexus 7. Seriously, the screen and features are just that good, and it starts at just $229. Even Engadget says, “The display is the best we’ve seen on a small tablet . . .”

The only potential weakness I’ve found with the new Nexus 7 is that the battery life isn’t amazing (though it isn’t horrible). On average, you can expect a day and a half to two days use.

Oh, that screen

Did I mention the screen is gorgeous? The color reproduction isn’t perfect, but it’s close, and the clarity is unsurpassed. I defy you to find a pixel with your naked eye. At 323 ppi and1920 x 1200, you’d have to have some insanely good vision.

There are 323 tiny pixels crammed into each square inch of that screen. The iPad with Retina Display, for comparison’s sake, boasts 264 (which is still high). The iPad has a very, very good display, but the Nexus 7′s is just a bit better.

Will Apple beat 323 ppi with their next set of tablets? Maybe, but it won’t change the fact that the Nexus 7′s screen is downright awesome. The sharpness and clarity aren’t just pretty, they’re also better for your eyes. Here’s an article from when the Retina iPad came out that explains more, but basically, sharper screens equal less eye strain.

Build and form factor

The new Nexus 7 also feels pretty sleek. The Corning glass feels awesome, and the back has a nice, and somewhat grippy rubberized texture. The buttons aren’t up on the very edge of the device (near the screen), but down a bit on the curve (you’ll know what I mean when you pick one up) which takes a little getting used to, but it’s easy after a few presses.

There’s still no SD card slot (booo), but the micro USB port supports USB OTG, which means you can get a little USB adapter for less than $4.00 and plug in external storage if you want. In short, if you’re low on space, just move some audiobooks and comics to an external USB drive.

The bezels on the top and bottom are pretty large, whilst the ones on either side are very, very narrow. Holding it in landscape is thumb-friendly, and the narrow form factor allows for a one-handed grip in portrait even if you have relatively small hands.  Oh, and it’s apparently very durable.


This thing runs Android 4.3, which is pretty sweet. As you may know, the operating system is extremely customizable and has a wealth of apps to choose from.

Yes, iOS has a higher quantity of tablet-optimized apps, but, essentially, I think the app race between these two giants has become something of a wash in most cases. If not, it will be soon with Android’s recent surge in tablet popularity.

So what’s the verdict?

This thing is awesome. I work with, test, and use a whole lot of devices every day here at OverDrive. I get to play with all of the major new tablets as they launch, and have a good idea of what each can do.

If battery life is the most important consideration for you, you might want to pick a different tablet (like an iPad with Retina display). But the battery life isn’t horrid–it won’t keep you tethered to a wall socket all day long, and it can charge extra fast with a Qi wireless charger.

I read a ton of eBooks, and I’ve done so on a ton of different screens. It makes me extra sensitive to display quality, and let me tell you, ASUS and Google have knocked it out of the park on the new Nexus 7.

So if you surf the web a lot, read a lot of eBooks, or play a lot of HD games, this is the tablet for you. At $229 (16 GB), you get oodles of bang for your buck–one of the best deals on the market.

For anyone who is interested, the Nexus 7 (32 GB) would look beautiful in my Christmas stocking (I’m subtle).

If they stepped up the game this much on the Nexus 7, I can’t wait to see the next iteration of the Nexus 10.

Quinton Lawman is a Technical Writer with OverDrive

Images and Voices Teach the Basics of Reading

See on Scoop.it21 century Learning Commons

Many fundamental reading lessons that use games, like tracing letters and creating and pronouncing words, are available for Apple and Android tablets.

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies ‘s insight:

Some great reading apps for pre-schoolers! If they are going to be on the iPad make it work for them educationally!

See on

App of the week: IBM THINK | eSchool News

See on Scoop.itHCS Learning Commons Newsletter
An app that explores how humans progress through time.


What is it? Explore how progress happens with THINK: From the very beginning, humans have sought to improve the quality of life. We’ve worked to make our world more efficient, accessible, and safe. While each leap of progress has required its own intelligence and hard work, many seem to follow a distinct, repeatable pattern. We see how our world behaves, map what we find, understand causes and effects, believe we can create new outcomes, and act to build and improve the systems around us. THINK explores how we can follow this path to address some of our most pressing challenges–from the grand to the everyday.

Best for: Middle school through college

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies ‘s insight:

Downloaded the app and will review later, but this sounds like it encourages critical thinking!

See on

8 Outstanding iPad Apps to Create Tutorials and Flip your Classroom ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

See on Scoop.it21 century education

8 Outstanding iPad Apps to Create Tutorials and Flip your Classroom ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies ‘s insight:

Using iPad apps in the classroom to flip the teaching order.

See on

10 Apps Students Can Use To Work With Digital Images

See on Scoop.it21 century Learning Commons

  If you’ve ever watched your students hypnotically click through an online photo album, you know about the captivating power of digital photography.

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies‘s insight:

Photographers delight in using apps to make their pics superb.  Here are some cool free and not free apps to share with your artsy students.

See on

A Holy Experience: How to make this month amazing; Romans project.

See on Scoop.itHCS Learning Commons Newsletter

What you know by heart — is what your heart really knows.

And the crazy things is, right at the first of the month: what the heart knows by heart is all that can calm a heart.

Direct a heart. Strengthen a heart.

So I’m thinking: What does a heart know by heart?

So March blows in —  and this heart here stammers out a recitation of Romans 1:1-17 of The Romans Project:

Join in the March dare project with a memory commitment project.

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies‘s insight:

Ann Voskamp shares more on her memory commitment challenge.  Download free Roman cards and share in the app, which allows for typing and bible memory to come together.  (there is a cost to the app)

See on

Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs: Calendar and Advanced Visual Schedule Apps for Kids with Special Needs

See on Scoop.itHCS Learning Commons Newsletter

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies‘s insight:

For students who struggle with sequential planning here are some great apps to help with that.

See on

Apps and dyslexia

See on Scoop.it21 century Learning Commons

Apps for iPhones, iPads and Android Devices Edited by Cheryl Dobbs. This article provides some suggestions for specific areas of need that some users with dyslexic difficulties encounter.

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies‘s insight:

Some awesome reading apps to help your students read using e reader devices.  A wonderful asset for those with Dyslexic tendencies.

See on

Finding the Right Tech Tools Is Easy, If You Know Where to Look — THE Journal

See on Scoop.it21 century education

Kathy Schrock guides educators through the process of building a personal learning network and organizing a constant flow of information.

Pippa Davies @PippaDavies‘s insight:

Very practical tips and some great iPad apps!!

See on

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