Extension of the Week – Readability

This is for all of you Google Chrome users out there. There’s a fantastic extension for Chrome called Readability. And it can make reading on the web a lot easier.

Readability_logoWhen I’m reading a web site, I often get distracted by the extra stuff that’s on the sides of whatever it is I’m trying to read, whether it’s links to other articles on the site or, heaven forbid, .gifs or videos. Readability gets rid of all of that nonsense so you can have a clean copy from which to read. All you have to do is click the little chair and choose read now.

Another function it has is that you can choose “read later” and put a bookmark on the cloud. You can then log into Readability from any computer and see your bookmarks. You can also browse things other people have bookmarked. So, if you’re looking for information on a particular topic, you can see if anyone has tagged a website with that in Readability.

Finally, if you use a Kindle or a Kindle app, you can send a webpage to your Kindle. You need to have the email address for your device. Once you set that up, Readability will send the web page as a document to your Kindle (or Kindle app) and you can read it like you would read any other file.

To access this, go into the Google Store and search for Readability. Choose to add the extension to Chrome. Or you can go directly to their website.

If you are a Firefox user, there’s a similar feature built into the browser. Look at the right side of your address bar and you’ll see and icon that looks like a book. Click that and it’ll clean up the web page.

Stormy Books for a Stormy Weekend

It looks like Hurricane Joaquin is going to stay out to see, so the impending storms aren’t going to be as bad as originally thought. But, staying with the theme of weather disasters…

Lone Survivors series

I heard that the discussion for life as we knew it was quite lively at the beginning of the year. So, I thought I’d just mention that it’s a series – a quartet actually. The second book is the dead & the gone. It retells the disaster through the eyes of a teen boy, Alex, living in New York City with his two sisters.

In the third book, this world we live in, it’s a year later, and Miranda’s dad shows up with Alex and his sisters. Finally, in the fourth book, the shade of the moon, it’s two years later and Miranda’s brother Jon tells his story.

Mrs. Gillespie’s Book of the Week – Peanut

Have you ever told a lie that you thought was no big deal? It was just a little story to make things easier. No one was hurt by it. But then it started to creep into other parts of your life and you had to remember to hold all of the pieces of that little lie together and hope no one caught you?


This is the premise of the graphic novel Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe. Sadie is starting at a new high school. Looking for a conversation starter, she decides to tell people about her peanut allergy. She even writes about it for one of her classes. The only problem. Sadie doesn’t have a peanut allergy. But now she has to remember all of the time to act as if she does.

The illustrations in this book are wonderful and the story is just great. I felt really anxious for Sadie as things started to unravel for her (there’s lots of avoiding the school nurse who wants to know why she hasn’t dropped off medical forms and an epi-pen…she manages to lie her way out of that, briefly). This was probably one of my favorite books that I read this summer.

Welcome Back!

Ahhh…the first post of the 2015-2016 school year! So exciting.

This year, on Mondays, Mrs Boardman and I will be featuring “What We’re Excited about This Week.” It might be an app, it might be a website, it might be movie. In short, it could be anything.


So, I’m going to start out with some college related stuff. I’m excited that this week we have our first visits from college reps. We will have a rep here from Neumann University tomorrow (Tuesday) during mentor period. Neumann is a small university in Aston. A number of Hill To alum have gone to Neumann and had a great experience.

And then on Thursday we’ll have a rep from Saint Joe’s. Aside from some great athletics, St. Joe’s hassju-logo_0 strong support systems for students who learn differently. And they are test option, so you do not need to take the SATs or ACTs for admission. They also have a fantastic support program called ASPIRE. This is great opportunity to talk with our rep and get some information before their open house on Sunday, October 4th.

Both of these schools will also be at our college fair on November 12th, but this is a chance to talk with reps in a more personal setting.

This year, I will be tracking lots of college and transition related stuff on Padlet. So, to keep up on college visits, scholarships, and who’s coming to the college fair, check out my College and Transition Padelt.

Free Audiobooks of the Week

SYNCHEAD-150x150Don’t forget to check out the Sync audiobooks this week!

The contemporary book is completely new to me. I’m not familiar with the book or the author. It’s A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. I’m just going with the description from Sync: “The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty! This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world). Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth. As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses…  ”

Sounds interesting.

The classic book is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, if not the original vampire tale, perhaps the most well known. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it. It kind of puts all other vampire stories in perspective, especially if they are going to play with the mythology. If you watch the TV series The Strain, this can be a particularly good companion to it because Guillermo del Toro really uses Stoker’s mythology as the basis for creating his own, new mythology for vampires. In fact, I first read Dracula right before I read The Strain so that I could have some good vampire context.

(Oh, and hey, if you’re playing Bingo, Dracula would be a great choice for a book that’s over 100 years old!)

Summer Reading Challenge ’15

It’s June (although it feels like late March)! That means we’re almost done for this year. Which means it’s time for the Summer Reading Challenge! *cue a Kermit the Frog like excited yell complete with flapping arms*

kermit(Oh, look, I found one)

This year we’re going back to an old standard…Summer Reading Bingo! You can download the sheet (Summer Reading Bingo 2015) or pick one up from in front of Mrs. Neft’s desk. There’s a free space for your summer reading book…because we all have to read that. Then start drawing lines or making designs with your reading.

Anyone who completes a row will be eligible for junk when we return in September. If you complete more than a row, you will be eligible for fabulous junque. Complete the whole board and maybe the zombie kittens will make a return to campus.

zombie kittens

Not sure where to find a book you can read in one day? Or what books were published the year you were born? Keep an eye on this here blog and I’ll be posting reading lists that should cover each of the categories. Got a title you want to suggest for one of the categories? Let me know!

Oh, and audiobooks totally count!

As always, participation in the summer reading challenge is just for fun and no one is required to read anything more than your summer reading book.

Anything you read starting TODAY (6/2) counts!

App of the Week – Stickman

This week’s App of the Week was discovered during the 5th and 6th grade Information Skills class a few weeks ago. We were exploring Infotopia (remember, that wonderful search engine that has been curated by teachers and librarians) and I started digging through the Games section. And that’s where we found it.


Draw a Stickman. Like some other apps, this has a web component and that’s where we started. But then we discovered there was also a mobile version and decided it needed to be shared with the community.

The concept is simple. Step one: draw a stickman. Step two: Follow the directions to take your stickman on an adventure. Draw well or your stickman may be singed by a dragon or eaten by sharks.

The app is free and available for both iThings and Android. And there’s also Stickman Epic (Apple and Android), where you draw a friend for your stickman and have to help save him or her from a book in which he/she has been captured. Both are free for the basic levels, but require payment for higher ones. You can play all levels on the web for free.

Thanks to Ben H. for making today’s announcement!