Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘ebooks’

Free Library of Congress eBooks for students

As more and more schools are moving away from paper textbooks and materials, teachers are working to answer the obvious question:

where can I find digital resources appropriate for kids?

If you and your building are using Mac computers or IOS devices such as iPads or iPods, at least part of the answer is the Library of Congress. The folks over there recently released six free iBooks that can be quickly downloaded and are perfect for having students interact with primary source evidence.

The Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Based on the Library’s Primary Source Sets, these new iBooks have built-in interactive tools that let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis.

(Aren’t an Apple school? The LOC is still an awesome place to find online and digital resources.)

The six books, Read more

eBooks, online media and “flimsy paper”

I miss my newspaper.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a newspaper reader. I started small. The Garden City Telegram was an afternoon delivery and just couple of sections but it got me into a routine . . . comics, sports, opinion page.

Went off to college and had the best of both worlds – the Hillsboro Free Press, a weekly local paper with a focus on crop reports, small town events and high school basketball scores and the New York Times, delivered a day late to the college library.

Moves to Wichita and eventually back to Hillsboro hooked me into the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, later just the Eagle. Delivered everyday. To my driveway. In the morning. Comics, sports, opinion page.



The Wichita Eagle has decided that there are not enough subscribers in the county to justify home delivery. They cut me off a couple of weeks ago.

I’m past the denial stage and have moved into bargaining. I’ll probably end up getting the Hutchinson News. (It’s not bad but, seriously, the Hutch News? How creative, a newspaper called the News.) And I do have the online version of the Eagle, so . . .

My “friends” haven’t been a lot of help.

  • You could print out the website on flimsy paper with smudgy ink.
  • I dropped my morning statewide paper, because the entire thing is available in their iPad app. The cost is less too.
  • I stopped getting the paper years ago. I get all the news on my laptop/iPad.
  • You could join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Yeah. I get it. I have an iPad. Two, actually. There are 13 internet devices in my house, not including the Wii, Apple TV and Netflix-enabled Blueray player. I have a website called History Tech. Another called Social Studies Central. I’ve got a Twitter and a Plurk account. I’m on Facebook and use a password app to help me log in to all the different sites I visit. So I am well aware of this whole new world of the Interwebs. But I still need a newspaper.

If you can’t tell, I’m a little bitter.

I’ll probably get over it.

But the whole thing has gotten me thinking about why I like paper so much. And not just newspaper but magazines and books. Especially books. I love books more than I love newspapers.

What I like:

  • The smell of books. Especially old books. I walked into the Queen Anne Bookstore in Seattle several weeks ago and immediately fell in love. It smelled like books. And coffee.
  • I like the different feel and heft of books. A quality, hard copy is great by the fire. The paperbook version is perfect for the hammock.
  • It’s hard to lend someone an eBook. More importantly, it’s hard for someone else to loan me an ebook.
  • While it’s possible to know how far along you are in an eBook, a percentage usually of the remaining total, I like dog-earring a page and seeing what I got left.
  • No one ever comments on or starts a conversation about the eBook I’m reading at the coffee shop.

But I also started thinking about why I’m falling in love with digital media.

  • Small size. I can load up 100s of books, magazines and newspapers on my iPad / iPhone.
  • I like being able to create my own books and articles using the ePub format, PDFs and apps like Book Creator. The opportunity for educators to customize content and resources for their own classes is huge.
  • I love the fact that digital newspapers, magazines and books can be incredibly deep and multimedia rich. Video, audio, photos, additional information, supplementary materials and collaboration can all be built into digital stuff.
  • The problem with Queen Anne Books? Limited selection. I could easily spend a whole day in there but it’s still gonna be just a few thousand books. iBooks, Kindle, digital libraries have hundreds of thousands.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s both/and not either/or. I’m still ticked that the bean counters at the Wichita Eagle cut me off. But I do understand that eBooks and digital media have their own advantages. And as educators, we need to be willing to use both.



I have been reading the online / iPad version of the Wichita Eagle and getting used to it. But this morning, got this error message instead:

Yes, still a little bitter.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tip of the Week – Wikipedia’s Create A Book feature


I know some of you are dragging your feet a bit.

Wikipedia? Can’t anyone just edit that and change stuff around?

Yes and no. And that’s actually a good thing.

If you truly are a hardcore Wikipedia hater, I can’t help you. Calmly move along. Nothing to see here. (Go here instead or maybe even here to learn what others are saying about using Wikipedia in Social Studies and general research. If after that, you want to come back and jump in, we’d love to have you.)

But if you believe that Wikpedia has value and can be used appropriately as a teaching and learning tool, then I just learned about a cool little tool that seems incredibly useful. And it’s probably been around awhile but I never noticed it.

Wikipedia can help you create books. Yes, books. And provide a clean PDF. And give you a clean, printable version of articles.

Exactly! Pretty cool, right?

Anyway . . . here’s what you do. Say you want to provide kids with anywhere / anytime access to information about the battles of the Civil War. (Because you don’t have enough textbooks, or the kids don’t take them home anyway or the textbooks just don’t provide the right information or provide it in way that makes it difficult for kids to use.)

Create a list of the battles you want kids to know more about. Head to Wikipedia and do a search for the first battle on your list, Fort Sumter. Once the page loads, look over on the left hand side and you see an option called Print/Export. Open that and you’ll see three options:

  • Create a book
  • Download as PDF
  • Printable version

The last two options are very useful – check those out later. Right now, click Create a Book.

You’ll be asked if you want to start Book Creator. Click the big green button. At the top of our Fort Sumter article, you’ll now see an option to Add this page to your book. That’s it. You’ve added the first chapter to your book.

Now in the top right hand corner, do a search for the next battle on your list. Using the search box and the Add this page to your book option on each page, you will add chapters to your Battles of the Civil War book.

When you’ve added all of your battles, Click the Show Book link. You now can name your book, reorder chapters and delete chapters.

Now you’re ready to download your book. You’ll see the Download option off to the right. There’s some stuff that happens for a few minutes. Eventually you’ll get the option to download the finished document in PDF format.

You now can edit the PDF, post that PDF online, send out as an attachment in emails or texts or print it out as a hard copy if you want. And depending on what app your students have (like iBooks or EverNote), they can access the book on their mobile devices.  (There’s even an option to have someone else print a handy, dandy hard copy version for you.)

But you should also think about making an ePub version of your book. It’s free over at ePubBud. This creates an eBook option available for kids to use in apps like iBooks. They can then takes notes, create bookmarks and highlight text.

Here’s what the finished product looks like: PDF version / ePub version

Need a refresher? Wikipedia has a nice online tutorial.

Have fun!

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend