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Easy Ways to Grab More Books

by Stem_ED

Are you looking for easy ways to add to your book collection? How about ways to save money or get books for free? I have some ideas for you!

I know I post about books all the time. I share my favorites and least favorites and try to steer you towards the best of the best. That is how I find books – recommendations. My favorite books are easy to share with you.

But, the other day, someone asked me how on earth I am able to get more books without wrecking my budget. (Because, I read a lot- like averaging 12 books per month…) So, I thought I would share all the ways I grab more books!

Easy way to get books for less money or for free. This blog post has the details. If you are a voracious reader this post is for you!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!

Let me start with…

…are you an E-reader or a paper book reader? For years I resisted choosing e-Books. Y’all I just like the feel of a real book. I like seeing my progress by where my bookmark rests. I also collect bookmarks!

But, then, I discovered an e-Book that I love. I use the Kindle Paperwhite.

This is the one I have. It’s the version that has ads (which makes it less expensive), but this is not distracting. They only appear when you open the Kindle.

I purchased mine on Black Friday when you can grab one for a much lower price tag. Also, I recycled my used Kindle for more of a discount.

Why do I love my Kindle? Oh, man, it has so many bells and whistle!

  • I can read in the dark. No lamp. I can read in a car in the dark or in bed.
  • I can read in the sunshine- no glare!
  • I can change the font size. This is important since paper books sometimes have tiny print.
  • I can instantly look up words. Most of the time I can decipher a meaning from context, but I do occasionally check a word to see exactly what it means.
  • I can track a character. This is my favorite thing. I sometimes forget the details of a minor character and when I see the name I can just search it and find all the references to that character to refresh my thinking.
  • Also, Kindle books are less expensive than paper books.

So, I can seriously recommend using a Kindle.

Let’s talk about options for your E-Reader…

Easy ways to grab more books to read and save a little money. Check this blog post for the details.

Like I said, I love my Kindle. BUT you do not have to have one to read Kindle books!

You can download the Kindle app to your phone or tablet and read from the app. I actually like the way the pages turn in the app more than my Kindle.

Teachers, here’s a thought. Use an E-Reader for books to read aloud to your students. I tried this many times with first and second graders. I projected the book with my computer and the book was gigantic on my whiteboard screen. Every student can see the pictures and the words as you read them!

And, as I said, Kindle books are usually about $5.00 less than the paper versions. But, there is more…

Have you tried Amazon Prime Reading? Oh, my goodness… If you pay for Prime, you need to check out the monthly book selections. At the beginning of each month, Amazon offers 5-6 books for free. You usually can only choose one. These books are new releases and I have really good luck with choosing one that turns out to be fabulous! These e-Books can be read on the Kindle app!

Kindle Unlimited

Easy ways to grab more books to read and save a little money. Check this blog post for the details.

Do you know about Kindle Unlimited? It’s a book service provided through Amazon. You pay a monthly fee and can “borrow” as many books as you want. You can have up to 10 in your Kindle library. You read the book and then return it.

The more you read the more you save on that monthly fee.

Now, let me tell you a couple of secrets… Kindle Unlimited makes a great gift. You can also try it for a month or two and see what you think. Psst….here is the secret. If you cancel your subscription, Amazon will send you are month or more for free if you re-subscribe.

Are the books good? I do find it to be hit-or-miss. Sometimes I can find 4-5 books and add them to my library and sometimes I find zero. It’s a little bit like going to the library.

Use the offer I am linking below to try two months of Kindle Unlimited!

Book of the Month Club

Easy ways to grab more books to read and save a little money. Check this blog post for the details.

This idea is for those of you that prefer paper books and new releases.

Book of the Month Club does have a monthly fee that you pay to choose one book.

Each month you are sent the selections that are available.

You choose between five books. I always check the reviews first and make sure I am choosing one that appeals to me. What if you don’t like any of them? You can skip that month! What if you like more than one? You can purchase the extra book at a lower price!

I am very picky about which book I choose and I have had good luck finding really good ones! Book of the Month Club might work for you. I have it linked for you so you can take a look at the books that are currently being offered!

Discounts- We all love a bargain!

So, I shop for books often and have quite a few wish lists.

Here’s what happens to me all the time!

I scroll and look for books and may add them to my Amazon wishlist.

Two days later I get an email.

It’s Amazon offering me a $5 discount on the book I was looking for. Or a $5 coupon for books from my wish list. Sometimes it is an offer for a particular book and sometimes it is for anything on my list. Occasionally, I just get a random credit to buy a new book.

And, then, there is my favorite book store ever. Have you ever shopped at 2nd and Charles? It is a used book store (they also have new books). I take my Goodreads list and just browse the aisles until I am loaded down with books! The shelves may have several of the same titles and if you look closely you can find some that are priced lower. If you are ever shopping for older books you are likely to find them.

Also, teachers, they have children’s books!

Listening to Books

Easy ways to grab more books to read and save a little money. Check this blog post.

I always have a book that I am listening to while I am reading another book. This works for me if the genres are different!

I use Audible from Amazon for my books. Again, this is a monthly fee. Your fee gives you a credit and each credit is a book.

Audible has every book imaginable and they have free ones! The Audible Plus catalog has free books and Audible also has original works that are free. And here is a secret… these books are returnable! If a book is awful or the narrator is yucky, you can return the book. You get the credit back to use for a new book.

This link will let you take a closer look at Audible! I love listening to books- especially when the narrator is acting out all the parts.

The Library

Easy ways to grab more books to read and save a little money or get them for free. Check this blog post for the details.

Seriously, the library! Long ago, I checked out Books on Tape from the library.

Then BAM- they started having e-Books.

Y’all, this is a game changer. For free you can borrow books for your Kindle (or the app).

If you have not already done this- go to your library’s website and check on using their digital library. My library has a ‘hold’ system. I can click to hold books that are not available and when the book becomes available they email me. I have my books scheduled to be checked out for 21 days and then I return them! For free!

And guess what- they have audio-books, too! The books are by a different publisher than Audible, but I have listened to some that were great!

I hope I have given you some great ideas for finding new or used books! (Some of the links I have provided are affiliate links.)

Happy Reading!!

Easy way to get books for less money or for free. This blog post has the details. If you are a voracious reader this post is for you!

The post Easy Ways to Grab More Books appeared first on Teachers are Terrific.

Things I Wish I Had Known…

by Stem_ED

…as I began the teaching job of a specialist. Yes, there were surprises. There were things I wish I had known and many I learned by trial and error. Let’s pause as I give you a little bit of history.

I taught upper elementary grades for many, many years and then had the opportunity to transfer to the STEM specialist position. I leaped at that chance without really even knowing what the job would entail. I made it my own!

I relied on teaching blogs and handbooks I was given and a few STEM kits. I quickly discovered almost everything I read about was a higher level than I needed so I started developing my own curriculum. That, as it turned out, was the easiest part of the transition.

So, you ask, what were the things I ran into that a little forewarning might have helped?

STEM Specialist's viewpoint of things encountered in the position- tips and details are on this post- "Things I Wish I Had Known About Being a Specialist".

The Nitty-Gritty

I have broken this down to four items that were part of my learning time as a beginning specialist.

  • Preparation and Organization
  • 100% Engagement
  • Be Flexible
  • Using Technology

Prep and Organization

STEM Specialist's viewpoint of things encountered in the position- tips about the organization of materials.

I started my new job with a total clean-out of all the storage cabinets in the lab. I needed to see what I had!

When I repacked those cabinets I did it in an orderly and reasonable way. As I put things away I needed to be able to find them later!

My cabinets are organized by topic- magnification, measurement, craft items, cups, and more. I also made an inventory book with everything listed by cabinet number and alphabetically. It seems extreme, but…

when there are 28 kids in the room and someone needs a needle and I can’t remember where I put them I can very quickly look in the inventory book and find the needles.

What I didn’t know is what on earth I would do when I had new materials to add to the collection. I moved things around and made space for them and changed my inventory book (which is the reason it is written in pencil). When I needed more space, and I did, I used a storage closet for big things. I also learned to use big plastic storage bins and label them. Even my filing cabinets were used for storage.

Now, how about prepping materials? The first few months I tried just placing materials on a central supply table and letting students gather their own things.

What I didn’t know is how wildly time-consuming this is! Where I will just toss in 6 straws, students will stand and choose the colors they need. So, I learned to prepare the materials’ bins myself. In the above photo, you can see how these look. I load those bins in an assembly line style and it works well. Students pick up a bin and then use it later to return gently used materials.

100% Engagement

STEM Specialist's viewpoint of things encountered in the position- tips about the total engagement of this position.

I hoped students would love STEM class and be totally engaged and they were.

They loved coming to the new special and were very intrigued with building things. I chose very interesting beginning challenges that first month and “hooked them”!

What I didn’t know was that the engagement level for me was extreme- like 100% extreme. I discovered very quickly that I was not ever going to sit down – even during “breaks”. There is always something that needs to be cleaned up and put away or another class coming so I need to prepare their bins. During class time I never stop moving. I circulate around the room at all times, observing, asking questions, and listening to the talk.

Now, I know regular classroom teachers stay engaged too. I have written about this on previous posts and I will link one at the bottom for you. I know classroom teachers are actively involved in their students. But. When I had a regular classroom there were times I sat down with one student or a small group.

A specialist works a little differently. In the lab I am time-crunched. We have to work quickly and efficiently and there is just no down time. It did not take long for me to always wear jeans and sneakers.

Be Flexible

STEM Specialist's viewpoint of things encountered in the position- tips about being flexible.

Now, I knew this was going to happen, but perhaps not as constant as it did.

I knew to expect assemblies and field trips and weather delays. These were all things that interrupted specials when I needed to take my students to them.

What I didn’t know was the level at which odd things happen and how to cope with those when I was already prepared for a full class. Let me give a short list- students arriving late, teachers forgetting to bring a class, fire drills, tornado drills, lockdowns, parent conferences, and the school-wide awards ceremonies.

I have to really think on my feet nearly every day about how to switch things around and make it work. The one thing that still throws me for a loop are drills and lockdowns. In my regular classroom, I always explained procedures to students and we practiced before we had any type of drill. Now, stop and think about it. How impossible is it to practice all those drills with every single class? For fire drills and tornado drills I literally just tell students what to do as it is happening.

Lockdowns are completely different. Fortunately, I was observed by our school police resource officers during a lockdown drill and after it was over I talked to them at length. They helped me work out ways to contain the students and carry out a lockdown based on best practices. Also, we usually have warning about a drill ahead of time and I can inform students about my procedures.

Technology

STEM Specialist's viewpoint of things encountered in the position- tips about the level of technology that is needed.

Who could have foreseen the virtual world of learning when I started my specialist job eight years ago?

And yet, here we are, having to learn new ways of reaching our precious students.

What I didn’t know is how much I would need to rely on classroom teachers and the parents of students to carry out lessons and planning and gathering of materials. I also quickly learned to improvise.

How can I take a STEM Challenge and make it work if one student must carry it out at home? How can we make sure that students have the materials they need? What about students returning to school? How do we have specialist classes?

I still do not have all the answers for these questions. I know you don’t either. We just keep working and doing the best we can.

Specialist’s have a fabulous job with many perks. I love my position and am very thankful for the opportunity to learn so much about being a specialist. It changes daily so I just try to remember- be flexible, laugh a lot, and just keep working.

The posts below are a few you might like:

STEM Specialist's viewpoint of things encountered in the position- tips and details are on this post- "Things I Wish I Had Known About Being a Specialist".

The post Things I Wish I Had Known… appeared first on Teachers are Terrific.

February’s Best Books

by Stem_ED

This short month brought me so many new books to try and provide book reviews. Some were just awful. In fact, I stopped reading one book after half a page. I stopped another book after the first chapter. I just do not have time for silly, frivolous yucky books. But I did find some new favorites.

These are the best books I read in February!

Reviews of the best books I read in February 2021- includes the worst book of the month.

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!

Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen

Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen- an autobiographical account of this amazing author's early childhood. Haunting and sad, but ultimately triumphant as he became a write so many young people love.

This is one of those books I will always remember. This is an author I already love and will read anything he writes.

My favorite books of Mr. Paulsen’s include Hatchet and My Life in Dog Years. The latter was a book I always read aloud to my third graders.

Gone to the Woods is Mr. Paulsen’s account of his early childhood from the age of five until he joined the armed forces. The book is gritty and real as he tells about his mother’s lack of care for him. When he was five he was sent to the wilderness to live with relatives Edy and Sig. The couple lived off the land and soon had Gary doing “work jobs” most of which he’d never heard of. He watched and listened and learned.

One passage was hauntingly beautiful as young Gary made his first foray into deep woods in a canoe with Sig whispering, “See, look, see…”

“And there it was – the moment- the very split second, of all the minutes of all the time the boy would ever have, that would never cease to exist. The moment- though he would not know it or understand it fully until he was an older man- when he would never again be able to, nor want to, separate himself from nature….the moment was so pure, so profound, that he caught himself holding his breath.”

And here is the absolute best part. As a teen Mr. Paulsen had no adult supervision. How did he survive? Well, you will need to grab this book to find out, but I will tell you his life was changed forever by a librarian.

Five stars for this book! It was beautiful and I was sad to finish it.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Book Review - The Midnight Library - Nora takes a drastic measure and instead of dying straight away, she finds herself awakening in a large library. The librarian greets her with an explanation of where she has arrived.

For many reasons Nora is depressed. She did not pursue a career that involved singing in a band due to panic attacks. Her cat is run over. She has lost her job. An elderly neighbor says she no longer is needed to help him with shopping.

No one needs her.

“She wanted to have a purpose, something to give her a reason to exist.”

Nora takes a drastic measure and instead of dying straight away, she finds herself awakening in a large library. The librarian greets her with an explanation of where she has arrived.

“Between life and death, there is a library. And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived.”

So, what does Nora do? She chooses a book. What would you do?

This science-fiction book dives right into the opportunities missed as we make choices during our lifetimes. “You have as many lives as possibilities. There are lives where you make different choices.”

I cannot reveal much more without giving away the gist of this book. I cheered for Nora as she tackled this diversion head-on. I wanted her to be happy and find a joy-filled place where she was needed. “Maybe there was no perfect life for her, but somewhere, surely, there was a life worth living.”

I loved, loved this book. It was very different and without being melodramatic, it was encouraging and hopeful. It is a tad unbelievable and yet, the author pulls it off. Five stars for this book! I suspect it will be on my top ten best books at the end of this year!

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

Book Review -Ruth is a young black woman that followed a dream to attend Yale and work as an engineer. She is married to Xavier and seems to be doing very, very well.

Ruth is a young black woman that followed a dream to attend Yale and work as an engineer. She is married to Xavier and seems to be doing very, very well.

On the day Obama wins his first presidential bid, all is right with Ruth’s world.

Or is it? Xavier pressures her to start a family and she is forced to tell him about something that happened to her when she was 17. This confession changes everything. Ruth goes home, to a small Indiana town, where she was raised by her grandparents.

Some back story: Ruth’s mom disappeared when she was very young and with her brother, Eli, she moved in with her grandparents. Mama and Papa sacrificed for years to provide the children with what was needed, despite living in poverty. How they were able to send Ruth to a private school and later to college is part of the story.

Returning home for the first time in several years Ruth confronts her past. The secrets whirl around her and her brother, her grandmother and long-ago friends.

“A lifetime of lies never added up to anything good. A lifetime of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. A lifetime of lies that started small, like a nick in the windshield, then eventually shattered the glass.”

Well written, beautiful passages, and characters you will love. Definitely 5 stars for this book.

Honorable Mention

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E Schwab

In the 1700s Addie is being forced to marry. In desperation, Addie makes a bargain with a dark being she calls Luc. She will live forever but no one will remember her.

Her journey through time is interesting. She cannot own anything, cannot have a place to live, can’t earn money, can’t find love. Because no one remembers her after meeting her. The premise of the book is a little odd and alternates with her backstory and present-day. I have it as one of my favorite books this month because I listened to it. The narrator, Julia Whalen, is magnificent and that made the story compelling. I give it 5 stars as an Audible book!

One by One by Ruth Ware

My least favorite of the month…

Book Review -One by One is the story of a social media company that has a vacation/meeting for their employees. They are in a ski resort in the Alps and staying in a chalet that can only be reached by tram. The meeting part of the vacation is to discuss a potential buyout of the company and the shareholders stand to make millions.

This author had me as a fan – with a book called The Woman in Cabin 10.

So, I had high hopes for this one. The good: I did finish it.

The not-so-good: it was a tad boring and hugely unbelievable.

Now, I completely understand that I just wrote two book reviews about books that were also unbelievable, but the thing about believability is the way a book is written. If you have read any Harry Potter books you know exactly what I mean.

One by One is the story of a social media company that has a vacation/meeting for their employees. They are in a ski resort in the Alps and staying in a chalet that can only be reached by tram. The meeting part of the vacation is to discuss a potential buyout of the company and the shareholders stand to make millions. The trouble is a tricky 2% of shares are owned by Liz and her vote will determine if the buyout proceeds.

Then someone is missing and presumed dead. An avalanche happens, the power goes out. And somewhere in the middle of all this, there is a wild scene where some of them decide to try to ski down the mountain. In the dark. After an avalanche. On trails they are not familiar with. With cliff sides that drop thousands of feet into nothingness.

Seriously. Skiing is hard enough in the daytime. Night skiing without lights when someone is chasing you… no.

I finished this book because I wanted to see who was possibly killing people off but I can only give it 2 stars.

I hope you enjoyed the reviews! Click on any of the images to see more details about the books! Keep on reading.

Try these Reviews, too!

My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.

Book Reviews of the best books I read in February 2021- includes the worst book of the month.

The post February’s Best Books appeared first on Teachers are Terrific.