Tag Archives: review

Tech Review: Thinglink

Thinglink is a tech tool that my inner librarian loves! Who doesn’t love the idea of embedding information inside images, it’s all the fun of digital libraries and metadata without having to know how to catalog. (yes, my geek flag is waving high).  Also, it allows us to create a polished interactive poster that doesn’t look tacky (unlike glogster…don’t hate me).


I’ve used it for a variety of projects over the past two years. With our Social Studies classes, we’ve made Africa thinglinks on regions of Africa. Our 6th grade science classes embedded different types of clouds in a sky with descriptions of each type of cloud.  With our learning support classes, we’ve created thinglinks about simple machines and states. I’m amazed how much the students enjoy
creating them.

I like that since the students are embedding information in an image, they have to reflect and decide what image would be the best to create. Then they can begin curating websites that would be good to link onto the main image. I’ve found it’s best to give them a checklist for different types of media (websites, images, youtube videos, facts with no media).

There are a few disadvantages to thinglink. When students insert a website, it autogenerates a description. If you’re a teacher creating a webquest, you are normally able to adjust the descriptions to go along with your activity. If you are a student, they have a tendency to leave the computer generated description and that shows a lack of effort and creativity. I know I had the really remind my kids about adjusting the description. The free version doesn’t let you insert pictures easily anymore (it’s possible, but sometimes not worth the effort).

Right now I am taking a class on making hyperdocs. My mind always wraps around how students can make things, but it didn’t occur to me to use this tool as a launchpad for webquests, multimedia text sets, and other activities. It’s been interesting to brainstorm other applications for this tool. I’ve also been looking at thinglinks made by others to see if I can use them in my instruction. There’s a lot of potential in this, and I’m excited to see how it develops as a resource for educators.


Tech Review: Ghostery

Are you concerned about your digital footprint? Are you worried about clicking on click-bait and people getting access to your cookies? Ghostery is the tool for you!


Ghostery is a browser extension that allows you to track who is tracking you! You can block all trackers, or you can select certain trackers to allow (like twitter widgets and wordpress stats). This browser extension is user friendly and operates in the background without being a distraction.

I’ve been using ghostery for 3 years, I love the fact that I have control over who is watching my internet usage. Librarians are all about transparancy, and this tool encourages users to be more thoughtful in their internet search habits. Some websites can have 20+ trackers.

Every time you open a website, it tells you how many sites are tracking you and tells you what trackers. Some folks block all trackers, others will customize it so some websites can gather statistical data.

Tech Review: Geoguessr

Looking for a game that tests awareness of  inference skills, biology, and geography? Look no further, because geoguessr is the game for you!


Geoguessr uses Google Street view to place you at a random place in the world.You then have to guess where you are, with the goal of trying to get as close as possible.


Students use context clues to guess where they are at. They can guess what biome they are in, what language is on the street signs, what side of the road the cars drive on, what plants are around, and weather.

google streetview.PNG

One thing that has been eye opening has been what other parts of the world look like. We may think that a location would be in America or England, and it turns out that it’s somewhere in South America. It is amazing how many places are similar and how our stereotypical ideas of different countries are not what these places look like. When I first started playing, I was amazed how wrong I with most of the questions.

Our science and social studies teachers have been having so much fun with this game! We’ve used it as a productive time filler for after labs and other activities, and it’s amazing to listen to the student’s thought process when they are guessing. The critical thinking skills they are using, while they are thinking they are playing a game are incredible.



Tech review: Instagrok

Do you get tired of reading walls of text while doing a search? Try something new with InstaGrok!


InstaGrok is a search engine that produces concept maps.instagrok

Each word has a variety of resources sorted into media that can be pinned onto the concept map.


In addition, you can adjust the difficulty (harder words versus easier terms)

Students can log in using their Google Docs account or use Instagrok without a login.

We enjoyed using this in class because it was great to see how all of our research terms are connected. In addition, instagrok only provides a limited number of results, so it allows for exploratory research in a way that is not overwhelming. It also provides a variety of types of search results. (videos, key terms, websites, facts).

This tech tool can be used to begin the research process and find a topic. It can also be used for introducing a concept. We used instagrok to search about science topics. We then took the words from our concept map and made a wordsplash. (where they write a passage about their topic using the words from the concept map).

Book Review: Woof

Woof by Spencer Quinn


Published by Scholastic in 2015

 The story begins with Birdie Gaux and her grandmother getting a new dog. Bowser, the dog, provides us with a variety of details about the dog pound he’s in. The beginning of the story is a little tricky, because it’s told from Bowser’s perspective. Although as the story goes on, it adds an extra layer of detail because of the unique things that Bower notices.

Birdie’s grandmother is not the warmest and fuzziest human being on the planet. She runs a bait and tackle shop where Birdie helps out. They walk in and the employee working at the moment is asleep. Grammy notices that her prized stuffed marlin is missing. It seems all is lost, but Bowser and Birdie are on the case!

Birdie first wants to find out why this Marlin is so special. Grammy is being suspicously quiet, so Birdie begins poking around town. It turns out might be a treasure map hidden in the fish’s eye.

In a fast paced adventure, Bowser and Birdie try and get to the bottom of this mystery!

Book Review: The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Safstrom

animal facts.jpg

Published by Ten Speed Press in 2016.

Fans of random facts, rejoice! This delightful book provides cute, quirky drawings of various animals. Each drawing is accompanied by one or two facts about that animal.

With this book, the author mentions “I hope you…learn something new and be reminded of the fascinating beauty of the animal world.”

Great for reluctant readers and would made a great coffee table book for your friends who love trivia.


Note: This book does reference mating once, and uses the word harem once.


FTC Required Disclaimer: I recieved this ARC from the publisher. I recieved no monetary compensation for this review.

Book Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

mark of dragonfly

Published by Random House Children’s Book in 2014.

Piper lives in Scrap town 16 eeking out a living repairing whatever falls during a meteor shower. Her father died a few years ago and she just does enough to survive. Her friend Micah sneaks out during a meteor storm and she rushes out to make sure he isn’t harmed. They watch a caravan get hit my a meteor and Piper goes to see if there are any survivors. She takes an injured Anna to her home to help her heal. Just when she thought they were safe, a man comes in looking for Anna. The man gives Anna and Piper a bad feeling, so they go on the run.

mark of dragonfly charactersPiper notices that Anna has the mark of the dragonfly on her, the mark given to the King’s inner circle. She realizes that she has to get Anna to the castle to get her to safety. They sneak on the train that runs shipments to the capital, the 401. Unfortunatly, the train has defenses to prevent people from stowing away. They get on the train, dodge the razor blades, and flames about to come out of the vent, when they stop. They are stopped by a mysterious green-eyed guard. Just as they are about to be thrown off the train, Piper shows the guard Anna’s tattoo. Gee, the guard, gives them a room and they begin their journey.

The mysterious man who we later learn is Doloman, continues to purse Anna. Piper  teams up with the crew members of the 401, Jeyne, Gee, and Trimble to keep Anna safe. Along the way, we learn that there is more to every person that meets the eye.