5 ways to build your classroom library cheaply and quickly

Posted on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 @ 13:08 PM

Little gives us more satisfaction than walking into a classroom and seeing a well-stocked library of books. While it can take years—not to mention a lot of money—to accumulate a collection, we’d like to share five places that will help you build your collection quickly and cheaply. 

5 ways to build your classroom library cheaply and quickly

classroom libraryBook Sale Finder
Using Book Sale Finder’s interactive map, you can find all the upcoming book sales in your area. Some sales take place at public libraries, other at churches or community centers. Prices often range from fifty cents to a dollar per book and it’s not uncommon for Sundays to be either half-off, or “fill-up-your-brown-bag-for-five-bucks” days.

Teacherwide allows users to browse by price and grade level, but we’re particularly fond of their bargain bundles. Pick up 100 books for $145 and have it shipped free of charge. Teachers with a flexible budget can even order book bundles of up to 500 books. Don’t forget to check out their Bonus Points Rewards program.

classroom libraryThrift Books
The books you’ll find on Thrift Books are cheaper than those you’ll find used on Amazon, but not by much. We still felt this website was worth mentioning because we know how important it is to stretch every dollar. We were looking for a copy of Jeff Kinney’s book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The cheapest hardcover version of the book (including shipping) was $4 on Amazon. At Thrift Books, we found the same book for $3.50. Call us penny pinchers if you will, but that’s fifty cents that could go towards another book.

classroom libraryFreecycle
Freecycle is sort of like Craigslist, but as the name suggests, everything you find listed is free. You’ll have to do a little footwork, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the generosity of Freecyclers who have responded to our requests for free books.

classroom libraryStop by the Friends Bookstore at your local library
Most libraries have a “Friends of the Library Bookstore.” Books, audiobooks and DVDs are plentiful and cheap. Keep an eye out for brown-bag days and be sure to inquire about an educator’s discount.




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Topics: Best Apps for Educators, reading assessment, reluctant readers, classroom library

Highlighter: a free reading assessment app for teachers

Posted on Tue, May 14, 2013 @ 10:05 AM

reading assessmentThere are a number of ways to work through assigned readings with our students, but we’ve always gravitated towards open-discussions. Though we prefer these over delivering lectures, seminar-style classrooms are not entirely unproblematic. Here are a few of the challenges we regularly encounter:

  • Not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of the class
  • Not everyone actually reads the assigned text
  • The same five or six students (whether they done the assigned reading or not) end up carrying the discussion
  • Assessing student understanding is challenging

reading assessment highlighter.jpgRecently, one of our colleagues told us about Highlighter, a free web application that actually addresses all of the challenges we mentioned above. Here’s how it works:

  • Teachers upload course materials to highlight —PDF files, Word docs and webpage links—and students access them on their computer, laptop, iPad or smartphone
  • Teachers assign students to virtual groups
  • Students read the uploaded documents, highlight and bookmark important sections, and make comments directly on them. Each group will only be able to see what other students in their group are highlighting.
  • Teachers receive email notifications when students make notations

Highlighter lets teachers know exactly what sections of the course material is most engaging—or most confusing. Knowing this allows teachers to plan accordingly, clarify confusing sections, or expand on key concepts. No longer will you wonder if students have read the course material — now you’ll see they have highlighted, commented, shared and saved.

To learn more about Highlighter, check out the video below.



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Topics: Best Apps for Educators, apps for educators, reading assessment, reluctant writers

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