Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I've Hit the Mother Lode of Educational Resources

I am a sucker for a new book.  There is nothing better than cracking open the binding of a new treasure right off the shelf, smashing my face in, and taking a big whiff of the fresh ink.  That is, until today. I've hit the mother lode and can rival any gold rush prospector with my enthusiasm for my find.  I'm staking my claim.

Making technology and information easily accessible to each student in the district is a priority for us. Our administrators and school board members truly have the best interests of our kids at heart and work diligently to be sure every child has an even playing field with regards to the access they get to technology.  I couldn't be prouder to be where I am.  We have teachers who never shy away from a challenge, a chance to improve student learning, or an opportunity to make our school a better place. We put money and effort where they need to be to get the job done.  The same can be said for our Northwest Area Education Agency.

They are second to none.

Last year, we were notified that our NWAEA purchased ebooks and access to a variety of other educational resources through a company known as Mackin.  Their web-based and app-based program, MackinVIA, puts these items easily in the hands of any student in a personal e-backpack.  With the addition of more and more devices, having a Mackin account for each student was becoming a reality and something we wanted to act on....fast.

Since our winter break, our school librarian, IT guy, and I have been diligently working to get each student in our K-12 building a MackinVIA account, so they could begin utilizing these resources. Today I began showcasing these tools with our students.  Kids can now view books right in their browser or a host of compatible handheld devices using the free apps available in their respective app stores. In addition, kids can complete an "Advanced Search" to locate books by Accelerated Reader level, Guided Reading level, or several other searchable methods.


We have also enabled the option for kids to take AR Quizzes straight from the "more" menu found within each Accelerated Reader book!  Also within this menu is a list of topics and the genre of the book, the language the story is written in, as well as a short summary of the story.  By clicking on the "open now" button (red button in photo to the right) kids can begin reading immediately.  No waiting in lines at the library, no lugging around heavy or bulky books.  It's right there.  Right now.


View of a book open in a browser window. 


There are other highly intriguing aspects of our MackinVIA access that have me soaring in excitement!  Not only do our students each have access to nearly 1,000 titles at any time, but they can access the "Database" menu that includes items from the AEA Digital Library, the Associated Press, BookFLIX, and Britannica, to name a few.






Videos, journals, free sound bytes, creative commons images and more are one click away. Wanna talk about amazing?!?

I'm like the giddy 9-year-old version of myself anxiously ripping open the wrapping paper surrounding my first Cabbage Patch doll. The energy is palpable.


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