Barnes & - Image Viewer: Reading and Learning to Read, by Jo Anne L. Vacca, Hardcover

I’ve been working with Dr. Lisa Lenhart for about 6 years at the University of Akron. She gave me a start as a graduate assistant back in the 2004-2005 school year, as I was working on my principal’s license, and I’ve hung around ever since. Lisa has opened up a lot of doors for me, and I have the utmost respect for her as an educator, a professional and a person. She’s currently working on revising one of her textbooks, Reading and Learning to Read, and I received the following email from her about a week ago.

Would any of you be willing to ask your kids these questions and give me their quotes back? I’m working on my book revision and we’re going to put student voices in……..I won’t use their names. Any responses at all would help. Thank you so much,

How does (or did) your teacher teach you to read?

List three things you know about good readers.

What do you dislike about reading in school?

Tell me about a time someone had to read out loud and they weren’t very good…..

If you could be in charge, what would you use to teach kids to read?

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A few weekends ago my wife’s parents were in town visiting for the weekend. During that time, our 3 year old son was eager to show his Nana and grandpa a few of his favorite apps on his iPod Touch. One of those apps was YouTube. He loves to watch videos of some of his favorite Nick Jr. shows. Usually, I use the SEARCH feature of YouTube to try and filter out irrelevant videos.

However, as my father-in-law quickly found out, that doesn’t help in filtering inappropriate content. Take a look at these search results for Blue’s Clues. The top results turn out to be actual episode content, but as you scroll down the list, you really begin to run into some objectionable content. Take a quick look at this clip which has been viewed over a million times. [WARNING! Explicit Song Lyrics]

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App Title: iTouchiLearn Words

Grade Level: Pre-K, Kinderbound, Kindergarten

Cost: $0.99

Developer Website:

iTunes Link: Click Here


A student’s knowledge of word meanings, or oral vocabulary, plays a key role in reading comprehension. The iTouchiLearn Words app for iPhone and iPod Touch provides young learners with an opportunity to engage in vocabulary building practice. Developed by Staytoooned, the cover screen indicates that the app is designed to “learn words through entertaining animations.”

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A few weeks ago I posted Essential iPod Touch Apps from a 9 Year Old Boy’s Perspective. In it, I provided an overview of all of the iPod Touch apps that Isaac currently had installed on his Touch. I created a Google Spreadsheet to use to keep track of his list. That led me tho think it might be an interesting little research study to collect Isaac’s opinions regarding the apps. Why did him pick them out on the iTunes Store and download them? What makes an app engaging, or not engaging? How would he rate the app? So, like any good educational researcher, I created a quick assessment tool for Isaac to use to review the app and for me to collect my data.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a bit of tough sell to Isaac. Even though I created a desktop shortcut to the Google Form on Isaac’s laptop, he has been a little reluctant to actually open it up and submit review data on his own. I have managed to coax him into reviewing two apps on two separate occasions. I’m going to share the first four reviews with you tonight in their submitted form. Early on in this process, it seems like Isaac really enjoys apps by the developers at Donut Games.

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I have noticed that Ning’s announcement has made some people angry which has caused others to temper concerns until more is known. No matter what the outcome, or the options within Ning’s new pricing plan, there is a more important issue here. I do not see a future where there are more free (of charge) services available. It is more likely, at least for the short term, that more Web 2.0 companies will focus on premium services. For the many teachers who have benefited from the wealth of free services available over the last few years, this ‘less free’ reality becomes difficult, especially when schools are increasingly budget-conscious.

This is why the F/OSS movement becomes important (again). With all of the free services that have been available, fewer educators have likely felt that the time and expertise needed to install, maintain and host open source software is worth the trouble. However, with this impending shift, I do believe that this is the time for schools & educators to (re)consider and (re)discover the importance of F/OSS and self-hosted software.

Great thoughts here from Dr. Couros, a leader in the F/OSS movement. I feel that while a majority of classroom teachers might not have “the time and expertise needed to install, maintain and host open source software,” it is imperative that districts begin to seriously consider these aspects as they craft technology plans for the future.

If a district can not support F/OSS on their own, then we will need to get creative and forge new relationships and collaborative processes between districts to support open source social networking, video hosting, blogging platforms, etc… Now is not a time to cry and curse Ning for doing what they need to do to keep their business open, rather, now is a time to become innovative and craft solutions to what is really an economic issue. Thanks for your great insight and for (re)focusing our attention on the importance of supporting the F/OSS movement at the school/district level, Alec!

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As a TumbleBooks subscriber, I recently received an email announcing the launch of a BETA TumblePad 2.0 downloadable ebook reader for PC and Mac. This presents an interesting opportunity for teachers who have computers or laptops in their classrooms, but not internet access. This is actually the case in some of the Head Start classrooms that are part of the Akron Ready Steps program that I work closely with. I spent some time this morning the downloadable e-Book reader for Mac and thought I’d share some highlights and thoughts about this product with my Raised Digital readers. You’ll need to click on the images to view them at full-size.

  • Installation is pretty straightforward.

InstallTumblePad 2

Apple rep. now showing How ’bout them “Apples” @smeech, @brueckj23, et al.

This @jonbecker tweet just popped up a few minutes ago. It’s really great to know that Apple is aware of the great things we have been working to do with the I Education Apps Review community. @smeech, myself and many others have volunteered countless hours in order to try and provide quality insight into how iDevices could and should be used in the classroom. I hope that Apple education reps reach out to those of us at and that we can find a way to work together in the future to do what is in the best interest of our students.

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And as a tech director, I am concerned that no one at Apple seems to have a good answer about managing sets of these devices. “The iPad is designed for end-user management” was the rather glib response we received from our local Apple rep. Buying software requires buying an iTunes gift card if one wants to use a PO. No attention that I can find has been given to educational licensing of any “apps” for the thing. Sigh…

I found the last paragraph of this excellent post by Doug Johnson to be particularly interesting. The management of a classroom set of iDevices has been a subject of discussion at the I Education Apps Review Ning for some time now. See the Forums titled “Management of iPod Touch,” “Organizing Apps on Multiple Touches” and “Can we finalize the discussion on licensing for multiple touch devices for schools?

There seems to be a general lack of interest by Apple in helping educators unleash the full potential of the devices. I have personally reached out to an Apple exec who I met at METC 2010 on multiple occasions and received no follow-up reply. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. Morrie Reece (, Apple’s Senior Education Development Executive. Was it all an act when you excitedly snapped pictures of my jailbroken Touch running Screensplitr & DemoGod as I explained how I needed to mirror Touch apps on my local computer for use at conference presentations and for creating screencasts for professional development and training purposes?

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I’ve had the iPad for three days now and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the device. One part of me is totally in love with the device. Another though can’t help but feel a little unsatisfied. As of now, I’m planning to write a proper review after my first full week using the iPad.

Today, I’ve decided to focus instead on a short post using the WordPress app for iPad. Download and set-up of the app, which is free, was really simple. If you already have an existing WordPress blog, you simply enter the URL and your log-in credentials and you are ready to go. By default, the 25 most current posts load into the app.

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iPad arrived at office this AM.


Some days my job is really fun! Today is one of those days. 2 iPads arrived via UPS so I can begin testing eBooks & other educational apps. Look for more information on the educational implications of these devices to come on Raised Digital.

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This is a personal blog. The resources, information and views presented on Raised Digital are solely the opinion of Jeremy S. Brueck, and are not meant to reflect the views of my employer.

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Why Raised Digital?

Today’s students were born digital but those responsible for their education were not. Youngsters arrive at school in tune with the social context and experience the Web offers. Children thrive when teachers find ways to educate them in a more flexible, hypertext manner. This space focuses on development of and support for teachers in their use of technology as they cultivate 21st century content knowledge and skills in their students.