Sunday, January 20, 2013

"StarWalk Kids Media"....Amazing Nonfiction and Fiction eBook Collection, "Teaching Links" For Each eBook That Connects To The Common Core, and More!

Last summer at the ALA Annual Conference in California I had the honor of meeting Seymour Simon and Liz Nealon, founders of StarWalk Kids Media.  I have to admit....I was a little star struck.  I have been a fan of Seymour's work for a long time.  According to the Seymour Simon blog"Seymour Simon, whom the NY Times called 'the dean of children's science writers' is the author of more than 250 highly acclaimed science books."  
I fondly remember putting the same wonderful nonfiction books back on the shelves when I was in high school and college that I put back on our shelves at Van Meter.

Now through StarWalk Kids Media my students are experiencing Seymour's books in an exciting new way.  Fifty three of Seymour's books and almost 100 other titles by various authors are available as eBooks in this beautiful new platform called StarWalk Kids Media. 

Within StarWalk Kids Media, a digital streaming service available by subscription, our students, teachers, and school community have access to 149 amazing eBooks which are available through the browser-based reader StarWalk Reader.  The reader works on most devices....desktop, laptop, iPad, tablets, interactive white boards, and smartphones.  My son Hagan, who is 7, and I  have read the eBooks on a iPhone, iPad, Nook, laptop, and desktop.  The eBooks work and look the same on each device. 
Two weeks ago, I introduced StarWalk Kids Media to all of the students in the elementary and middle school grades.  I started by introducing a few more of Seymour's books to the students and showed them where they were located within our library.  I then explained that over 50 of his books were turned into eBooks and that we were lucky enough to have them in our eBook collection.  

The StarWalk Kids Media eBooks are uploaded into our MackinVIA.  Mackin and StarWalk Kids Media have a partnership and they are available from Mackin Education Resources.  You can learn more at this link.  
Once the eBooks were in our MackinVIA, I created a new Group called "StarWalk Kids Media eBooks", which is circled in this screenshot.   I love being able to create Groups within MackinVIA because it gives the students focus on certain subjects or sets of eBooks.  I can also use it to highlight new eBooks and bring together ones that are important for the students to read for a particular celebration or event.  
When I showed the students the "StarWalk Kids Media eBooks" Group, I told them all about the nonfiction and fiction eBooks within StarWalk.  A lot of the eBooks are revisions of books that are out-of-print by well-known authors such as Johanna Hurwitz, Kathleen Krull, Doreen Rappaport, David Adler, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and many more.  I just love how Seymour, Liz, and the others at StarWalk have given these beautiful books a new life as an eBook.  
The variety of eBooks is fantastic....There is definitely something for everyone.  

Each of the eBooks within StarWalk has unlimited, simultaneous access.  They can be read anywhere there is internet access.  The eBooks can be read by a single user, multiple users, or an entire class at one time.  
When a student finds an eBooks they would like to read, they click on the book cover of that eBook.  This takes them into the screen shown above.  The reader is given a choice to "Add To Backpack" or "Read Now."  My students love adding to their own personal Backpacks any chance they get so on the day I introduced StarWalk Kids Media there were tons of eBooks added to these.
If they choose "Read Now" it first takes them to the StarWalk Kids Media page of that particular title.  The reader then clicks on the blue "Read Now" button found on the page.
This takes them into the StarWalk Reader where the eBook is waiting for them.  

The reader is given a choice to have the eBook "Read To Me", "Let Me Read", or "Auto Play".   I find that most of my students in grades K-5 prefer to have the eBook read to them.  They take their laptop to a favorite place around the library, get comfortable, and read the eBook at their own pace.  
There are a lot of nice features found within StarWalk Reader.  The reader can take notes as they read and listen to the eBook.   I really like how online resource links can be put into the notes too.  
Readers can also highlight within the text and go back to these highlights at any time.
My students especially like how they can bring up thumbnail images of each page at the bottom of the reader.  This makes it easy for them to navigate their way through the eBook.  
Meridan, who is a 3rd grade at Van Meter, explains how to use StarWalk Reader with this video.  As you can see, it is very user friendly and fun to use. 
As a teacher and librarian, there are many things I also find so beneficial and important within StarWalk Kids Media.

We can search for eBooks by title, author, keyword, subject, age, grade, genre, Lexile or Alphabetical Level, and one that I find extremely valuable.....the Common Core State Standards.
StarWalk Kids Media has also developed "Teaching Links" that connect to the Common Core State Standards.  
Within each eBook, there is a button that says "Download Teaching Links for this Book."  
This link downloads a "Teaching Link....Common Core State Standards Correlations and Activities" handout for every single title within StarWalk Kids Media.  What an awesome resource for all teachers, librarians, curriculum directors, and even parents who are using the eBooks with their children at home.
StarWalk Kids Media is a BIG hit at Van Meter.  From the day that I started teaching the young people about it, they have been hooked.  And from the photographs I took within our can how it is truly making a difference to our students, within their learning, and how it is impacting their reading.  
As the students left the library after the first time using StarWalk Kids Media, I handed each of them a flyer to take home with New Books To Read eBooks....StarWalk Kids Media! on the top.  I didn't want their excitement and reading to stop when they left the library.....I wanted it to continue on within the classroom, at home, anywhere they might have access to eBooks and other electronic resources.  

I also wanted them to go home and teach their families about StarWalk Kids Media and the other eBooks within MackinVIA.  
StarWalk Kids Media is available through Mackin Educational Resources as a subscription.  They start at $595.00 for a single site and this gives the school unlimited, simultaneous access to StarWalk's entire collection.  Multi-site and district accounts would further reduce costs.  

You can learn more about it on Mackin Education Resources at the StarWalk Kids Media page.  

StarWalk Kids Media is an eBook collection that everyone will love.....I hope you give it a try today too.  

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