Hooray! SYNC is back with free YA audiobook downloads this summer!

Image announcing option to get text messages about SYNC from audiobooksync.com

For the third or fourth year in a row, the SYNC free audiobook download project is back! Each week, the project organizers make available one classic and one contemporary book for young adults. You can only download the titles for a week before they’re replaced with new ones, but once they’re downloaded, they’re yours to keep. Learn more here!

SYNC usually keeps me stocked with audio book titles for the rest of the year. Here’s the 2014 lineup:

May 15 – May 21

WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)

THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)

May 22 – May 28

CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)

OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 29 – June 4

CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)

THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)

June 5 – June 11

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)

JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 12 – June 18

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)

THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)

June 19 – June 25

I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)

June 26 – July 2

FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)

OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)

July 3 – July 9

TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)

PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)

July 10 – July 16

CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)

WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)

July 17 – July 23

THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 24 – July 30

HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)

THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)

July 31 – August 6

DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)

THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)

August 7 – August 13

LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)

THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)


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Makers’ Center of Gravity


Recently, while reading Alfie Kohn’s new book The Myth of the Spoiled Child, I stumbled upon a phrase by progressive American educator John Dewey: a child’s “center of gravity,” and I felt I finally found words to describe what it feels like when a roomful of young makers are “in the zone.”

In 1900, Dewey published The School and Societya series of speeches and chapters. In the first chapter, “Schools and Social Progress,” Dewey shared his feelings about hands-on learning (or “manual education”) with his audience of elementary parents. He wrote:

[School in the past] may be summed up by stating that the center of gravity is outside the child. It is in the teacher, the textbook, anywhere and everywhere you please except in the immediate instincts and activities of the child himself. On that basis there is not much to be said about the life of the child.  A good deal might be said about the studying of the child, but the school is not the place where the child lives.

Now the change which is coming into our education is the shifting of the center of gravity. It is a change, a revolution, not unlike that introduced by Copernicus when the astronomical center shifted from the earth to the sun. In this case the child becomes the sun about which the appliances of education revolve; he is the center about which they are organized…  

The ideal home would naturally have a workshop where the child could work out his constructive instincts. It would have a miniature laboratory in which his inquiries could be directed. The life of the child would extend out of doors to the garden, surrounding fields,and forests. He would have his excursions. His walks and talks, in which the larger world out of doors would open to him. (Dewey 1900, 35-36).

I take “center of gravity” to mean a child’s agency: the ability to make one’s own choices and focus on the ideas and visions that the child has chosen for herself.

When we do maker work with children and teens, there is always a certain amount of “let me show you” that transfers from mentor to child/teen as new materials and tools enter the space. It is easy for us — especially those of us with a background in teaching or programming events for children — to fall into a routine where each week, the adults are selecting the materials and projects and acting as tutors or directors of the experience. But we make a grave mistake if we simply bounce from new activity to new activity, because that keeps the center of gravity with the adults (or with the tools themselves, or perhaps, even, making novelty the central agent).

This year, especially with the students in our elementary makerspace, we’ve intentionally put out tools and materials that students can tinker with without adult intervention, like boxes of fabric, Snap Circuits, LEGO, or a “junk box” full of stuff kids can glue, stitch, assemble, and transform by themselves.  We may have as many as ten options from which kids can choose in a single maker meetup, with about half of them being stuff kids can putter with independently. By doing so, we not only free up our mentors to introduce more challenging work with kids in small groups. We’re working on shifting the center of gravity — the sense of agency; the opportunity to envision one’s work and to take it from imagination to creation and transformation — over to the maker.

People, not tools, are the fulcrum of our maker work.

cross-posted to the MakerBridge blog

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Missouri Assn of School Librarians: Makerspaces Talk

Screenshot of title slide for "Makerspaces in Schools and Libraries" talkGood afternoon! I’m happy to get to talk about our Michigan Makers work with Missouri school librarians this afternoon.

You can find the slides here and a list of possible maker activities and media here.


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Missouri Assn of School Librarians: Rigorous Tech Workshop

Title slide for "Rigorous Learning with Technology" WorkshopGood morning, St. Louis! It’s a treat to get to spend a half-day working on how we can build more valuable, in-depth learning experiences for students with technology.

You can find today’s slide deck here.


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MAKERS AS INNOVATORS book series earns Top 10 Series Nonfiction nod from Booklist

Book Covers from Cherry Lake Publishing's Makers as Innovators Series - cherrylakepublishing.com

Hooray! Booklist has named Cherry Lake Publishing’s Makers as Innovators series on its Top 10 Series Nonfiction list. From Booklist‘s April 1 issue, page 74:

Makers as Innovators (Cherry Lake)

Gr. 4-7. Here’s a series many librarians need as much as their readers. Digging into such newfangled topics as maker faires (sic), 3-D printing, and digital badges, the volumes in this cutting-edge series communicate a level of energy that elevates the challenging material into need-to-know-right-now stuff.

It is so much fun to identify titles and authors for this series, act as series editor, and see their enthusiasm and energy leap off the page. And we have more titles coming. On the Fall 2014 list, we’re adding four new titles:

  • Web Design with HTML 5 (Colleen Van Lent)
  • 3D Modeling (Theo Zizka)
  • Squishy Circuits (Kristin Fontichiaro and AnnMarie Thomas)
  • Soldering (David Erik Nielsen)

Thanks for your support!

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TXLA Presentation: Makerspaces and Libraries

Image of the title slide from the TXLA Makerspaces and Libraries slide deck


It’s always fun to be at Texas Library Association for its annual conference, and the cool spring nights of San Antonio make it even better!

For Wednesday’s presentation on Makerspaces and Libraries, here is the slide deck and the handout on possible maker activities and tools.

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TXLA Presentation: No More Eye Candy! (Visual Literacy)

Image of title slide from TXLA presentation "No More Eye Candy!" on visual literacy


Hi, y’all!

Earlier today, Debbie Abilock and I had the pleasure of spending three hours discussing visual literacy and assessment in a preconference at the Texas Library Association. Thank you to the participants who were patient when we discovered at the eleventh hour that we had no Internet access in the room and had to adjust our learning activities on the fly!

You can find the slide deck here.

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UMSI announces new specialization

As some of you know, the MSI committee at the University of Michigan School of Information has been engaged in deep conversations about how to continue to iterate our programs in order to best prepare students for the information professions.

Today, we’re pleased to announce the first in a series of new initiatives. From the home page of the UMSI web page:

Screen shot of UMSI web page, April 1, 2014: "UMSI creates new Squirrel-Computer Interaction specialization  Groundbreaking new master's degree track will continue UMSI's commitment to assist all who use technology."

We anticipate strong and immediate interest in the new SCI specialization; however, we ask that you hold off on making queries until April 2. After all, announcements made on April 1, well, you know.

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Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

John Dewey quote represented visually: "Knowledge is no longer an immobile solid; it has been liquefied."


School and Society, 1900, p.40

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Michigan Makers in the News

Yesterday was UMSI MakerFest, and here’s a snippet of the story from The Michigan Daily!


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