Monday, October 31, 2011
OMG! It’s time for NaNoWriMo again!
For several years now, Prestwick House has been a strong advocate for the entire concept of NaNoWriMo … just a fun and furious way to get your kids writing, thinking like a writer, excited about literature—the potential benefits are limitless.
Do you have younger students? Don’t forget that there is a Young Writers’ NaNoWriMo, too!
It’s not too late to register and get your kids writing! More important, it’s not too late for YOU to register and get writing!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This week, I sat down with Prestwick house General Manager and Head of Prestwick House Digital Resources, Keith Bergstrom to learn a little bit about Prestwick House’s digital learning tools and the new Vocabulary Power Plus Online program released earlier this month.
To schedule a web demo of Vocabulary Power Plus Online, click here, and Prestwick House will contact you in 24-48 hours.
Prestwick House has been selling their reproducible products as downloadables for years. What is your new focus on digital products and how is it different from what we’ve already seen?We’ve been a leader in digital distribution because we’ve always been focused on how teachers can use technology in the classroom. In the past, we’ve focused on using the power of the internet to make it easier and cheaper to get ready-to-use resources into the classroom, but we’re finally reaching a point in which access to computers is pervasive enough that teachers will be able to make technology a core part of their classroom.
We certainly don’t believe that books are dying—they’re certainly a fantastic way to deliver information to students, and I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon—but beyond the page there are tremendous opportunities to empower teachers to have a more dynamic classroom.
So, beyond these downloadables, what has Prestwick House Digital been working on?Well, over the last few years we’ve been expanding our delivery methods to a variety of ebook readers. You can now find Prestwick House books on Apple iPads, Amazon Kindles, Sony Nook’s and other popular eBook platforms. While these are not yet available in most classrooms, we’re starting to hear rumblings from teachers, so we’ll be ready when they are.
In terms of mobile platforms, we released our first iPhone/iPad application last year to help students study for Vocabulary Power Plus for the New SAT, and we’re working on developing more apps for other popular series.
The tool that I think is developing the fastest is the use of digital whiteboards and presentation technologies. We’ve released a variety of ready-to-use Power Presentations to teach grammar, introduce new novels, and help teachers with lectures. We’ve been creating new presentations to accompany each resource book that we’ve released this year. We want the classroom teacher to have a wide range of materials available to teach the books in any way he or she sees fit, without needing to spend hours preparing slides.
Finally, I’m really excited about our new online extension to the Vocabulary Plus series, Vocabulary Power Plus Online.
Vocabulary Power Plus Online is a digital version of our best-selling program, Vocabulary Power Plus for the New SAT. It’s our first foray into a completely digital arena, and we’re really excited about the possibilities this opens up.
It includes all of the exercises and resources from the series in an easy-to-use cloud-based program that puts an interactive version of the books directly onto student screens. Students can securely log in to an online program and see what’s been assigned, do their homework, practice for tests, and even take quizzes and tests online. Teachers can manage grade books, make assignments, and see reports on student progress. The system will automatically grade student work and give them instant feedback on where they need to improve. Teachers should really appreciate the automatic grading of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank exercise while students will love having the ability to do their homework online.
So, does Vocabulary Power Plus Online supplement the books, or replace them?
We designed the program with both methods in mind. We know that many teachers will be hesitant to replace the book in their classroom. Those teachers can just use the online program to manage assignments and grades, but teachers that are ready to go completely digital will find all of the resources from the books available online.
What kinds of assessment materials are available with Vocabulary Power Plus Online?
We’ve turned all of the weekly quizzes, unit tests, and pre- and post-tests into online assessments. All of them are included with a subscription. Teachers can proctor the exams in a computer lab because all of the answers and questions are scrambled to keep students from cheating, and all of the assessments are instantly graded.
Where can our readers find out more about Vocabulary Power Plus Online?
I’d love to schedule demos for any readers that are interested in learning more. Click here to sign up for a free web demo.
So, what’s on the horizon for Prestwick House Digital Resources?
As I speak with teachers, I’m learning a lot about what they’re looking for in terms of online resources. Many companies are making online programs full of cute animations that may entertain students, but they’re not actually teaching students. We’re focusing on developing pedagogically sound resources that empower teachers to do what they do best – make a personal connection with students and foster learning. We believe that a teacher will always be the center of a classroom, so we’re at work developing tools that make teachers’ lives easier and their classrooms more effective. Right now, we’re evaluating tools to improve a teacher’s ability to use our curriculum resources, and we hope to unveil more online resources in the coming year.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
- Who is the most successful textbook author of all time?
- J.K. Rowling’s short story, “The Tale of Three Brothers” is based on which famous tale?
- Which famous writer was buried in the Fluntern Cemetery, Zurich, Switzerland, and is so close to the Zurich Zoo that the zoo's lions can be heard from his grave?
- What best-selling author opened the first Saab auto dealership in the United States?
- Where does the phrase “often a bridesmaid, never a bride” come from?
Last Week's Answers
Which great author received the meager sum of 10 pounds for his greatest work of literature?
John Milton sold the publishing rights to his epic verse work 'Paradise Lost' to a Samuel Simmons in 1667 for only ten pounds.
As far as number of lines is concerned, which is the most demanding of Shakespeare’s roles?
Hamlet is the most demanding of Shakespeare’s roles with 1,422 lines or roughly 36% of the total number of spoken lines in the play. Hamlet’s role is made up of 11,610 words. The character Falstaff has the most lines of any character in all of Shakespeare’s plays combined with 1,614 spoken lines in three different plays: Henry IV, Part I; Henry IV, Part II; and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Which writer’s common-law wife was the madam of a Jacksonville brothel called the Hotel de Dream?
Which winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was born in a ladies’ room during a dance?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
- Which great author received the meager sum of 10 pounds for his greatest work of literature?
- As far as number of lines is concerned, which is the most demanding of Shakespeare’s roles?
- Which writer’s common-law wife was the madam of a Jacksonville brothe called the Hotel de Dream?
- Which winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was born in a ladies’ room during a dance?
Last Week's Answers
In 2004, which world-renowned author’s daughter discovered a 5,000-word story entitled "The Incident of the Dog's Ball" in the attic of her home?
Agatha Christie’s daughter found this 5,000 word story in 2004, and had it published in Britain in September 2009 by The Strand Magazine.
Which famous American playwright choked to death on an eye drop bottle cap?
Tennesee Williams’ cause of death was choking on an eye drop bottle cap in his room at the Hotel Elysee in New York. While holding the cap in his mouth, Williams leaned back to place eye drops in each eye and accidentally swallowed the cap. The police report suggests his use of drugs and alcohol contributed to his death by diminishing his gag reflex.
Which famous author was both born and died on a Halley’s Comet year?
Mark Twain 1835 - 1910
What did writer Edgar Allan Poe and singer Jerry Lee Lewis have in common pertaining to their choice of wives?
Both married a 13-year-old cousin.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
- In 2004, which world-renowned author’s daughter discovered a 5,000-word story entitled "The Incident of the Dog's Ball" in the attic of her home?
- Which famous American playwright choked to death on an eye drop bottle cap?
- Which famous author was both born and died on a Halley’s Comet year?
- What did writer Edgar Allan Poe and singer Jerry Lee Lewis have in common pertaining to their choice of wives?
Last Week's Answers
In the book Gone With the Wind, how many months actually pass during Melanie's' pregnancy?
Approximately 21 based on the battles mentioned in the text. When this was pointed out to author Margaret Mitchell, she reportedly replied that “a Southerner's pace is slower than that of a Yankee.”
What book was Mark David Chapman carrying with him when he killed John Lennon on December 8, 1980?
J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.
Which female author was also considered the world’s first computer programmer?
Augusta Ada King, a writer and the illegitimate daughter of Lord Byron, was known for her work on Babbage's analytical engine. Her copious notes on this machine that would become the precursor to the modern computer include the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine — making her the world’s first computer programmer.
What writer contemporary to T.S. Eliot nicknamed him "Old Possum"?
Ezra Pound, a poet, critic, and a major figure of the Modernist movement, famous for his work with major contemporaries such as Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Ernest Hemingway, and especially T. S. Eliot gave Eliot the nickname “Old Possum.” Eliot later used the nickname in his work Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
Which word in the English language has the most definitions?
Of all the words in the English language, the word ’set’ has the most definitions.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
- In the book Gone With the Wind, how many months actually pass during Melanie's' pregnancy?
- What book was Mark David Chapman carrying with him when he killed John Lennon on December 8, 1980?
- Which female author was also considered the world’s first computer programmer?
- What writer contemporary to T.S. Eliot nicknamed him "Old Possum"?
- Which word in the English language has the most definitions?
Last Week's Answers
Which French author was shot in the leg and left with a permanent limp by his nephew, a young man who suffered from paranoia?
On 9 March 1886, as Jules Verne approached his own home, his twenty-five-year-old nephew Gaston, who suffered from paranoia, shot twice at him with a gun. One bullet missed, but the second entered Verne's left leg, giving him a permanent limp. Gaston spent the rest of his life in an asylum.
True or False: Heath Ledger was named after Healthcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
True. Heath was named after Healthcliff, and his older sister, Kate, was named after Catherine Linton nee Earnshaw. Both are names of characters in Wuthering Heights.
Which 16th century Italian painter was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the greatest poets of all time?
Though it is not widely known, the Italian painter Michelangelo (1475-1564) was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the greatest Poets of all time. About 250 of his Poems and sonnets have come down to us today and are still read by scholars, historians, and Poets.
Which of Shakespeare’s close friends and fellow authors is buried in a standing position in Westminster Abbey?
To save costs, the body of Shakespeare’s friend and fellow dramatist, Ben Jonson, was buried standing up in Westminister Abbey, London in 1637.
Which 20th century French Journalist wrote an entire book one letter at a time — indicating the next correct letter by blinking only his left eye?
Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French journalist suffering from “locked-in” syndrome which paralyzed his body but did not affect his mind, wrote the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly solely by blinking his left eye. When the correct letter was reached by a person slowly reciting the alphabet over and over again, Bauby would blink to indicate his choice —composing and editing the book entirely in his head.