Shusterman, N. (2018). Dry. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Dry is a dystopian, fantasy novel that nails down what happens when desperation hits people. In Dry, people are struggling by not having access to clean, usable water. This book has a lot of moving parts and is filled with adventure, misery, and suspense.
Overall, this could be a great independent reading book for teachers to use. It was on my school’s summer reading list and I plan to book talk it to 7th or 8th graders when they visit the library next.
Brain on Fire
Cahalan, S. (2012). Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. Free Press.
Susannah Cahalan recounts her personal experience of feeling like her brain was on fire in this text. Throughout the course of a month or so, Cahalan experiences hallucinations and what presents at times as psychosis but doctors were unable to figure out the issues/root of the cause. As a result, she felt like medical professionals weren’t listening and struggled to find a specialist who was able to test for the autoimmune disorder she was diagnosed with.
This book can be used in a variety of ways — it could be used as part of a nonfiction unit for ELA or even in for a social studies unit as it pertains to psychology or sociology in high schools; health when learning about different diseases/ailments as well could potentially use this text. In the library, it could be displayed with other true experiences.
Five Feet Apart
Baldoni, J. (2019). Five Feet Apart. Film. CBS Films.
The film Five Feet Apart is one that can be viewed by high school students (and could be used in conjunction with reading the book for book groups or mere discussions). In Five Feet Apart, lead characters Stella and Will are two teens with cystic fibrosis. The premise of the film is that they cannot get within five feet of one another because that level of physical closeness can further jeopardize their health. This story goes through a lot of typical teen curiosities and behaviors that many students viewing this can connect to; there is also an emotional side of the story due to the characters’ health issues and their desire to just behave like a “normal” teenager.
This film could be used in conjunction with a book group on disabilities or illness to support/give context to complex characters.
Abilock, D. (1999). Noodle Tools.
Noodle Tools is a multipurpose application that can be located in the Google waffle (at least if your school pays for a subscription). Noodle Tools allows users to copy and paste information from online databases and paste them into index cards. There are spaces to provide all bibliographic information. Further, within the notecard function, teachers/librarians can set up different categories, like paraphrasing/summarizing, identifying markers of thesis support, or anything else of interest. Once the notecards are electronically completed, they can be formatted into an outline, which can be printed out and used to write a research paper.
This app can be used across most grades but could help most with high school students and maybe middle school students as well.
PS4 Games, Playstation
Persson, M. (2011). Minecraft. Mojang Studios.
Minecraft is a building-based game that can be used to enhance problem-solving skills because of its rudimentary programming capabilities. Minecraft is a game that is appropriate for use by middle school students and can be played using the free options online. By playing Minecraft, students can learn elements of computer-animated design through building the game to fit the gamers interests and needs at the time. Because of this level of flexibility, Minecraft can be used as a teaching tool or a reward for students who complete assignments/tasks while others are in need of assistance. Overall, the fluidity of this game allows players to experience in it a variety of creative ways whereby they can create and follow characters or choose to take the game in many other directions.
This can be used as a learning too to introduce programming and algorithms as well as a recreational activity for students.
Pixton Comics. (n/d). Pixton Comics.
Pixton is a website that can be used by students and teachers alike to create comics. The interface is fairly intuitive. There is a free version that offers minimal comic building; the paid version has more versatility. That said, Pixton can be used for interactive and engaging assignments given to students in elementary grades through high school.
It can be used to demonstrate timelines in social studies and can be used to illustrate stories read in English class or reading.