Bookish website

Bookish is a new book recommendation and e-commerce site competing with the likes of GoodreadsLibrary thing and Amazon. Although some question the effectiveness of these sites, Bookish promises a different experience based on the resources and expertise available to publishers driving the project.

Bookish is a collaboration between a group of major publishers  claiming their recommendations engine, with input from real editors, is the best yet. With publishing heavyweights like Penguin, Random House and Scholastic on board, the site has already collected an impressive list of contributors, 400 000 author profiles and 1.2 million books in their catalogue.

At this stage, Bookish is leaving the social aspect of recommendations to established sites like Goodreads although they do link to Facebook. Their focus is editorial content – delivering magazine style essays, articles, news and reviews written by authors and professional editors.

Bookish represents an interesting commercial model for publishers to position themselves as an alternative to community based book recommendation sites. Whether Bookish stays impartial, only time will tell.

Ed Tech Book Club: Changing educational technology one book at a time!

The Ed Tech Book Club ning is an excellent way to connect with other educators reading non-fiction that focuses on technological change in schools.

Ed Tech Book Club

From the ning’s main page comes the following information:

I believe the true catalyst to change in education is collaboration and communication between educators. Those in the trenches know what is needed in schools more than politicians and many policy makers.

We hope that you will take time to join us through various book conversations! We will focus on non-fiction books with Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, and Educational Practices as their foundation. Our ultimate goal is to create lifelong learners in the field of education and help serve as the catalyst to change!

Thanks to Krista Scott and Marti Sides for developing and maintaining the ning.

Persnickety Snark – YA book blog

Bright Ideas met YA blogger Adele Walsh at the Inkys virtual longlist announcement. Adele has been selected as a judge for the Inkys and she explains more about her blog: 


Can you tell our readers a little about how your blog came to be?

I am a teacher at a poorly resourced school, specifically in our book area, so I thought I might be able to blog in order to receive books for the students.  I have blogged here and there previously but in Persnickety Snark, I had a specific goal and I was determined.  During the summer break, I reviewed everything in my YA collection and then contacted Australian publishers and they happily helped me out by sending me review copies.  The school’s collection has grown and now I am reading a book a day.

 I am now nine months into the YA blogging biz and I have received so much more than books for my class.  I have been able to interview many YA authors, meet a range of fantastic readers from across the globe, attended Reading Matters, been invited to be part of the Inkys judging panel and written a blurb for a book.  More importantly, I have deepened my knowledge and appreciation for Australia YA and now I have the pleasure of highlighting it on Persnickety Snark.

 Do you market your site at all?

In terms of marketing, I am not all that active.  Word of mouth with the authors and Reading Matter seemed to have raised my profile somewhat. My reviews (or quotes from them) occasionally turn up on websites and blogs with a lovely hyperlink. Twitter has been amazing in that it allows people to follow the link to my newest review.   I have noticed that I have become more frequented of late as authors have mentioned me on their blogs.  I am also getting some great feedback about my reviews so I think more people are returning as they like my review style and they trust that I will be honest in my regard for a book.

Where do you work/go to school?

I am a Year 8 English, Studies of Society and the Environment and Information Communication Technology teacher at Burc College.  It’s a small independent school in the North-East suburbs of Adelaide.  It’s lovely as I can switch the class from reading Hunger Games, to editing podcasts to making World War 1 trench models. My class is relatively small and largely ESL as they are from a whole host of countries – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Iraq, etc  I am also the curriculum and behaviour management coordinator so my days can be rather hectic!   

How did you get involved in the Inkys?

Lili Wilkinson asked if I would like to be a judge a few months prior to the announcement.  My answer was a emphatic YES.  I have been reviewing and interviewing a whole host of Australian YA authors since January and am one of the few Australian YA review bloggers.  I guess my work on the blog and with publishers/authors brought me to her attention as a possible candidate.  Meanwhile, I was just flabbergasted that I was asked and continue to be honoured that they thought of me. 

 Any other information you’d like to add?

One of my favourite aspects of YA reviewing is that I have come across authors I might otherwise been unaware of.  Julie Gittus is one that has made a particular impact.  Her novel, Saltwater Moons, was released last year and because of the blog I was able to review her book and email with her.  I think it’s a fabulous book that should have been recognised more.   I love stumbling over Australian YA authors accidentally and getting caught up in their stories – Mo Johnson’s Boofheads was a novel I bought as the title tickled my fancy and it ended up really striking a chord with me.  It’s the debut authors like Julie and Mo that make reviewing really exciting.  

 A big thanks to Adele for taking the time to inform us about her wonderful blog. It is an excellent model for any students or even teachers wishing to begin their own blog.


ToonDoo is another social networking/comic strip creator that has relevance to education but is also a lot of fun!

The best part about it is that the ‘toons’ use just one, two or three frames. Such a short toon means that students must really think about how to get their message across in three ideas. Applications for ToonDoo could include:

  • Book reviews
  • Demonstrating understanding of a historical event by using three key ideas
  • Writing Haiku poetry

And as users can select from multiple languages, there are endless uses for LOTE classes.

ToonDoo also have their own blog that gives examples of educational uses of ToonDoo. One example is to learn a new word each day and make a one frame toon that shows understanding. A great tool for literacy.

For teachers and parents worried about the content of the site, there is a ‘safe search filter’ which edits out any toons that have been flagged as inappropriate by other users. And toons and books do not have to be shared with other users if you prefer students to keep them private or share with friends only.

It is also simple to embed toons into blogs by simply clicking on the toon and dragging it into the blog. You can also save your toon to your computer and then copy it into Word, PowerPoint, etc.

ToonDoo also has ‘books’ where comics that are longer than three frames can be created. Books are perfect for story writing or longer presentations such as planets in the solar system.

ToonDoo has a range of images, props, backgrounds and effects that you can select from or you can upload your own pictures to incorporate into the toon or book.

ToonDoo also has a help wiki linked to its site and you can add features that you’d like to see on ToonDoo to their wishlist. If you would like to see how ToonDoo works, access this slideshare presentation which outlines the steps.

Have a look at this toon I created in about 5 minutes:

ToonDoo has a lot to offer educators and students. The use of the three frame toon means that students really need to identify the three most important points of any idea they are addressing. An excellent tool!

Feature blog – Paisley Senior Campus, Bayside Secondary College

Zlata Matskarofski, teacher librarian at the Paisley Senior Campus of Bayside Secondary College has agreed to share her journey of developing and marketing a blog for staff and students. She describes both how and why their blog was developed. 

‘The primary purpose of the Paisley Library Blog is for both students and teachers to be able to post Book reviews, which then may be read and shared by other students and teachers,’ explains Zlata.   

Paisley's blog


 She continues, ‘The ultimate aim of the blog is to create an interest in literature and promote wider reading.   We hope that students will be inspired by other readers through the personal reviews, suggestions and recommendations they post.  Essentially, the blog provides a platform and opportunity for students to share their reading experiences, as well as gain from other readers’ experiences.

‘We introduced the Paisley Library Blog to the staff through a Powerpoint presentation at a staff meeting, highlighting that it may be of particular interest to English and English Literature teachers.  Our presentation outlined the aim and purpose of the blog, as well as the process involved to get started.  The blog has been placed on the school network and is easily accessible to all staff and students.’

Zlata says, ‘The initial setting up of the blog posed its own challenges, which were gradually overcome as we became familiar with the way it was organised and laid out.  Persistence and perseverance paid off. The Paisley Library Blog is the fruit of the SLAV Web 2.0 course, which I found to be an excellent introduction to the various Web 2.0 tools available.’

Congratulations to Zlata for developing the blog and the English and English literature teachers for using it with their classes. Well done!

Feature blog – – Sacred Heart College Geelong

Maree Macdonald and Heather Carlin of Sacred Heart College in Geelong have created a wonderful blog called home home

Maree says, ‘We have always recorded every book read by every staff member (believe  it or not!) giving an abstract, reading level, score out of 10 and a  critical comment.  So, when it came to setting up a blog for book reviews, the process was relatively easy – we only used those books that scored 8.5 or above.  We launched the Blog during Book Week this year, promising prizes to any students who left a comment or recommended a book for review – not a great response, but the next target will be teachers.’

She continues, ‘Humanities is, at the moment, studying Medieval History, and one of their activities is to read a book about the period and review it.  Perfect!  So, at the moment we’re putting a good selection on the blog and we’ll email the site to the Humanities teachers.  We also plan to put our High Interest/Low Ability books on, with a tag to Learning Enhancement so the books are easy to find.  Our Literature Circle books are also going on, so the students involved will be able to comment on their books online.’

Maree and Heather have set up links to reviews by genre, with clever titles such as: 3 hanky reads, Action aplenty, Girl meets vampire, Good sports, Horror!, Love and other adventures, Medieval mayhem, Mysterious ways, Nail Biters, Out of the past, Out of this world, Private lives and Side-splitters

The page below can be found under the Girl meets vampire genre link.

Girl meets vampire page

Girl meets vampire page

Maree and Heather also put together a brilliantly designed Book Week page, which outlined activities and competitions for the week, enthusing students to join and celebrate Book Week. Maree says, ‘We used the site for Book Week as well, creating a page outlining all the activities running throughout the week.
Book Week

Book Week

‘We also plan to make up some posters and bookmarks (maybe using the image generators we learned about in the Web 2.0 program!) promoting the site to students and staff alike and, of course introduce it to staff at the first available staff meeting.  We have decided to  purchase glow in the dark wristbands promoting the site and will be distributing them to Literature Circles students and students who review books on the blog.’

‘We see lots of potential for the blog.  The great thing about these web 2.0 tools is that they can be unpredictable and lead you in directions that you never envisaged.  I would love to see students reviewing their books via podcasts on the blog, or maybe writing a collaborative novel!  Who knows?’

As Maree says, ‘Libraries and Web 2.0 are a marriage made in Heaven!’

Please see photos of Sacred Heart College’s fantastic Beijing Olympics display in our Picture Gallery page as well as photos of the terrific library layout and design. Congratulations to Maree, Heather and all of the library staff at Sacred Heart College Geelong!