Un-Banned Books

Both New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library are making banned books available to readers across the country. This is in reaction to the huge upswing in book banning initiatives across the US.

NYPL is opening up a small collection of popular banned books to anyone via the easy to use NYPL SimplyE app. The collection also includes access to some 300,000 out of copyright and open source titles. This is available through the end of May. Details on downloading the app are on the NYPL Books for All page.

Brooklyn has an even better deal for teens & young adults aged 13 – 21. A free e-library card for the next year. This is such a great deal! Included access to their complete audio and e-books collection. Plus access to their magazine, newspaper and research databases. Simply send an email to  BooksUnbanned@bklynlibrary.org or contact them via their teen-run Instagram account at @bklynfuture.

NOTE: New York State residents can obtain a free e-card at NYPL, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries.

More info about the any un-banned books Initiatives in this Time-Out article.


Flourish infographic tool joins Canva

Flourish examples
Flourish, a terrific tool to “easily turn your data into stunning charts, maps and interactive stories”, is now integrated into Canva, a popular tool for creating graphics, presentation slides, and so much more.

Haven’t yet tried Flourish? Give it a whirl. Lots of templates for colorful, creative data visualizations and storytelling. Help students think about how data can be presented in multiple ways and how visualizing data can make presentation more compelling, powerful and persuasive. And learn how the same data can tell different stories depending on how it’s presented.

There’s even a fun quiz format. See their Harry Potter quiz embedded below. Free accounts are available, perfect for testing and for educational use.

Learn all about Google Sites with Tony Vincent

Classy SitesWant to learn all the ins and outs of using Google Sites for a classroom website, lesson resource site and more? Tony Vincent, of Learning in Hand, is offering a 5 week Classy Sites online workshop starting February 23.  You can follow along with the class over the 5 weeks or go at your own pace, the content will be there forever.

I took one of Tony’s workshops in 2017. It was a terrific workshop, so well organized and presented. Tony was very responsive to all students during the workshop and student interaction was so helpful too. And, 4 years later, the course content is still there for me to review any time I need a refresher. Register by February 8 and get a discount. (No, I’m not getting a commission on this. I just think Tony’s workshops are a terrific!)

Classy Sites: An Online Workshop with Tony Vincent Are you interested in making a wonderful website? If so, join me for an online learning experience! I am gathering a community of educators to explore creating websites with Google Sites. We’ll examine the possibilities and power of having a personalized website for your class, lesson, school, activity, or presentation.

Changes to Weebly for Education

Weebly for education logo
Do you use Weebly for your classroom webpage? Or for  student webpages & portfolios? There are changes coming in August 2022.


  • Teacher/educator accounts will be moved to free, standard weebly accounts.
  • Hosted student accounts will go away. Weebly suggests moving to Edublogs for student accounts.

Weebly email:

On August 1, 2022, all teacher accounts will automatically transfer to a free standard Weebly account. Your site will remain published and no action is required. With a standard Weebly account, you can continue to build and publish websites with the same easy-to-use editor you already know.

If your students have websites, their sites and accounts will be disabled. Due to COPPA privacy constraints, we do not store student personal information and will not be able to continue to host student websites.

If you are a teacher or education administrator who is using the Weebly for Education platform to build and publish content, you can continue using your free Weebly standard account when Weebly for Education discontinues. Aside from hosting students, this standard account includes most of the features you are already familiar with including the same easy-to-use editor.

We understand that you may have more specific education requirements, like hosting your students’ websites. To better serve those requirements, we recommend Edublogs. Edublogs offers a free online class platform where students can build their own websites and teachers can post content, leave feedback, and manage multiple classrooms. Weebly teachers get 50% off Edublogs Pro plan for the first two annual payments (equivalent to one year free). Learn more and sign up here.

Cool Tools will start soon!

We’re getting ready to launch this year’s Cool Tools workshop in December 2018.  The lessons are still being updated and reorganized. And the Google Classroom is starting to take shape!

For details on how the workshop runs, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page.  And if you have questions, please leave a comment on that page.

Public Lessons, Private Google Classroom

This year, we’ll be using Google Classroom again for turning in assignments and sharing ideas.

  • Public Lessons: As always, the lessons, or “Things” as we call them, for the workshop will be housed here on this public website. That makes the lesson pages available to anyone who is interested. Our lesson pages get lots of traffic from people not in the workshop!
  • Private Classroom: Participants taking the workshop for continuing education credit will participate in discussions and submit assignments through Google Classroom. Google Classroom has undergone some big changes over this past summer. I’m still learning my way around and will be learning right along with you all.

Picking Your Topics

Cool Tools 101 (Things 1-10) is designed for people who haven’t participated in this (or a similar) program before. You’ll pick 5 or 10 topics to complete. The place to start is with Thing 1: Blogging where you’ll get your blog setup. You’ll use the blog to write up your reflections through the workshop.

You could pick all your topics just from the first 10 Things if you like, but feel free to pick topics from the other tracks if they interest you more. There are also the extra “DIY” and “Final Reflections” topics that everyone is encouraged to do.

More Cool Tools:  These lessons used to be split up into Tracks 2, 3 and 4. But those labels have lost any meaning as we are continually reorganizing, adding, updating and deleting topics.  If you’ve participated before, scan all the lesson titles and pick out the topics that appeal to you. Don’t forget the extra “DIY” and “Final Reflection” topics as well. Everyone is encouraged to do these.

Repeating a Topic:  Since most of the lessons have lots of options and there are always new things to explore, feel free to repeat topics that you’ve done before. Just be sure to dig in deeper and truly explore some new aspects or try new tools.

AND REMEMBER that your assignment posts should include:

  • Reflection on the readings and/or information you explored.
  • Any projects you created, embedded in your post if possible or provide a link.
  • Thoughts on how the topics relate to your work as an educator. It’s great to include fun, personal ideas too if you like, but don’t forget the educational connections too.

Cool Tools for Schools 2018/19

Quick Update!

We will be running Cool Tools for School one more time during the 2018/19 school year. There will be fewer lessons than in past years.

2017/18 LESSON ARCHIVE: All of the lessons from last year (2017/18) will remain available in this archived list of lessons.

Interested in participating? If you’re in New York State, contact your regional/BOCES School Library System administrator. Contact me pollyalida at gmail.  This PDF has lots more information.