Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Using "Cover It Live"

"Cover It Live" is a new tool for broadcasting a live blog into your own blog. It is most often used to blog from live events. The host's commentary appears in real time in a single blog post rather than in dozens of sequential blog posts. Blog readers are not forced to use a different application to get your live commentary. They can read your comments -- and add their own -- right at your blog.

I'm testing Cover It Live today here on the LIVEbrary Blog. I created a live blog in this post, above. I'm going to use that live blog to create a tutorial on how to get started with Cover It Live. The tutorial is a series of screen captures made while configuring Cover It Live today. Since Cover It Live keeps a transcript of your live blog, the transcript should be a quick tutorial in using Cover It Live.

Here are some of the main features of Cover It Live you should know about when considering this interface for your classroom or school:
  • You don't have to install any software -- yay!
  • It shouldn't have any problems with school or library firewalls -- yay!
  • The host controls whether reader contributions appear or not -- yay!
  • You can embed images into the live blog -- have them ready in advance.
  • You cannot embed video into the live blog -- but you can add video in a separate pop up.
  • You can put hotlinks to related resources into the live blog.
I want to stress that -- as far as I know -- Cover It Live cannot be used for live audio or live video blogging -- only live text blogging. You can link to prerecorded audio or video, but you can't stream live audio or video -- only live text.

Let us know if you would like to try an online classroom visit using Cover It Live. We're always interested in test driving new technology with school teachers and librarians. If you've used Cover It Live, please share your comments here. Thanks!

Producer, The Annick LIVEbrary
Coming Fall 2008: LIVEbrary Science!

Monday, July 21, 2008

JOMB: Just One More Book for Great Podcasts

Just One More Book (JOMB) offers a breathtaking collection of audio podcasts recorded by two children's book enthusiasts in a cafe in Ottawa. Andrea and Mark Blevis, along with their two daughters, head to the corner cafe three mornings a week and review a book that has become a read-aloud favourite in their home.

These reviews are recorded and podcast online at JustOneMoreBook.com. The podcast is available from iTunes and other podcast portals. You can download episodes to your MP3 player or stream them from the web site. The episodes last from 5 to 30 minutes, and sometimes include interviews with authors, illustrators, and other children's book industry professionals.

On July 15, 2008, JOMB celebrated two years producing their show -- and their 400th podcast! -- with a special birthday podcast that should not be missed. It includes birthday wishes from many well known authors and illustrators.

You should also get an earful of Mark Blevis interviewing Annick Press co-founder Rick Wilks, recorded a year ago during JOMB's "Publishers Showcase."

JOMB accepts reader-submitted audio reviews and considers books for review. Their age range is 4 to 10 years old. As near as I can tell, JOMB is a labor of love for children's literature; the web site and podcasts are free of advertising.

Producer, The Annick LIVEbrary

photo courtesy of Mark Blevis, used under this Creative Commons license

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Annick LIVEbrary on Summer Vacation

We here at the Annick LIVEbrary are on summer vacation through July and August. During our vacation, I'll be maintaining the blog lightly -- one or two posts per week. Our LIVEbrary Letter newsletter will be published just once each month.

In the background, your LIVEbrarians are gathering up all the documentation from the first two seasons, putting the LIVEbrary Lesson Plans in order, and freshening web pages to keep up with the output of LIVEbrary support materials.

Speaking of support, your participation is very important to us. We need to document that we are helping teachers use technology in the classroom through this blog. Your comments on this blog, your subscription to our newsletter, and your downloads of our lesson plans all help demonstrate that teachers, librarians, and homeschooling parents alike consider this program valuable and want it to continue.

Please don't hesitate to ask questions about the Annick LIVEbrary program. We'll be back next season with five more LIVEbrary Lesson Plans, five more books, five more authors, all on the subject of Science. Stay tuned and thanks for participating!

Producer, The Annick LIVEbrary

photo courtesy of merfam, used under this Creative Commons license

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Introducing Ray Conlogue

Ray was born in Toronto, Ontario, where he spent an excellent childhood. At the time, Toronto was much smaller than it is now. From his home, he could walk with his friends into the countryside and visit abandoned barns, which they believed were populated by witches.

Ray's mother was a widow who worked full-time as a nurse. He and his brother, Michael, did not have many children's books in the house, but he remembers a little picture book called Bongo the Circus Bear. Bongo escaped from the circus train, which pleased Ray. Later on, he found a copy of Treasure Island at the back of a bookshelf. But mostly, he and his friends read comic books, especially Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. When Ray ran out of these, he sometimes looked at the books his father had left behind. One of them was Rabelais's Gargantua, a satirical book full of rude jokes, which he had trouble understanding since it was written 500 years ago. But he would laugh loudly to impress his mother with his precocious intelligence.

He began writing at the age of 11 after teaching himself to touch type on an old Underwood typewriter. Ray's first novel was a science fiction story, which a publisher rejected. His mother said his luck would have been better if he had told them he was 12. But he gave up on publishers after that, and kept his second novel, The Martian Revolt, at home.

Writing fiction daunted Ray. So there followed an interval of about 40 years. During most of it, he was a theater critic and arts journalist, though the dream of writing fiction never left him.
At college, he was much inspired by Shakespeare, and wrote an entire play in iambic pentameter. This was good, even though the play was bad, because every writer needs models. Why not imitate the best?

Later on, he wrote short stories in a contemporary style and even showed one of them to a well-known novelist, who told Ray to give up. What would Ray's advice be to an aspiring author? Do not be discouraged by rejection. Even if the person who rejects your work is correct, there is one sure cure for the problem: keep writing and never give up.

Ray has lived all of his life in Toronto, except for six months in Oran, Algeria (where he taught English), and seven years in Montreal (where he learned French). Ray and his wife have three children, Jonathan, and twins Clare and Christopher.

Messing around with tools has been a preoccupying hobby for Ray. He also enjoys canoe tripping. When he was younger, he liked to travel rough into remote places and find out how the world works. His plan is to continue writing fiction for both adults and children.

Ray is the author of Shen and the Treasure Fleet.