muse: n. a source of inspiration

Technology Tuesday: Booktrack

The Technology: Booktrack

The Booktrack website gives users the ability to add soundtracks and sound effects to written text, creating a unique reading, listening and immersive experience.

Creating a new booktrack is simple. Just click on, “Create new booktrack” and choose:

  • If you have your own story you’d like to add music to, or
  • If you want to use one from the Booktrack library.

Then, enter your text. It can even be a Hebrew text! (When I tried, I was successful copying a Hebrew text from an existing file and pasting it into Booktrack).

Once your text is in, choose music clips and sound effects from the Booktrack library and connect them to different pieces of the text, so that when readers come to that portion of your story, they will hear that music. 

Once your booktrack is complete, select a title, category and rating and publish it. You can choose to have your story available publicly in the Booktrack library or you can choose to keep it private. 

To read a booktrack, simply click on the book and read it in the browser window. (If you are having several students read booktracks in your classroom, I highly recommend you ask that they use headphones!)

To start making your own booktracks, visit the website and create a free account. Teachers can create a class, and add students manually or by class code to it. Students can create an account and then join the class to view or submit books to the class’s bookshelf.

In Your Classroom

  • Assign your students to create a booktrack using a Bible or holiday story. Invite students to think about what kind of background music and sound effects will provide the appropriate atmosphere for the content of the story.
  • Older students can create booktracks for younger students.
  • Use a Hebrew prayer as your text, and add sound effects to it that help add meaning.

This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Behrman House Technology Tuesday | , , | Leave a comment


The Technology: ClassTag

ClassTag is a free website that allows you to easily email all your student’s parents at one time. You can use it to send announcements, event information (along with an RSVP link), requests for volunteers, or parent/teacher conference details. ClassTag also makes it possible for you to quickly email photos and weekly updates.

You can also use ClassTag to organize volunteers. Simply send parents an invitation to volunteer. Then, once they receive it, they can choose to click to sign up, and their commitment will appear on both their dashboard and yours. 

Begin by signing up for a free ClassTag account. Then, create a class and populate it with your students’ names and their parents’ email addresses.

In Your Classroom

  • ClassTag is a relatively new product, and it will be interesting to see what features get added over time. Right now, it’s a great way to keep in touch with parents and easily share photos, newsletters and announcements.
  • Don’t worry about sending unwanted emails to your parents– they can opt out of any of the categories so that they will only get the emails they prefer.
This is a “Technology Tuesday” post via Behrman House, edited by Ann D. Koffsky . You can find more Behrman House Technology Tuesdays here.

September 29, 2016 Posted by | Behrman House Technology Tuesday | , , | Leave a comment

Using 3D Printing to Foster Students’ Creativity, Collaboration and Design Skills

“I’m working on a design for the Apple Pencil holder.”

“I need to print a poster that I designed.”

“We’re designing logos for the Israel Experience trip.”

This is what I hear as my 6th, 7th and 8th grade students gather in our new Innovation Studio for their innovation exploration specials. They can’t wait to spend time learning how to use the new iPad Pros with Apple Pencils, GoPro cameras and green screen, poster printer and electronic paper cutter, and especially the 3D printer.


While the tech staff had experimented quite a bit with 3D printing over the summer, we had only worked with designs that were sourced ready-to-print. When I created “Innovation Go,” a game designed to teach my colleagues about the new innovation studio during faculty planning week, my tech colleagues assisted by finding and printing various Pokémon Go characters for prizes. That was easy—designing and printing our first “from scratch” project has certainly proven to be much more of an interesting challenge.


Our first student-designed project is most definitely an ambitious one. We discovered right away that the Apple Pencil styluses are really cool but cumbersome to store when being charged. They kind of look like an electronic octopus, and it’s been difficult to keep them organized. So my Innovation Studio co-teacher and I posed the challenge to our 7th and 8th grade students: could they design and print an attractive, functional holder?



The 20 Pencil mess…

One of my 8th graders rose to the challenge. He began by using 123D Print to design a holder. After spending a couple days (and evenings) working on his design, we were ready to print our first project. We were shocked at the length of time that it took to print! 7th and 8th graders regularly popped into the Innovation Studio on their way to other classes to check on the progress, peering into the 3D printer to watch the tiny thread of filament build the object.

Three days later, when we returned from the Labor Day weekend, we found a beautiful, structurally sound, perfectly printed Apple Pencil holder. It was everything we hoped it would be…except it was too tight for the Apple Pencils to fit properly!

My students aren’t daunted in the least. We explained to the class that this is simply the first step in learning how to engineer. One 8th grader led the class in a spirited discussion of the process, including what worked and how we can improve on our design and building skills. The students debated important questions like how we can better test designs before committing hours of printing time and how we can avoid the 3D printer having to create wasteful supporting structures. Having seen a design go from an iPad Pro screen to an actual item that you could hold was powerful, and we could not have had the discussion before we had actually gone through that process.

We explained to the students what going “back to the drawing board” really means, – and off they went!


In the meantime, these 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are learning how to use the iPad Pros to design for the 3D printer, and we’re excited to see their ideas coming to fruition. We’re carefully planning how to test, test and test before printing, and how to continue to build on what we’ve learned to ensure future successes. Stay tuned for updates on our design and manufacturing processes as we continue to collaborate and innovate our way to 3D printing success.

Cross-posted from Solomon Schechter of Metropolitan Chicago

September 18, 2016 Posted by | iPads, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

We’re getting a couple GoPros. What’s a GoPro? It’s a very cool mountable action camera. They can be worn (have you ever seen a video that was shot by someone skiing?), remote-controlled, or set to work automatically. Here are a couple of articles written about GoPros in the classroom to get you thinking about how you might use these:

How a GoPro got my students excited to learn

First Impressions from Recording in the Classroom

Filming Observations with a GoPro

Here’s an awesome TED Talks playlist about math in unexpected places.

The Digital JLearning Network has compiled a nice list of YouTube Channels with videos for teaching Judaic Studies. Find it here.

September 8, 2016 Posted by | Links, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Jacob Richman has created a really nice three-year Jewish calendar which you can access here.

Here’s a Hebrew keyboard that you can download for your iPhone or iPad. Why another Hebrew keyboard? Simply long press any key to access nikudot! This is very cool!

Snapstouch is a cool website where you can convert photos to sketches, paintings, drawings or single shade images. Check it out!

September 2, 2016 Posted by | Links You'll Love, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Sketchnoting at ISTE

One of my goals for my time at the ISTE Conference was to practice sketchnoting on the iPad Pro using the Apple Pencil and the Paper app. I had a great time doing it! I found that I was significantly less distracted when sketchnoting than if I was typing into a word processor, and thoroughly engaged (even though I was internally debating over which color to shade the box and how large to make the title).

I also attended two great sketchnoting sessions. One was presented by Matt Miller and the other was a panel facilitated by Vicki Davis and featured Kathy Schrock, Sylvia Duckworth and Carrie Baughcum talking about how they got started sketchnoting, how they use it with their students, and about some favorite resources.

My first attempts at sketchnoting during the conference appear below, in reverse order. I feel like I can already see how I improved, and that was just in a couple of days. Check back for more attempts (sketchnoting at URJ Camp Newman, anyone?) and for my thoughts on how I’ll teach this to actual students this fall.

Sketchnoting in Education session:

ISTE - 6

Using Games, Play, Digital Media to Build Your Own Maker Culture session:

ISTE - 7

Matt Miller’s Sketchnotes: Tools and Tactics for Visual Notetaking Session:

ISTE - 3

Sketchnoting Exercise from Matt’s session:

ISTE - 4

Innovation and Tradition in Jewish Education Jewish Educators’ Network

ISTE - 5

Innovative Learning Spaces session:

ISTE - 1

June 30, 2016 Posted by | ISTE, Sketchnoting | , , , , | 2 Comments

Links You’ll Love

There’s a great article about the Spheros in the New Yorker this week. There are lots of lesson plans to integrate these little guys in your curriculum – let me know if you want to explore. We’re really enjoying using them!

It’s not a short read, but this post says a lot about iPads, research about their effectiveness in education, and what it means to us. Very interesting!

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Links You'll Love, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Now that the yoms are behind us, Memorial Day looms… here are some great resources for teaching about that holiday.

For easy to understand videos about the physical world and how we can better understand it, check out PBS’ Physics Girl videos.

Who loves Google Slides? Here are some great ways to use Slides besides just for presentations.

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Some of us spent a little time this summer talking about digital portfolios and how to implement them in class. This article expands on that quite nicely.

Here is a nice little Google docs cheat sheet you can print out and hang in your classroom.

Thinking about upgrading your iDevice to iOS 8? Here’s a list of privacy settings you should change immediately.

GAFE tip of the week: When you’re composing an email in Google mail, you can make it take up the whole screen rather than just that little puny spot in the corner. Just click on the little down arrow and choose Default to full screen.

September 19, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 1-24-14

Do you think Jewish kids need to have “ethical tune-ups?” This thought-provoking post explores that.

Looking for free iPad apps? Bookmark Appsaga and HappiPapa for free apps and reviews. And how about Apps Gone Free, an app that lists daily free offers…

EDpuzzle is very, very cool. It gives you the opportunity to find an online video, crop it, add a voiceover and embed quizzes along the way to track student understanding. Awesome for teachers… or for students to use! Free (for now).

If you’re looking to follow some awesome teacher blogs, here are some suggestions.

Word Hippo is a cool resource if you’re searching for synonyms, antonyms, definitions, rhyming words and more.

For a fascinating trip back in time, check out these brief video clips explaining (or not explaining, as it were) what the Internet is (was):

Today show hosts off camera trying to figure out what the “@” sign means:

A 1981 news piece about newspapers exploring delivering content electronically:

Here’s a 1995 Newsweek Tech & Science article on why an online database will never replace your daily newspaper.

And, finally, Steve Jobs in 1980 predicting what people might be doing with the computers they were designing:

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Links, Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

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