Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Loss of an Icon

 Rosie Parmigiani aka Mama Keystone

I barely knew you. Don't get me wrong, I knew of you, but I barely knew you. You were/are the icon. The heart and soul of Keystones and PAECT. I remember that first PETE&C I attended back before I really understood what type of community I had walked into. I was an outsider, but to you I was another young teacher looking to improve my craft.

I sat down at the banquet that year with other people from Southeast and immediately I heard stories about Mama. We met briefly and you introduced yourself and welcomed me to the family. Maybe at most we spent five minutes talking. The following day you said hi to me in passing with warm smile.

A year later, I came up to PETE&C the day early for the KTI pre-summit. When I walked past you, you not only said hi but you remembered my name. With so many "children", it really amazed me that Mama not only remembered me but she took a moment to ask how everything was including details from a single conversation the year before. This is how it continued. I only saw Mama annually at PETE&C, and once at ISTE, but each time she would take the time to make you feel welcomed and encouraged. Mama just had that way about her.

She spoke to everyone and took the time to make sure each person felt welcome and included. Whether you were a first year teacher or a retired veteran, you mattered. Mama never spoke about herself, it was always about her children and we are all her children.

The last time I saw Mama was in February at PETE&C in Pittsburgh. As always, she was riding around in her scooter and not letting anything slow her down. When we spoke about Pittsburgh, Mama said she came a few days early to spend time with her family that lived on the west side of the state.

Mama may be gone, but her legacy will live on through every student and teacher that she mentored. I know I am a better educator for knowing her, no matter how brief.

Mama will always be there for all of us. (@rosieparm)

Monday, June 15, 2020

Free Ebooks for Teachers and How to Get Them

I love reading for relaxation. However, lately the library's waiting list for digital books can pass two months. If you decide to purchase a book, they can cost $10 and up. So what's someone to do? Well, sign up with the publishers to get an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of upcoming books. The catch? They expect you to write reviews and publish those reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. Any review would have a disclaimer such as "I received a free ACR from [publisher] in exchange for a honest review."

When I went to New York Comic Con this past fall, I met representatives from some of the major publishing companies. That's where I learned the trick to these free early copies. Make sure you mark in your profile that you are a teacher and/or librarian (if you are) because the publishers are more likely to approve your request if you have a good reach. Below are the three sites I have joined to request ARC.

I have been a member of NetGalley for a few years now. It was the first site I learned about back when I was blogging about how to save money. Many of the large publishers will use NetGalley but be aware that I've been declined as many requests as I've been approved for during the time. Some newer authors will be listed as "read now" and don't require a pre-approval.

I learned about Booksprout directly from an author's Twitter account. You can search through available ARCs but you can allow follow an author you like. I now get notified when that author I enjoy has new books available.

I learned about Reedsy from someone at NYCC. The site has an interesting variety of books but it appears that only one reviewer per book, so it's first come/first serve. You can also see the books that have already been reviewed. The one thing I found strange with Reedsy is that people can leave you tips for your reviews. If you receive a tip, you must connect a Stripe account to withdraw the funds.

If you're not interested in pre-release books or agreeing to review the books, you can also look into options like your public library and Amazon for free eBooks.

Public Libraries
Depending on where you live, it may be different. Here in Philadelphia, we have Overdrive and Hoopla. The library has a specific number of digital licenses for each book and if all those books are "out" you can add yourself to the waiting list. You can also search for books the library doesn't own or pre-release titles and recommend the library purchases them. When they do, you'll automatically be able to borrow the title or be added to the wait list if it is a popular pre-release.

Kindle Unlimited
Amazon has a subscription program where you can get unlimited books. The subscription costs $9.99 per month but if you read a lot, it may be worth it. They also offer a free trial month. I'm a little torn on Kindle Unlimited because they have a huge selection of books but often new releases and popular books are not included.

Prime Reading
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can filter ebooks to find titles that are eligible for Prime Reading. These titles can be downloaded for free. The selection is more limited than Kindle Unlimited, but you can often find some decent titles.