Guiding Your Student to Success: Effectively Using Talking Points and Discussion Questions

March 13, 2018 in BookNook U

This is the 1st post in our new series: “Guide your Students to Success” that will explain how to best use the instructional components within BookNook.

Asking questions that will lead your students to higher levels of comprehension and being more critical learners is not easy. Educators spend a lot of time crafting questions that utilize Bloom’s taxonomy lead their students from being able to recall information all the way up to be able to higher order skills of evaluating and creating. With BookNook’s built in talking points and discussion questions that have been designed by educators, you can ask effective questions using dialogic reading techniques that will increase your students’ comprehension of each text and make your sessions full of energy and student talk time.

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The BookNook Olympics

March 6, 2018 in Company

These past few weeks at BookNook HQ in Oakland, we’ve been in the midst of our own Olympics. And no, we’re not talking about the March Reading Madness we’re working on with all of the schools using BookNook. We’ve been working hard with Olympic athlete, Kristi Yamaguchi.

In 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi won Gold in Women’s Singles at the winter olympics for the US Ice Skating team. Since that amazing performance, Kristi has worked tirelessly towards improving literacy skill and achievement for students.  Enter BookNook, which is in the hands of thousands of students across 14 states. After speaking with Kristi about BookNook’s vision of improving achievement for students across the country in all types of educational settings as well as help students achieve their dreams by encouraging academic success, she agreed to have her books featured alongside BookNook’s already growing library of engaging texts for students.

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5 Creative Uses of Technology in the Classroom

February 20, 2018 in Classroom Fun

Considering the pervasiveness of smartphones, the concept of “technology in the classroom” isn’t without controversy. The jury is still out on whether or not kids should be allowed to or even encouraged to bring their phones to class.

However, research does indicate that when teachers use technology in fresh and innovative ways in the classroom, it’s actually quite beneficial. Giving lower-income students access to the technology they might not have at home helps bridge the achievement gap, noted one Stanford study. Furthermore, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, integrating technology into a lesson plan keeps students engaged and on task. Here are five creative ways teachers can incorporate technology into the classroom in a way that students will connect with and enjoy.

Have Students Post Their Creative Writing Assignments or Essays in Personal Blogs

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Our new Leveling Feature adjusts reading level in between assesments

February 5, 2018 in Company

We’ve been hard at work here at BookNook on our new 3.0 release. One of the things that is really exciting for us is our new “Leveling” feature. Students will be presented with a passage of text, which they will be instructed to read through. As they make errors or self-correct, the guide can click or tap on each word and mark that word as such. Once the student is done reading, they will be presented with a series of comprehension questions.

At the end of the leveling session, the guide will be given a result: move the student up, stay the same, or move them down a reading level.

Check out the video to see it in action!

We’d love to show our hard work off a little more (yes it’s a #shamelessplug) – so grab some time with our team by requesting a demo!

Or, if you’d like to read more about the release, you can go to our BookNook 3.0 release page!

5 Tips To Encourage Reading During Winter Break

December 19, 2017 in Learning

With the holiday break fast approaching, our kids will have more leisure time while school is out! What better way to spend their time than curled up with a good book, or being read to by family and friends?


1. Make books special

Teaching your child the value, proper handling, and all they can gain from reading makes the practice of reading more desirable for children. If they learn to take good care of books and know that books can “take you places” and teach you new things, they will see books as holding greater value. Books make great gifts and stocking stuffers too!
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9 Fictional Families I’d Want to Eat Thanksgiving With

November 22, 2017 in Opinion

Two of the things that matter most in my life are family and food, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy Thanksgiving so much.

Even though the entire BookNook team has plenty to be thankful for this year, I thought it’d be fun to imagine what Thanksgiving dinner would be like with the characters from some of my favorite children’s books.

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Six Things Principals Are Thinking When They Get Pitched Edtech

October 20, 2017 in New Tech, Opinion

A guest post by Sara Shenkan-Rich, Principal of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Daly City, CA.


As a principal, I get pinged by edtech providers almost every day. Everyone has a new solution that is going to “disrupt” my school. Most of the time we ignore the emails and phone calls, but every now and again something breaks through the noise and catches my interest. When we talk to edtech companies to learn about what they have to offer, there are a few main questions that I am thinking about as I listen to their pitch.

1. Which of my million problems does this solve?

Being a principal means first and foremost being a problem solver. I have to tackle everything from getting substitute teachers in when someone is out sick, to dealing with discipline issues for students, to helping families connect with social services when they are in a moment of crisis.

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What Helps Students Master Reading?

September 26, 2017 in Learning


Ask 100 people if it’s important for a child to learn how to read, they’ll all say “yes.”

Ask them when a child should develop these literacy skills, there may be a little discussion about it, but it’s safe to say we all agree that by ages nine or ten a child should be able to read on their own. It’s called reading proficiency and it’s been a hallmark of our education system since its inception. Continue reading »

Kansas Bets on Blended Learning to Boost Reading Skills

September 20, 2017 in Company, New Tech

Reading is an issue that many communities are grappling with at the statewide level; in the past 5 years, 36 states have adopted legislative or funding programs specifically targeting improvement in early reading.


We’re very excited to be part of a unique and innovative approach by the state of Kansas called the Reading Roadmap, a collaboration between the Department of Education and Department for Children and Families that takes a very bottom-up approach to school support, and focuses on close alignment between what happens inside and outside the classroom.  Continue reading »

School Year Results: BookNook Makes Better Readers!

September 8, 2017 in Company, Learning, New Tech


The results of BookNook’s 2016-17 school pilots are in, and they show that our platform is making a difference in young readers’ lives.

With schools back in session in most of the country, teachers are beginning the annual ritual of assessing students’ reading levels. There are few pieces of information that are more important in determining how best to teach to students than understanding where they are with their reading. Unfortunately students—particularly students of color and economically disadvantaged students—tend to move backwards over the summer.

We can confidently predict what teachers will find: in the average American classroom, most students will not be reading at grade level. National statistics have been more or less stuck for over 20 years, showing that the majority of fourth and eighth graders aren’t reading at a proficient level, with a particular spike among students in traditionally disenfranchised communities.

After our first year of piloting BookNook as a school year intervention, we are excited to report that we have a solution that appears to significantly help students get back on track. We began with 6 partners in the San Francisco Bay Area in late October, and expanded to 22 in February/March, adding partners in Dallas and Atlanta. Even working across just a fraction of the school year, we were very excited by the results we saw by June.



Sara Shenkan-Rich, principal of Alvarado Elementary School in the San Francisco Unified School District was among our first 6 BookNook adopters. She had this to say:

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5 Things To Remember When Starting a New School Program

August 30, 2017 in Classroom Fun

As anyone who has launched a new school program can tell you, there is no guaranteed blueprint to success. Here’s 5 ways to ensure you stay on the right track.


1. Plan for the unexpected

You may think that you’re totally prepared to start your program but, realistically, you’re bound to run into some hiccups along the way. School schedules can change on a dime, staff can move to different classrooms, and the space you planned to use for your program may turn into the school’s new storage solution.

Remember, schools are complex places and even the most well thought out plans need tweaks throughout the school year. Continue reading »

BookNook Turns Back Summer Learning Loss

August 24, 2017 in Learning, New Tech

videogamesSummer Learning Loss—sometimes called Summer Slide or Summer Melt—is a phenomenon that educators know all too well. After spending the school year working hard and improving math and reading skills, an alarming number students go off on summer break and give up a big chunk of those gains.

Not only losing forward momentum over the summer but actually going backwards is a huge problem, particularly because numerous studies have shown that this phenomenon disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged children and children of color. Continue reading »

Shake Off the Summer: 7 Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Reading Again

August 18, 2017 in Classroom Fun

School is back in session, and some of your students kept up their great reading habits and others may have chosen to put their books down. Regardless of their summer reading, these tips will help to get them all in focused on reading this school year.


1. High interest texts

Read books that are going to keep your class engaged. These can be wonderful read aloud books (Need some ideas? Scholastic counts down the 100 best read aloud books) or something that the will appeal to students personal interests. Don’t be afraid to pull in nontraditional texts, such as magazines, comic books, or blogs. Continue reading »

Why I Created BookNook

August 10, 2017 in Company, Learning, New Tech


I’ve spent my entire professional life in search of scalable ways to improve economic opportunities for young people.

I began in higher education, working in scholarships at the University of California, Berkeley, trying to make a world class public education affordable to students regardless of their family’s income. It was a phenomenal and humbling experience to work alongside some of the most brilliant researchers in the world. I’m proud that we more than doubled the number of students receiving our scholarships, but we were just one campus taking in 10,000 freshmen a year–and were intervening very late in students’ lives. What about the young people who never made it through high school, let alone to a top tier university? Continue reading »

The Blended Learning Primer

July 24, 2017 in Learning, New Tech


When you start to talk about “blended learning” with educators, parents, and students, you are bound to get reactions ranging from enthusiastic to trepidatious to a confused laugh and a head shake. All these responses are natural! It’s not a term that always comes up, and frankly, when it does it can have as many definitions as it has definers — but don’t worry! As with anything, the more you learn about blended learning, the more you’ll come to understand and appreciate it.

So what is it? Where does it come from? Why should we use it? The short answer is you probably already do, and have throughout your entire life. The long answer is a bit more fun and nuanced – like blended learning itself – so let’s take a closer look. Continue reading »