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The Sky’s the Limit: New Horizons for Books and Technology

"Snoqualmie Sky" by Cristina Mitra

Communication. Collaboration. Education. These are the three principles behind Stories from the Cloud, a new blog that marries two things I personally love: YA lit and Web 2.0 tools. The connection isn’t necessarily obvious at first, but once you start perusing through the combination of books and technology, you’ll soon see that the concoctions that blogger Natalia Malesa has created are as sweet as DJ Earworm’s latest pop music mash-up. I really like what I’m seeing so far on this blog, and definitely excited to see the progress of Stories from the Cloud. I recently had a chance to talk with Malesa about her blog:

CM: What inspired the idea behind Stories from the Cloud?
NM: I’d been doing a lot of book trailers on Animoto and getting a bit bored with it, and I went to a workshop that Carolyn Foote, Westlake High School librarian, taught over the summer.  She referenced a wiki in which someone took the same story and told it 50 different ways using different tools. I decided to use these tools to tell different stories.  I started with Charles and Emma:  The Darwins’ Leap of Faith*, and I thought this would be a good story to tell using a timeline. Then I thought that Google Maps would work well with Leviathan [reviewed on this site]. It started out as teaching myself to use these Web 2.0 tools, and then it expanded to showing how these tools could be used to complement literature.

CM: Who is the intended audience for your blog?
NM: Teachers, librarians, and students–although my reviews are more on the older side. I didn’t write the reviews with a younger middle school audience in mind, but I’ve gotten a good response from high school juniors and seniors. I want my blog to be a resource for educators about how to use the Internet and apply it to literature. The Internet doesn’t have to be scary. There are some really great tools out there, but there are also some that don’t work very well. Web 2.0 is pretty experimental, so I started reviewing the tools as well as the books.

CM: What is your favorite pairing on the blog?
NM: I’m most proud of the iMovie I made for The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade. I felt awesome after I did it! So many people at my school want to make movies.  I took a workshop with Adobe Premiere, but when I tried to access it later, it had completely disassembled my project.  At first I was upset, but then I said to myself, “I bet I can use this as an opportunity to teach myself iMovie.” Now I’m actually teaching the teachers how to use iMovie. It’s been a big learning “pass it on.”

CM: What do you hope your readers take away from the blog?
NM: I hope people are inspired. #1:  I hope they want to embed Web 2.0 in their lesson plans. People can look at my blog and get ideas; they can be inspired to do something on their own and realize that it’s not hard, that technology and books can mix. People keep talking about the death of print, and that’s actually okay. Print is becoming outmoded, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  We’re moving in new directions, and we can use technology and books together, and they can complement each other in important ways. #2: Inspire people to read a book!

CM: What you’ve learned through this process?
NM: It’s so much easier for me to pick up new tools more quickly. The timeline for Charles and Emma took forever. It wasn’t because I didn’t know how to do it, but  it was something I didn’t do a lot. Now I pick up a new tool every couple of days.  I think about it when I’m reading.  For example, when reading Los Gatos Black on Halloween, a bilingual children’s book, I thought, “Wouldn’t this work really well with an online flashcard tool?”  It’s really easy to connect technology and tools to books.

*Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman was the recipient of YALSA’s first Excellence in NonFiction Award in 2010.

[Natalia Malesa is a Library Assistant, Westlake High School, Austin, TX and currently a MLIS candidate at University of North Texas, Masters  of Information Science. She is currently listening to Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond.]

– Cristina E. Mitra is currently reading the last chapter of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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One Comment

  1. Kristie Kristie

    I love this article and especially love the comic strip application!!

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