Bulletin Board: Quick Looks

Books to feed the soul; tech to simplify your life

By Carolyn Astfalk


For the confirmandi

Anointed: Gifts of the Holy Spirit, compiled and edited by Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, collects the writings of Pope Francis pertaining to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Each gift has its own “chapter,” which includes not only the Pope’s words but also a relevant Bible verse and prayer. The colorful, contemporary design appeals to young readers and makes the text easily digestible. Hardcover with a ribbon bookmark and room for personalization, Anointed would make a treasured keepsake. Available from Pauline Books & Media.

Read aloud

With beautiful, detailed illustrations by Sennen Bersani, Beginnings by Lori Ann Watson draws attention to God’s loving creativity in the natural world. Depictions of the “birth” and development of fruit, trees, birds, and butterflies and the lyrical text lead the reader to God’s ultimate masterpiece — the human being. It assures children of God’s constant love and protection from the moment we were knit in our mother’s womb. A delightful read-aloud book for home or school that affirms each person’s place in God’s plan. Available from Pauline Books & Media.

Around the table

Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality, by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, provides quick and simple ways for families to connect at mealtime. Broken into 52 lessons, each including a verse, prayer, teaching, and questions for reflection, this user-friendly dinner companion blends catechesis, prayer, and family time. Begin a new lesson on Sunday when mealtime is more relaxed, and return to the brief before- and after-meal prayers and activities throughout the week when schedules are more hectic. Many simple recipes are included — ones that children can help prepare and enjoy. An accompanying seven-session video is also available from Paraclete Press, which includes discussion questions for each of its lessons. Materials are easily adaptable to the classroom or cafeteria and would make meaningful gifts for Catholic school families.


The YOUCAT series for youth and young adults is back with a beautiful Bible in the style of its popular Catechism of the Catholic Church. Based on the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, the YOUCAT Bible includes vibrant photographs and clever, appealing illustrations. For anyone who has been intimidated by the sheer volume of uninterrupted text in most Bibles, the YOUCAT Bible offers relief by way of a contemporary design and the addition of sidebar quotes from saints and Catholic thinkers. Available from Ignatius Press.


For students raised in the digital era, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, by Andy Crouch, offers practical tips for setting boundaries for technology use in family life that honor the primacy of the family and its purpose according to God’s plan. With frequent illustrated references to public opinion polling on media consumption conducted by the Barnes Group, The Tech-Wise Family includes suggestions for unplugging at home and in the car. The book provides a solid starting point for discussions about use and misuse of the pervasive devices carried by students and parents alike. Available from Baker Books.


Help from TED

You may have heard of TED Talks, but have you heard of TEDEd Lessons Worth Sharing? The free site includes more than 250,000 video lessons created around science, public policy, pop culture, and more. A quick perusal turned up a video by Pope Francis, the reasons sloths are so slow, and how Magellan circumnavigated the world. Videos can be sorted by student level and duration. With a free account, you can also create your own lesson by selecting a video, adding questions or discussion prompts, and receiving a unique URL so you can monitor your students’ progress and view their answers. Ed.Ted.com

Identify fake news

Help students think critically about fake news with a handy printable for examining news media. Evaluate news by identifying the argument, considering the source, and looking for rhetorical devices and fallacies. This simple guide takes students through a critical thinking process leading to a final assessment of the veracity of the news in question. bit.ly/SpotBias

Mark up a photo in iOS photos app

Tired of hopping from app to app to mark up your photos? You can do this right in your iOS photos app, but you have to know where to look. Follow the simple visual instructions to zoom in, add color, text, paintbrush, and more. bit.ly/PhotoMarkup

Student peer review

Students learn how to provide and receive constructive reviews using the free online platform Peergrade. Teachers create an assignment, specifying feedback criteria. Students submit their work, which is then distributed to peers for feedback. Students then receive the feedback before the teacher reviews the quality of both the assignments and feedback, completing the overview. The product also generates reports and evaluation insights. Upgrades are available to the free service for additional features, but the free basic service allows for both unlimited students and unlimited assignments. Schedule a free demo at Peergrade.io.

e-books for teachers

eBooks2go has partnered with Teacher Created Materials to bring more e-books to the classroom. The partnership will deliver Teacher Created Materials’ decades of teacher-developed resources (lesson plans, literature guides, student practice resources, and more) and publications to schools through Ebooks2go’s conversion services and distribution channels. That means that Teacher Created Materials e-books can be purchased through Apple’s iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Bibliotheca, Google Play Books, Kobo, OverDrive, and directly from eBooks2go.com. In all, eBooks2Go is converting more than 2,500 titles to ePub3 format.

Nine PDF Reading/Annotating Apps

One of the most common file formats for sharing is PDF. It is user-friendly and portable, but without the right software, adding notes and editing can be cumbersome. View, read, and annotate PDFs using these apps (some free) on your iPad or iPhone. bit.ly/PDFreading

Deals on apps

Create a free account with AppShopper.com, make a wish list of your most wanted apps (for iPhone, iPad, and Mac), and then wait for AppShopper to notify you (by push notification in the app) of sales and updates. Sort apps according to category (i.e., education, productivity, reference, price, and device).

Carolyn Astfalk is a contemporary Catholic novelist, blogger, CatholicMom.com contributor, and mother of four Catholic-school students ranging from preschool to high school.

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