Teachers are constantly looking for ways to improve their practice. There are so many different options out there: professional development seminars, EDchats, websites… and books.
Remember books, those heavy objects that are made up of pages contained within a card-stock cover? They’re wonderful things, but they can be difficult to get your hands out.
Let’s say you wanted to read the Dan Burgess book, Teach Like a Pirate. Sure, there are lots of ways you could get it. But they all have their ups and their downs.
You could head on over to an online book store, but educator books can be incredibly expensive. Once you factor in the cost of pencils, stickers, felt, and scissors, the average teacher doesn’t have an extra forty dollars kicking around, as much as they wished they did.
You could go to the Toronto Public Library website and look for it there, but being one of the most used library systems in the world, books are often unavailable through the TPL even though they offer a convenient online portal. And even then, some books are only available in the digital format, and we like paper, don’t we?
Well, I have news for you that combines the convenience of door to door delivery, and instant online access. And this news, it comes from the most unlikeliest of sources: The Ontario College of Teachers.
OCT: Educator Library
The Ontario College of Teachers online library features more books than an educator can read over the course of their entire career, and with new books being added constantly it’s impossible to consume all their offers.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!
Regardless of if you’re looking to up your game, start teaching something new, or just looking for some added value for your annual dues, all Ontario College of Teachers members can access free books through their online portal.
Are you interested yet? Here’s how to start using the system!
Accessing the OCT Online Library
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be sifting through dozens of texts focused on your exact needs in seconds.
Step One: Logging into OCT.ca
First things fist: head on over to www.oct.ca and log into the members area.
To do this, just click on the “Members” heading at the top of the screen, and make your selection. I recommend “Library” since that’s what we’re after.
Once you do that, you’ll find yourself prompted to add your OCT registration e-mail address and password.
Once you’ve clicked sign in, it’s possible that – as expected – you’ll be taken directly to the library section, and if that works for you, that’s fantastic! But if not, that’s what step two is for.
Step Two: Accessing the Library
For some reason, the website doesn’t often remember what selection you made when you logged in. Even though you chose to go to the library, it probably just took you to your main page. Don’t worry!
Just scroll down, and find the blue menu on the left side of the screen. Now that you’re logged in, clicking “Library” works just as you’d expect it would.
Step Three: Searching for Books
Now that you’re in the library, the sky’s the limit. The first thing you’ll notice is the search bar. Put in whatever interests you, and then scroll through all the listings until you find something that’s just right for you.
There are a number of different options to narrow your search. Maybe you’re only interested in books that were published last year? There’s a button for that. Maybe you’re looking for a certain type of text? There are options for that too.
Personally, I just like to put in a search term, and scroll through all the options that are available. You never know what you might find. The hardest part of finding the perfect text is not knowing what the perfect text is until you find it.
Step Four: Selecting your Text
Once you’ve found the book of your dreams, you’ll be presented with one or more options. There may be an option to check the book out right away, or to put a hold on it.
If you’re looking for physical books, this is the right option for you. Clicking that box will take you to a screen to start the process of having the book mailed directly to your house! You also get a label to send the text back!
It’s like the access of the Toronto Public Library with the service of an online bookstore.
Take a few of these texts out, and you’ll have made back your annual dues in no time.
Now, if you’re the type who is looking for immediate gratification, waiting for the text to be mailed to you just won’t do. For those of you who want it now, and don’t mind reading from screens, you can click the “Full Text” button and watch as the digital book opens up right before you!
Once you’ve opened the digital book, you can scroll through the pages, click to jump from section to section, and learn to your heart’s content.
Step Five: Downloading the Book for Offline Reading Part I
If you don’t want to be tied to your computer network, there are options to download your book. All you have to do is click on the “Full Download” button in the top right.
Once you’ve clicked that, you’ll be asked to log into EBSCOhost. If you don’t have an account, just log in with your Google Account, and you’ll be connected immediately. From there, it’s on to the final step, and you’ll be good to go.
Step Six: Downloading the Book for Offline Reading Part II
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll have the option to select to download the book as an ePub (full text, best for reading on mobile devices or eReaders) or as a PDF (full colour, with original page layouts, best for large tables and computer screens).
You can select to borrow the text from between 1 and 14 days.
You can only take out ten books at a time, but you are free to return them early if you finish before expected.
The one thing to pay attention to is that check box that says “I have Adobe Digital Editions”. This free program is required to open the file you download. You are not downloading the actual book, but instead a .acsm file that acts as a link to the book.
This .acsm file will be opened in Adobe Digital Editions, and encrypted so that you can read it for the full time you have selected, before it’s returned to be read by someone else.
Making the Most of the OCT Digital Library
So now that you know you have access to the library, what should you do with it? Well, that’s up to you. But you might want to find books like:
- Positive Behaviour Management in Early Years Settings to start planning your inclusive classroom.
- Teach Like a Pirate to bring a potentially forgotten passion back to your teaching.
- Inquiry-based Early Learning Environments to learn how to make IBE work for you, as it works for our students.
But those are just some of the books you might want to start with. There are hundreds upon hundreds – some might say thousands – of subject based texts that can help you, no matter what stage of your career you’re in.
Join the Community
Have you found books that have changed the way you think about and approach teaching? Share them in the comments below!