Jan. 4, 2023

Episode 163: Novel Effect-Bringing Stories to Life

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There's a new way to bring your favorite stories to life. With Novel Effect, you can listen to audiobooks with stunning visuals and sound effects that make you feel like you're right in the story. Novel Effect is the perfect app for you, whether you're a kid who loves to read or an adult who wants to recapture the magic of childhood. Listen to your favorite books with family and friends and experience them like never before. Join me as I welcome CEO Matt Hammersely, to the show.


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Episode 163: Novel Effect-Bringing Stories to Life

[00:00:00] Fonz: Hello everybody and welcome to another wonderful episode of My EdTech Life. I. I'm so excited to be here with you all on this wonderful Tuesday evening here in Texas. However, anywhere in the world that you may be joining us from, it may be Wednesday or well into your day Wednesday. Thank you so much for making Maya tech life a part of your day.

[00:00:44] And as always, from the bottom of my heart, thank you as for making Maya tech life what it is today. I. Really appreciate all the likes, shares, and follows. Thank you so much guys for uh, you know, listening to our podcast, catching our shows, and thank you as always for the, for the amazing. Feedback that we get from every single one of you.

[00:01:03] And tonight I am really excited because tonight I have Matt Hammersley here from Novel Effect who is joining us. And we're gonna be talking about this amazing and wonderful app. And if you have not heard about Novel Effect, well you are in for a treat because this app. Can definitely enhance that reading experience for our students.

[00:01:25] But I'll let Matt tell us a little bit more about that in just a second. I wanna welcome Yaa to the show. I see your comment here. Yaritza, thank you so much for joining us this evening, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to pop 'em in into the chat. Well, let's go ahead and dive in.

[00:01:44] Matt, how are you this evening?

[00:01:47] Matt: Hey, I'm doing well today. Excited to be here. Thank you so much for, for having me and letting me come to, spread a little magic to folks.

[00:01:56] Fonz: Excellent. And magic is the correct word. I love that because Novel Effect truly is a wonderful app that. I myself have experienced, even from the very beginning and his inception, I just got so excited about it, and I just love to see and hear the amazing feedback that you get from people on social media, on TikTok, you know, everywhere where they are using this app.

[00:02:20] But before we get started and we dive in a little bit more into the. Matt, every superhero has an origin story and for anybody that watches may tech life, they know that anybody that is invited to this show is like a superhero. Somebody that is doing some great things in education, somebody whose work I admire or whose work we all admire.

[00:02:41] So Matt, can you please tell us a little bit about your origin story?

[00:02:48] Matt: Yeah, sure thing. But I will say, I, I cannot take the credit, uh, of anything. When, when we talk about real superheroes, those are the teachers out there, gosh, the last couple of years, and what everyone has been through. Uh, what we've done here is, is just about service and aiding, uh, those folks who are, who in my mind, are the real superheroes.

[00:03:07] So we'll do what we can, right? But, uh, they're, they're the ones who deserve the. . Um, but yeah, so how we got started at Novel Effect and, and just briefly, what it does is it adds music and sound effects to your read alouds. So you read aloud from a book, it hears you, and then synchronizes, background music, theme music, sound effects, character's, voices.

[00:03:33] All about making that reading experience magical for both you and that child. So that's kinda what we do. Now, how do we get there? So, goodness, I think it was about seven years ago, and I know because that's how old my daughter is, we were, uh, having a baby shower for our daughter before she was born. And asked everyone to bring us books instead of cards so we could start building a little library for, you know, we're new parents, we're not really sure what to do, but we do know that reading to our kids is exactly what we should be doing.

[00:04:07] So that part we got right. Um, And one of my wife's friends at the party started reading to us the book that she brought and she added in all these fun voices and sound effects and captivated a room of adults and kids in her story. And I was a patent attorney at the time doing patents and intellectual property law, and I had actually worked in the voice technology space.

[00:04:32] And so it was a light bulb moment right when she was reading that said, oh my, If every parent and teacher could tell stories like this, all kids would love to read. Uh, I couldn't let it go. Uh, and I was up, you know, pretty much every night bugging my wife, who was, uh, seven months pregnant at the time, uh, about all these cool things that we could do with this, uh, you know, how much of an impact it can make.

[00:04:58] And three months later, quit my job, sold our house, had our daughter, and went all in and started the. .

[00:05:06] Fonz: Wow, that is amazing. And see, th this is some of the things that I love about doing this show. When you get to hear just the inspiration that comes, you know, into the creation of platforms such as this, where the story comes from, because I feel that, you know, the users, which in this case are teachers, are even parents that are out there that have.

[00:05:27] You know, for their child. Uh, I mean, it's great to hear where this all came from. It gives 'em a story and then of course, you're building that connection with, uh, you know, obviously your consumers. and they know what you stand for and what you value. So this is great. So thank you so much for sharing that.

[00:05:43] So now Pat and attorney, you know, working with voice and then developing this, tell us a little bit about that process. Like, you know, I know that this was something that maybe you said, okay, we can do this, you know, for our daughters, we can do this for our kids. But did you have any idea that this would blow up into what Novel Effect is?

[00:06:05] Oh, well, I always

[00:06:06] Matt: hope so in one way, shape, or form. But, uh, no doubt it has been a rollercoaster experience from, from the first initial start. Uh, you know, there's been at least three, three distinct points in time throughout our journey where we had to make the decision of w. , do we throw in the towel or do we keep going?

[00:06:27] Uh, because one thing's for sure is that you can't win if you quit . Right? So no one, no one who ever wins quit, uh, right along that journey and the path, uh, to, to that win. So, you know, it's, it's really about making sure you know what's important, right? And that you're, you're listening to, you know, your gut and what.

[00:06:48] people are telling you about the product that you built in the company that you've built as to, you know, keeping it going and maintaining, uh, through kind of some of those difficult parts.

[00:06:58] Fonz: Excellent. Well, that's good to know. Now, as far as the growth that you have now, what has been some of the, you know, the, the resp.

[00:07:06] Font that you get from teachers, you know, I know, like I mentioned to you, you know, I see a lot of TikTok videos, I see, uh, teachers on social media that are posting and that they're just really excited, you know? How does that make you feel, you know, about something that you created that, you know, like you said you fought for, you work through, and now you're seeing the fruits of your reward in this.

[00:07:29] How does that make you and the company.

[00:07:32] Matt: Oh, it's amazing. I tell you, I I, we probably cry at least once a week, you know, from the response and feedback that we get from folks. I mean, my favorite, uh, things that touches me the most is, you know, when a teacher has an experience where they were able to reach a child that has been difficult to reach, you know, for, for a myriad of reasons or, or circumstances or, uh, personalities.

[00:07:56] Uh, you know, there's a lot of kids out there that don't like reading right now. Um, you know, who are. For whatever, for whatever reason that that is special for that child. But with the app and what our focus is about is that connection and that engagement between the, the teacher or parent and the child or student.

[00:08:18] Right. That is what we're trying to strengthen and bond. And when we hear stories of teachers getting to experience the joy of reading with their little ones, that's what really sticks with us, right? Almost on a daily basis. Um, You know, we've been hearing a lot too, that they've been getting like standing ovations after a read aloud.

[00:08:39] And how good does that feel for the teacher as well, uh, to know that this isn't just some app you give your kids and you walk away? No, it's the teacher, right? Who is bringing the magic and, and being the one to lead that inspiration into the joy of that story. ,

[00:08:55] Fonz: you know, and that's wonderful that you say that because I, I can remember the days back when I was in elementary and you know, even, you know, going in through fifth grade and even middle school librarians, we would go to the.

[00:09:06] The library. And then of course we had our book of the week that they would read. And of course we're all sitting there, you know, around the librarian. She's got her fancy chair, you know, in the corner and so on. And of course, course we were reading and I mean, we were just excited. But you know, the addition that, you know, the additional layer of that reading enhancement, that novel will affect is what to me is very exciting.

[00:09:29] And because, again, as, as. Knowing myself now if, if I had this or we had this available when I was in elementary, would definitely probably make me more of a better reader in the sense that I would be encouraged to read more. Therefore I would be practicing my reading a lot more. And like you said, you know, for diff different, different reasons.

[00:09:50] There may be some students that may not be at, you know, at level per se, you know, for now. But something like this, like novel effect can definitely. Would encourage a lot of students to read and make the, that reading experience a lot more exciting. So definitely agree with that. And again, you know, I can attest to that as myself.

[00:10:10] Like I mentioned to you many years ago when Novel Effect first came out in trying it out, I was like, this is something that is great and I'm glad that it continues to grow and is continued to be. by a lot of, uh, teachers that are out there. They're definitely grateful for that, so that's great. Now as

[00:10:29] Matt: what you said there, I thought was really interesting and, and what we love to see, and we're seeing it more and more is, you know, our main focus right now is like helping and supporting the teachers and parents.

[00:10:39] But what a kid does when they see this in action. See the music and sound effects respond to the words being, being rattled out. What do they want to do? They want to be the reader, right, to be the one playing the game and triggering the music and sound effects with their words. And, uh, one of the coolest things that I've seen, Reese.

[00:10:59] Is, uh, starting these buddy reading programs where they'll have the older kids in the third, fourth, fifth grade go and read to the kinders and the first graders with the app. And it's just amazing. Even the most reluctance of the readers, you know, jumps right in and volunteers, uh, cuz there's just something about.

[00:11:18] That, that gives this, you know, uh, makes them the ones who are showing this magic to the, the younger kids. Right? Uh, and that's just really special. It gives everyone, you know, the right sense of joy, right?

[00:11:33] Fonz: Excellent. Yeah, and you know, what you mentioned there is something that's great too because you're building those social skills too as well.

[00:11:40] And you know, one of the things that, uh, when I was still in the classroom, I had a mixed classroom and then, uh, but I also, you know, we had what we call the emergent bilinguals that would come in. Uh, whether they may still be learning English or maybe they don't feel comfortable, they don't feel comfortable speaking or presenting just because they feel self-conscious.

[00:12:00] And it's not that they don't know the material, but it's just, you know, again, sometimes students can be, uh, you know, sometimes a a little mean, sometimes just because of certain things. But what I love that you mentioned is that excitement, because it takes me back into the classroom where you have. A product that is gonna enhance the learning in a way that encourages the student to want to be a reader to practice.

[00:12:27] But also, like you mentioned, the social skills where you have the buddies system or you know, the, the buddies, the older buddies that come in and read and now you're building community, you're building collaboration skills. That communication, and I think that's something that is so important. . It's amazing that an app like yours can do all of that, you know, just by enhancing with sounds and sound effects, the reading, but you're doing so much more than that.

[00:12:57] So that's something that I really do appreciate that that what you're doing. Yeah.

[00:13:01] Matt: And, you know, you said some things there that are, that are just near and dear to my heart. And the biggest is community, right? And that is exactly how we think, uh, of the way our product should work. And the way our company is, is really structured and what we're here for.

[00:13:17] Um, we started offering school plants actually not too long ago. Uh, where. Everyone inside the school, all of the staff, all of the teachers, uh, can have access. And we set it up in a way where it was one flat fee price for the whole school. Right? Everybody, the gym teacher, the PE teacher, every, everyone gets it, right?

[00:13:36] Uh, even, even the substitutes, right? They get access as part of our school plans. And the reason that we did that is because it is about, , it's about the way that you reach these kids and wanting to help them on their reading journey is to surround them with readers. So even if it's just one time, right?

[00:13:55] Once a year, twice a year, the more situations that they're exposed to where people that they look up to are reading to them and it's exciting and it's engaging, the more meaningful that time is gonna be and the better the community is built around.

[00:14:11] Fonz: Oh, excellent. I absolutely love that you said that. And you know, again, um, I just wanna again, show a comment here that Yaritza is joining us, so thank you so much, za Garita, who's joining us.

[00:14:22] Yeah. Yaa sets us here. That's an awesome activity idea and a way to include all students in the experience. Absolutely. Right. So thank you so much, Yaa for joining. Also, Yaa is an author as well, so thank you so much for being part of the show this evening, Yaa. So Matt, tell me a little bit more, okay, now that we kind.

[00:14:42] Kind of talked a little bit about this and, uh, I guess I got a little bit ahead because I'm just really, really excited about this. But going back to just the, the start of novel effect, and like you said, you working, you know, with voice and working, you know, in that industry, you know now, uh, those skills that you have, And now you're working more in the education landscape, you know?

[00:15:07] Tell me a little bit more about that experience as far as coming in from that industry, coming in into the education landscape and maybe having to learn to work with teachers. Oftentimes it's said, you know, teachers, you know, can be very, I don't wanna say diff, Difficult to work with, but we, we are very special, uh, you know, as far as our needs and things of that sort.

[00:15:29] But how was that transition into the education space for you? .

[00:15:35] Matt: Well, what I love about working with teachers and supporting teachers is they're, they're honest. Like if it doesn't work, they're gonna tell you about it, . And, uh, I love that because I want it to work right? But you don't know when it doesn't work unless someone tells you.

[00:15:49] So, you know, those, that, that feedback that, that unadulterated feedback is, is amazing. And what we want, you know, more than anything is just making sure that what we're doing is right and what we're doing, you know, works for them. . Um, but you're right in, in our transition. Or me personally, you know, I was an engineer.

[00:16:08] I got my degree in chemical engineering. Uh, I was a math guy, you know, for the most part. Uh, and then going into the world of intellectual property law, you know, I wasn't dealing with, with teachers or schools. This wasn't a subject that I was. , you know, really professionally honed in on. Uh, but all throughout my life, you know, I've been surrounded by teachers and my family, uh, with extended family and other folks.

[00:16:33] And so it's always been there. And then when we had our daughter and this whole idea came up to begin with, you know, it really changes you in how you think about the world, right? And what things you need to, to do. Uh, there's really not much more. Transformational and impactful to someone as having a child.

[00:16:53] And it really made me think about, okay, well what is it that I need for my child to survive to not just survive, but thrive? Right. And reading was so big and important into that. So I feel like what we're coming to this with is a very unique perspective without being immersed in the education system as it currently is because there's a lot, there's a lot of products out there that are gear.

[00:17:19] and created by folks who have seen it, who are there. We wanted to take a little bit of an outside approach. And then listen to them, talk to them, , and listen to them on exactly what it is, is going to be helpful. And what we heard throughout the, you know, two and a half years, it took us to build the, the first version right, was.

[00:17:40] They were tired of being replaced by, by stuff, right? That people would build these products. They think they're, they're engaging, but they didn't involve the teacher hardly at all. And if they were, they were just like a babysitter, right? As part of their, how they integrated with the platform or the technology.

[00:17:57] And there was very little that actually strengthened the relationship between the teacher and the. and mo time and time again. That's the kind of frustrations that we were, were hearing from folks. Like, why isn't anything out there that is helping us versus just trying to replace us with AI and technology?

[00:18:18] And that was, um, you know, a very different approach that we took, I think, into building the product. And building our company is really about, you know, that support and strengthening and they're the ones bringing the magic. The app sits to the side, right? You're not looking at the app, the app's down there, and it's just hearing you and it's adding in its effects.

[00:18:41] But you're, you're there reading the pic picture book and the kids are looking at you.

[00:18:46] Fonz: Wow. You know, I must say that the way that you describe that, oftentimes, it's like, well, no, you know, we stop, you know, be the guide on the side, you know, don't be just that teacher that's just really focused on just me, me, me and so on.

[00:19:01] But you know, the way you said, , you know, you're absolutely right. And I never really thought about it just because I'm, I'm immersed in technology the whole time. And then I'm thinking, you know, what better way to facilitate things for teachers? And for me, my goal is always to give teachers some time back.

[00:19:19] But the way that you explain this, I'm like, you know, I never thought about that site where teachers do still want to be included. And the way that you describe that stating, you know, App is not gonna replace me. The app is just really giving me another layer to bring what I need to bring to bring that lesson to life to enhance students.

[00:19:39] And we often, you know, say, no, we need to en engage our students and give them more engaging lessons. And oftentimes it's like, whoa, well here's this platform. Just have 'em get on the platform and the students will. Be engaged. But yeah, that leaves the teacher kind of out of the picture. But there are some teachers that, you know, obviously they definitely wanna be part of that.

[00:19:59] And I love the way that you explain that because to me now that gives me also a different perspective. So I'm learning something great today and, and kind of changing a little bit of my view and opening my eyes up a a little bit more to that. But you're absolutely right. I really. The way that the app, like you said it, it's not a very intrusive, it's there and it just as you are reading and you're putting your own inflections into it and your tone, I mean, it just adds that additional layer, which I absolutely love.

[00:20:29] So thank you so much for sharing that. That is great. Um, so we've got Amanda here also. Thank you Amanda, for joining us this evening. Amanda, also longtime follower of the show. Uh, so. So tell me a little bit more now as far as how the tech actually work. Cuz you did mention AI and the reason I wanna ask that a little bit is because, you know, this whole, whole last month being on break has been just talk about chat G P T and oh my gosh, you know, that's it.

[00:20:58] Teachers are done, you know, the AI's gonna take care of everything. Like we just kind of talked about, but really, you know, I just wanna know a little bit more about just the tech that goes with Novel Effect. So if you can, for our first time listeners or maybe that are very, gonna be very new to the app, you know, can you give us just a little brief descriptor as far as how this is gonna work?

[00:21:20] And also, does this work with any book or is it specific books that you may have in your library?

[00:21:29] Matt: Yeah. So what the app does, right, is uses voice recognition, right? To hear someone read a book out loud, it then says, where are you in this book? And then synchronizes this musical score that we have composed.

[00:21:44] Think of it like a movie style soundtrack, right? Essentially, but it's dynamic to. So at your pace, at your speed, when you read the words out loud, it will synchronize all along with you. You can even jump around. You can start in the middle. You can skip pages and it will always kind of keep track with wherever you are.

[00:22:08] Now, we do custom compose all of the music and sound effects and character voices specific for each title. So we employ, you know, I think, oh gosh. Over 30, uh, musicians and composers and sound designers who score the book in a very similar way, you would score a film inside of our unique adaptive environment that we have created.

[00:22:35] Um, so that's kind of the, the guts of like what the technology is and how it works. But what's so crazy? It's instant. Like you say, the bear growled and the bear growls immediately right when you say it. And that kind of dynamic responsiveness right, is so crucial to create this kind of immersive feel as well as what it's providing in context and understanding of the story.

[00:23:02] So for example, one of the things I love. , our app and, and the soundscapes that we create is its ability to convey emotion. Like music has this uncanny power, right, to convey emotion regardless of your language skill, right? It, you could have no knowledge of the English language. . But when you hear a sad song, you know it's sad, right?

[00:23:29] When you hear someone excited in a song, in the music, in the upbeat, you know, you know what that means. And following that contextual understanding and forming the richness of the story that, that someone is reading is what I think is, is so cool. Right. And really makes it so captivating and.

[00:23:50] Fonz: You know, and something that you touched on there.

[00:23:53] I think, again, going back to just my personal experience of not liking to read and later on I did find, I did find my passion for reading, but it wasn't until way later on usu, actually it was until I got into my master's program that I. really, because I had to read, but then I ki I really enjoyed it. But again, it it, when I'm thinking and I'm reading, it's just like words on a page.

[00:24:16] But when you add that, you're right, that music, you're reading out loud and then you get that soundscape, uh, in addition to what you're reading it, it really just draws you in and you really. Immerse yourself within that book, in that story. And that's what I love about it. So I mean, that immersive technology that, you know, novel effect offers is.

[00:24:40] By far wonderful. And especially for the youngins, and I know usually we say immersive technology and it's like, oh, we gotta have some goggles on and do this and do that. But just immersing yourself in a great book with a nice soundscape and then you get those additional sounds. It's definitely wonderful.

[00:24:55] So I do have a couple of questions here. I did have a question here from Amanda, so I do wanna ask this. Does it work for languages other than English?

[00:25:05] Matt: It does actually, we have Spanish inside of the app now, so we have English and Spanish and we're working on adding more and more languages all of the time.

[00:25:15] Uh, so hoping French may probably after that, uh, as well. Um, But what's really cool to see with the dual English and Spanish that we've seen so far is like you read one book in English and then you can read the same book in Spanish and the soundscape matches, right? And in this informing context and meaning, right?

[00:25:34] So I don't know what this word means in this language, but I heard the cow move. in this part, and then I hear this other word and the cow moves right after that. That word must mean cow, right? It's, it's a way to kind of help inform the meanings of these words as you are learning the language as well. Uh, because I'm not sure a lot of, of language learning for adults actually happens with children's picture books.

[00:25:58] Uh, so it's kind of the same kind of way, but now we're adding in another sensory. Experience to it with not just the visuals, not just, um, the text written down, but also the audio element that can help inform the meanings. And so I think there's a lot of power there when you've got, but the same story in English and Spanish in different languages that you can like go back and forth towards.

[00:26:21] Fonz: Oh, that is wonderful. That, and that's again, you know, the, the, the comments coming through are pe you know, Amanda and Jesus who joined us. Thank you so much, Jesus, for joining us on the show this evening. Also with Tim Cavy, also who's joining us. Appreciate y'all. Sh. Showing a lot of love here in the chat and you know, people are just really excited about what Novel Effect can do.

[00:26:41] And of course, like Amanda here says, you know, it sounds fun and play matters. I mean, this is something where the students are engaged, they're learning, they're playing, they're having fun, and more than anything it's just that creativity as like they're reading their book, you know, they're just falling into.

[00:26:56] To, you know, the book itself and playing the parts, and that's something that is so important. And, uh, through my experience, and I'm gonna be honest, you know, this is something that we don't do enough in classrooms there. And I'm not saying all teachers, but it, sometimes it's very difficult. And as you know, of course we always focus on, you know, preparing our students for testing and doing things a certain way.

[00:27:18] But something like this, like I said, just thinking outside the box a little bit and, and providing something like this can definitely make a big difference, you know? So, I love that

[00:27:28] Matt: comment by Amanda too. I love that comment by Amanda too, of hashtag Fun Matters, and that is exactly how we think, and it's what we focus on first.

[00:27:37] We say it almost at the first of most of our meetings. Were fun first, right? We're doing this to make it fun first. and then you get their intention, then you get their engagement. The educational outcomes flow naturally once you have that. But if you don't have it , you are basically trying to ski uphill and it's gonna be difficult.

[00:27:59] Fonz: Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for sharing that. It says here, okay, so Yata says here, I love using novel effect with my daughter, and she's watching her. And just watching her face light up as the sound changes. Absolutely. So, man, and I'm looking,

[00:28:13] Matt: I gotta, I gotta say one, one thing cuz that, uh, gritz this comment there is just one thing that we truly key, key in on, and this is what I think makes us so unique.

[00:28:24] Every parent, every teacher, like, what's their why? Why, why are they trying? Right? Why are they there as a teacher? Why are they trying with their, with their kids as parents, you know, to help them read and learn. And what they love to see and what they need to see is that look on the kid's face of being wowed.

[00:28:43] Right? When I know with me and my daughter, what I love is. Showing her things that she never knew was possible. Right. Opening up her world in her eyes to different things, whether it's the context of the story right. That we're reading. Uh, but it's, it's that, look, it's very indescribable or it's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.

[00:29:04] Right. And it's that kid's face that we want teachers and parents to see more often when they get that just total look of inspiration and just amazement and wonder.

[00:29:18] Fonz: Oh, that is awesome. Yes, I absolutely agree with everything. So yes, Yaa, thank you so much for your comments. And of course with Amanda saying, you know, this definitely sparks the joy in the classroom and in the student and in the parent too, because we gotta keep in mind, like looking at your website here, this is n.

[00:29:34] not simply just for educators, but you do have plans for parents, like you said, for schools and even for public libraries. So you are accessible to through many different platforms and many different ways to get this app on your child's hands or be part of that community that may go out there and read to kids.

[00:29:54] Or you're reading to your own kids and that's great. But I wanted to talk about your website a little bit. As I go in here into your resources. Can you tell our audience members a little bit more about, uh, the book of. , uh, the book activities that you have available that are here that you can download. So tell us about a little bit about those resources.

[00:30:13] Yeah, and

[00:30:14] Matt: I'm super excited about this. We actually added, um, an educator to our team. Her name is Catherine Coyle. She is amazing. Uh, was a six year educator inside of the classroom and has taken the lead in, uh, creating what we. Activities. Right? And our whole thought process here is, well, we're supporting educators, we're supporting teachers, we're supporting parents, and we're gonna help them before, during, and after a read aloud.

[00:30:41] Right? And so what was the one thing that people always did after a read aloud? That they wanted support for an activity. Right? Something fun. To the story, the moral, the lesson, the purpose of reading that particular book that gives them a hands-on craft activity, right? So everything is like printable activities.

[00:31:02] There's some discussion prompts and there's questions. Everything's leveled. K k through five as well. Uh, different activities for different age ranges. Uh, and these are all freely a.

[00:31:14] Fonz: Oh man, that is awesome. And just looking at this right now, you know you do have quite a few activities here and you've got pre-K through third, first through fifth, and you, it's just wonderful.

[00:31:27] Like I said, this is that additional layer, that additional support, whether it's for your libraries or whether it's for your classrooms. And just, again, enhancing that activity and making it, you know, relevant. You're putting the book together and, and you're doing this together. I think that that's something wonderful.

[00:31:45] Again, going back to hitting on what the students need to learn, but those activities that are there, that they can work as a group together. You're building those skills, that community, and I just absolutely love that. That's wonderful. Um, also tell us a little bit about what we may be able to find in your soundscape library.

[00:32:04] Matt: Yeah, well that's the listing of all of the, the soundscapes or the collection of music and sound effects that we compose for a given title. And so the soundscape library is the listing of all those ones that are available. We're up to almost a, excuse me, almost a thousand now. Uh, and some of the most popular children's books, the ones that you're already reading, uh, and we're adding about five to 10 new ones every single.

[00:32:31] Fonz: Man, that is great because I do see here that you do have an extensive library and it's broken down by age levels and great, appropriate. And, um, you know, this is something that is great and, um, I'm really excited. Like I said, uh, , I'm just so pumped right now. Like it's, I'm glad that we talked a little bit about pre, uh, in the pre, um, chat, you know, about.

[00:32:52] Actually, you being very familiar here with our area in the Rio Grande Valley and, uh, making contact here with some of the schools. So definitely I'm gonna be sharing this magic also with our librarians and with our, uh, elementary teachers and principals that this could be something that can be done.

[00:33:07] Now as far as other support for teachers, you know, what else does novel affect, uh, offer. .

[00:33:13] Matt: Oh, well, I mean, besides the, uh, book activities, the soundscape libraries mm-hmm. , we've got a lot of cool things coming up too that I think are gonna be pretty exciting, uh, in order to take it to the next level from both creativity, right.

[00:33:28] As well as, uh, some of the power with the technology and ai and what we're able to kind of understand and do, uh, kind of with in the background. While people are reading stories, so super excited. Can't, can't let, can't let the cat out of the bag quite yet on some of that stuff. But, uh, you know, one thing I will say is we've had a lot of fun inviting more and more, um, Uh, kids and teachers and parents to star in our soundscapes.

[00:33:58] Uh, and so we'll have them do voice become voiceover artists for a day, right? And we'll basically work with them to, you know, help compose the soundscape and give them prompts and lines, uh, to layer in and add to, to the mix. And so, . That's one thing we've really been enjoying, and I think folks, folks have, have been having so much fun with it.

[00:34:21] Uh, so I'm excited to, to get there where we can take that to the next level.

[00:34:26] Fonz: Oh, excellent. Well, it all sounds great, Matt. I mean, everything that you're doing, like I said, it's really magical and it really pumps me up at it, but I'm also excited for the wonderful response that you've gotten from educators.

[00:34:40] And from parents and from community because again, you know, you're building a community based on building community through reading, and I absolutely love that. And of course, having fun and playing like Amanda spoke here, you know, play matters and sparking that joy and creativity in our students, their imagination.

[00:34:57] And I think that's something that is really. Needed. And again, even for our emergent bilingual students, like you said, offering books in a different language and being able to learn that, you know, I think that you have something that's great and even looking here at your plans that you offer, everything is so reasonable and it's, you know, like I said, I know it's a kind of a different type of platform per se.

[00:35:20] You know, you. Of the app. But you know, nowadays it just seems like there's many platforms that are out there to, you know, obviously it is a business, but I mean, looking at your plans, I'm like, this is very accessible and, you know, thankful for that. And, but, uh, again, for all our audience members, I have been putting the list.

[00:35:37] Link of the website here, and you'll see that in the show notes also as well. But there are some resources here also, you know, for even funding resources that you can look into and things of that sort, and of course information for your schools. If you are an educator right now and you're listening to this and you're really excited about what Novel Effect has to offer, please make sure that.

[00:35:58] That you check out those plans or Matt, would they be able to reach out directly to No, uh uh, you know, just contact novel effect, uh, directly. Is there a possibility? What would be the best way? To contact you for, you know, information on, you know, for a district, uh, quote or price or, you know. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:36:16] Matt: Right there on our website, we have a little quote form, uh, as well where you can get, uh, pricing, but it's very, very simple. Like I said, flat fee, and like you said, all, all well within, you know, folks budgets, it's only, you know, $500 flat fee for every single teacher. An educator inside of a school. Uh, you know, again, we do it that way because we wanna help build that community.

[00:36:37] We wanna make the price isn't, isn't the decision. That's not what we want it to be about. There's enough stretch then on people's budgets with inside of schools to, to put it in other areas. But, you know, we want to build that community around them. So that's really the. , but the, the form right there on the website.

[00:36:55] And two other things I will say is we are also distributed through Scholastic. So you can actually use your Scholastic reward dollars for your school, uh, to get it, which has been, you know, something a lot of people have taken advantage of. And the other thing is, uh, I've been just shocked at how many PTAs have been buying it for, for all of the teachers.

[00:37:15] It's, it's been really cool to see the PTA organization get supported that way, or supporting the teachers that.

[00:37:22] Fonz: Excellent. Well, that's wonderful Matt. I'm really excited and I'm really thankful for you, um, and everything that you shared. Obviously I can really see your passion and the intent of this app and of course what it's grown to be, and again, getting that wonderful feedback and just making reading.

[00:37:37] Fun again is just something that's great and wonderful. So thank you for the work that you're doing and we know conference season is about to start. You know, a couple of conferences that will be coming up. Can you please let us know in our audience members, uh, educators that may be, you know, visiting conferences where they may be able to meet you or meet the Novel Effect team in these conferences that are.

[00:37:58] Yeah, we're

[00:37:59] Matt: gonna be at F E T C, uh, which is in Florida, and I'm going to T C E A this year. Super excited. It's my first, uh, T C E A experience and, uh, gosh, we love Texas. I, I can't tell you how many wonderful teachers that I have met. Uh, Coming out of Texas and that we've been, uh, very fortunate to, to build a relationship with.

[00:38:21] So, I, I can't wait to get down there. And if you're listening to this, please, please come say hello, uh, to us at the booth there in Texas.

[00:38:29] Fonz: Excellent. Wam. Really excited. And you did mention Isti though, right? Also? Oh

[00:38:34] Matt: yes, absolutely. Those are just the two, you know, I can only think like three months ahead of the post

[00:38:40] No,

[00:38:41] Fonz: no worries. So you heard it here guys. You heard it. F E T C T C A and isti. So educators, if you're out there, please make sure you stop by the booth and you can learn more about novel effect. You can. Matt, you can meet the rest of the team and just get some insight or maybe even ideas as to how you may be able to integrate, um, a novel effect into your classroom or just share your ideas too.

[00:39:01] And again, like you said at the very beginning, Matt, you do welcome the feedback from educators. So that would be a great way also to see, you know, how well you are doing. And maybe just maybe. Couple of additional improvements that could be done if necessary. But thank you so much for being a guest and, you know, sharing this magic of novel effect.

[00:39:21] But before we wrap up, Matt, um, I always love to end the show with the following three questions. So your question number one, in the current state of education, what would you say is your current EDU kryptonite? Hmm.

[00:39:40] Matt: Teachers.

[00:39:45] If I'm understanding

[00:39:46] Fonz: teachers correctly, yes, yes, yes. No, no, no. Yeah. Makes you weak. Hey, remember Kryptonite makes Superman weak and just debilitates him. So right now what you're seeing is, you know, just the burnt out teachers that kind of like, ugh, you know? So that's a great answer. Burned out teachers, and we are seeing a lot of that and I know we can't, we are on break.

[00:40:05] You know, some of them are hopefully recharging and coming back and, you know, just trying to finish off.

[00:40:11] Matt: Yeah, it's been, it's been a heck of a couple years and I, and you know, I have so much admiration for teachers and what they've had to endure and go through, and, you know, that's where my heart like always goes out to when I think of like, what's the kryptonite, what's the, what's the, you know, thing that's, that's pulling things down and it's, you know, Overworked and not given 'em enough resources and tools, uh, that, that, that they deserve.

[00:40:32] And so that's what I hope to see changing and hopefully we're, we're kind of coming out of the pandemic and, you know, people will, will help the teachers and give them exactly what they

[00:40:43] Fonz: deserve. Yeah. Excellent. I agree with you 100%. Uh, All right. Question number two. Matt, if you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?

[00:40:55] Hmm.

[00:40:57] Matt: Make reading together magical. I.

[00:41:02] Fonz: Yes, and I agree with

[00:41:04] Matt: that. The why is a little bit self-explanatory with what we do, , but it has all those right components there. It's, you know, it's about together. It's not, it's not just them. It's about together reading and the magic and the joy like that. That's what it's about.

[00:41:21] Fonz: Yes, I agree with you. And of course with novel effect, that could definitely be done and that passion for reading can continue to grow. And like I said, I don't know why I'm, I'm really excited about speaking with you about Novel Effect because you know, myself growing up, uh, you know, learning English and then my parents not knowing in the language.

[00:41:40] I remember I would have to, I get sent home and they're like, well, you have to practice your reading 20 minutes a day. So there I am, like reading to my parents, but they're not understanding a word I'm saying. But they're sitting there in front. , they're just nodding their heads. But the fact that they sat there, you know, like you said, community, like they were there, they were there to support me.

[00:41:59] And of course, you know, so that's why this really is really touching Anta at my heartstrings because it's a great way to build that relationship, that family unit, of course, at school with your students as. Well, and just get all excited all around. So yeah, love that billboard for sure. All right, Matt, so let's say that Novel Effect had a podcast and you were the host and I got the opportunity to be a guest on your show.

[00:42:27] What might be one question you'd like to ask me? Mm

[00:42:31] Matt: mm. I would ask you to tell me about a time where you experienced just a pure joy in a read aloud experience.

[00:42:43] Fonz: Ooh, pure joy in a read aloud experience. So either you

[00:42:47] Matt: as the reader or listener, but pure joy.

[00:42:50] Fonz: Pure joy. It would probably be in grade school.

[00:42:55] Um, I think it was probably in fourth grade. My teacher was Mrs. Mrs. Part Parti. She was my fourth grade teacher, and we would do read out Louds in her. Her class and she would sit there and very much, again, we didn't have the tech that we have now, but I absolutely loved it that she would go ahead and choose a weekly reader and we got to read, or excuse me, got to wear the reader's hat and it was a beautiful little hat that we would wear.

[00:43:26] Almost like those bar. Barbershop quartets, little hats, and it was just really nice and it had a little book that she kinda had laminated on there, and it was like the weekly reader, and you got to wear that. And you got to choose the book you wanted to read. And I remember that when I got selected, that was probably one of the like best days that I had.

[00:43:46] And I do remember distinctly running out of school, helping into the car and getting excited and telling my mom and dad what I had, well, that I was the weekly reader and I got to wear the hat And again, , uh, that is really one of those joyous moments that I remember, um, from grade school. So yeah, pure joy in that reading moment.

[00:44:06] Absolutely. Oh, I love that.

[00:44:07] Matt: I love that. I love that. And excellent. It happens in so many different ways and, and, um, I

[00:44:13] Fonz: hope it happens again, . Yes, of course. For all our learners, especially now with novel effect. And what you, what it has to offer. And again, enhancing that learning, enhancing the reading experience, seeing those eyes light up.

[00:44:25] Like Yaa said, you know, she, her daughter, Her eyes light up, but just having our kids' eyes light up and just really just become part of the story as well. And, uh, you know, that's something that's amazing. So thank you so much, Matt, for such an inspirational chat. I really, uh, this was, it filled my cup today.

[00:44:44] Thank you for all the work that you're doing, that your team is doing and that you. To do and I'm looking forward to hearing some more exciting things coming out of novel Effect in your team in the future. And audience members. Please make sure if you are at any of these, Conferences, F E T C T C A, isti.

[00:45:02] Please make sure you stop by the Novel Effect booth and show them some love because they're doing some great things for the education community and also friends. Don't forget to continue to support our show. Please make sure you stop by our website at myedtech.life, myedtech.life, where you can check out.

[00:45:19] About this episode and the other 162 amazing episodes with amazing educators and creators that you can learn from and take from and sprinkle on to what you are, are already doing. Great. As you know, our mission is to connect educators and creators one show at a time, and if you'd love to contribute to our mission, please make sure you stop by our merch.

[00:45:40] Or you can hit the Become awesome tab on the website where you can buy us a cup of coffee to keep the creativity flowing. But we do have some great merch, some great designs here that you can pick.

[00:45:50] Conference season is around the corner, so pick yourself up a shirt or a sweater. And as always, from the bottom of my, my heart, thank you so much for making my ed tech life what it is today.

[00:46:01] And until next time, my friends don't forget. Stay techie

Matt HammerselyProfile Photo

Matt Hammersely


Matt Hammersley is co-founder and CEO of Novel Effect. A lifelong entrepreneur, Matt began his first startup as a child selling tomatoes at a roadside stand. He went on to spend more than a decade as an engineer and patent attorney in South Carolina, Delaware and Texas before co-founding Novel Effect with his wife. He loves traveling, golf and Clemson football. Matt is passionate about telling great stories and has two children who serve as his nightly audience at their home in Seattle