Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thing #23- Yea!

I finished before the deadline! I'm so excited! Here are my thoughts about the program:

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
This class actually forced me to try out and play around with some things I knew about but had not spent time on before. My two favorites were ImageChef and PhotoStory. I also finally set up my iGoogle page, so now it will be much more useful to me. I had never heard of LibraryThing, and am finding that I really like it.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
As I said in Thing #2, one of my problems is goal setting. I tend to try to do too much and don't focus closely on a few things. I have discovered that I am only going to be able to do a few things really well each year. For several years, I have been putting off updating my technology skills in favor of more "library" and "teaching" oriented goals. I think this needs to be the year to get back to technology, especially since the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon points out that both the library and teaching are becoming more and more about technology every day.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?Just how many things are out there available for our use. Almost anything you think of doing, you can find a place where someone is already doing it.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? I really liked the online format and long timeline for participation. It is a bit of a problem that many of the tools I learned about are not going to be accessible from my school, but there isn't really a lot you can do about that. Maybe a bit more exploration of workarounds to use for blocked programs and sites, or alternative options that might not be blocked (yet:))?

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? Yes, definitely.

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities? Enlightening.

7. Now go and comment on some of the other Players' blogs. Done :).

It's been fun! I'm changing my avatar to reflect my new, relaxed feeling, but since I start back to work on Tuesday, I'm sure it won't stay relaxed for long.

Thing #22

At first I thought I wouldn't be too interested in nings, because I'm not really into the social networking phenomenon. I have kind of viewed it as something for people with too much time on their hands who have a burning desire to reconnect with people with whom they attended high school.

When I read 7 Things You Need to Know About Nings, I was very impressed with the example from a college class where students had to create networks around specific political issues central to an upcoming election. I had not considered using social networking in this way. This is something I could see adapting to an educational setting. You could set up a book club network, for example, with each group in your classroom or school responsible for keeping up a group within the network. Students could be required to post a certain number of times, to answer certain questions, to add certain resources, etc. I have a 4th grade teacher I am planning to share this idea with next week.

I looked at the librarian networks, but did not find much that interested me as an elementary school librarian (a problem I have noticed in many aspects of Web 2.0 technologies- a focus on older students). I poked around on Ning a bit more, though, and found a group called ReadKiddoRead. It has a lot that interests me, and I joined. I love the linked lesson plans for various books, and there were lots of suggestions to encourage reading. I'm looking forward to seeing how I can integrate this into my library.

So, in summary, I am a bit more sold on the whole social networking thing than I was, and look forward to delving into it a bit deeper. Still don't think I'll be setting up a Facebook account, though.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thing #21

Well, now I have my first project for the gifted 3rd and 4th graders planned. They are going to choose one of this year's Bluebonnet nominees to read, create a Photostory book talk, and review the book in our library's LibraryThing list, which will link to a bookshelf on our website. Here is my book talk for one of the nominees.

That was fun and easy! I know the kids will love it.

The one question I had was how am I supposed to credit the Flickr Creative Commons photos? I didn't see a format on Flickr, so I gave attribution on the PhotoStory slides, but I would like to have a model to follow.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thing #20

Here are a couple of my favorites from YouTube and TeacherTube:

Our tech specialist showed this video from TeacherTube to teachers this spring. It made a big impact- the statistics are startling and show what a vital job we have and how important it is to focus on the 21st century learner, not the 20th century teachers that most of us are.

Other videos I liked from TeacherTube included a student-made video based on the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. I thought this was a great example of using this media for a higher order project, turning poetic metaphor into concrete images. The student created a visual representation of the story arc of the poem. I want to share this with my school's Language Arts specialists.

Just for fun, I liked A Pumpkin Carves Itself from TeacherTube.

I was not expecting to find as much "educationally relevant" stuff on YouTube (preconceived notions :)), but was pleasantly surprised. I found this lovely video about the impact of a library on a young girl's life- Thank You Note . You really should watch it. I'm sorry I couldn't embed it- apparently the author denied this permission. I know we can't access YouTube from school, but now I'm wondering if I find good stuff there, can I add it to TeacherTube (with author's permission), which we can get at school?

Thing #19

There were lots of interesting sites on the Web 2.0 Awards. I didn't find anything that I will be putting to immediate use in the classroom, but there is a lot to explore here.

I love to cook (and my husband loves to eat out :)) , so a lot of the food sites caught my attention. I tried out UrbanSpoon and added their slot machine widget to my blog. I'm also interested in Recipe Key, where you can upload the contents of your pantry and it will find recipes that you can cook with what you have. There are also some good looking cooking blogs there that I might try. CrazyMenu also looks interesting- it has a feature that will email your friends (kind of like an evite) and the group can choose a place to eat. My husband would like that :).

I was glad to see DonorsChoose on the philanthropy section. People can go to this site and see various small projects or needs of classroom teachers that they can donate towards. Teachers can register their needs through a link on the right side. Several teachers in my schoool have tried this. I think this is a great example of how the internet can be used to bring communities together and harness the resources we have.

Thing #18

GoogleDocs seems like it could be very useful for collaborative projects. I need to check and see if it is unblocked in Alief. My principal has asked me to head up a project coordinating with each grade level at our school to create a "College Bound Curriculum" with vocabulary and concepts about college for each grade. I think I will explore using GoogleDocs for this project, if it is accessible from school. I watched the video available in GoogleDocs Help, and it seems to indicate you can create forms for people to contribute information. I am going to explore this a bit more and see if it will help with my project.

I am going to try downloading Open Office on one of my computers that doesn't have MS Office. It would be useful to be able to save and send things to school, where I use Office. I guess the jury is still out on it's utility, until I have the chance to take a look. This could be a great resource for students who don't have Office at home.

Thing #17

Rollyo was very easy and I think I will use it a lot. It serves all the purposes of the hot lists I used to make, but the students don't have to search each individual site. Also it is available away from school. Most importantly, I think I can get teachers to use it instead of Google! I found and copied two great search lists for common research topics, edited them a little, and added them to my library Delicious account. Very cool. I'll be showing this to teachers next week.