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.

Thing #16

Wikis seem very easy to use, although I haven't tried to set one up yet. I may try one the next time I lead an inservice with teachers. I don't really see using them with elementary students, but maybe if I saw a few examples of how others had done so.... I still have reservations about depending on them as information sources, but they seem to have lots of possibility for collaboration. How is this going to differ from GoogleDocs, or is that a type of wiki?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thing #15

To me, the library has always been about connecting the users to the knowledge, and this does not change in the face of Library 2.0. Therefore, I agree with the idea that libraries have always been 2.0. The key ideas for me are the changes in the needs of our users, and the changes in the services we deliver.

The school library's job is to create successful learners. As this quote from David Warlick indicates, today's successful learners need different skills, which forces libraries to adapt to meet those needs:

This changes what it means to be literate. It changes what it means to be a learner. Today, being able to read and write and pass a test are not enough. They are not nearly enough. Today our students must become information artisans, able to learn, work, play, contribute, and prosper in a new and constantly changing and enriching information environment, and do so in a way that conserves the planet — rather than consum it. We can not do this today by scratching and printing on pulp-based paper. Teaching and learning must be digital. If you don’t want to do technology, if your not good at technology, then find another calling.- David Warlick, 2 c worth, July 16, 2009

Along with changes in the needs of our users, the way we deliver services must also change. Taking our services to where the users are is important in the concept of Library 2.0. As this quote indicates, however, enabling distance between our users and our libraries does not mean that we become impersonal.

We library professionals have continually sought to establish the media center as the central foundation of a school. We must persist in this effort. But in its 2.0 incarnation, the digitally re-shifted school library, as I call it, must transcend the physical space to bring services and programming to every student and teacher throughout the school wherever learning is taking place. Consequently, librarians, while still based in the media center, will interact more directly with students as well as their teacher peers in new spaces....
On the face of it, we’re talking about using blogs and podcasts. The heart of the concept, though, is not about the tools, but rather the communities and the conversations that they make possible.-
Christopher Harris -- School Library Journal, 5/1/2006

As Christopher Harris says, what we do is still all about creating community and relationships, connecting the users to the knowledge.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thing #14

I had some trouble making Technorati work for me. As at least one other of our blogs mentioned, I found that they layout and options did not seem to match what was shown in the first video. I was able to search and find some things of interest, but I had to poke around a lot to find what I was looking for.

The "popular" lists were interesting, and I can see spending some time there. I will say that many of the current topics and popular stories were not things I was interested in.

The second video's main point seemed to be the Internet and tagging as the great leveler. We no longer need to trust in the authority of some expert to interpret information for us. Anybody can contribute their 2 cents. Interestingly, one of the blogs I searched for on Technorati is written by a friend of mine. He is a regular guy with a great interest in local Houston and Texas politics, and very definite political views. His blog, Off the Kuff, has been around for years, and is so well thought of that when I searched for it, the first three pages (or more- I stopped looking) were references TO the blog by others, not the blog itself. Not in the top 100 yet, but moving up. My friend who writes this blog is not a reporter, nor is he a politician, just an informed and articulate citizen. Power to the People!

Thing #13

I'm not sure that I'm completely on the Delicious bandwagon yet. Sure, it's great to be able to get bookmarks on other computers, but I can do that on iGoogle too. I did make a personal account, and I think I might like poking around in other people's bookmarks occasionally, but it's just not thrilling me.

I also set up an account for my library, however, and that could be very useful. I can encourage teachers to add bookmarks in various subject and research areas, and I can do the same. I can set up certain tags for students to use on projects, rather than having them start from scratch with searching. This could turn out to be a very useful tool. I will have to see how it goes. At a previous campus, I maintained files of hotlists on the school server for teachers to use, which was a lot of work. Delicious would make this easier. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thing #12 part 2

Library2Play blogs commented on:
  • Lonestar Library Lady

  • Get in Gear

  • Notes from a Texas Treehouse

  • Pam Loves Books

  • Adventure 23

I haven't really found any outside blogs to comment on yet, but I have subscribed to several and begun following them, so it is only a matter of time :).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thing #12 part 1

The discussion of commenting etiquette was very interesting. In a comment on Drape's Takes, Sarah Hanawald said she teaches her students that "behind every post and comment [is] a real person." I think this is a key issue. All forms of distant conversation (from the telephone on up) require the members to realize that everyone involved is actually a person, with rights, feelings, viewpoints, etc. It's like the psychological problem involving a person on the train tracks and a speeding train. The further we get from the actual human, the easier it is to pull the switch that sends the train to squash them. Some of the commenters on this blog felt there should be no hard and fast etiquette rules, or that "rules" might squash free speech. I disagree. I'm a big believer in the social contract- if you choose to interact with others, you choose to behave civilly. That is a vital lesson to teach our students. Many students at my school do not have an adult model of civil discourse at home. They need as many as we can provide at school.

In coolcatteacher's blog, she brings this up as well- "NEVER: Be sarcastic, rant prolifically, curse, or personally attack a person." When I took logic courses back in college we learned that personal attacks were weak arguments. I've heard it said that excessive cursing indicates a weak vocabulary. Our students need to learn how to disagree appropriately and effectively. Some of the rules we teach children about tattling apply here- "Are you commenting to help someone or are you commenting to get someone in trouble?"

I also really liked what coolcatteacher had to say about the importance of commenting for students. Learning is a social construct, and happens most easily when it is done in a community. We forget that because it can't be tested on a scantron, but our students can't be lifelong learners unless they know how to find or create learning communities for themselves and participate in them successfully (the point of this whole 23 Things, it seems to me).

Thing #11

I really like LibraryThing. I started putting in books I read this summer, including Bluebonnet nominees. I can write a review so that when I go back later it's easier to remember what I thought of that particular book. I appreciate the fact that there is a category for "read but unowned" since I get a lot of my books from the library. I've also already told my library aide and my husband about it, because I think they would both really like the discussion groups and book suggestions.

I looked at the groups. The discussion threads under the Librarian group look really interesting. I could spend a lot of time there. I'm going to have to figure out some way to manage all this information. There's so much of it.

What are the possibilities for students here? If students created accounts, teachers or I could set up discussion groups for them. Can these be made private? You could also invite students from other schools and set up some distance learning opportunities. Maybe I will explore this with my after school book club or a group of Bluebonnet readers.

Thing #10

These are very addictive! I tried the comic strip generator- and made some signs for special collections in my library. If this site is accessible from school, I am planning to show my aide how to use it. She enjoys making signs and posters for the library.

I have used ImageChef- - before, but haven't explored all the possibilities. I've used the Word Mosaic in the past, but this time I tried the Visual Poetry tool and made a picture for my blog (down at the bottom on the right). Then I tried the poetry blender and made a welcome animation for my library webpage. We use eChalk, and I was able to copy and embed the HTML in my webpage editor, and the animation looked great in the preview. When I go to the actual webpage, however, I don't see the animation, just the HTML text, so I'm going to have to get some help to make this work.

There are so many other options out there. Don't know when I will find the time to play with all of them, but it is nice to have them in my toolkit when a project comes up. I think these would be very motivational for kids, but would also be a big distractor, so maybe they could be used as a reward for finishing other work- like "you are doing a great job on your research, let me show you how to add a cool graphic to your presentation." They would also be fun for teachers, so maybe I can incorporate them as fun breaks when I am teaching other stuff.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thing #9

I found the Edublog award winners site the most helpful. I added 2 more librarian blogs to my reader, and found a website that compiles children's literature blogs and other information that looks great- . The award winner's site was exactly what I needed- just a few options that matched very closely with what I was looking for.

I found Google blog search to be quite unhelpful. It apparently searches keywords in any blog post, and therefore returned vastly more hits than I wanted to slog through, and they were only tangentially related to what I wanted (much like standard Google searching itself :)).

The two feeds I added were Hey Jude and Cathy Nelson's Professional Thoughts, both blogs by librarians on topics of interest to me.

I cannot figure out how the little RSS icons work though. I want my feeds to go to my Google Reader, but when I click on the RSS icons, it tries to put the feed into a folder on my local hard drive. I have just been copying and pasting the URL into Google Reader, which seems to work, but I don't get what I'm supposed to do with the icons.

Thing #8

I have set up Google Reader with 5 feeds. I like the fact that I don't have to go to each web site to read the new stuff, but I don't like the long list of things I now feel obligated to read. I can't even keep up with my email most of the time, and this is just more stuff! I do not currently spend time checking lots of webpages, so this service is adding to my workload, not decreasing it. It also took me a long time to find 5 blogs I thought I might want to read regularly, as I am currently a person who reads zero blogs.

I do like the headline news feeds I have on iGoogle, though, since they allow me to "scan the headlines" and only click if I am interested in details about a certain story. That keeps me somewhat updated and saves me time. I don't really see this being an advantage at work however. The one blog I can see myself checking at work was a library humor blog I found (Love the Liberry). I can frequently use a laugh at work! As far as using RSS feeds with kids or teachers, I can see setting up some of the automatic searches to send you updates on particular topics that a class is discussing. There is so much teachers can do with current events that could be facilitated this way.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thing #7

Good Lord, there are a lot of Google gadgets! I didn't even look at all of them. I already have an iGoogle page, andI have added a couple of things to it while working on this course. I wanted to have access to some of the cool sites we are working on, so I added bookmarks so I can access them anywhere, not just on one computer. I also wanted a place to record some of the good ideas I have seen on other people's blogs that I want to try, so I added a To Do list (could have also used one of the sticky note gadgets). Other things I may try include the calendar (so my husband and I can see the family schedule from home and work). All of this stuff is personal, not necessarily school related. I know there are several things I am going to show teachers this year, but our students do not have individual log ins at school, so I don't see them setting up iGoogle pages. I'm also not really clear on the public vs. private parts of iGoogle. Should probably find that out before I put too much on my page. At TLA this year I went to a workshop about using some of these Google gadgets, but hadn't done anything about it until now. I need to pull out those notes and see how everything fits together.

Thing #6

I'm really enjoying checking out some of the mashup apps. I created a "motivational poster" from the Big Huge Labs site and added it to my blog. My principal will love this to make posters for the school. I also went poking around on some other mashup apps I found on the web. There is a site called BookTour that tracks author visits and events in the US ( It has a kids genre area, but right now there aren't many authors listed. If this caught on, though, I can see using it a lot. You can sign up for email alerts about particular authors in your area, or RSS feeds based on certain criteria. Sounds cool! I found it on , which also had a bunch of other map-based mashups, including one where you can create travel journals for your blog with maps, pictures and words, and another that shows you all the fast food restaurants in a given area (don't think I'll be using that one :)). All in all, lots of cool stuff I never knew existed.

Thing #5

I poked around in the libraries section on Flickr. It's interesting how many libraries want to post pictures of themselves and invite others to post their pictures of the library. I searched elementary library to see what I could find there, and got lots of pictures from librarians of the things they are doing at their libraries. This will be a great place for me to look for ideas to jazz up my program. I am so not good at decoration and making things cute. I found this picture of some shelving displays that I may try to replicate. Once I get back onto my campus, I need to check and see if Flickr makes it through the Alief firewall (it's pretty tight!). If so, this may be a good place to send teachers who want pictures for classroom and student use. I'll have to inservice them on the Creative Commons copyright levels when I do my regular copyright talk in the fall.