Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thing #23 In Summary....

Wow! This has been an experience. To be honest, when I saw this assignment I was a bit worried. I wasn't sure I had the technical ability to do all 23 things on my own; but I AM patting myself on the back right now. My skills are not perfect, but I did my best and I did it largely on my own (and thanks to Greg for bailing me out a couple times)! I have learned so much, and plan to incorporate many of these tools in both my personal and professional life.

To answer the questions now:

• What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I really liked the image generators and photo tools. I will be using those frequently.
• How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I stated that the learning goal I had the most difficulty with was confidence in my abilities. I feel really good about finishing the 23 things. I surprised myself!
• Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? That I’m not that bad with technology, especially if I am given good training (Thank you Dr. Bishop and YouTube!).
• What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Add more Things as new technology appears so we can stay current.
• If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
• How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things?

Thing #22 Nings

Nings are a social networking sites (forums) that are centered around a specific topic. It is a place where members can post questions and comments and chat with other like minded people regarding those subjects. It is a little online community. Librarians are generally lonely individuals, by virtue of being the only one of their kind on a campus! My district goes above and beyond others to link us together via monthly meetings and Pronto, but it is still lonely! This is a way to stay linked to others in our field, whether to get advice, collaborate, or bounce ideas off one another. I am going to join the TeacherLibrarianNetwork created by Joyce Valenza.

Thing #21 Podcasts and Videocasts

I used Photostory to create a short video of my loved ones. This was very easy to do and turned out great. This could be used in the classroom to document the steps of any process, or for any presentation, or by a librarian for booktalks or promotions. It would be good to show off the year in review by any educator. Personally I plan to use it often.

Thing #20 YouTube

YouTube and TeacherTube are excellent sources of information, and have been invaluable as a "how to" quick guide for me this semester. It is very frustrating that YouTube is blocked in the district. I will try out Zamzar the next time I really want to use a video. I will be giving a short staff development refresher on copyright practices in January. I love the following copyright lesson using Disney clips as an icebreaker:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thing #19 Web 2.0 Awards List

I played around with the Widgets, which are fun little applications to add to your networking sites. I found most success with It was fun, they had many choices, and it was as easy as cut and paste. I chose the countdown to Christmas tree for my example!

Thing #18 Google Docs

For this exercise, I chose to explore Google Docs. They offer their version of a word processing program, a spreadsheet, and what looks like a presentation option like PowerPoint. The benefits are obvious in that it is free and accessible from anywhere. Sometimes I work at home, at school, even at UHCL. I usually have to save all my work to a thumb drive or email it. Sometimes this gets confusing, because I have to remember where it was saved. With Google docs, it would be available anywhere by simply logging in. It is also free. I had to purchase PowerPoint over the summer, and it was over $100. I must say that I have not played with the Google docs presentation program, so I am not sure of the quality and ease of use. It would be hard to complain because they are FREE! I will try out these applications in depth when I have more time, because it would be very convenient and cost effective.

Thing #17 Rollyo

Rollyo is an excellent tool for kids to have organized access to prescreened websites. This is easy to use, you just go to the Rollyo website and register. You then create a subject folder/tab and group your selected websites under that folder, then publish it so the kids can access it. It would be great in my school, as I only have a limited amount of flex time (and library computers) in the day for research. However, the kids do go to the computer lab, where there are 30 PCs. They can access the rollyo via the web there, or from home, and continue research in a safe way. It is a good idea, and an alternative to a webquest if you dont have time to set one up.

Thing #16 Wikis

I had never used a Wiki until last year in Young Adult Literature. When I found out that the Wiki participation was a large portion of the grade, I literally groaned. But once I got the hang of it, I loved it. It is a great discussion tool! We had a page for each book we read, and we would log on and post our opinions about the books. Publishing our name with the post was optional, so many people were very candid. The professor closed the wiki to just our class, so you had to log with a password to participate. This is a feature that would be necessary for public school use.

I am not sure that I would be able to use a wiki with my little ones in the library, but this would great for a secondary librarian and a book club. You could set it up just like my professor, a page for each book, or maybe a page for a set of chapters depending on the age of the students, participation, and the content/theme of the book. I know the older students would love to see their opinions published online!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thing #15 Library 2.0

I agree that we need to embrace technology, and have a two way flow of information with our patrons. I see some great examples of this at the Harris County Public Library, from their virtual librarian, to tagging and blogging features available on their Aquabrowser interface. But how does library 2.0 work in a PK-4th grade elementary school, really? The Texas State Library Standards call for a learner-centered environment, and my library is certainly that, but how do I incorporate 2.0 when I see my kids 45 minutes every other week, they are 8 years old at most, and they don’t have access to computers at home? I am thinking, I really am. My librarian friends, please comment! I’m being a realist here….. 2.0 is easier to implement in a public library than one restrained by school district policies and internet filters.

Thing#14 Technorati and Tags and Castles.... Oh My!

Sometimes life is a leisurely drive, sometimes it is full of twists,turns and bumps. It's all about how we roll with it, don't you think (that's a rhetorical question to everyone except to YOU, my castle bound friend with the fire-breathing dragon)? If it were not for those occasional dark days, we would not recognize how lucky we are to be alive in the sunshine. We would not see the beauty that is always really there...if we seek to find it. If we see beyond the walls we sometimes build around ourselves.

I digress.....speaking of bumps in the road and seeking to find info....Technorati was a speed bump on my homework road today. I am going to be blunt. I did not like Technorati at all. I found the sight frustrating and I will not be using it in the future. You really have to have a lot of prior knowledge before your search. You cannot browse! To find library 2.0 successfully, you much search via posts rather than blogs. I tried the whats popular tag and and it was “currently unavailable.”

Tagging is a great tool, but it needs to be done in such a way that even the most clueless person could benefit from them! Ah, yes, that includes me!

Thing #13 Delicious

Why, oh why am I just finding out about delicious NOW? Holy cow, this is going to make my life easier! I have a desktop at work, a desktop at home, and a laptop. I am forever doing research and searching for cool things online, and bookmarking sites where ever I am. Therefore, nothing is organized! Before, I had to try and remember what computer I was on and then hunt down the link in a tangle of chronically unorganized bookmarks. But no more! I was able to create a delicious account by logging on using my yahoo id (yeah - no need to remember more user info). Then I exported my favorites from my laptop into delicious. I then ran upstairs to the desktop and continued the process. Tomorrow I will do the same from my work computer. All my bookmarks in the same place and accessible from anywhere! Now I need to find time to organize them via tags. This will take a while, there are hundreds. I am going to tag them by 9 week scope and sequence and grade, and then further tag by subject. What a wonderful way to gather and organize online resources!

Thing #12 Commenting on Blogs

After spending part of this glorious Sunday with coffee and the boy, it’s time to get down to blog business! Commenting…..I don’t do it often. Some might say it’s a self esteem issue – in that I wonder why anyone would care about my opinion! But after reading “Cool Cat Teacher’s” blog entry I am seeing the light. The blogs I do read are those that I am highly interested in, and choose to invest time in for a reason. They are either professional in nature and/or are about something I hold dear. I can add to the conversation as long as what I have to say is meaningful and constructive.

I really liked Cool Cat’s observation about how commenting can improve the writer’s work. How true that is. I think we put more thought into what we write if we know someone else will be looking at it and adding their 2 cents. And regarding how words can hurt…another reason to be very deliberative before striking the keys.

Two blogs I have followed for years have to do with something I hold close to my heart. Soldiers Angels, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to our deployed guys and girls. I have followed MaryAnn’s Blog, Soldier' Angels Germany, for years. She volunteers at the military hospital in Germany, and sits with our wounded service members whose family cannot be with them. She is an awesome woman. I also follow Blackfive, which is a military blog. I am off to comment on my classmates blogs!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thing #11 LibraryThing

I knew about library thing, but never considered joining before now. This is a great way to network with other book lovers and chat about BOOKS! This could be a very good and/or a very bad thing. Good for obvious reasons (networking), bad in that it could be a place where I spend too much time in the pursuit of just having fun! Maybe off in that far away world when I’m done with grad school classes and have time again! I did join the Librarians who Library thing group, and subscribed to the feed.

I cataloged the 5 books that have impacted me the most: The Little Prince, The Gift of Nothing, Edward Tulane, and recently The Book Thief, and Scaredy Squirrel! And believe it or not, there is another person out there that has 4 of my 5 books on their list too…!

Author chat and book talk groups could be used with older kids. I’ll wait for an author I know and check that out. When I have more time I’ll devote it to the site. This will be fun!

Thing #10 Online Image Generators

First, I went to Big Huge Labs and did a jigsaw puzzle of my boy in action! How fun was that!?!

Next, I played with Image Chef and wrote a not so secret message to YOU. And YOU know who YOU are. Yes, YOU up there in your huge well-fortified castle.

This is from Happy Face Generator, and it is in fact a self portrait. Yep…..I’m a bit frazzled right now. But the first draft of that big, big, big grant is done, done, done!

All of these image generators were very easy to use and really fun. Kids could include them in practically any technology project. I wonder if my district blocks these though…will find out tomorrow! How fun!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thing #9 Library Related Blogs

There is so much information out there that it is possible to quickly be overwhelmed. I have about 45 minutes a day (if that) for “discretionary” internet time, and that includes time spent in pursuit of being a better librarian! I need to make sure that the feeds I do invest in are time worthy. The “Cool Cat teacher” was an excellent place to start this exercise. This is a RSS feed I have added to my Google account. I like her advice to look for someone who inspires you and that is a life long learner – not a know it all. So….I looked…and looked…..and looked. I looked at Technorati and Syndic8, and honestly this is not the way I would go about finding a blog that I would follow. They were both too time consuming and difficult. Google blogs was friendlier. Right now I think I will stick with the tried and true experts along the lines of Valenza, Blue Skunk, and the Librarian Philosopher of course : ). Sheesh….I’m a new librarian! I’ll branch out later!

Thing #8 RSS Feeds

I have to admit that I NEVER thought I’d end up working in an elementary school. My initial certification was secondary social studies….and well…the little ones were not part of the plan. But sometimes fate lands you just where you need to be. Becoming an elementary school librarian is the best thing that I have done in my professional life, and those kids make my day! That being said, because I come from a secondary background, I have had to play catch up learning about primary school books. I spend quite a bit of time doing research, looking for the perfect book to teach a particular concept. RSS is a great solution to help aid me in my book hunts. The feed allows me to see new information via googlereader; instead of my old method of bookmarking and then hit and miss checking. It will save time, and I am thrilled to have found these awesome blogs! I went to googleblog search and simply typed in children’s book blogs. Up popped some great blogs, a few of which I now subscribe to. I really like and now follow The Children’s Book Review, Just One More Book, and The Children’s Book Guide.