Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thing #22 Animoto

Animoto was, in fact, the easiest Thing ever. I think I had a video ready to go in about five minutes. It was late, so I just used the photos I had in my Iphoto folder from Children's Book Week. I am going to go back and link my Flickr account later. All of my music is on itunes, so I decided to upload one of Animoto's songs. I think I spent more time here, but it was fun listening to the different genres of music of various artists that they promote as up and coming.
This is something I would use all the time to put together quick photo videos together of research, library events, and even things at home. The problem is being able to share these with our teachers, parents, and students. Now that you have created US monsters, is it time we try a new type of web page design so we can utilize ALL of these great tools we have learned to work with?
I know we could create a My Space for our libraries, but even that would still be blocked at school. Lots to think about as we draw this project to a close.

Thing #20b You Tube

Okay, this one is a no brainer.

Thing #20 YouTube

In lieu of Super Bowl Sunday and all the great commercials that usually come from this weekend, I thought I would post my favorite football commercial out there right now. I always thought it would be hilarious to see a referee get a little more involved than they were supposed to.

As far as uses for the library, they are endless. I found conservation clips that my fourth grade tecahers could use. I just spoke with our music teacher just yesterday about how she uses YouTube to view different operas before our sixth graders attend their opera field trip. She was talking about how much of a pain it was to override the block. She is not afraid to override the filter, it just slows the process down. So many of my teachers are afraid to do this, I have made it a point to discuss the fact next year that they are allowed to override blocked sites that are appropriate for use in the classroom.

Thing #19 Mind Maps & Flow Charts

This seemed like a great addition to the Thinking Map training we have all been through. We are always looking for alternatives to using chart paper and overhead projectors, yet those are what we are more comfortable with. Now there are various free applications that will allow our students to use computers to create these Thinking Maps, and even pull them up and create them on the Promethean Board.

I started first with Mindmeister because we create mind maps in New Jersey Writing as a prewriting activity. Students will love being able to create these story starters on the computers. What I thought was amazing is how when you web your mind map, you can collapse the categories, and click on it when you would like to see them. This hleps to keep the mind map neat. Also, you are capable of linking images and other pages to your mind map. This wouldbe the perfect end product or note organizer for any library research unit.

I played around with Gliffy to create a few flow charts. I have always loved flow charts. I am not sure why, being as random as I am, maybe it is because they can be colorful and creative, yet make me "look" more concrete. My favorite section on Gliffy was the floor plan model. I remember having my forth graders create their Ultimate Dream Room during our geometry unit. They had to use geometric shapes, create a scale, and determine the perimeter and area of their room. They would love using Gliffy to complete this assignment.

Thing #18 Web 2.0 Award List

I have run through the entire list and have decided to post on several from the Web 2.0 award list. First, I came across Cocktail Builder under the Fun Stuff category. I really wasn't expecting it to be exactly what the title suggests, but guess what, it is. Designed after his girlfriend asked if there was a way to type in the ingredients found in their pantry and get a list of mixed drinks they could make, thus the birth of Cocktail Builder. Not exactly something needed in school, but what a great way to move those grade-level meetings back to your house.

Another Fun Stuff category was Fuzzmail which basically is an e mail type system that actually records the action of writing/typing so that the recipient sees the editing and changes you made before sending the email. I thought this would be awesome for kids to use to make the editing process concrete and visual, yet fun and unusual. I, on the other hand, type lousy, and will probably stick to traditional spell check emails.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thing #17 Zoho Show Slideshow

This is the slideshow I created on Zoho Show after attending the fourth grade field trip to The Dallas World Aquarium. It is still a work-in-progress, but I was amazed at how quickly I threw this together. The best part of it is that I was working on my mom's computer because she is not "wireless" yet, and these are the great things that I had access to because of Web 2.0: photos on Flickr, Blog & 23 Things URL from, and I was able to save my slideshow on Zoho, come home, and upload it using my computer. I am loving this. I am forever using a different computer.

***Actually, something happened after I returned home. My photos are not showing up on my Zoho slideshow. I will be getting some help... so stay tuned...
Well, I called Debbie, and she opened my blog and my pics were there. It has something to do with versions of software. I worked on it at my moms, so who knows how old he version is, plus it was explorer. I have been using Firefox, and I can see all of the pics.***

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thing #16

Learning Through Play- Who wouldn't want to take part in that? I enjoyed reading through everyone's condensed contributions to the LTP sandbox. I added a couple of ideas that I thought would be helpful for teachers and librarians. We are using iGoogle to keep up with all the information we need each morning for the announcements, and I thought a Bluebonnet/Mockingbird Wikki would be a great place for teachers to add lesson ideas they think of when reading any of the books.

My biggest concern for any of these Things, especially Wikkis, is time. I know it sounds like an excuse when teachers say they do not have enough time. But I think it has gotten even harder for teachers since I left the regular classroom two years ago. I just think I will carefully choose which Wikis I think teacvhers would benefit from the most, and give it a try.

I do not think it will be hard at all to get students on board with contributing to a Wikki, or trying out any of the new Things we have learned about. I thought my library helpers could even keep up with a Wikki informing students and teachers of happenings in the library. The more informed teachers are of what is going on in the library, the more likely you are going to get new "customers" coming in for books, research, and information.

Thing #15

Just when you think you have learned the coolest thing ever, along comes Thing #15: Wikis. I have heard this term thrown around for awhile now in the education world, but I never took the time to investigate what it is really all about. I just thought it was an online encyclopedia where anyone could add any information, regardless of truth, and it was out there for the public to see.

Just like with MySpace, I was partially informed, but nowhere near the truth, not even close to showing me the usefulness of a Wiki. The biggest gain in knowledge I walked away with is the positive and negative aspect that All users/browsers are authors of that particular Wiki. Your first thought is all of the negative things that could come from this, but isn't that true with anything? I just listened to Brett Favre talking about all of his records: most touchdowns, most yards, most games played, and MOST INTERCEPTIONS. When asked about the later, he stated, "I guess you can't hold all the good records." But he goes on to talk about how many of those touchdowns he threw would never have been touchdowns if he didn't take the chance. I think the same holds true to Wikis. We will never know the possibilities if we do not give them a try. We can always troubleshoot the problems as they cross our path.

My thoughts of how I would use a Wiki came easier than I thought. Now that my classes are reading Bluebonnet books year-round, I thought a Bluebonnet Wiki would be a great way to communicate about the books they are reading. If you think about it, twenty books a year, mostly chapter books, is a lot. Many of these books do not get read, but if the students had access to a wiki journal about these books, one from the past just might get read again.

I also would like to create a Wiki for my younger classes to talk about the Mockingbird books they are reading. I am also planning on handling Mockingbird books the same way I handle my Bluebonnet program because many of them were too young to appreciate, if they even heard, all of the previous Mockingbird books.

Along with these two, I thought a site for teachers to add any lesson ideas they thought of to go along with these two book lists would come in handy.

My next goal is to create a Galloway Elementary Library Research Wiki just like Sue Wood did for Smith Elementary. I like how organized it keeps your information, and I know the students will enjoy it.

As far as long term, I thought I might create a Mesquite Abydos Learning International Wiki for all the teachers that have taken this staff development. This was formerly New Jersey Writing Project in Texas, and is the six hour college writing course I
co-teach each summer. The teachers are always looking for ways to get together and share ideas, ask questions, and visit about how writing is going in their classrooms. Like the video noted, e mail is too difficult to share with a large audience, plus we never have time to get together in person. A Wiki would be the perfect solution to this dilemma.

By far, I think this Thing will impact my teaching the most, in all aspects of my professionalism.

Thing #14

I have been avoiding this "thing" for a couple of weeks now. Not so much avoiding, but really "mulling" it over in my thoughts. I knew it was going to be a reflective blog, one that made me think way to deeply. Just when I think I know what Web 2.0 is, I am thrown for another loop. Not a "caught on DuPont Circle in Washington, DC and can't get off" kind of loop, but a "roller coaster" loop, one that makes you feel slightly anxious, yet exhilarated enough to make you want to do it again.

My first reaction to answering what Web 2.0 is to me is to state that it is new technologies to bring our libraries more into the twenty-first century, and catch up with what our patrons are already utilizing. But after reading several blogs, I realized that Web 2.0 is so much more. According to Michael Casey at LibraryCrunch, Web 2.0 is about "continuous and purposeful changes" that will help us keep up with what our patrons want and need in terms of technology.

Now, with all this in mind, I do feel that I was way behind in the areas of current technology, and even my belief system about some of the new technologies. If that is the case, then I must play "catch-up" and learn all of these tools that my patrons are using in order to make those purposeful changes that need to be made within my library program.

Two words that stood out to me when reading various blogs about Web 2.0 were: active and empowered. I think the future of our libraries are in the hands of our patrons. They are going to take a more active role in the decisions that we make. Their collaboration will enable us to make those changes that makes our services vital, with the "avalanche" of information.

In Rick Anderson's blog Away from the Icebergs, there are several points made that I know I can work on to improve my library services. I do not think I have ever "really" considered my teacher to student ratio: 690:1 in regards to how effectively the library is utilized. I have spent a couple of years getting to know my patrons, teachers, and community, worked on my collection, "sort of" collaborated with students and teachers, and even moved into a new library. Now in my third year, I think it is time I start thinking more cognitively about changes I need to make in the library. I also want to work on staying current with my web page and bringing that content and information to my patrons, wherever they may be.

Lastly, I read Dr. Wendy Schultz's blog To a Temporary Place in Time. Just when I thought I had a grasp on Library 2.0, here comes Library 3.0 and Library 4.0. In reality, Library 4.0 "absorbs' all the others to give patrons the whole package. I love thinking of our libraries as "mind gyms, idea labs, and art salons." It reminds me of Walmart: Libraries are the Super Centers of information.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thing #13

I really did think too much about this Thing when I read "Social Bookmarking." Wow- where has this feature been my whole life? I am constantly switching computers, whether it be my Dell at home, my personal Mac laptop, my school computers, or even my parents computer. What a fantastic feature that will forever change my "bookmarking."

Sine we started our LTP Web 2.0 project, the bookmark bar at the top of my Mac computers has become quite full. Now that really won't be as necessary. I can now just access my accont, and have every site I need for the LTP project, plus it won't matter what computer I am using.

I am also thinking how useful this will be when I am in attendance at various conferences. I will have access to all my needed sites, regardless of whose computer I am using. Plus, I can add any new sites that I am introduced to.

My husband was very intrigued by this "Thing." He teaches 8th. grade Social Studies, and he, too has many sites that he frequents. Recently, his personal laptop "bit the dust," and to say he was a little freaked out is an understatement. Social bookmarking will definitely make a difference when we have to commit to a new computer.

Last, I can't wait to create my bookmarks for my research units. I especially like the idea of us creating a unique TAG so we can all gain insight into effective bookmarks for our research units.

To me, this "Thing" supports that notion of: Why reinvent the wheel?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thing #12

The long awaited, quite controversial, Thing #12 is upon me. I will be the first to admit that I was very anti-MySpace before this project. Any time there is a news story or radio broadcast covering MySpace, I am tuned in to hear what they have to say or prove about the dangers of social networking.

The first problem is that I had no experience with MySpace, so when I hear the negative stories, I am not "really" aware of what they are talking about. Shame on me for prejudging and basing my views on someone else's thoughts, and not doing some investigating on my own.

The second problem is that I can now see that all of the negative stories I have tuned in for were the results of lack of supervision or knowledge. Many of these issues were because parents, no diferent than me, had no knowledge of social networking, were not monitoring what their children were doing online, or their children were too young to be on a scoial networking site.

Well, I now have been bitten by the social networking bug. I have created a MySpace account, joined The Texas School Librarians group, the Mesquite Librarians & Friends, and even Facebook. Sure, proabably a little overboard, but I wanted to see what they all had to offer before I judged them, yet again.

I will admit that I have truly enjoyed the MySpace page that I created. After only two days, I was in contact with my college roommate from West Texas, found several college friends, numerous friends from high school, Mesquite teachers and librarians, and yes, even a few students and weirdos. The great thing about it is all I have to do is block that person or set my security up higher. Nothing obscene has come my way. If I do not know who you are, you are not allowed on my page.

Now don't get me wrong, this is no place for my 9 year old right now. However, she sat right beside me as I set things up, chatted with friends, and even blocked a person. We had continual conversations about the good and bad aspects of MySpace. At only 9, she already has a lot of knowledge about social networks, and what is good and bad about them.

As Library Media Specialists, we owe it to our clients to know as much as we can about social networks. They are here to stay. Ignoring them will only cause more harm. I would much rather have the knowledge, and be able to guide my students, rather than bashing something I know they are involved in.

My students are too young to have a MySpace account, but guess what, nearly a dozen found me over the holiday break. I am sure many of them are not being monitored. At least now much better equipped to guide them, and in a sense, keep up with what they have going on in their social network.

As far as usefulness in the library setting, I really do not have answer. I guess classes could have pages where they posted information about current events in their classrooms, a science-based page, or even a community page where parents can be involved. The security woud have to be the strongest, and we would have to learn a lot more about the necessary security. I am looking forward to researching this some more.

Basically, I walk away from this Thing much more informed for my students. I feel more equipped to answer questions about social networking, and will seek out more knowledge, and weigh it out for myself. I am also in contact with many lost friends, and maybe I might just seem a little more "real" to my students.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Thing #11

By far, this was the easiest Thing to this point. Basically, you only need a username and a password, and you are ready to look for books. Being librarians, we consume books at such a rate that it is hard to keep track of everything we have read. I think Library Thing is the perfect way to keep up with what you have read, especially if you are checking the books out, this way you don't forget.

Thing #9

When I was working on Thing 8, I had a million questions. I should have known that Thing 9 would help me refine the work I was doing on 8. I have been playing around with the RSS feed finders for a month or so now. I am feeling a little more comfortable looking for blogs that would be of a benefit to read regularly, but I am still a little overwhelmed with the amount of time I am still spending looking for them.

Feedster was still not working the last time I checked. Google Blog Search was one of the easiest to use. Everything Google makes searching easier. I also had some success with School Library Blogs at Suprglu. I did not like Topix or Technorati. But i plan on revisiting and spendng more time on Thing 8 & 9. They were more news driven and a little overwhelming at first glance. I also want to read everyone's submission for these two Things to see what they are finding and having success with.S

My favorite, so far, has been Edublog. I like the fact that it selects "the best of the best" in various categories each year. I feel like I waste less time here. Just about everything I selected was worth spending time reading. My only concern is that I was reading on Cathy Nelson's TechoTuesday that she may have to move her blog because of limited space on Edublog. I will keep reading to see how that plays out.

As far as unusual, I really enjoyed the blog "Accents" by Deep Thinking on School Library Blogs at Suprglu. As much as I love being a librarian, reading to students, all that we do: I am lousy at voices and accents. I "stunk" in all my language classes in middle school and high school, and I am even worse at voices for characters. Honestly, I just don't think my brain is wired for it, kind of like direction. In the meantime, I will continue to read stories to my students. But sadly, the only variation will be in how loud I read it!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thing #8

Okay, I think this has been my most challenging Thing thus far. Not so much because of the set-up, which I chose Google Reader, just because Google has been so easy for everything else, or looking for RSS feeds that I m interested in. It is the actual reading of those that I chose that I am a little overwhelmed with. I was super "gung-ho" before the holidays when I started working on this "Thing." Boom- the holidays hit and I did not visit my account for 2 1/2 weeks. Of course it is full, which freaked me out a little bit. I am slowly working through them, and realizing that I need to reevaluate the feeds that I selected.

I will admit this is the first time I have kept up to date with The Top Shelf (which always makes me smile because I think of Chili's Margaritas). Now that I have subscribed, I noticed an article there covering the Independent Investigation Model created by two GT teachers for research. With my New Jersey Writing re-certification approaching sooner than I would like to face, I am continually looking for up-to-date information on my topic. We are required to present some research that is published in the same year as we re-certify. This is always a challenge for all of us. I can see how RSS feeds will help me in my future re-certifications to find that new information leading to the big day.

What I would like to accomplish now is read up on everyone's RSS blog. I would like to see what everyone else has subscribed to, and to see what ideas they have as far as school benefits. I know this will be great for me because it will save me time looking for information I need. I just need to spend the time to select feeds that I TRULY want to keep up with.

I was "adventurous" and added a blogroll to my blog page. It referred to it as a "widget" which I hope to learn more about, too.I added my "Self-Help" blogroll to my blog page. With the new year brings in new diets!!!!!

Left vs. Right: Which Side Are You?

Madison needs your help with her science fair project. If you would, please take a few minutes to complete a survey she created on Google Docs. As soon as she has the results, she will post them here on my Blog.