Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thing #23 Reflection

All good things must come to an end, and as I write my last post on Library2Play, I am a little sad. This activity has been so rewarding and enriching—professionally and personally; I hate to say goodbye. Now I can actually say that I have a blog, and I hope to continually move forward in the techy world.

*What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

There are so many! Photostory was fun and easy to make. Glogster was another favorite. I love the interactive poster idea. I already up-graded to the premium account, and now I can organize my students into classes and post assignments. My GT students tried it out last week and was so excited about creating a project in Glogster. Last, but not least, I was totally amazed that I could create a custom search for my students using Rollyo. I will definitely use this tool with my students.

*How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

Before this class, Web 2.0 technology was a mystery, and I just did not understand it. Library2Play has helped me to not be afraid and made me just jump right in and try it. It also enlightened me that help is only a click or comment away. This activity also got my creative juices flowing again, which I am so grateful for.

*Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I was surprised at all the different aspects of Google—Google Reader, Google Docs, iGoogle, etc. I finally understand how to work in Google Docs and will really try to get my team at school on board the Google train. Also, Google Reader has helped me read my favorite blogs more often.

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

I thought it was very well organized as I gained insight with each “thing.” The only thing I can think of to improve is maybe update the Web 2.0 Awards list site. Do they have an up-to-date awards list? I researched it briefly and came up empty-handed. Also, there were a few links that were not hot. Over-all, Library2Play gets my vote for “The Best Hands-On Web 2.0 Technology Course.”

*If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?

Yes! I previewed Library2Play 2 and 3. I hope to take a closer look during Christmas break, but please let me know if there are any other discovery opportunities.

*How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD?


Thanks to all my classmates for your comments and encouragement. It has been a fun ride! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thing #22 Ning

Ning has great potential for helping people collaborate. I viewed message boards in Teacher Librarian Ning that had teachers and librarians discussing books, which was similar to Library Thing. Ning for Teachers (Teacher Lingo) can also be used as a platform for master teachers to share their knowledge with newer teachers. I saw that Ning for Teachers even has teacher made power points and other educational materials on sale for a few dollars.

The benefits for students using Ning are boundless. Students from around the globe can form a network and discuss environmental issues or political issues that affect them both. What a great way to connect with other cultures! One of the seven explanations about Ning mentioned that a network creator could “create entirely new tools and features.” With this flexibility, Ning could be used to challenge gifted students. Students, guided by their teacher, could practice their writing and research skills in a forum that actually might motivate them, since they would be communicating with other students through Ning.

One of the draw backs in Ning is that there are so many sites that seem to overlap and offer the same tools. With all the other collaborating sites in competition, how many people really use Ning? I checked out the Middle School Librarian group in Teacher Librarian Ning, and ,although they had over 200 members, they only had seven posts for the entire year of 2010. Since a Ning can be private, maybe the private forums are used more frequently. All of the student sites I tried to access were not open for public view, so maybe this is the case. For now, I think I am going to stick with one social networking site--Facebook.

Thing #21 Videocast

PhotoStory is new to me, so this thing took a long time to research and create. First, I had to download it (Yea! It’s free!) and acquaint myself with the software. After I got a hang of it, I really enjoyed the creating process. However, my microphone would not work, so I had to do the whole thing over on another computer. Lesson #1: Always check your microphone first; then proceed with the creating.

PhotoStory is very easy to use; I believe lower elementary students could even use it. Some PhotoStory uses in the classroom include creating book reviews, timelines, interviews, and vocabulary review for ESL students. By sharing their videos or podcasts on the web, students become motivated because they have a real audience. I will definitely integrate this “thing” into my curriculum!

Another free audio/video maker is Avairy. It can do everything PhotoStory does and a lot more.

Thing #20 Embedding Videos

Just this year my school district allows teachers to use YouTube videos (students are blocked) for lesson enhancement through a filtering system called I have used YouTube videos from Barney Fife saying the Preamble to history lessons with animated Legos. My students love it when I show a video clip; it really piques their interest. I’ve used TeacherTube a few times, but it seems like I have to wade through a lot of poor quality videos to find a really good one. Recently, I came across SchoolTube through Glogster’s education portal. Students can create a glog, or animated poster, and embed a SchoolTube video right into their project. When students are allowed to choose videos to enhance their projects, they are using critical thinking and evaluation skills.
Another alternative to YouTube is It even includes lesson plans and tips on how to use some videos in the classroom. The video below is from SchoolTube.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thing #19 Web 2.0 Awards List

I created a free account at Wufoo so I could see how it worked, and it was so easy to create a form. The free version allows you to create three forms and have 100 people respond to your survey each month. A librarian could use Wufoo to create book reviews or book requests surveys. The great thing about Wufoo is that is easy to navigate; however, since only 100 people can respond a month and most schools have over 100 students, librarians could only survey smaller groups. To upgrade to 500 entries per month and receive sophisticated forms analysis, there is a $14.95 monthly fee, which most librarians would not utilized. There are so many other surveying tools on the web like BuzzDash (See survey below) that librarians could use for free. You can see the form I made at Wufoo. Click on Fill out my form!

Test BuzzDash:

Another Web 2.0 tool that I researched was Spanishpod, which won third place for SEOmoz’s Education category. There are some free Spanish instruction podcasts available on the site, but most cost a monthly fee. The company has group subscription rates for schools and businesses, but it did not say how much. There is also an Englishpod that sparked my interest. My school district has a growing Hispanic population, and many of our students live in homes where they only speak Spanish. The closest public library with ESL instruction is 25 miles away. If Englishpod was available through the school library’s internet portal, ESL students and their parents in my district could access it from home. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could use the school library’s Englishpod subscription to brush up on their English? That might be worth looking into.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thing #18 Online Productivity Tools

I have had a Google Docs account for almost a year, and I have only used it sparingly. I think that my team at school would like it if only they would give it a try. There is still some resistance to change because it is just easier doing things the old way. Whenever my group of 17 teachers have a document that we are making changes to, we are constantly emailing back and forth with the revisions. Finally, one of my co-workers said she is interested in trying Google Docs, and we are going to show our group how easy it is to plan our annual Thanksgiving luncheon on Google Docs rather than emailing back and forth! What a great collaboration tool; if only we would use it.

Using Google Docs is similar to using an open-source word processing or presentation format. All the basic fonts, backgrounds, and styles are there, but editors in Google Docs do not have all of the wonderful creator/editing tools that are found in Microsoft Office 2007 or newer versions. Another disadvantage is that for true collaboration to work, all the members of the group would have to learn how to navigate in Google Docs, and that is sometimes difficult to get everyone on the same page.

Here is a one-slide presentation I made for you to view in Google Docs, and, yes, you can even edit the slide. In Google Docs, you, the owner, decides which documents are viewable and which are private. Just click on the link for Google Docs and edit away. Hope to see your images or input soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spinning World

This is not part of 23 Things, but I just had to share it with you. You will want this widget! Look to the top you see the spinning world? All those red dots represent people who have looked at my blog. While I was posting Thing #17, I noticed someone in Kansas (or somewhere up north) was viewing my blog at that very moment. When someone is viewing your blog there are concentric circles that radiate outward. It is so exciting to see that someone else is viewing your site. I also see a red dot in Thailand. I do not know anyone in Thailand! Wow! This is so very cool!
You can get your very own spinning world at Revolver Maps.

Thing #17 Rollyo

After watching Mr. Goodner’s how-to video on Rollyo, I was so excited about using it with my 6th grade students. My first Rollyo was a big flop, though. It was very easy to create a customized search engine, but the topic I selected was not a good one to do a Rollyo with. I created a Rollyo on Mid Eastern Countries with only six websites, but when I tried it out with the keyword “Iran” I received over 100,000 hits AND the main website that I really wanted them to access –CIA World Factbook—did not even show up until page 246! Ugh! I edited the websites to only three with not much luck, either. Seems like the websites I chose had a timeline with the word “Iran” in it a thousand times. I abandoned that research topic and created a new Rollyo on Ancient Egypt. BINGO! Students can type in their topic and go directly to an approved website. This past October I created an Ancient Egypt data base on my wiki for my students; however, it seems like the Rollyo would be easier to create. Would you do me a favor? Compare my wiki data base to my Rollyo search engine and tell me which one you like better. Which one do you think would be easier for 6th graders to use? Thanks for your help!

Wiki Egypt Research page:
Georamsey wikispaces

Mid East Countries Rollyo:
Egypt Research Rollyo

P.S. Here is the UMapper Middle East Countries game I created for my students to study by. Try it out and see if you are smarter than a 6th grader. Middle East Countries Game (Easy Version).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thing #16 Wikis!

Having a classroom wiki has transformed the way I teach.

For Teachers: It is the portal in which I communicate with students and parents. I have a homework calendar link which can be accessed 24/7. Parents or students cannot use the excuse, “I didn’t know about an assignment," because it is posted online. I also like it because I can share the students’ artwork and photos of the students engaged in learning. I post my daily power points on the wiki for students who are absent or for those who just want to review what we did in class on a particular day. One of the best features is that it a place where students can easily access research links all on one page. This drastically reduces the time most students would waste on finding websites for research. I could go on and on about this awesome tool….I don’t think I could teach without it!

For Students: Students are able to participate in online discussions, upload their projects, and there’s even a feature where the students can email each other. Most of the Web 2.0 tools can be embedded into the wiki, and my students are in the process of uploading their Jing videos they made of Egypt. You can check out the videos on the Ramsey HR Egypt Project page on the wiki. Check it out at:

Weakness: The one weakness that I have found is that only one person at a time can make changes to a wiki. So, if teachers want students to upload their projects, it may take a long time for 23 students to upload their projects one at a time.

One last thing: In addition to the great wiki’s listed on the Library2play site, here is the wiki that has 99 Ideas Your Library Can Use. This wiki was shared at the 2010 TLA Conference in San Antonio. It is like being in a candy store with a pocket full of money! Yum!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thing #15 Library 2.0 & the future

Reading about Library 2.0 made me realize that I actually know very little. Basically, libraries are still the place for acquiring information, but with Web 2.0 technology, the patron can interact and be a “co-creator, builder and consultant” with the library. In navigating the Web 2.0 world there are many icebergs threatening our success, as explained in the article “Away from the ‘icebergs’” by Rick Anderson. The three icebergs include building a collection that many will not use, relying on training rather than fixing the way we service our patrons, and the old-school idea of patrons “coming to us” rather than the library reaching out. The bottom line in what does Library 2.0 mean to school libraries is this: the library must adapt in order to be a viable powerhouse so users can “access, consume, and create content.” According to the article “Into a New World of Librarianship,” libraries of the future will be more social and user- centered.

I have seen many versions of the video, A Vision of Students Today, and am still amazed at how slow we are as educators in integrating Web 2.0 technology into the curriculum. So what does Library 2.0 mean to me? It means I need to stay abreast of new technology and trends. To do that I need to continue in technology staff development, participate in online courses, and try new things in the classroom to see what works. Last spring when I introduced the cool video creation site Animoto, my students were interested at first; then they rushed through the project so they could listen to music. How can I hold their attention? How can I encourage them to dig deeper during research? I guess there are some things that technology alone cannot create; teachers and librarians are still needed to inspire and nurture a love for learning. And that is something that I am passionately striving for.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thing #14 Explore Technorati and Tags

Where did the time go? I just exited Technorati’s blogosphere and my head is spinning. Today there were over a million blogs in Technorati’s directory, and, no, I didn’t view all of them. I like the many different ways one can search---by blog, by posts, or by tags. My first try at finding School Library Learning 2.0 came up with zilch! When I refined my search from High authority to Any authority, I found eleven blogs. On The Finding Dulcinea Blog I discovered Sweet Search for Librarians. (You should check it out!) Another blog for librarians—Rhonda’s Reflections—posts useful sites for librarians on a weekly basis; so this looks like a future favorite.

I did try to find School Library Learning 2.0 with tags, but the tags in Technorati didn’t have the tags “school” or even “library.” Even though there were not any tags for what I was looking for, tags are very useful and I like the fact that tagging is “people-powered,” not driven by businesses.

Technorati had no widgets available, and the popular section only had videos, so it is still a work in progress—just like this blog!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thing #13 Tagging and Discover Delicious

After playing around in Delicious, I see the benefit of social bookmarking. There are four social studies teachers in my school, and we are constantly emailing each other about what new websites we found. Delicious would be a great tool to organize our bookmarks together and the tags make it easy to retrieve them. I hope to convince my school buddies to create an account so we can share. Another thing I like in Delicious was the tag cloud feature that shows all the currently used tags. The size of the font denotes how popular it is. The green tags show what tags I share with others. This is another one of those sites that I could spend hours in.

I skimmed through Digg and was not impressed. It looked like a place where one could tag or “digg” a site similar to Facebook’s “like.” There is also a place to personalize your news, but that did not appeal to me.

I looked at two other sites—Furl and Gnolia. Gnolia is no longer offered as a bookmarking site, and the Furl link goes straight to Diigo. I already have Diigo installed on my browser, and I use it whenever I want to highlight something on a web page. Then I save it in my Diigo account and whenever I bring up that particular web page, I can immediately see my highlighted areas. This would be an excellent tool for secondary students to use in research. In Diigo the user can also use sticky notes which is like having a virtual post-it note right on the website. Like Delicious, for anyone else to see your highlights, sticky notes, or comments, they have to have an account.

Thing #12

This blog post was the hardest to write so far. I agree with Cool Cat Teacher that words have power, and was surprised to learn that how I comment can influence the direction of the blog and can even help attract people to your own blog. I identify with Meredith Farkus when she says that people do not make comments because they feel like they do not have anything worth sharing. That has been my problem. I need to get out of myself and believe that sharing can help others and sharing helps others to share.
I enjoyed reading my fellow classmates blogs and even learned a few “new” things. Here are the blogs I commented on:
Lamb’s Lair
Bellieful to Digest
Karen’s Home on the Range
Kristin’s Blog
Christopher's Cabin Crew

Commenting on a public blog was intimidating, but taking Meredith Farkus’s advice, I broke my silence and wrote a personal reflection on a blog I follow, Parchment and Pen. I was drawn to this blog because it is a forum to discuss contemporary issues facing Christians without all the stuffiness. It has a conversational style comments section which stretches and challenges me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thing #11

How can it get any better? Reading books then discussing it with people around the world! Library Thing is so much more than just a place to store the titles of your personal library (which you can see a few from my library in the side bar). It was fun to read through the different groups, and I joined the group “Ancient History.” The discussion there had links, photos, and thought provoking postings. This is a great place to dig deeper and expand to higher levels on shared books, interests, and hobbies. There’s even a group called “Librarians who Library Thing.” This group could help me stay abreast of the library world, and my world is getter bigger with each “thing” I complete.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thing #10

Hot Text -

Glogster is a great place to let your creativity flow. I tried to embed the Glogster poster I made into my blog, but you could only see half of it---the poster was too large. Instead, I just made a print screen and saved it as an image; then uploaded it as an image. Did anyone have success in embedding a Glogter? If so, let me know how you did it. Also, I registered for an educational account and received 100 student accounts. Let’s see how I can incorporate this in my social studies class. I played with Dumpr and Big Huge Labs also, but really like Glogster the best.

P.S. My 100 free student accounts will go unused because I found out today at school that my district blocks Glogster. How sad!
GOOD NEWS: While reading the blog A Bellieful to Digest, I found out that the Glogster Edu has a separate URL, and now my students can access it! Thank you Bellieful!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thing #9

Before I started working on Thing #9 this evening, I was somewhat depressed and in a foul mood. Luckily, Cool Cat Teacher’s post on surrounding ourselves with a “circle of wise” got me out of my funk. I followed her advice and added a few more blogs to my Google Reader like Tame the Web and Parchment and Pen. I was able to view an international movie trailer for Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is better than the American one. I registered for a no-ad educational account with Voki, and found a blog which focuses on library education and the future of librarianship. Needless to say, I am pumped and will find it hard to go to sleep tonight!

I found several blogs to follow on Technorati. The site was pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. Syndic8 was unappealing and I didn’t stay there long. I voted in the governor’s race opinion poll on Topix, but other than that, I was not impressed with the site. When I read some of the local Baytown news in Topix, it was erroneous or was news from another state!

Lastly, Google Blog search was boring, but Edublog’s top three blogs for 2009 were super, and I saved a group blog—Billings Middle School—to my Google Reader. It looks like it will have a lot of ideas for integrating technology.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thing #8 RSS feeds and Readers

I know it is more efficient to view all my subscribed blogs in one place, but I do miss seeing the style and colors of individual blogs. It is great to know that all up-dated blogs are sent to my Google Reader account so I won’t waste time going to blogs that do not have new posts. I haven’t been very consistent in viewing my reader on a regular basis, and all the new posts are crowding my inbox. I feel a little overwhelmed by all the information!

To manage my subscriptions, I have placed my subscriptions into three folders: Librarians, Technology, and Personal. I am making a commitment to check them more often!

I viewed the Meriwether Lewis Elementary blog and found it amazing. They have over 30 pages of school related content, and it looks like each teacher has their own “Class Notes” section. If parents subscribe to the school blog, then every time a change is made to the blog, they can be informed through the RSS feed.
RSS is a very important tool for libraries and administrators to keep the school community informed. Parents can become partners in their child education and both the school and the students will be be more successful.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thing #7 Goggle

After exploring Google’s tools, I see that Google is a whole world in itself. Like Who-ville in Horton Hears a Who, the Google world was there all the time, and I never knew it! I am excited about using Google calendar and Google’s Advance Search. The calendar app would be very useful to post library events so parents, as well as students, could access it 24/7. I hope to utilize this tool as a homework calendar for my students. Now, no more excuses for missed homework assignments! The calendar was easy to navigate and easy to embed in this blog (see below).

The Advance Search option was a great tool, also. I found an interactive site on latitude and longitude ( ). To find it I had to narrow down the search by displaying only Shockwave files. The Advance Search option also can narrow the topic by date and/or by domain. I like using the Advance Search option because you weed out thousands of pages of irrelevant information. I will definitely use this tool more often.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thing #6 Mashup

I’ve never used Mashups before and really found it fascinating. I absolutely love the poster making app at Big Huge Labs. The two posters above are pictures of my son and daughter doing what they do best—running and pole vaulting. I think my students would enjoy making posters on this site, as well as making the trading cards. In the library, students could make trading cards for their favorite characters, and the librarian could display them on a bulletin board. Bookr would be an easy site for elementary students to create their own books; however, most schools block Flickr, so Bookr could not be utilized since it links to Flickr pictures. Does anyone know of another Web 2.0 app like Bookr, but where you can upload your own photos? Below is the book I made on Bookr. Fun!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thing #5 - Flickr

I got lost while viewing the plethora of pictures in Flickr. The picture above was retrieved from Flickr, and it is copyright–free, but it took some time to find a good picture that I could use. Some pictures I saw corresponded nicely with their “tag”, but there were a few that seemed to be tagged incorrectly. That is one of the problems with Flickr. Another problem with Flickr is that it contains some pornographic pictures. (Yes, I tried it and found some. I immediately blocked Flickr on my home computers because I have a teenage son!) Now I understand why Flickr is blocked in my school district. There are benefits, though. Teachers or librarians can make groups, and members can make comments on others’ photos. Students can receive feedback on their photos, and this can build relevance in creating projects. Libraries have used Flickr as a tool for advocacy and staging photo competitions. There’s even a list of libraries across the globe that have Fllickr accounts. Overall, Flickr is a great Web 2.0 tool, but because of the possibility of students viewing banned photos, most school districts will continue to block this site. Like YouTube, librarians and teachers can view at home and then save the pictures they need to compliment their project or presentation for school.

Thing #3

Creating a blog is not that hard; you just have to know where to point and click! It had been awhile since I created a blog for another class; so, I had to look at the “Help” section for a refresher course. It thoroughly explained how to embed and navigate around in the blog. The avatar was fun to create. Only thing, it made me want to jump on an airplane again and fly to another world, but for now I will have to be content traveling in cyber-space posing as my avatar. Off we go!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thing #2 for Library2Play

Growing older doesn’t scare me because I know that each day I can have fun learning something new! The easiest of the 7½ Habits for me is being a teacher and mentor. It is so fulfilling to teach and see children understand a new concept or acquire a new skill. The hardest habit for me would have to be “Play.” I am somewhat of a workaholic. I love teaching, and because of this I spend way too much time at school (yes, even on weekends!). I have to make myself go to the movies or just hang out with friends. My goal this year is to play more and have fun! This is really challenging because now my homework--Library2Play Blog—is so much fun, but I am going to work hard on having a balance in my life.