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.