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?

Excellent!

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.

video

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 Gaggle.net. 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 Teachers.tv. 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 right....do 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).