Saturday, February 20, 2010

Going to read and review some professional books next.

I love reading professional books, but rarely have time! For the next six moths I am going to read them and post reviews here. First up, Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about It by Kelly Gallagher. It looks to be a book about how turning everything nto a lesson that teaches how to analyze every book and reading assignment to death as if it were a passge on a test is killing to joy of reading and creating a generation of kids who do not read for pleasure, since they take no pleasure in reading.

I'm looking forward to the "What I can do about it" part. Uh-oh. Looks like I'm missing graduate school again! Somebody remind me that I can't go back for another degree till Jack is much older!

Can't wait! What are you reading?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thing 23: Summarize Your Thoughts About This Program

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises in the learning journey?
The exercises using images (including mash ups) were favorites because our kids are so visual! Learning to meet them in that word will help us get our messages across. I also loved Google Reader—which I knew about but never took advantage of—now I’m hooked! And Rollyo really was a surprise favorite.

2. How has this program assisted of affected your lifelong learning goals?
This program was a perfect fit for my learning goals for this summer. I got hired on to a new district this summer, and I had already begun the North Texas 23 Things. I finished that one and then began this one (pardon my late-ish finish!) and I enjoyed them both. There was very little cross over in terms of what we were asked to do. Having the lessons on line and having help available if I needed it were just right for summer at-your-own-pace work.

3. Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
One word: Rollyo. Cool to the nth degree and very helpful and easy. I cannot WAIT to use it at school with my teachers!

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Nothing. I thought the instruction was wonderful, the background info was just right, the links to help were perfect. Nothing shorted and nothing wasted.

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
In a heartbeat. Thank you for offering it to those of use outside SBISD. Your generosity will affect many, many school children in a positive way. I appreciate all the hard work that went into this endeavor and I am honored to have completed it.

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use you words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
Valuable. This program allows you to learn what you need to learn, in your own time, at your own pace, for your own edification: worth every minute you spend.

7. Now go and comment on some of the other player’s blogs.
On my way….

Thing 22: Ning

Ning is not a place I will return to often--okay...possibly never.

It was a waste of time for me.

I looked around at library sites, yoga sites, gardening sites, religious sites, and cooking sites. I saw nothing that I could not have seen elsewhere with less time and less searching. I think this assessment of mine may be more of a reflection of my personal style. I am not a big "discussion board" person. Although my graduate school used them a lot for assignments, I understand how they work and I do participate; however, I do not have the time or inclination to search through or follow a group on Ning. Zero interest here for me.

I see the draw for those who do have the time or inclination because there is a plethora of information and people willing to talk bout their experiences. It is way to much personal info and personal opinion for me. I'll be just fine with the blogs and Rss feeds I have already.

I'm sure this sounds pretty negative, and I'm okay with that. :-) Surely we will not all love each Web 2.0 application that we try. Some of them will not be worth our time-- reference Doug Johnson's killing his Twitter account (about which i commented below.). Not all tools fit all people's style and pattern of usage. It's okay not to love or use them all! :-)

Thing 21: Podcasts and Videocasts

I really like to use Photostory and would like to use it more in the library and with kids as they do presentations other than PowerPoint. Photostory is easy to teach and has so many great features! In this age where kids regularly see such professionally done entertainment via animated movies and 3D presentations at IMAX, allowing them to use a tool like Photostory really makes them feel like they are doing something current and meaningful!

Some tips for making it easy are to have the kids already choose their images ahead of time, and for them to make a story board if they want to add text. Having some time to choose music and deciding if there will be narration ahead of time are big time savers too. One of the greatest things about Photostory is that a project can be finished in a silent mode, or one can add in music or narration. One can also add transitions and the like to make the show more spectacular. This ability to add on bells and whistles let the quick kids add to their project and the slower kids finish a wonderful project without the bells and whistles at the same time!

Thing 20: YouTube, TeacherTube and Zamzar

On YouTube I searched for the TLA 2008 Book Cart Drill Team from Austin that beat my former district's team at TLA. The second part of their song “I Want to be a Librarian” (starting at about 1 minute) is hysterical and I still hear it playing it in my head… Check it out! (While they are signing the words—check out how they sign “librarian”!

Finding useful videos for teaching on YouTube is hit and miss—sometimes you have a lot to work with, and sometimes not-so-much—at least this was true in secondary. As I went to Teacher Tube to search, I had a *much* harder time finding videos that I would actually use in class. Many were poorly done with poor quality images or poor quality video. But after about 30 minutes, I found a great student produced video on the water cycle that you can view below.

Having access to so many videos can be a Godsend when you find a lot of useful pieces, but it is a labor of love to search and search when you may be able to find better resources on streaming video or examples from your own experience or hands on work in the classroom. Be sure to download the videos to your hard drive or flash memory to be sure that you will not be held up by buffering videos, websites being down, or connectivity problems.

Thing 19: Web 2.0 Awards List

The Web 2.0 tool I choose for this exercise is Twitter. Earlier I posted about Doug Johnson and his Blue Skunk Blog post about killing his Twitter account. He did so because it was not very useful for him and he was basically annoyed by the types of things that the people he followed tweeted about.

Because Twitter is short (140 characters or fewer) and immediate, it has become a popular way for people to communicate with each other. Twitter can be used responsibly and professionally by schools. For all those parents who never get the newsletter home from their kids’ backpacks—or even for non-custodial parents who never see a newsletter--following a school or district on Twitter allows parents to receive updates on things like field trips, money due, deadlines, test dates, bad weather days, game schedules, and even the days that report cards or progress reports are due. What a handy tool for busy on-the-go parents!

Thing 18: Online Productivity Tools

Discovery Exercise: For this discovery exercise explore one or both of the free options above and post a blog with your opinion of the advantages and/or disadvantages of using a free online tool instead of Microsoft Office.

I have been spoiled by Microsoft. SHHHHH, don’t tell. I do not care for Open Office because it’s harder to be as productive as I can be on Word. Working with Open Office reminds me of when I had to move all my docs over from a Mac to a PC. It was not so much learning a new system as it was missing the great tools that we already had as Mac users. PCs have caught up in the non-graphic interface world, but given the choice of Open Office or MS Office, I choose MS Office.

I read an article in Wired magazine this month about why Netbooks are so popular. It was a very long article but well worth reading if you are considering getting one for you own use, of if your school is considering getting some. Since they use flash memory, you can’t load MS Office on them, you have to use open source or cloud technology to create savable docs. Most people who buy Netbooks want them just for Internet and email usage (according to the Wired article) and that does make sense if you do not need to create content on a program—if you do not need to create much content at all, Netbooks are for you. If you are willing to use open source programs and cloud technology, Netbooks are also for you.

I know this is the wave of the very-near future, but the truth is that I am very comfy where I am, thank-you-very-much. When I have to make the move, I’ll make it…and I hope by then Open Office has improved its presentation software—if not—I’ll stick with iGoogle—it’s applications are more user friendly in my opinion.

I used Google docs to make a spreadsheet to record teacher book requests from the library. Since I will be in two libraries this year, having a spreadsheet available for all the teachers to access that comes to me is a great way for me to keep track of their requests. I also used the form maker to make a form that the teachers fill in. As they fill it in, it exports the info to my spread sheet. Very cool!

Thing 17 Rollyo


That was cool.

I made a search engine geared towards finding library lessons for elementary kids. It is public at

I'm a little speechless. That was so very, very cool. (Told ya I was speechless.) I tried it out with a few searches I am bound to do in the next couple of weeks since I am a newbie to the elementary world, and it worked GREAT! Many thanks to the L2P person who created a teaching vid about it--that was very helpful, my friend! You saved me a lot of time. And since I am trying to finish this activity set up tonight (I did a different 23 things earlier this summer) I am happy for all the help I can get!

This has wonderful potential for use with teachers both in and outside of the four walls of the library or lab. I love to find things for people on the Net, and this way I can que my favorite sites in a Rollyo and search for my teachers, or send them my Rollyo link so they can search for themselves and save time. This is a great tool on many levels!

Of course the use for kid research is obvious-- save time for them by setting up a Rollyo that uses reliable sites and once they have used these sites, let them compare their results in Rollyo to their results in Google. Teachable moments-- here we come!

Thing 16: Wikis

The first thing I thought about when I got to the sandbox was how much easier that was to use than Google docs—although it does not actually create a document—so I don’t know why I was thinking that—other than perhaps I have done so much collaboration that way and through a million emails and “reply to all.” Using the sandbox is a much easier way to stay on topic and allow everyone t post what they want when they can—sort of like we have all been doing through FB this summer!

The curriculum ideas presented in the instruction part of the blog are great—it could even be a place where kids could post their section of a jig-sawed research assignment. In the library we could use wikis for book reviews by students or staff—like a bulletin board filled with book reviews. We could use it for suggestion box type of area—especially if we gave the log-in info out—no one would be self conscious about making a suggestion!

Thing 15: Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the Future of Libraries

Library 2.0 is indeed many things to many people. To me personally it is a way to create content and manage information. Professionally it offers the opportunity to meet patrons where they are (wherever they are) and find ways for them to interface with technology.

I was a late bloomer in the profession of librarianship. I taught middle school language arts for 17 years, and if you had asked me even a few years before I began grad school for my MLIS, I would not have had any desire to be a librarian. I loved to teach research and I loved using technology, but I had no desire to coral that love into the work of a school librarian—until technology became a bigger player in my district and kids were able to create work on a grander technological scale. My district was forward thinking and had a wonderful technology program that grew and built upon itself and allowed and encouraged teachers and students to use it to its fullest extent. It was during this growth period that I decided to become a librarian.

I am now beginning a new phase of my library life at two elementary schools where technology is often relegated (sadly) to state testing tutorials in the lab. The librarians in the district are saddened by this reality, but I know they want to make a way for the kids to use that technology for more than drill-and-kill…I hope that together we can find a way to help kids create content, share their insights, and become a part of library 2.0 and web 2.0

When we do this, I believe we will begin to meet the goals Michael Stephens talks about in his post Into a New World of Librarianship when he writes, “One of the principles I would add to the Library 2.0 meme is that “the Library is human” because it makes the library a social and emotionally engaging center for learning and experience. Librarian 2.0, then, is the “strategy guide” for helping users find information, gather knowledge and create content.”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thing 14 Technorati and How Tags Work

Technorati is a great site for finding useful blogs if I need an answer to a question that is a non-reference question, or if I just want to see what my colleagues think about a certain topic. I already have so many blogs that I follow, I don’t think I could read one more if I tried, but who knows—maybe I’ll ditch a a few in favor of some new ones I like better. (smile)

Tagging information is a fabulous way to organize it. One of the pages I read for this assignment talked about how it is important that the USERS (not the publishers) provide the tags in order for them to be authentic. If the publishers do the tagging, it serves their purposes (advertising) and not necessarily the purposes of readers or consumers of the information. That is a very important distinction in my opinion!

Tags are like subject headings assigned by readers and users. Since there is no hierarchical relationship (and there is none expected) and there is no controlled vocabulary, users end up getting a sort of up-to-date set of related search terms in the cloud that forms when multiple tags are assigned to an object. It’s not the LOC, but it works, and it’s pretty cool!

Thing 13 Tagging and Discover Delicious

The potential of this tool for research assistance is strong for real-life problems—like when my husband needs to find a little programming fix—he can go to Delicious or other bookmarking sites and use search terms that were likely to be used as tags. He has had a lot of success doing that. For kids’ assignments, it could be a great help—like an expandable and changeable “hot list” of great sites preselected by teachers or librarians to help guide kids to strong sites for research. It would be easy for a group of educators to bookmark new sites each time they ran across a good one—it would expand and change and build as time passed and people continued to work on it

As a permanent, searchable, safe place for me to store my bookmarks or cool sites that I might forget—it is AWESOME and I love it. Using a bookmarking site, I can always find those great sites no matter where I am or no matter whose computer I am using—that’s a great help when I am helping teachers! It is will also be very helpful for me this year when I am a traveling librarian at two campuses!

Thing 12 Creating Community Through Commenting

The two points I want to discuss are commenting and tagging in blogs. When we comment on people’s blogs we show them that we care about the topic they are exploring. In the CoolCatTeacher blog referenced in this “thing” ( the author refers to this when she writes, “I think that as an edublogger, I think commenting is one of the most meaningful tools that we have to show experts where they need to focus. It is like having a vote and when you comment you are saying, ‘This is important!’”
To have a meaningful conversation, a blogger must have comments. And as a follower of a blog, when you comment on a post, you “vote” for more blogging on that topic. So, in a sense, you shape what your favorite blogger will blog about in the future.

Creating a cloud tag for your comment helps those who search later to find your comment. If everyone would tag, the web and blogs in it would be a much more search-friendly place—and isn’t that what all librarians want? (smile)

The two blogs I chose for this “thing” are Blue Skunk Blog and Librarian Philosopher. Currently Doug Johnson (Blue Skunk Blogger) has a post about killing his Twitter account, and how teachers and school professionals should be exclusionary when it comes to social networking and students. Very interesting.. check it out at Librarian Philosopher’s ( June 15th piece is on talking points for getting school districts to un-block YouTube. Very interesting and definitely worthwhile.

p.s. commenting on other blogs within the Library2Play blogroll…done. J

Thing 11 Library Thing

Library Thing is HUGE.

It's cool, but it is too big for my taste. I prefer Shelfari for it's ease of use and more graphic interface, and I use it on my school sites.The very cool things on LibraryThing that are better than Shelfari are the cloud tags, the recommendations, and the direct links to discussions about a given book. I also like that you can check your collection form your cell phone. Very, very cool.

A theme I keep finding as I do the exercises in this Library2Play set are how much time these time saving sires take to use/enjoy. It seems the more time we are able to save with service like these, the more we find ways to spend that saved time. I am not compelled to spend/waste time on Librarything because the format of it is so uninviting to me, but many other sites we have explored do compel me to spend my time and energy there. So far the only thing I think would be a great use of time and a time saver for me is the Google reader.

I think that Library Thing does offer a lot of great options for people who are inclined to use it.

Thing 10 Online Image Generator

Here's one of the many images I had fun creating for this "thing." When I completed the North Texas 23 Things, I did other ones-- this is a lot of fun!

Last time I favored Big Huge Labs, but this time I really hung out at Image Chef ( There are many images to play with there, but it is generally for very short phrases--the images don't hold phrases much longer than four words or so-- most are best with one or two words. I made many fun images to post for teachers at my new schools to see-- If I can catch their attention, I'll have a better shot of getting to know them. Elementary teachers are very, very busy, and they need to use their time wisely!

I plan to keep up a blog or website-- depending on what works best with what the district offers and what will be the most user-friendly for my teachers. Since I know so little about their preferences right now, I'll have to wait and learn about them before I deicide how to proceed. These images can be used in my blog, my website, or even printed out as posters for use in the hall, in the library, in the classroom....there are many ways to use these innovative tools.

Thing 9 Adding Blogs and Feeds-- How To

The search tool that was the easiest for me was blog rolls. Searching for blogs like searching for articles is not the best way for me—I agree with CoolCatTeacher blog on the best ways to find blogs that are interesting, valuable, and help me surround myself with words form the wise in my field. There is simply too much out there to subscribe to each log that catches my eye. I could never read them all, interesting or not. In fact, I have added too many to my reader now and I will have to prune some away as I discover which ones meet my needs the best.

None of them were confusing—but searching for commentary (blog entries) is not the same as searching for information. The types of search engines I worked through for this exercise were not helpful to me. BUT, the suggestions of great blogs, the blog rolls of those bloggers, and the ideas presented in the Library2Play entry were very helpful.
I added several new feeds to my reader—most likely too many—and I will find time to read them and keep what is great and cull what is not. I added new feeds on library business as well as education. Between work, my reader, Facebook and reading real books, I may have to hire someone to do the chores around here!

Thing 8: RSS Feeds & Readers

Google reader, and readers in general are my absolute favorite new thing I have created as a result of the two 23 THINGS projects I have completed/am working on this summer. I loved them so much that I have plans to make them for my in-laws and I made one for my husband as a surprise. He loves it too, and in fact, he is reading it right now!

What I like about readers is that I save time by not bouncing around the Net finding my favorite pages, that I will not miss anything that gets archived if I do not remember to go to my favorite pages in time, and that I can get it all done at ONE site! Whoo hoo!

I am already using it in my personal life to follow blogs I like, and I have of course added professional blogs and sites as well--since I really enjoy my profession (school librarian) reading about it is both a professional and a personal endeavor!

Teachers and administrators would use just like I am to save time and keep informed. Libraries could set up a library account that could be accessed by students (or staff) to read blogs or site updates that may be of interest to them. The librarian could set up readers for teachers to view in the library by subject area, or for kids hobbies or sports, or even one that promoted healthy lifestyle choices for children. Of course, teaching the teachers to set their own would be a big help as well! The possibilities are endless!

I am already using it in my person life to follow blogs I like, and I have of course added professional blogs and sites as well--since I really enjoy my profession (school librarina) reading about it is both a rofessional and a personal endeavor!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thing 7 All Things Google

iGoogle has so much to offer! I already use the reader, which is a great time saver, and I had an iGoogle page, but never used it. It was just one of those things where you have so much access to technology tools that you must choose which ones save you time and which ones cost you time in the long run. The home page cost me time, but the reader saves it!

Google docs is also a very cool way to share documents and to edit them as a group. A former group of us used it to add to bibliographies we created each month for a special library event, and we also used it for other special events where we all needed to contribute-- sort of like a private wiki!

Picasa is a wonderful tool that I have used for may years, but I use it for my private pictures. It does a great job of organizing pictures, but the drawback is that it pulls every image you have saved and tries to store it for you. This can be more annoying than helpful at times.

Google scholar is a wonderful search engine for scholarly pursuits. These types of documents are very difficult to find on the www without subscription databases or specialized search engines. Now that I am no longer in school and have less access to professional databases, I will need Google Scholar even more!

As I searched through the additional offerings of Google, I ran across Google Chrome-- which I do NOT have loaded on may machines because of data mining. I did a little more research on it and since some things have changed in the Google policy, it is a little less invasive, but I still don't trust it. I don't mind waiting a few extra milliseconds for my data in order to not have Google record my keystrokes!

I used Google docs to make a spreadsheet to record teacher book requests from the library. Since I will be in two libraries this year, having a spreadsheet available for all the teachers to access that comes to me is a great way for me to keep track of their requests. I also used the form maker to make a form that the teachers fill in. As they fill it in, it exports the info to my spread sheet. Very cool!

Classes could use Google docs to report their research, to create documnets basedon research for jig-sawing, or for posing work they need to acccess at home if they have Internet access. Teachers and grade level teams could use it for planning--in fact, whole grade levels could use it for planning. The calendar could be used much like Outlook calendar--it has the same features and is more easily expandable because each user can use it without having to be in the same system (like you have to be in Outlook!)

Thing 6 Mashups

Maashups are a lot of fun and I could spend hours making fun things for the library! The mashup I chose for Thing #6 was the trading card, since the blog post mentionned it as a favorite.
The cards could be used for research assessment, class games, signage...the possibilities are endless!

("Blanket Baby" photo by jenn jenn on Flickr
I also played around with Motivator, Hockneyizer, Bead Art, and Captioner. With the right lesson plan, these tools could be used to help studetns create work that will assess their learning. In addition, they can just be fun use of computer applications and getting to know the new technology that drives business and fuels leisure time pursuits.

Thing 5 Flickr

Flickr is a great site for finding images that I can use in my work. I like the labeling system through Creative Commons that many people use. Searching for the pictures by going through the Creative Commons filters first seems like your best bet for finding an image you can legally use. This can be a time consuming process, since there are three categories that you are allowed to use if you are doing something like we are doing in this Thing 5--not altering or using for commercial use; so to find a picture you have to choose one of the filtered groups and start looking. However, I think most people just put their search term in the box and do not know (or do not care) about copyright issues.

Then again, if photographers were worried about people using their work without following copyright rules, I guess they would not post to Flickr.

Hmmmm.... well, I do know the rules and I am glad to be able to use a site like Flickr. I will post the photo I chose (including the attribute) by screen-shotting the large version that included the photographers name and copyright info.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thing #3

Write about the process about setting up your blog and your avatar in a new blog post for Thing #3. Have you looked at anyone else's blog...have you made a comment or ask a question?

Setting up the blog was easy for me as I have done so many times and have a few active still. Having all blogs under one user account will make things easier for me since I have separate user accounts now and I tend to forget which account is under which user name. Setting up the Yahoo avatar was a royal pain. I had to re-do it 5 times and it NEVER saved. Then I went back to the post and noticed a note about YAHOO avatars having problems anyways. So I took a screen shot of the avatar, put it in Paint, put that in PPT so I could save the image and size it, then saved the jpg to my desktop and put a picture widget on the blog to show my avatar, but it is not from the Yahoo avatars app. :-/

I did go to a collegue's clog and made a comment about IGoogle and a shared calendar we can use as traveling librarians. I am so excited to be working with others who love to use tech tools to help us do our jobs well!

Thing #2

RE: the presentation 7 1/2 Habits-- which one is the habit among the 7 & 1/2 that is easiest for me and the one which is hardest.

I think all of the habits are great theoretically. "Begin with the end in mind" is probably to hardest for me because I often jump in to do or try things just to see if it will work. I don;t always have a goal in mind. if I do have a goal in mind, I don't have trouble changing the goal if the experience warrants a change, Flexibility is just as valuable as beginning with the end in mind.

The easiest one for me is "Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner." I think I may have an addiction for which there is no 12 step program...lifelong learning. After a BA, an M.Ed, a MS in LIS and certifications in several subject areas, I'm still not exactly sure what I want to be when I grow up...but I am having a lot of fun trying and learning new things.

I have recently accepted a library job in a new town where I will be the certified librarian for two elementary schools. That is a very new and exciting challenge for me since all of my experience is secondary, and only three of my 20 years is as a librarian. I have a LOT to learn, and sometimes it seems a bit daunting, but most of the time it is just plain exciting!

Here we go!