Monday, June 22, 2009

Too cute not to share!

I found this in my internet travels and thought it was too cute not to share for the other book lovers out there. It is a little bit of mystery and intrigue that predicts what you should read next based on your current reading selection. It is called The Book Seer...try it out :)

Friday, June 19, 2009


Oh, where to start? I love it all. I feel a little guilty for taking this class where I have a legitimate excuse to play around and do all the things that I love to do and get paid for it. I am so excited to have learned some new things and to have been reminded of others that I have forgotten about. There were numerous things that I will definitely incorporate into my library program for next year. One of the things that I have used before but sort of forgot about was the Google Reader. I am definitely going to keep up with it now, because I have realized that it gives me great updates and information that I can share in my monthly newsletter.

This program hasn't changed my life long learning goals, but rather it has just strengthened my resolve to stay abreast of technologies and ways to incorporate it into education. I strongly believe that doing so is one way to "meet the kids where they are".

I think the structure and format of this program is excellent. It allows for discovery and exploration which I feel is a key component in learning new technology. One thing that I would like to see is the incorporation of a "thing" that focuses on real-time video conferencing or screen sharing. There are some programs such as SightSpeed, Skype or iChat that can have some fantastic uses in education. I have used them for connecting a student with a Holocaust survivor for a video interview, hosting joint book club meetings, and just connecting with others about curriculum.

If another program like this is offered with different "things" I would definitely want to participate! This course and others like it, give me more "tools" in my box in order to implement programs and enhance the learning environment on our campus. As I mentioned, I will continue to use the Google Reader to stay abreast of technology. Several of the feeds I incorporated give continuous updates on new and innovative programs and features available. One such blog that I found through Classroom 2.0 is Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero.

One resolution that I have is to continue my blog and use it to review books that I am reading. I would like to make a posting upon completion of each book to give a brief overview of my thoughts and opinions. I will also try to incorporate new technology tips that I come across. I think putting my blog address on my signature line is a good way to motivate me to keep it updated.

Overall, this has been a great experience and I look forward to using all these cool tools that I now officially have been exposed to. Bring on Things 24-50 :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thing # 23

I was very impressed with Classroom 2.0. I like the section where you can find more information by tool, subject, or area on the bottom right of the front page. There is some very interesting topics and discussions going on. I can certainly see the use for this site in education. I did in fact join the network, and I added the discussion forum page to my reader. This is a site that I can go to to find out how other people are incorporating Web 2.0 tools into the classroom, as well as troubleshoot problems with technology. Very useful indeed!

I also looked at Joyce Velenza's Teacher Librarian Ning and Bill Drew's Library 2.0 Ning. Both of these nings are designed for library related discussions. They both had several good discussions going on, so I will probably come back to them to see what is going on later.

Another one that I looked at was Middle School Science Teachers. I think this one could be a great forum; however, it looks like it doesn't have a very strong following yet. There are only 70 members, and the participation wasn't that outstanding.

Also, I wanted to look at the Great Books Group, but the link doesn't work and it wouldn't let me see a page. There were two others I tried to look at, International Collaboration - High school and university students worldwide collaborate and learn about each others' cultures and life styles and International Classroom - Social network created for classes around the world. Space where pupils can share, talk about themselves ,show pictures and videos etc,and get to know each other's culture, but they both said they were by invitation only and I don't know how to get myself invited :( These global outreach nings seemed like a fabulous way to teach our children about other cultures and allow them to develop tolerance and understanding of other people around the world.

All in all I like the format of the nings because the discussions are broken down into sections, and I can choose a section to open. Once opened, each comment is displayed. This makes it easier to choose what I want to focus on without having to read through everything or open individual comments. Yea for nings :)

For more widgets please visit

For more widgets please visit

Thing # 22

I have an account with Facebook, and at first I would spend forever reading everyone's postings. I have to admit that I haven't been very diligent with checking it or keeping up to date with it. I have so many other things going on that I don't really have time to monitor it. I enjoy finding old classmates and connecting with people that I haven't seen or heard from in a while. I think that is probably one of the greatest advantages to the social networking sites. I was able to search for groups such as people from my home town, people who graduated high school with me, people from college etc., etc. For that reason alone I think that this is a great tool. With that being said, here are some of the problems. I do not feel the need to know every little detail about what people do all day. It does get a little ridiculous when people post EVERYTHING, but I still read it anyway when I log in. Also, I'm not a huge fan of all the odds and ends such as quizzes, Farm Town request, and other random things that come up. Here is a link to my profile.

Facebook seems to be a more conservative program, but MySpace was a different experience for me. When I went out to browse around MySpace, I was APPALLED by some of the things I saw and read on the students' sites. I wanted to see what all the hype was about a few years ago, so I went out and looked at several of my students' sites. Holy Cow! Even the kids that I thought were "good" kids had some very questionable content posted, and that doesn't even count the profanity. I am not a big fan of MySpace, but I think it has more to do with how it is being used than the program itself.

As far as educational uses go, I am a little skeptical. One educational use I could see social networks having is through collaboration. Through these sites, students and teachers can connect and discuss different topics without having to physically be in the same place. Students could work on group projects with one another and teachers could collaborate on curriculum and lesson plans. These sites also eliminate the distance barrier, and would allow some great opportunities for students to connect with people from various countries around the world to learn together.

Thing #7B

That old saying "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again" was a very rewarding motto for some authors who went on to be multimillion dollar best sellers. One of the articles I read while browsing my Google Reader was 14 Best-Selling Books Repeatedly Rejected by Publishers by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Some of the authors and titles on this list were surprising to me, and I thought it was admirable that many of these authors persevered and continued to submit their novels despite repeated rejections. Below is the list that the article describes.

1. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
2. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
3. Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
4. Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
5. The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter
6. Dubliners by James Joyce
7. Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge Blackmore
8. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
9. M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker
10. Carrie by Stephen King
11. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
12. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
13. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison by Charles Shaw
14. Dune by Frank Herbert

The article gives more information about how many times the books were rejected and many of them transitioned to the Hollywood scene as well. Let this be encouragement for all of you fledgling authors out there who are trying to get a novel published - keep trying :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thing # 21

I just love Google. There are just so many cool things to play with. One of my favorite things is iGoogle. I love all of the different gadgets that the program allows you to use to customize your homepage. There is a gadget for everyone. Some of my favorite gadgets are: The Google Reader, Totally Free Crap, Google Tip of the Day, Interesting Photos, the To-Do List, How To of the Day, YouTube gadget, and a Phrase of the Week. There are many more, and many that can be very educational. A to Z Kid Stuff is a good educational gadget that gives you educational ideas and websites for kids. Google Safe Search for Kids is another great gadget that filters out inappropriate material. The list of educational gadgets for math, science, language arts and research goes on and on.

I explored several other Google tools. I like the Google Books because on many of the titles it gives a preview of the book and even full text on some of them. The unique feature of this tool is that it lets you search text within the books. This could be a useful tool in the classroom when looking for specific information about a topic and finding the right printed resource. Google Books does give information about the book and links to purchase the book, but I kind of felt like this is an area where Google can definitely improve. They will need to expand the online library they have considerably because as of now it is lacking. They have just settled a lawsuit, and have plans to improve this feature and offer more books. In addition, they will begin to offer full digital text versions of the books for sale, and they will house the files on your digital bookshelf. It would be wonderful if many of the required reading novels were available online for students to access and read. This is one I will have to come back to when they have time for improvement.

Google Earth is a great tool as well. It is great for mapping and can have tons of applications in the classroom. I even have a cool watch that tracks where I run by satelite then when I get home it feeds the computer my run and maps it in Google Earth. I can go in and see exactly where I ran and get stats from any given point on the path. How cool is that?! One idea for using Google Earth is to have students travel through novels and stories along with the characters. Using Google Lit Trips teachers are ableto trace the journey of the characters in a book. The students are able to see the same buildings, rivers, landmarks, streets etc. that the
characters are discussing. This site contains many premade Lit Trips, but teachers can also
take the idea, and build their own in Google Earth! Teachers can also use Google Earth to create realworld technology applications for math. Use Real World Math to access math lessons using Google Earth. This is a fun and interactive way for students to learn math concepts, engage in collaborative math projects, calculate distances, and explore interesting math. For science, check out current sky conditions and astrological events.

Thing # 20

After exploring for while, I chose to use Google docs to create a spreadsheet. I am obsessed with spreadsheets; I make them for everything from my grade book, attendance, rosters, all the way down to my Christmas and grocery list. So here is a link to the latest spreadsheet I created on Google docs. It is a training plan for this year's San Antonio Marathon in November (feel free to join me if you are a runner!!)

Obviously I can think of a ton of different uses for documents, presentations and spreadsheets in the classroom. Our campus made a big push for collaboration this year, and even went so far as to designate Tuesdays as collaboration day. The teachers tried to make sure that students were working together within their class as well as with other classes. This type of application would be a great way to have multiple classes working on a single project. The teachers could set up documents that each class period contributed to and edited.

I used the Google docs to create a Library Program evaluation survey that I sent to my campus. The program generated a spreadsheet to track the results for me. It was a very useful feedback tool, and I can see where this application could be used for course evaluations as well as campus and district evaluations. Save a tree - go digital :)

On a personal level, my parents and family members who are not quite computer literate yet often call me to "fix" their computer problems. Seriously, I feel like the Dell customer support line at times without the accent. Anyway, they all live on the coast so I can't just pop over to help. This is a great way for me to be able to edit the actual document they are working on and avoid the compatibility problems of my parents not having Office Suite.

One of the great things about Google docs is that if the student or teacher has an account, they do not have to worry about storing or transporting the files. The network folders provided to teachers and students are great, but accessing them from home is not easy or even possible for the students. This allows for the document to be edited at home and then continued at school without having to maintain a huge amount of space on our servers. Maybe as a district we should look more at using online programs such as this more often to cut down on expense and to avoid compatibility issues. I am doing this course from home on my PC, but I would be interested to see if I ran into any conversion or compatibility problems on the Macs at school as I SO often do when crossing platforms.

Thing # 19

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am familiar with Voicethread and have used it before. I helped a class put together this blog: Schreiner's Shelf where the students created Voicethreads of famous Texans.

I also created the voicethread below to promote our campus read program.

I think that Voicethreads can be great ways to do presentations and to again add a personal touch to presentations. Having voice comments and testimonials from different people during a presentation can make a big impact. Here are a couple of Voicethreads that I thought would be useful for school next year. The first two Voicethreads are introducing different aspects of the research cycle. The author does a good job of explaining how to choose a research topic and how to evaluate the information. The last Voicethread is an example of a Library Orientation. I like this idea, and I think I may try to create a Voicethread to use for orientations. This is a little easier than doing a whole iMovie. I can take photos of the library and create a narrated presentation to post to a blog or on the webpage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thing # 18

Woohoo! I could spend hours browsing YouTube. It is cheap entertainment at its finest :) There are so many things you can find on YouTube to offer instructions, examples, demonstrations etc. in a safe way. There are so many videos that can have great application to curriculum. The first teaching/professional related videos I chose are book talks. The first one is a book talk for the current Lonestar Books. This is a great way to promote the books and encourage students to read them. I plan to use this next year :) The second one is a young girl giving her top 10 favorite books. It was sort of random, but when I came across it, I was enthralled with her. She is so passionate about the books, and she has such a refined taste in literature. I couldn't wait to see what was next, and I am going to go buy her #1 this week. The "how to" video I chose was on speed reading. I don't know that I buy this method, but I think it is an interesting concept nevertheless. I am going to try it out so that I can read as many books in one year as Terri Lesesne does. The last one is just FUNNY! I debated whether to include it, but I laughed so hard each time that I watched it I thought others may like it too. It is a series of 4 banned commercials. My favorite is the second one! I of course spent WAY too much time playing again, but I knew I would.

Video Scavenger Hunt:
#1 - Digital Book Talk of the 2009 Lonestar Books

#2 - Top 10 All-time Favorite Books (This girl was so captivating and genuine that I couldn't wait to see what was next on her list. I am going to have to read her #1!

#3 - How To Speed Read - I wonder if this works! I think I will try it so I can read MORE books.

#4 - Banned Commercials - I had to include this one because I laughed until I cried. The second commercial in particular cracked me up!

I like TeacherTube as well. This site is more educational friendly obviously, and I like the fact that it offers a download button a well as embed codes. I liked this book trailer for one of my new favorite books: The Hunger Games

Thing # 17

I am also a fan of podcasting. I think it adds a new dimension to the information - providing the speaker is interesting and doesn't sound like an automated drone :) In addition to adding more personality to the lecture or information, podcasts are excellent tools to help learners with visual impairments, language barriers, and learning disorders that hamper fluent reading.

I can see where podcasting could be used in many classes and programs. ESL and foreign language classes would benefit greatly from the podcast creator modeling proper pronunciation and accent. Also, how great would it be to have a class blog where the teacher creates a podcast for the days lessons. This would be a fabulous tool for substitutes to use as well as for students who are absent. This way, the teacher is still somewhat able to teach the lesson, and the student is able to stay abreast of what his happening in the classroom. The only drawback is the lovely child who would rather sleep in class and just catch the discussion online at home :)

I actually worked with one of our History teachers and encouraged him to have his students create a Voicethread project over a famous Texan that they researched. The Voicethread program allows you to create a photo slideshow, then do voice over comments that play during the slideshow. It was a little time consuming, but it allowed the students to create a unique project. We then linked all of the podcasts to a class blog. Check it out at Schreiner's Shelf.

I decided to subscribe to the Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and Just One More Book. I like both of these podcasters. I have always liked grammar (I was the dork who liked diagramming sentences in high school), and I love to read. The grammar girl site is a great site to refresh the memory on those grammar rules that we tend to forget as we fall into comfortable slang speech patterns, and let's not even mention what IM and texting has done to grammar. Just One More Book is a great site that is organized very well, offers book reviews, book lists and podcasts galore.

On a final note, Gabcast is a program that I have used before that was a super easy way to create a podcast right from your phone. You can then drop a widget onto your page that will play your podcast. It used to be totally free, but now the VoIP (from your computer) is free and from your phone it is $0.10 per minute. I created a brief podcast using this program and embedded it below - forgive me for this not being the most interesting or stimulating podcast ever. I'm trying not to wake up my husband :)

Gabcast! 23 Things Podcast #1

Thing #16

I like this one quite a bit - big surprise! I went through and added several books to my library, but it would take me forever to add all of the books that I have in my actual library at home. I'll go back and fill in books when I have more time. I love the widget that it provides, and I joined two of the groups. This is a super useful tool for me since the groups participate in discussion forums about literature. One of the groups I joined is a YA Literature group that reads a different book each month and discusses it. This is a great way to get order ideas for my library. It is always nice to get other peoples' opinions on books.

This would be an innovative way to get students to publish to the web. They could keep a bookshelf of the books they read during the year complete with a review for each book. The bookshelf with the reviews could be an ongoing project that is "turned in" or shared with the teacher at the end of the year.

One complaint I have about the application is that you can only add books 1 at a time (or at least I didn't see how to do group dumps). OMG! This was taking a long time since I have thousands of books on my shelves. Here is my LibraryThing Widgit. Also, check out my cover display widget on the right side of the blog.

Thing #15

It Was a Wiki-Wiki Knight The wiki where all the cool kids hang out :)

I had so much fun creating this wiki. I spend FOREVER playing around on it, but it was still fun. I can see so many uses for wikis in school and on a personal level. There is just so much to play with, I don't know where to start or stop!

My only complaint is that the wiki page doesn't allow me enough control to format the page like I would want to. I want to adjust the images to have better alignment and less white space, but it doesn't want me to have that much say so. Also, embedding straight code didn't work that well. It works great to embed the wikis that are listed on the link, but otherwise it wouldn't just read straight html code very well. With that being said, the problem could be the nut behind the wheel:)I also noticed that Firefox doesn't like the Google Calendar, so the widgit I embedded didn't read. I just ditched it.

By the way, when I was playing around, I found the cool Flickr profile widget that I embedded above. Neato!

Thing # 14

I enjoyed the article by Vicky Davis. I believe that her idea to use a wiki in her classes is a great idea, and she brought up a great point that using 1 wiki for all of her classes embodies the true meaning of collaboration. Wikis are a great way for not only students, but also the faculty to collaborate with one another. Using a wiki also eliminates time and scheduling problems when trying to bring many people together. With the wiki, each person can contribute and work on the page at varying times and from varying places. No long after/before school meetings to worry about (well, fewer at least). I would absolutely love for our campus to embrace wikis.

Wiki #1: Discovery Utopias
This wiki had a good front page explanation about the goals and objectives of the project. I liked the discussion format being in a table with links to the discussion posts. This makes it much easier to follow without having to get bogged down in too much information. I did notice that the last discussion was back in June 2007, so interest must have fallen. I liked the links down the left that gave examples of real life failed Utopias, and the links to the student projects. Having the map of visitors is a great touch so that we can see that the wiki is truly a global collaboration. The site was set up in a standard format that has a homepage, discussion page, history page and a notify me page which offers an RSS feed. This site offers students a chance to use critical thinking skills and evaluate how society works. This would be a great tool for a sociology class to participate in.

Wiki #2: Grazing for Digital Natives
I love the widgit to search my blog or wiki on the front page; however, I found that the formatting of the front page was a little off for me. I would like to see more of an introduction to what the wiki is about on the homepage. It follows the standard format of homepage, discussion, history and contact pages with the discussion page set up in a table and the contact page offering an RSS feed. The Voki on the homepage looks really cool, but it took WAY too long to load. I thought it was funny that the little lady in the Voki will follow your cursor! This wiki is a neat way to keep up with new technology that can be implemented in the classroom. This site was a little different in that it incorporates a blog within a wiki. I like this; however, I think it would be less hassle just to follow her blog. By far the best thing about this wiki is the resources listed down the left side of the screen. The author gives links to an abundance of technology tools, presentations and networks. I bookmarked this wiki in my delicious account just for the great list of resources.

Wiki #3: Room 15 Wiki
Love the homepage! It was very kid friendly and graphic oriented. The organization of the blog is great too. I offers links to everything from the homepage. It has a section for homework, brainteasers, student blogs, teacher blogs, news and a help desk. In addition, it has a curriculum section with links to the various subjects. Under each section, the teacher has outlined what the students in his 6th grade class will be doing in that subject. This is an excellent way for parents to keep track of what their kids are expected to know. The RSS feed is offered at the very beginning of the site, and parents could get immediate updates of what is happening in the class. This setup is a fabulous design for a school wiki. This would be a great way for the school to have a central site that amasses information that the teachers, student and parents can refer to. Kudos to the site creator for his organizational skills!

All-in-all this Thing was wiki-wiki-wonderful :)

Thing #13

Delicious is one of my favorite tools as well. It is a great way to keep all of my web interests in one place and accessible from any computer. I have about a million (ok maybe only 225) tags though, and I am often having to remind myself how I tagged certain sites. If you care to see what I have in my delicious account, my user name is selenaknight.

Probably my favorite thing to tag is technology. There are so many interesting sites out there! I have already tagged numerous sites that I plan to use next year in the library and to share with the teachers and students on my campus.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thing # 7A

Twitter in the classroom? Oh my! Well, it is catching on at the university level if not in grammar and secondary school. I follow the
LISNews Librarian And Information Science News Blog which had an article titled 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom by AndyW.

This article caught my attention because of all the Twitter craze that is happening lately. I have to admit that I am not a Twitterer (is that a word?) yet, and even though I now officially have a Facebook page, I am horrible about finding time to update and monitor it. I wanted to see how the university is able to incorporate micro blogging in the classroom.

Some of the most obvious ways that Twitter is being used in the university classroom is to communicate between students and professors, collaborate with peers, share websites, make announcements, take surveys, and brainstorm. Some of the more creative ways it is being used is to follow news stories, practice foreign languages, practice succinct writing and brevity, twittories (each person contributes only 140 characters to a story that the class writes a a whole),, follow occupations, search for jobs, and follow researchers.

This article was very interesting and offered several links and ideas for using Twitter. I don't see this happening in our schools anytime soon, but it is an interesting idea! We would have to break the taboo of having and using cell phones as an educational tool. I do wonder how many side conversations and tangents go on when students are supposed to be Twittering for class :)

Thing # 12

Well, this one is off to a rocky start. I was intrigued by the site, but was not working well for me. The book just kept saying it was loading. I posted it to my delicious account and I will try it again later. It could just be a byproduct of my computer being cantankerous lately.

You can't keep a good woman down, so the next program I am delving into is the TimeGlider Application. This one is VERY time consuming, but I can see great applications for it in history class, or even when doing biographical reports in class. The students can make a timeline of a person's life or historical eras, and link images and video to the timelines. Good stuff, but I see logistical problems since the students wouldn't have enough time to use the program effectively. Maybe it could be done in groups to break it down. Another issue I ran into is that the program doesn't recognize man of my pictures. I made sure they were the right extension, and tried several different work arounds, but alas...I got tired of trying to make it do what I wanted. Here is a timeline I created with a few pictures (nothing fancy). I had to do a link because it doesn't embed well on the blog.

Next on the try it out list was Ta-da List. I am all about making lists and using them to monitor my progress and efficiency. I get such a sense of accomplishment when I am able to mark an item off my list. This one is similar to the iGoogle gadget and many smart phones have to-do lists applications as well. Still, the program lets you email the list or share it with others, so it is a useful tool. Here is my Ta-da To-do list for tomorrow :)

I also like the Wordle program. I have used it to create word clouds to post on my website. I also introduced it to our teachers in order to have students evaluate their writing in an interesting format. The students can copy their essays and paste them into the program for it to create a word cloud. The larger the word, the more times it was used in the essay. This is a neat way to display work that doesn't traditionally lend itself to display such as essays. I created a the following word cloud from the words in my blog using
<span class=

Thing # 11

This is one of my favorite things to do! I love enhancing images and making fun things with photos online. I use and Imagechef all the time to create images for the webpage and for publications and presentations. They are fabulous. Here are some of the things I have created.

Above is a T-Ball Trading Card for my daughter - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Here is a dorky picture of my as a star! Our theme next year at school is Lights, Camera, Action, so I can already see tons of applications for this program.

Here is yet another theme based photo that I can use next year. What fun!

Here is the tatoo I am going to talk my husband into :)

I also made my blog headline banner with

After way too much time playing, here is my last image that I generated in's Post it Note Generator.

Thing # 10

I chose to use Animoto for my short slide show of Flickr photos. I have used this program before to send short slide shows to friends and family. I actually used it to make our Christmas Card last year :) I am embedding both videos below. Too cool! This program is really easy to use, but the only downside is the free version limits you to a pretty short video clip.

The photo credits are as follows: - 2nd Sunset in Hawaii by Simonds - Waimea Bay, Hawaii by Shayan - Hawaii surfboard by mrtwsim - Sumo in Hawaii by hellochris - Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Cougar-Studio

Another program that I really like is! Check it out. Here is an example of a Smilebox presentation.
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Going Wild a the Zoo
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Thing # 9

I enjoyed using Flickr very much. Flickr is a great way to search and share photos online, and with the advanced search through CC, it is a great way to find appropriate photos for use in presentations. I can think of tons of ways that we can use this in the classrooms. Presentations are always more interesting when there is visual stimulus as well as text. A picture says 1,000 words right?!

I have quite a few photos uploaded to Flickr...more than the free account will show :) Here is a link to some new family photos that were taken of us by Ms. Buck at Prather Park.

Also, the theme I chose to search for photos with CC license was Hawaii. I chose this esteemed topic in eager anticipation of our family vacation coming up next month! Yippee. Here are the photos I found that I liked.

Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Cougar-Studio

Waimea Bay, Hawaii by Shayan

Hawaii surfboard by mrtwism

And just because it made me laugh....

Sumo in Hawaii by hellochris

I enjoyed looking through the mashups for this activity. I like the idea of being able to take the Google maps and overlaying them with photos. This would be a super creative feature to use to generate scrapbook pages from family vacations or trips. It would also be a great application to use in a geography lesson taught in the library. Overlaying pictures of interesting sites and people from different geographic regions on a map would be more visually interesting for the students. This would be a fantastic way to support a multicultural book. By generating a map of where the character in the book is from, then overlaying a photo of the character over the map, the students would get an immediate reference for exactly where the location is. You could even have a task where the students had to match pictures of several book characters to the appropriate area of a map that is home for the characters!

One of the fun links I found was the Flickr Chia-Pet. You get to paint the Chia seeds on bald people and watch their green hair grow. How funny! Here is the link:

I also absolutely love! There are so many ways I use this program to enhance photos and create interesting graphics. I use this program quite a bit to create enhancements for photos that I upload to my school or library webpage.

Thing # 8

Creative Commons is a wonderful idea. Even for those of us who are supposed to know all the rules and regulations, copyright can be a very confusing and scary thing! With the technology revolution, it becomes even more complicated. I like the fact that there is a site where I can find media that I know is safe to use. When I was playing around on Creative Commons, I found that I liked searching with SpinXpress. It allowed me to search multiple formats for topics. Here is a widget where you can just type in a topic and it will pull up various media formats for that topic.

One problem I did encounter was that I have difficulty finding specific things with the CC site. I learned that I need to be creative and somewhat specific when searching. For instance, I searched for "America the Beautiful MP3" in order to get an MP3 version of the song that is approved for use.

I often use media when preparing presentations, and I encourage the students to do so also. In the future, I will certainly point the students in this direction in order to help them understand how to find acceptable media without violating the copyright laws. I would love to see a database link set up on our school pages that offered students these type of media files in a quick search method. I can easily see how time constraints in the classroom would prevent students from doing this the "proper" way, and they will continue to just use Google Images without any thought to fair use and citations. Yikes!

Overall, this is a useful tool that I will have to remember to come back to when searching for media!

Thing # 7

OK. I have to say that all of this blogging and commenting is taking over my life. I get so involved in reading other people's posts that I lose track of time. I chose to go in and make comments on some of the personal interest blogs that I subscribed to having to do with running and nutrition. I read numerous posts from The Diet Blog and left comments that I am looking forward to hearing back on. This unfortunately just continues to feed my addictions.

Speaking of addictions, I read several of The Goddess of YA Literature, and was going to leave comments, but ran into one of the issues discussed in the article for Thing 7. I was met with the decision to leave an anonymous comment or sign up for a Live Journal Account. With the plethora of accounts I currently have, I didn't want to have to sign in or register for another one, so I just left an anonymous comment. I know this is not the desired method, but such is life.

I do think that there is an appropriate way to comment and that it is good netiquette to do so. We all love feedback, and we want to know that we are being "heard". If we are not willing and able to comment and communicate with one another, the whole premise of interactive online communication sort of falls apart doesn't it?! I want meaningful feedback that I can use or at least enjoy; therefore, I try to leave comments that prompt a continuation of the thread on other people's blogs.

Thing # 6

Oh the time I can spend getting sucked into RSS feeds and viewing the latest hits on my Google Reader. I have created numerous folders and subscribed to many feeds. I enjoy browsing through the headlines and seeing what hits I have. Here is my Google Reader Blogroll:

The ones that I spent the most time on, were the Flickr interesting photo feed, the YouTube feed (OMG....I can't get enough), and the ask the Sports Dietician feed. What can I say, I feed my addictions :) I also enjoyed looking through Terri Lesesne's Goddess of YA Literature blog. She is a FABULOUS book talker, and I enjoy reading her witty writing style.
All in all, I really like the Google Reader and the RSS feeds; however, I have to be selective and careful about when I view it. I have a tendency to get very involved and forget what I am actually supposed to be doing (like work :)) when I start previewing and checking the feeds. I like this format so much more than the newspaper though.
I did have an immediate thought about an application at school though. I plan to share this with one of our history teachers who has his students do a huge ongoing project on current events. I can help him show the students how to set up an RSS feed for news articles that have to do with the country on which they are reporting. It is almost cheating to have the current events sent to you instead of having to search for them yourself :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thing # 5

Really Simple Syndication or RSS was semi-interesting to me. This to me is much like what I use my favorites folders for; however, the RSS has the added benefit of only listing new stories or information about your feed. I chose to set up a Google Reader since I was on a roll with the iGoogle homepage. It was really easy to set up and choose which feeds I wanted to monitor. I chose to monitor some news sites, the science package and the technology package, some library feeds, and a frugal travel feed from the NY Times. I think that being able to go to one location and search for new current even stories regarding science and technology would be a great activity to incorporate into the classroom or the library. Using the reader and the stories to update a "did you know" or "current event" board would be a great way to use the site for educational purposes. Man, I just keep getting all sorts of ideas from these activities! I do like the fact that the reader also allows you to search through the new postings by using keywords. This helps to narrow the results down since even with only a few feeds, the amount of reading could become overwhelming.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my main goals in this course is to have fun. The feed that I liked the most from this exercise was the frugal traveler feed. I thought it was interesting that there are people who can make their vacations last for months. They have basically adopted the mentality (whether voluntarily or due to economic circumstances) that they will work to live not live to work. They basically work seasonally and make enough money to vacation the rest of the year. My brain doesn't really work this way even though I think it would be fabulous to take extended vacations. I plan to monitor this feed just to get tips and hints on how to vacation for less money :)

Thing #4

As I mentioned previously, I am a blogging fan. I can see so many applications for this forum of communication. Some of the most interesting ways that I saw when browsing was the idea of using the blog to connect one classroom to another somewhere around the world. How amazing would it be to set up a blog with a class in Australia where the students could share their ideas, customs, pictures, videos etc. with one another. This is the modern forum for pen-pals!

I particularly liked Joyce Valenza's PowerPoint Reform blog. I can not agree more with her views on PowerPoint being overused in school by both the teachers and the students. I think that she is correct in saying that it is time to move beyond the old standard best practice rules and allow the students and teachers creative license to explore and expand their presentations.

Can I just say that I cracked up when I read Duck with a Blog! It is too cute to see how kids think. What a great way to have elementary kids not only learn new technology, but to practice their reading and writing skills while learning about animals. I loved this one!

I enjoyed looking through these blogs and seeing what other people are doing. I could definitely see a blog being utilized is to keep parents and students informed about what is going on in the classroom. It would be so easy to keep a current lesson plan and school event calendar on the blog for a classroom or library so that students and parents could check it at anytime to see what is going on. Teachers could provide links to homework, worksheets, video tutorials, and even helpful websites for those parents who want to be active in their child's education. This would also be a great way for the students to post questions and comments and get responses from not only the teacher, but from each other. This may pose a problem in that some students would post inappropriate comments, but by setting the blog up for all comments to be filtered through e-mail, this could be monitored.

As Ann Davis points out in her blog A Rationale for Educational Blogging it is important to realize that the writing style and format of a blog is not what is traditionally taught or seen in a classroom, so both the teachers and the students have to adjust and modify their expectations. This is not to say that quality writing is not expected, it is just a different format than the traditional 5 paragraph essay.

Another problem with this type of blog would be the time needed to maintain it. Overall, I can definitely see myself creating multiple blogs and utilizing them in a variety of ways. I already have several :^)

Thing #3

I absolutely love the blog forum! I have used blogs for things such as my book club discussions, our campus read program, classes posting online projects and pod casts, several of my online masters classes, as well as personal use blogs. I love the forum of being able to keep an online journal of my thoughts that I can share (or not depending on my mood) with others. I can see so many uses for this forum of communication not only in the education field, but personally as well. The interaction and features that are available are wonderful for teachers, students and librarians. My immediate thought when I was introduced to blogs was that they are a phenomenal way to keep parents informed about what is going on in the classroom or on campus. In addition, they are a super way to help the kids interact on an individual basis. Students are always more willing to participate and are more engaged when given the opportunity to do electronic or at least hands on assignments. On a personal level, we live 5 1/2 hours away from all of our family, so keeping a personal blog with current pictures and happenings in our lives is a great way for our family to feel like they are apart of our daughters' lives.

Needless to say, since I am such a fan of blogging, you can imagine how much I loved creating my own Avatar. I won't even tell you how long my daughters and I spent playing around with the Avatars and creating one for each of us. My daughters are 7 & 8, and they each now have their own Avatar that they beg me to let them "dress up." It is the modern day paper doll, and who didn't like to play with paper dolls?! We had so much fun creating our little Avatars to resemble us and portray our interests!

I am looking forward to the next Thing on the list!

Thing #2

Web 2.0 technologies have and will continue to impact education. The advanced technology that is available is making it much easier and efficient to communicate and teach in much more efficient, effective and dynamic ways. The teachers and students are able to produce and share information in new and exciting ways that are not restricted to the traditional essay or discussion. Technology such as blogs, wikis, gadgets, and RSS feeds (to name a very few) allow learning to be an interactive and dynamic process that adapts and changes with the needs and wants of the participants. The classroom is able to move so far beyond the 4 physical walls on campus with this technology. There is the potential for amazing things to happen. With all of these advances and advantages of technology also comes the potential for corruption and serious ethical problems. Teaching in an environment which utilizes all of the potential resources also eliminates the traditional safe and controlled environment of the traditional classroom. The teacher is no longer able to dictate exactly what information to which the students are exposed, nor is she fully able to control what information the students may publish. This is where the importance of teaching ethical technology use and information literacy comes into play. I think that education should embrace and integrate emerging technology with the understanding that teaching ethics and information literacy is a necessary part of that process.

Thing #1

I enjoyed watching and listening to the tutorial on the 7 1/2 of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners. I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate the opportunity to learn new things and broaden my scope of knowledge. As I went through the tutorial, by far the easiest habit for me is #6, using technology to my advantage. I am always on board with learning and experimenting with a new technology if it allows me to do something better, faster or more effectively. In the classroom, I fully utilized the programs and equipment that the Career and Technology Department provided us (thank you Judy and Leta), and I made it a point to not only teach with technology but to also learn with it as well. In the library, I try to offer innovative and technology oriented lessons and ideas to the students and teachers. I often use technology to make my job easier and to share information with as many people as I can on campus and through our web page.

Of the other habits, the one that I would say is the most difficult for me is #3, viewing problems as challenges. One of my weaknesses is the high amount of stress that I experience when confronted with obstacles that disrupt my routine. A previous boss of mine helped me to view a problem as an "opportunity" to show how well I can adapt and generate creative solutions. Believe it or not, looking at it this way helped me because I then perceived the problem and my reaction to it as a chance to prove myself instead of just a roadblock. I often learn new things when I take the time to solve a problem or overcome a roadblock.

The habit that I think will be most important in this course is to have fun. I find that if I have fun with the technology and if I am excited about using it, I can more easily get others to participate and be a part of it. The things that I am passionate and excited about are so much easier to "sell" to the teachers and students. If I can promote the technology as not only a way to broaden our students marketable skill set, but also as a fun way to learn, then I am more likely to get the teachers to try lessons using the technology. Besides, it is summer and who wants to "work" in the summer!? I am looking at this course as my fun time on the computer.