Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Week 7 Thing #17

For this Thing, we looked over the California 2.0 Curriculum Connections wiki, which is an excellent resource pulling together all of the tools and ideas we've encountered in SLL2.0--plus lots more! We will need to revisit this as we work with the librarians in my district.

To complete this Thing, I posted an idea on the wiki--in the section on Wikis , I added Idea #31.

BTW, Thank You CSLA, not only
for creating this program & all its supportive resources, but also for freely sharing it with those of us who are not even members of your organization! I'm in Texas! You've provided a wonderful example of Web 2.0 spirit!

Week 6 Thing#14

I'm exploring Technorati again for this Thing. I have spent some time here in the past, but I always come away thinking I'm missing parts--I'm trying to fill in the gaps. One thing that I always forget to do is tag my posts, so I'm going to try to remember to do a better job at that.

The Discovery Exercise had us search for terms using various advanced features. I found that "school library learning 2.0" gets the results I wanted--can't forget the quotations--and the Quick View is a very handy element!

Obviously, tagging is the element that makes it possible for the "social" part of web2.0 to take place. It's the reason that we can find cool photos on flickr that are that certain shade of blue, how we can find others with similar interests--it's how virtual community building is made easy and convenient. It's very powerful, and since you can tag your work with as many tags as you want to, it is flexible too. And for the most part it works amazingly well. Tagging is perhaps the most powerful aspect of this new (to me and my fellow school library 2.0 learners) world.

However, the librarian in me (geeky, I know) also sees the limitations that come with such a non-standardized cataloging system. I found posts tagged with misspellings, with or without spaces, etc. These nonstandard tags (most of them mistakes) render that piece of work on the web invisible--that's the fly in the ointment. Just a reminder for myself to tag carefully and try to think like the person that might be searching for my work so I use effective tags.

Week 6 Thing #14

Technorati Profile

Claiming my feed (although I thought I'd already done this...)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Flickrstorm--Cool Mashup

Just as I was grouching about not being able to use various 2.0 tools at school and with students, I ran across some of David Jakes' tutorials on TeacherTube. The tutorials that really caught my eye are the ones for Flickrstorm , which is a mashup using Flickr photos that allows you to search for photos (advanced tab allows creative commons searches too), save them into sets and download them altogether onto a page with a unique URL. Students can then access the images--which have full attribution and links back to the original on Flickr--from this unique page rather than having to go into Flickr. In my district, Flickr is blocked, but I'm hoping that Flickrstorm is not . If we can use it, it will be really handy! The 3 Flickrstorm tutorials are on this page under the Photostory3 tutorials.

BTW, Jakes' Photostory3 tutorials are certainly worth the time too, as an intro to the free program and to digital storytelling in general. Thanks Mr. Jakes!!
I think I will show them to a couple of my teachers who are interested in different storytelling options for their kids.
A fellow participant in the School Library Learning 2.0 program, blogging here at Book-Case, so precisely stated what librarians' focus should be in the whole school2.0/library2.0 debate, that I wanted to quote her here:
(school librarians)
need to reorient our way of thinking from fixed goals to be met, to ongoing goals that are a work in progress. We need to be trendspotters and maybe even trendsetters for our schools. We don't need to be techno-geeks; what we need is to be good readers, good listeners and flexible professionals who value and collaborate with our patrons.
Thanks Book-Case for pulling those loose ends together for us. Very well said!

My goals as librarian are much different--more general (maybe overarching is a better word)--than those of the classroom teacher. My focus is much more on the 21st Century literacy goals being discussed in this project and by such "important" thinkers as Joyce Valenza, David Warlick and Doug Johnson, etc. Those skills include "traditional" skills such as reading, literature appreciation & evaluation, selection, etc. But they also include the newer learning that we are doing in this project this summer. Thanks Book-Case for making me think about this!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Week 6 Thing #13

This activity for School Library Learning 2.0 deals with social bookmarking, tagging, and Deli.icio.us in particular. Del.icio.us is one of my favorite web2.0 tools--I use it all the time! As I go through this activity, I am learning more about how I can organize my bookmarks (by bundling the tags), and just how the "social" part of the idea of social bookmarking works. Now I just need to carve out the time and actually prune and organize my bookmarks better!

I have found a couple of interesting links on the SLL2.0 page --one is
5 Ways to Mark Up the Web . This article discusses various ways to annotate web pages and share your thoughts with a work group or class--I've tried Trailfire, and I can see how it would be very useful in the classroom because you could have students follow your trail from site to site and your Trailfire "notes" could help them know what to study/where to go on each page. Particularly useful with younger students or special needs students. The problem (as always) is that you have to sign in to use it, and we'll probably not be able to do that at school.

As for the use of Del.icio.us at school, of course I see how the social or interactive aspect of the site is an added value to other more "traditional" sites like MyBookmarks , but frankly, I'm not entirely sure we are able to get to it through our school filter either. I'll have to check next time I'm up there. I suspect that many of these Web2.0 tools that we're looking at in this program are a half-step ahead of what our IT department is ready to allow us to do at school. I think it's getting less restrictive bit by bit in our district, but I'm still stymied many times when I want to use a cool new tool and then find that it's filtered out at work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Changing Role of Schools

In the July/August 2007 Editor's Note, James Daly (Edutopia magazine) gives a clear and concise overview of the change in the nature of information over the last 20 years, and the change (or lack thereof) in America's public schools. He points out that business has called the shots in the formation of today's information age, and schools must now
step into a new role: assembler of the collective intellect. Educators must help students sort out the insightful from the ludicrous, assisting them in their new role as capable and critical thinkers.

Wow! He's talking about the very skills that librarians are suited to help students/teachers with! Evaluation of resources! Critical thinking!

Who says librarians are obsolete? Skilled librarians are more important now than ever--we just don't always market ourselves effectively. It's time for us to step up too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pay Attention: Digital Learners

An interesting video that might get some conversation going about how our students learn and why. This is a conversation that we need to have on an ongoing basis in our schools, because I'm not sure some educators (in my world, anyway) really "get" it.

There's an old saying that if you keep doing what you've always done, then you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. I'm not sure that's true with our students anymore. I believe that if we keep teaching in the same way we've taught in the past, we will end up with disengaged young people who are not prepared for their life in the 21st century--in the flat world.

Here's the video by Darren Draper at T-4 Jordan School District (Utah). His list of resources is a great supplement to the video as well--the video is posted on that page as well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 5 Thing #12: Custom Search Engines

As did some of the other participants of the CSLA School 2.0 program, I found Rollyo to be a cumbersome tool, and I much prefer the Google Custom Search Engine tool for my own use.

Google's interface is easy to follow and easy to customize, as is the strength of most Google apps. At the risk of having too much of a "big box store" mentality, I find it convenient to have this one place to go to find various applications. Google does a good job! That's why the name has morphed into a verb in the English language!

Back to the Custom Search Engine--I created one for my upper grade classes. Each year the 5th graders research a state and an historical figure in US History. The 4th graders usually do a project on Native American Texans and other historical figures in Texas History. I included a few sites that I know my teachers like their students to check--the nice thing is that we can go back and add to the list if needed. I will note that I would introduce this custom search engine to students after they had done some research in the authoritative databases that our district pays for! I am a librarian, after all...

This is a great tool though, and one that I knew about, but had no idea how to create! This type of learning is what makes this program sooooo helpful! I will share this with teachers and other librarians in the fall.

Test Review as Cheat Code--Wow!

Yesterday on his blog, David Warlick compared test review activities to video game cheat code sites on the internet. He asserted that perhaps if we let students write their own test reviews and study guides via a wiki, that process might be more valuable (and intriguing) than the test itself. He goes on to say that perhaps students should be allowed to use these "cheat codes" as they test:

if allowing students to create a strategy guide to use when taking their test would make the test too easy — perhaps we’re asking the wrong questions on the test.

How I agree with that statement! It's posts like these that make Warlick's blog the first one I check every morning. I think his ability to make unique connections like this makes him one of the most interesting and valuable "thinkers" we have out there sharing.

This post helped me clarify in my mind how to explain to some of my teachers that this school 2.0 "stuff" is critical for them to learn about and include in their classrooms. What a great parallel between the classroom and kids' RL this comparison is! What teacher hasn't used a test review sheet--and possibly even a student generated one! But the link to how it is pertinent in kids lives to do this through one of their tools was very helpful to me!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Week 5 Thing #11 3rd entry!

What great timing! I subscribe to Joyce Valenza's SLJ blog and yesterday's post was an extensive list of Web 2.0 tools and how these tools might be used in the classroom/library.

Many of the tools she discusses are the same ones that we've explored, however there are some additional ones too! Take a look!
Her list is in 2 blog posts: here and here .

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Week 5 Thing #11

The next part of #11 is to explore a Ning community and comment on it. I am a member of the Texas Library Association's new Ning, called Texas School Librarians .
I see the potential of a tool like this, especially for a group as large and physically spread out as members of TLA. However, I find it a little disorienting. Maybe it's a matter of time. Seems that there's all sorts of info and various ways you can get to/link that info. My brain may just be a tad "old school" to adapt to this seamlessly. I still see the usefulness of pulling all types of communication together in one place (videos, forum, etc.)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Week 5 Thing #11

I explored several of the Web 2.0 Award Winners . Many of them are tools that I already use--some daily and some periodically. Here are my thoughts about some of them.

Favorite tool for student and teacher use:
Picnik is my favorite new find! I've been using it for about a month now whenever I need to edit photos. It is free and does not require an account. All the basic photo editing tools are there: crop, rotate, exposure correction, red eye correction, etc. These are all the tools that students need on a routine basis, and again, it's FREE!

Favorite tool for teacher use mainly:
Del.icio.us : I've used this social bookmarking tool for about 6 months and I love it. I can bookmark a site, access my bookmarks from anywhere, look at others' bookmarks to give me suggestions for other sites to peruse, and the tagging feature makes it all very easily searchable. Very cool. My bookmarks on del.icious are here .

Favorite tool that is potentially blocked by the district:
Providing this tool is not disabled by the IT guys at school, which it may be, I can see this being very useful for students as they work on projects together. The problem that I see is that in order to use this tool, students would have to set up a google account, and that would be a problem. To have them set up any kind of email that is not controlled by the district would be viewed as a problem even with our older elementary students. So I suspect we will not be able to utilize it in our district.
if we were able to use it,
the old worry about students being unable to collaborate because not all of them have access to the same software at school/at home goes right out the window with online collaboration tools like GoogleDocs. Currently in my building, we have a problem between the MS Office versions in the labs as opposed to the versions on the 4 student computers in each classroom. For simple word processing/spreadsheet work, GoogleDocs would solve the problem for free. Potentially great news for school districts that do not have the funds (or maybe the interested leadership) to update software regularly.Very powerful.

Favorite Cool Tool Just Because:
Colorblender is the coolest tool! It gives you color schemes that are pleasing to the eye when you choose one main color. RGB values are given, so you could use the information in almost any application. It would be great for students to use as they create products--anything, from powerpoint presentations to brochures or games! They could choose color schemes that are aesthetically pleasing. Very cool.

Other Cool Stuff:
City Guides/Reviews: Yelp has lots of reviews--I found a new coffee bar not far from my house that I'm going to check out!

Week 5 Thing #10 v2

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Created on Image Chef

Of the several image generators that I tried, I really liked Image Chef and Hetemeel the best. All of them were easy to use though, and easy to post into my blog. As far as using these with students, I'm fairly certain that they will be blocked by our filter at school. If they're not, I think students would have fun creating cartoons/signs, etc. The big problem will be copyright for comic strip characters or images of celebrities though--we must keep good judgement about copyright in mind--fair use or not!

Some of the generators allow users to upload their own photos though--this would be fun and less of a copyright worry.

Week 5 Thing #10 v2

Here is a good one!

This one is from HeteMeel .
As I read on some of the other blogs for this project, I wonder about the copyright of these images. One librarian had a Disney image--and I KNOW they're very litigious. Many of the sites note the Fair Use doctrine and the concept of parody. I wonder...

Week 5 Thing #10

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Shot at 2007-07-06
Thanks to ImageShack for Free Image Hosting

I thought this would make a good graphic for a professional development session--Fun! More later as I explore more!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Week 4 Thing #9 Blog Search Tools

BTW--Notice my cool new avatar? I found the site Voki through a blog that I read doing this exercise! Darn--my avatars just keep looking better and better! heehee

For this exercise, we were to explore several blog feed search tools online and see what we encountered.

In light of Scott McLeod's Independence Day challenge to blog about tech leadership and 21st Century skills, I thought a good exercise would be to search for his suggested tag (schooltechleadership) on all the blog search tools. I found that trusty old Technorati harvested the most and the quickest results of all the tools. Of course, some of the engines weren't really suited for this type of search (Topix, for example), but it was interesting to see the different options out there. Google got the next highest quality results.

I'm glad for this exercise, because I put all of these tools on my del.icio.us page so I can remember them!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Technology and Administrator PD

A few days ago, Scott McLeod challenged bloggers to blog about technology and leadership today. Here's his challenge:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007 is American Independence Day and is as good a day as any to celebrate independent (and hopefully innovative) thinking and leadership. I hereby invite all edubloggers to blog about effective school technology leadership next Wednesday.

As I think about leadership and technology in my building/district, I must agree with McLeod's assertion that to many, many administrators, technology seems to be an add-on. It doesn't seem to be a part of their training nor is technology an integral tool for many of them.
How might I as the librarian facilitate a change--even a small one--in the culture that has grown up in my building as a result?

McLeod asks what is one tool that might be particularly helpful to administrators in my world. My answer: RSS! It's what makes so many Web2.0 tools possible--and relevant! His assertion in today's blog entry that tech training for administrators must be job embedded and authentic makes RSS the perfect basic tool. Information that you choose because it's pertinent to your life comes to you when it's created! What more could we ask!

I plan to introduce my teachers/admin to some basic uses of RSS in the next school year--for blogs and podcasts, primarily. If educators are exposed to the power of collegial relationships made possible--almost effortless, in fact--by RSS, and they're exposed to some of the vast pool of expertise at their fingertips, perhaps a few more converts will be created! :)