Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Sharpies for You!

I know I'm a little slow on the uptake, since this incident is almost a month old, but I just had to comment on this story from Adams School District 50 in Colorado. Apparently an 8-year-old boy used a Sharpie marker to color on his sweatshirt and then continually smelled the spot. His elementary school principal, Chris Benisch, in an effort to make a definitive stand against inhalant abuse, or "huffing," suspended him for 3 days. The school district initially backed Benisch, but later the suspension was reduced to 1 day. In response to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center's statement that Sharpies are nontoxic and can not be used to get high by inhaling, Benisch reportedly still felt that Sharpies are too dangerous for schools. From Colorado's 9News.com:
'Wow, that's a very serious marker,'" Benisch said. Despite the medical evidence, Benisch promised to draw an even clearer line on markers. "We've purged every permanent marker there is in this building," he said.
Wow. When I read this account, it brought to mind the approach of many American school districts to emerging technologies. It seems that it is just more manageable to lock down student Internet use at school rather than finding ways to incorporate safe, constructive use of a global interactive web. So many schools just take the interactive, read/write web away--like the Sharpies--rather than changing school structures and expectations. Rather than teaching students how to use these tools authentically and ethically!

I don't believe that administrators/school IT departments make the "lock-it-down" decisions that they do most of the time simply because it is the easy decision. I think it is fear of litigation driven by a fundamental lack of understanding about the incredibly positive experiences students can have when schools allow & guide them. Look at the Horizon Project for a great example of students learning globally and collaboratively.

Think what might happen if our kids could use Sharpies and the Internet. Who knows what they might be able to do!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

LookyBook !

Our group reviewed LookyBook tonight, which looks like a very interesting web site! At Lookybook, you can do just that: look at a children's picture book online--the entire thing! What a great resource for classroom teachers and librarians! It's a great selection tool as well as being a fantastic way to share the illustrations in a picture book. Very slick!

And best of all.....it's not currently blocked in our district!!!

We wondered about the copyright compliance of it all, and I did some reading--started with the terms of service. But here's an article from the Novato (CA) Advance newspaper that leads me to think that copyright is not a problem in our classroom settings.

Lookybook allows you to set up your own "bookshelf" so that you could have the books you plan to use with your classes collected in one easy place. And one of the coolest features is that you can embed a book into a web page or blog! Very, very slick!!

Here's a sample, Poultrygeist by Mary Jane Auch:

AllTop and Another Social Network for Booklovers!

In Web 2.0 class, we've twice visited and played around with Librarything--a big favorite in a room full of librarians, as one might guess. Well, I have two new links to share that I've recently discovered: AllTop and Shelfari.

I don't remember how I found AllTop, and I don't know how long it's been around, but it's new to me! Here, they collect news items from "all the top" sources, and aggregate them into collections such as education, culture, geekery, etc. How they decide what the "top" sites are, I don't know, but I've found some interesting education articles and news items here! Another nice facet is that when you mouse over an item, you get a preview. Cool!

When I was browsing Alltop the other day, I discovered Shelfari. If you like Librarything like so many of us librarians do, take a look at Shelfari! It's a social networking site for booklovers--you can create your own bookshelf that really looks like books on a shelf.I like this cool interface better than Librarything. Very cool! Librarians, go check it out!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Inspiring Elementary School Blogs!

I happened upon a wonderful elementary school web site / blog that I just have to share with my web 2.0 classmates. Go look at Pashley Elementary School's Library Blog now!

Librarian Kristina Neddo maintains a wonderful, regularly-updated blog that contains new book reviews, news about library events and fun web 2.0 projects that various classes have completed, including Voicethreads, how-to screencasts that could be used by faculty or students, and more! It doesn't look like the blog is too old, but it is really a great example of library 2.0, I think.

I'm really inspired by looking at this librarian's efforts to keep her library program vibrant--and I'm impressed that there seems to be a schoolwide (maybe a districtwide) understanding of the importance and power of emerging web technologies. I seem to spend a lot of time in my school day hitting road blocks--filtering issues, teachers/admin feeling too overwhelmed to try one more new thing, testing, testing, testing.... It's great and reaffirming to see a librarian using these webtools effectively! After looking at this library blog, I'm confident that Ms. Neddo is a leader in her school's efforts to really engage learners. Lucky kids!

Trying Out Flock Again

After watching Liz Davis' great screencast about using Mozilla's "social browser," Flock (a browser-on-steroids), I decided to try it out again. I'd downloaded it awhile ago and never really fully gave it a chance. Gotta say that I'm not totally loving all of it yet, but I might grow to like it better.

I love several of the web2.0-ish aspects of it. For example, I'm blogging from it right now! note: posting from Flock didn't work tonite, although I tested it a few days ago and it was fine, so maybe a glitch??? I'm getting used to the feed reader--I have always preferred using an rss aggregator add-on to my Firefox. It's my favorite way to read my collected feeds, although it is limited, of course, since it resides in the browser. Flock has the same problem, but I'm not comfortable with the Flock interface quite yet.

I also love, love, LOVE the clipboard sidebar in Flock, which enables you to simply drag any item--photo, link, video, pdf--to the clipboard so that you can later use it in a blog post, google doc, etc. easily. Very convenient!

Flock seems to be a little....cumbersome....to me in some ways though. It takes a bit of time to load (aren't we impatient these days...), and there are several tools that I'm not that interested in right now. I love my Firefox browser because it's light and I can add whatever add-ons I know I'm going to use. Flock seems interesting enough to use it for a while though--I may love it in the end!