Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thing #23: Summarize Your Thoughts About This Program

This has been an awesome experience for me. Thank you, Spring Branch, for providing this training and especially for opening it up to those of us who are not part of your district. Please don't take down your blog... ever! I plan to come back to it over and over again.

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I especially liked the image generators, and being able to create all that by embedding a code instead of writing it! Blogging has become very exciting for me, both professionally and personally. And, I go back to my Thing #21 a lot just to play my videocast. Every time, I ask myself, "Did I really do that?"

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I am happy to say that for these 23 Things, I have conquered my hardest habit of lifelong learning by successfully viewing my problems as challenges. For the most part, I have worked through any problems I had without giving up, knowing that I would learn the process better by figuring it out for myself. This has given me more confidence in my technology skills and my ability to learn new things. I definitely want to come back and revisit some of the "things", both as a review and to continue what I started here.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
My biggest surprise is that I am no longer afraid to try some of these Web 2.0 tools. I've seen how others are using them and want to be a part of that excitement. And I've also seen lots of different library blogs... some that are filled with comments from students and others, and some that have had very little response. But the blogger keeps on blogging anyway, and that has inspired me to keep at it, even if at first I don't have a lot of feedback.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I have no complaints at all. You gave us just enough information to complete each task, but not so much that we weren't challenged. And I love the self-paced format.

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
Absolutely, without a doubt.

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
This was the best learning experience I've had since library school!

7. Now go and comment on some of the other Players' blogs?
I've commented some as we went along, but I have a goal to go back and read parts of all the Players' blogs. Every time I read one I get a new, fresh idea.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back to Thing #12

I've waited until the end of this journey to finish my post for Thing #12 because I wanted to explore more blogs not associated with our Library2Play group before commenting. Now I will share a couple that have been meaningful to me.

The first is Turning Pages, created by the media specialist at Cisco High School. This blog has inspired me because Cisco is a small, rural school district just like mine and in the same area of the state, and I like what she has done. It would make sense for me to use this blog as a model for one I might create for my high school. Even though I do not know the creator of this blog, it's very possible that we might meet sometime at a workshop being held at our service center. By reading and looking around on her blog, I have become convinced that I need to do something similar. I can see its usefulness for her school community.

The second blog I will comment on is Kathy Schrock's Kaffeklatsch. Most people involved in education are probably familiar with Kathy's name. She is a well-known expert in the fields of education and technology (and others, I'm sure). Her blog caught my attention first because of its name, but primarily because of Kathy's reputation as a source for all things related to these fields. Her blog is one way for me to keep up with technology in schools.

Thing #22: Nings

I've been somewhat confused about the difference between blogs, wikis, and nings, so I Googled the terms and found lots of discussion on the topic. The most humorous explanation I found was by John Maklary here: Blogs - one voice at head of table. Wikis - equal voices around the table. Ning - big honkin' party. He continues, So in ning, bounce/brainstorm ideas. Back & forth discussion. Actionable ideas/consensus get formed and articulated on wikis.

I think a blog would be my choice for keeping the school community apprised of what is happening in the library... what classes are doing research, promotions, book fairs, digital book reviews... just a general update to give the library a larger presence among teachers and students. But a ning would be useful for students, teachers, parents, or administrators to get involved in whatever way they wish, maybe by starting discussions, recommending good books, sharing ideas for improvement, suggesting programs, and then elaborating on those suggestions with examples, commentary, podcasts, or a number of other digital devices available in Web 2.0 format.

I explored and joined Texas School Librarians Ning. Could this possibly replace our TLC librarians' listserv?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thing #21: Podcasts and Videocasts

I'm glad the creators of "23 Things" gave us lots of guidelines for creating and posting our videocast. Although I never dreamed I would be creating these, it really wasn't all that hard with the step-by-step instructions. Our own Techbrarian conducted a workshop in the early part of summer on Photostory. Fortunately I attended and became somewhat familiar with the program then. It is so easy to use and seems like a simpler version of PowerPoint.

I greatly admire all the librarians out there who are creating digital book reviews and trailers with this technology. I am a fairly slow reader and tend to get sidetracked with other things, so I would need to collaborate with other teachers and/or staff at my school who read a lot, or share responsibilities with my high school book club, in order to create and maintain a book blog. I think the kids will love using Photostory and Audacity for all sorts of assignments. And after this practice, I believe I will be able to help them with their projects.

My videocast was made from family pictures of my great nieces and used by permission from their mother. The music is from Photostory.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thing #20: YouTube, TeacherTube and Zamzar

Thing #20 has opened a whole new realm of possibilities for me. I'm not sure why I have not used YouTube or TeacherTube. Maybe because YouTube is blocked at school, or maybe I just didn't realize the potential those two sites have. Again, I spent way too much time just looking around and watching "just one more video." My learning curve has dramatically increased this summer with this "thing" and all the others up to this point. The wide variety of movies available on these sites makes their potential for usefulness huge. I found something on every subject I searched. No teacher can use the excuse that they can't find anything relevant to their subject here. These online video sites compare favorably with Discovery Education and other subscription databases for streaming video.

Obvious ways that teachers will find these sites useful are as teaching tools, for reviews, for emphasizing parts of a lesson, for reteaching, as a quick focus on particular areas of study, and more. Students might use them also to review, or to embed into presentations for assignments.

One of the videos I chose to embed into this post is from TeacherTube, and focuses on the themes in To Kill a Mockingbird:

I also decided to include a video I found on YouTube called The Librarian Song. It is just for fun and has no relevance to education, other than for motivation or inspiration:

BTW, I had a little trouble embedding these into my blog post, so I went to TeacherTube for a tutorial on embedding videos into Blogger!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thing #19: Web 2.0 Awards List

It was really hard to stop once I got started with this list. Like the saying goes, "So many books (Web 2.0 tools), so little time". I started with YourMinis, which is a source for widgets for blogs, websites, etc. There I found this internet radio and put it in my blog. We have a new AV system in the high school library where I work and I'm anxious to try some background music to see how it affects the students' behavior. (The radio was too big to fit as a gadget, so I had to put it in this message... haven't figured out how to resize yet.)

Next I looked at Netvibes, where you can create your own personalized startpage. It is a free web service that brings together everything that matters to you — blogs, news, weather, videos, photos, social networks, email and much more — and they are all automatically updated every time you visit your page. As I've mentioned several times before in this blog, I'm always looking for ways to help our UIL students learn the massive amounts of information they are required to know. By setting up a personalized startpage using Netvibes and various news sources, I can create one place for them to go for the most up-to-date current events information.

I also looked at Mango Languages, which is a subscription tool for learning conversational skills in foreign languages, and Picnik, another photo editing website. I'm not sure yet what the differences are between Picnik, Flickr, Picasa, and other photo editing tools, but I especially liked the special effects and fonts available in Picnik. It provides lots of possibilities for enhancing presentations created by students and teachers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thing #18: Online Productivity Tools

Either of these tools ( or Google Docs), if they work like they claim to, will be useful for our students who want to do work at home or at school. Many times a student comes in the library with a document he has saved on a flash drive at home and wants to open it on our library computers. Even though the student usually thinks he has used the same software we have, most of the time it is different or at least a different version that our computers may not read. Needless to say, the student is quite upset when he realizes he is not going to be able to access his work (usually we can work around this problem in some other way, but by using either Google Docs or OpenOffice, we should be able to greatly reduce the number of times this happens). These tools give us another way to work with students and provide opportunities for them (and us!) to become more Web 2.0 savvy. And of course the best part of all... they are FREE! For severely underfunded schools, this could be a huge advantage.

I really had not explored Google Docs enough to know what all was there. Besides the documents, presentations and spreadsheets, I'm impressed with the hundreds of templates that are available. I will definitely be using the flash cards, as well as the gas mileage chart when we go on vacation.