Monday, August 4, 2008

Thing # 23 Summary of my Thoughts on 23 Things Program

I just consulted my calendar, and this was 23 things in 24 days to meet deadline. It looks like I have made it in 22 days, but I must admit to feeling the need for some R & R that does NOT involve technology of any type. I would be perfectly happy to let all my batteries die, the sun shine, the waves splash in, gulls squawk overhead, and have time to finish reading my book! I'm tuckered out. I have felt like a treadmilling hamster throughout this exercise. I really should go back and improve some of the postings that I now know what they need to be better or more complete, but I'll need quite a bit of chocolate to get the energy. For now, here are my answers to the questions:
1. My favorite discoveries or exercises were Flickr,, all the google goodies, Library Thing, TeacherTube, and wikis. That's too long a list. Best one: TeacherTube.
2. Looking back at my postings for # 2 Lifelong Learning: Hard (Technology) and Easy (Play) I would have to say that this program has reversed the order of the two of them. By that I mean to say that frequently playing was hard work, and thankfully, technology has become easier! Goal achieved.
3. Unexpected outcomes: I have become dependent on both my google homepage with the gadgets and RSS feeders, and my account. I don't think my computer would feel right without them anymore. Every day I use them both more in new ways. Hooked!
4. What could be done differently for program improvements? Perhaps some guidance is needed for those using their home computers for their hardware safety at certain junctures. I think that it would help if at the beginning of each thing an approximate amount of time needed should be included, similar to the way a recipe includes preparation and cooking time. That way you can know if it is reasonable to start a particular exercise, and you can know if your efforts have gone on beyond normal and it's time to seek outside help rather than just beating your head against the wall. The time element is the trickiest thing of all to manage with this learning experience. Obviously, you would only be able to put parameters on the learning phase and the action phase. People know their own speed of composing and publishing.
5. I would gladly accept another opportunity to participate in this program again when there wasn't a ticking 24 day time bomb counting down over my head. I could cement my learning, maybe help others, explore where I didn't have time to go before, etc. There is a chance my district may do something like this, and I have already voiced my encouragement to our director.
6. You CAN teach an old dog 23 new tricks!

Thing # 22 Nings

If I had time, I could quickly become addicted to Nings. I registered for both the Teacher Librarian and Texas School Librarian Ning. I joined 3 groups in the first Ning and was ready to join groups in the Texas Ning when I discovered they only had 3 groups and none of them pertained to me. They also didn't look very recently active. No matter, I felt bold. I decided to start a group because clearly they need a group for elementary librarians. The group starter menu insisted I upload an image. I thought that was odd since the 3 existing groups all had the same generic graphic, but I tried to put my little sticky note picture into the system. Sadly, I broke the Ning. I received an error message, and then the web page expired. I went back in. No group. I left a comment for the Ning creator explaining that I was the new member creating the havoc. Perhaps I will limit myself to the Teacher Librarain Ning after all... They really have great discussion and resources at both locations. Again I saw Doug Valentine, AKA Dr. Loopy, and his videos that I mentioned from TeacherTube. He's got a Dr. Seuss show on the Texas Ning that I can't wait to share with fourth grade writers and with everyone around Read Across America time. He cracks me up. I can see how Nings can be the teacher equivalent of My Space or Facebook. Agrab.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thing # 21 Podcasts

This thing wins the award for being the most time consuming. There were numerous steps along the way where I stumbled and tripped. When the Photostory and Switchpod registration were finally complete I called my husband to see the masterpiece that had kept me preoccupied for the entire day. He politely told me it was nice, but I could tell he didn't "get" it. I'll admit the concept is esoteric, and it might take more than one viewing, but I think librarians will snap to it faster. Nevertheless, Steven Spielberg has nothing to worry about, I have NOT found a new calling. Please let me know if the elementary librarians are able to decipher this little show "One Fish". I really didn't want to put words on every photo, but if no one can figure it out, then I may need to go back to editing... Agrab.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thing # 20 YouTube, TeacherTube, & Zamzar

I enjoy humor, and found plenty of it, even when I searched "librarian collaboration" in TeacherTube. Dr. Loopy is too much fun! But when I found this sly song on YouTube I thought it might be just the thing for a monthly librarian meeting. Or maybe towards the end of the holiday party after some adult beverages...
It is PG-13, so listen without little ones nearby. Agrab.

That is Joe Uveges on guitar singing at the When Freedom Calls concert November 2, 2007 in Colorado Springs.

Thing # 19 Web 2.0 Awards List

I found a few things I had not seen before that could be useful at my school. We just became a bilingual campus last year and I liked the SpanishPod offers of free lessons. There are many people who would like to know more of the language, and this seemed appealingly simple.
Minti also looked like it could be appreciated by the folks that visit our Parent Center every week. They could get started with it at school, and then continue with the benefits at home.
The award winner that really launched my imagination was Lulu, where you can self publish. They have applications geared towards fundraisers and I thought our PTO or my (eventual) Friends of the Library could create a calendar of photographs with students involved in learning activities. Of course, the more students in the photos, the more calendars will sell, and who will pass up that opportunity to buy for themselves, and all the relatives? You can make the calendars be Jan-Dec or school year if you prefer, so there are lots of ways to work it, plus you can actually print it with all the school events on the dates! Lulu calculates cost, so you can add a mark up to make $$$, but you don't have to worry about inventory because they print based on the orders. Maybe it's all too good to be true, but it was the award winner, so it must have been successful for a lot of other people, right? Agrab.

Thing # 18 Google Docs

I've been working with Google Docs for several days now and I definitely think it is a FANTASTIC tool. Except for when it is sticky and uncooperative and I want to go back to the simple ways of PowerPoint. The concept of being able to collaborate on a project with partners that are not actually meeting at the same place, but can all be looking at the work together is wonderful. There are many creative templates to choose from; actually more variety than is readily available from MicroSoft. Naturally, like anything, the more we practice with it, the better we understand how it works and how to navigate and accomplish our desires. We are putting it through a good test by using several different computers to enter our project elements. I won't be able to give a final report until after the performance under pressure for the audience on the last night of our class. Test runs have been successful so far... I spoke with our Tech Specialist yesterday and learned Google Docs is currently blocked in our district. They are also pushing us to use more technology with the students, so's a puzzle! Agrab.

# 17 Rollyo

Rollyo was olly-okay for me. I didn't think the explanation on Thing # 17 or even their own Rollyo site provided adequate illumination. Bruce from Spring Branch's video was what finally got me to understand the point at all. Rollyo seems nearly identical to TrackStar, or making your own WebQuest. The bottom line with these tools is they take a ton of time. It is always better to try to find someone else's creation than to reinvent the wheel. Even finding an existing product will need refining for your needs to make it appropriate for your students. I wanted to find something about oceans in case we study about Galveston, and bumped into Leo DeCaprio's environmental stuff. That was interesting. But I was also turned off by some of the completely off-color results that turned up among my keyword ocean results. I carefully backed away from some of the searchrolls and hoped that my computer would not be victimized by some of the noted tags that had NOTHING to do with oceans. That made me realize that if no tags were showing the whole search might be a trap to avoid. This tool seems a little too public for my taste. TrackStar tracks and WebQuests have been created by other educators, not just the random public. If you want to go to the trouble of creating your own from scratch it doesn't matter which format you use; you will still be spending a long time previewing the content and making sure everything is current and working properly for this school year. Agrab.