Sunday, June 21, 2009
REFLECTIONS OF MY LEARNING JOURNEY . . .
* Blogs are easy to set up!
* Blog names should be much catchier than the one I chose.
* Social bookmarking lets you discover everybody else's favorite websites.
* A lot of the Library2Play bloggers are people I know!
* Common Craft videos make concepts easy to understand.
* Gadgets are fun, fun, fun!
* Google Alerts are like having your own special messengers.
* There's such a thing as "Accidentally-Delete-the-Whole-Blog-a-Phobia."
* You can put Reader's Theater on a vodcast.
* Wordles are fun!
* Receiving reader comments makes you feel important!
Lifelong Learning Goals:
This learning experience covered all of the habits discussed way back in Thing #2. Talk about creating a learning toolbox (Habit 5)! I plan to revisit this blog a lot to locate helpful links and to remind myself about the things I've learned. Library2Play did a super job teaching me how to use technology to make my life easier (Habit 6). I loved learning about all of the organizational tools that Google and other services have to offer.
Unexpected take-aways, outcomes, and surprises:
* Nings - I am now a member of a collaborative international group of elementary school teachers!
* Confidence - I've learned how to do so many new things!
* Awareness - Wow! There are so many teachers/librarians out there who can do so much more, and so much better!
* Respect for Librarians - not only do they have to stay well-versed in technology, but they also have to be extremely flexible in our ever-changing technological society.
* Respect for Teachers - ditto!
Suggested Program Improvements:
* Keep links up-to-date. Error 404's are, and I quote: "Gnarly, Dude!" (See posts on Things #12 and 13.)
* I'm still confused about the Creative Commons rules for Flickr. Are the children supposed to give credit to photographers on their trading cards and magazine covers? Maybe this could have been made a little more clear.
* That's all. I thought the program was GREAT!
YES! YES! YES! I would participate if you offered another discovery program like this in the future.
Learning experience in one word: Informative!
Learning experience in one sentence: Library2Play transformed me from someone who was desperately clinging onto the coattails of technology, to someone who is familiar with and comfortable with Web 2.0's current trends and terminology.
Yes, I will add more comments on other people's blogs! I plan to read them throughout the summer. The best ideas come from other teachers (and librarians)!
I thought learning to locate and follow edublogs (Thing #9) was great, but this might be even better! When I was looking through Education Ning, I found Classroom 2.0 Ning and . . . drum roll please . . . Elementary School 2.0! Elementary School 2.0's written purpose is as follows:
"Since elementary teachers have special circumstances to deal with concerning the use of technology, I thought we could meet here to talk and to share ideas for 2.0 integration."
Now I'm in seventh heaven! Elementary School Teacher Ning-ers from all over the world are asking some of the same questions I ask! What a great resource pool! One teacher from Alaska was asking for e-Pals from another state; a long-term discussion is taking place about using iTouches in the classroom (which we will be trying out with second graders this coming school year); another teacher was asking for science data from classes around the world to be sent to her blog; etc. I requested a membership. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up some more good tips before school starts in August.
It looks like the Classroom 2.0 Ning also posts videos, live monthly webinars, and workshop information. I found it easy to navigate and conduct searches.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The kids got the hang of it quickly and enjoyed doing it. The time-consuming part for me was scanning the pages of 21 student books and then processing 21 vodcasts through TeacherTube. Needless to say, this wasn't something we did on a regular basis. Photos are much easier to download than scanned papers. Maybe next year, we'll put vodcasts on a blog instead. Blogs seem to hold bigger files.
Here is a video I just made to show how some of the ideas from this Library2Play program can be used with the younger children.
Friday, June 19, 2009
When I started my first wiki, I really did not know what I was doing. Most of my learning was trial by error. I was really excited when I managed to make a video with my school camera, turn the camera's video into a computer video with Windows Movie Maker, and insert the video into the wiki. Success! I couldn't wait to show the kids!
Much to my dismay, what worked on my home computer, did not work on most of the school computers. Only about a third of the class could access the video at home. After all that work! My tech coach suggested that I upload the video to TeacherTube. I'm so glad she did! Somehow, TeacherTube was able to reduce the enormous size of my video and make it into a video that could be accessed by everybody. They processed the video in less than 24 hours.
So here it is, my very first successful TeacherTube video. It doesn't look like a TeacherTube video, because I am having trouble embedding it. It keeps coming out squishy and rectanglular. So I've downloaded it to my computer, then uploaded it to this blog with the blog's "Add Video" button. So it is now a TeacherTube video in disguise. By the way, it actually accidentally tells a story about friendship. The kids pointed it out to me. Watch the smallest chick when the chicks start drinking water -- he stands all by himself until his friends encourage him to come drink with them. You'll have to use your imagination.
Since the chick video is more for remembering than for teaching, I looked through some of the top rated TeacherTube videos to see if I could find something more educational. TeacherTube Videos - Reader's Theater of the Great Kapok Tree (4th grade) would be good to show students before working on a Reader's Theater class videocast.
It is great to have some many video resources. It allows teachers to learn from other teachers and students to learn from other students.
Picnik is the tool I played with the most. It is a photo image program. It provides basic services for free. It is a little like Mosaic Maker and some of the other photo image tools on Big Huge Labs, but I found it easier to navigate. Here are some fun things I could do with uploaded pictures:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Here is a link to Google for Educators, which has information for teachers that I found very helpful. It explains how to use Google docs in the classroom and how to set up classroom accounts. Each child needs an individual e-mail address.
Unfortunately, Google says children have to be 13 or older to use Google Docs. So it looks like this won't work for my students.
It can work for the teachers, though. The only downside I could find is that it cannot upload the animation features from PowerPoint presentations.
Open Office is a lot like Microsoft Word, only not as fancy. It does not automatically come with clip art. There are free clip art add-ons, but they don't even come close to Microsoft when it comes to quality and selection. I wonder if you have to add the add-on to each individual computer? I think 2nd graders will have no difficulty using Open Office.
I never was able to drag their link to my bookmark bar. I also wasn't able to get Firefox to download correctly. I wasn't even able to get the L2P player's video to play. Sigh!
HOWEVER . . . I did create a customized search. Here it is, minus the sweat and tears:
Bird Facts - a great search tool for finding facts about birds!
P.S. I never was able to figure out how to get Rollyo to not include a whole web search after it searched through the 5 websites I submitted. I'd be much more likely to use this with kids if I could avoid a whole web search.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We used our 2nd grade wiki primarily as a way to display student work (written, drawn, recorded, and videotaped), to promote student discussion, and to set up links to kid-friendly research sites. Since only the kids are invited to join the wiki, it is a very secure site.
The YouTube video was attention-grabbing and easy to understand, and I enjoyed reading the video creator's explanation. I had a lot of trouble focusing on and understanding most of the perspectives, however. I think they were written for an audience that is very familiar with this subject and the vocabulary related to it. Librarians, perhaps? The first and fifth perspectives were the only ones I felt I had a grasp on. (Sorry about ending that sentence with a preposition - but maybe there will soon be changes in grammar rules, just as text messaging has played around with spelling rules. Grammar 2.0!)
To me, if I am understanding this issue correctly, Library 2.0 refers to what the library needs to be today, to adequately meet the needs of our increasingly technological society. It should facilitate the exchange and organization of information. It should start with what a patron already knows and enrich the patron's knowledge base through collaboration with other sources. In other words, as Dr. Wendy Schultz said in her perspective, the librarian is becoming less of a steward and more of a mentor. I like how she talks about people collecting favorite librarians. The appearance of libraries will also need to change. (I'm picturing Internet cafes, but I'm sure the experts had something different in mind.)
Honestly, I cannot even venture to guess what an elementary school library is going to look like 20 years from now, or even 10 years from now. I can't even picture what an elementary school classroom is going to look like. I know that both will look a lot different than they do today! Probably a lot less paper, a lot more technology, more student-ownership of learning, and more collaboration with peers. Less "Shhhh!" and more "Hey! What do you think of this?!"
Technorati is very user-friendly. The screen isn't too cluttered and it is easy to navigate. The "authority" feature is helpful, because it allows you to find out what the average person thinks about something vs. a paid professional.
When I did the keyword search for "School Library Learning 2.0" using a regular directory search, there were 237 results. Searching just blogs brought 69 results. Searching just tags brought 28 results.
I thought it was interesting that the top ten blogs were all technology-related, but the top 10 searches were for Jennifer Garner, Paris Hilton, Vanessa Minnillo, etc.
It's clear that tagging is very valuable. Tags help you organize, research, and establish collaborate social networks. Cool Cat had listed adding tags as one of the things you need to do to comment like a king or queen (Thing #12). I suppose that means I should be tagging all of my posts, too. Maybe I'll go back and do that . . .
Wouldn't it be neat to be able to tag school paperwork the same way? Do you need to grade the stories the kids in room 200 just wrote about birds? Just use the stories, room200, and birds tags. Wow! They all flew out of the kids' writing notebooks and onto your desk. Even the ones from the notebooks that were lost and buried deep inside messy student desks! Do you just need the bird stories from the four ESOL kids in your class to use with the TELPAS rating forms? Just use the stories, room200, birds, ESOL, and TELPAS tags, and . . . voila! . . . there the forms and stories are, all in a neat stack on your desk in front of you. You need a sample bird story from the teacher across the hall to show to your class? Just do a tag search, and . . . whoa! . . . there it is! There's also one you can use from a teacher in Nova Scotia! Awesome! And to think . . . you didn't even need to get up out of your chair!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
For some reason, I couldn't play the video from the link on the Libary2Play blog. All I could see was a large white screen. The Common Craft guys now have a special place in my heart, though, so I did a search for the video and found it at this link: video. I think I love the Common Craft guys so much because they make technology understandable -- in a peppy, not condescending, kind of way. Sure wish they'd make a video on filling out tax returns.
No, it isn't Thing from the Addam's Family . . . it's one of the Common Craft guys! My heroes!
There does seem to be somewhat of a resemblance, though.
(picture by thorne_ryne on flickr)
Registering with Delicious was easy, once I was able to think of a user name that had not already been used. It was nice how Delicious copied all of my current bookmarks into my new account with the press of just one button. Social bookmarking is a great way to keep teachers organized (individually and as a grade level), but I don't know how practical it would be for primary students.
When we do bird research in 2nd grade, the children always seem to know which birds all of their classmates are researching. They love to mark actual bird books with post-its for classmates, when they come across their classmates' birds. I'd like to think there would be some way for us to apply that to social bookmarking and tagging on the computer, but I'm still having trouble picturing how we could make it work.
Is Furl the same as Diigo? When I clicked on the Library2Play Furl link, a Diigo screen popped up. When I clicked on the video, the word Furl showed up, instead. It looks like Magnolia won't be opening until late in the summer. I couldn't get its tutorial to work. I think the hardest part of technology is keeping everything updated.
All of the top 30 social bookmarking sites I popped into looked similar, so I stopped after about 5.
Monday, June 15, 2009
It sounds like edublogging is still so new that the rules of etiquette are still in the process of being developed. I found the comments following the Edublogger Etiquette piece by Drape's Takes to be really interesting. Some people thought that responding to most comments is the polite thing to do; others thought it showed you are being too controlling.
I liked Sarah Hanawald's suggestions to her students: "I told them that they just needed to remember two things. First was that behind every post and comment was a real person. Secondly, that whatever they wrote to a classmate (it's a closed circle with us) they needed to make sure they wrote with a tone of kindness."
Cool Cat and Drape's Takes both emphasized the need to be accessible for replies to your comments. Drape's Takes talked about how many bloggers like to reply to your comments by e-mailing you. Blogging Basics, however, indicated that if you include your e-mail address on your blog, it is wise not to use your main e-mail. So I've decided to set up a new free e-mail account to add to my profile. I'm going to use a Google account so I can put it on my iGoogle page as a gadget. The account probably won't be used very often, so this will allow me to monitor it without even having to log into it.
I noticed that bloggingbasics101 listed blogging mistake #3 as "Your header is huge." Hmmm . . . I wonder if I should trim off part of that meadow on the picture at the top of this blog? Mistake #1 is "Choosing an uninteresting blog name." Sure wish I had read this before I set up my blog!
My First 5 Comments to Fellow Learn2Play Bloggers:
1. I commiserated with Novella about not being able to center header text (Thing #4). Anyone know how to do it? Post note: It looks like my comment never showed up, but we got the question answered anyway!
2. I asked Theresa about some of her great ideas in her Thing #6 post. (You should check them out!)
3. I asked Into the Book how she set it up so that she can use her blog from iGoogle (Thing #7). That sure could save some time!
4. I asked Ann to tell how her 2nd graders used cartoons with biography research (Things #6 and #7). Sounds fun!
5. I agreed with Donna that time really can go by quickly without you even noticing it while you are reading through blogs and commenting on them (Thing #12). It's dangerous. I need to start setting a timer!
6. (In case #1 doesn't count...) I told Spartan- DJS how incredible his videocast is (Thing #21)! Check it out!
I also made comments to some non-Fellow Learn2Play Bloggers, which I didn't feel as comfortable doing. I guess it's kind of like leaving the safety of your own home.
Once in, it was really easy adding books to my library, searching through groups, and adding a widget to this blog (by following the instructions under the "Tools" tab). My widget is supposed to alternate titles every 10 seconds, but I noticed it seems to always stay on the same 9 books. It is located on the right sidebar.
I searched for 2nd grade classroom groups, but the youngest I could find were 3rd grade classrooms. The two 3rd grade groups were marked private, so I couldn't see what they looked like. I clicked on several other elementary groups, but they were all private (understandably).
I just tried setting up a private group for my school's six 2nd grade classrooms to share. Our teachers use many of the same books for LA lessons, and the students would enjoy reading comments from other classes. Unfortunately, I didn't quite know what I was doing and kept getting a mysterious "cannot modify header information" message. It must have been serious, because it was written in red. I finally gave up. Anybody out there know how to fix that problem? Also, I wonder if you have to assign separate e-mail accounts for each child in order for them to be part of a group? If so, we might be able to use their wiki e-mail addresses.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This magazine cover was made with Fake Magazine Covers on Custom Sign Generator. It was not quite as user friendly as the Comic Strip Generator, but the results were really cute! This is my dog, Daisy.
I'm not sure how either of these could be used as educational tools in a primary classroom. I suppose the magazine covers could be used as covers for student stories or autobiographies . . . but I think the magazine covers on Big Huge Labs would be easier for the kids to use.
Custom Sign Generator's Your Face on a Different Body was really hard to navigate, at first. Once I got the hang of it, it wasn't too bad. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to click on the red words "Flash Navigator" to be able to slide my dog's picture around behind the body templates. One of the body backgrounds was a face on Mount Rushmore. Our school's 3rd grade teachers have the children write about who they think should be on Mount Rushmore. Maybe the kids could use this program to illustrate their compositions. Wouldn't be easy, though.
The images below were made with Image Chef. The first one is Beach. (An animated version is on the sidebar to the right.) I don't think either of these have much educational value, but they sure are cute and easy to use.
This is Make Word Mosaic:
The kids could easily make shape poems with this program.
A video made with Image Chef is on the sidebar to the right. They only had three to choose from, but you get to create the ending message, yourself. Not too educational . . .
The poetry blender on Image Chef looked like it would be a great way to display student poetry on the computer in an animated fashion. Maybe on a class wiki? I have an example below this post. (I didn't know how to attach it to this one.) Look for the falling leaves.
This is a wordle:
You either enter a paragraph of text or just type in words, and the computer creates word art with it. The more a word is encountered, the bigger it appears on the screen. This would be fun to use in the classroom to display attributes of characters . . . or even for Mother's Day gifts! I really like this font, which is called Grilled Cheese. It reminds me of the Brady Bunch. Didn't they use the same font during the opening credits?
The School Library Blogs on Suprglu confused me. Unless I missed it, there was no table of contents or search rectangle to help with any kind of search. Topix was downright frightening.
The Edublog's Award winners link is great! It would take days to go through all of the nominees' blogs, but I already got some good ideas by clicking on just a few of them. I have subscribed to Latest Activity on Projects by Jen and Techlearning (recommended by the Cool Cat Teacher blog).
The most unusual feed I came across was Dave Walker's blog called Dullestblog.com. He claims it is the dullest blog in the world, and he may be right. When I visited the blog, the most recent post was about putting pencils in a drawer. Believe it or not, there were 292 responses to that post. My favorite response was, "And I thought my blog was boring. Yours actually had me in a coma since Friday."
My account is with Google Reader. I like how it saves time by displaying updates from a variety of sources all in one place. I also like how it can be displayed on the iGoogle home page. Google was very helpful during the reader set up, because it automatically brought in blogs I was already following and feeds from my iGoogle home page.
At first, it was hard for me to subscribe to new blogs. "Oops! Try later!" messages kept popping up. I finally logged completely out and back in again; then, all of the connections worked . . . no more "Oops!"
This technology will enable me to follow entries made by co-members of my grade level's grant blog. It will also expose me to a constant stream of new teaching ideas through subscriptions with professional blogs. Perhaps best of all, my class pet, Teddy, will benefit from my connection to the Guinea Pig Forum. I have never had a guinea pig before and need all of the guinea pig advice I can get!
Teddy . . . the unexpected beneficiary of Thing #8.
School libraries/teachers/administrators can use these readers to monitor student entries made on school blogs. They can also use them to exchange ideas with other educators.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I had a lot of fun setting up an iGoogle home page. I chose a pretty sunset picture with giraffes walking across the Serengeti as the page's theme.
Then, I spent a loooooong time looking through and trying out gadgets. Every time I saw something useful or cute, I'd add it to the page. Wow! Talk about information overload! It was pretty funny looking back at the home page when I was finished. The page was swamped with gadgets! I finally managed to get a grip on myself and narrow them down to 15.
My favorite gadget is "Places to See." The picture changes frequently. I also included some practical links (news, weather, calendar, and to-do list); some research links (Wikipedia and dictionary); and some brain-boosting links ("Word of the Day" and "Spanish Word of the Day"). One of my gadgets shows my most recent e-mails from my Yahoo e-mail account. I love how iGoogle automatically gives you brief summaries of news articles when you slide the cursor over the headlines. You can tell what articles are about without clicking on them and having to wait for them to load onto your computer.
I didn't make a public link to my iGoogle page, since my e-mail is linked to it, but the top of it looks like this:
Some of the themes and gadgets you can choose from on iGoogle look a little inappropriate for children; so if students do make their own home pages, they will have to be closely monitored. I think the weather and calendar gadgets would work well for 2nd graders. They could also use the to-do list option, moon phase calendars, Google safe search, and "Jokes for Kids." There were some games they could use, too, like "Bee Smart Addition" and "Spell It." The "Children's Book of the Day" looked cute, but the books seem more appropriate for older grades.
I had planned to start a Google Notebook, but received a message from Google that said that they have stopped development of the Google Notebook program. They aren't taking any new users. So I set up a Google Alert, instead. Our students raise money for an endangered bird, and I entered an alert to have any recent communication about the bird sent to me. Now, I will be able to keep up with the current status of conservation efforts. At this time, I'm not sure how this Google application could safely work for children. How could you screen all of the information coming in?
I tried FX on Big Huge Labs. It lets you play with the picture's appearance. It was fun, but I'm not sure it has any educational value.
Jigsaw was fun, too, but . . . The calendar activity has possibilities. Maybe the kids could create group calendars with animal pictures and facts (by adding text boxes).
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Oops! I didn't read far enough down to see the detailed directions about how to export the Avatar picture to the blog. Instead, I exported it as a photo in my profile as a URL. It worked, but it came out sort of small. When I saw the directions, I deleted the photo and started over with the html gadget version. Lifelong Learning Habit #8 should be: "Always read directions completely before starting."