My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Google Apps for Education

I had no idea that Google offered Google Apps for Education!  I'm not going to list everything it has to offer, but it seems like has the same benefits as a personal google (gmail) account, but with higher security and a few *extra* educational tools (it mentions lesson plans and curriculum/training resources).  Granted, it's a school-wide implementation, so you'd have to have everyone on board, but the possibilities of collaboration and coordination between teachers and students are ginormous!  I was looking further into it at Classroom 2.0's group, Google Apps for Education, and found a comment from Roger Nevin, expressing these benefits of using the apps:

1. Teachers can see an assignment being created and comment on it before it is "handed in"
2. Students have same software at home as school - so always have access to their work
3. Nothing is ever lost
4. Assignments can be kept for at-risk students to see if they are making progress (our grade 7s keep there logins all the way to grade 12 and have their English assignments saved with teacher comments and marks for future review)
5. Teachers can use their Blackberries or I Phones to access students assignments or any document. Teachers become much more efficient.
6. Saves money - less photocopying
7. Teacher Assignments and resources are search-able on-line. Both parents and students can access course resources.
8. Good for the environment - less paper
9. Saves teachers and students time

Anywho, I just wanted to share!  Google's Apps sound like they would save the time of the teacher and students, allow easier access, encourage collaboration, and keep things better organized.  I wonder if I'll be lucky enough to end up at a school where they're being use?! lol

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A 2 minute video about graphic organizers

Thanks to SimpleK12's Kimberly Warner for her "How to integrate technology in just two minutes" podcasts!  This one is with Dave Dodgson, who explains ways he uses graphic organizers with ESL students in Turkey.  If you haven't checked out her posts before, you should!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thing 23

My adventure through Library2Play has come to a close, but I intend on keeping my blog going in the future.  I've thoroughly enjoyed every inch I've explored of this digital jungle, including getting sucked down and stuck in my only pitfall.  My favorite moments were creating this blog, learning more about Google Tools, learning about RSS Feeds and adding different blogs to my Google Reader account, learning the benefits of commenting on people's blogs, rediscovering Delicious (I absolutely LOVE this bookmarking site!), exploring youtube and teachertube further, creating a vidcast (even though I was embarrassed and had no idea what to do mine on), and exploring and requesting to join Nings!

While hashing my way through the digital jungle, I came across small and large networking communities that I can't wait to visit in the future!  They will be such wonderful resources for lifelong learning, keeping me up-to-date with current technologies, offering me avenues for advice when I'm hard-up for ideas or feeling overwhelmed and confused, and providing me with a place for sharing and discussing topics.  I intend on including digital resources in as much as possible and using them as often as I'm allowed.

Alright, I'm done with the jungle metaphor.  I absolutely loved everything about this program.  I didn't, however, expect to have a desire to continue blogging about technology or educational "stuff."  I kind of figured that I would finish my 23 things and then my blog would float away down the "Never-to-be-read-or-updated-again" river.  Instead, though, I find myself joining networks and reading other educators' and librarians' blogs, wanting to know more about current trends, and wanting to share what I find with others.  I even started tweeting.

The only suggestion I have for this program's format is that the links in the "things" need to be checked and/or updated.  There were a few that didn't work, and considering the content of this course, they probably need to be eliminated or fixed.

If I were offered the chance to participate in another discovery program like this, I would JUMP at the chance to participate!  I have gained so much usable knowledge from this course, and I also have a large variety of resources at my fingertips.  It was definitely time well spent.  I'm even tempted to join the 43 things website and start my own little "to-do list."  Or maybe I'll just attempt some of Stephen Abrams 43 Things.

How would I describe the 23 things?  Hmmm . . . "Exuberant lifelong digital learning skills neatly wrapped up in a little blog."   *insert giant grin*

I am extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful, enriching experience.

Thing 22

Ning has so many opportunities for networking and collaborating among educators and librarians! I think I ended up bookmarking five or six more sites about either Library 2.0, teaching ideas, and Library 2.0. Assessment FOR Learning is all about using practical assessment everyday to maximize student learning.  There are some great assessment ideas and strategies, along with explanations of why we assess and when we should.  Teacher Lingo is a way for teachers to connect and share through blogs, lesson plans, resources, and other related items.  I really liked the diverse amount of information available here for all levels.  Ning in Education is and educational social network, connecting educators through special interest groups (such as content area or grade level).  It has a lot of resources and a wide variety of blog posts to browse through!  Classroom 2.0 really peaked my interest.  It's a network for educators interested in using Web 2.0 and social media in the classroom.  One group is "Google Apps for Education" and its forum has some very interesting posts (check out Using Google Application in the Classroom).  I actually sent in a request to join the network.  Another network I requested to join was Library 2.0.  It's nice to know that there's a network available for when I begin my Librarian 2.0 adventure!  Another Ning I really enjoyed was the Content Literacy Ning.  I love that there's a network for teachers who advocate the literate approach to teaching content.  One of the things we discussed as part of my undergrad was Writing Across the Curriculum, which basically means including writing in all content areas to promote better comprehension and retention.  While not too many people have heard of that concept in Texas (I think it must be a term used in North Carolina mainly), Content Literacy is a concept that is widely known and includes Writing Across the Curriculum.  I love that there is a place to go to discuss and share resources and ideas concerning this topic!

While these Nings are all for educators, I wonder if it would be possible to create Nings for, say, high school math students, where they could go to get help with concepts.  I tried to find a Ning for Struggling Readers, but to no avail.  I think it would be a really good network to create - one that focused on reading strategies, advice, and suggestions for both educators and parents.  I've had quite a few friends ask me how to get their children more interested in reading or help them raise their comprehension.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to give them a network to pull ideas from and to discuss what has and has not worked with parents going through similar situations?  There are so many options for Ning - you could even create a classroom Ning, since you can choose to have members only join by being invited.  I think students could really benefit from a site where they could collaborate and discuss ideas and questions with their peers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thing 21

Podcasting and vidcasting could be a lot of fun and I could see it being useful - I could see maybe recording segments of a lesson and posting them on the class website for students to review or watch.  For the Library, I could see using it as a weekly spotlight on books or what's going on in the Library, reminders, different contests, etc.  I could see letting students create vidcasts of books or maybe something new they found out about the library and posting them to the library's wiki or blog.  Students could even make vidcasts for their own works, kind of like what I did.  For example, if there was a poetry club, they could have a new vidcast every week spotlighting a member and one piece from that member.  It would be wonderful if, instead of doing a picture story, they could video tape themselves and post that.

I created a picture-story with Photostory, about a poem I wrote called "Vanishing."  It's not as good as I'd like it - quite amateur.  Oh, and  after I was finished, I found out that the Microphone/earphones I borrowed were missing the mic guard, so I apologize for the loudness of my voice and the harshness of the "s," "p," th," and "sh: sounds (and any other sound that makes you cringe.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thing 20

Videos can be used to express a point of view, persuade, teach, enhance a lesson, showcase knowledge on a subject, to share information, record a special event or moment . . . the list is only as limited as the user's or creator's imagination.  In fact, I'd love to explore how to create and edit videos more.  But that's not what this post it about.  This post is about the results of my video searches in Teachertube and Youtube, and my thoughts about having access to such a plethora of visually engaging materials.  Actually, reverse that.  First I'll tell you my thoughts about streaming videos in general.

I love it.  LOVE it.  I was one of those students who got more out of a lesson when some type of movie was used to emphasize a point, to explore an idea further, or to dig deeper.  For me, it was completely engaging.  As a freshman in High School, I was allowed to create a mini-movie for a science final.  I can still remember our topic (DNA and DNA testing), the actors, the scenes and the locations . . . I couldn't tell you a thing about any of my other finals that year, or any other for that matter.  Because I was allowed to create a movie, I retained more.  I remember sitting and watching the "Scarlet Letter: and "Midsummer Night's Dream,"but I don't remember reading the story or play in class.  I know we did, but the images in the films stuck with me more.  Why am I sharing all of this impertinent information? - Because movies and videos still touch and stay with students.  That's why it's wonderful to have such great resources as Teachertube and Youtube.  There is such a plethora of videos to stream out there that sifting through them all can be overwhelming at times, but it's well worth it.  In fact, my problem is usually narrowing down which one to use, not the inability to find one.  Now they've made it easier to download movies for use, as well, so there are ways to get around sites being blocked by districts. 

For libraries, I simply love book trailers. If reading is supposed to be like a movie in your mind, what better way to advertise a book than create a trailer for it?  I also love different videos showing reading strategies at work.  Take "The Crazy Professor Reading Game."  I would have been very skeptical about students retaining information or staying on task with this type of reading strategy.  The video, however, made me want to try it.  Watch for yourself:

The kids are actively engaged in reading, they're listening, comprehending, sharing, summarizing, retelling . . . I was impressed. I even liked the voice/volume-o-meter.  Granted, it may not work with every teacher or every class, but I would be willing to try it after seeing how engaged the students were in this video.

Although this next video was a little boring, I bet the students who participated in creating it remembered their skyping etiquette the next time they used Skype in class.

Other videos I liked:

LOVED this one!!  "The Librarian Song" by Joe Uveges is a, um, different take on librarians.  If you're extremely conservative, you might not like his tongue-in-cheek humor, but I did.

"The Dewey Decimal Rap" is hilarious and dorky. lol I have a feeling I'm going to be saying, "Hi, my name is Melville Dewey. Nice to meet you. How you doin?" for days . . .

Cool Tools Library 2.0: Picasa

Book Trailers!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
(If you are squeamish about gore and slasher films, don't watch this)

The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

I could easily keep posting videos, especially book trailers; I absolutely love them. In fact, I think more students should create them for books they enjoy. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an entire wiki page dedicated to student-made book trailers?!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thing 19

So many tools, so little time!

Although I'm not a newcomer to it, I feel the need to express my love for StumbleUpon.  I've had an account with the for almost a year now (I think) and have whiled away many an hour "stumbling."  In fact, a lot of my bookmarks have come from my use of StumbleUpon.  Without it, I would never have found some of my health blogs, or Fey Handmade.  I haven't purchased a whole lot from it, but I love it, none-the-less.  I found it easy to use, and that it really does use your interests to find interesting pages.  I also love the toolbar and how it makes sites easy to bookmark and share online with people.  Two big thumbs up for StumbleUpon!

I checked out both LuLu and Biblio and found that I liked each for different reasons.  I like how simple LuLu makes it to publish a book.  I don't know that I'll ever publish one, but I could see this being a fun class project, possibly.  It doesn't cost anything to upload your work and choose the binding, cover, etc., so it would be possible to create a book of stories different students wrote throughout the year.  If students wanted a copy, it would be available for them to purchase.  The library could have book of student-written literature.  The teacher could also keep a book in her classroom library.  Poetry clubs could make student poetry anthologies and the library could have a copy.  You can also create scrapbooks and calendars! - So many possibilities!  I could compile my dairy-free recipes (that I've had to adapt, change, or create) into a cookbook.  They even have a tools to help create your portfolio, ebook, or even CD/DVD. To top it off, their blog offers suggestions to market your work, hints and tips on how to increase sales, tips on how to create and publish your own works, too.  Biblio offered some really good deals on books that I've been wanting, so I intend on checking it out further.  I also liked the idea that Biblio is allowing local stores to reach the global market and that they have searches for out of print and rare books, as well.

Mango was fun!  I took Spanish in high school and during my undergrad, but have not retained much of the language due to non-use.  The example lesson for Spanish was easy to grasp, fast paced but not to much information to keep me from following, and it had pop-up pronunciation bubbles when you scrolled over the Spanish word.  The pronunciation pop-ups were really handy, as I've been told my Minnesota accent shows when I attempt to speak Spanish.  Through Mango's library search I was able to find out that the public Helen Hall Library has it available for use.  I haven't tried it through the library, but it is definitely on my to-do list.  I could see how having this program available in the school library would be beneficial to students.  They could try their hand at learning a new language, brush up on pronunciation and meanings, and review grammar and phrases. Mango even has a version for educators, including a virtual classroom.  A terrific feature of the educational version is that, because it is all online, students can access it from anywhere, at anytime.

I suppose I should also say that I liked Upcoming, although I only found one event that I plan on attending (two if you count the one i had tickets to before visiting this site). My new "event?"  I found out that I could bring a can of food in to Remington College - Houston Southeast (Webster Location) and get a free pedi or mani!  How awesome is that?! (Not that I'm vain, but who doesn't like a little FREE pampering every once in awhile?)  Going had quite a few things listed, as well.  I think, though, that the best way to find out what's going on is to look on multiple sites.

As much as PEERtrainer had some nice articles on exercises and exercising, I was irritated with the site.  Every actual workout it listed seemed to try to sell some kind of equipment.  I just want to know what to do with free weights and cables at the gym, not go and purchase some expensive home gym or band.  It would have been nice for it to just list various workouts for focusing on select muscle groups.

The Web 2.0 awards were from 2008 . . . I wonder what they would look like now?  What sites would be nominated?  Two of the travel sites were already kaput, so I wonder what the top 3 travel sites would be.

Thing 18

I've used both Open Office  and Google Docs before and liked each of them.  I found that Open Office had a few issues with it, but mostly only when opening a Microsoft document in Open Office, or vice versa.  Otherwise, it was simple to use, once I got the hang of it.  It's set-up is a little different than Microsoft, which is the program I am used to, but I was still able to use Open Office without seeking help.  In fact, I used to only use Open Office because I didn't want to pay for Microsoft.  I found that I was not able to do some of my class assignments as easily in Open Office, especially when the demonstrations were in Microsoft.  I do still use it sometimes; my sister has it on her Mac and it's the only program I can use that is compatible with both her Mac and my Dell.

 Google Docs are wonderful!  I actually just posted my niece and nephew's school calendar to Google Docs, so my family could all access it.  Google Docs has tons of templates to choose from including ones for a budget, resume, calendar, to do list, etc.  It has them narrowed into categories for easier searchability (yes I just made up that word), too.  One category is "Students and Teachers" which included surveys, worksheets, homeroom forms, speech outlines, graphs, and more.  I use it mostly for family things, like posting Christmas lists or planning things.  I used it for collaboration with my sister on an assignment before, too! (Well, not exactly collaboration.  I posted my paper for her to read and offer editing suggestions.)  My father likes to use it to share pictures.  He posts them there for us to save into our own files.  Google Docs even has its own blog to give you advice and ideas on how to use it more effectively.  Oh!  And they're recently added new features such as real-time collaboration, more fonts, and an advanced revision history tool.  I haven't had a chance to use any of the features yet, but I can see their potential - especially the real-time collaboration!  How great would it be to use this feature when working on a group project?  Plus, it has a chat feature in it!  Not only would fellow collaborators see what you're changing when you're changing it, but you could chat online about editing and creating, too!  If you couldn't tell, I really like it using Google Docs.  It did take me a bit to get used to it - my sister is the one who got the family hooked.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thing 17

Up until Rollyo, I had not become frustrated with any part of Library2Play.  Now I'm passed frustration into the steam shooting out my ears stage. I found my reliable sites, which meant me searching through my over 400 bookmarks to put it together, which took 2 hours, saved it and *POOF!* Gone.  Vanished.  Lost in the virtual abyss.  I decided to re-log in and try it again, this time it only took me 30 minutes to track down the same sites, and add a few others to expand the category from fitness to health and fitness, and *POOF!* Gone again.  Now, I'm not a digital native, but I have gotten used to things actually working when I use them.  I have no patience for glitches that erase all of my hard work after I've spent so much time and effort on them.  I'll have to try this again some other time, but as for right now, Rollyo gets the thumb down and giant *thbbt* from me.  I was really looking forward to the convenience of searching through all of my sites at once.  I'm sorely disappointed.

Thing 16

Wikis rock my world!  Ok, maybe not to that extreme, but I really do like them!  I've been debating on creating one for exercising/weight training, but I haven't quite hunkered down to focus on it, yet.  I loved reading everyone's thoughts about the Library2Play experience on the Spring Branch Library Future wiki, as well!  So insightful to read what they all thought about it.  I really like how Selena used a voki (avatar) to post her thoughts and linked to her classroom wiki; it's great to see one in use!

I was lucky enough to give my presentation on wikis, and I would love to put one together when I become a librarian.  My idea was for it to be a collaborative site where students could write and edit reviews for books, comment on them, have online discussions, etc.  Kind of like a virtual meeting place for a community of readers.  I also thought having the students write the reviews and recommend books would make the wiki more student-centered.  They could add video reviews, home-made book trailers, links to professional book trailers, links to author pages, links to other books or reviews . . . the ideas are only as limited as the users imaginations.  Although mine was only an example, and is not a "complete" version, you can still check it out at Gator Book Reviews.

Thing 15

"Library 2.0 - It's many things to many people. What does it mean to you? What does it mean for school libraries?"

You know, when I first read Library2Play's comparison between Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, I couldn't help but think, "isn't that right along the lines of Ranganathan's 5 Laws of Library Science?"  " . . .Harnessing the user in both design and implementation of services," is parallel with "every reader his/her book," "every book its reader," and "books are for use." - although the term "book" is no longer the correct term.  I don't know what would be correct - medium, maybe? The three laws are basically there to focus the materials, mediums, technologies, whatever that are available through the library to the users.  Isn't that also the purpose of Library 2.0?  To focus on the users' needs and wants?  " . . . Embracing constant change as a development cycle over the traditional notion of upgrades" sounds similar to "the library is a growing organism."  To grow means to develop and change, so I assume it would automatically include advancing and changing to flow, reflect, and coincide with society's trends and current technology no matter if it was traditional or non-traditional.  " . . . And reworking Library services to meet the users in their space, as opposed to ours (Libraries)" not only centers on the user, but also follows the law, "save the time of the reader."  Granted, the terms "books" and "readers" are outdated for Library 2.0, I think the general concepts underlying the Laws of Library Science are very similar to its philosophies.

Library 2.0 is all about how and what services are delivered to users.  While the delivery methods may change, I believe that the library was always supposed to have been user-centered, and therefore, that remains the same.  In fact, the only way to keep a library user-centered is to grow and change how and what services are delivered.  I do think that Library 2.0 is more collaborative than earlier libraries, though, asking users for feedback, suggestions, and encouraging them to participate in the library community.  It's no longer a place for looking for information, but a place for sharing and collaborating, with information going out as well as coming in.

Rick Anderson listed three obstacles that pose a threat to Library 2.0's success: "'Just in case' collections," "reliance on user education," and the "'come to us' model of library services."  The "just in case" collection of books seem like a waste of money and space when everything is now available online.  While some people may worry about having a physical copy available in case of a bad connection, power outage, etc., I agree with Anderson that the collections, such as reference books, need to go. Plus, finding the information takes more time than searching online or in a database.  If the Librarian's job is to save the time of the reader, then in makes sense to provide quick and simple methods to search for information.  As he explains,
We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need, so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning.
This is especially important in  schools.  While school librarians are available to teach research skills, they can't be expected to adequately train/teach each student immediately.  Instead, information should be made easy to access and even easier to search through.  Plus, as Anderson points out, then it leaves more time for the librarians to collaborate with teachers on curriculum. The last thing Anderson points out is that libraries are no longer the only places users go to for information, so librarians have to be willing to bring their services to the users.  I wonder if this would change how school librarians plan their days.  Instead of staying in the library and students visiting, school librarians would be reaching out virtually and physically to classrooms and students.

Michael Stephens really laid out what would be required of a Librarian 2.0.  He envisions an open library that can be accessed from anywhere; a complete collaboration between Librarian and users to implement services and new technologies based on the users' needs and their ability to access everything easily.  Through blogs, open databases, tweets, wikis, etc., school librarians could break down the barriers keeping students at bay.  Librarians could even ask students to help create and maintain them to encourage involvement.  I love that he suggests chatting and mash-ups as a form of collaboration, with the librarian meeting the "users in their space."  Again, as Anderson also envisioned, the librarian is no longer staying in the library, but reaching out virtually and visiting the users in the environment where they're comfortable.  In addition, Stephens points out that the Librarian 2.0 is a trendspotter, staying on top of news and new developments that might impact library services.  My favorite point that he makes though, is about content.  He explains that
the librarian understands that the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content. Content is a conversation as well and librarians should participate. Users will create their own mash ups, remixes and original expressions and should be able to do so at the library or via the library’s resources.
It will be interesting to see how school's support this view with all of the restrictions they put on internet use, programs, software, and sites.  Schools would have to lower restrictions or create intense school-specific programs, software, sites, etc.

 It's sad; I think in the school's desire to "protect" the students, it's pushing digital natives away instead of pulling them in.  Instead of creating and increasing a sense of community, schools that don't change with the current technological trends are creating an even larger gap in students' minds between "us and them."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thing 14

Technorati was an interesting little site to play around on.  Although some of the features like widgets and popular tags/blogs were under construction, I can see how it might be beneficial in the future.  I liked its top100 link, though.  I especially liked the blog Mashable, which I'm now following.

In Technorati, there were no posts found when searching for "School Library Learning 2.0."  The blog directory also had no findings.  There were also no tags under that heading.  Doing a search under "Library2Play," however, pulled up four separate blogs in the blog directory: Library Byte By Byte, Amy's Blog, Unraveling-threadsoflife, and Shelf Life.  Nothing in tags or posts, though.  The popular blogs, searches, and tags is currently under construction, so I could not explore it to use, but I bet it would be interesting.

I'm beginning to like tagging more and more, although I agree with Joshua Schachter, who expressed in the article "Tag, you're it to advertisers," by Eric Benderoff, that he believes users should be the ones doing the tagging, not the publishers or writers of blogs, advertisers, etc.  When users are creating the tags, it's to share or organize information and make it easier to access.  When publishers tag, they're trying to drum up business, so the tag doesn't always lead you to what you want.  I have this issue a lot when I'm trying to find explanations or how-to's and accidentally click on "related" ads that try to sell me products instead of bring me to reviews or blogs written by people who have attempted to make whatever I'm making.  Oh!  And it seriously frustrates me to high heavens when I'm trying to research things for my dietary needs (severely lactose intolerant - I treat it like a milk allergy).  It never fails that I'll be trying to find recipes or substitutes or just the ingredients for something and end up on some random site for probiotics or lactose-helping pills.  I don't WANT to purchase any fix-it products.  I don't CARE that I can't eat dairy.  I just want to know what I can use in it's place or what something has in it!  Does anyone else have this problem, or am I alone in my rant?

With sites like Delicious, I'm able to bookmark and organize blogs and informational sites that have what I need and not go through to pain and agony of advertisements.  I'm really loving the ease of it.  I'm also loving the fact that I can highlight and add sticky notes to pages through diigo, instead of copying and pasting them into Microsoft Word (including the information for citing the site if I ever use it).  I wonder if there are any academic/studying bookmarking sites out there . . . ones that are specifically for researching and taking notes that possibly even cater to students . . . seems like it might be a good idea.

Thing 13

I've used tagging before, but never to the extent that social bookmarking sites do; I simply used it to make my blogs easier to find or to show who was in my facebook pictures.  I really like the idea of being able to find websites that have to do with a specific subject (like the Algebra example from Common Craft explaining how to use  delicious), and group them together with tags - what a simple way to organize!

I also really liked everything that Diigo had to offer (even a Diigo educator account that is more private than the regular and can be catered to the classroom/student environment).   In fact, Diigo, is the bookmarking tool I decided to add.  I love the idea of highlighting and attaching sticky notes (I can see how this would be useful when researching). Through Diigo, I was able to find this terrific article about blogging, which really put what a blog is supposed to be into perspective.  In fact, I got a little carried away with bookmarking, making a profile, searching, and tagging, that I forgot I was supposed to be focusing on researching the tool for this blog!  I suppose that means I found it to be extremely useful!

I actually have a twitter account, but I never use it.  I apparently follow a few people on it (I just went to check it out) and at least half of them have something to do with education or technology!  (If only I had paid attention to this earlier in the semester!)  Scott McLeod posted a link to this slide show about powerpoint which was great!  Now I'm going to have to check out the rest of mine . . . You know what I find really interesting about Twitter, though? - I seem to have six followers, but I've never tweeted!  That being said, anybody have any advice on tweeting?  I didn't see a tutorial, but have noticed the "@" symbol in people's tweets (I'm assuming this means the tweet is aimed at them), the "#" symbol (no idea what that does) and then the actual urls for the pages they're tweeting about.  Can anyone fill me in?  I'm thinking I might like to tweet now that I'm following more educational blogs and more health and fitness ones.

I had been getting seriously annoyed with firefox and attempting to organize my bookmarks, so I really liked that delicious had an option for importing them and then tagging and organizing them (my account).  It was so much easier than using firefox.  Also, I don't remember seeing an option for importing existing bookmarks in Diigo.  I haven't quite finished sorting my bookmarks yet (there's 400 and some), but I'm in the process of grouping them for easier access.  It's actually been kind of fun!  I could easily see students using social bookmarking sites to group, organize, and share pertinent information or research with classmates or even just doing it for themselves. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thing 12

You know, I've been blogging for a while now, maybe 7 years, and I hate to admit, but I've never put too much thought or effort into commenting.  Sure, if I have a question or feel like I have something worthwhile to add, I'll leave or reply to a comment, but I've never made much of an effort to create a "community through commenting."

I suppose that's why the importance of replying to comments caught my interest.  In the Blue Skunk's blog, Drape's Takes, and in 10 Techniques to get More Comments on your Blog, the importance of replying to comments, was examined and questioned.  After reading the three blogs and the comments, I understand how commenting back creates a sense of community and lets your readers know you value them.  As for myself, my creative genius is sometimes on holiday and leaves me scrambling for something for something that's more elaborate and cunning to say than,"thank you,"  or "I agree."  I wonder if Meredith Farkas had me in mind when she wrote, "maybe you think your knowledge wouldn’t be useful . . . Maybe you feel it’s not worth sharing."  Probably not, seeing as how she's never met or heard of me, but she expressed my feelings better than I could.   I have always had issues leaving comments.  I tend to feel like I have nothing valuable to say, which is probably just low self-esteem.  Funny thing is, I absolutely love getting comments, even if it's only a one or two-word phrase.  I don't know why I think other people wouldn't appreciate a little "virtual high-five" or a nod in agreement, too, just like I do.

That being said, I think commenting and responding to people's comments are the only ways to really draw readers in, start a dialogue, create a community, and keep a strong reader-base going.  No one wants to feel unheard or unimportant.  The only way to alleviate that feeling it to show them that their time is appreciated and you value their opinions.

Although we were only supposed to comment on two ideas on commenting, there were two points made in 10 Techniques to get More Comments on your Blog, that I think could easily be lumped together.  The first is to "invite comments" and the second is to "be open ended."  In my opinion, they both ask the reader to reply to the post.  Inviting comments might actually mean stating "please comment," but leaving a blog open-ended, is also like inviting a comment.  When I write something, I never intend to sound like I'm the authority on a subject; however, I do feel that my writing has a tendency to sound overconfident.  In an attempt to balance my overpowering "blog" personality, I used to ask questions in my blogs.  Granted, they were of a much more personal nature (more like journals), but I still asked numerous questions, sometimes answering them with my opinion and sometimes leaving it completely open.  As was explained in the blog, leaving it open ended left room for my readers to share their expertise on a subject.  I think asking for their opinions, asking them to leave comments, also left room for them to share their expertise.  

So far, I've commented on the following blogs:
Karen's Home on the Range
Christopher's Cabin Crew 
Lamb's Lair
Technology Integration
kirstin's blog

I've subscribed to a lot of posts since starting this blog, but my favorite so far is The Blog O' Cheese.  I absolutely love his writing style and his sarcastic wit.  I don't exactly remember how I stumbled along his blog, but I'm glad I did.  It's a hugely-needed break from academia and my life. Oh, I haven't commented on his blog as of yet, but I plan to.  I have "liked" a few of his entries, though.

A different blog that I just recently found via Google Blog Search is Catching Readers Before They Fall, which I really like and have already commented on.  The first blog I read mentioned the importance of "interacting with the text alongside struggling readers" and it struck home.  I worked with my nephew last year on his reading, and I believe our discussions and they ways we interacted with the text was what helped him reevaluate and change his views on reading.  (My sister is constantly claiming that I'm the reason he likes reading now - I think he just needed to shown how it could be fun.)

Monday, November 1, 2010


 I loved this little avatar creator thing posted on Lamb's Lair's blog!  I had to make one of my own!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Wordle

I learned how to tie words together in a Wordle while reading Karen's blog, and had to try it!  I made one for my definition of "Minnesota Nice," which I've come to learn is not as well-known in the south as it is in the midwest.  Check it out:

I kinda like it!  I think I might even post it to FB . . .

Thing 11

LibraryThing was interesting.  Actually, I kind of found it relaxing to add a bunch of my books to my collection.  I ended up adding 38 books tonight, which is quite a few, but is only scratching the surface of my books.  It was a little slow at points, and because I'm anal, I took more time than I really needed to make sure I had the correct version of the book uploaded (especially with my Jane Austen's).  I plan on adding more of my books when I get another free minute . . . and I'll probably add them as I buy them!  I wonder if they have a way of listing e-books?  Not that I need that, yet - but I do see an IPad in my future . . . might be way in the future, but I still see it!

I ended up joining one group called Children's Literature.  I think this will be a good forum to ask questions about different books, get recommendations for good reads, come up with literary comparisons, maybe even get inspired or pick up something that sparks an idea for a lesson.

Thing 10

Heh heh heh.  Playing with online image generators was a blast!  I went to Custom Sign Generator and made a magazine cover with a photo from a family excursion where we were attacked by giant killer spiders! (I swear!)

I think students would have fun creating their own magazine covers.  They could easily find one to create for a Social Studies topic,or maybe as an enrichment to a reading assignment.

I also went to Image Chef and played with their Visual Poetry option which I found fun, frustrating, and challenging.  I didn't like not being able to control certain aspects of it, but it was still fun to find a poem (that was appropriate to share) and image that fit . . . and then combine them.

I liked the Word Mosaic, too.  Tried the Poetry Blender, too, but it kept locking up.  Obviously, this site would fun to use in a poetry lesson.  Students can even create their own background images to express their poems.

I still love Big Huge Labs - I think it has so many fun and easy to use options! 

I LOVED Dumpr!  The sketch feature was awesome!  I took a picture of my sister, self, niece and nephew that normally gets all messed up when I apply special effects to it, and it turned out great!  Here's the original:

Here's the sketch!:

I love it!  They had other unique options like putting it in a museum or making it a postcard on a postcard stand.  Just a very fun site.  I plan on playing around with it some more!  I could easily see students using the site to add visuals to a report, images to a blog, as part of a reading assignment (maybe creating something that represents one of the characters), etc.  There are numerous possibilities!

Glogster looks like it would be a lot of fun, too!  I signed up with Glogster Edu so my niece could possible make one and look through them.  It seemed like a safer environment than the Glogster site.  I didn't play around too much with this, but I could see it having a place in education, as well.  I think students would have fun creating and upkeeping their own glogs.

I plan on doing more searches for image and text generators, too; they're just too much fun!

Thing 9

The easiest “search” tool was the Google blog search, although it returned way too many results for my taste.  I’m honestly more of a browser, in which case the Edublog award winners were best for educational topics. also provides too many hits for my taste, and it seemed to repeat news stories in the hits.  I suppose this is because stories are mass published, appearing on multiple news sites.  I got way to carried away using Google blog search and browsing through Edublog – I think I spent a few hours just browsing and reading.  I literally had to stop and remind myself that I was supposed to be checking out the search tools!

I did notice that there were quite a few different RSS readers out there.  I didn’t check them out, though.  I just used Google Reader.  I also noticed that you could “follow” blogs (if you had a like-hosted account – ie. Blogger) and that Blogger added them to your dashboard.  Any new posts are shown there.  I still added them to my Google reader, though.  I’d rather have everything in one place!

Librarians Do Gaga

I know this isn't a "Thing" from Library2Play, but I thought it was adorable and could see it being recreated for elementary or middle school students.  Heck - they could make their own versions using different popular songs . . . anyway, just wanted to share it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thing 8

          RSS and readers are wonderful. I love having the blogs I want to read right at my fingertips. Not only can I stay on top of what my pastors at church are saying, but I can also keep up with my sarcastic friend's witty retorts about relationships, different librarians blogs about technology, education, and books, AND I can see new recipes and healthy tips . . . all on one page. Totally eliminates the lengthy loading time! I've already found out about a few different things that I'd like to try eventually when I start either teaching or when I'm a librarian! I love that I can stay on top of trends and technology easier, too. In the past, I got bored (I'll blame it on lack of attention-span) when searching through people's blogs and frustrated with having to wait for pages to load - even when it took less than 10 seconds. Talk about being spoiled with an uber-fast connection.
          In the past couple days that I've used my Google Reader account, I've read more blogs and read more news than I've read in months. Students could easily keep up with each others blogs if they had an RSS feed. Classroom blogs could have an RSS feed for parents and students to keep on top of newly posted information and changes. School websites could have them, too. In Google Reader, you can subscribe to bundles which are feeds centered around a specific topic. You can even create your own bundle and share it with friends. I could easily see teachers being able to use this type of combining to receive up-to-date info on whatever topic they were focusing on.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thing 7

I had no idea that “google” was in the dictionary now!  Wonder when Microsoft is going to add it to their Word lexicon . . . lol.

I’ve been using a lot of the Google Tools or have played around with them over the years.  In fact, Google Calendar and Google Docs are how my sister and I keep our schedules and whatnot organizes with my nannying duties.  I created an iGoogle page and used it for at least 6 months, but I get frustrated with how long it takes the page to load, so I change it back to the normal Google screen off and on.  I also have a Picassa Web Album, although I don’t think I have much in it anymore.  I actually downloaded Picassa and used it more on my comp than the Web.  I’ve used Google Scholar to search before, and have messed with the Advanced Search options just for fun (and to create an account for my niece that’s censored).  I tried Google Earth and downloaded the Plugin for Google Maps, but I didn’t like it.  It took too long to load and then my firewall wanted to block certain aspects of it. Considering I’m not a computer guru, I decided to let my firewall limit the access and ended up not being able to do much with the program.

My two tools:

Google Calendar:  I think I’m going to explore Google Calendar more and add my pet sitting schedule, workout schedule, and volunteer schedule to it!  I just added my work schedule, but until now I’ve mostly used to follow other people’s schedules, not mine.  Considering how much I have going on, I bet it would be really handy to add everything.  Plus, it has email reminders which my phone will notify me of, so I have an automatic alarm for each event!

Google Books:  I did try out Google Books, which has online books and magazines that you can either read or preview.  The books and magazines that have full text available are either in the public domain or are out of copyright; however, some authors have given permission for their works to be on Google Books, too.  Because the majority of the magazines are not current, it would be great to use this search engine as a way of comparing trends in society, fashion, politics, etc. with current trends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thing 6

Mashups are a lot of fun!  I played around with Flickr Color Pickr and had fun seeing how many things I could find that were naturally that color vs. how many were photoshopped to be that color.  Then I spent way too long goofing around on Big Huge Labs site.  I made a calendar, tried to make a motivational poster, but don’t really like the saying I chose, thought about making an ID badge, made a mosaic of my mad face-painting skills, and made a trading card!  I could see students having a lot of fun doing this.  They could make trading cards for their favorite character from a book or for the book themselves.  I also think it would be a fun “introduction” assignment!  The students could make one of themselves and print off enough for each of their classmates so they each had a “class” collection.  It could even be turned into a game.  Students could create the cards with a picture that represented themselves from Flickr’s Creative Commons collections, use an alias instead of their real name, and their classmates would have to guess whose card was whose.  I think it would be fun to have the students make motivational reading posters, too!  They could make them about a specific genre or just reading in general and then the librarian could post them in the library or possibly throughout the school.  As for me, right now I plan on just using these mashups for tomfoolery and shenanigans. 

My mad face-painting mosaic! :-)

Motivationally speaking:

And my very own trading card! (limited edition):

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thing 5

I've had quite a few friends invite me to Flickr before, but I never took them up on it.  Now, after searching through the galleries and groups, I decided to get my own account! I haven't uploaded any pictures yet, but that's only because I keep them on an external hard drive and I have no energy to hook it up at the moment.  When I do, I post a link someone on here.

I chose to search the Creative Commons Flickr site for pictures of "rain."  I'm developing a collection focusing around the 2nd grade Science TEKS in another class this semester and decided to use a term that might relate to them.  9.A, B, and C include identifying the basic needs of plants and animals, environmental factors on growth and behavior, and how organisms depend on their environment to survive.  I thought rain fit all three categories fairly well.

The amount of pics out there with the tag, "rain," was amazing. What was more amazing, though was the quality of the photos!   The photo I chose was "Raining Bokeh," by Leland Fancisco.  I thought it was a terrific example of how plants depend on rain.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thing 3

Does anyone else feel a little Dr. Seuss-ish labeling their posts, "Thing 2," "Thing 3," etc.?  It makes me want to write in rhyme.

To be honest, I found setting up this blog to be amusing and fun.  I had completely forgotten that I had a Blogger account, so it was already basically created for me; it just needed a little T.L.C.  The most difficult challenge I faced was exporting my avatar (which also happened to exist already due solely to my Nostradamus-like, future-predicting skills and not the fact that I had an existing Yahoo profile).  Actually, I lied again.  The most difficult challenge was getting the HTML code correct by eliminating a non-existent link that somehow managed to hide itself in my copied and pasted text and only appeared when viewed in the "edit HTML" mode.  Playing in the "edit HTML" mode was quite fun, though.  I spent a good chunk of time deleting snippets and then switching to the "compose" mode to see what havoc ensued.

Before I posted my first blog, I browsed through the blogs from the rest of the class and noticed something very peculiar.  My style of writing, along with the amount, is quite different from everyone else's.  Actually, I lied; it's not very peculiar at all.  I'm used to blogging in a very relaxed setting and saying exactly what's on my mind.  My older blogs (sites that will remain unlinked due to their inappropriate content for this class) were used more to vent and communicate with friends.  We gave each other advice, edited each others' poetry, laughed at each others' mishaps, comisserated, and even collaborated.  In those blogs, I didn't have to pay attention my language or to grammar, although I still tried to stay correct for the most part (I think I ended up creating my own type of "blogrammar.")  It will be interesting to see how much I have to edit these posts and how much of my "blogrammar" seeps into them.  As it is, I'm having a very difficult time not using hyphens to connect thoughts, not adding unneeded ellipses, and not adding "lol," ";-)," or "*insert halo*" in various locations.  I'm also used to writing for people who understand that I tend to use a humorous voice in my posts, even when venting, so it will be interesting to see if my sense of humor comes across as much as a hope it does.

Thing 2

The easiest habit for me out of the 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful People would without a doubt have to be #7 1/2, "Play."  Whether it's with the preschoolers I work with, the friends I joke around with, my family, my niece and nephew, etc., my personality is extremely playful.  I firmly believe that "acting your age" is only limited by society's unfavorable view on goofing around.  Yes, I believe there is a time and place for being serious, but as long as you're being safe, what's wrong with singing and dancing in the aisle at the grocery store?  I suppose that's why I enjoy Disney World so much, because giggling and acting "childish" isn't frowned upon.  The last time I was there, my family and I parted the sea of people waiting for the Mainstreet Electrical parade with our exciting and rhythmic imitation of a choo-choo-train.  I even rode in the stroller with my niece for a bit one day!  My outrageous display of tom foolery isn't limited to vacation, though. During our daily grind, my nephew and I tend to pretend we're being attacked by jets that we have to outmaneuver or blow to smithereens on the way to school.  We also like to pretend we're in a real-life musical.  Ever make up a duet about brushing your teeth in a bathroom that needs cleaned while a cat begs for attention outside your door?  I have.  Playing is definitely not an obstacle for me.  

The most difficult habit for me is #4, “Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.”  I’m a fairly confident person in quite a lot of areas; however, my intellect is not one of them.  (I realize that I’m substituting the word “intellect” for “learner,” so bare with me; the two have been cooperating in the building and tearing of my confidence for so long that it’s hard for me to separate them.)  My older sister, who is one of my best friends whom I both love and admire, is a “genius,” for lack of a better word.  She has an Aerospace Engineering degree, thinks math and logic problems are enjoyable, and does computer coding for kicks.  After years of being compared to her in school (elementary through high school), I developed a slight mental block topped off with a heaping scoop of “I’m an idiot.”  Even after I began exhibiting my untapped “brainiac” potential with a shocking gpa of 4.0 through most of my undergrad career, my academic success did little to improve my self-confidence.  It was actually through blogging on an online diary forum that the rebuilding process was kick-started.  Before then, I had never really analyzed my thoughts.  It took reading my old posts to realize how much I had learned simply through life-experience and that I might actually be somewhat intelligent.  Even with this breakthrough, I still frequently put myself down and question or second-guess my abilities and skills.  I’m sure that my sarcastic sense of humor doesn’t help matters, either (since sarcasm is based in negative thought).  Consequently, while I might present a confident fa├žade, it’s been an extremely difficult task to change the negative thinking underneath which fuels my self-confidence as a competent or effective learner.