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!

video

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

Voki

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