Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Week #6, Thing #13 -

I can't say enough about the power of There are three reasons why I switched my school's grade-level links over to last fall:

  1. I can share the adding of links with the teachers by giving them the username and password for their grade level. It saves me a lot of time and the teachers can get a link posted immediately.
  2. I can use the "Tag" button on my Firefox toolbar to immediately add a link to the site, instead of waiting for GoLive to open up the school website and copy and paste all the information onto a webpage.
  3. The social aspect of uses the power of all those around us, saving time and energy. I have added librarians and tech specialists in my district to my network, as well as Will Richardson from Weblogg-ed, and I can browse their links and they can browse mine. In addition, there are millions of people whose links are connected to my interests.
The links to the grade-level lists of links on are linked from my library page:

This idea of a massive brain being fed information from millions of people is fascinating to me. I always thought I was an independent worker, better on my own than in a group, but the Internet allows for both to be strengths. I can work alone but access information from others when it is convenient for me. I am learning that I do work well collaboratively when it is in a digital format, where I have time to ponder the ideas and write and rewrite before I post or send something.

I think this mode of learning would appeal to students who may not fit into the traditional cooperative group model that all teachers use. We're supposed to work with others, but what that looks like is changing drastically. We may work well with someone we never meet face to face.

As we find more ways for students to do their work, maybe we'll find that there are more learning styles than we knew before, and now we're addressing them and allowing more students to be successful. I hope so.

Week #5, Thing #12 - Rollyo and Customized Search Boxes

I created a Rollyo Search Box for our 2nd grade insect project that happens each spring (the teacher includes me in all of the process, from creating questions to drive the research to bibliographies. I love it!).

Powered by Rollyo

I like the idea of allowing students to do their own research within my parameters, especially in 2nd grade. There is a similar project in Google, which I learned about at ALA in June. I spent quite a while talking to their presenters in the exhibit hall about the possibilities of their Google Custom Search Engine. The drawback to the Google version is that you link to it:

It's an extra step for the students, instead of being embedded in a website like the Rollyo version. Maybe Google will take that step soon.

Practicing research skills without worrying about inappropriate sites and not relying on filters, which we know don't work any way, seems like a great compromise for younger students in particular.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Week #5, Thing #11 - Web 2.0 Awards & Ning

I agree with a lot of the award winners on the Web 2.0 Award winners list. It's always fun to find new favorites among the winners, too.

Some of the known entities on the list include LibraryThing (books), Eventful (events), PBWiki (hosted wiki), FeedBurner (feed management), 43 Things (lists and polls - but I would classify it under "organization"), Google Maps (mapping), Conduit (marketing - more about this one later), Ning (mashups), Twitter (mobile technology), and Pandora (music). I feel like I might be keeping up a bit when I recognize at least 25% of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.

I admit, I do love the t-shirts on Threadless, too. If only I could afford them all!

I am most intrigued by the social tools right now, but they can take up a large amount of time. Is it worth it spending time interacting socially online if you always do it at 3AM and you never have time during the day to go have coffee with a friend? Finding a balance is always hard. This is another aspect to include when educating our students, I believe, the balance between virtual life and computer life.

Right now I'm fascinated with Facebook and the connections it makes between people. I have reconnected with a friend from college (seven years since we last talked), followed a friend's trip to Banff for an opera workshop hour by hour as she posted a la Twitter-style her activities, and played numerous games where I competed against my friends and all of Facebook. I appreciate that companies such as Facebook are allowing outside people to use their tools to create, essentially harnessing the power of thousands of people's brains, instead of limiting their product to the 18 people in-house. I don't have an educational point to this discussion, but I like to keep my brain full in case my subconscious comes up with something during one of my 3AM social moments.

I discovered Ning through one of my many blog monitoring sessions and joined the Library 2.0 group a few months ago. I recently gained enough courage to start my own discussion group within the network, focused on Elementary Librarians 2.0. I find there is a lot of discussion about secondary students but not much about elementary where technology is concerned, so I wanted to see if there were others like me out there. Lo and behold, there are! Six people have joined so far and we've started up some discussion threads. I'm learning that the social aspect of these sites often depends upon just a few "talkers" and many "lurkers" and I'm determined not to be a lurker on this network. It's too important to be a bystander when discussing libraries and web 2.0 tools.

Regarding Conduit, I created a toolbar for my school this year as an experiment, including links to the grade-level links I have put up on (handy because then teachers can add to without my help). The toolbar has other features: an RSS news feed and a drop-down menu where you can update important links. New versions of the toolbar get pushed out to your users automatically, so you're not having to send updates via email or wait for people to see news items at your website.

I showed the toolbar to my principal (always marketing myself and my library!) and we decided not to install it in the lab because we like that our 1st graders learn how to navigate to their 1st grade page themselves. I do want to advertise it for parents next year, so they can install it at home and have easy access to what their children are doing on computers at school. We can link to our teachers' SWIFT webpages and encourage all our parents to use the web as a communication tool.

Too many tools, too little time. Balance!

Week #5, Thing #10 - Image Generators

It's taken me a month to get back to this blog, but I now understand why it was difficult to recruit people to join me in this endeavor. I am committed to finishing this project this summer and I still have trouble finding time to do it. Vacations, reunions, and family have pulled me in various directions (all good), but now it's time to get back to work.

I think I put this week's tasks off before my vacation to Montana because I wanted to really have time to play, not just fumble through the suggested tools, but really focus on them and have fun!

Regarding the image generators, I immediately checked out the Comic Strip Generator, but decided that with a chat room I wouldn't be able to send my kids there. One of my sixth grade teachers does a comic strip project along with her Ancient Egypt unit and I'm always looking for new technology tools for her, as she is very receptive to technology integration.

However, I really like all the options at FD Flickr Toys! There are so many things we could do at school with those tools. I would love to have them design their own badges with their library barcodes on them. They would use them all year long, and probably would take better care of them because they designed them on their own. I did a silly photo of my son with his favorite "lion hat" on (in June!).

Friday, July 6, 2007

Why we are doing this 2.0 learning

I enjoy the perspective of the "big picture" I get when I view "Did You Know?" videos courtesy of xplanevisualthinking on YouTube.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Week #4, Things #8 & 9 - RSS

I started using Bloglines about a year ago as my RSS aggregator and then after reading many comparisons I switched to Google Reader about three months ago. As with everything there are positives and negatives to both. I like the ease with which I can scroll through all the entries in Google Reader, but if I have over 100 entries it's a little overwhelming. Something about the magic number of 100 often leads me to mark all as read so as to start fresh the next day.

I check approximately 15 library-related blogs every day, plus a few personal blogs interspersed (including "Unshelved" as a great way to start the day). Some of my favorites are Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed, Librarian in Black,, The Shifted Librarian, The Liminal Librarian, and The Free Range Librarian.

I love getting different perspectives and ideas from across librarianship, which is why I read public, academic, and school librarians' work. It is easy to add RSS feeds until they are scrolling off your list, and then the daily reading becomes a task instead of an informative session. Google Reader has a nice feature where you can see when your feeds were last updated and I occasionally check that and delete blogs that have not been updated in a month or more.

I also learned how to set up an RSS feed for our school's website and a parent emailed me last week to tell me he had actually added us to his aggregator! It was an exciting moment because I thought I was the only one reading my own feed. It also changes what and how often I post news items, with an audience paying attention it's an important communication tool between school and home.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Week #3, Things #5, 6, 7 - Flickr

This is my Flickr exploration week. I've used Flickr for about two years now to upload photos of my family for other family members to see what we're up to. I admit I've also used it to show many, many photos of transportation (fire trucks, vans, police cars, bulldozers, etc.) to my two-and-a-half-year-old son. It's easy to find a group that has hundreds or thousands of photos in one category like that.

So I have been thinking about using Flickr in this way at school, to quickly show kindergarteners photos of sushi if they are studying Japan, or even photos of Japan. I would find the groups and browse them quickly beforehand and then have them ready to show. I found this collection that would be fun for my students to see - 1,879 photos from over 500 users just about sushi!

I also would use these photos and the Creative Commons licenses to teach my older students about copyright. We would learn about the different types of licenses and they would be tasked to find photos on Flickr that are available for them to use in school projects.

I used the mapping feature in Flickr to mark the location of the sightseeing photos I took in Washington DC. (click here) It was remarkably easy to use and I thought of the similar maps you can create in Google Maps. I started making one for Washington State history, pinpointing important locations in Washington's history. This is a project I could see my fourth graders doing at school, if we could get around the 'everyone has to have a Google account' problem. We can't do that with fourth graders. Maybe a school account that everyone uses?

I also had fun using the trading card maker and would love to use it in projects, maybe Washington State location trading cards, finding appropriate photos on Flickr?

Trading Card