Monday, July 21, 2008

Item 23 Summarize Your Thoughts

It feels really good to be at this point. I had my doubts at times that I would get here. I took the online survey but I don't think it ever successfully uploaded -although I did try and do so two or three times.

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I enjoyed making the trading cards and playing with the image generators. I also enjoyed using Photostory 3 to create videos. Looking at the Nings was interesting. I think reading other people's blogs so I could leave comments was the most interesting and enjoyable. It was always intriguing to see other people's take on the same 2.0 lessons. Sometimes I would wonder if we had even been at the same website because the opinions were so different from my own. It was often humbling to read other people's enthusiastic praise and numerous future plans for a tool, website, or concept that left me cold or completely eluded me.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

This program has definitely assisted me in learning about Web 2.0 technology. It provided structure and support during my learning quest. I really liked all the background information and resources that were given with each lesson. I have been pursuing information about Web 2.0 for several months now - this just provided a framework to work within. It was very helpful. I hope you will offer additional technology training - you know, the next 23 things for Web 2.0. I would absolutely be interested in taking such a course. I've always been a lifelong learner.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I didn't expect to find so many good resources that I can draw upon in my future pursuit of knowledge or technology training. The commoncraft tutorials are great. I love it when new concepts are presented in simple english. Finding so many other people who are attempting to learn about Web 2.0 and apply it was also heartening. Working through these lessons has given me some confidence to pursue topics that in the past might have seemed very intimidating or impossible to learn on my own.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program's format or concept?

It would have have been nice to have had a "Help Desk" to contact for those occasions when I was truly lost. You might give new users the suggestion of keeping a written journal near their computer to record the myriad of passwords, user names, web addresses, and other secret codes that seem to fill those early lessons. The same password or user name can't be used all the time and it gets complicated trying to keep up with that data. Having it all in one small notebook that I stored near my computer was a solution that helped me out.

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?

Yes. I think this was a very useful and effective staff development workshop. I learned a great deal and the format in which it was presented (online at your own pace) was great. I want to thank you for offering this workshop to participants outside of your own school district. I have really enjoyed this course and I have learned a lot (even as I complained about what I couldn't master).

I really enjoyed the Region IV workshop presented by SBISD on podcasting this summer. I hope you will consider offering more hands-on courses like that. It was really helpful to learn about a topic and then use that knowledge to create products or projects that are going to be useful in the upcoming school year. It is really nice to explore new technology when you have experts present to answer questions or boost you through the places when you get stuck. I would love to see some workshops on topics like digital booktalking, setting up effective library web pages, using technology to aid students in carrying out research projects, exploring new equipment and gizmos (play-aways, smart boards, ebooks, MP3's, Kindle, etc.), integrating technology into everyday library operation and student lessons, what's new with bookclubs and other student reading groups, online audio books, and other similar topics. Workshops tailored to the age level of the student population would also be helpful. The interests and needs of elementary, middle, and high school students can be very different.

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could promote 23 Things learning activities?

23 Things provides a fun, self-paced, well-researched introduction to the Web 2.0 technology skills every educator needs to become familiar with.

7. I hope these blogs don't disappear before I get the chance to look at more of them. I have really enjoyed reading all the different opinions and future plans for using this new technology.

Thing 22 - Nings

I visited the Teacher Librarian network and joined two of the library groups listed: (a.)Elementary school librarians and (b.)More things: Applying 2.0 tools. I like the concept of nings: the ability to narrow the focus of the group, the ability to easily add input and learn from others who have similar interests. I'm still working on learning how to manuever through the website (good thing its designed for people who don't have a lot of technical skills).

The Texas School Librarian Ning seemed more like a social group at first glance(rather than a professional one), but I will continue to monitor that. I am looking for input from other librarians about what has worked well for them and what hasn't worked, and not just in a technical sense. At times I have felt somewhat isolated in my position as the only librarian in the school.

This upcoming year will be my sixth year to work as a librarian. I know I can learn a lot from my fellow librarians. When I was a classroom teacher (for fifteen years), I had a lot of support, help, advice, encouragement, etc. from my peers. It was easier to meet with colleagues and share materials, experiences, triumphs and failures. I enjoy being a librarian, and I do communicate using emails and the like with other librarian friends, but it is different being the "only" librarian on the campus. I'm hoping the internet will allow more interaction and sharing amongst educators and fellow librarians.

Nings might also be used for special interest groups on campus or various committees. I suppose the school district could have nings that supported certain causes or positions. I predict that their use will increase in the near future.

How hard can it be?

Inserting links. I liked the video that this blogger posted. I'm going to try again to put in a link.

Well, obviously this is harder than I thought. The blog I was trying to put a link to is Tigertalk2's blog. Her Thing 20 entry contains a short claymation promoting libraries. It's funny and kind of sweet. I really thought I had that inserting links figured out. Darn.

Building the Toolshed Video using Photostory 3

When all else fails, read the directions. I located some directions on a blog and I think they're actually going to work. Now if I could just figure out how to insert links...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Item 21 Podcasts and Audio Books

This is the topic that really got me interested in completing the 23 things. I wanted to learn how to make something that resembled some of the really cool online booktalks that I had seen other librarians post. One blog by a California librarian who was completing the 23 things, Hammock Reader, really caught my eye - . Her VoiceThread booktalk that she created for her students' summer reading really impressed me. I wanted to learn how to make something like that for the children at my school.

I still want to learn how to do that, but I think I'm much closer to achieving that goal now that I've completed so much of this training course. The Region IV workshop on podcasting that I took in June this summer was very helpful in giving me the confidence to try PhotoStory 3 and Audacity. Having someone there to help when you got stuck, and actually completing a story and a podcast made that workshop one of the best technology workshops I've taken. Shortly after attending that workshop, I made a simple photostory showing students working in our schoolyard habitat. I did manage to upload that project below this entry.

We are building a new tool shed in our backyard this summer to replace the old one that fell to pieces. I made a Photostory about that - it's got over 65 photographs and lasts over 5 minutes. I need to pare it down. I plan to give it to our friend who did the construction job as a memento of all his hard work in the oh-so-hot Texas sun. I used video from my Flip, digital photos from a camera, and music I downloaded at one of those free music sites. That's a pretty good start for an amateur who doesn't excel in technology.

I must admit that I don't find podcasts as interesting as vodcasts. I really think you need an image (if not a moving story) to help maintain the interest and attention of your audience. I would like to get competent enough to create online booktalks for some of the books in our library. I am going to try and include a link to another librarian who makes elaborate booktalk videos (I don't aspire to anything that complex). I do have a link to her school library on this blog site - the Northwest High School link. If you visit her library site, you can watch/listen to the booktalks and podcasts. I can't imagine where you find the time to create that type of website/reports. Still, perhaps a group of librarians could get together and share the booktalks they created. If you got 5 librarians together, and each librarian created 6 booktalks - when you pooled your resources each librarian would have 30 booktalks to add to their library website. That would be cool.
I'm still having trouble figuring out how to put a link in this blog entry so that readers can view other websites. It's so annoying. I think I'm doing everything that's needed to add a link, but clearly I'm not. Then at times, I'll have a link appear in my blog, and I'm not sure what it was that I did to achieve it. Here is the address for the Region IV wiki made as an aid for the class I took in June: . I have it as an active link two or three entries earlier in this blog.

I made the How to Steal a Dog and the Lawn Boy vodcasts at that workshop. This next address goes to a You Tube video about copyright law and the Walt Disney company. It's pretty funny, you might have already seen it - librarians should get a chuckle." I tried uploading my tool shed video, but I got an error message - just as well. It's a long video that needs some more editing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Item 20 You Tube, Teacher Tube and Zamzar

I have limited enthusiasm for these resources. While there is no shortage of videos available, the quality and applicability of what is available is a limiting factor. I searched Texas librarians with You Tube and the results had little to do with that topic. Similar searches yielded less than outstanding data. I spent some time searching Teacher Tube for topics I know will be covered in the first nine weeks of school and I didn't find anything I was enthusiastic about. That's not to say that there aren't great videos in those resources, just that I sometimes have trouble finding ones that are of value to me. I looked at several videos using You Tube and found little that I would want to use in the classroom. I tend to favor using United Streaming or ordering videos that are made for specific school topics (like the Schlessinger videos). The geography video about the 50 capitals is okay but it seems like a lot of hassle to set that up for very little boon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

region4podcasting / FrontPage

region4podcasting / FrontPage

This is a good resource page for information about podcasting in a school setting. I attended a workshop in June at Region 4 and this is the class wiki that lists many useful sites and has some sample work to view.