Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week 5 # 10, 11, 12

I have been playing around with a couple of cool tools this week. Logo Maker, VoiceThread, JibJab, and I am getting better with Clipmarks. I played some with FlickrToys, check out my grandson dressed as Captain Adorable! I was not happy with some of the cartoon makers. They had some rather rude and innapropriate cartoons and I don't want to expose my students to such things. I think I will wait for something better to come along before I use any cartoon generator with students or at least wait until a teacher makes such an app. FlickrToys is easy enough even for my 2nd and 3rd graders to try. And I am so excited about my Voki. I have been wanting to make a Voki for a while but just have not taken the time to play. The background on the voki is actually my library. It has been so much fun playing.
Something I will use with students and what I think is my new favorite toy is Cool Text because I have used it to create some neat text for a wiki for a graduate class. Check out how Hot Cool Text is for yourself.
Cool Text: Logo and Graphics Generator
I already belong to several Nings including the Classroom 2.0 Ning, Syracuse Alumni Ning, TeacherLibrarian Ning, and the Methacton 2.0 Ning which is just for people in my school district. My next step will be to start my own Ning. I am thinking of creating a Ning for students. I got to Level 6 but don't consider my Travel IQ very good. See how far you can get.

I am very impressed with the search roll of the School Library Journal. Rollyo is a new tool where I create a Search Roll. Rollyo is a new tool for me. I am excited to find it. I can limit the websites my students can use in a search. I can make a search roll and choose only the best sites and then have the students search and find what they need on websites that are safe and the ones I want them to use. I just created this Rollyo with news sites like Scholastic, National Geographic for Kids, and Yahoo kids. Try it out:

Powered by Rollyo

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Are Formative Assessments "testing"?

Do you see "formative assessments" as testing? While I do believe that testing (standardized testing as we know it) is not necessarily beneficial for students I don’t see all assessments that way. When I do formative assessments, I tell my classes upfront that they will have a test but that it is not a test that they can pass or fail. I don’t like to use the word test either. I tell them we are doing a survey, we play games where correct information location gets a prize, and we do evaluations of websites (the students do the evaluations themselves, if they can do this they are a step ahead). Every once in a while I switch up the evaluation tools and have the students assess the tools themselves. Sometimes I tell them they are my guinea pigs and that I will be asking them to evaluate themselves and what they learned. During the research process I have them do a daily journal along with a checklist of where they are in the process. The journal part asks 3 things: What went right that day, what they are having problems with, and where do they go from here, their next step. I don’t see these assessments as the same thing as “testing.” Yet, it informs me of their progress. As a librarian I want to create lifelong learners and no standardized test is going to create a lifelong learner. But, a strategically placed “formative assessment” can be the spur that some students need to progress on the road toward lifelong learning.
Just my thoughts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Week 4: RSS & Newsreaders: 8 & 9

Yes, I have heard of RSS and I have an RSS tag on this blog (look over to the right). Gotta love the Common Craft Show for making things easy to understand. Check out this video on blip-tv about RSS in Plain English. It will only take 3 minutes and 48 seconds out of your life and it is so worth it to understand how to keep up with the blogs and news feeds you read more efficiently. I follow Lee LeFever on Twitter. I set up a Bloglines account a very long time ago because I found out that I could RSS EBSCO documents right to my reader. Now when there is a new study done on Internet Safety it comes right to my account and I can read the abstract before logging into POWER Library. This saves me search time and it saves me from logging into POWER if the article is not really of interest to K-12 schools. I found out yesterday morning that there would be an article on Acceptable Use Policies in this month’s issue of School Library Media Activities Monthly (SLAMM) and when I went into school, there was my SLAMM with the article I needed right in my mailbox. If I didn’t check Bloglines yesterday morning I may not have been specifically looking for my SLAMM and may have missed the article. What I didn’t like about Bloglines has been changed and I like it much better now. Used to be that you had to read the article in the reader and I lost the feel of reading my favorites on their actual blog site. Now all I have to do is click on the post name and it takes me to the actual blog site… so much nicer. I used to avoid reading Bloglines even though I set it up because I missed the feel of my favorite blogs. I know it is all in my head but it is much easier to hear Joyce Valenza’s voice when I am on her NeverEndingSearch Blog than when I am reading a post from the reader.

So many blogs… so little time. A while ago I pared down my Bloglines to a more manageable 17 blogs. I was getting discouraged because I was not keeping up with the blogs on my Bloglines. Of course I couldn’t figure out why and then it hit me, I had over 30 blogs listed. So, when it came time to do Task 9 in PSLA’s 23 things I got a little nervous. I just cut down the blogs I read and now they want me to search for more. I knew I could find more but was I willing to add to my svelte 17? I used Google Blog Search and put in the search term “school library learning 2.0” and found over 6 million hits. The first hit was the California Library site that PSLA borrowed the 23 things from, so I was safe, I have been to this site many times and it was OK to add to my reader. What a surprise that I could not find an RSS feed for the page. I added it to my reader anyway. So, now I have 18 feeds. Will I ever get back up to 30? I sure hope not. Well, not until after I finish my grad program, these 23 things, and my grandson is sleeping through the night. :-0

Ok, so I lied. I am up to 19 feeds. Through the Bloglines search I found the blog and decided to give it a try. If I don’t have time to read it or I don’t like it I can always pare down again!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

WEEK 3 #5,6,&7

I found a new wiki this week thanks to twitter (twitter name: congerjan). Someone posted a link to a wiki being created by David Warlick called Warlick’s CoLearners. It has some wonderful links and information but the first thing I thought when I saw it was how did David Warlick take a picture of his Second Life (SL) avatar and have it facing the camera. I have tried and tried to take a picture of my avatar and she is always facing the other way. If you have a suggestion I would love to hear it.

Explored a little more on Flickr and tagged the two photos I uploaded today: School Library learning2.0.

Oh, I was also amazed that David Warlick does not have his own Wikipedia page. Think we should start one? Just looked up Joyce Valenza and she doesn't have a Wikipedia page either. Something wrong with this picture?

Week 1& 2 Thing 1,2, &3

Please excuse me as I begin a new adventure into Web 2.0. If you are used to reading this blog you know I am always trying new things. Now my librarian's association is joining me on this new Web 2.0 discovery venture, or am I joining them?

71/2 habits of a lifelong learner.

If you think you can’t or don’t have time to learn something new this tutorial will help you realize that you learn something new every day. The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County put together the tutorial and it reads like it came from an Instructional Design class. The 7 and a half habits are: begin with the end in mind, accept responsibility for your own learning, view problems as challenges, have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner, create your own learning toolbox, use technology to your advantage, teach or mentor others, and play. This tutorial is great for beginning your trip down the road to lifelong learning. Check it out and get in the habit of learning!

Check out my new avatar to the right. I never had an avatar on this blog before and I am happy to now have this avatar as a starting point buy what I really want is a voki. I will learn how to create one and add it to the blog when I do. :-)

Baby Name Wizard on Jumping Monkeys

I do lessons with third grade students to teach them to use PowerPoint. We take pictures of each other and insert our own picture into the PowerPoint along with information we find about our names using a website called Behind the Name. It is great for even the most unusual or ethnic of names. It gives the history, origin and pronunciation of the name as well as derivatives and some famous people who share the name. Almost everyone can find his or her name there. In fact, I have never had a student not find their name there in the three years I have been doing the lesson. I love this lesson because it is all about the kids. They learn to use PowerPoint while finding out about themselves and their name. But I am always looking for ways to make the lesson better and thanks to Leo LaPorte and Megan Morrone and their podcast “Jumping Monkeys,” I think I found a way to do just that. Their guest on the October 4th program was Laura Wattenberg who wrote the book the Baby Name Wizard and created Baby Name No only is the website fun but it will give the students a wealth information about their name and where and when it was popular in the United States. According to Wattenberg even more tools will be coming onto the website in the next couple of months so by the time I use the site with my third graders in March it should be all new. Wattenberg uses US census data to populate her statistics and charts. I am very excited about this website. Try it and look up your name. My name peeked in the 1940’s and it’s been all-downhill since then. So, is it better to have a popular name or an unusual name? Is it better to have a name that is popular at the time? Why are we drawn to the names we give our children? Is it what is popular at the time? I can’t wait for my students to start looking at their names and seeing if their names are popular, unusual, even on the charts. I hope we get some synthesis and analysis out of this lesson this time around. How exciting to add a new tool to this lesson this year. I hope my students find it as exciting as I do and will want to keep on learning. After all, that is what I am tying to do… create lifelong learners!

Yahoo Avatar

I created this Yahoo Avatar and clipped it using the new clipmarks feature that I blogged about before.

clipped from
blog it

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I just found out about this Firefox add-on. It is very cool. Now I can just clip and add stuff to my blog or save just the part of a website I want to quote for a research paper. Or even e-mail something to myself. Can't wait to show this to students. It may save some paper since students doing research in the library can just print the parts of a website that they really need. I think this could be... dare I say a replacement for notecards. I am thinking about the possibilities.
This was clipped right from the clipmarks install site:

clipped from clipmarks.comLink
  • Post anything you clip directly to your blog.
  • It's by far the quickest way to update your blog with compelling things you find on the web. Supports Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, LiveJournal and more.
  • Email anything from a web page without ever leaving the page.
  • Print just the parts of the page you really need.
  • blog it

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    Creative Commons Test

    I have been fooling around with some images on Flickr and I read a tweet this week about a site that will embed a Flickr picture on your blog and give a creative commons citation for said picture... so I thought I would try it and see what happens. I am using some photos that I found on: So far I am pretty happy with the results. I can see the picture and the attribution. I think I need to use this with my students. Nice work and site John Johnston!

    Photo by zyphichore
    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Charlotte '08

    Ok, so I am a proud aunt and can't help it. Check this out... my nephew is the drummer:

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Owen is Here

    I am now a grandmother. After 9 months and 2 weeks, Owen Hollaway Shane was born on July 11th. He is too cute for words!
    For pictures check out the proud grandpa's Picassa page:

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Neo Cube

    Speaking of games... ok, so this is not a video game but it looks like fun and I want one...

    Sandra Day O'Connor makes Video Games?

    When I was an undergrad at Syracuse University, my mentor, Bill Coplin taught me that it was not enough to get a good job, get married, and go on vacation. He instilled in me that I had to do more; give something back, I had to “do good.” He even wrote a book on the subject called, "How You Can Help," but I digress. Today, I read about someone much more important than I, who has already made a mark in history and has done a lot of good, doing even more. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is continually thinking how to improve our democracy but I never thought I would hear her say the way to do that would be to play video games! Yep, according to a New York Times article in the Arts section, “Former Justice Promotes Web-Based Civics Lessons,” O’Connor is working with Syracuse’s number one nemesis Georgetown University and Arizona State University on a SecondLife type interface game called: Our Courts. The website is already up and is expected to go live this fall. I wonder if students get to choose or better yet, make their own avatar? Of course as a librarian, this game fits right into my goal of promoting lifelong learning and creating a well informed electorate. In the article O’Connor says, “The better educated our citizens are, the better equipped they will be to preserve the system of government we have. And we have to start with the education of our nation’s young people. Knowledge about our government is not handed down through the gene pool. Every generation has to learn it, and we have some work to do.” O’Connor went on to complain that a side effect of No Child Left Behind has been to squeeze out civics education leaving a big gap in our educated electorate. “…we can’t forget that the primary purpose of public schools in America has always been to help produce citizens who have the knowledge and the skills and the values to sustain our republic as a nation, our democratic form of government.” What better way to reach our young people than through the video games they love so well? I am already thinking of ways to introduce this website into my Constitution Day Celebration in September! I love technology and using it in my library as a tool has made a difference in the way students think of libraries. O’Connor agrees that technology and interactive media is the way to preserve our democracy, “interactive education can in some ways be more effective than traditional methods.” All I have to say is that I hope I have her energy to do good when I am her age. Maybe I will have to wait for my mentor to retire and get Syracuse University in the act and start making an interactive video game on The Constitution! How about it Bill?

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    How to Use Destiny

    I wanted to try out Jing again to see if I could make a video on how to use my library management software to embed it on the blog here and possible use it for my graduate class presentation next week. It is actually my first time uploading anything to You Tube. So, here is the video. Hope this works.

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    District Technology Initiative

    Methacton joins the Ningdom. My school district is starting to branch out. The Methacton 2.0 Ning is a great way to foster a positive Web 2.0 presence and introduce Methacton techies to each other. Come join the Methacton 2.0 Ning!

    View my page on Methacton 2.0

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Distraction Free Writing or a Blast From the Past...

    I had a colleague in one of my graduate classes recommend a product for Mac called “WrightRoom” and I downloaded it to give it a try. Wow did it take me back. It was very old school even the font looked like something out of the move “War Games.” I am not sure I am ready to go backwards. I like the bells and whistles and upgrades that have happened to word processing in the past 30 years… why would I want to go back? The entire time I was thinking... what would Will Richardson think?

    Actually, I can see some benefits, if you want students to simply write what they think without the red underlines or the green underlines of word processors it would be fine. To prepare them for standardized tests that have just them and the blank screen, it may be a good idea. But I am glad I just did a free 30-day trial because I don’t think this is something I would use enough on a regular basis to buy. Besides, I like the crispness of black text on a white page, green on black or any of the other combinations provided just seem strange to my eye which is used to black and white. But I do like the fact that once you close the screen, your text is right there in a simple black and white text file so you can copy and past it into a word processor and edit, or can save it as simple text. So, if you want to see what your students can do without all the bells and whistles of word processors or you want to give them a good chuckle and tell them this is the way all computers used to write, by all means try “WrightRoom.” My colleague says it was a "huge" success with his students, "because it allowed the kids to concentrate on their ideas and the writing process." I want to at least show it to my students and see what they think.
    And to my colleague Scott, I did this Jing Screencast about my first experience.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Duh... Use Google Docs...

    So, I learned something from a digital native today. My group in my graduate class had all kinds of problems with a PowerPoint we were doing together. Every time I sent it or posted it, some slides would go blank. Some of us were using Macs, others PC's but we never could figure out the problem. A digital native suggested Google Docs. I am not sure this will solve the problem because I still would have to post it to Google Docs but I love that she gave me a Common Craft show video to show how it works! I have used Google Docs for my own stuff but never thought of collaborating with it.

    She even gave me a link to a tutorial specifically for PowerPoint right from Google:

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Make 'em better researchers and writers...

    So, I am taking yet another technology class. This time it is Instructional Application for the Classroom. I am reading studies about word processing software. The text book (Integrating Educational Technology Into Teaching, Forth Edition by M. D. Robler) says “when students write with computers, they engage in the revision of their work throughout the writing process” (Robler p. 123). It goes on to say that their writing skills are thus more developed than their fellow students who use paper. I am going out on a limb here and say that electronic note cards would do the same thing for the research process. I am a librarian and I respect the research process but I still think note cards should be done away with. Give the students PowerPoint if you must insist on note cards. Let them write note cards in PowerPoint. To me PowerPoint is much easier to organize than note cards. PowerPoint can also be used as a storyboard in slide-sorter view. I am not saying they should make a PowerPoint instead of writing a research paper. I am saying they should use PowerPoint instead of the note cards they put their notes on for their research paper.

    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    Star Spangled Poem Project...

    I have been working on poetry with my students in the library this year. I have been trying to show them the joy of found poetry. In computer terms I guess found poetry could be compared to a mash-up. I want them to write a poem from their research projects now. I want them to take their research and put some of the words together to make a poem. I guess it is a little bit of a stretch for elementary school students but I know they can do it.
    I tried this activity with marginal success when the music teacher was working on “The Star Spangled Banner.” Each year as part of The Star Spangled Banner Project she teaches the history behind our national anthem. I read a book to the students as part of that unit and then I have students write a found poem from all the stanzas of the original poem. Most times the students have never heard the entire poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key. Below is the example I wrote to give them an idea of what I want. I wrote it to add to the project for next year because they are not getting the idea of what I want and they tend to stay with the part of the poem that they know.

    By the dawn’s early light can you see the land of the free?
    In full glory reflected the home of the brave?
    Blest with victory and peace, a home and a country?
    Does that star spangled banner yet wave?
    Thus be it ever where freemen shall stand.
    Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    More Free Open Source Sites...

    Wow... just heard about this wonderful new site for finding and uploading music. Jamendo is open source. Their tagline says: "On Jamendo artists allow anyone to download and share their music. It's free, legal and unlimited." It's nice to have a leagal source for music when creating videos with children. Some of the pictures from the album art on the site are not for elementary school students, so make sure if you are having them use these materials that you download the music for them to use.

    Another site that touches a librarian's heart is webcitation. Have you ever had a student cite a website only to have that website not come up or give you an error message when you tried to check the source? Well, webcitation can solve all that. I have just signed up but have not used the site yet. Bacically it works by adding a bookmarklet to your citation page instead of just a URL. The bookmarklet will lead you back to the actual page, as it looked, on the date the student accessed the page. Now there will be no more padding of citations, students will actually have had to use the site... or will at least have to visit the site to have the proper bookmarklet.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Online Graphical Dictionary

    Here is one for your visual learners.  It is an online graphical dictionary (check out the word graphical) called Visuwords, and it is pretty cool.  I am not sure it will replace a traditional dictionary or, but I love how it moves!  The neat thing is even though it is graphical, you still have to read!  Again, I found this by following someone's twitter post... more professional development!

    My future of Professional Development

    It’s been a long time since I blogged. I have been busy working with my students on podcasting. And I have been taking two graduate classes, so very little time to write but, my instructor in my “Distance Communications” class asked me how I would sustain professional development in the next 10 years. It prompted me to wonder what professional development will look like in the future… and it hit me… Actually, it didn’t hit me as much as it twittered me. I follow the father of WebQuest, Bernie Dodge on twitter. He posted a tweet on Friday that he was broadcasting live on USTREAM.TV. Of course, I read his tweet a few hours too late for the live version but the fun thing about USTREAM is that you can watch the video later if you miss it live. The first post Bernie did was about using this new streaming media. He says there are other versions out there like Mogulus and Flashmeeting and the good thing is that they are all free right now (that doesn’t mean they won’t start charging later but for now they are free). But my thinking is that if Bernie Dodge and his college (San Diego State University) are getting into video streaming seminars, professional development events, and classes over the Internet can other educators and other educational institutes be very far behind? This is going beyond podcasting. Check out Bernie’s live seminar link and embedded here:

    Bonus, Cali Lewis of Geek Brief TV live streams on USTREAM.TV too.

    Oh, and Cali Lewis recommends twitter in this video stream. I have been using twitter (which can be addictive) for about 3 or 4 months. If you can keep up with it, twitter can be a great place for professional development, whether its following CoolCatTeacher’s blogposts via twitter, or finding Bernie Dodge’s USTREAM video… but then we are back to the beginning of this post because Bernie and USTREAM prompted these ponderings.

    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    Where is Wikipedia?

    For about a half hour now I have been trying to pull up a Wikipedia article on Michael Arrington for a Web 2.0 class assignment. It won't come up. Thinking the link may just be dead, I tried to pull up Wikipedia itself to search that way- nothing. Then I searched Wikipedia on Google News and found that China has lifted its ban on the English Wikipedia. Are the two connected? Brain ditto... or are you thinking what I'm thinking? Could it be that China has crashed Wikipedia on purpose or is it the pure volume that has Wikipedia out of commission this morning?

    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    Confused About Copyright?

    Well, you are not the only one.  In fact, according to an Education Week article, confusion by educators is a real problem for teachers and it filters down and can be harmful to our students.  Renee Hobbs' article is called "Copyright Confusion is Shortchanging Our Students."  It makes me wonder if any teachers and librarians are practicing their right of Fair Use any more.  Why are teachers afraid to use media when their students have no problem doing it and even download things illegally? If we want to be role models, we should not be modeling technology and classrooms of the past!  It is all about Fair Use!

    Monday, March 31, 2008

    YEAH! Mo Willems...

    The New Pigeon books comes out tomorrow... April 1st just in time for April Fools Day. And Mo is no fool, he's had kids guessing what the pigeon wants for months! Who has won Mo's contest and an author visit from him may still be a mystery but I found out this afternoon the new book is called, "The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!" I can't wait to tell my students tomorrow. I am so excited! :-)

    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    GigaOM show taking a break

    Wow… I didn’t expect this… the GigaOM show is taking a break until the summer. GigaOM is a Sunday staple at my house and we have been praying for Om Malik after this heart attack. The GigaOM team did a great job filling in for him while he was in the hospital and he was recovering but I guess heart attacks are nothing to toy with. Om is taking a break for stress reasons. Will another program take over before GigaOM can come back in the summer? Truth is GigaOM does the best job of handling the financial models of Web 2.0 companies and start ups. Revision3 is going to miss GigaOM in its podcast lineup.

    Photoshop Express

    I know I am a little late on this one but Adobe Photoshop Express Beta launched on Wednesday of this past week. I did not have time to play with it until this morning. It seems pretty cool. It is a free version of Photoshop Express to do online preparation for uploading photos to websites. It is great for those who travel and do not always have access to their full version of Photoshop. Or it could be a boon to schools who can't afford a site license for Photoshop because a single copy is out of some price ranges. It is very cool that now everyone can use the famous Adobe tool; another leveling of the playing field, a flattening of the world and the classroom.
    But, like everything else that is “free” on the web, there are strings. And apparently these strings are attached forever to your photos. According to C/net News, Adobe wants creative control over your content. There is a statement in the user agreement that I didn't read -does anyone read those things before agreeing to use a product online? Anyway, the statement reads like this:

    “Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.” *

    So what are we signing when we agree to use this product? I would hate to edit a picture on the Photoshop Express site and then have it show up in a “how not to take pictures” video from Adobe later down the road. I also would hate to be a bride and find my wedding pictures on an Adobe commercial. Supposedly Adobe is modifying its terms of agreement but I think I am just going to hold off using it with pictures of my students, I am going to hold off teaching it to my elementary students too. I need to play with it a bit more before I open it up to everyone. I also have to check and see if my school district even will allow us to use it since it means uploading photos to the site and we have no control over the photos once they are uploaded. Remember what David Pogue said at PETE & C... "content on the web does not stay where you put it."

    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    Parsing it out...

    We can blame the geeks for this one. The word parse is making a comeback. According to my Franklin Spelling Ace, (yes, I have a problem with spelling and the Ace really helps me out when I am not on the computer) parse is a verb that means to tease out the meaning of something. Once only a linguistic and an English teacher’s domain (parse- explication, or explanation of grammatical structure- i.e. diagramming), computer programmers took the word on to explain how they decode, analyze, and separate data and other input into components that are more easily processed. Programmers write routines (parsers) within a computer program to separate out strings of data into its known fields. This makes sense since another definition of parse is to read between the lines, and programmers read between the field separators to extract data.

    But now the word parse is showing up all over the place. I read it 6 or 7 times today alone and a few days ago it cropped up in a youtube video. I was starting to think that people didn’t know what they were talking about because from a librarian’s point of view parsing is what a good dictionary does when it breaks down a word, gives its pronunciation, word origin, tense, etc. etc.. A dictionary does it for me; I don’t have to parse anything or at least I have never used the word parse in regard to anything I do. It seems like a funny sort of word to me.

    But, an definition changed my mind because now the word is being used in the CSI sense. It means to examine closely or to be subject to a detailed analysis, and that’s what CSI does! But, now people are starting to use it to mean simply understand, or comprehend. I can see this if they mean breaking something down so that it can be understood or comprehended better. But, to mean simply understand or comprehend is a stretch. Think about it, it just does not make sense for teachers to start calling comprehension tests, parsel tests? It sounds like a test that Harry Potter would have to take at Hogwarts. I still think using the word parse seems a little funny but maybe I will use it the next time I am breaking down technology step-by-step for the teachers in my building. ☺

    What would you do with technology in school?

    Infusing technology into the curriculum really paid off for two girls from Salford, England. The girls had a school project and it resulted in an actual product being created. Thanks to a twitter friend...Digimom... who saw it on CrunchGear and posted the article link to twitter this morning. The original article in the Daily Mail shows the red nail-polished hand of one girl and the happy face of another. The real twist on the polish comes when the polish is worn indoors; it changes to an almost clear state. The two girls came up with the idea fduring a school joint enterprise venture with a local university. It made good business sense because the girls already had a market, the girls in their school. The school bans makeup and they wanted to wear nail polish (or varnish as the British call it). Girl Power- just goes to show you what happens when we give students real world applications in schools!

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Voice Thread I love you...

    Ok, so I love that Spring Break is here and I can play with technology!
    I am in love with voicethread. Granted, I have not started using it with students. In fact, I just created my first one today for a class presentation I am doing next Thursday. I can see the real benefit from using this tool for educational purposes. I have some fourth graders that will be doing an environmental project in the coming weeks… how cool would it be if they could find pictures and then present their research to go along with the pictures in voice thread? Same for the 5th grade doing a research project on the westward expansion of the United States; it would be a great way to add in some primary source pictures and do the presentations as a voice thread. I am going to present the idea to the 4th and 5th grade teachers after Spring Break. Wish me luck!

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    Bibliographies and Works Cited Pages have never been easier!

    Finally, a way to put together a citation without the pain. I am very excited about this new site I found called bibme. It is free and I hope it stays that way. It is great for students (and librarians). It seems pretty easy. I found the site on Digg which described BibMe as "a new web app offering students a quick and simple means to create bibliographies. It mashes up data from multiple online services to provide AutoFill functionality when adding new citations. It can output MLA, APA, Chicago, & Turabian." I wonder if it will make into the Diggnation podcast? That would be pretty cool.

    I checked out the site and put in the ISBN number of one of Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson books. It came up with two hits, the library binding version and the trade version. At the top of the post is a picture I took of the site using Jing.

    Trying Jing

    This is the first time I am trying Jing. I thought I would show my students how to find Accelerated Reader tests in the Arrowhead Library.
    Check it out:

    Hope this works!

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Do you use technology in your classroom?

    Sorry, I admit it, it is a loaded question.  The reason I am asking is that the instructor in my multi-media class showed us this video from teachertube last night and it really has me thinking about what technology looks like in my library.  Sometimes it looks like frustration.  I seem like I am frustrating my students.  I want them to use technology as a tool. I don't want to be like the teachers touted in this video:

    I want to be the solution. I want to make learning fun. I want students to create their own learning. I am in the process of rethinking my methods yet again. Let me know if you have any suggestions for me.

    Do you Hulu?

    I signed up for Hulu in beta when I first heard about it a few weeks ago on Digg or TWIT. It is a place to watch TV and video content when I want on my computer or on my TV if I want to hook up my TV to my computer... which is rather easy with a Mac! Have not tried it with Apple TV (the content on Hulu seems to be different than what is available from iTunes) yet since the Apple TV and the Apple TV remote are my husband's domain. Hulu doesn't have everything but you know, it has quite a lot. It has some free, on demand stuff, some is ad-supported. It offers full episodes of a limited number of TV shows, both current and classic, a few full-length movies, thousands of clips, and much more. Check it out for the fun of it:

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Big Twitter Push...

    Wow... I just finished watching both Mahalo Daily and Geek Brief TV for today and both had a bit about twitter. Why all the publicity for twitter? Not sure but I enjoyed the CommonCraft Show piece that Cali Lewis used on Geek Brief. It was nice to see Lee LeFever on her podcast (I am now following him on twitter!). It is nice to put a face to those wonderful CommonCraft vignettes. Here is twitter explained in plain English. I don't know about you but I spend way too much time on twitter!

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Flip Video/ Small Wonder its great for students!

    I have had my Flip video camera for about a year ever since I was at a conference with Will Richardson and he showed how easy it was to use and upload to youtube. I totally agree with him. I love how easy to use it is and I can really see the possibilities of using the camera with students. Well, I have been trying to get my tech department to get these great little video cameras for my elementary school to no avail. The proprietary software on the cameras is something my tech department abhors. Well, thanks to a twitter conversation with Kathy Schrock, I may have solved the dilemma of the proprietary software. According to Kathy the newer version (Flip Ultra) of the camera does not need that special software to download the files to MovieMaker. That would be the only argument I need. I of course will have to get one and check it out for myself (yeah… I can get a new color Flip… maybe Orange for the Syracuse Orange? My old camera was plain silver… and boy is it scratched up from living in my purse for a year!). I was also reminded again how wonderful these little gems are when I came across a School Library Journal video comparison of the Flip and RCA’s Small Wonder. The two are pretty much the same with the RCA having an extra slot for a Secure Digital card. Do I have to buy one of each? I also was very impressed at PETE &C with what other schools in Pennsylvania are doing with students operating Flips and Small Wonders. Now for the begging and/or the grant writing to begin!

    More RSS love...

    I have blogged about this before. For about a year I was wondering what all the hype about RSS was all about. I had an aggregator, in fact I had two (Bloglines and Google Reader) but at home on my computer I like going to my blog roll and hitting my favorite blogs where they live, their actual websites. Then EBSCO hits became available as RSS feeds and that was nice. But now, there is one icon I can push on my iPhone and get to my RSS reader and voila… there are all my favorite blogs right there on my phone! It is so cool. I can catch up with Cool Cat Teacher, Joyce Valenza and Will Richardson with a single push of the Google Reader icon on my iPhone screen! Going RSS on my phone is so much easier than trying to find my links in my blog roll... and a better, simpler way to read my favorite blogs away from home!

    Saturday, March 08, 2008

    Twitter in Education?

    I may not be able to twitter with my elementary students but David Parry, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas makes a good argument for using it with college students. Check out his video here: Plus... he uses his iPhone for tweets just like I do... and I have to admit that is the best part of twitter... keeping up with my techy teacher twitter tweets on the road! (Can you tell we are learning alliteration in the library?) Speaking of iPhone... have you seen the SDK release video? Can't wait for June!

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Arrowhead Library in the Times Herald!

    So, how could a mediocre experience in a video-conference turn out to be exciting and fun? Well, having the local newspaper put a picture of students eagerly awaiting the video-conference on the front page of the paper today helped a lot! The Norristown Times Herald’s Gene Walsh came to the library for the conference but he was less than enthusiastic about it and left before it got to the good stuff. Well, the conference never really got good but the pictures Gene took and put in the paper were outstanding. The students were thrilled!! And, it made everyone’s day today. A copy of one of the two pictures from the front page and a link to the story are here.
    The students in the picture were acting like rock stars today and autographing a library copy of the newspaper. When everyone has a chance to sign it we are going to laminate it and post in a prominent spot in the library. All this and an author visit next week! It is a busy time in the library… more about Kay Winters’s author visit next week. Oh, and my tech coordinators want to know if I get extra credit in my Internet Technology master class because I was in the newspaper for technology reasons?

    PB Wiki vs. Wikispaces

    Ok, I have not made a secret out of my preference for Wikispaces over PB Wiki but today I got an email from PB showing me some changes they are making and asking if I wanted to beta test the new PB Wiki. Wow! The answer is YES! Just from looking at the changes they are making got me drooling! They seem to be fixing everything I had a problem with. Here’s crossing my fingers that I get on their beta list!

    Monday, March 03, 2008

    NASA does Dr. Seuss's Birthday...

    I think I was more excited about doing the NASA videoconference for Dr. Seuss’ birthday than the kids were. That is why it was so disappointing today when NASA first had technical problems and then it turned out to be a talking head and a lot less interactive than a MAGPI videoconference. My new rule of thumb is that if it’s not a MAGPI videoconference, pass it up! The kids were great. They seemed to be happy to have a chance to do a videoconference. I will have to make it up to them. I was thinking of taking them on a space flight in Second Life. Wonder how that would look and work on the SMART Board? I have been told that other NASA videoconferences are better; I will have to be convinced.

    Saturday, March 01, 2008


    I recently took an online workshop on how to use PowerPoint. It lasted for about six weeks and there were a lot of different online articles to read and "how to" presentations to watch. I am not saying I am wonderful at it now, I am just saying that my students are not as glassy-eyed now when I present a new author to them using PowerPoint! :-)

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Waiting paid off!

    I was supposed to get a new computer for Christmas. But I decided to hold off until the announcements Apple made at MacWorld. Was I disappointed? Of course! At MacWorld Apple announced the MacAir. What I was hoping for was a 13 inch MacBook Pro. The computer I currently use is a 12 inch PowerBook G4. It is a workhorse even at its advanced age. And, I wanted another workhorse in a small size! In my mind the MacAir is a lightweight but it does have some features that I wanted, like the touch pad and backlit keyboard. It would be great to take to a conference or on a trip but to replace my only computer, it was not an option. Yesterday, Mac announced a couple of things. First they finally made a 13 inch MacBook. There was my 13 inch that could replace my 12inch workhorse but again, the computer did not seem as much like a workhorse as my current baby computer (did I mention that I have worn the keys off the computer) . I probably could have gotten away with one of those but then I looked at the new MacBook Pros. I was hooked. Not only does it have the backlit keyboard and the touchpad, I could get a glossy screen and a 250 gig hard drive. When my husband ordered my PowerBook G4 he made 2 upgrades to memory and it has a whopping 80 gigs which of course I have filled to the max. The only compromise I had to make was that the computer is 15 inches not 13. So, I am getting a slightly larger computer than I wanted. I ordered my computer last night and now I am sitting on pins and needles waiting for it to be delivered. Oh, one more thing, Steve Jobs, don’t announce a 13 inch MacBook Pro next month or I will cry!

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Free Tutorials…

    While trying to catch up on my EdTech list-serve reading I came across a post that told about some free tutorials to learn Microsoft Office. These tutorials come from Bernie Poole who is an Associate Professor of Education and Instructional Technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Did I mention that these tutorials are free and did I mention that Bernie is a member of the EDTech list-serve? Well, it is free and he is, and he has done it again. This time he has put up tutorials for Office 2007. It’s called Essential Microsoft Office 2007: Tutorial for Teachers. Check them out!

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Is it Web 2.0 or are we turning into Educaterers?

    I first heard the word Educaterers while watching the 1951 movie, “Goodbye, My Fancy”, staring Joan Crowford and Robert Young. Crowford is journalist Agatha Reed returning to her alma mater for homecoming, but if the truth be told, she never really graduated. Apparently she and Young, who is now the college president, were caught in a compromising position and Reed left before graduation rather than expose Young. Reed wants to rekindle the romance but finds out the college president has made a few too many compromises and has turned into an Educaterer, one who thinks students need puff and fluff rather than the true knowledge needed to make them think for themselves.

    I have not seen this movie in years but its themes are constantly on my mind as I examine my own pedagogy. Recently I have been considering the term Educaterer because it seems that students are no longer taught to think for themselves. Do I prohibit them from doing so? Am I turning into an Educaterer? Am I giving them the tools they need to succeed? Am I demanding excellence? How do I tell if they are equipped for the future? Am I properly molding the next generation, the next electorate? What will be important for them to know when they graduate and go out into the market place for a job? I had a college dean tell me at a technology conference that I was not preparing students very well at all. He actually was speaking to everyone in the room but it made me start thinking.

    He told of several students in an astronomy class not knowing the difference between a planet and a star and not knowing the names of the planets. Forget about Pluto being demoted, students are leaving our K-12 schools and don’t know the names of the planets in our solar system? Does that mean I am an Educaterer? I am not so sure. What I am thinking is that children are being bombarded with information. There is too much information out there that it is impossible for them to remember it all. Even Einstein didn’t remember everything. But he knew where to look to find the information he needed when he needed it. As a librarian, I can teach students where and how to find the information they need to know. I can get them so comfortable with searching that they can find information easily. I can make a difference in their lives by equipping them with technology tools and teaching them how to use them. Educaterers spoon-feed information. I am not an Educaterer. I am a librarian. The difference is that I show students where and how to find useful information and then teach them how to extract the good parts, so they have the information they need when they need it. I can also show them Web 2.0 tools that will enhance their education, not spoon-feeding but technology enhanced education. Finding and using information is not Educatering!

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Digital Batteries getting more charged...

    Special thanks to Kristin Hokanson of "The Connected Classroom," who asked Steve Dembo of Discovery Education, for his permission to stream his Tuesday keynote for those of us who only attended one day of the conference. A two hour delay morning allows lots of time for recharging batteries. Please check out Steve's keynote on UStream.TV.

    I can't wait to check out Curricki.

    Recharging my Digital Batteries...

    So, I am finally getting to blog about this thanks to a two hour delayed school opening. I took a personal day on Monday and paid to go to one day of my state’s technology conference. Why you ask. Well, simply because the best technology journalist in the country was the keynote speaker on Monday and I got to meet him. Am I gushing? Come on, he's from the NY Times! I used to be a reporter and now I am a librarian. I know how tough it can be out there establishing contacts to get the best stories. And, this guys has the contacts, gets the best stories, and gets them right. I could not wait for my fellow educators to hear his view of technology.

    I have been a big fan of David Pogue for a while and now thanks to Pogue’s inspiring keynote so is the technology coordinator in my school. In fact, my tech coordinator took this picture of me with David. I am such a technology geek. But you know how it is, you read someone’s blog, read their column, and listen to him or her on various podcasts for so long and you feel you know them. (Sounds like what used to be said about television.) And, David Pogue gets it. He knows people know him from the web and he’s OK with that. He is friendly and besides, he appeared on Cali Lewis’ podcast, he actually met Cali! And, if Cali gets her mobile home and travels around the country like she and Neil are planning, she may get somewhere close enough for me to meet her too, podcasting from the road, it doesn’t get much better than that! Anyway, back to David Pogue’s keynote… it was enlightening as well as entertaining. He changed the words of “My Way” and sang about the iPhone and really nailed it about the cool factor. It is cool to have an iPhone! But more than that, he told this group of educators what the future looks like.

    He called his presentation, “The Digital Generation Grows Up.” The first two things he says will mark the future are Internet phones and wireless everywhere. First, he sees landline telephones going away as more and more people use voice over IP or the Internet as a phone. T-Mobile was the first to introduce wireless cell plans that include free calling when in a wireless Internet hot spot. This goes hand in hand with his second biggie, he foresees wireless Internet everywhere and more collaboration on a worldwide stage because of it. And, of course all-wireless Internet phones like the much hyped currently vapor-ware Google Phone. He pointed out that just those using VOIP now have driven down the cost of landline calls by 30 percent.

    The next thing he anticipates is a greater expansion of Web 2.0 but not without challenges, as more and more people supply content to the Web. He wanted teachers to tell their students that once things are online, they are there forever and they don’t stay where you put them. He also put a plug in for copyright because a college survey showed him students think everything on the Web is free and out there just for them to download. He realizes the question of legitimate sources is a real one and he’d like to see a code of ethics for bloggers. So, David Pogue gets it, he knows what librarians are saying is true. Our new library standards include ethics and bias. So maybe the best thing we can teach our students is to judge for themselves (Is that not what we are doing when we give them an Internet evaluation form?) what is worth reading and a little discernment.

    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    The guilt of blogs...

    Ok, so now I feel better. Will Richardson can't keep up with his RSS feeds either. He said so, right on his Weblogg-ed page today! Sometimes it feels like there is way too much stuff out there to read. I too feel guilty when I fall behind on my reading of my list-serves and the blogs I like to keep up with. Most of the blogs I like to read are listed on this site but there is nothing so frustrating as going to my aggregator and seeing all the unread posts. Who is making me feel guilty about this? I am. It is the same thing with books. I should be wearing the shirt I recently saw in a librarian's magazine..."So many books, so little time..." Now I can add to it, "So many blogs, so little time..."

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    MySpace, Attorneys General Tighten Internet Safety

    An article written by Joan Oleck on the School Library Journal website on Monday says that MySpace and the attorney general of 49 states and the District of Columbia have a greed to some best practices, guidelines, and educator tools to help keep children safe from predators while they are on social networking sites.

    Does this mean the willy-nilly, hi-ho silver, anything-goes days of the Internet are over? Well, probably not. MySpace according to the article has already put some of the practices into place. It now reviews every image uploaded to the site, automatically makes profiles of 14 and 15 year olds private, and will start enforcing its minimun sign-up age (which is 14). I am not saying this won’t help, what I am saying is that there is no regulation forcing MySpace to do these things… so what’s in it for them? Is MySpace really trying to be the good cop? We can hope so! According to their chief of security, MySpace’s cooperation with law enforcement is “a model” for Social Networking. Again what is in it for them? Well, lets look at it rationally, Facebook has been getting a lot of air play recently… what was MySpace to do? Becoming the child-safe social network may just be their way of getting their name out there and having parents say to their teens, you can join MySpace, they’re the safe network. It always comes down to the bottom line!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    MacWorld... Yeah!

    Ok, so you already know I am a Mac Fan. Today is MacWorld and I have not seen Steve Jobs keynote yet… what is wrong with me? I will patiently wait for my husband to get home so we can watch it together… all together now… awh! Anyway, it won’t be a difficult wait because I found this wonderful game to play while I am waiting… it is called SteveNote Expo- the game. You have to play it. It is so much like Pac Man only better. Help Steve get all of the neat gizmos he is introducing at MacWorld before a journalist captures all of your secrets and ends the game. You even have a special power to hypnotize the journalists. It is fun and since I am not at MacWorld, it will have to do!

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Awesome Day for Mo Willems...

    The American Library Association announced their 2008 award winners today and as he says on his blog it was an Awesome Day for Mo Willems. He walked away with a Caldecott Honor for his book "Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity." Mo both illustrated and wrote the book and it is a favorite of my students along with the first “Knuffle Bunny” book. But the big news was his walking away with the Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers. He both wrote and illustrated the award winning book entitled “There’s a Bird on Your Head!” I cannot believe that I do not have this book in my library. I have been searching for a series for emergent readers and here is a Mo Willems book that is perfect for my students and I don’t have the book. It is part of the Elephant and Piggie series. I do have “Knuffle Bunny Too” but for some reason I did not hear about this series. Good thing there are awards like this to publicize good books. I am not sure about the Newbery Medal winners either, I have not heard of any of the books so I will have to check them out as well.
    Tomorrow... MacWorld's Keynote! It's in the Air!

    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Where did you get your professional development today?

    It is called I was checking out some of the workshops that will be available during the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) coming up in February when I came across this little gem. It is a wiki but it is so much more than that, it is a gateway to finding and using technology in an education environment. It also has a book club, and lots of how to videos. I have spent about 2 hours on this wiki and I have only scratched the surface! There is an online virtual meeting on January 16th. I think I am hooked!