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! :-)