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!