Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hope this Candle Burns Bright

Christmas Myspace Animated Gifs I have been looking for some animated gifs for my students to use on some wikis we want to begin in January. Someone on Plurk posted this link with holiday gifs and I am trying it out here to make sure it works... and it does. I am getting excited about showing these to my students.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Wes Fryer's Blog Caught My Eye Today, December 5, 2010

I have been checking out Wes Fryer's pictures on Flickr the last few days. He has been in Maine checking out some very inquiry driven classrooms. He has been posting the pictures and telling us all about his trip on Plurk. Actually, he has not been on Plurk much lately but has been feeding Plurk through his Twitter stream and with TwitPics of his visit. He wrote about one elementary classroom in the blog post: Be Kind, Do your Best and be a Voracious Reader. He also wrote about Alice Barr's classroom and her 21st Century Tool Kit. Alice is someone we both follow on Twitter.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Plurk Powwow - Text2Speech Software Solutions

For so many years I was in awe of Miguel Guhlin and his education blog. Don't get me wrong, I am still in awe but now that Miguel has embraced Plurk I get to enjoy his thought process as well as his expertise. Yesterday he was wondering on Plurk what kind of assistive technology was available for reading text to students. Miguel got so many answers to his text-to-speech question that his Plurk discussion gave him the fodder for this blog piece, check it out: Plurk Powwow - Text2Speech Software Solutions!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Audacity Tutorials

It has been a long time since I used Audacity in the classroom with my students but I wanted to use it again this year with a new group of students. I came across these Audacity step-by-step tutorials that will help me and my students understand how to use Audacity to the fullest!

I also created a Wallwisher for my students to use as we start the new year. Our building theme is "Fill a Bucket" and the students will write a sticky to say how they will fill buckets this year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Walk Across America

SkipZ, a member of my Plurk Personal Learning Network, shared a link to this video. It is wonderful. After you view the Walk Across America click on the link to see how they did it. It is very inspiring. How many places can you identify in the video? How many places have you seen in the video?

Friday, July 16, 2010

My 2 Cents on Library Standards.

In my opinion the State of Pennsylvania is not doing school librarians any favors with its new Standards Aligned System (SAS). If the truth be told there is not much that can be done to make sure Pennsylvania students get a good information literacy education and it is not because school librarians are not doing their jobs. It is because the state does not have library standards. Back in 2005 Commonwealth Libraries put forth Pennsylvania Guidelines for School Library Programs and the document is awesome. However these are guidelines and not state standards so they do not get enforced and therefore do not appear in the SAS. I want to use SAS. I believe in it but I want the state to realize that we need to get our students ready for this century and not the last. I want the state to adopt authorized, clear library standards that can be measured with benchmarks and fair assessments and can be part of SAS. Only then will materials and resources be allocated to school libraries (yes, the state has cut library funding again this year). Anything less will mean Pennsylvania students will fall behind the states that are teaching media and information literacy with concrete measurable goals and prescribed instruction and interventions.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Google For Teachers 2

This new book is so cool. I enjoy my PLN, there are so many very talented people who share everything they learn. Check out Google for Teacher II below.

Google for Teachers II

Friday, July 09, 2010

Plurk This, Twitter!

I was very happy and surprised this week when I saw that Miguel Guhlin had become a fan of mine on Plurk. We follow each other on Twitter but I just recently pulled my Plurk friend request from Miguel thinking he had given up completely on Plurk. But enter Kevin Honeycutt and his presentation at TEC-SIG (Texas Computer Education Association’s conference). KevinH is my friend on Plurk. He is everyone’s friend (everyone in my PLN is a teacher or in the education field). I have never met KevinH in real life but he has met many of the people I personally know on Plurk. KevinH is a Plurk Evangelist. He speaks at many conferences and always promotes the Professional Learning Network that I am part of on Plurk. He is one of the people I ask when I need technology help. Check out Miguel’s recent blog post:

Plurk This, Twitter!

I agree with Miguel, my network on Twitter was bigger too but I was missing the personal threaded type discussions. For me it was always hit or miss on Twitter. I was on Twitter almost from the beginning and I was following so many non-educators that I was getting bogged down, then the marketers started spamming, and celebrities started racing to get the most followers. The more popular Twitter became the more I lost interest. I started to Plurk in 2008 but was not real active until a couple of educators introduced me around in their PLNs, and that was all I needed. The number of people I follow on Plurk is still not as large as those I follow on Twitter and Twitter is still my network of choice during conferences (gotta love the backchanneling that goes on at conferences) but my contacts seem more like relationships on Plurk and my Plurk PLN rocks!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I created this on kizoa for my daughter. Happy Mother's Day! It was a joy to create this video message!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

PSLA with kizoa

I have been playing with kizoa the online slide show creator. It is pretty easy to use. Check out some pictures I took at PSLA 2010 done kizo style.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Freeze and Read to Save Libraries

During the last day of National Library Week I am asking you to answer the call to save libraries. At 4:00 PM on the last day of National Library week, Saturday, April 17th Freeze and Read to Save Libraries. I have a vision of libraries in the future and it is of vital community hubs, not of rotting wastelands of dusty books. Help make sure libraries have a future, support your local library!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Circulate This! Stories from the School Library

This is great! The California School Library Association (CSLA) is always on the cutting edge of learning and promoting the good things in the library profession. Now they have put together, Circulate This! Stories from the School Library, a digital journal promoting school libraries. Click on the link to listen to the audio journal.

According to the CSLA website the stories in the audio journal were collected by Joe McHugh and Connie Williams. Connie Williams is the audio journal’s narrator and Joe McHugh did the audio production. The production sounds as slick as a National Public Radio program complete with music transitions and interludes performed by Martin Simpson and Joe Weed of Gourd Music. Based on the premiss “Strong school libraries build strong students and lifelong learner,” the audio journal seeks to highlight the value of of school libraries. Hopefully it will be the first in a series of looks into the school library. To that end I ask you to take this audio file on a little web journey! Lets see if, as Joyce Valenza has asked, we can make this production, this audio journal of library stories, go viral on the web. I am doing my part by promoting this 27.4mb audio file. Won’t you do the same? Tweet it, share it on Facebook, e-mail it to your teachers, staff, and administration, blog about it, and have your students listen to it in library class. Let’s see if a simple audio file promoting school libraries can make a difference in libraries and library funding. The dividends will be a informed electorate, lifelong learners who will grow into active, knowledgeable, ethical, and empathetic citizens. And it is school librarians that make the difference. At this time when so many in education and in school libraries are loosing their jobs, lets do something that can make a difference. If you do nothing but listen to the audio journal you will make a difference. It will change the way you look at your school librarian and together you can be the change you want to see in your school. I just finished listening and it inspired me to write this blog post. What will it inspire in you? Listen and find out and feel free to share what you learn by adding a comment below.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Be a Change Agent

BE the Change Agent! This was the topic in the TL Virtual Cafe FREE Webinar Tonight! I for one did not go in and add to the slideshare that was created but I think this is very cool and wanted to share.

So now I am wondering how I can be the change agent in my little corner of the world. All suggestions are welcome.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Molly Eats a Rabbit Whole

This is pretty early before the eggs hatched, Molly eats a rabbit whole.

Molly the Barn Owl

Been enjoying watching Molly the Barn Owl and her nest of 4 babies. Found this on YouTube... the 4th egg hatching. The birth of Wesley.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Live From the Prarie!

As my 5th graders get ready for their westward expansion unit a fellow Plurker, Kevin Honeycutt from Kansas, sent me a link to a student work about teachers on the prairie. The video was filmed at the Prairie Museum in Colby, Kansas. “A Teacher’s Life in the 1800’s.”

Find more videos like this on Art Snacks

If you have never checked out Art Snacks, click on the link above, you will like it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour is Today, March 27th at 8:30

Don’t forget to switch off your lights tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 for Earth Hour. Glad someone told me about this or I would have thought the power went out!

Students Can Write Dynamic Content Too...

I came across this blog post by accident while following another Twitter post. It is from Ralph Jean-Paul a marketing blogger who is trying to get more visitors and subscribers to his site so he can turn them into customers, but I think the message can be translated to the classroom no matter what subject we are teaching. Jean-Paul calls for dynamic content and really isn’t that what we want from our students when we ask them to write? Check out Jean-Paul’s blog for his explanations of the following, here’s my take on what he says:
Be Unique- Jean-Paul says not to just share common information but to personalize your writing. In this day and age when teachers worry about plagiarism this is good information. We should ask our students to share their stories, not just spit back the information they have gathered from other sources.
Write for Humans- I know you are going to say... well duh... and Jean-Paul’s reasoning here is blog specific... he says write for humans and not Google. Write so you get human attention and not so the aggregators at Google will pick up your blog and make it a top hit. But in educational terms this is where we can tell students not to use the same words over and over again. Librarians can teach about key words and how if I wanted to learn more about the topic you are writing about why would I want to read or listen to what you have to say!
Be Interesting- Jean-Paul says: “Using captivating and exciting descriptive language will help your readers stay interested in your writing.” And really isn’t that what we are trying to teach our young charges? He suggests using stories, examples, and humor to keep readers engaged. How can we do this in the classroom? How about instead of an audience of one (the teacher), your students had an audience of thousands or millions? How would that change their writing? Even if it is not through technology your students can write well for a real audience. Why not add a comments and compliments page to their next written assignment, or when students are giving a presentation have the other students write comments and compliments as they are listening?
Commit to Quality- Jean-Paul suggests that readers will know and forget your blog if your topic is not “well researched and organized,” if there are too many grammar and spelling mistakes. Here is our library lesson in a nutshell! Research, Research, Research! But after students research they need to read the volumes that they find. If students do not know enough about their topics they will plagiarize. You can not write from your own knowledge unless you first gain that knowledge.
Have a Call to Action- Jean-Paul asks “What do you want your visitors to do once they have read your post?” He says to emphasize the desired action “somewhere in the beginning, middle, and conclusion of your post.” Here is the perfect opening for an inquiry based project. We do not want our students to simply spit back researched information. We want them to ask why and to expect a reply. We want them to make their readers want to do something after reading or listening to their report. For this reasons teachers need to start our projects with the end in mind. What is the action we want to come out of the project? Why are we having our students do a project in the first place? If we ask for a state or country report should the report not reflect a desire to visit that state or country? A call to action on the part of the reader will do away with those dull facts and figure reports. Ralph Jean-Paul has several blogs, none that I have read have dull facts and figures, most are dynamic in content. That's how I want my students to write!
How do you get your students to write dynamic content? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Public Education -

Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press takes on No Child Left Behind and other public education plans that involve testing in a very short and simple yet poignant political cartoon. Check it out! Public Education -

Monday, March 01, 2010

Smart Board Tips and Tricks

Just found this on You Tube... some SMART Board tips and tricks...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

pheinblog: Wordle is in Trouble

pheinblog: Wordle is in Trouble

Wordle is in Trouble 2

It looks like Wordle is back up and running normally right now. Just read an article on Tech Crunch and I am so excited because Tech Crunch is taking notice of this little web app that teachers love. If Tech Crunch loves it maybe teachers will have more clout to get this thing resolved quickly! It looks like I will be able to use Wordle with my students tomorrow after all. Phewwwww!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wordle is in Trouble

Are you a trademark lawyer or intelectual property lawyer who believes in free web apps? If so please considering helping Wordle, one of the favorite apps of my students. The Wordle Site is now shut down and the founder and creator of Wordle, Jonathan Feinberg is asking for some pro bono legal help! I was planning on using Wordle with my students on Monday, so if you can help please contact him!

FIZZ Workshop from #PETE&C

Got to attend 3 sessions during Sunday’s Discovery Education Network (DEN) Day at Pennsylvania’s Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C).

My first session was called FIZZ (which I was given as my first choice because I presented a recess session... a preliminary unveiling of the PicturingAmericaMIAC Wiki that I, the other district librarians, and ELL teacher Kathy Wahl created to highlight the usage of the Picturing American Illustrations awarded to our district libraries through a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment For the Humanities. We paired each illustration with DEN Videos that can be used to give students more of a background of the events depicted in the illustrations).

I am not really sure why I chose to attend a session called FIZZ taught by a man named Lodge but my online friend and DEN Guru Stacey Kasse recommended the session and I was not disappointed.

Dr. Lodge McCammon is from the University of North Carolina’s Friday Institute. He shared ideas for using user-generated videos in the classroom (or in my case the library). He started by giving us a formative assessment modeling the use of a Google Form. The free resource is worth checking into for district use. The assessment checked our knowledge of math concepts such as area, surface, and volume.

The first idea he gave was to create an introduction video for the lesson, a teaching tool. He suggested going somewhere other than the classroom or library with a video camera to create a real-world use for the concept you are trying to teach. My idea that I took away would be to go to Lower Providence Library and show students that if they learn how to use the Arrowhead Library they can use the Dewey Decimal System in any library. Creating real-world context and interest is in line with library standards. The idea is to post the video online so students can always come back to it. This will help differentiate instruction as some students may need to watch the video over and over for repetition of the concept.

Next, we were given paper slides, a Flip Video Camera, and a script that went along with the paper slides. We were directed to work in pairs to create a video lesson. The theme of the day from Dr. Lodge, was that the end product did not have to be perfect because the focus is on the content. We only had 15 minutes to create the video in one take, no editing was allowed. This is a great project to use with younger students, I am going to try it with 3rd graders in the library as soon as we finish researching our topics. We never did get to see the results, hope Dr. Lodge puts them on his blog sometime soon.

Dr. Lodge is great at creating songs with lyrics that teach the lesson he is trying to convey. Please check out his blog post from the day’s work, and look for The Base-Morning White video, you will see how my group interpreted the song. Which taught a lesson. Dr. Lodge kept the song playing the entire time we were working in our groups. He also gave us a paper with the song lyrics. Looking at the lyrics while listening to the song gave a different dynamic to the lesson and may be the spark some students need to understand the concepts. I think I would like to see what happens if students are expected to come up with their own lyrics- they could even use their favorite songs, it worked for Weird Al Yankovick but in this case a lesson would be taught. I was thinking of having 4th or 5th grade students create a song about library skills and then use the video they create with 2nd and 3rd grade students. We could also post the video on the district website so students could go back and view it over and over, talk about reinforcing a lesson!

We were split into groups and were assigned a verse of the song. My Morning White group was assigned the Chorus. We had time to prepare our choreography for the chorus, using whatever props we had on hand which was not much. We practiced once as a whole group and then recorded the final product. The results are posted on Lodge’s blog:

At the end Lodge showed a summary video he created to reinforce the lesson. It seemed like a traditional lesson just video taped and posted online for students to view later. It is good reinforcement and students can watch the video over and over if they need the practice. The day ended with a summative assessment again using a Google Form. The results indicated that everyone in the room had learned quite a bit about math while working with the concepts through video production, not a traditional way to learn math concepts.

Top 100 Video Sites for Educators

Do you need videos for your students? Check out this website!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to recognize secure websites...

Lee Lefever has done it again. He and his Common Craft website are wonderful for teaching us how to do things on the Internet. His newest is called "Secure Websites in Plain English." It's great! Everythng you need to know before shopping online! You can follow Lee Lefever on Twitter too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wiffiti for EduCon 2.2

Until today I had never heard of a Wiffiti. Now I am embedding the Educon 2.2 one here:

I am so excited to be going to EduCon 2.2 next weekend. I am so excited to be meeting some of the people in my Personal Learning Network (PLN). These are people that I know virtually but have not met in real life, yet I learn more from them than I do in all the professional development classes I take! Now a wiffiti... see what my PLN has to say if you can keep up, it moves a little fast for my old eyes!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

iPhone wins touch screen quality test

I am very hooked on my iPhone. I would not give it up for anything and now it looks like I won’t have to because iPhone won the touch screen quality test. The link above and photo to the left will lead to the article by the Electronista Staff about how great the iPhone responds to the lightest touch.

The only way Apple can do better is if they introduce their much anticipated tablet PC later this month. The computer is rumored to be called the iSlate. It is supposed to be 10 inches. A slate computer in my opinion would change the face of education. It would make e-books more accessable to students and change libraries forever.

I for one hope all the rumors are true. Can't wait for Apple's announcement that is supposed to happen later this month but it is unclear if it will be January 26th or 27th. I have heard rumors about both dates. January will be a big month for announcements, the Newbery, Caledcott, and Dr. Seuss awards will be announced at the ALA Mid-Winter Meeting, January 15-18 in Boston. Enjoy your January announcements. I know I will.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Protecting Reputations Online

In light of the newest situation where a Bangor, Pennsylvania teacher's aide had a nude photo of herself passed around her school, it is becoming more and more important to protect your reputation online. Young people do not have any problems posting pictures of themselves and their friends online in less than flattering situations and sometimes compromising positions. While it may seem harmless now what are those pictures going to do to future reputations? I once heard New York Times columnist David Pogue say never to post anything that you would not want your grandmother to see and that things posted online never stay where you put them (people "borrow" stuff and re-post to other sites). There is a new Commoncraft Show Video called "Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English" It is aimed at young people to try to get them to be more careful about what they post. The video is for evaluation only but as usual, Lee Lefever gets it right.