Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thing #23- Summarizing my thoughts

Here are my thoughts about the 23 Things program:
First of all, I would like to say, "THANK YOU" to everyone involved in creating this program. It was so beneficial to me. This is the first time in a long time that I have ended a professional development workshop feeling like I learned something that was truly valuable to me as a librarian! I am so thankful that although my district is not part of Spring Branch, we were allowed to join in the fun anyway! Now to summarize:
1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I would have to say that my absolute favorite thing was setting up the blog. When I set it up I felt so successful, like I had really accomplished something worthwhile! I like that I have this blog ready to go for use later with my students, teachers, and parents.
I also really enjoyed the mashups. I had so much fun playing with all of them! Finally, I would have to say that the discovery of Delicious has made my life so much easier!
2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
Like I stated before, I finally feel like I have learned something of true value. With technology changing so quickly it is so easy to fall behind the latest and greatest things out there. I love that I have brought myself closer to becoming a real "techie". :) I am finally able to share things with my "tech-guru" sister that she did not know! That makes me feel great!
3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
I think the most unexpected outcome for me has been my comfort level with all of this new stuff. When we started I was very apprehensive about setting up a blog and learning all of the 2.0 tools. Surprisingly, I was able to accomplish each task without too much trouble. Of course, I still haven't posted the Photostory. Maybe I shouldn't say that yet?? :)
4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I would like to see this continue past just the basic 23 Things. Other than that, I can't really add much. I felt like the whole program was well organized and thought-out. I rarely had difficulty getting any of the links to work. It all ran very smoothly for me!
5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
In a heartbeat!!! I am crossing my fingers for more! In my opinion there is no better way than this to learn new things as well as earn professional development credits!
6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
The most productive, fun, and interesting way I could've spent my "spare" time in the summer!!!

Thing #22- Ning

My favorite Ning was the Teacher Librarian Network. I even signed up for it! I can think of many ways to use this site. One thing that comes to mind right off the bat is when a teacher comes to me asking for titles that will coordinate with a topic she is teaching. Many times I get stuck after two or three suggestions. There have been sometimes that I couldn't think of anything! I like that once I am a member of this site I can post a question and see who has ideas to share.

In one of my earlier posts I was talking about setting up a social networking group with fellow librarians on Facebook. Now I see that that would be unnecessary! This is already set up and ready to go! I really plan on using this Thing!

Thing #21-Podcast and Videocasting

I am going to come back to this Thing when I come up with an idea to post.

Thing #20- You Tube and Teacher Tube

On You Tube I searched for Children's book reviews. At first I was thinking it would be fun to play a review or two before checkout with each class. However, the book review I found here was really geared towared parents. I really like that idea too! Many times parents don't know how to talk about the books their kids are reading. I think it would be beneficial to post a video such as this on my website at school for parent use.

I also wanted to try embedding a video from Teacher Tube. The following video is just a "funny" one that I thought might be fun for beginning of the year staff develeopment.

I only have one question about all the video embedding...can we assume that if the link to embed is listed, then we are free to embed the video? If not, where do we look to make sure we are not embedding something that is a copyright violation?

Thing #19- Web 2.0 Awards List

When I saw Facebook on this list, I knew I had finally found my "excuse" to try it. My husband and I have both said many times that we should set up accounts on Facebook, but we never stopped to do it. Tonight we took the plunge! Oh my gosh! We have had so much fun. I think the best thing about it for me was watching him reconnect with long lost buddies. He is from North Texas and has lost touch with many of his high school friends. Tonight he reconnected with many of them! This has been so awesome! I want to "play" on my own account more, but I am not allowing myself that privilege until I have completed my 23 Things. :) Got to have priorities...ha!
As far as how Facebook relates to me as a librarian, I think I might have to "stretch" it a little bit. Of course the special part to Facebook is the social networking that can be done. In the work setting this would be beneficial to network with other librarians. I am not sure that I would go so far as to say that I would use this with students since I am an elementary librarian and elementary age kids shouldn't (in my opinion) have Facebook accounts. I think I would have to say that I would most likely use this site to network with peers for ideas and upcoming events, author visits, etc.

Thing # 18- Online Productivity Tools

For this exercise I looked at both Open Office and Google Docs. At first I could not understand why someone who has access to the Microsoft Office package would need these tools. However, I now see that the big benefit for me would be that I could have access to the document I am working on from any computer. I like the idea of placing the document in Google Docs for other teachers who are collaborating with me on something to see and edit. Here are my feelings on each of the programs:

Open Office: It took awhile to download. When it did finally download it put a lot of stuff on my computer. I realize this is necessary to run the program, but it still aggravated me a little. :) It is an easy program to work, though. I think the big disadvantage for my campus would be that it has to be downloaded. However, I do agree that if we did not have Office on our computers already, downloading for FREE would be and advantage rather than a disadvantage.

Google Docs: I think I prefer this one! There is no download needed. One small disadvantage would be that I would have to make sure that the teachers I am working with have a Google account and get training (though not much needed) on how to use this tool. This training would just take time, but this small amount of time would pay off when we collobarate on a paper through Google Docs rather than emailing back and forth.

Thing #17- Rollyo

I really like Rollyo. My favorite part about this site is that it will limit the number of results that our kids will get when doing an assigned search. For my custom Rollyo search I chose to do a search on Inventors. This is a collaborative unit I have done with a third grade teacher on my campus. The first time we did this unit we just searched for inventors under yahoo. You can imagine the number of results that gave us! For this exercise I called my search, Roland3rd. I used the following sites: The History channel, The Discovery channel, and Enchanted Learning.

The only thing I do not really like about this site is the paid advertisement sites that are dispersed throughout the results. Even though they are highlighted and we can teach kids to "ignore" those particular sites, I still think it is distracting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thing #16-Wikis

I am still hesitant with the whole Wiki thing. Call me a control freak! I am learning as I get older that I do lean towards that personality trait (disorder...haha). I try to not let myself become closed-minded, though. I also understand that I will never truly know if I like something until I get out there and try it. So, my plan is to try using a Wiki with the teachers on my campus first. Many times throughout the year I need their input on something I am planning for the school/grade level. I get so frustrated with the back and forth email thing. I would like to try using a Wiki for this collaborative planning. If this goes well, I could see myself venturing out to using a Wiki with the kids.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thing #15- Web 2.0 and Libraries 2.0

Web 2.0 and more specifically, Libraries 2.0 means one thing to me....change! I read and enjoyed the article, Away from Icebergs. It really made me think. Things are changing so rapidly. The kids that we have in our schools today do not learn in the same way we did when we were in school. Today's students know so much about technology, but they will need to know even more. It is our job to take what we are learning this summer and begin to incorporate it into our libraries and schools. We need to equip our students with the knowledge of how to find resources on the web and how to use them effectively.

I am so glad I am involved in this class. I really needed something like this to be a wake up call for me to start shifting my way of thinking. It is definitely time to change!

Technorati claim


Thing #14-Technorati

I enjoyed seeing the video from the people at Technorati. It was interesting to see how this site came about and what it takes for the people there to keep up with what is going on on the web. It is amazing. It blows my mind how fast the world of blogging is growing.

Technorati is useful in that, like the video stated, you can see what real world people are thinking about topics of interest. I like that it sifts out all the "other stuff" and only provides the blogs about what we are searching for. It was interesting to see the difference in results that were yielded when we searched in different areas; blogs, blog posts, and tags. It made quite a difference in the number of results as well as the kind of information found.

I am becoming a believer in tagging. It makes so much more sense to me and it is easier to use than folders and such. I think it must be closer to my way of thinking/organizing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thing #13- Delicious

I first heard of delicious from a fellow librarian, LeeAnn. When she introduced it us I thought it was really cool, but like most things, I never followed up with it. I think that is why I love this class so much! It makes me accountable for learning about these things and then DOING them. My first thought was how hard it would be to get all my bookmarks into Delicious. To my surprise, it was so easy. I appreciated that they even imported them for you. I went back and made tags for each of my old bookmarks and now it is all organized.

I can see this as a useful tool in all aspects of my life. I will definitely use this personally. I now can have my bookmarks at my fingertips no matter where I am. I can also think of ways to use this professionally. I can see our group of librarians getting together and creating a place to save our bookmarks so that we can all see and use them. I am also envisioning setting up a username for the teachers at my school. I am always emailing them with new websites I come across. Now I can put them all in one spot and they can see all of them, not just the sites I found specifically for their grade level. As far as the kids go, I can use this during our research lessons! It would also be cool to add a username for sites that I find just for kids. I could link it to my website and they could check out the suggested sites from there! So much easier than typing it all in on the links section of my website!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thing #12- Commenting

I have a confession to make. I am one of the lurkers that some of these bloggers referred to. I love to read everyon's blogs, but I rarely comment. Now here is the interesting thing, I always check my blog for comments. Comments make me happy! Comments make me feel like I am valued in my profession. I have a blog for my students at school. It is linked to my library website. I have been so disappointed this summer that my kids have not been using the blog. In fact, the lack of comments has made me quit posting. During the year I practically get "giddy" when the kids start dialoging on my blog. So, I need to dig deep and find out, why am I not commenting on my friends' blogs??

The two points that I found most interesting were:
  • Blue Skunk's comment that stated comments cause the blog experience to be more of a dialog than a sermon. How true that is! We learn so much more through the dialog than just sitting back (like I do) and taking it all in.
  • On Information Wants to Be Free I like how she explains that our comments enourage others to share their comments. Then, in turn we have a dialog! It is so simple really! Now I just need to do it!

Thing #11- Library Thing

I have fallen in love! Library Thing is amazing! I find myself getting stuck not knowing what I should read next. Like so many of you, I am a working mom with a hectic schedule. When I finally get time to read a book, I want it to be a book that I will absolutely love. I don't have time to waste reading mediocre books. Library Thing is going to solve this problem for me. I know I won't have time to input my personal collection, but if I start now loading the titles I have read recently, then I will always have current recommendations for what to read next. I plan on sharing this with all of my book-loving girlfriends. I can see us becoming addicted.

I felt like the site was very easy to use. I even played around and visited some of the groups with similiar interests. I really enjoyed reading some of the group member reviews. I am proud to say that I played around and even created a widget of books that I have read recently and added it to my blog! Take a look! I love to see/hear what my librarian friends are reading, so I hope some of you do the same on your blogs.

This site would be useful as a tool on our school blogs. I would love to add a widget for recommended titles and also for titles that we have read together in the library. I think both students and parents would find this useful!

Thing #10- Image Generators

Wow! I just spent so much time playing around on these sites! It is so much fun! I can't wait to share this with my friends and especially my ten year old. I can see her imagination running wild. Here are a few of my creations:
  • I made this word image using Wordle. I can really see the kids using this poster to try and guess some titles that each author wrote. I also think it would look really nice in the library.
  • I made the framed picture of my girls using Image Chef. Loved this site! You can do many more things, too.
  • The smiley face image was created from Smiley Generator. What I liked most about this one is that it was cute, quick, and easy. I can see myself using this alot on either my library website or my newsletters to teachers/parents.
  • The SpongeBob poster came from Comic Strip Generator. I picked this one because so many kids are totally turned on by SpongeBob (I am not a big fan, but it's about the kids, right?)
  • Last but not least, I created the wanted sign by using two different sites. I found the photo in the Creative Commons portion of Flickr. I saved and uploaded it to the sign generator to make the wanted poster.

I think the uses for these sites in the library are endless. I created the images you see here for a variety of uses. I can also see the kids using these sites to make book posters, comic strips about their favorite book/character, frames around their pictures for research papers, etc etc. The list could go on and on!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Library Mommas

I thought some of you might enjoy this little funny that happened to me today....

Today I received a text from a friend of mine. She was telling me that she and her family were in Florida for the Softball World Series (for the little girls). Anyway, her daughter's team is doing very well and has a shot at playing for the championship. In the midst of the conversation I was asking questions about how this whole thing works (since I am not a softball mom). I pointed out to my friend that she must be able to tell that I am not a "softball momma". She texted back telling me that her son (who just finished first grade at my school), said that I may not be a "softball momma", but I AM a "library momma". I thought that was so cute! Cheers to all you other "Library Mommas" out there! :)

Thing 9- Useful Library Blogs

Ok. I am really at a loss for the right words here. Let me say, first of all, that I do enjoy blogging and reading others' blogs. I can see the benefit of being interconnected with everyone and I love that we can all learn and grow from sharing information with each other. However, I can see where this blogging thing could get me bogged down really fast. I get so caught up in reading all the information. Before I know it, time has flown by and I am extremely off task! Thank goodness for the Goggle Reader. I can keep it all managed and in one place. But, this looking for blogs to add to my reader is overwhelming me. Anyone else feel the same way??

When searching for blogs to add to my list I liked Technorati the best. I like that the site is easy to use and very "clean" (by this I mean, not cluttered with things that get me off task). I must be ADD! I also liked using the Edublog award winners site. It is much easier to choose from the best of the best than to have to go searching through thousands of blogs on your own.

As far as the most confusing, I would have to refer back to the ADD thing. I did not like using or Both of these sites had too much information for me to focus. I am sure they are easy to use, but they are just too busy for my attention deficit mind.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thing #8- RSS Feeds

I have to admit that when I saw that my next "thing" to learn was RSS Feeds, I put it off for many, many days. The only experience I had previously with RSS was with EBSCO training my district provided a few years ago. In that training we learned how to subsribe to the RSS for some of our favorite journals. It was cool at first. However, soon these journals started arriving in my inbox and I never had time to read them.

I was pleased to see that this time my experience was different. Once I decided to dig in, I really liked what I saw. I love how the Google Reader puts everything together in one place. This really helped me! I also love the list view. With the list I am able to see tidbits of what is out there and then decided whether or not to take the time to read it.

I will use the Google reader in my personal and professional life. I put a mixture of personal/professional interests in my reader. Hopefully now when I log on to the reader I can get a quick overview of what is new from both aspects of my life. This is going to save me so much time!!! No more clicking on all the various sites and waiting for the pages to load! It is now all at our fingertips! Yay!