Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Embedding BJ's Adventures--I hope!

BJ' Adventures

My daughter made a slide show as a surprise for me to commemorate my summer of 23 things. I hope this link works.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thing #23 It's Only the Beginning

Thing 23 is only the beginning. I have just begun to learn.

My favorite things are creating visuals on the online image generator, finding favorite pictures on Flickr, watching movies on the two Tubes, and writing in my blog. I am a visual learner, so these appealed to me the most. Writing in my blog was the thing I enjoyed more than anything else because it provided me with an outlet to express myself. It challenged me to think about what I was learning and share my struggles and successes with others. I also enjoyed reading other blogs and feeling connected to the other learners.

This course has helped me continue as a lifelong learner because I gained knowledge about Web 2.0, became aware of a variety of tools I can add to my teacher toolbox, and learned practical applications of available, amazing technology.

This program has helped me feel more confident about using technology that I did not even know exited at the beginning of the summer. I have been inspired to plan lessons in ways that I have never been before.

I would have explored and practiced more if I had more time to complete the course.

I would definitely participate in such a program again.

One word to describe my 23 Things experience: INSPIRATIONAL!

Ready to read and share some more... Maybe after some sleep . . .

Thing #22 Nings with "in"

I think I could benefit from spending time on the Nings site for teachers. There is a place to share lesson plans as well as teaching strategies. I like to see what other teachers are doing, and I enjoy sharing my ideas as well. This looks like a good outlet for those things. I like that a Ning provides you with a place to share with others who have common interests and experiences. It is a place that can provide information as well as encouragement. As I begin preparing for back to school, I plan to look at some of the lesson plans and hopefully be inspired by other professionals getting ready to head back to the white board.
Nings is about community, connection, conversations. We do not need to struggle with teaching in isolation. We now have a way to stay connected with Nings.

Thing #21 A Fish Story

I enjoyed importing my pictures and choosing music for my podcast: A Fish Story. I wanted to add text (I had it prepared), but I could not use a microphone with my computer I would like to go back and edit it some more when I have time. Not sure how to link it to this blog. I am still working on that and plan to add it later.
I can see personal and professional applications to this tool. I was able to put together some special pictures from our family vacation this summer for my personal podcast. Students could present research projects and other oral presentations. One project students are required to do in English IV is rewrite a scene from a play in a new time and place and act out that scene according to their Director's Notebook. Using these podcast tools would eliminate technical diffculties such as cameras with dead batteries, incompatible cords and programs, and the list goes on. Using these tools would definitely improve the quality of these projects.
I plan to work on this "thing" some more, but for now, I must move on to NINGS.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thing #20 At the Movies

I had such fun at the movies. I searched for libraries on YouTube and got all sorts of videos, from educational and serious, to corny and ridiculous. My favorite videos presented librarians in a positive light, and I embedded my two favorites. As a teacher, I want to help promote respect for librarians with their wealth of knowledge and valuable resources. All too often, movies and media present librarians in a negative light as being angry and stern. These two YouTube videos present librarians as welcoming, fun, and helpful. The L-Team video is fun for those of you who remember the series The A-Team.
My concern about YouTube is that anyone can make and submit a video without any quality control. My daughter made and submitted a video this week. I was amazed that in one afternoon, she made a slide show and had it posted on the web! As parents, teachers, and librarians, we need to know what our students are watching and be able to give some guidance. At least movies have ratings that let parents know what type of content to expect. Although I think YouTube has some positive applications such as freedom of expression, seeing your work in print, making available mini-lessons and information, I have concerns. Just like other types of media, this tool can be used for good or evil (is that too strong a word?). If I ask my students to view something on YouTube, I would not ask them to do a blanket search. I like the idea of Rollyo with YouTube--is there such a thing? Where you limit the search on the site to certain videos you pre-select? I would definitely give specific parameters to students, so they would not waste time viewing videos that are irrelevant and irreverent. I will think more about how I could use YouTube with my classes. I can see where it would be fun for students to publish an oral presentation of a project with visual aids on YouTube. That is a possibility. I will think about that some more.
TeacherTube seemed to have more quality videos, both fun and educational. I will return to this site to view more of the videos that interested me. I embedded one fun video I watched called If You Give a Teacher a Mouse . . . . I think this video fits well with this course we are taking. Oh no, my kids ate all the popcorn! Well, that's a sign that movie time is over. Moving on to thing #21!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thing #19 Reliable List

What an interesting list of honorees! I had fun with this thing. My kids go on the computer all the time to download songs and search for different things. It baffles me that they know where to go. This list is great because now I finally have an idea where to go. I like having reputable sites to check out because I feel overwhelmed when I want to search for something and don't know where to start or which sites to trust.
I went to and registered and have started a library of favorite artists and songs I like to hear. As I explored the other sites, I was able to listen to music I chose instead of enduring music chosen by teenagers or radio DJ's.
I looked at the organizational tools Backpack and Wufoo, and I am considering introducing my son to these sites before school starts. Since he is so technology-literate, I believe he may actually use some of the organizational tools on these sites. I may recommend these organizational sites to students as well.
For interest, I clicked on MothersClick to see what type of material was covered here. Most of the entries were posted by mothers with babies or young children--been there, done that, not doing it again. I did a search for Mothers of Multiples groups since I was involved in a local group when my twins were babies. I was surprised to find that no group was listed for Houston. Either the groups disbanded or they are just not listed.
Another site I visited that was just plain entertaining was Yahoo Answers. I cannot believe some of the questions asked here. Most were silly, some were outrageous, and others were disturbing. My kids and I read aloud some of the funniest questions and had a good laugh.
So much for the personal enjoyment. I can see applications for school use as well, especially with the music site. There have been many times I have wanted to play a song for my classes that connects to a theme we are exploring or exhibits a characteristic of lyrical poetry we are analyzing. I did not know where to begin my search. Now, I know that I can use that site to search for titles of songs I want to connect to my units.
When I have more time, I plan to go back to the Awards List and visit more of the sites thinking about school applications. But right now, I cannot stop laughing about some of those Yahoo questions.
"Do you think if the Trix bunny asked the kids nicely for Trix, they would give him some?"
Of course not silly blogger, Trix are for kids!

I did not make that up--that was an actual question. If you need a good laugh, go read some of the posted questions--you will be laughing all day. Have fun!

Thing #18 Online tool boxes

I like Google Docs and can see many tools in this "box" that would be helpful personally and professionally. I can see many student applications; I especially like the templates. Ones I looked over were resume and research project report templates. Students could collaborate with their groups using Google Docs and would not have to be on any certain computer. The online feature makes this a more versatile tool than computer-bound programs. So many great tools . . . I need to plan more projects for this school year, so we can try them all out. Maybe I can use Google Docs to help me plan those projects . . . .

Thing #17 Poetry Roll

The video on the process of creating a search roll was easy to understand and follow. I was able to create my own search roll in a very short time. I decided to create one about poetry--examples, activities, etc. Maybe I cheated a little, but I used links that I like from the library resources page. I copied and pasted the links I have found to be most useful with my classes, and I created my search roll. Search rolls seem similar to what has already been done on the library resources page. There are great search links labeled with tags already there. Creating my own search roll is a way to build on what is already there. I like the idea of providing students with a link to a search roll because it guides them in their search and keeps them from Googling and Yahooing. Confining a search to reliable sites saves time and effort and keeps students from feeling overwhelmed with too many sites and choices. In my classroom, many students go to Google first, and then they claim that they cannot find anything. Now, instead of having to remind them not to Google twenty times and redirect their searches constantly, I can give them the link to the rollyo and feel more confident they will find success. I will definitely roll with this idea when we begin our research projects and webquests.

Thing #16 Wikis

Wikis could be a helpful team tool as teams plan lessons and activities. I can see how it would be especially helpful when we are planning a unit and trying to decide which pieces to read and which activities to do. I liked one of the wiki links that connected me to a teacher's blog where he had classroom activities wikis and vocabulary wikis. Our technology is not at the point where students can be required to add to a wiki daily or during class, but occasional wiki writing could take place on scheduled library visits. I imagine that students working on a group project could benefit from using wikis, and I plan to encourage that this year when we form groups and start on projects.
I liked the idea of adding to the Sandbox. It felt like we were all having a conversation even though entries were made at different times. I have learned that wikis are another way of having a continuing conversation about a common topic. No one interrupts; everyone has a voice, and others can build on what you have said. If only we could follow those rules when we are face to face--maybe there would be better communication among people.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thing #15 The Pagemaster

Have you ever seen the movie The Pagemaster? It is about a boy who has an incredible adventure in the library. The librarian is the magical pagemaster. I love the message in this movie about books and reading. I have always felt that the library was a special, even magical place. I feel a sense of reverence and peace when I step in the library, and I am transported back to other times and places. When I gaze at the books, I feel that they hold such promise-if only there was enough time to read them all.
It grieves me to think that many kids today do not feel like the library is a special place. They want more than books to stimulate their minds and motivate them. They need for the library to extend beyond the published ideas, to those of evolving ideas. The library must expand beyond its walls into the web--that intricate world of connections-- in order to stay relevant to kids today.
One of the articles says that we must equip students with wings instead of wheels; instead of leading students down a path, we must help them fly. " . . . teachers should be teaching from the air." The library becomes the landmarks, borders, anchors, and access to pilot logs. The librarians help the students navigate through the information. I agree that we must evolve with the times; we need to change our ways of thinking in order to best meet the needs of all learners. We must remember; however, that making information more easily accessible, does not mean that we need librarians less. The librarian is more important than ever; the librarian is still the page master, whatever type of page one may be reading.
One of the articles describes Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 in the following ways: Web 1.0 respects authority--the kind with credentials; Web 2.0 respects the community--everyone has a voice. There are authoritative sources that are valuable and cannot be replaced with anyone's opinions. Even though we may make room for more voices, they should not drown out the credible voices that already resound in the library. While I agree that the library and the classroom need to evolve, I feel concerned that society will de-value the great things that the library has always offered. Let us expand, but let us not expunge the valuable assests already available. Keep the books, keep the books; add to them, but keep the books.
In The Pagemaster, the boy's library card gives him the power (and privilege) of taking books home with him. The books all vy for his attention and try to win him over, so they will get taken home. In the end, he chooses . . . Well, you watch the movie; you will be glad you did. Taking books home for me is still the treat at the end of the day. If I want information for a research project, I can get on the computer, but for pure pleasure, I want to take home books. Where is my library card?

P.S. I am not a librarian, but librarians are my favorite people. :) Thank you wonderful librarians for all you do in this evolving world of Web 2.0.

Thing #14 Blogged Down

This task was very time consuming for me. I enjoyed using the Technorati links and even claimed my blog. The video helped me get a clearer view of the purpose of Technorati. Tantek Celik, the Chief Technologist says that blogs "are human experiences raw and uncut--not filtered through levels of hierarchy. " Blogs are individual ideas and their purposes are to connect people to other people with similar interests. I can see personal benefits from using Technorati when I want to read about different topics. I read about The Dark Knight and followed the links to read about Heath Ledger, his death, and his career. I learned some personal tidbits about the actors and the movie that I found interesting. I enjoyed the movie without knowing these details, but I was curious to learn more especially with Heath Ledger's recent death soon after filming the movie. So, I was able to follow the links successfully through Technorati for this search.
I can see some possibilities for classroom use. If students were creating a book or movie review or writing biographical paragraphs, reading movie reviews and actor bios would provide them with models. I have some concerns about serious research projects, though, because we teach students that personal blogs are not considered reliable sources for factual research. A blog would not be considered an appropriate source for the typical research project. If students were including personal opinions, etc. in a paper, then accessing blogs could provide them with some support.
I spent quite a bit of time trying to add widgets to my blog. When I finally got them to post, I decided that I did not like the way they looked all together in one block. So, I did what I thought I needed to do to delete them. What I did, though, was delete my AVATAR!! I had to go back to the beginning of things and re-export my Avatar. So, for now, I have put adding widgets on hold. Through my mistakes, I am learning, but I feel that I have a long way to go to thoroughly understand Technorati and tags. Maybe my students can help me this year; I would imagine that many of them probably understand more than I do at this point. I feel that this thing blogged me down for too long. I am moving on while accepting that I still have much to learn and will need to re-visit this thing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thing #13 Delightful

Once I got started on Del.ici.ous, I thought I would never find my way back home. I took many side paths, crossed several stepping stones, and waded through worlds of words. I read more in one day than I had all summer. What rich fare is available on the buffet of Del.ici.ous! I am so glad I tagged my choices because when I went back to look at the titles today, I did not have to wonder why I first marked them. On a personal level, I see this as an effective tool to search out and collect information I am interested in and want to read. On a professional level, I see this as a great resource to help me with ideas and strategies for teaching and reading. It could be a helpful research tool for students because it is accessible from any computer. The social bookmarking can be beneficial to teachers in the same department or on the same team especially during planning.
Here are some of the sites I read about and tagged:
Literature and Latte--writing organizer and aid;
Language is a Virus--activities and writing strategies
110 best books: the perfect library--the comments on this site were controversial and entertaining; some of these commenters need to read about blog etiquette!
Bible Gateway--look up scriptures and references

There are many other delightful places I want to visit, but I have to finish my 23 Things!

Thing #12 Conversations

Commenting on blogs requires the same etiquette as holding a conversation with someone. One of the most important things you can do when having a conversation is listen actively. The tip that says "Read first" reinforces the idea that in order to respond to a person, you must first know what they have said. We are often in too much of a hurry to be heard ourselves to take the time to listen to others. Listening, thinking, processing . . . we must take these action steps before we get to expressing. I once heard the saying, "If all you do is talk, you will not ever learn anything new." I remind myself of .this when I get long-winded. In order to learn new things, I must take the time to listen to others.
If I have done a good job of listening, then I can do the second most important thing: make a meaningful comment. If I imagine having a conversation with a person, then the comment I make on his/her blog will be more meaningful. I do not feel like I need to comment on everyone's blog that I read. There were a handful of blogs that I felt said something to me that was important or impressive. It was then that I felt compelled to share a common bond with them by responding to their thoughts and ideas. I did not feel like I had to make up something. I felt that I was reaching out to them with a common sentiment or similar idea. Some blogs had dynamic ideas that I felt needed celebrating, so I commented on those blogs.
I have enjoyed reading the comments on my blog. I look forward to continuing conversations with those who have taken the time to listen and talk to me.
I am also enjoying visiting other links on the blogs. I have chased so many rabbits, I could not possibly record them all here. Maybe I will have time to jot a couple of visits down later . . . after I visit . . . oh, that link looks interesting . . . and that one . . . .

Thing #11 Library Log

Library Thing is a fancy reading log with connections. Maybe students would enjoy keeping a reading log on the computer where they can post their books, write reviews, read reviews, and receive recommendations for other books. Library Thing definitely outdates the pen and paper reading logs. I would like to try having students post their books and reviews on a regular basis throughout the year and see if they are more motivated to read and review their books using this site. I could give them due dates for their postings and a completion grade when their lists and reviews are posted on time. I will think about how else to use this site . . . right after I read that great book that was recommended on my library thing page. . . .

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thing #10 Motivating Memos

I enjoyed using these tools and creating silly motivational messages. I would like to use these tools to make posters for my classroom with important information or motivational reminders. I can also see where using these tools could make assignment instructions more interesting for students. They are more likely to read a cartoon or silly saying than they are to read a long-winded handout. Using these tools would remind me to pare down the instructions to the essential elements students will remember. Reminders of when projects are due is another use for these creative message makers. As I plan for next year, my goal is to use more creative means of communicating, and I will use these resources to design more motivating memos.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thing #9 Getting lined up

I enjoyed reading from The Cool Cat Teacher blog. I like the idea of the Circle of the Wise. With such limited time, I agree that it is important to spend that time wisely reading information that is valuable. Reading from the edublog was a valuable use of my time; I learned about the Second Life webworld and looked at some of the award winning blogs.
I found that Bloglines was the easiest for me to use. I typed in "careers" as a search, and I received informational links on aptitude tests, resume writing tips, job searches, and choosing a career. When we work on the career unit in class, I can see where these links could be helpful. I found that Topix and Syndic were not as easy to use; they required more steps and did not provide the type of links I was looking for. I was not too impressed with Technorati, but I have read positive comments about it, so I will go back and give it another try. I like the idea of adding links from those bloggers you know and trust. I have looked at some of those sites/blogs, and I see the benefit of fanning out from my "wise circle." I appreciate the time and effort other teachers and librarians have put into placing valuable links on their blogs. Getting lined up takes time and a discriminating eye. I am connected to a few lines for now and plan to go back and line up some more links later.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thing #8 A Feast

I like RSS Readers because they can save so much time and frustration when I am searching for information. There is information available for which I was not aware I could even search. RSS feeds can help students with research or current events projects. I look forward to using this tool to find more information that I will use to develop better units for my English classes. I am excited about the possiblity that I could add dimensions to my stale lessons, fleshing them out with more indepth information or ideas. Not sure yet what this will look like, but I am always on the lookout for current articles to include in a literature unit to connect to the fiction and help students further explore a theme. RSS Readers would be a powerful library tool to help students locate information in a more efficient way. The term Lifelong Learner has taken on a whole new meaning. It will take a lifetime to read and learn just a fraction of the ideas and information available through this amazing tool.
I have set up my google reader and subscribed to a variety of sites. I look forward to helping myself to a daily feast of information and ideas. Let the feast begin!

Thing #7 Great Google!

I feel amazed at how many tools are available through Google. It is fun to receive my daily Google alerts, and I have filled in my Calendar for the month. I can see many class applications of these tools. Our team usually prints out monthly calendars for our students with major assignments, etc. on them. The Google calendar would allow us to update these calendars and make them available to students who have misplaced their copy or do not have it with them, or to parents who want to know what is going on. We could place links on our school webpages for some of these tools. The google alert would be especially helpful during a research unit, so students could access the most current information about their topics. I plan to take some time later and explore more of the tools like google earth and google calendar Team Edition. So many tools . . . not nearly enough time to use them all. Oh, I almost forgot, I have to go check on my daily google alert. I wonder what Harrison Ford is up to today . . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thing #6 Trading Card Travel

So many toys, so little time! The trading card, mosaic, and puzzle maker are my favorites so far. I will definitely go back and play some more. What a great way to actively enjoy favorite photos!
I can imagine many classroom applications. The trading card I designed is a writing assignment. Important ideas and assignments could be presented on a trading card to get students' attention.
Mosaics and puzzles could contain words along with photos to teach a concept or show students sentence or story structures; teach sequencing or connections.
I feel so inspired by these great technology tools. My next goal is to create a mosaic representing the main story line of a summer reading novel to use in the fall. However, since it is only the beginning of summer, I think I will go work my beach puzzle and sip some tea.

Thing #5 Flickr Fun

I had fun with the Flickr photos. I loved browsing through the
groups and choosing favorites. I felt delighted when I realized I could review my favorites in a slide show. As I searched for favorites, I realized something about myself. My favorite photos are those that I can imagine myself stepping into. They are usually nature scenes at the beach, by a river, or on a path in the woods--anywhere I would enjoy being.
I can see many possibilities for using Flickr photos with students. Students could choose favorites and present a slide show accompanied by a written explanation of their choices; they could create a fictional story about the photos; they could also use context clues in the photos to give character traits or setting details and suggest plot possibilities. Writing figurative language about the photos would be another creative application. Students could also upload their own photos from group projects. Flickr definitely got my creative juices flowing. I may begin working on lesson plans in June--imagine that! But right now, I am going to imagine myself into one of my favorite photos--feel free to do the same. Enjoy.
BJ at the beach

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thing #4 Ready to play

Registered and ready to play. The only thing holding me back is not being home this week to spend time on the playground. I am participating in an externship all week. It is a great experience, and I have been talking to people who know that blogs, flickr, and google are not terms for things grubby kids do, but great tools that are used in the business world. We must expose our students to as much technology as possible, so they will not be left behind. We must equip them with these tools as they get ready to enter the work force, or they will be standing empty-handed in the unemployment line. Technology is truly their future. We must also arm ourselves with an arsenal of ability, or we will be shot down by our lack of knowledge and proficiency. Lifelong learning--it is not a luxury--it is a necessity.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thing #3 B Great Ideas

The other thing I enjoyed about beginning my blog is looking at bloggers before me. It is helpful to read questions, ideas, and successes from other bloggers. I especially enjoy all of the creative names, and I like looking at the interesting avatars. I feel inspired by all of the inquiring minds who have gathered here to learn and share experiences. I hope I will be able to share some nuggets of knowledge and interesting experiences that will help and inspire others.


Thing #3 New life

I feel so excited about my new life on the blog. It was fun choosing a persona and seeing her come to life. I felt torn between wanting to choose an avatar that reflects a secret self and an avatar that reflects my recent self. I feel that I reinvent myself as I live and learn, so I find it hard to choose only one representative image for the real me. The "real" me continues to evolve.
I felt like a kid in a candy store "playing" on the computer all day as I designed my blog and avatar. When my blog was created, I exclaimed with excitement only to hear my children respond by laughing and rolling their eyes. One of my sons could create blogs in his sleep--he has three of them already--so he cannot possibly be impressed by my blog creation that took all day! My other son has never created a blog, so I told him that he could not possibly understand my excitement, and he needed to go put the clothes in the dryer right then. My daughter responded more positively and offered fashion advice for my avatar. However, I could hear that little something in her voice that said, "Calm down, Mom. It is just a computer page." It does not matter. My goal is to enjoy playing, and if my children, who think they are too mature to play, think I am a silly dork, so be it! This is the most fun I have had all summer! I am bubbling over with anticipation for the next adventure.

Bubbly BJ

Thing #2 Long life

"Live long and prosper."
Living long is prosperous for explorers and adventurers a.k.a. learners. I cannot imagine trekking thoughout life without learning.
The easiest habit of lifelong learners for me is viewing problems as challenges. From a young age, I learned to experience difficulties, not as hitting roadblocks, but as taking the scenic route. Realizing that problems strengthen and mold you is the key to accepting them as positive challenges that steer your life into the roads less traveled and transform you into a valuable asset to others who can benefit from your experiences.
The most difficult habit of lifelong learners for me is Play. Because my life has taken me down many scenic routes with rocky surfaces, steep slopes, and deep valleys, I tend to take life too seriously. I am the defensive driver ready to face the next challenge; a race car driver revving up to speed to the next task; a chauffeur prepared to follow all directions. I find it difficult to relax and enjoy the ride. I find it difficult to sit in the backseat and let others drive. I need a vacation from the car; I need to get out and run and play.
My goal is to live long and prosper while learning and playing.
"Take firm hold of instruction; do not let her go; keep her; for she is your life." Proverbs 4:13

In the beginning . . . Thing #1

New vocabulary! Unfamiliar technology terms! I enjoy the challenge of learning new words whether they are in English, another language, or computer speak. My goal is to look back at this first page and actually know what all these terms mean. Right now, I do not have a clue. So, I am ready to start the investigation!