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!