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.