Monday, April 21, 2008

Goodbye Athena, Hello Destiny, etc.

This week, our media center is making the switch from Sagebrush's Athena to Follette's Destiny. We're doing a lot of check-outs by hand due to the fact that Track 4 returned today and they all need new books. We hope to get onto a remote check-out tomorrow so that we won't have so many circulation records to manage once we're back online. We're excited about the changes and hope all goes well tomorrow.

I'm reading The World is Flat version 3 by Thomas Friedman - no actually I'm listening to it on CD. The book discusses globalization and how successful businesses have changed how they do business to keep up with the demands of the market. What a great wake-up call for all of us - from the Bush administration to educators in the classroom. Friedman presents the staggering numbers of just how far behind China and India the US has slipped. What this book does is give us reason to think, act and understand the collaborative ways of the global community and how we will need to work in the future. I recommend that if you haven't read any of the versions, please get the latest one and read it so that you can learn more about why we need to embrace the collaborative new tools offered on the web. Not only do we need to take them on for our own knowledge but we need to lead the way in our schools to make sure that the teachers are informed.

Last week on Friday, the learningteammiddle group met for our monthly meeting. We learned about the WCPSS's ESL program and heard a great presentation from their department. How does this impact our LMC programming? Lots of helpful information that we will all take back to our schools to address the needs of the LEP and ESL students. Next, we ventured out for a brown bag lunch at the Friday Institute on the NCSU's Centennial Campus to hear Donald Leu speak about literacy, reading and the different ways that students learn to read webpages vs. reading print texts. His research has shown that many proficient readers struggle with reading on the screen where as struggling print readers many times can manage reading on the screen/web better than with print text. The discussion was interesting and I hope to continue to follow his research with reading and new technologies.

So long for now. Happy Earth Day tomorrow, April 22.

Friday, March 21, 2008

After NCCAT and still learning

Tonight I've been reading Bob Sprankle's article in PBS Teachers titled Four Weeks to a Flatter You. What a great way to step through setting up web 2.0 tools. I use for my feeds but to learn more, I watched the tutorial screencast recommended by Sprankle and it is much easier to understand than anything else I've seen. I'm looking forward to going through the next tutorials. Bob Sprankle is from Wells, Maine where they implemented a laptop for all 7th and 8th graders. He played an important part in setting up the programming and training the teachers for laptop program. The Mooresville City School System could probably take notes from Bob. His blog is Bit by Bit. My good friends live in Fryeburg, Maine and have talked about this program. I have lots of questions for implementation like who takes care of setting printers, fixing broken keys, reimaging when they lose the network connection, setting up wireless and on and on. I guess they have to hire a slew of tech specialists - I hope!

It's getting late so I must close my laptop and get upstairs. Goodnight to all. Dude.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday already

It is truly amazing how much information is coming at us this week. Isn't that what the Web 2.0 tools can help with. My burning question for today is "Once we equip ourselves with these tools, what is the best way to integrate into learning?" Susan read an exerpt from an article by David Warlick giving 8 steps to how to begin.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cullowhee and the Librarians

Happy St. Patrick's Day. A young, Mooresville, Irish girl gave us all green necklaces to wear for celebrating and to keep from getting pinched.

Let me introduce this week to you. Our WCPSS middle school media specialists' PLC (learningteammiddle) applied to and received a scholars' week here at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching better known as NCCAT. The purpose of our study is to investigate 21st century skills and the role of the media specialist. For those of you who don't know about NCCAT, it is available to NC teachers, free of charge, for a full week that is heavenly. The folks up here treat us like royalty and provide a place to learn and study - without interruptions. Teachers are very fortunate here in NC to have a space to learn and renew.

So it's the end of the day on Monday - faces plastered to laptops - creating 21st Century learning. Here are the voicethreads we created. The next question is, how will we use Voicethread with the teachers and students? We had fun figuring out our avatars and stage names which we would never have time for on a normal work day. Mindy created a pbwiki for us to post ideas and links. Susan posted some great links on the pbwiki. She is continuing to read and deeply understand 21st Century Skills. She got a delightful Skype call today from her daughter and granddaughter. Pat (Book Face) commandeered the Voicethread learning. Kim led us through the Google docs details. Angie created a blog and also took some pictures on the wildflower hiking trail. Bev (nuttylibrarian) worked very hard to get her webcam loaded but will try again later. Deborah set her personal goals and is working on a transition program for Martin and we are sad to say that she is planning to retire at the end of this school year. An of course they did much more than that but we don't have the space to cover it all. As for me, I worked on my pbwiki site, looked at some inquiry lesson plans to prepare for an upcoming lesson, learned voicethread from Pat, practiced Google docs, and generally tried out many other ideas that have been floating around today.

As for eating, we had a great big breakfast, lunch and we will be going to dinner in 1 hour. I have time to check out which was recommended from Gayle Holmes. I accidentally called her last night on Skype and she was kind to me and offered her help anytime that our group needs it.

Peace and harmony in the mountains.

Until later, be still.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Video the Eclipse?

As I wait on the eclipse of the moon, I'm reading this weeks' articles, the first about using video in teaching and learning. As a media specialist, I think of all the equipment needed to practice the lesson examples mentioned in Video Goes to School, Part 1. Yesterday, a teacher asked for a fire wire accessory that I've never heard of but I sure is available at Radio Shack or Circuit City. Connectivity always makes me stop and think - how! Cameras and storage formats change so rapidly - especially for a school system's pocketbook. The best part of the article for me is encouragement to get the cameras out into the hands of the students more often. We use Windows Movie Maker for student projects and I'd like to download their own videos for editing rather than just using still photos. Another idea to put forth as a project option.

Ahh Podcasting. I'm wondering about the best recording device for walking around the media center to capture information on various topics from students. One qustion of interest would be "what is the appeal of graphic novels?" Another topic worth recording is "what exactly are you doing this morning in the Media Center?" We're filled with students every morning before the start of school so it may be of interest to those who don't actually get into the Media Center to hear from the students who take advantage of using the Media Center. It would be good PR.

Wesley Fryer said "One of the most basic and powerful ways to increase student motivation to write and communicate is to change student perceptions of audience." Wouldn't it be wonderful if 7th grade students would podcast their 5 paragraph essays for everyone else to hear?? I'm wriing this down as a reminder of what to do next. His links are contageous.

More later on this week's assignments.

Pod-dy on.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wiki Week

I got a late start on the course assignment this week so here it is Sunday night and I'm still working on it. Most people in the real world have tomorrow off work (President's Day) but in the world of Year-Round school, it's just another day. So on to the world of wiki. I created a Salem Reads wiki so that our students can start writing about the books that they are reading. We'll create a new page for each book and I'd like to stick to newly published books. Our Newbery book club will be the first to use the wiki and then we'll spread out to others. Starting with a small group will help me figure out the details. I have other ideas to use a wiki with the AG (academically gifted) students to engage them in further inquiry of the topics in their Social Studies class. I have a teacher who I'll work with and his AG students will meet with me so that I can introduce the extensions of the lesson. Fun!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where am I now?

It's Sunday, the day that I try to finish up the assignment for the week. So while reading and clicking to learn more about RSS feeds and social bookmarking, I am still trying to figure out the best way to plan for student use. I have the big picture but the details are slow to come. First of all, I want the students (selected small group) to blog as part of a research project on topics from Asia. The purpose of the blog is to differentiate for the higher level and to bring the new 2.0 tools out for the students and teachers to become familiar with.

Ok here's where the questions begin. I thought I read that via edublog, students did not have to have email addresses. Now I need to look back and find out how so that I can set the students up on my edublog called Any help will be appreciated. Once I get them set up, I will place a link to their blogs onto my site.

Now back to this week's assignment. I set up an aggregrator through bloglines but I'm still learning all about how it works and the advantages of using this tool with students. I hope I'll find blogs from others who are trying to figure it all out. I think it requires more time than I have put into learning this week. A very busy weekend with my other life has come between me and my Web 2.0. I love it and feel like a hungry dog looking for a bone. Here's a list of what I have set up: (your're reading it!) (linked above)
Bloglines (least familiar with using this)
Skype (I have not added any other users to contact but hope to)
Animoto ( I have an account here and have had fun with the students!! (I'm using this tool to work on the draft of our School Improvement Plan)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Feed me!

I'm trying to figure out if I'm pushing or pulling information out of my brain to understand Will Richardson's loaded article on how to set up RSS feeds. I'm getting pretty chummy with blogger now that I'm learning how to use the menu bar.

I guess you could call learning about feeds a "just in time" approach to this new tool - just in time to complete my assignment. Ok, so let me get this straight - my feeds will be sent to my aggregator when I set it up. My fav blogs or news sites can be added to my aggregator if I follow the directions and if there's a little icon at the bottom of the screen. How to choose the best one for my needs is another task at hand. Commercial or freeware? I love the catchy little names of all the different free aggregators so I think I'll choose one called Newsgator or Fuzzy Duck. Heck, I can even get Feed Beep to call my phone when my favorite sites are updated. Just what I need - another phone call to let me know that there's something else that I need to read!! What about my other life?

Actually Quintin at gives great directions on using Bloglines. He also states that "the average Bloglines subscriber has 20 feeds in their aggregator." Is that to inspire or to discourage. How will I ever keep up? Ok, I should stop blogging and set it up so that I will be able to see just how wonderful this can be.

Later Gator!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's Sunday eve and I'm finishing up my 2.0 assignment for the week in time to watch the Super Bowl. I'm expanding my "curious to learn about" list as I read through the blogs of other educators. Here goes and I'm sure if I read ahead in the lessons, most of these terms/tools would be revealed: Feed burner, widget, jing, moodle, tweet & twitter (for this week anyway).

I enjoyed reading Mr. Coyle's Edublog and the way that he assigned the students blogging responses. He's an 8th grade humanities teacher in India (at an American School) and his students responded to complex, open ended questions that prompted thoughtful writing. He also linked his rubrics and lesson introductions to the blog which is the way that we use Blackboard at our school.

From another blog that I read, from a high school somewhere in New England, the students wrote articles that would be worthy of publishing in the school newspaper. Impressive. My thoughts on how to use blogging in the classroom has expanded tremendously since I started this class and now I need to act on it with a real class. I am planning on working with a student teacher on a creative writing lessson and now I want to add her class to the blog so that the students can read and comment on each other.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blogging about Blogging

Over the past week, I have created a blog, read about blogs, read blogs, blogged, and commented on blogs. I'm a little blogged down - not really! I love it and am excited about the potential. I have several ideas about using one of the blogsites (that we have learned about this week) with a class that will be able to write and reflect on the writing process. If you teach middle school, of course you know about the 7th grade writing test in NC. What if the 7th graders can get online and just write without fear of being graded or without looking at a rubric. I hope that the students will jump on the chance. We'll see.

Blog onward!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Neal Shusterman's video

Here's another attempt at posting from Animoto.

Wiki and Animoto

Everyday I learn something new from the students. I've been working with a 6th grade class on research on various topics about Russia. For sharing pictures, some of the students are adding the pictures to Animoto which mixes the pictures with music for a neat little 30 second video. They are so excited and engaged with the project. They do most of their research on school time but they are also learning how to do all the added extras which they can further explore at home.

So I'm learning by doing so I created my own video with Animoto. Using it for short videos is free - after registering but if you want to do longer videos, you can pay the $30. fee for 1 year. So in advance of our author, Neal Shusterman's visit, I created an ad video to put on the webpage. Let's see if it works!

Have a GREAT Friday!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Web 2.0 Class

Jumping into the world of Web 2.0 is pretty exciting but you'll find me with a laptop on my lap more than usual. Knitting move over, I've got work to do. So with my latest assignment in the Web 2.0 online class, I need to think about a lesson that will work well with incorporating one (or more) of the tools that we're discussing. Today I worked on my tags and explored some educator blogs. I'm planning to use to network websites for the teachers to use for research topics - a pathfinder of sorts. So much to learn and to pass along to the students - and teachers. This blog is also a creation inspired by the exposure to the readings from this class. I'm want to learn more about using blogs with middle schoolers to discuss books or technology. More later!