Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thing 11

Library Thing is interesting, but I don't like it as much as Shelfari. I do like LT's image generator, though. What I have to say in the post pertains to both, but Shelfari is more user-friendly and visually appealing.

Both Library Thing and Shelfari are useful to me in three ways. First, I am an avid reader who loves connecting with others over shared interests. I joined Shelfari about 3 weeks ago and have logged on almost every night to see what my friends are reading and get recommendations. Another reason I use it is to look up books my students are reading or I am thinking about using in class. There are groups for children's books that people of all ages post to. Finally, as a future librarian, I know that I will not have enough time to read all the books in my library. If I really need to gather information, several reviews by library groups will give me a better insight than an Amazon book review.

Library Thing


Thing 10

I had way too much fun with this thing! Comic Strip Generator was the first image generator I played around with and it is one of my favorites. This site can be used in the classroom for motivation and a fun way to present short facts. Students and teachers can make cartoon characters remind them of study habits, editing tips, etc! I bet it will sink in more if Homer is reminding my 4th graders to edit their papers than if I do. Another one of my favorite image generators is Image Chef. Even better than making cartoon characters say anything you want is taking your own picture and giving it a fun caption! It gives that personal touch. Students can use this site to introduce themselves to the class or present social studies material.

Librarians can use either of these tools to make reading more pleasurable. Students can upload images of books they've enjoyed, give it a caption, then hang it in the library on a "suggestions wall!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thing 9

With all the blogs out there, I was pleased to know that there are specific search engines for them. My favorites were Bloglines and Technorati. I liked how Bloglines had a preview of each post when you hovered over it, allowed you to e-mail it, and showed you how many bloglines members followed the feed, all on one page. Technorati was the most visually appealing and seems to be the foremost expert on blogs. Every time I see reviews of blogs or newspapers writing about blogs, Technorati's name comes up.

Besides Superglu, which didn't have a working link or show up when I typed it in the address bar, Syndic8 was the most confusing to me. I felt like the homepage was too overwhelming and not visually appealing. It took forever to search and what came up was not always relevant.

One useful feed that I found is Free Technology for Teachers. It discusses even more Web 2.0 technology to be used in the classroom. There are pictures and examples of everything discussed so you get more of an idea how to use it at school. Another feed I added to my reader was Classroom Solutions by Scholastic. I use Scholastic to order books and occasionally print worksheets, but never knew there was a blog dedicated to exciting ways to get kids involved in learning! Classroom Solutions is split up into grade level articles, focusing on technology and free events that students can participate in. This is definitely a site I am going to access at school and share with my co-workers!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thing 8

I must admit that I was one of the people who wondered, "what the heck is RSS?" Now I know what those orange symbols are that pop up everywhere, even on the Katy ISD staff page! I enjoy how I can have everything come to me, since I am a serial time waster. I added a few feeds from School Library Journal for school use using Google Reader. It still amazes me how many services one login can link me to! I also subscribed to the online newspaper of BGSU, my home for 5 years. I've been checking it often for news of the 100th anniversary so I can plan a trip this fall to meet up with old friends and go to homecoming!

School employees, including librarians, can use RSS and readers to keep abreast of current topics in the education world. Instead of sifting through countless websites trying to find information, we can use the search feature in Google reader to locate news on a desired topic. Not only does this cut down on time, it also brings up relevant information without the distracting ads and site formating.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Random Aside - Blogs Getting "Older?"

I know this isn't a "thing," but I just had to post it. A friend brought it to my attention when I told him I was working with blogs for class. It's an article discussing the usage of blogs, and how while the number of people using blogs hasn't changed much recently, the age of the users have. Most people under the age of 18 find blogs to be too long and boring to keep up with in comparison to updates on sites like facebook and twitter. Does this reinforce the stereotype that the younger generation is too ADD? I personally like the longer bits of information found in blogs. Status updates are too impersonal or trivial. Knowing what show someone is watching or nothing besides how someone is feeling doesn't do it for me. Thoughts?

Is blogging a slog? Some young people think so

Thing 7

This is what I now see when I open my web browser. You can't see it all because my screen is small (10.1 inches), but I have 2 news sources, Twilight quotes, weather, my e-mail, and horoscope for the day. Ah yes, the penguins. I had to put them there - they follow the mouse! When my husband saw my creation, he remarked, "Wow, so you have all this technology at your fingertips and you are excited about an app that you could have had in 1997?" To him and all others like him I reply, "why mess with perfection?"
In all seriousness, iGoogle is fantastic. It is a one-stop shop for your internet needs. I often am not caught up on the latest news because it takes too long to check every site or newspaper. Now I can get snapshots of every heading! Also, this really saves time on all of the mundane things we do when we jump on the computer before we get down to what we really came for. I'm sure you've done this before - turn on the computer to do work, but first, "Let me just check the weather," or, "I wonder what's playing at the theater tonight," or my personal favorite, "I just can't start working without knowing the -fill-in-the-blank- quote of the day!" Now we procrastinators can see it all in one click! In terms of usefulness for librarians, iGoogle can be set up to find links and quotes from just about anything. I had to stop myself after 30 minutes of exploring just this, but I know there are updates you can get on books and school-related functions.

Another Google product I love is GoogleEarth. I have seen this before, but enjoyed revisiting. This can be used in lessons to link geography to real life. Students can practice location finding, see countries they're studying, look at real life landforms, or simply ignite a spark of interest for geography altogether!