Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thing 23

My absolute favorite discovery on this journey was Shelfari! Though I have to admit, I don't see how I can use it very well in the elementary setting (especially because I will be teaching 1st grade next year), but I'm using it for myself as a social network.

This program has jumped-started one of my professional learning goals, which is to stay abreast of current technology. I mean, I only graduated high school in 2001, but I feel as if I'm far behind my fourth graders!

One outcome from this program that thoroughly surprised is my excitement for RSS feeds. I used to log onto GMail once every two weeks or so, but now its a daily occurrence.

All I can think of to suggest for improvement is to go through the Things every few months and make sure that the links are still working. Also, take Ning off the list because it will no longer free.

I would love to participate in another discovery program!

My learning experience these past few months has been more than I could have asked for!

Thing 22

Well, looks like Nings will no longer be part of the Web 2.0 world (at least not the one that education can afford). On May 4th, Ning will announce its new pricing plans, with 'free' not being one of them. That's too bad because this is the first time I had heard of this site and I can see its potential. I just think it needs more marketing and less 'clutter' on its page (I was a bit overwhelmed). Ning looks to be a great way to keep in touch with and connect to educators around the globe! Unlike Facebook or Myspace, the premise is to join particular groups and discuss about your passions, not just befriend a million people and keep up with where they went last night or what mood they're in. Oh well. Maybe this pay restructuring will give them the money they need to revamp, get the word out, and make it free again someday. Until then, unless I trip over buried treasure on my way home from work tomorrow, there are just too many other free online networking for me to pay for a Ning.

Thing 21

I used Photo Story with my students two years ago and forgot how much fun it can be! I feel it is very user-friendly and as long as students have the correct equipment, an easy way to make a project that much more fun! My favorite function is being able to write notes on what I'm going to say so I don't have to hunt down note cards or scraps of paper. Students also love being able to choose transitions and music! Photo Story is also a great opportunity for students to practice their reading fluency and being their own critics.

The only problem is that my school doesn't have very fast computers, and I don't think we have any microphones. The load times are very slow, so unfortunately, I don't know if I can feasibly do this with my students.

Thing 20

I honestly never thought that I could find anything useful from You Tube. Funny, yes. Time wasting, yes. Something to use in my classroom, no. So it was to my amazement that there are actually videos out there that are educational and appropriate for elementary schoolers. I focused most of my time on Teacher Tube, though, mostly because I had never visited it before. Talk about not reinventing the wheel! I found so many useful videos on a variety of subjects, like this video:

How cute is that? A funny video to teach students how to take care of library books. This is useful for both librarians and classroom teachers!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thing 19

After browsing the Web 2.0 Awards list, I decided to take a closer look at Lulu, a self-publishing website. This site is great for anyone who wishes to publish their works for a low cost. You can upload a book that you've created, and as people buy it, copies are printed one at a time. This way, you don't have to win a contest or peddle your book to countless agents to live your dream! After seeing the book entitled Kindergarten We're Just Beginning , the classroom/library applications became crystal clear. Why not have students truly publish their own books? As long as you elicit the appropriate parental consent, the students can publish their works on a platform in which family members can buy the book as many times as they want. You know what that means - no more photocopies, lamination, or binding!

Thing 18

I've been waiting to get to this "Thing" because I use Open Office on my computer and love it! I haven't found many drawbacks except there is no clipart or right-click synonym function in their word processer, but that is minor compared to the money I saved when I bought my computer. I haven't had any trouble opening or reading any documents made on other platforms, and only had trouble once with other platforms reading mine because I saved it incorrectly.

Open Office would be perfect to use in the Elementary or Junior High setting. The only reason why High Schoolers might want Microsoft Office instead is because it has more visually pleasing options such as the new Word with the multiple task bars. Also, higher tech classes might need the more advanced options. However, speaking from an elementary school perspective, Open Office would be more than enough! I can think of many things I would rather spend the money on!

Thing 17

As a teacher I can see how Rollyo can be great for students. If they are doing a report on Texas history, I can pick and choose what sites they are able to search. So instead of students searching in Google for George Bush and getting hundreds opinion pages, they will get factual information instead. Check out the Rollyo I made for Famous Texans research.

On the down side it can limit their results and get them to have very similar papers. There may be some site that I forget to include on the Rollyo search that would have really helped. Overall the idea of Rollyo is great for teachers to get their students to keep their eyes on their work. However, I firmly believe that students still need to be "let loose" on search engines such as Google so they can learn how to properly evaluate their sources when they go home and search on their own.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thing 16

Before this experience, I would have never thought of using a wiki in a classroom. I didn't have any particularly positive experience with wikis; just thought they were unattractive and became frustrated when classmates "corrected mistakes" I made on collaborative papers. However, after viewing the examples from schools and libraries, I can see how they can be used for the better. Students can have a place to share work that they can all sign in and add comments, as well as add on to a class project. Wikis can also be designed to be something other than a large expanse of white.

The downside is inextricably linked with the upside. Even though it could be wonderful to collaboratively work on a project, there are always students who can't handle the responsibility, especially in elementary school. I know we can all think of the one, two, or in my case, three students who think it's funny to write inappropriate comments or change work without permission. The teacher just needs to be actively monitoring and have consequences in place.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thing 15

I must say, I was disheartened, but not surprised by A Vision of Students Today. We are living in an era of technology explosion that we cannot ignore. Even though I left the traditional college setting in 2006, I could not totally relate to the video. There was no wi-fi access, which meant that everyone ignored the lecture by 'old-fashioned' ways like sleeping or reading a non-related book. Otherwise, everything was the same. Shh, don't tell, but during textbook adoptions at every school I've worked at, we arrive at consensus by the thought, "We won't use it anyway, so which has the best supplemental materials?"

In Into a New World of Librarianship, Michael Stephens lists skills that librarians need to embrace. My favorite is "Librarian 2.0 controls technolust." Just because something is new and looks 'cool,' doesn't mean it belongs in a library. Information literacy doesn't just apply to students! Public librarians need to do research and decide if the desired technology would be beneficial to their patrons, and school librarians need to decide if it will complement learning.

Thing 14

I have heard of Technorati before because my husband uses it, but I had never really explored it before. According to Technorati Video Goodness, they are restructuring, which is probably why I could not access any 'popular' tools. I also didn't get any results when I searched for "school library learning 2.0," but I can see how this site can be valuable. It is another avenue in which to search for information. If I wanted to read over blogs written by fellow elementary school teachers to gather insight, this would be the place to go!

Tagging in general is a helpful way to cluster information. Since you can give items as many times as you want, they could show up many times. For example, on Shelfari I always tag my books with the author and genre. I also search others with the same, so I end up finding books that I might like if I like a certain author.

Thing 13

I wish I knew about Delicious the second it was created! There have been many times where I found myself wishing I was on my own computer because I "just have to" show someone a website, can't remember what it was, but had it bookmarked. I also enjoyed browsing tags by topic, such as the collection of sites labeled 'education'.

There is definite potential for Delicious to be used for research assistance. It can be used as a search engine where students search by tags. It can also allow students to save bookmarked pages that they visit in the computer lab to be accessed at home for further study or exploration. I can definitely see librarians and teachers taking advantage of this, since they are not always on the same computer. There have been times where I have e-mailed myself websites so I can remember them when in the computer lab or simply switching to the technology cart to project something to the whole class. Now I don't have to!