Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Wiki Wanderings

Want to see what wikis I’ve been visiting? Check it out!


Pagecast Sharing

Here are a few pages that I am watching. Enjoy!

Dog Shows


K-12 Educational Technology

School Library Media (This might be Christine’s pagecast–if so, great job!)

Library Blogs

Virtual Cheesecloth

This blog is written by Amalia Connolly, a Library Media Specialist in Westchester County, New York. Just as cheesecloth is used to strain products in the culinary world, she says that this blog is “an attempt to filter my learning and wonderings about the ever-growing set of collaborative tools called Web 2.0.” This blog is useful because she sorts through the many technologies available to us, and creates posts about those that can best help students in school.

I loved the set up of this blog—it was very organized, colorful, and filled with images. Many of her posts deal with books that she has read, and there is even a section of the blog dedicated to favorites—at the moment it displays her favorite picture books. One can click on the book title or image, and be taken to a book summary and book reviews. Her own posts are filled with great information about the books she is currently reading and how they connect to curriculum or other books. She includes several posts about the activities she creates for her students, such as a nonfiction study with first graders that concludes with them writing their own nonfiction book. I loved the idea of her “Mohansicott Award”, a recreation of the Caldecott where first graders choose the winner for the most distinguished picture book. I thought this was a great way to have students take an active approach when learning about the different awards for Children’s Literature.

Aside from her own work, Amalia posts links to professional development resources for other Library Media Specialists and reflects on her time spent at various conferences. Overall, Amalia’s posts show just how much fun you can have as a Library Media Specialist as you journey through literature with your students!

Gargoyles Loose in the Library

This blog is written by Frances Harris, a librarian at University Laboratory High School.  She uses this blog to capture student moments at the library and as she puts it to “promote all things library-related and techno-geeky.” I just loved this blog because it was so realistic to things that go on in my own high school. I found myself chuckling at many of the posts and could tell that Frances really enjoys her job.

Frances’ posts feature photos and videos of her students in action. She captures them at their fine moments (eagerly reading, discussing literature, etc.) and at their not-so-fine moments (being crazily dressed for spirit day, playing games, hanging out INSTEAD of studying, etc.) It is such a real depiction of how kids act, and she maintains a great sense of humor about it.  A few posts detailed activities/unit plans that she carries out with classroom teachers and her reactions to them. Other posts review new technology as well as feature her opinions on new books and newspaper articles written about education and technology. Of course, she includes posts for other librarians, alerting them to professional development resources.

I loved how each post contained a hyperlink to the article, book, or technology she discussed. It was easy to follow her posts, and she had a nice balance of humorous entries with more serious entries, such as those dealing with resources for other librarians. This site made me eager to work in a school library and hopeful that I can enjoy my career as much as she does.

Northfield Mount Hermon School Library

Northfield Mount Hermon is a day and boarding high school located in Massachusetts. This blog is written collectively by the group of librarians that work at Northfield. One thing I liked about the format of this blog is that on the left side of the page all of the library links were listed (library catalog, databases, hours, citation sources, etc.). None of the other blogs I visited had library information on the blog, instead it was listed on the library’s homepage, available on the school’s website. I thought that this feature as well as the content of the blogs, served to make it the most “professional” of the blogs I visited.

When I say the most “professional”, I mean that this blog does not seem to be written for personal use, as was the format for Gargoyles in the Library. Whereas in Gargoyles and Cheesecloth I had a real sense of who was writing the blog, this blog was completely different. The others were filled with personality and posts to their interests, while this blog seemed to be written mostly for book reviews and article postings.

Most of the reviews that I read were book summaries from Occasionally there were reviews of audio/visual materials as well. Posts also showcase new books to the library, including an image of the book as well as a summary. Every so often posts would have links to recent Netflix videos, downloadable books, or articles from major newspapers that discuss new technology tools.

I find this blog to be useful if you want credible recommendations of books for students or even for your library collection. Other than that, I didn’t enjoy this blog as much as I did the other two. The lack of voice was certainly the contributing factor in my feelings toward the site. It didn’t showcase the creativity and fun that school librarians bring to their position. To be honest, I don’t see myself coming back to this site for daily reads, but I would use it in terms of looking for book recommendations.

Educator Blogs

I looked through many Educator Blogs and was surprised with the diversity of information I found. The three blogs below were the most interesting to me. I see myself coming back to these blogs in the future as I hope to utilize more technology in my own classroom.

Hey Jude

Judy O’Connell serves on two boards, School Libraries Worldwide and Horizon K-12 Project, which focus on how emerging technologies influence libraries and K-12 education. She states that this blog was created “to help me engage in reflection, learning and social networking, and to help inform my work.” I enjoyed this blog because it is true to its purpose—it serves as an arena for honest reflection. I liked the tone used throughout the blog—there was no overuse of technological terms that a novice like me couldn’t understand. It was simple yet enthusiastic, which let Judy’s voice shine through.

Her blog features posts about a multitude of new technology that she comes across. From explaining the different uses of Twitter, to the benefits of Google Apps, to exploring the use of computer tablets in the classroom, the posts cover technologies that can be used in any classroom. Judy even posts links to articles to help educators, parents, teens, etc. learn how to use these technologies. I especially liked her post about safety online. It linked to a great resource for parents to use when dealing with children (of any age) about how to be safe when exploring technology (cell phone use, social networking sites, as well as just using google). It gave great conversation starters and advice to parents to ensure that their child is accessing technology, but in a safe manner.

I found Judy’s posts to be very helpful, especially because I myself do not know a lot about the technology that is available to us. Aside from the posts dealing with integrating technology into education, I enjoyed the posts about accessories for the hottest technology (MacBooks, I phones, etc.) as well as comical photos/videos dealing with technology. These breaks from the scholarly posts again made me see Judy’s personality. Her language is very “user friendly” and it is clear that she keeps educators in mind throughout every post. I really feel that her goal is to keep classrooms in touch with our modern world. In doing so we can captivate the interest of our students and make them true lovers of learning.

A Teacher’s Education

This blog is written by Mrs. Chili, who teaches English at a community college. This blog was quite different than the other educator blogs that I reviewed, which is why it caught my interest. Many of the other blogs were very, shall I say, “educationally driven”. By this I mean that there were countless links to other blogs/podcasts/pages that were references for other educators who are trying to incorporate technology into their curriculum or classrooms. While these sites were filled with great information, at times I found the amount of information a bit overwhelming. Mrs. Chili’s website reads more like a personal blog, where the purpose seems for her own enjoyment. She states that she believes “in cooperation and collaboration” and that is the reason why she created her blog.

Similar to Hey Jude, Mrs. Chili’s blog is chock full of personality. Her posts deal with events from her life as an educator, but also include bits of her life outside of the classroom. She is an avid reader, writer, and grammar fanatic. As I scroll through her posts, I view her blog as similar to a journal. The title of her site rings true to the theme of many of her posts. Although we are educators, boy, do we get an education from this career. Her posts reflect on her syllabus, class activities/assignments, and student work. Like any educator, she has her proud moments of activities that exceed our expectations, as well as our low moments of “Well, that didn’t go as planned!”  Her posts hit the heart of why so many of us love being educators—we love what we teach and want to bring it into the lives of our students. Mrs. Chili also includes posts about humorous things that happened in her classroom/student comments, as well as funny pictures/videos relating to literature. I especially like her Grammar Wednesday posts, where she includes a grammar stumper for the community of readers to figure out.

I truly see myself coming back to this blog. The honesty of its writing really relates to my own experiences in my classroom. I find some of her activities/experiences very applicable to my own and those of my students.  Overall this blog just reminds me that despite the countless things we put in to teaching, when we actually think about it, we get way more out of it than we could have hoped for.

Jeff Utecht

Out of my three Educator Blogs, Jeff Utecht has the most interesting and diverse biography. He has been a classroom teacher for a variety of grades in a variety of countries. He has taught on University levels all over the world and also has an impressive background in school administration. Despite his past careers, one thing remains the same: he has a true passion for technology and preparing students for what he calls “an unknown future.” I feel that Jeff uses this blog to inform educators of  new technology ideas out there, as well as share his own opinions of the positives/negatives of such things.

Like the other two educator blogs, Jeff writes in his own voice. His posts don’t come off as advertisements for the products he writes about. He approaches the technology in a very realistic fashion of how it could be useful in the classroom. I liked how he responds to people’s comments to his posts, whether they agreed or disagreed with him. This showed me that he really does want to have an open communication about technology with us, the educators who are using it. His topics truly range in scope—he includes advice on how to use things such as customizing Google Apps and blog designs for your school/classroom as well as posts reviews on new products (such as the Apple iPad) in terms of how they can be used in the classroom. Some posts respond to time spent visiting teachers’ classrooms and observing how they are  using technology, while others voice his response to linked articles about technology and education written by major newspapers.

As I stated with Hey Jude, Jeff’s language is easy to understand. Again I think that this speaks to the fact that he is trying to encourage educators to become comfortable with technology and more confident in using it in the classroom. As I read through several posts, I think that it is his ultimate goal for educators to encourage students to become the producers of their own learning. Through technology, students can become creative in their learning experience and truly customize it in order to get the most out of the material.

Wiki Wiki Wiki

Although mine isn’t nearly as cool as the  sound that you hear in DJing, here’s the link to my wiki.

Definitely a work in progress!

Module One Forum: Article/Video Reviews

FLYP – An Amazing Multimedia Online Magazine

When I saw the link for FLYP, I honestly thought that I was going to find an online news magazine with a sprinkling of video/audio clips. Boy was I wrong! FLYP is truly a multimedia experience for readers. This online magazine is published biweekly and explores a great range of topics. From politics and technology, to arts and entertainment, anyone can find an article that suits their interests.  The site’s video explains that people enjoy reading physical magazines for the well-crafted articles, as well as flipping through pages to find stunning photography. As not to lose the feel of holding a magazine, I appreciate how the site lets you flip the pages, rather than sites in which you continuously scroll down through the articles. A current article “Under the Sea” focuses on the first camera that captures images of ocean depths never explored. The article has text, audio clips from the inventor herself, as well as actual video footage from the camera on the ocean floor. I found the quality of the film and photos to be spectacular. Those who work at this site really seem to realize the importance of the reading experience as well as people connecting with the subject of the article. FLYP can capture anyone’s interest and keep him or her coming back for more.

Video: Wearable TechPattie Maes: Unveiling game-changing wearable        

This piece of technology seems to do more than I ever thought would be possible. The video asserts that in order to be truly connected to the information that is out there for us to use, today’s cell phones do not cut it. Instead of going to your cell and using the browser application, imagine looking at an object and seeing information about it at that very instant. In its current design, the device features a camera, projector, and mirror, all of which you wear around your neck. Your fingers act as sensors to focus and manipulate the physical objects around you. The video shows a man finding Amazon book reviews simply by picking up a book of his choice. If you need the time, you draw a watch on your wrist. If you want to capture something you see, just make the motion of taking a photo. However, that’s not all—because you can project your information onto any surface, it truly becomes accessible all of the time.

School 2.0 and Understanding by Design NECC 2009

In this video, Chris O’Neal has one overarching point: the students in today’s classroom are more technologically savvy than ever before. In fact, he says that they probably know more about technology than their teachers.  Chris challenges the viewers by asking, “Where is the marriage between student 2.0 and the traditional classroom?”  The video references, a site that features a collection of resources regarding technology and professional development. He points out the stark differences of opinion between staff and students on technology issues such as myspace and wikipedia. Teachers see these things as not valuable whereas students see them as part of the learning experience. O’Neal references a girl who posts wonderful writings on her online accounts, but does not bring this same fervor to school assignments because she knows that it is just for a grade, not for her own real life experiences. Overall, this video points out that the future of teaching will be for educators to embrace technology, and allow students to become the creators in their own learning process.

Common Threads:

Although my three sources are fairly different in content, I think that the overall message is that society should embrace the new wave of technology that is rapidly approaching. All three encourage people (consumers, students, teachers) to dive in and explore the countless possibilities that await us. The cutting edge technology available should truly make everyone take a step back and realize that it is possible to be a part of this change. Each source is designed as a means for people to create their own experiences with technology, both in school and in their personal lives. These videos convince us that in order to take advantage of the opportunities that await, we must step out of our comfort boxes and test out new strategies.

My thoughts on Teaching and Learning Technologies

I must say that I found many of the articles and videos to be interesting. Out of the three that I chose, I feel I gained the most from School 2.0 and FLYP.  School 2.0 made many valid points that I see on a daily basis, as many teachers do not see the value in students participating in social networking sites. As an English teacher, I embrace any opportunity for my students to write! I feel that writing skills and furthermore, student confidence, would increase if each student had an online account in which they could journal or post creative writings. Although I enjoyed this article, I could not help but think of my students who do not have computers and therefore lack certain technology skills. It would be wonderful if schools truly had access to the technology required to do many of the wonderful things mentioned in this video. I would love to set up a wiki for my students, but due to the socio economic status of those at my school, it would be very difficult. However, if teachers could be provided with media center time on a daily basis, I feel that teachers and students would become stronger in technology based activities. In regards to FLYP, I feel that this could pave the way for many school newspapers. This is a great model of where journalism is heading, and could trigger the interest of many students, not just those who want to write.  In terms of research and current event activities, students would love to sign onto this site and actually be motivated to participate. Overall, I did not know that such technologies were in place, and as a teacher, I do feel that information about this at professional development workshops would be invaluable.