Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thing #23 End of the Beginning

Wow! I made it! It really feels like an accomplishment! My favorite things were image generators (Big Huge Labs, and Image Chef), Diigo (ooh, I just love this!), LibraryThing (something for my husband and I to do together), and Photo Story (already loaded on my work computer!). I have to stop there - I could list more. This program has given me the confidence to try new things in the web world that I had avoided due to concerns for safety, or because I wasn't sure of a thing's purpose. Every day I try something, become familiar with new technology, and then use it in instruction in the library. I started out tentatively, but now I plow in, knowing that it is okay to mess up. You just 'X' out and try again! I am more confident that I can learn new technology as it comes along and not become overwhelmed (I have Barry and VWB's email!). No, really, I have developed resources I can consult when there is a problem. I think what has surprised me the most with this program is how much I like most technology, not just the few pieces that I knew I would like. I am also surprised by how quickly I became a technology resource for the faculty and staff. The other outcome that is not a surprise, but a reminder, is how wonderful, caring and helpful members of the teaching profession are whether they are the instructors or the students. As to format and concept, this has worked very well for me. The instructions and details were easy to follow and there were very few times I had to ask for clarification. As to the next class: I'm ready for 11.5 - sign me up!

One phrase: From 'Library Lady' to 'Web Woman' in 23 Steps: Take the Challenge!

Thing #22 Ning

I really enjoyed taking a look at the different Nings. I checked out Barry, LKP and TT. I liked the book reviews in the Texas School Librarians Ning. (How do you make the crayon faces move with open mouths?) I also checked out the lesson plans in the Ning for Teachers (Teacher Lingo). I really liked the calendar with upcoming events. I can see this being a great place to connect, plan upcoming events, and give feedback. The set up was different for each of these Nings, but they all were pleasing to navigate. I did read the latest news that said that they will not support the free members in the future. I did not want to join if I have to pay. I would like to know where the groups listed in the Thing 22 post are going. Are they moving or are they staying and paying the fees?

Thing #21 Photo Story

I really had fun with this. It was easy and interesting without taking too much time. A perfect project for our elementary students. We have been playing with the Macbooks in the after-school program and making videocasts, podcasts, and slideshows. The kids really like turning on the camera and recording video or snapshots of themselves. (They also love to record the teachers talking in the background - Beware!) The students can use this for all sorts of assignments. Recording their voices for other students, shared reading, verbal information for students that need help, etc. Book reports, projects, and poetry mash ups also come to mind. My Photo Story covers a Reading is Fundamental distribution from February. I have deliberately left out the school's name and other details, but I will be editing it for the school web page to include all that information.

I did have a little trouble with the headset I used. Photo Story wanted to 'change' the audio settings. Every time I said 'yes,' it would stop working. I finally gave up and clicked 'no' and it began recording. Seems to have worked well. I also had to load the file three times. It seems that the school district server was timing out. Once home, the file loaded up just fine.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thing #20 Gotta Keep Reading

Okay, I've been waiting for this post. I am posting my favorite You Tube and Teacher Tube video. We played this before our Read-a-thon day. The kids loved it and began singing, then holding their books, then dancing. So did the teachers!

Well, I copied and pasted the embed code and it worked!

I did have trouble with the links for the Three Steps and Evaluating Websites Tutorial. They both linked to the same page. I found the Evaluating Website Tutorial by typing the title in the search bar. However, I could not find the Three Steps. I liked the Portal to Texas History with all the photos, drawings, maps, and prints. It looks like a good resource.

I have used videos in the library. The second grade watched a short video on needs and wants for an economics, I put a couple of videos in a sample glogster for teaching purposes, and I have pulled author videocasts for use in lessons. Used judiciously, they are a great asset.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thing #19

I really enjoyed looking at several of the websites that had won awards. I use Kayak all the time. It is my 'go to' for airline fare comparisons. I also really like Pandora. My husband is the one that got me started on listening to streamed music. I'm a little bit country and he's a little bit classical. I also looked at SpanishPod. My brother is a college Spanish professor so I thought I would check that out. It looks like something that might be fun. I could not get through to the pricing, so I tried reading some of the postings. I tried to find commentary on the product, but could not find actual amounts. So I played with Google Maps. This is a lot of fun. You can put yourself on street level. I checked out most of my family's homes. We use this to print out quick directions for around town. I also really like the satellite feature. My students really like seeing the topography of a location. Lots of lessons could use Google Maps. It might be interesting to check out historical sites with each of the views and you can look at locations from novels (I'm thinking of the Anita Shreve's Weight of Water, located on the Isle of Shoals) and of course, you can always use it with geography lessons. Web 2.0 Awards is a great resource for locating highly rated websites in specific categories.

Thing #12

When I found out that we were going to have a blog, I was a little concerned. Privacy was an issue, as was deciding how much to share. I really like what Blogging 101 had to say about using aliases. I feel much more comfortable with an alias. As time goes on I might change my mind, but for now it works for me. Unfortunately, I have not found a way to link when making a comment in Blogger. This was one of Cool Cat Teacher's suggestions and one I like. (You may notice that I have mastered the art of the hyperlink. :) Maybe it has to do with using the free version?

After much trial and error (can't seem to use comments with Mozilla), I was able to post comments using Internet Explorer. Visiting Tinkerbell, Metaphors Be With You, What was I Thinking?, Rants and Raves and Other Cool Stuff, and Thing One or Thing Two? I was able to leave messages. It was fun, but I am not sure I could do that for every post if I had the traffic Blue Skunk does. How would one manage the time?

On the subject of posting to blogs outside of the class, I posted to a scrapbook blog with a comment unrelated to scrapbooking, but current none the less. I also posted to a UK scrapbook blog.

Thing #18: Office, Open, or Google?

Okay, confession time. I am currently using 5 different computers, an iTouch and a smartphone. Sounds glamorous, doesn't it? It's not. My wonderful pc computer on my desk at home does not have Microsoft Office, just Open Office and Outlook (for the smartphone that has Mobile Office). My mini notebook (pc) also has Open Office and Outlook, while my work laptop (pc) does have Microsoft Office and Open Office and Outlook. My smartphone will not sync properly with any of the Outlook programs. Most of the information that comes in and out of work is on Microsoft Office, so that is what I use. There may be a way to import and sync the 4 Outlook calendars and contacts, but I have not found it yet. Now let's add in the new Mac, Macbooks and the iTouch and you can see where the confusion comes in. With the two graduate classes and the different discussion questions and projects, you can see how difficult it is to know where you have put your documents, which version is which and which program is available on that computer.

How do I do it? Here's how: use Open Office. I constantly have to pull up the syllabus from one of my classes and I generally do it in Open Office. I try to do everything for class on my work computer (and in Microsoft Office) so that it is in one place, but that does not always happen. Unfortunately, Open Office does not have a calendar function. I keep a paper calendar and try to transfer from one Outlook calendar to another through the paper calendar. I am currently looking at Google docs as a possibility to bridge from the pc to the Macbook.

So, to wrap up, Open Office advantages: free, universal, Mac compatible, with minimal change in Microsoft Office documents when saved; disadvantages: no calendar function, not the same 'look' as Microsoft Office and not as many options. Microsoft Office advantages: Outlook, ability to produce a more polished document with more options, brand name support; disadvantages: expensive, proprietary, and have to buy Microsoft Office for the Mac while Open Office for the Mac is free. For educational use in my opinion it is a no brainer: Open Office wins.

I promise to figure out the school/work/home computer situation and get it down to two computers and a phone that will function. I just need to finish the semester. . .