Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our school's reform efforts

I think that effective blog posts cause the reader to see themselves within the "story" or posting. They're honest, straightforward, reflective and don't always paint the poster or reader in a perfect light. I'm going to break this post into portions where the headings promote the keys to effective blogging and we look at my school's goal of improvement in the actual content. I hope it won't prove too confusing!

Share anecdotes and statistics
Right now at my school, we're in Corrective Action; our students are not as successful as they need to be as measured by our state standards. They are not performing as well after three years in our school as they were when they arrived. 80% of our students come to our school scoring proficient or advanced. Our kids *should* be doing well, but they aren't. Even our advanced kids are losing ground over the course of their time at our school. This is the first year that that kind of data has been shared with our faculty and I am not alone in my fear that our jobs are in jeopardy.

Break up content into chunks that make sense
We started Professional Learning Communities last school year to study Rick Wormeli's Summarization in Any Subject. Teachers have been trying to improve student skills in summarization because our data showed that kids did not seem to be understanding what they were reading on the PSSAs. In an attempt to model using summarization, teachers were asked to 3-2-1 (three things I learned, two things i want to know more about, one thing I still don't understand) at every professional development activity after PLCs were implemented. I don't mean to sound critical of our administrators, but 3-2-1 was the first strategy in the book and it made us wonder if they had read any further than that first strategy.

Highlight the key points
This fall, we examined student data more deeply, looked at chunking text and other information so that students got information in more reasonable doses, will continue with summarization of key ideas and found out that in order to make a years worth of growth in writing, students needed to be writing 40 or more times per week. We were trained in the Collins Writing method in hopes of making teachers more comfortable in assigning and assessing writing. They've come up with a plan of how each department can help students to meet the varied requirements for academic growth and now we're working to implement them. 

Wrap up and invite others to share their ideas
As a librarian in a school where the library is often overlooked by teachers and students, I'm having a hard time figuring out how I can fit into the solutions proposed by my school. I don't have any assigned classes, I don't even always get to do instruction with classes when teachers bring them to the library. After worrying aloud about this at my last PLC meeting (and I'm in a wonderful group with teachers who do use the library!), I managed to secure an opportunity to collect a Collins sample from 9th grade students. I'm doing that tomorrow, here's my writing prompt: Please write five lines explaining how you know when you've found useful resources for a research project. In my experience, students don't really seem to know how to develop a well-thought out plan for conducting research and evaluating the resources they find. I'm hoping that collecting data that shows teachers and administrators this disconnect will help to further my cause for more teacher-librarian collaboration. How do you work with others in your school to ensure student success?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teacher Blogging Challenge--Down Blogging Lane

I've decided to participate in the Teacher Blogging Challenge sponsored by EduBlogs. I resolved last month to post to my blog more regularly, but didn't manage to keep up with the holidays, sick kids and getting back in the work groove. None of those are particularly good reasons, but combined they are my excuse.

Now here's an exclusive interview with my blog:

How did you get started?
Well, I guess I was a glimmer in my mother's eye. Hey wait, I think that's how Kim was started! Seriously though, I began as part of her professional goal to participate in 23 Things for School Librarians.

What have you learned?
You can't have hurt feelings if you're forgotten. A blog is like a good friend; no matter how long you've been apart, you slip back into being comfortable immediately. Life happens, sometimes other things are more important, but when you come back, I'll be here to listen and to share your thoughts with others--because, although friends should keep secrets, I'm more like a friend who plays Telephone. ;)

How do you come up with new ideas?
Honestly, I think this blog is more about reflecting than about producing new knowledge. It's a place to think aloud and hope that others will share their ideas too.

What's the most difficult thing you face?
It's hard to feel motivated to write when there aren't readers and commenters. Even so, being in the habit of visiting me and responding to others is the best way to engage.

What are your hopes for the future?
Well, I hope that I get more attention--especially from that Laugh-Out-Loud Librarian. If she doesn't pay attention to me, no one else has any reason to do it either.

You mention "LOLbrarian." Who is that exactly and where on earth did the name come from?
Well, of course, she's my author. She's a high school librarian who's been around for a while. Back in the '90s, when all of those chat abbreviations began, she was a happy young librarian who has a rather distinctive and, well . . . loud laugh. She liked the LOL acronym and 'brarian seemed to follow it naturally, so she adopted the moniker. Yadda, yadda, yadda--she's lolbrarian.
Wordle: Untitled

Monday, December 20, 2010

QR Codes

I said recently that I was going start using QR codes to share information with students. Since I don't currently have a device that will read the codes (hurry up Verizon, I want my iPhone), I have had to rely on the kindness of strangers and family members (some of them are strange too!) to see what happens when they scan a code I've generated.

When I get home tonight, I'm going to try and test them myself and see whether I can do what I think they should do. If so, I will be putting them up around my building tomorrow. This blog feed also loads in my libguides page, so it's possible people will get to them that way. Does anyone know if they can be scanned right from the computer screen?

I would love feedback from others using them in their classroom or library!
QR Code Survey

College search information

Blocked sites

I was out of the building last Thursday and Friday, so this morning I came in to a stack of notes on my computer about things that happened, things that needed to be done and questions and problems. One of the problems was that our district's filter has now decided to block Wikimedia's Creative Commons images, video and audio. This site is one that I've been promoting heavily to students because the images are allowed to be used and because it has escaped filtering when so many other image engines have been blocked.

I promptly tested it to see that it was indeed blocked and then sent a helpdesk ticket to get it unblocked with a note "Students need access to images for projects that do not violate copyright. Wikimedia provides images with a Creative Commons license and should be accessible to students and staff." I honestly doubt that I will get too far with my request, at least not before the winter break. I'm frustrated by the many useful sites that are blocked. I believe our district wants to do what's best for kids and wants to protect them from harmful images, but I don't understand taking the filter with "out of the box" settings, rather than tweaking it for our needs. Any time we ask for things to be loosened up with more permissions the CIPA flag gets waved saying we must do (whatever the current barrier is) if we want to get eRate money.

There was a recent issue of Knowledge Quest that addressed filtering in schools and the fact that it is a First Amendment issue and that librarians should take up the intellectual freedom mantle and fight this battle. It's never an easy fight, but it's one we must face to ensure that students have the access they need.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Trailers Integrated into Destiny OPAC

I found a slew of book trailers at Scholastic's website today and added them to my OPAC. Unfortunately, I don't know if our kids will notice that they're there! If you publish trailers in your OPAC, or on your website how do you promote them to students? What other means of publicizing book trailers do you do?

I would like to run them on a computer monitor, but that it is not currently possible.

What other sources of book trailers are there out there? I'll be digging around the major publishers sites to see what else I can find! In the meantime, check out this interview with author, Walter Dean Myers.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back to blogging

I have been away from blogging for too long. It seems that I have been so busy since changing buildings a few years ago, that I just haven't had time to blog. The truth is, I haven't MADE time. My goal is to get back to blogging at least twice a week about the things that will help my students become successful now and in the future.

Some things I've been kicking around in my head that need to be in the forefront of my goals for 2011:
- providing ebooks to my students
- using QR codes to engage kids around the building
- promoting reading by sharing book trailers
- integrating this blog into the school library site
- promoting PLNs with the high school faculty

Now that I've put these goals in writing, I need to follow through and develop a plan to make them happen. I know there are models for Kindle/eReader implementation out there, I just need to find a way to get our district on-board! The other things should fall into place as I work throughout the coming year.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Google Docs for informing others

I created this slide show after reading an article I can't seem to find again about using GoogleDocs to create informative projects about online databases. This was just a quick thing I threw together to try it out. I haven't figured out how to embed it in a newsletter though, and I really wanted to be able to do that. :(

Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First newsletter of the year distributed

I worked on my first library newsletter this past weekend and put it out to the faculty and staff today. I've gotten some nice compliments from co-workers, scheduled time to meet with the technology teachers at their weekly staff meeting on Thursday, and contacted people who asked me for magazines we're getting rid of from our archives.

Cafeteria duty today was exciting with our first "almost" fight that was diffused by the principal before it got started.

I also contacted my Gumdrop Books representative about an order and the local bookstore for The Almanac of American Politics that was requested by a social studies teacher.

I think I'm going to be using this to chronicle my days and thoughts as the year progresses. We'll see how well I do at keeping up!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My school library wiki

After the PSLA conference last weekend, I really decided it was time to do something about helping my students with projects. I've started work on a school library wiki and will be using it with three classes that I begin instruction with today. At this point, I've got the same basic information I had on my schoolwires page, plus I added a page about the research process that's based on the Big6 and a page on citing sources. I also linked to Joyce Valenza's very comprehensive copyright free image and audio wiki.

I created this wiki using wikispaces which I've been using for the conference wiki and have been pretty pleased with so far.

What I've got is definitely basic (maybe even below basic, haha!) but it's a start and can be added to as I have the time.

Technorati technorati tags: , ,

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Conference Buzz

You know that "high" you get after spending time with your peers? I'm still on that buzz from the PSLA conference the past three days! We had amazing speakers and wonderful session leaders.

Allison Zmuda
was the conference's keynote speaker and she was so inspiring. I attended an additional session that she lead on Friday morning "Reframing the Work of the Librarian as a Learning Specialist" where she gave us permission to stop begging teachers to collaborate with us, to work with students rather than teachers and document the successes we see and encourage students to work on higher order thinking rather than low-level fact regurgitation. She's got a book coming out at the end of the month that she co-wrote with Dr. Violet Harada that I cannot wait to order and read this summer.

Last night, Ridley Pearson was our author-speaker. He discussed his books, his time in Thailand at 18 and life in a band with Dave Barry and Stephen King. He told us that he never wants to be as famous as King, that his fans are psychopaths--and then he told us about two "fan sightings" that scared him to death--a woman who set her fingernails on fire (instead of holding up her lighter or cell phone at a concert in Tennesee) and four fans who showed up requesting autographs for their copies of The Stand when the band's tour bus stopped for a potty break and to stretch their legs at 4am at a gas station in Alabama.

Today I heard Joyce Valenza talk about information equity and our obligation to ensure that our students have access to and know how to use the many Web2.0 tools there are out there to get create information.

I'll post more as I have time to review my notes but I wanted to do a quick post this evening.

Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians

This SLJ article discusses Ross Todd's vision of what school librarians need to do. This is my place-marker for the article so I can come back and reflect on it after I have time to read it. (Reflections to follow.)

Technorati technorati tags: , , , ,

PSLA Conference Wiki

The PSLA Conference Wiki is getting some use and improvements each day. I see that at least one conference-presenter has edited the information about his session stating that the PowerPoint he's showing will not be printed but will be linked to on the wiki. What a great way to be green--and to give access to content to people who are unable to attend his session!

One of my biggest frustrations about attending conferences is the wide variety of choices that are available and the difficulty in selecting the ones that will suit me best for the coming year. It's always tough to know what will be the best choices--and then even if you've made selections there's the chance that those sessions will be high-demand for other attendees as well and you end up sent to another session that isn't going to be as meaningful to you and your situation.

I'm really excited about the prospects of the wiki and using it to get some of the information I'll miss out on from sessions I'm unable to attend! I hope that others will find the wiki useful as well. The more people who use it, the more useful it will be. Thanks to Joyce Valenza for getting this up and running for us!

Technorati technorati tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


After an email I sent to my state library listserv today, I have volunteered to start a wiki for our conference next week. I want to create a technorati tag, which I've done. I'm using this post to get it as a recognized/searchable tag.

Technorati technorati tags:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PBWiki project

I was talking with one of my co-workers yesterday afternoon and I think we're going to work on his annual Calendar project as a wiki. I spent this morning setting up parts of it (hopefully he and the students can do the rest!)

We still need to hammer out whether it will be public or private (so you may not be able to access the above link) and how to set it all up, but it's started.

Friday, April 18, 2008

United Streaming

Our district has subscribed to United Streaming this year. At a training today, the trainer discussed the fact that recent research has shown that using closed captioning on video improves student attention to and retention of the content. It makes sense because I'm one of those people who reads whatever text is put in front of me. I don't believe that everyone will read, but certainly any who do will learn more.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Beating the No U-Turn Syndrome: a New Approach to Teaching and Enforcing Copyright Compliance

I attended a virtual discussion on copyright and fair use tonight in SecondLife and it has me thinking and rethinking (which I'm sure was Doug's goal)!

I've only been in SL once before and then I found that my machine's video card just wasn't capable of handling the graphics-intensive environment. Tonight, we downloaded and installed on hubby's laptop so that I could participate. I had some issues with lag and corrupted images, but on the whole it worked out really well.

I asked about a specific situation I encountered this year: one of my students was looking for images for a PA History project. The image that he found was on a website where the photographer requested payment for the use of the image. Normally, I would have said that fair use meant he did not need to request permission to use an image, but this situation gave me pause and made me wonder whether the photographer's request for payment meant that the student could not use the image without paying for the rights to do so. What would you have told your student? Doug says he believes that it was likely fair use (but without more specifics he couldn't say for sure.)

Someone else in the audience asked about work that he's creating in the SL world and how to make it available to others without losing credit for the development and creation he's done. Doug suggested he check out Creative Commons licensing for his projects to ensure he has the power he wants but others can still adapt for their own use.

Doug compared current copyright law to the old Blue Laws (like the one that said that more than four women living in a house in the borough of State College was a brothel and therefore sororities were prohibited from having houses like fraternities did.) He says that it's outdated and that mostly it isn't enforced so what's the point? The text of his discussion is available on the wiki.

The one thing that I really like is his suggestion of branding ourselves as a copyright counselor (rather than the copyright Nazi some of my colleagues have deemed themselves--and others have labelled me!) If we talk about what can be done rather than emphasizing what can't, we're their cheerleaders, their helpers, we're enabling success and helping students (and teachers and administrators) to take advantage of open source software, and royalty free and public domain sources.

One database our schools have access to is the Associated Press's Multimedia Archive (I think the name may have changed recently and I don't recall the new one.) I helped a student to find images of 50 Cent there for his project. He was searching images on the web and was coming up with things that were so small that when they were enlarged to the size required for his project they were pixellated and unusable. He was thrilled with the images we got from that database and I have been able to convince others to use it on his recommendation.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"A Few New Things" by Joyce Kasman Valenza

Valenza, Joyce Kasman. "A Few New Things." Library Media Connection April/May 2008: 10-13.

This article was based on Joyce's NeverEnding Search post from SLJ.

One of the things she's suggesting that I want to think more about is using wikis to create and maintain pathfinders. I think this is a wonderful idea and it's one I hope to implement with some future projects. Our music teacher did a webquest for her composer project and I suspect it could be the basis for the start of one. They're supposed to be re-writing the guidelines for this project over the summer and have asked that I be allowed to sit on the curriculum writing committee to offer suggestions and support. My exploration of Oxford Music Online yesterday will definitely feed into this project and curriculum writing.

There are so many ways that web 2.0 engages students and forces them to become creators rather than consumers of information. I hope that I find others in my school who will be interested in bringing students into the 21st century as learners.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

ePEARL--electronic portfolio encouraging active reflective learning

I found ePEARL as a link on the Remote Access blog today. I haven't figured out yet if it's truly available for everyone or if it's only free for Canadians. I do know that our Family and Consumer Science teachers are supposed to have students maintain a career portfolio over the course of their middle school years and at least the one in my building is concerned about students losing their materials from year to year. This would be a great solution. It would also be useful for teachers to use as they enter the district and want to show growth as a teacher. Lots of interesting ways this could be used. I need to do more checking on it.

Wiki Webquest

In Joyce Valenza's podcast, she mentioned that any pathfinders we create should be in the form of a wiki so they can be edited by the teachers and students who are using them. In looking at WikiSpaces Blog today, I found this post about a wiki webquest done by 7th and 8th grade students on popular musicians.

My music teacher does a project with her students on composers which has slowly evolved to include or allow popular contemporary performers as well. We've been talking about how to revise the project so she gets a better product and the kids aren't just regurgitating information. I like the interactivity of the wiki and the fact that there's an opportunity for discussion and critique of classmates work, but it certainly would need to be monitored to be sure that kids aren't being abusive. I've forwarded the links to Marisa in hopes of adding to our list of potential projects for the future. I really like this idea!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

#23 Reflections and what's next

Participating in the CSLA's School Library Learning 2.0 program has been beneficial to me. Even though I was familiar with some of the tools that were discussed, I really took the time to reflect on how I can use these in my instructional practice and how my colleagues can use them with students.

Prior to beginning the program, I used many of these tools in my personal life (blogging, flickr, YouTube) as a way to record the things that are going on in my family and so that relatives and friends who live far from us are still able to keep up on what is going on with my children. I've even used my blog as a professional journal to track the things I want to remember related to work, like articles I've read, things I've done in the classroom that have worked well, and my notes on previous professional goals like last year's collection analysis and comparison to the other secondary schools in my district. I've struggled with what's appropriate to put on that personal blog and found that for my own comfort, I really need to keep my personal and professional blogging separate. I expect I'll continue to use this blog professionally because I want to be reflective about my instructional practices.

One of the things that happened this year in my school was very exciting to me: I had a teacher whose professional goal was to have her students blog. A few years ago, I created a blog that I host from our home server called Read Write Think Repeat. We used it briefly during a summer reading program and I also used it to post announcements about new materials as they were purchased. I worked with Robyn and her students to begin using that blog for student-created book reviews and discussion. The students voted to change the name to Rockin' Reads so that's its current title.

Changes in the way our network is administered meant that I can no longer make that page the library computers' homepage. I cannot even add it to the bookmarks on computers as everything is wiped from the history and bookmarks on our computers when someone logs out of them. One of my biggest personal frustrations about technology in our schools is the lack of communication and information sharing that goes on.

To get to my school library site, one has to start at the district website (every computer lab and library computer's homepage), click on schools, click on schools again and find my school in the dropdown list, click on library and the click on website in that dropdown list. It can't be bookmarked by students at school. (Teachers can bookmark it, but based on the phone and email requests I get, I'm pretty sure no one has.)
Because it's not used, I'm not very motivated to work on the site. Because the site has limited use, it's not used. It's a Catch-22. I think I could use the library blog site to be the library website adding pages to it, but that probably involves negotiations with the district technology department to figure out how to make that work. At least it is a relatively easy address to remember.

As a district we applied for the Improving Literacy through School Libraries grant. Technology and technology training is a significant portion of that proposal. Some of the things that teachers said they wanted to learn more about are PowerLibrary (our state-provided online databases), pod/vodcasts, wikis and blogs. I will probably be involved in providing some of those trainings, so participating in SLL2.0 has helped to prepare me for that--but I'll certainly need additional work to provide the best possible training. I've signed up for some training at our state conference and I'll probably do some additional self-discovery and learning to supplement what I've learned from the CSLA program.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this to any teacher, administrator or librarian who wants to learn more about web 2.0 tools. Thank you to CSLA for making it available to anyone! I was supposed to have a partner working on the tutorials with me, someone from LM_NET, but she ended up not posting much after her initial few posts and the emails that I've sent to her asking if she needed help or support have gone unanswered, so I'm not sure what happened to make her abandon the tutorials. We're also supposed to discuss a book we were planning to read together, but I suspect that will go by the wayside as well. I hope it does not impact my evaluation because she hasn't followed through.

A few weeks ago, I found reference to the next 23 things (Library 2.1) from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library and I believe I will continue my learning by doing those things as I have time.

Monday, April 07, 2008

#22 eBooks and eAudioBooks

One of my favorite sources of eBooks is available through our public library. Tumblebooks are children's books that are read to you/your child. This is one of my son's favorite things to do on the web and is often part of our bedtime routine. They're set up so that they read the book for you, but you can also use them to develop your reading skills by reading them yourself--we're not to that point yet, so I don't have much experience there, but I know that we've read many books that we might not have found on the shelves of our library because of our access to Tumblebooks. One of my favorite authors, Robert Munsch has several books there and AJ has loved reading all sorts of different books on this site.

Project Gutenberg
is probably the most famous of free online eBook providers, but I didn't realize just how many free eBook providers there were--World eBook Fair has links to sites in all sorts of content areas and includes numerous government documents. Due to our district's participation in AccessPA, we've got access to over 3000 free eBooks through NetLibrary and also to those our local public library has purchased for their patrons. The most aggravating thing about NetLibrary is books are opened one page at a time and it's very time consuming to "read" an eBook. It would be useful though for research and books can be searched for specific content.

Audio eBooks are available for purchase through several sources. We've had a subscription to Audible off and on over the past 5 years and this is definitely my husbands preferred way to read. My public library also provides access to recorded books, although we were disappointed to find that iPods are not compatible with their provider, OverDrive because of DRM (digital rights management) issues. Had we known that audiobooks were available through the public library before we bought our iPods, we might have made a different choice.

#21 Podcasts

I've listened to podcasts from NPR and The Onion for a few years now. I've listened to some educational podcasts and Voice Threads and have a VT account. I like being able to use iTunes to subscribe to updated podcasts.

The best podcast I found in my recent searching is Joyce Valenza's 21st Century Librarian's Manifesto. It's got an accompanying wiki for people to edit and add their thoughts and vision.

I would really like to encourage my students to do some podcast-based booktalks or book reviews. At this point, I don't really have a teacher who will work with me but I'm working on that for the coming school year. I know that if we get them started it will open a whole new aspect to my library program and engaging learners in the use of various web2.0 tools. I'm hoping to learn more about podcasting at PSLA's annual conference in May.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Blogging from Zoho

I am trying out publishing to my blog from ZohoWriter.

Monday, March 31, 2008

#20 YouTube

YouTube and TeacherTube are both blocked by Bess our webfilter so I am not able to complete this portion at work. I did spend about an hour tonight looking through the recommended videos on YouTube; I particularly enjoyed The March of the Librarians a parody of The March of the Penguins. I decided to see if I could find a good demonstration of boolean search and found this:

I think it will be useful in explaining effective web searching techniques to students.

I would love to have students do audio or video book reviews and add them to our book discussion blog. I'm working with our Literature and Media teacher to see if this is something we can collaborate on in the future.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

#19 LibraryThing

I've seen LibraryThing before and actually thought I'd created an account, but I guess I was mistaken. I do have an account with GoodReads. It's pretty amusing to me that they're selling the CueCat that you used to be able to get for free from RadioShack. The price is decent though, compared to my school barcode readers--I wonder if it's compatible with Destiny! I love that it will display a book cover and is integrated with Amazon and Library of Congress.

One thing I like about GoodReads (and LibraryThing may have the same functionality, I just didn't notice it) is that if you're willing to give up your book to someone who wants to read that, you can indicated it on your list. If you don't covet books and you're willing to give up what you've got, GoodReads might be better for you. I think it's a cross between LibraryThing and BookCrossing.

#18 Online productivity tools

Zoho Writer is still in beta, but I'm impressed with what I see so far! It's got modules for word processing, database, presentation, chat, organization, conferencing, and notetaking. I've run into kids who have problems transporting work from home to school and back again. First of all, this is FREE! Secondly, it's got functionality that would help kids to work around the problem of having PCs at home and access to Macs at school.

This would also be great for project work. I don't know how easy it is to track editing and see who did what, but if a teacher can log in and see that, it would really make grading group-work easy. I plan on enrolling in a distance education program and understand that we'll do group work--this seems like the best way to maintain that kind of work as well. I can see lots of possibilities here!

#17 Wiki on curriculum uses of web 2.0 applications

In perusing the California Curriculum Connections Wiki, I looked at suggested applications of social bookmarking tools. I followed a link to The Clever Sheep and found some great suggestions. I can really see applications for and ease of creating weblinks for coursework--whether it's me or a teacher doing it. This suggestion:
7] Teachers can invent unique tags for each of their classes using the subject or course code as a tag. Students could then access any site deemed worthy... anyplace, anytime! Tags for a grade 11 science course might be found in a place like this: Better yet, if a teacher shares a really unique tagging code like 'luciersci3u' then students could add bookmarks to their own accounts, and since you can search bookmarks by any and all users at once in the root of, students would be able to conveniently access the bookmarks made by any and all members of the class.
looks particularly useful to me. I think it's something I can recommend to colleagues and they can implement as they have time. I can begin to create links for class projects that happen annually and not have to use district server space to store the data!

I posted a link to my student book discussion blog Rockin' Reads in the Sandbox. Blogging was a colleague's professional goal this year and we've been working on encouraging students to use the blog. I hope I can get these kids to continue to use it in the coming years.

I was a little disappointed that people who are taking the course couldn't add to the Wiki itself--that seems like it would be the best way to use the wiki and would save people from having to visit all of the different blogs linked on the main SLL2.o page, but I can also understand wanting some editorial control of the wiki.

Editorial Note: On March 31, I got a comment from another participant correcting my misconception that I couldn't contribute to the California Curriculum Connections Wiki. Today I posted a link to our book discussion blog on the Blogs and Avatars page.

Friday, March 28, 2008

#16 Wikis

While visiting the Educators/Librarians Wiki, I found a webinar scheduled for April 8th on using wikis and getting staff and student buy-in. My district has applied for an Improving Literacy through School Libraries grant and we're hopeful that we'll be awarded the funds we're requesting. One of the things we really need to work on is expanding the access to technology within the district. Wikis are great for collaboration and building a resource--as long as you remember that it's only as good as its participants make it. The most famous of wikis, Wikipedia has been much-maligned. Even so, I admit that I do use it on occasion. :D I just hope that I'm as mindful of the possibility of something being hacked by someone as I want my students to be. I don't want them using only an encyclopedia for research either!

I could see students using a wiki to present the results of a class project (i.e. country reports, recipes, science fair resources). I can see educators using it as a tool for storing lesson plans and resources, sharing ideas with others and even collaborating with classrooms throughout the district and the world. I even think my neighbor who does an annual diversity calendar could use a wiki to create and flesh out his student products, with kids building on it from year to year.

Being an editorial control freak though would probably get the better of me if I were trying to participate in or manage a wiki myself. I want people to accept that my verbiage is the best or my design is the best (I learned that the hard way this spring when something I spent a lot of time on was changed but my name was left on it even though I would have sooner died than have someone think I did what was done in that instance.) The problem with collaboration is that there must be some agreement among the collaborators.

#15 Reflections on Web2.0 and its impact on education and libraries

One thing I would love to offer my patrons is IM reference service. I'm frequently on my laptop at home in the evenings. I'm willing to do what I can to help students. I would love to be helping them in this manner. The biggest drawback is that I'm not willing to make my children suffer for the sake of serving students. Therefore, anything I did would need to be after bedtime--that's not horrible, my kids go to bed early and most teenagers don't. I also don't want to feel like a slave to my lappy: I want to enjoy what I'm doing.

Our state currently participates in the (international) web-chat-reference service and our public library provides services too (AskHerePA). I wonder if it's worth my time to consider offering IM reference or if it would be too much duplication of service. I guess I can check with the public library and find out what their experience has been with use. I'll add that to my to do list for the coming weeks!

My district has been slow to adopt many things: our state started AccessPennsylvania in 1985, providing access to the collections of member libraries for everyone whose library was also a member. When I was in college, I borrowed books from my local public library over spring break and returned them 2 hours away in Lancaster where they were returned to my local library without me having to travel home or pay for postage to renew the items. This district did not join initially: the then-technology coordinator felt that as a large district we would loan more than we would borrow and it wouldn't be worth it to us. Sometime in the last 10 years, they did finally join in the project. For my school, this membership has been invaluable. Our small collection was outdated and in need of serious help. We are most definitely a net borrower, but I've been surprised by the number of books we do get asked to loan too.

With our current filtering system, it's highly unlikely I'd be able to offer services during the school day, but I would not mind offering something in the evening. I'll think on how this could be best implemented. I do know I'd want to have a way to log all chat so there is no question of impropriety. There's too many situations where teacher-student communication has resulted in legal issues for the teacher for me not to protect myself.

#14 Technorati and tagging

Apparently I signed up for a Technorati account in September, although I don't recall doing it. I've now claimed each of my blogs using the Technorati claim page and it seems to be regularly pinging them. I did have a problem claiming my blogger blog, but I filled out a support ticket last night and it was working when I checked this morning.

Using Technorati tags in a blog posts looks like more html work than it's worth but that's primarily since I don't expect to see much traffic to my site. Then again, I suppose if I used Technorati tags, I might get more traffic so maybe it's a chicken and egg thing.

I was surprised by how little I found by searching "school library learning2.0" and various permutations of it. It seems not many people are really blogging about it or at least they're not using tags that I would expect them to use. I think I ended up tagging most of my posts SLL2.0 so I tried that as well, but still there were few results (and I didn't find my own posts either.) I can definitely see value in using Technorati to find information on current events and opinion pieces. I don't see many of my co-workers using it on a regular basis though.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

#13 and social bookmarking

I don't recall when I signed up for but I'm so glad that I did! Like many people, my bookmarks easily become unwieldy because it seems there's always some new site I want to be able to find my way back to again. I attended a training a few years ago where I learned that I could make folders for my bookmarks and about the bookmarks toolbars and that knowledge changed my browsing life at that time. I didn't think it could get much better until I began using! One thing I learned from reading today was that I probably should be putting notes in with my links because I appreciated using others notes on sites they've bookmarked.

One site that I've found is really useful for all things web2.0 is Educause: they do brief one or two page "Seven things you should know about (fill in the blank)" which is a great way to learn about new tools--their brief on social bookmarking was done in 2005.

One of the things I'm happiest about with is that I was actually able to install the Firefox extension at work--so many things are blocked here including much local control over the desktop, but I was able to install without a network admin password, which is nice because it's nearly impossible to get someone to agree to do that kind of override.

Recently, my husband and I have been talking about moving closer to where we work. Along with that has come searching for homes and for floorplans on the off-chance that we decide that we can afford to build. While visiting my mom over the holiday I was able to log in to my bookmarks and show her our favorite with no problems locating the site or the plan.

#12 Rollyo customized search

I've looked over Rollyo and I guess there are ways it could be useful, but frankly, I'm not very impressed. The best possible use I could come up with for it didn't work. I was really hoping to be able to search both my school library catalog and our public library catalog at the same time but that didn't work. I would love if I could make it search multiple databases we subscribe to, but it doesn't seem to work for that either. I don't like that there are a bunch of advertisements in the results list: things like Google's search at least keeps sponsored links separate from the true results.

I even tried searching through other participants' blogs in hopes of finding someone who used it and liked it so I could figure out why I should like it too, but I didn't really find much positive feedback on it that way either. If you can tell me why you like it, please share!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

#11 Best of Web2.0: Craigslist

I decided to explore Craigslist a bit more. I live in the middle of my state and there aren't really any big cities nearby. There is not a local Craigslist, so I haven't ever really used it before. I've looked at it on occasion and in my explorations today, I did find that you can request that a new group be added so I created a profile and posted an add group request. Currently the closest group is about an hour from me either east, west or south. The town that is about 20 miles north of me probably could support a group, but as of yet, there is not one. I checked out the State College (Penn State) site and found that people from my area are also posting here, so it's probably a viable option, but certainly having one closer would be better, especially with the cost of gas right now!

I've got a child seat that I purchased for my daughter and which she's mostly outgrown, so I decided I'd post it. I'll be sure to update on how it works out. It'll be interesting to see if I find a taker.

The next 23 Things

Apparently, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library created a continuation of Library2.0 which they're calling Library2.1 and has an additional 23 tools to learn about. I think I'll probably try to continue onward once I've finished 11-23 here!

The link for those who are interested is here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

#10 Online Image Generators

I used Big Huge Labs fd flickrtoys to play around for a while today. I had wondered how to make a replacement image for my wordpress (AKA "other" blog) and found one of those as well as a few other cool tools.

I used to do yearbook advisor in my "spare" time in my first library job. It was more like my life it seemed at times. The class of 1997 had a great vision for what they wanted their yearbook to be. We met with an artist from our publisher and talked about it, but it never really ended up being what the editor-in-chief had in mind. He wanted something similar to Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints: fd flickertoys will do it. That cover came out okay, but it really just didn't measure up to Peter's lofty plan. This absolutely would have done it for him--and I bet there are schools using many of these tools for just that sort of thing. There are so many tools that would have made our lives much easier back then!

Other options that would be useful from this image generator are the poster, badge, magazine cover, mosaics, CD cover and movie poster makers. Some of these would be especially useful for a project my music teacher is planning with her students (involving research!) I will be sharing this with her for sure.

I tried to use the Comic Strip Generator and while the main page was accessible any of the links were blocked, so I can't use this from school without bypassing the filter. I prefer not to do it; the kids use vtunnel and some of my colleagues do too. I've got an administrator password, but it's not my own, so I'll skip testing this, at least from school. I am frequently disappointed by our lack of access to web resources due to overblocking.

Monday, March 10, 2008

# 9 Blog and news feeds

As I said, I've been reading blogs for a while now. I did add some education related and SLL2.o feeds though so I can see what other participants are doing in the course of this project

Christopher Harris'
s School Librarian SuprGlu page
Information Literacy Weblog
Experiencing E-Learning
Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Library Alive!
Page Space
Red Couch Reader TL2

I used Technorati, the SLL2.0 Blogroll, and "Discover" on Google Reader to add to my feeds. Library Mum, author of PageSpace has been reading and commenting on my blog, so that's how I selected her. I'll have to see who else I should add as things move along.

Friday, March 07, 2008

#8 RSS Readers

I've used Bloglines for about 2 years now to stay current on library and technology blogs, although I do find that I'm not keeping up with posts as frequently as I should as things get busier at school. I've also recently found several friends with feeds and it's nice to follow their blogs without having to remember to stop by and see what they're doing.

One of my biggest frustrations is bloggers who force you to come to their site to read posts. It is so much more convenient to read everything in one window. I stopped reading Joyce Valenza's posts on a regular basis when she gave up her personal blog to write for SLJ. I miss her insight, and I try to pop by SLJ every once in a while, but it's just a nuisance to have access to only a teaser. Pretty much any blogger that does that cuts down on the frequency of my reading. I guess I'm only hurting myself, but with limited time I have to make choices!

I use gmail for my primary email and it makes sense to add my feeds to Google Reader, so I decided to set up feeds there--it is definitely more user-friendly and easier to add feeds to than bloglines. I'll have to see how I like following my feeds with it.

My public Bloglines blogroll is accessible here.

#7 FlipVideo and RCA Small Wonder

School Library Journal has had reviews of the FlipVideo and the Small Wonder in the print issues this school year (September 2007, March 2008). Jeff Hastings, Test Drive columnist shows off the resulting video head-to-head on the SLJ site.

I haven't done much with video production, but I would love to see students doing vodcast book reviews. The cost of these two video cameras make it seem like I could use one to do just that. I know with the students I deal with, some don't want to go near a camera, but there are definitely some who are far from camera-shy! Last week, our PSEA Central Region COP was in-district taking pictures for a commercial we're co-producing with the EA, ESP and district. They popped by the library and Lucy wanted to photograph me with the kids. We faked me helping them on the computer (if I turn up a copy of the picture, I'll post it!) and by the third snap of the shutter, there were about 6 kids clustered around that computer, so there is some draw.

I have discussed the idea of pod/vodcast book reviews with our Lit-Media teacher, but we haven't done anything yet. I've got a growing list of ideas of ways to engage students.

Speaking of, this week for Read Across America, we hosted a "Read-a-Latte Cafe" in the library. Each morning anywhere from 15-30 students came to have breakfast and hear about a book or series. We found a different adult to lead discussion each day. The books were the Bluford High, Eragon, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Hatchet, and Shiloh series. I used NoveList to get a list of related or similar titles and made bookmarks with four covers (one from the original series and three from other authors) and then listed additional authors and/or titles at the bottom. They came out pretty good and the students seemed to want to collect them each day. I only found one left on the tables, so hopefully they'll even use them! We printed them on cardstock with SOAR reading strategies on the back.

Monday, January 28, 2008

#6 Flickr fun, mashups, and 3rd party sites

I did some fiddling with Flickr tonight and got this montage using the tag "schoollibrary" and I did some doodling with the tool at retrievr and found this adorable stuffed knitted doll. Now I just need to find the pattern she used! :D

I also used fd's flickrtools to create the "trading card" to the right. These are my kids and I always like to show them off. The trading card format is pretty cool. I can tell that my son would love to have something like this created and I may just do something with an existing picture to create custom valentines for his school swap this year. What a fun way to share a picture with family and friends.

As for a way to use this in my library, I can envision using this to create reader trading cards or blogger cards for the students who participate in our student book discussion blog. I imagine they could then be printed and given to the students as bookmarks or awards. I need to begin to think about ways to use my digital camera and promote my library. I wonder if something like this could be incorporated into our LSL grant proposal to help fund a printer, camera and card stock. There's always something more we can do to promote reading in our libraries--but would this truly motivate my students? More food for thought, as always!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Three Steps to Eliminating Teacher Technophobia

This article really got me thinking about what else I can do to help my faculty meet student needs in their classrooms. There was a time when I did collect weblinks and dutifully put them on webpages divided by subject area. Recently I’ve been in the habit of cutting and pasting useful links to the appropriate teachers and discarding my list. Perhaps I need to revise/revisit that thinking.

I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way we can work this into the library grant proposal we’re working on. We missed a meeting last week because of a snow day—but at this point I think it’s a good thing. I’ve been a brainstorming fool since that missed meeting: thinking of all of the things I’d do with that money if I were the king queen of the grant budget!

Some of the things I’ve sent off to be added to the list:

I personally would love to see adoption of and training district-wide on the Big6 problem solving (and research) model. There is a Little3 version for elementary level. Many districts and states have adopted the Big6 and connected it to their information literacy and technology curriculum. (from the Big6 website)
” What is the Big6™?
Developed by educators Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz, the Big6 is the most widely-known and widely-used approach to teaching information and technology skills in the world. The Big6 is an information and technology literacy model and curriculum, implemented in thousands of schools – K through higher education. Some people call the Big6 an information problem-solving strategy because with the Big6, students are able to handle any problem, assignment, decision or task.”

I’d also like to see an integrated information literacy curriculum and standards adopted by the Board so that teachers are compelled to work with librarians rather than using only the computer lab for research. West Chester School District was recognized by the state recently for their program. There may be other programs closer that are exemplary as well, but this is one I read about this fall.

Reading Renaissance training for any teacher where Accelerated Reader is used would probably be beneficial so that the program is implemented uniformly across the district.

Toni Buzzeo does workshops on Collaborating to Meet Standards and has written books for both primary and secondary level teachers.

For me personally, I’d like more detailed training on how I can assist with assessments and help to identify skills that I can work with teachers and students to ensure that students are meeting assessment anchors and achieving. PSLA (PA School Librarians Association) has developed a multi-year training on assessment and the librarian’s role in assessment. I’ve attended two presentations and I expect this topic will be addressed at the PSLA conference in the spring.

One of our language arts teachers has been requesting that all teachers in our building learn about the various resources in PowerLibrary (already on the list below) so that they know what is available to them to support the curriculum and to their students. In the middle of typing this email, I spent 20 minutes with a student who was having problems finding high-quality photos for a project for music class. We used the AP Multimedia Photo Archive and he was really pleased with the resulting photos. “Man, that is awesome! What was the name of that site again? I’m gonna keep using it.” It’s great when kids realize that the Deep Web is better than the free web!

Those are my thoughts at this point. I’ll keep thinking.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

#5 Empty, empty shelves

These are some of my fiction stacks. (H-Z to be exact.) Yes, they are dreadfully empty. Both the top and bottom shelves are always empty. The last two sections of shelving are completely empty. I’ve spoken with someone about creating some decorative banners to go above the fiction, non-fiction, and reference stacks as well as ones for the circulation desk and book return cart.

We had a meeting yesterday about the library budget and I’m optimistic that we’ll get some additional funding. We were armed with statistics about the number of books per student and the average age of the collection. I hope that the board will be receptive to expanding the per student expenditure—which is currently $7.24. I’ve been somewhat fortunate because of my aggressive weeding, it’s been clear to the superintendent and business manager that the library needed some added funds, so they’ve been working with me and adding some extra money to my budget to help recoup some of the loss to the size of my collection.

I’ve been using Flickr for personal photos for about two years now, I think. In September, I upgraded to a paid account so that I can upload an unlimited amount of pictures and have an unlimited number of photo sets. One really neat thing that you can do with Flickr is to make notes about a photo right on it. I’ve joined a few groups: a “swaparooni” group (color-based gift swaps), a free knitting patterns group, and with this Flickr exercise, I learned about the libraries and librarians group and added my library pictures to that group.