Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thing 5: More Flickr Fun

L i_McElman_070716_2436 B R Letter A Subway Mosaic R III DSC01579.JPG

This one is fun. Here is Spell with Flickr I'm still working on any possible library application but maybe fun is enough.

I also took at look at the puzzles mashup. I can see some library applications for this one. Making puzzles of kids' artistic responses to a book could be a nice tool to share a book with others.

Generally speaking, I think sharing photos online is fine. Of course, we need to be careful (and have permission) to share any recognizable photos of students in our care. We are just dealing with this as we convert to a new program for creating our school's web site. Galleries are easy to create now but what should we do about photos of children? I'm pretty sure that we will post student's pictures (if parents have signed a release) but we will never identify any student by name.

I think that I would be hesitant to post and make public any photos to Flickr that actually had recognizable people of any age in them. I was surprised to check out some people's photos and find clear and labelled photos of the family. I'd not make those photos public.

This whole Flickr thing has made we want to go out and purchase a digital camera so that I can start doing some more "artsy" kinds of photos.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thing 4: Flickr

I began by watching this video "Online Photosharing in Plain English" at Common Craft. What a nice site. I expect I'll use it to watch other introductions. I explored Flickr and found a number of applications that I could use. I don't usually take photographs and don't own a digital camera. I learned my photography with a 35mm at Bemidji State one summer many years ago but haven't hauled out the camera in years. But some ideas that I could try include photographing displays for ideas and also photographing authors when I chance to meet them at meetings, etc. I have found that putting a face to a book helps make the book more interesting to my students.
The picture above was taken by someone who logs in as wmbooklover whose profile indicates that she is a school librarian from West Monroe, LA. By the way, it took me at least 40 minutes to figure out how to move a picture from Flickr to my blog. If there are clear directions, I couldn't find them. I'm not sure that the path I took of saving the picture to my computer and loading it from there was the most efficient. Choosing the Blog This button at Flickr led me round and round in circles.
When I can next get to school and have a digital camera to use, I am planning to try something like the picture from St. John's and St. Benedicts. Although I am not at all sure who my audience would be for that.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thing 3: RSS Feeds

Yay! I have found a 2.0 application that I already use. I have been using Bloglines for a couple of years. Right now, after adding some of the 23 Things on a Stick blogs, I am currently looking at 55 feeds.

It's easy to set up categories and keep up to date with new postings. I tend to visit bloglines at least once a day. My categoies are both personal and work related. I'm a reader. I read fiction, professional journals, magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, billboards, etc. I don't know how I discovered Bloglines but I bet I read about it somewhere.

I have been taking part in newsgroups for at least the last 13 years with LM_Net being the first. I still subscribe to some newsgroups that I get in my daily email. I suppose they led me to my first blogs (or perhaps it was a blurb at the end of a favorite author's book). I'm sure that the first blogs I discovered were blogs from my favorite authors or about my favorite genres. I used to just bookmark the blogs in my web browser. But then I had to visit each blog to see if they had added anything new.

It was only later that I added professional blogs to my agenda. I believe that I started with Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog. Looking at who he read led me to other blogs of interest. And their blogs led to still others and on and on. I started a new category for the Kidlitosphere and began reading blogs by people who were writing and writing about children's and adolescent literature.

For me, the most important aspect of blogs is the information. Second is the conversation. It is a chance to communicate with others who share my interests. I'm sure this would be adaptable to education. I even believe that some of the high school teachers I work with are already using blogs to communicate with their students and the parents of their students. I'm thinking that we could certainly try to set up blogs for our students to talk with each other about what they are reading. We could also do something like an Ask the Librarian. However, they can already ask the librarian face to face and in real time (at least when I am in the building).

Again the issue is control, the teachers I've talked with are concerned with having the ability to monitor comments and to approve them before they are posted. While this may limit conversation to some extent they feel and I agree that we have some responsibility as a public school to watch what we say and what our students say.

This is something to think about.

Now I'm on to Thing 4 but not today. Monday I spend the day learning to deescalate situations with volatile students and Tuesday the second semester starts with me seeing 13 different classes of students. I need to plan activities for two new grade levels -- Kindergarten and 5th grade -- and revamp activities for my first and second graders based on what worked the first semester. Oh, by the way, the district is rolling out a new web page on Monday with a new provider (rSchool) and I have to update my pages or create them as our old webpage allowed only 2 pages that had any flexibility.

That should fill up the rest of my Sunday. =)

Calling School Media Specialists

When I looked through the other blogs from my SELS region, I didn't note any other school media specialists. Am I alone here?

Thing 2: What Is Library 2.0?

OK. I've watched Stephen Abram's video. I've read the articles. I watched "Web 2.0
. . . The Machine Is Us/ing Us" by Michael Wesch. I read the articles from OCLC. And I have some comments.

Stephen Abram

I agree that we are experience-based learners (and so are my students). But as a teacher I feel the need to guide and shape the experiences for my students. I would like to have some control over what they are learning. "Unintended consequences" send a chill up my spine.

One phrase that resonated with me was "addicted to learning". This is something that I want for myself and I want for my students. I'm not sure how to addict my students.

In regard to his comment that everyone can find 15 minutes a day. His analogy to smoking doesn't hold up for me. You can smoke and do something else totally unrelated at the same time. I'm not at all sure that is true for learning. Also, I must be a slow learner. I know it took me more than an hour to compete Thing 1 (and I am sure I have barely tapped the potential.) I haven't any idea how to link a URL to text and I see it done all the time in blogs. I want to know. Oops! I just looked at the tools in this compose window and found out how. But that is an example. It takes more than 15 minutes to explore an application.

Rick Anderson
Away from the “icebergs”

I especially noted this quote: "We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need, so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning." That may be true in a college library -- but I am in a school library. Teaching the research process is my job and the job of my fellow teachers. It is part of MEMO's standards and it is part of the State of Minnesota's standards. Besides, you can't just tell a child to go out and research and expect them to come back with answers. They don't know where to begin or what to do.


Just generally, I see some problems with the Library 2.0 concept as it relates to my mission as a school media specialist. We have things like CIPA, filters, limited numbers of computers, limited bandwidth, and our school's acceptable use policy which states that our computers are to be used only for educational purposes. We block MySpace because it was such a time-sink for our students. Unbelievable as might be -- some of my students are not able to prioritize and decide that school work should be done before using the computer for fun. I know, my kids must be unusual and everyone else's kids are eager learners who always do their schoolwork first. ;)

Where will I find the time for this? I have high speed internet at home and will likely do most of it there. I began at work but the constant interruptions which are a normal and expected part of my job make it difficult for me to learn. I need a block of time when I can concentrate.

Thing 2 has taken a couple of hours not counting thinking time. Maybe Thing 3 will actually take Stephen Abram's 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thing 1: Set Up Your Own Blog

I thought participating in 23 Things on a Stick would be a good way to spend the depths of a Minnesota winter. I have heard the words (Fllickr etc.) for a lot of web 2.0 skills but the names are all I know.

So I began with the first task--creating a blog. Now, I have read lots of blogs. I began with discovering blogs for some of my favorite authors. then I found some blogs about the profession, then I branched out into blogs about children's literature and young adult literature. Now I look at about 20 on a fairly regular basis.

However, I have never before felt the least desire to commit one. Looking at a blank sheet of paper for the purpose of committing my thoughts to it brings on more a feeling of panic than pleasure. I know that I don't have anything profound to share and feel that the Internet already has enough useless information. Aren't there statistics out there about how many blogs there are and how many are updated on anything like a regular basis? I seem to remember that the first number is large and the second is small.

But this was task one, so
  • I visited blogger to begin.
  • As a gmail user, setting up an account was easy
  • Choosing a name for my Blog wasn't too bad either. Groucho's quote is one that I live by. If I find a t-shirt, I want it.
  • Finding a URL was something of a challenge until I hit the help and found out that hyphens in URLs were acceptable
  • Then came the avatar. I began to wonder if I were the demographic that they were designed for. I couldn't find any that accurately represented a plump, grey-haired, bespectacled 50-something. I suppose I could have chosen a warrior princess. But I'm not sure that I'm that ready to share my fantasies with the world!

So here I am -- tiptoeing out into the world of Web 2.0. Wish me luck.