Monday, March 23, 2009

Thing 32: Google Maps and My Maps

View Larger Map

Here is my first try at creating a My Map in Google Maps. I plan to add some pictures of scenic parts of my walk later. I'll take my camera along on my next walk.

One really nice feature is that it tracks the distance. I have often wondered how far I was walking.

I can see a number of applications for students for this one. The 6th graders plan a Minnesota trip each year. It would be nice if they could make a map of their trip and include pictures of the parks and restaurants that they plan to visit.

Another use would be to make a map of a book. The new 39 Clues books would seem to be great candidates for this tool.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thing 31: More Thoughts on Twitter

Unshelved is talking about Twitter this week. It pretty much talks about my feelings on the topic. I am as baffled as the woman in the cow print.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thing 30. More Ways to Use RSS and Delicious


I use Bloglines as my RSS aggregator. I have a widget for it in my iGoogle home page and check it every day. I have divided my feeds into categories -- 23 things on a Stick (for blogs of others doing the 23 things), book reviews, adult authors, YA Lit, Kidlitosphere, Work, and People I Know. I have 99 feeds. Some days I just skim the new posts. Other days I have time read carefully.


The only feature I have used so far is the bookmarking and tagging my bookmarks. I did spend some time today cleaning up my tags to make them more uniform. The main problem I see with social tagging is the lack of consistency. Without a controlled vocabulary, ten people can tag the same site ten ways at least. How can you search? I have trouble finding my own bookmarks sometimes because I don't remember how I tagged them.

I added a badge to my blog to let people know I use Delicious. I have taught other staff members and sixth graders about it. Delicious is very valuable for anyone who doesn't always use the same computer.

Thing 27: Twitter

I still don't get it! Why would anyone want to Twitter? Yes, twittering is everywhere. Heard it on the news. Saw it in the Senate Chambers. However, when senators are doing it during a Presidential speech, twittering has gone too far.

I read the materials. I watched the videos. I even saw someone's powerpoint presentation. I still can't see the value here. I don't care what person X is doing right now. I don't have time to sit at my computer and read frequent trivial messages.

The Best Tweets Include:

Recommended links.
Images and videos to share.
Something worth replying to and having a conversation over. ( see How to Use Replies above)
Something worth retweeting. (Avoiding 1-sided conversations)
Announcements about upcoming events.
Valid sources of information.

I don't think that any of the items on the list above from the Thing description are necessarily of immediate interest or importance. Finding out in a blog or an email would almost certainly be just as useful.

I don't have a cell phone mainly because I don't want to be in constant contact with anyone.

Call me a Luddite -- but this Thing really baffles me!

Thing 29: Google Tools

I created a Google Alert to find out when anything new is said about one of my favorite authors. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how it works. I can see how this could be useful for many topics. One problem with using this with my students is that many of them do not have email accounts and we actively discourage students from checking their emails at school.

My email is gmail and I use it extensively. I just wish it would let me sort messages. I get emails from mailing lists. Each email is numbered. I would like to be able to read them in order from the top of the list down but have to read them from the bottom up. This is really just a minor annoyance. I love the ability to set up filters and to label ane keep messages in folders.

I also keep my personal and work calendars on Google Calendar. I have heard of some teachers who use Google calendars for their lesson plans. I haven't gotten that detailed and don't plan to either. I have my Google Calendar as a widget on my iGoogle home page. It is very useful as I space out on what I'm doing and where I'm going rather frequently.

From the For the Curious section, I use the downloadable Google Toolbar on the computers in the Elementary computer lab. I like the convenience of it when working with students. We frequently use the drop down menu to get to images when we are searching for pictures. Third and fourth graders do this to find pictures to illustrate projects for me.