Thursday, October 25, 2007

371.33 Blogging Class: Good Discussion and Some Fun Too!

We had another after school session on blogging today! Several teachers who have previously attended some other professional development opportunities joined a librarian and a "friend of the libraries" support employee.

The participants were excited about blogging. Great questions about the format of a blog and how to find them. Their comments included:
"We are being brought into the 21st century."
"It is an exciting way for knowledge to be disseminated."
"Can't wait to design our own blogs!"

We also talked about Google Reader as a way to monitor blogs and other web pages without having to check each site individually...or to use to introduce one's self to new ideas monitoring someone else's Google Reader.

Unfortunately, they did experience some of the downside of Web 2.0 technology...a few sites were blocked and TeacherTube videos were buffering...both effects of things going on inside our district. But these little bumps did not seem to dampen their overall enthusiasm for the activity.

FYI: Other blogging class posts 1 2 3

P.S. Can someone please explain to me why all of my photos that I post appear so dark on district computers, but just fine at home or other out-the-district locations?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

028.5 Author Visit: Bringing a Bluebonnet to Life

Several schools in my sphere of influence enjoyed a visit from Obert Skye, author of one of this year's Bluebonnet nominees, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo.

The book is a fantasy of the adventures of an Oklahoma kid named Leven and a neglected girl known as Winter Frore as they travel to the magical land of Foo.
Part of the author's message included what he called secrets... Have Courage - Think Big - Be Great.

He talked a lot about the writing process and especially the concept of brainstorming that one librarian reported was so important to the teachers present...they had been working on that very thing in class and how great to have it emphasized by the popular author. He also talked to the students about writing a draft and then improving on it.
Not even surprise visitors (plastic cockroaches!) could take the students attention away!

There was plenty of other fun, too...Skye held a game show and the students enthusiastically answered all of the questions correctly...they new the details of the story!...and won coveted T-shirts, etc. He signed books...personal copies and library copies, too. Some students enjoyed themselves so much, they wre making plans to visit the bookstore where he was appearing Friday night!

743.42 Ultimate Flash Face: A Cross Between Police Sketch Artist & Etch-A-Sketch Fun

This is just too much fun...and your creations can be saved, printed, emailed...

I sure hope it opens in the district!

And if you want to try your hand at the online version of the traditional Etch-A-Sketch, draw away! (arrow keys make the difference)

363.7 Environment Resources: Blog Action Day Follow-up

Bunches and bunches more resources about environmental issues that were promoted last Monday on Blog Action Day including The Nature Writers of Texas, a blog of " best nature writing from the newspaper, magazine, blog and book authors of the Lone Star State . . ." Not a visually-rich blog but lots of info about songbirds, horny toads, egrets, bats, woodpeckers, frogs, skunks, butterflies...the list goes on and on!

If you want even more environmental resources blogs, check out this list of about 13,000 results of a blog search of "Blog Action Day!" And some people question the power of the blogging world...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

004.67 Student Participation on the Web

Please note that I did a little rearranging of the links on my blogroll. I have now pulled the samples of student responses together under the heading "Student Participation."

I currently do not have wiki examples, but will!

I welcome any additions that show the kinds of things students are doing out there. I know there so many more great examples that are behind the walls we collectively find necessary to use in order to get the privilege of having students participate...some day, those efforts will be available freely. I have faith!

004.67 More Evidence of the Power of Web 2.0 and the Students Who "Live" It

Bringing you a couple more YouTube videos from the same director ( Michael Wesch) and his students who brought the immensely popular The Machine Is Us/ing Us awhile back.

A Vision of Students Today has been making the rounds of some of the blogs I follow...a series of statements from a college class put together to give you a picture of the "average" college student. The statement that jumped out at me..."I will read 8 books this year" followed by "I will read 2300 web pages" and "128 Facebook profiles." Some commentors at the site find the statistics depressing (or worse, stupid)...I find them intriguing and perfect evidence in understanding why the way we teach,and present info to assist students in learning MUST change!
Yes, I know the video is unavailable at school, but do yourself a favor and check it out away from school or let me give you the downloaded file! Read about the statistic details and background.

Another Michael Wesch video that I came across while looking at the one above is Information Revolution...another presentation on how information storage and retrieval has changed. Makes the "cataloger" side of my brain a tad nervous in some respects, because I don't totally agree with the theme that information no longer needs to "organized"! I simply think the organization format has changed!
Anyway, it is worth a look if you are still struggling with understanding the Web 2.0 changes or are having trouble convincing others of the value of the changes.
[Personal note: I loved the cataloged card marked up with black marker! Brought back wonderful memories! :-)--ha, bet I have hooked a couple of you into looking for this little detail.]

In doing my blog reading this week, one of best statements I have come across since I started this adventure was featured by David Warlick at 2¢ Worth...he got it from one of the participants at the K-12 Online Conference.

A kid the other day said to me that he hates the term Web 2.0…makes sense, it’s
1.0 to him!
It makes sense that our students don't understand the hubbub about of the technology and 2.0 stuff..they don't know anything else! We tend to show our age the more concerned we are about it all...the kids don't. It's life as they know it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

006.7 Blogging: Things to Think About (and Not Necessarily Just About Blogging)

Michael Stephen at Tame the Web pointed to this:
The 4 Cs of Blogging, prepared byDavid Armano over at Logic + Emotion, a good post for analyzing what it takes to make a good blog.

The 4 Cs are Community, Content, Clarity, and Consistency...Armano has expanded a previous post about these tenets.

After reviewing the points, I realized they would work for any type of communication...good things to think about, but especially about making blogging efforts succesful.

Monday, October 15, 2007

363.7 Blog Action Day: Resources About the Environment

Today is Blog Action Day

( can't see the video inside the school district!)

I am doing my part by sharing some resources that can be used by students and teachers to learn more about the physical world in which we all live.

Environmental Kids Club
Kids F.A.C.E. (Kids For A Clean Environment)
PBSKids Zoom Help the Environment
EEK! (Environmental Education for Kids)
Project Environment: Kids in Action
Kids Earth 911

Coloring pages for very young children...alphabet lessons!

Booklists...many of these titles will be in our district collection.
BPL Nonfiction titles celebrating the Earth
BPL Picture Books

The Living Earth click on "Children's Environmental Books" and use the menu on the left

in the library catalog..use environment, energy sources, conservation, ecology...

And if I could make this a perfect environmental experience for me...I'd be in a little mountain village in a certain corner of the world looking down on one of the most beautiful desert vistas I know!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

011.625 Good Book Lists: In Honor of Teen Read Week

Teen Read Week October 14-20

Know you have some displays of good reads for are some lists with more title ideas to share with the teens who come to your library...or to use in collection development!

Duluth Public Library Funny books for Teens
YA Authors Cafe (reviews)
LOC National Book Festival Suggested Reads for Teens
Teri Lesne's YA Goddess
University of Texas Books R4 Teens
Contra County California Library StaffPicksWiki Books for Teens
National Book Award 2007 nominations
  • Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown & Company)
  • Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One(Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
  • M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
  • Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic Press)
  • Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown & Company)

P.S. Vote for next year's theme here.

023.8 TLA Distirct 8: Professional Development & a Little Social Networking!

The area TLA District 8 meeting was yesterday...around 275-300 members attended, I hear. It was a nice opportunity to learn and share information and visit with professional friends.

At the general session, among the welcomes including TLA president Steve Brown, we heard a little bit about the coming of Encyclopedia Britannica Online to all the school libraries as an addition of TexShare things we get as a result of the the recent legislation change. That is quite exciting!

The speaker for the general session was Rene Saldana, children's author and education professor at Texas Tech University (his blog). His new book is A Sky Full of Stars, a book about friendship. In his remarks, he shared with us some of his favorite books as a child. He spoke fondly of things like The Hardy Boys and admitted he liked Nancy Drew stories even more because of "one chick being able to do more than 2 guys" and he also loved the Little house books as well.

The most enduring moment for me was when he told us how he takes his 4-yr. old son to the public library only one a month because the child checks out 50+ books at a time (yea for that librarian/library) and that on the first day of "real" school, he intends to take his son FIRST to the library to meet the librarian before going to the classroom or filling out the "mountains of forms" required of parents!

If you would like to participate in a live chat with him about this book, go to at 8:00 pm CENTRAL time on Wednesday Oct. 17th.

Among the many sessions offered, I attended one on copy cataloging pointers and helpful sites. During the Q&A portion, I did find out the records from WorldCat are not downloadable as I was not my inability to make it work after all! But the info for many items including AV can be found. "Copy & paste" is still faster than original cataloging.

A colleague reported that in the session on transitioning from high school research to college research that bib cards are still required by many professors at her college (although she doesn't necessarily agree with that practice) and when asked how to help more traditional teachers understand there is NO difference between an article in print that is identical online, the speaker said "good luck and just keep plugging way one teacher at a time to make them understand and accept the online version!"
Then it came time for my presentation on blogging. The room was overflowing and VERY warm, but the audience was so gracious and enthusiastic and attentive...even when we discovered that virtually ALL of the blogs (including my own!!) were blocked. Yup...the firewall and the technology department got us right where it hurt...nothing got thru except for Library Stuff and some Teacher Tube videos. This was the pitiful situation despite the careful planning by the people in charge to obtain the list of websites, blogs, etc. that I needed unblocked well in advance of the date.

Thank goodness for PowerPoint...I had planned for this situation because it had happened before...not this badly, but before nevertheless, and screen shots are not as good as the "real" thing, but with the enthusiasm of the audience and the slide show, we had a great discussion on the power of blogging and the many things that you can do with it. And needless to say, we a had a very frank discussion on what we all have to do in order to make administrations and tech people understand that this type of situation can NOT continue. It is unfair to our students...the very reason we were all in that hot room on a beautiful Saturday morning!

HANDOUT for those who did not get a copy!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

028.6 Cybils Book Award for 2007 : Nominations are Open

Nominations for this year's Cybils are now open. It is a book award process that is completely done thru the online world. Anyone with an email address may make a nomination and then a group of bloggers narrows down the lists and eventually selects the winners.

This will be the second year for this award. Here is the list of last year's winners. Here are the finalists from each group. A printable list here with synopses included. Another BOOK SELECTION TOOL!

There are categories for children's and YA's titles:
Fantasy/Science Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-Fiction: Middle Grade
Young Adult Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction
Go to the blog to communicate with the various organizers for each of the categories.

If you want to see a book considered, send it in! It must have been published in 2007 and you may only submit one title per category. You have until November 21st.

004.716 Web Cams: Take a Look at the World

Over the last couple of weeks I have come across several web cam experiences while doing a little research and watching the boob tube. I tend to forget about web cam sites...there are hundreds now.

Thought you might like to see the ones that came up on my radar screen recently. They can sure be a help with animal studies, weather, and geography...and I know you can come up with all kinds of reasons to check them out and use them with your students and your own viewing pleasure!

This morning CBS Sunday Morning did a feature on The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Female elephants are brought here to live out their lives in groups, with "best friends," and plenty of acreage. They have both Asian and African elephants who were circus performers and zoo residents. Thoe oweners set up the cameras so that we could watch the animals, but not disturb them in this comfortable habitat. There is a series of lessons that you can use along with video footage.

The National Park Service has a series of web cams throughout its parks for a variety of reasons. The ones noted on this map also record weather statistics. Included is information on how to use the information in lessons about air pollution, acid rain, and ozone issues.

Additional web cams (without air quality info) include Yellowstone, Glacier, and Yosemite.

Around ten years ago, I discovered the africam series of web cams and they helped turn me into the internet junkie I can be at times. most of the cams are trained on water holes where you can watch a virtual parade of animals pass by.

On the same site are a couple cams in North America...the Bald Eagle cam and the Osprey cam.

Also included at this site is a cam of the pyramids in Egypt...not the most exciting cam site unless you are into sunsets BUT they have some things helpful to students and one is a visual comparion chart of how large things are in relation to the way to present point of view, big and little, or compare and contrast.

And take a look at this...a mashup of web cam photos and YouTube video technology! What a fun way to talk about Africa and its animals! There are more videos...check the blog here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

028.5 Get on Board for Reading: Si Puedo!

Last week I made a visit to a library in my sphere of influence where the librarian had a couple of his reading promotional "tools" up and running. He has an interest in model trains and a toy train (for a grandchild when it's not at school) that he shares with his students.

Last year the students "built"track and bridges for a model train based on how many books they read and other library activities. While I was visiting, some 5th graders had earned points for driving the train.

The art class even got into the act by painting the structure to look like a more realistic bridge.

The kindergartners were treated to the children's classic The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. As the "engineer" read the story, members of the class got to ride the rails and blow the whistle of the mini-marvel! The youngsters are the kings of the campus during this adventures because they are the only ones "small" enough to ride...and the older students stand around in awe...with a tiny amount of jealousy mixed in!

Since most of the children are beginners in English, the librarian and teacher used this story time to work on basic English vocabulary related to trains and travel and trying!

By the way, do you know the "history" of that particular book and its "author" Watty Piper? It came up in conversation that there are no other books written by that particular author...a kind of one-hit wonder. Actually it is a pseudonym used by the publisher of the 1954 version of a story that has several names and a history going back a 100 years.

Friday, October 5, 2007

371.33 Blogging Class At Region 4: Friday Afternoon Fun!

A wonderful group of teachers, librarians and other school people are spending the afternoon learning about blogs and wikis at the Regional Service Center.
After doing a little research on their own, their comments about the experience included:
Cool Cat Teacher: using blogs, wikis to help our teachers and our students do lots of things...has helpful ino on how-to
TeenLibrarian: urban fiction for teens..short stories about teens, comments about the books and stories
Just One More Book: used author list looking for particular authors especially for middle school...not too many choices, but idea of podcasts was intriguing.
Library of Congress: upcoming events, podcasts of different authors, events, blog
Nelson Central: looking at the different classes, very simple lessons about letters for very young children that she could use with her very young students
Kathy Schrock: downloading unitedstreaming onto i-pods...using the medium in a different format
Wiki thoughts:
One of the groups present was from a district where their teachers use wikis for a variety of things: online discussion, share information between teachers about subject areas, training, communication between team leaders, changes and edits of information,post response for homework on wiki page.
We did spend the last part of the time looking at how to create a blog and seeing how "ridiculously" easy it is!
Some other blogging "class" notes to review other thoughts...
and if you have any doubts about using technology with kids, review this post and watch the video (it wouldn't work for our class today so I am making it available for the students should they check here!)

Monday, October 1, 2007

005.369 Microsoft PowerPoint: A Way to Work with Screen shots

Library girl tagged me to do a visual meme... a screen shot of my desktop...and since I TRY really hard to make this a learning & informational blog...I completed the task and am giving you the directions how to use a PowerPoint slide as a work surface for any photo...screenshot or digital photo.

She gave great directions for taking the screen shot.
Paste the shot to a blank slide in PowerPoint. Use the "crop tool" from the Picture toolbar to cut away excess parts of the picture you don't want or need...of course I didn't cut a lot way on this one because it was the desktop!
Save the results in whatever format you need or want. Remember jpeg is a great general format for lots of uses.
That's it..easy as that!

O desktop...I LOVE this Microsoft has been around for a really long time and I put it on any computer that I can control the desktop. I try to keep the geranium uncovered (my attempt to keeping the desktop clean) and I use the glass window panes to park things I am working they documents, PPTs, or catalog records! and it reminds me a lot of a favorite part of the country that is a long way away from here and that I don't get to visit anymore...sort of a way to daydream and work at the same time.

And yes, you might notice my trashcan ...lower right homage to the many "happy" days I spent on MACs!

Ok, I guess I fulfilled the meme... I tag anyone who is interested!