Monday, January 28, 2008

Library2Play - Thing 17

I'm not sure why I'm doing Thing #17, in the Library2Play series except that it's under Thing #16. I really ought to go and do Thing #8 which is next on the list. I guess it's because Thing 17 is also about Wikis and they have been much on my mind lately. I've started the Salad Guy Wiki at school (sure wish he'd updated it today - I wanted to order lunch!) and My Beloved is now using a Wiki to plan her next group golf trip. My orderly Virgo mind wants to totally finish the section on Wikis before back tracking to another thing.

So, on to Thing 17, The Sandbox. Not sure how it differs from a Wiki, except you don't need to register to play - all you need is the secret handshake - make that the password.

I've already added many comments as to what I want in the new libraries the district is planning to build - along with all the new schools the district is also planning to construct. I hope they listen to The Librarian Philospher. The last time the district went on an expansion binge they used with the cookie cutter plan. They built 4 identical schools, all of which have the same identical design flaws, many of which can be found in the 4 identical libraries. Libraries need doors and walls. Glass walls are fine, in fact better than brick walls, but some kind of walls. And a door. That closes. However, I digress.

I really ought to start a Library Wiki since I'm supposed to have a library web page and don't. Heck, my school doesn't even have a current web page. There isn't anyone to do it. I suspect that most of the schools that have updated web pages have them because some staff member undertakes it as a labor of love. In education Labors of Love are done at home, on ones own time.

I suspect we'd do more to keep our page current if our students & their parents had computers. Actually, many of them have a computer, it's the internet they don't have. That requires a landline and our population lives in cell phone (the pre-paid, no deposit required) world.

However, should a teacher want to creat a class "Home Page" a Wiki would be an excellent place to begin.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Houston We Have....


Permission slips were turned in and the Internet cooperated. I had fun, the kids had fun and blogs were created. Some are better than others, some need some editing but we'll get the kinks worked out in the weeks to come.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Foiled Again!

The Blogging Club meet today for the second time. We managed to open up but then the Internet failed us. We ate brownies and opened up Word and brainstormed the names of some potential blogs.

The one problem with a blogging class is that when the internet goes down it is very difficult to blog!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Library2Play - Thing #16 Wikis

I'm being most Un-Virgo. Virgos always do things in order but I'm jumping from Thing 7 to Thing 16. It's all about Wikis and I created my first Wiki last week.

Lunch in an elementary school library is always a grim affair for the adults. Unlike the high schools there are few choices - you can have the tray lunch, a salad or a baked potato or packing your own. The contents of the tray lunch are often more influenced by farm subsidies and government surplus than Gourmet Magazine. Toss in the fact that most teachers have 25 minutes to eat on a good day and you have a sad situation indeed.

Our new Assistant Principal knew of a budding entrepreneur , The Salad Guy who delivered tasty and healthy salads to the local schools. She put together a few orders but really didn't have time to add this to her daily duties. E-mailing The Salad Guy wasn't satisfactory since the district firewalls has a very bad habit of eating e-mails. So I played around with Wetpaint and set up a Wiki so everyone could order their own lunch.

So far so good - it seems that teachers, just like children will work for food!

I'm now dropping hints that Wikis are a great way for the kids to write and research. They could even post their notes to the Wiki, thus ending the perenial problem of losing their note cards or leaving their project at home. They could also create a Wiki as their finished product. Anything would be an improvement over the tri-folds on which are slapped some pages printed of a web site. Be interesting to see if anyone expands from lunch to research!

First Forays Into Blogging

I’ve wanted to teach a blogging class for our After School Program for quite some time. I’m convinced that blogging helps kids be better writers - I now it’s improved mine.

First hurdle: The district blocked all blogs. Thanks to the efforts of The Librarian Philosopher, Blogger (and some other Web 2.0 resources) are now open.

Second hurdle: Educating the ASP teachers about what a Blog is (and isn’t)

Third hurdle: Getting on the schedule (ASP isn’t always organized)

Two years later I finally got the go-head. The wheels of education turn very, very slowly sometimes.

The first classes meet last week. Of course we couldn’t blog. First there was paperwork to fill out and permission slips to hand out. The district treats anything having to do with the internet very, very seriously.

I explained what a blog was – most of the kids weren’t to sure & showed them some sample blogs. One of the 4th graders wasn’t to sure he wanted to blog – he wanted to go to “technology” which I gather is a computer free for all. I think, that by the end of the hour I’d convinced him to give it a try. Fourth graders take the Writing TAKS test & need all the writing practice they can get.

Next week I’m going to use the Blogging Tips posted on Library2Play and everyone will set up their first blog. That is if the internet is working and the creeks don’t rise.

A couple of the kids turned their permission slips in the very next morning which is a very good sign indeed!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Note to Self...

Remember to put the filter basket in the coffee pot before grinding the beans......

Oh well..... the kitchen floor needed mopping anyway and the counters were overdue for a whipe down....

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Thing #7 Google

How did we manage pre- Google? It's my search engine of choice and if it's not on Google well then it doesn't exist! I use it at work, for my book business and to satisfy my personal curiosity. Sooner or later they will organize the world and by doing that rule said world. They can't possibly do a worst job than the current world rulers are doing.

The requirements for Thing #7 are to further explore Google. I drive a couple of my gifted and talented kids home twice a week and they are fascinated by my GPS so I think they would adore Google Earth. I googled ways to use it in the classroom and found some ideas but I need to adapt them for first and second graders. I'm still noodling on that one. Most of what's out there assumes the student knows how to read. Not so when working with a bi-lingual 1st graders.
Even if they are Gifted and Talented.

I discovered Google has a new toolbar - currently residing proudly atop the computer currently in my lap. Langniappe!

I've played around with the Yahoo Calendar in the past, which is similar to the Google Calendar. It doesn't fit my lifestyle. My Beloved & I communicate via Outlook meeting requests. I'm not sure what that says about our relationship. Either Caldendar site would be very useful for a classroom teacher who didn't have a class webpage or blog. Great way to communicate with parents and keep them abreast of homework assignments.

I have a an iGoogle page which I never use - well I did use it but found myself clicking directly to E-bay so made E-bay my home page instead. Actually, I live and die by the links on the top of my toolbar. That and the latest version of Internet Explorer; which allows me to keep multiple pages separated by tabs. Virgos love file folders with tab since they are tools we can use to ORGANIZE things. Virgos live to organize (must be why I'm a librarian).

Google owns Blogger and I've had a blog since 2004 so I've played around with Picasa. Pictures make any blog more interesting. Same goes for books. There's Flickr, there is Picasa, there is Snapfish - just pick one and make it yours. 'nuff said.

However, I didn't know about Google Notebook. That is one very handy little tool. I write an occasional article for Bookthink. Normally I open up Word & cut n' paste my findings but Google Notebook is much handier. I'll give it a whirl as I explore for ways to use Google Earth with my curious 6 year olds.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Library2Play Thing 6

Tomorrow it's back to work so I tackled Thing #6 - it might be some time before I get around to Things #7 - #23. The first week with kids after the break is always a shock.

I digress so back to the topic at hand. I'm a wordsmith and not a graphics artist. I'm not one to spend hours in Photoshop getting the picture to be "just right". I'm much more likely to compose a piece of prose and then find a picture on Google Images and leave it at that. My iPhone still has the original wallpaper and it's doubtful I'll ever change it nor do I change the wallpaper on my personal computer. I don't decorate my house and I don't decorate my computers!

Thing #6 didn't ring my chimes though I can see where kids, who primarily visual will adore making Trading cards and posting pictures on Mappr. An innovative Language Arts teacher could have her students make a Trading Card for the characters in a novel. An equally innovative Social Studies teacher could use Mappr for an interesting twist on the standard "trace the route of Lewis & Clark" assignment or even on that old chestnut - the state report.

Creating a Trading card was easy and I know I'm going to use it with PGP kids. Nice twist on the "about me" assignments.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Library2Play - Thing 5

Flickr is the topic of Thing #5. I'd heard about it, but hadn't used it - mostly due to inertia on my own part. I've always used Snapfish my own picture host. Sometimes I am indeed an old dog. Tonight, with the cold weather making my knees ache I'm feeling like very old dog indeed.

I'm the defacto photographer at school - not because I'm talented but because I always have a digital camera on my belt. A working digital camera with fresh batteries. I'd been posting pictures on Snapfish but Flickr appears to be a better tool. It would have greatly simplified last December's Science Fair Project.

I created a group - of course I'm the administrator - I do so love being in charge- and I'll start posting school pictures to it. Since many of them are of the students it's an "by invitation" only group. Seems a prudent thing to do.

One of my Christmas presents is a Digital Picture Frame and I'm going to load it up and take it to school. The kids adore looking at pictures of themselves. It will be a fun addition to the 5 Lava Lamps that now adorn the library.

Library2Play - Thing 3 & Thing 4

The assignment for Things 3 & 4 is to set up one's own Blog and register it. I just decided to use the one I already had. I've been very lax about posting to it so the last thing I need is two neglected blogs. One is plenty.

I created an Avatar - she's over on the left. That was rather fun! Now I"m going to have to keep her updated. Setting her into my sidebar was rather interesting since I don't use one of the standard blogger templates. I had mine "skinned" a couple of years ago- I never do like being like everybody else. Julie, whom I meet in the blogsphere did as one of her first commissions.

I think I'm going to teach blogging to some of our 4th and 5th graders and I'm going to use the blogging PowerPoint as my introduction. No reason to remake a new wheel! I think they will love creating their own Avatars. Chances are they will teach me a thing or two along the way.

Library2Play - Thing 1 & Thing 2

Our Director of Library Services and his 2 cohorts in crime are always coming up with ways to keep their minions on their toes and constantly learning and growing. They have designed a Cyber Class in Web 2.0 and are "encouraging " all of us to join them on the journey of discovery (or frustration, depending on one's opinion of technology). It's entitled Libray2Play and consists of some 23 tasks - or things. Calling them "Things" brings to mind Thing 1 & Thing 2.

Come to think of it, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are rather apt metaphors for computers and technology. Both can get into the most interesting sorts of mischief.

Seems rather apt for the subject of my first post of 2008 to be on learning something new and different.