Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let's Mush All Our Patrons

This YouTube video, entitled The Haunted Librarian is compliments of The Loopy Librarian, one of the blogs I found while immersed in Library2Play.

Thanks to Library2Play I now know how to embed videos into my blog.

Today was the "Laptop Rollout" - the day when every teacher got their very own laptop. Being teachers some spent the day turning mountains into molehills.

By the end of the day I would have happily substituted some of them for hapless patron in this video.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Library2Play Thing #23 - THE END

Hey, this is my 500th Blog Post - somehow that seems fitting.

It's 10:55 and I'm on Thing #23. I don't have to pull an all-nighter after all. Which is good, I don't think I can recover from an all nighter quite as quickly as I could 30 years ago! I bet there are several sleepy librarians at the meeting tomorrow afternoon!

Let's see, I did the survey - hope the results made it up - the server appears to be on overload. I think I'm not the only last minute librarian out there.

Questions, gotta answer the questions.........

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
Loved GoogleReader, Library Thing would be number one with a bullet if I'd let it. I already knew about blogs so I can't say I discovered them here but I love em'. Web 2.0 award sites - so many tools and gizmos and gadgets. . Wikis are great and everyone I show them too agrees. Both my blog and my desktop have lots of new widgets.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
Made it easy - gave me lots of new tools to explore and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them and getting to know them in dept.

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
How little I knew about Web 2.0 had to offer (yes Dr. B you get to say "I told you so!) and how very much I learned, despite having debuted a blog in 2004. .

What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Very overwhelming - lots of information to absorb. Of course, part of this is my own fault for doing half of the 23 things on the weekend before it was due. It's hard to squeeze it in during the regular work week.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
Yes, Yes, Yes!

How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
Learn to play with the Digital Natives.

Off to comment.........

Library2Play Thing # 21 PodCasts

I've been jumping and skipping around in Library2Play and I've left this one for last. It's deliberate.

I don't like podcasts. I am very much the visual and kinetic learner and can't keep my mind focused on a podcast long enough to absorb the information.

I'm a very fast reader and I can glean what I need in half the time it takes for me to master the skill orally. I do the bulk of my web surfing and on line learning sitting along side My Beloved while she watches TV (Sports R Us). Podcasts result in noise overload.

I adore Audio Books, as in books on CD but all my audio books are of books I've already read in print form. There is nothing better than an audio book to pass the time during a long car trip.

PhotoStory, on the other hand is a totally different story! Simple, fun and best of all EASY. I'm all for Easy, especially if it's something I'm thinking of doing with the G/T kids. They are going to adore this. Kids are such visual creatures. I'm also going to show this to our Science SIS - the kids can document their science projects next year and then import the pictures into Photostory.

Blogger is not being my friend tonight and refuses to upload my Photostory!
Will try again tomorrow. Because, as Scarlett says "Tomorrow is another day".

And tomorrow had will once again be another day...seems Blogger is still not my friend.
Once again channeling Scarlett......

Library2Play Thing # 12 Rollyo

Rollyo this is one slick discovery! I promptly created a "book prices" search engine. Now when I'm looking for comps I only need to type the title in once.

I've been more focused on personal use than school use this weekend - guess it's because I'm on Spring Break (which ends tomorrow - weep, weep).

Rollyo is made for school librarians and teachers. It's Google with limits or Yahoo with boundaries. Preselect the sites, create a Rollyo search engine and let the kids have at it.

Considering how poorly our students type and spell this will be a tremendous time saver.

Just as so many of the other Web 2.0 tools I've explored, Rollyo is very strong in political, news and celebrity searches. I had the option of adding an Angelina Jolie search to my home page. I should run a search - I might find out just who Anglina Jolie is!

I am amazed at how many tools have sprung up to tame the beast that is the World Wide Web.

Library2Play Thing #10 On Line Image Generators

I've always added graphics to my blog posts - I think they make a blog visually attractive and eye catching. However, I am by nature not an Image alterator. I hit google images, find an appropriate picture, D/L it, U/L and I'm done. When it goes to images I'm a " Wham, bamm, thank you ma'm" kind of girl.

I've been very good throughout this adventure but the end is almost here & I'm punchy so I couldn't resist!

My blogging kids are going to ADORE Cartoon Strip Generator. Best of all it doesn't require an e-mail address. I promise not to show them this cartoon! Whoo-Hoo it's only Sunday & I already have a lesson in place for my ASP group on Thursday!

I don' t think I'd better turn them loose with Custom Sign Generator - some of the sites look a bit risque. They will like Smiley Generator - much of the humor on that site appears to be aimed at 5th grader. .

Maybe these will take their mind off of "Scary videos" and "Funny videos". I can only hope.

Library2Play Thing #22 Nings

Oh My Goodness! I cruise on over to the Texas School Librarians Ning and who do I see staring back at me but my very favorite cataloger and award winning blogger!

I've read about Nings but they really must be seen to be understood. The Texas School Librarian Ning appears to be a mashup of youtube videos, a couple of wikis, assorted blogs, some forums, a few yahoo groups and LM_NET. It really is LM_NET with graphics and ads. I wonder if it's moderated as LM_NET is?

Of course I joined. Not that I need yet another Web distraction but I couldn't resist. I also found yet another blog to add to my google reader. Information overload, here I come!

Library2Play Thing #13 is fun - I imported all my own bookmarks. I now need to give some thought to setting up a school account and seeing if I can import the bookmarks. That site, while very useful can also be very, very, very slooooooooowwwww to load.

I discovered has a blog and via it I found a widget for my iphone.

One bit of Lagniappe from Library2Play are the Common Craft Guy videos. They have a knack for explaining the web for us ordinary folks. Of course I got distracted on their site and now I understand Twitter. I'm not sure I want to do it, but at least I can grasp it.

Saving bookmarks is duck soup - way more intuitive than doing so on IkeepBookmarks.

Delightful new toy!

Library2Play Thing #20 - You Tube & Teacher Tube pt.2

You Tube is blocked at school. My enterprising lunch bunch figured a way around the filters. They weren't being malicious or searching for porn, they just wanted to watch "scary videos" and "funny videos".

One thing typed "Funny Videos" into Google Search and they were off and running. They proudly showed me their results, most of which I thought were unbelievably stupid. I let it go for a couple of weeks and then gave them some alternative suggestions. Kids tend to do something over and over and over and over again till every adult around them is heartily sick of it.

TeacherTube isn't blocked (at least not now!) but when it comes to using the Web and streaming video as a teaching tool, I much prefer Discovery Education. I can D/L the videos in advance and I'm not caught unawares by an Internet shutdown or slow down.

Last year I learned that during March Madness the district Internet crawls to a standstill. This year I'm prepared!

Libary2Play Thing #20 You Tube & Teacher Tube

I'm in day 2 of my 48 Library2Play marathon (feel like I'm back in college again and wonder if an all nighter is in my future) I am very much over libraries and earnest statements about the future of libraries and education.

So, for Thing #20 - You Tube I explored American Apparel, the company my Web 2.0 daughter works work. An aside, the web is made for us hyperactive types with short attention spans! Bored with one topic? Just jump to another!

I don't think any of the You Tube American Apparel videos are ever going to make it past the school filters. I can certainly understand the appeal of the company to the Digital Immigrants. It's local, it's "Green", it's fashion and advertising bubbleing up from the bottom, as opposed to be imposed from the top. It's the clothing for the Web 2.0 pioneers. In fact I've seen the clothes in some of the videos I've watched for this project!

Library2Play Thing #18 -Beyond Microsoft Office

I took a look at Open Office - D/L it takes over an hour.

Do I want to tie up my computer for an hour to D/L a program I don't really need and don't have an incentive to learn?

No, not at the moment. Scuttlebutt says that the district may opt out of Microsoft in the future and go to Open Office as the platform of choice. When that happens I'll teach myself Open Office.

Google Docs is interesting - unlike my Dell PDA, my iphone does not come with a word processing program so I can see some future uses. That is, I can once I get used to typing with my thumbs. I'm still a "pointer"

The concept is downright radical - thumb your nose at the 500 lb Gorilla that is Microsoft and create something free that anyone can use. My 25 year old
web designer daughter says Microsoft is the devil and has as little to do with Windows products as possible. She's also a Web2.0 poster child.

The folks at
Technorati had the same idea -the people are the ones determining what is newsworthy, not the news media. Similar thought process with Wikipedia. No more expensive reference books, let the people create their own reference books.

Power to the People - the 1960s have returned!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Library2Play Thing #15 The Future of Libraries

I came of age in the pre-internet library. Back when I got my MLS it was in "Library Services" not, Information Technology. The changes have come fast and furious in the past 20 years and I can see them in the school library that I run.

I don't buy paper encyclopedias any more - I think it's been over 10 years since I last bought The World Book Gone too are the states books - no more Texas :The Lone Star State or Georgia: Peach Capital to the World. Miguel of Mexico and Christian of Denmark wended their way to the district auction years ago. I buy very few biographies (only on the folks that are a "TEK"). No more "Molly wants to be a Librarian" or "Joey Wants to be a Policeman".

Oddly, when I look at some of the other district libraries and talk to the sales reps I seem to be one of the few that's changed the acquisition policy to reflect the influence of the Web. Many of our libraries still proudly display the 2007 World Book and last month a rep tried to talk me into buying a 50 volume states of America series by telling me a couple of my fellow librarians just purchased it. "Good" I told him, I'll borrow their copies should I ever need them".

The bulk of my non fiction buying falls within the Dewey 500s - the sciences. Kids still want books on dinosaurs, sharks and lions and tigers and bears. There isn't any reason to buy what I once did - all the information the kids need is out there on the net - either for free or in our databases. Long, long ago there great stress was placed on having a "well balanced" collection and having "information on everything'. My collection isn't well balanced at all - in fact it's lopsided. If a sudden need arises for information on a topic that I don't have in book form chances are I'll find more than anyone could ever need on the web.

Thanks to Harry Potter my fiction collection is larger than it's ever been - and it's strong on fantasy and on the series books. Kids still read for pleasure - mostly humorous school stories and fantasy. I know my choices are sound - our reading scores are high as is our ciruclation and I'm constantly lending fiction books to other libraries in my district.

The Houston Public Library is almost finished with a major remodel - within the next month they will unveil the library of the future. I worked in the old buidling back in the early 1980s, and it will be intersting to see the changes.

I'm getting a new library too. My 50+ year old school is one of the schools that is being totally replaced - the infrastructure in the old building is falling apart. As part of this we're getting brand new libraries - 21st century libraries. I want lots of laptops and I want it all wireless. I think I'll have less book shelves and more space for kids to gather and collaborate and cluster around a computer.

I won't be around to much longer once it's built,up and running - at least I hope won't but it's very exciting to be in on the design phase. We do indeed live in interesting times.

Library2Play Thing #14 Technorati

I'm glad one of the "things" is all about Technorati, being it's a "thing" I've meant to take a look at, yet never gotten around to doing so. Actually, I did look at it once - seems I have a sign on (created in August of 2007 that still works but I never followed through. So I'm back for a second look. I did discover that my blog automatically "pings" Tecnorati so I've active with them, even though I thought I wasn't.

The Blogsphere appears to be obsessed with politics and celebrities. Actually, these days they are often one and the same. I'm not especially interested in either. . When I flip through People in the grocery store checkout line I have no clue why the People in People are deemed worthy of being in People. I do know who is running for President, but I'm not and never have been a political animal. I think the insurance industry, the defense contractors and the litigation lawyers are the ones who are really running the country. Once again I am marching to a different drummer. The story of my life.

Tags - I'm supposed to muse on Tags. I'm always forgetting to tag my own posts and given how few hits I found when I searched "tags" for "School Library 2.0" it's safe to say I'm not the only one. I like the idea of tags but the librarian in me wants some sort of standardization. And that is why I suspect subject or phrase searches yield ever so many more hits than tag searches do.

Ways to use Tecnorati in a school setting? Not sure on that one, though it's a wonderful tool for tracking pop culture and the popular thought. Interesting addition to the required reading list for a high school politics and government class. Personally, I'll check it in hopes of figuring out who the People are that People Magazine is talking about!

Library2Play Thing #9 - More Blogs

More blogs to read ! Do I need to read any more blogs? Nope, but I can never resist a good blog.

I like Google Blog Search but then I like everything Google. A quick search of Library2Play produced showed my post of last night residing right at the top. No wonder I like Google!

A search of Spring Branch produced a very interesting and well photographed tour of the
Village of Spring Valley. TexDot has done quite a number on the Village of Spring Valley which I guess will be yet another victim of the never ending project to widen the Katy Freeway.

My favorite way to find Blogs has always been to find a blog I enjoy and then explore their blogroll. It works the same way as book recommendations in Library Thing. If I like someones blog, chances are we have similar tastes. My own blog roll is rather eclectic, with a mixture of school & education blogs, bookselling blogs, book reading blogs and a sprinkling of Mommy Blogs. Back when I started blogging (May, 2004) all these fancy blog search engines didn't exist. And yes, I also walked 2 miles through the snow to school (uphill!). In Miami.

I've used
Edublog award winners and other blog award sites to find blogs worthy of following. As a matter of fact, one of our Library2Play Captains has an Edublog Award Wining Blog. Often the award sites include annotations which helps the cream rise to the top. I wasn't to fond of School Librarian blogs on Superglu - to confusing. BlogLines was interesting, but I still like Google - their clean interface appears to my inner Virgo.

Finding blogs to read isn't a problem any longer, but finding the time to read them is an ongoing problem! So many blogs, so little time. So much Web2.0, so much more little time.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Surly Pills

Did everyone take a Surly Pill today?

The empty fridge sent me forth to the grocery store. Unlike many people, I normally enjoy grocery shopping. I love to cook, love to eat, love to try out new foods and can easily spend way to much time (and money) at a well stocked Signature Kroger.

None of the employees of the Kroger on West Gray in Houston, Texas wanted to be at work today. The Deli employee looked so pained by my requests that I cut my list short. The checker and the bagger were way to busy discussing their off work plans to smile, make eye contact or say thank you. The sacker also put the bagged salad in the bottom of the bag and dumped a half gallon of milk on top. I hope has some ideas for what do with wilted lettuce.

Onward to
Sur La Table. Since I love to cook, it stands to reason that I love Sur La Table. They enticed me into the store with a $10 off coupon and a new catalog. Old coupon clipper that I am, of course I had to use it. I coveted a salad dressing mixer. Couldn't find it. Did find two clerks busy gossiping. They were not happy at being interrupted. Suddenly I was not happy at being in Sur La Table. Normally I can happily while away a couple of hours (and $100) at Sur La Table. Not this time. It was quite apparent I was annoying the clerks. I bought my Salad Mixer and left.

I'm a devoted Internet shopper but occasionally I feel the need to go into a real, live, bricks and mortar store. Then I have an experience like today. It's back to the 'net for me.

Library2Play - Thing # 19 Web 2.0 Awards

In my "The term paper is due, I'd better clean the house" mode I've managed to procrastinate my way all the way to the Library2Play deadline. I don't need the 18 hours so I 'm not even sure why I am driven to finish it. I guess it's a combination of my Type A personality and the fact that I'm enjoying learning about all the cool toys that are out there. I've given up being concrete sequential and I'm being random and working on the "Things" that are the most appealing to me personally.

The list of Web 2.0 award winners is utterly fascinating. What's even more fascinating is that I already knew about a fair number of them. Guess I'm not as old as I am feeling (I just found out I'm eligible for the Senior Citizen Meals at IHOP).

I adore Pandora - music has always been one of my passions and I've found some artists whose work I enjoy. For some reason I'm not an ipod junkie, though I have one. I still tend to stick the CD in the CD player and let it rip. I'm more likely to carry a book on the plane than my ipod. I'm also a people watch from way back and it's hard to observe humanity when your ears are plugged up.

I sell on so I think it's safe to say I'm familiar with them! Library Thing, another favorite has lots of library potential. It's way more fun than writing a book report. I haven't explored Technorati, mostly because I know it will unleash my inner monster and I'll spend hours of time there!

I use IkeepBookmarks as my web bookmark site but it's so slowwww so I'm interested in checking out some of the others. I 've taught my lunchbunch to check Ikeepbookmarks for interesting places to go.

My iphone has a direct link to YouTube and oh boy, can I while (or waste) away the hours on it. It's blocked at school - though the kids managed to find their way around the filters. They weren't being malicious, just searching out "funny videos". Most of which I found to be dorky to the extreme but then I'm not a 10 year old boy. I think many of the videos on YouTube are only funny to 10 year old boys. It's Captain Underpants on speed.

Yelp and I going to be as one the next time I go out of town. I looked at the Houston reviews of thrift stores and they are spot on. Good reviews, recent information (Thrift Stores come and go so quickly here) and maps! Oh and a school use - fits in with that old chestnut "The State Report".

I am not a game player - be it board, card or on line but the Lunch Bunch will enjoy Arcaplay - assuming of course they aren't blocked. Bet they are! We'll find out come Monday.

WetPaint already has fans at Housman - we use it to order our lunch and I know some of the teachers plan to use it academically. Just a few though - it is so hard to wean teachers away from pencil and paper projects. I can understand why, since the 4th grade TAKS writing test is all pencil and paper. TAKS keeps us from doing so many interesting things but that's another rant for another post.

Craigslist is a Web 2.0 tool too! Who knew? Love me that Craigslist - couldn't find my inventory without it. I check it every week for garage sales. I'm surprised that Freecycle , the free version of Craigslist didn't make the cut. I use it to get rid fo my culls. Beats hauling them to the Goodwill.

Google Maps - it's on my iphone too. Great tool for the directionally challenged. Why isn't GoogleEarth on the list? My Gifted/Talented kids and I are playing with GoogleEarth - it is endlessly entertaining - and educational.

The one that escapes me is Twitter. I really don't want to know the whereabouts of everybody I know and I don't think they want to virtually follow me around as I do a round of errands. I can see how it could be used in schools for "Virtual Field Trips". That's worth exploring.

I've bookmarked the SEOmoz list and I think I'll be spending lots of time playing with it. Time I ought to be spending doing something else. Like cleaning house.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Library Thing in the Classroom or the Library

I can come up with all sorts of way to use Library Thing in the classroom or the library. It could become a wonderful source of student book reviews and recommendations. I've learned from teaching my blogging class that kids are much more eager to put fingers to keyboard than pencil to paper.

It's also a new twist on that old chestnut "The Book Report". It's a much more natural activity to follow up a class read with than making a diorama or a poster about the book. I've read thousands of books in my lifetime and never once have I ever had the desire to mark the end of a great book by creating a diorama.

Right now my district doesn't offer e-mail addresses to our students and that's the one obstacle I've been coming up against while teaching blogging. Everything Web 2.0 requires an e-mail address and that's yet another thing our kids don't have. I know they are standard in upper and middle class schools where children acquire their own web page at birth but not at Title I schools. We created the blogs by attaching them to an e-mail address I created on my own personal account. That worked till we started making Avatars. Avatars, we discovered required separate e-mail addresses. I now own about 20 different yahoo e-mail addresses! Where there is a will there is a way.

The district has come a long way toward opening up the web to the students, perhaps personal e-mail addresses are not far behind. One can only hope.

Library 2 Play - Thing #11 Library Thing

I've been a member of Library Thing since 2006. Haven't really followed through - so little time and so many things (hey, that could be a new T-shirt slogan!). I have an account & I've listed a few books. I just added their new widget to my blog - I love widgets - they would easily become another addiction. Another addiction is something I don't need. At least not now.

Many of the members of The Betsy-Tacy listserv are members of Library Thing or GoodReads which is similar or both. Right now I'm so busy selling books that I don't have nearly the time I once had to read books. There is a distinct similarity to being an unread bookseller and barefoot cobbler. I can easily see how both could become a happy obsession. MySpace for the literate and for those who can write a complete sentence. As an aside, have you noticed how many spelling & grammar erors there are on the typical Myspace page? Myspace is not a good advertisement for the success of American Education.

I'm also on Paperback Book Swap, which is a fun way to find homes for unwanted books and replace them with wanted ones. Learned about that one via OnLine Booksellers, one of the many Yahoo Groups I belong to (Groups and Listservs are a long standing addiction). It's similar to Library Thing, though it's more of a swap site than a personal library catalog site.

They both appeal to librarians - one allows us to catalog our own books (would that it was that easy to catalog at work) the other allows us to put books into the hands of readers.

Once again, so many groups, so little time!