Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Library2Play2 - Thing #11 Digital Citizenship

I'm feeling cynical tonight. I don't think schools are going to spend a serious amount of time on Digital Citizenship till it appears on a state mandated test. Schools such as the one I teach at are so stressed over the wretched tests and making to Exemplary that everything else falls by the wayside.

It's taught scatter shot style at my school. Some teachers mention it and some don't and a goodly number of the teachers don't exactly model stellar Digital Citizenship themselves. To many teachers still begin all reference assignments (such as we have) with "Go to Google and type in_____". And don't get started on the topic of Walt Disney videos....

I hammer the topic home to my bloggers. The students know I take Cyber Bullying very seriously.
I banned the entire 4th grade from The Library Lunch Club last year when one of them indulged in Cyber Bullying and no one would fess up.

I like to use "teachable moments" every year some public figure does something stupid with e-mail or Facebook or Myspace and it ends up all over the news. That is always an excellent time to point out just what happens when someone posts without thinking. Many of our students have a FaceBook or a MySpace page, despite the fact that they are to young to be on either site.

Prior to writing this post I did a bit of reading on some of the other Beachcomber's blogs. Vaughnl posted this link to Kenton County School District. October is celebrate as Digital Citizenship month and the entire district works together (or so they say) to bring the idea to the forefront. To Be GT has a wonderful list of 5 things she plans to tell her students. In the best teaching tradition, I'm going to take her list and run with it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Library2Play - Thing #10 Virtual Worlds

I'm crying "Calf Rope". I don't have enough time to keep all the edges tucked in on the life I have, much less create and keep up with a Second One.

I followed all the links, registered and then ran into one glitch after another. Server Problems. Registration Problems. Try Again problems. All Second Life problems, not problems on my end problems. So my Avatar remains naked and nameless and I don't give a flip. Maybe a Virtual Policeman will arrest it and jail it for indecent exposure. Since I don't have any Second Life currency I won't be able to post bail and it can stay there.

There is a
Second Life section in E-bay where you can use real money to buy virtual land! Who knew?

Seriously, I am not a games person. I don't like card games, board games, computer games, Wii games or any sort of game. On the other hand, one of my girls was so addicted to
SimCity that she had to put the brakes on herself during school, otherwise she'd never study. She would love Second Life. In fact, she probably has an entire Second Life that I know nothing about (which is fine, she's 27, not 7).

I know my computer nerds at school would adore Second Life - they already adore
Poptropcica, a kid friendly virtual world. Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid books helps to create that particular world and he knows exactly what kids want.

I view Second Life in the same way as I view cars. Cars get you from point A.o point B. It doesn't matter if you drive a ratty PT Cruiser with dents and dings or a brand new Ford F-10 truck with high dollar wheel rims and a fancy fade paint job. Both will get from point A to point B.

In the world of Web 2.0 one has virtual chat rooms, forums, IMs, Skype, list servs, back channel,blogs, Wikis & Nings to communicate with others. And then there is Second Life. They all allow folks to communicate but the former are PT Cruisers and the latter is the Ford F-10.

P.S. My child left me a comment. It wasn't Sim City, it was the SIMS and she too is much to busy with her current life to create a second one.

Library2Play2 - Thing #9 SlideShare

Thing #9 in 25 words or less
SlideShare = YouTube for PowerPoints
AuthorStream = YouTube for PowerPoints with Voice or Music Added
280 Slides = PowerPoint without having to pay the Man (i.e. Bill Gates). Love It!

Library2Play2 - Thing #8 Screencaset

This was interesting and more complicated than necessary. Since there were so many options I read some of the other blogs to see
see which sceencast tool they opted to use.

I started out with Screencast. Easy to d/l, easy to use, loved the simplicity of the bars you moved in or out so you copied just what you wanted. Clicked on the copy button - oops, up popped an error. Screencast was suddenly stuck. Clicking on the "x" resulted in a symphony of pings and tings. Pressed Ctrl/Alt/Delte
and tried again. Same error, same result Screencast must not like Vista (it's not alone ).

Onward to Sceencastomatic. Once again, easy to d/l, easy to use but the cross hairs were preset - and you had to figure out your size first. To mathematical for me.

Went with Jing and the third time proved to be charm. Easy to d/l, easy to use and it speaks Vista. Created a screen print from the district's newest toy BrainPop. Loved the fact you add arrows and type words on top of the screen print.

Actually, my favorite screen print device is the Camera tool that comes with the Activboards. Every SBISD issued laptop comes complete with the Activboard software so it's already there for the using. Once you've "taken the picture" you can work with and manipulate the image in a flipchart. Once that is finished a right click and save as turns it into a jpeg and you then use it on your blog, in a document or most anywhere.

Library2Play 2 - Thing #4 Uploading a Video

Well, that was easy. No different than uploading a photo or an Animoto to blogger. I opted to upload one of my Animotos to Teacher Tube - that way, should I so desire I can show the video at school.

I'm not having any file storage issues on my own computer, but I can see that if I did create a great many videos uploading them would make life so much simpler for my computer. Of course, since I'm not a video person (even though I own a Flic Video camera) that's not a likely scenario on my part.

I've been reading some of the other Library2Play2 blogs and just about everyone talks about how they can whil away the hours watching videos on YouTube and TeacherTube. Not me, I get the links from others all the time (the crazy wedding entrance is the viral video du juor). I watch maybe 30 seconds if that much, get bored and click out. I don't have that kind of time to waste - to many books to sort, to many books to pack.

So, how could students use this? Unlike me, the kids LOVE to watch videos and I know they would love to make them. By uploading it would be possible to them to share their work with their families and friends. It would also make it easy to critique them and to organize a contest.
The dreaded "oral report while dressed as an historical character" might improve if the students saw the final results up on the computer screen.

I am delighted to discover that Youtube has a government offshoot - that is going to be a wonderful addition when creating Flipcharts for the ActivBoards.

P.S. Just to prove that even I can get distracted by YouTube I did get sucked into watching this:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Library2Play2 - Thing #7 Video Resources

I'm not much for watching videos on my computer. I'm a very fast reader and I can usually glean what I need to know faster by reading than by watching. Also, I tend to be on my computer most of the time either doing e-mail or working on my Internet book business.

I am also woefully out of touch with American popular talent. At my house the TV is on the Golf Channel 24/7 (or so it seems). I have never seen an episode of America's Got Talent or Dancing With the Stars. I get my news from National Public Radio and I watch old movies I rent from NetFlix while I'm packing books. I'm a "listener" not a watcher when it comes to media.

I knew about Goggle Video - it's a long time favorite with my Library Lunch Club kids who long ago figured out they could get around the the district ban on YouTube by using Google Video to look for "scary videos". I wasn't familiar with Blinkx - that's one amazing and comprehensive search engine.

Just for fun I typed in "Dewey Decimal System" and up popped The Dewey Decimal Rap that made the rounds of the library list serves last spring. Conan the Librarian made me smile - that clip is destined to become a lesson "hook".

I also checked out videos on blogging and found a couple I'll use with my blogging class come fall.
Most of what I found plays on YouTube. Rumor has it that it is going to get unblocked" in the district which would be wonderful. I know how to convert a video via Zamzar but that requires planning ahead. There is nothing like a video when it comes to "teachable moments" and those can't be planned - they just happen.

totlo is going on my school Delicious page - though I wonder, since it is YouTube owned if the district blocks it too?

So, when it came to Thing #7 I really was a Stranger in a Strange Land. I vaguely knew what Hulu was but didn't realize it had current TV shows nor did I know I could watch PBS shows in their entirety on PBS.com. I finally got to see just what The Wiggles are (and oh, am I glad I no longer have small children) on totlo.

I'm thinking that my little pink netbook start doing double duty as an Internet video monitor!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Library2Play2 - Thing #3 Skype

I loathe talking on the phone so I don't think I'll ever embrace Skype. I love to blog, e-mail or IM and I'll even text on occasion but I have 4000+ un-used cell phone minutes and the number climbs monthly.

Skype reminds me a bit of EMG, which the district embraced some 15 years ago. It arrived with bang and left with a whimper and all that's left of it at my school is the library's direct phone line which supports a cordless phone. I do love me my cordless phone (so I can take the phone to the shelves) so I still have a soft spot for EMG. It was an early experiment in video conferencing and was supposed to help bring "the world to the classroom". Looking back at it from a 15 year perspective I can see that it was, in many ways way ahead of its time, though it was very awkward to use. Technology was unreliable (some things never change) and it required careful coordination between EMG and the classroom. Given that unexpected "things" pop up in an elementary classroom coordination didn't always work as planned. When a student upchucks, vomit trumps scheduled video conference every time.

Back to Skype and its possible use in the classroom. The manual created by The Learning Librarian is excellent and some great suggestions for classroom use. 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype has even more suggestions. My favorite is using it to include home bound students in classroom activities. Given how many hospitals have wi-fi these days Skype is something the district's home bound department needs to investigate.

I'm wondering if the schools with an international student population might promote Skype to their parents as a way to keep in touch with friends and family overseas. Not the sort of international student body that's at my school - the villages they hail from are lucky to have electricity, schools with students from countries such as Japan or India.

It has potential as a field trip prep project too. Prior to going to Washington on the Brazos the 4th graders could "meet" one of the guides and get a feel for what they will be seeing and what's expected of them I find that the more prep one does, the better the experience. Government classes could perhaps "converse" with an elected official or science students with an astronaut.

Yeap, Skye is a keeper, even for folks like me who loathe talking on the phone.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Library2Play2 - Thing #6 iTouch Apps.

I'm already in love with the Apple Apps. The iPhone entered my life in December of 2007 and we've never been parted. It's one of my silent partner in my book selling biz. I have the Amazon & E-bay apps loaded, plus a couple of restaurant finders (book scouting brings on an appetite).

I followed the link to The Pinch Feed for Apps - and immediately wished they had a G rated version. I don't think iHandgun or sexy lingerie has any educational value.

I also read a couple of the blogs written by teachers who used them in the classroom but didn't find them as helpful as I wished. The iTouches were handed out but there didn't appear to be much follow up in how useful they were.

I can see these being used on field trips - the Google Map app and the Wikepedia app would be invaluable. Curious about something - well just look it up! There are a couple of mileage apps that have potential too. The games could also soothe the savage beast during the in transit time .

iTouch time is going to be an AR celebration in the upcoming school year. I suspect the kids will come up with uses that will astound me. Only, I wish there was a way block sexy lingerie.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Library2Play2 - Thing 5 - Microblogging

As always I can't seem to do Library2Play2 in order. No, I have to skip and jump around, just as I did with the original Library2Play.

Microblogging: Facebook is downright addictive but try though I might I just don't "get it" when it comes to Twitter. I suspect some of this is age and some of it is that I'm just not on my cell phone 24/7. I don't have the kind of job that lets me monitor it constantly (I have no clue how the myth evolved that librarians just sit around and read all day).

I can see students following their favorite authors, as well as following a politician as a current events assignment. It might be best however if they didn't follow SC Governor Sanford though.

Twitter could add an interesting twist on career assignments - if a student is interested in the law have her follow a lawyer.

I've been on Facebook for some time - just everyone else I've connected with people from my past and enjoyed the day to day peeks into the lives of my Facebook "friends". It can also be one of the biggest time wasters in the universe. The quizzes and the endless pie tossing and "lil green patch" are a mystery to me. Who has time to keep up with these and why do I keep getting them? They are Facebook's version of the endless e-mail forwards (all of which I delete too).

I've seen some interesting educational uses - the most prevalent being where the student creates a Facebook Page for a historical personage. A student could also do a Facebook "book report" - post a thought on each chapter as they go through the book. It would make it easy for the teacher to ensure the book was actually being read!

Facebook is an easy way for a teacher to create a class "web page" and keep in touch with parents. It's ideal for "helicopter parents" - the class Facebook Monitor could post hourly updates. The Twitter monitor could follow up with multiple tweets. Be idea for field trip updates.

Correct grammar and punctuation seem to be the norm for Facebook but not so Twitter which tends toward cell phone speak. So the former could be used as a language arts springboard, the former as perhaps an example of what isn't standard English.

While you can follow a Twitter feed on a computer, the medium is best used on cell phones. Before Twitter starts making great inroads in the schools said schools must revise their cell phone polices.

Technically one isn't supposed to have a Facebook (or a Myspace page) till age 13. I can atest from my own school experince that this rule is ignored on a regular basis. This is another can of worms that schools need muse about. I taught some lessons on thinking twice about posting to MySpace / Facebook to my 4th & 5th graders. Many teachable moments since it seems every day one celebrity or athlethe is in news for posting without thinking!

Do these mircorblogging tools fill a need in education? Yes, though at this time mainly as a real time communication tools. Given time I can see them incorporated in standard assignments too.

Librarian Porn

It's now July 5th and I am finally starting my summer vacation. I should have about a month off prior to going back to work in August. I'm not sure how the myth that teachers get 3 months off arose. I've been in the biz for 19+ years and I've yet to experience it.

In June I:

  1. Worked till the end of my contact time (4 extra days)

  2. Picked up required to keep my certificate 18 hours of non contract in-service. Added about 12 more hours to the total while I was at it.

  3. Visited my mother (well that does count as vacation but it does nothing for getting things done around the house)

  4. With the help of two hard working library interns plowed through a 3 year cataloging backlog. And no, I wasn't paid. I was still better off than the 2 interns who had to pay for the priveledge of dealing with my stuff.

This cart was overflowing with book and the floor was stacked with math, science and language arts materials.

These carts are now full of shelf ready titles and the AV materials are ready to deliver to the math, science and language arts specialists.

Thank you L & A. and a special thank you to Dr. B. for sending the two of you my way!