Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thing 28 - Conference Blogging

I've been thinking about my experience blogging the conference. Conference blogging requires a whole new skill set which I, regretably, have yet to acquire. Writing an article may seem easy, but it requires some basic writing skills - determining a subject, organizing thoughts, writing a rough outline, fleshing out the thoughts, re-writing, and adding the final touches. It often takes me a day or two to organize my thoughts before I commit them. Sometimes even longer. Conference blogging requires a really different strategy. To attend a session, organize my thoughts and post to the blog all before going to the next session was really overwhelming. I had never taken a laptop to a conference before, so my learning curve began at figuring out how to balance a laptop. It went beyond that, however. How do you take notes for yourself which will be comprehensive enough to be of use afterwards and at the same time create a posting about the overall impression of the session for others to see? The instantaneous distillation of the main points of each presenter is somewhat akin to spontaneous translation. I can imagine using a double screen might be of some use. One screen is for the blog posting. The other for personal notes. Conference blogging is one of those skills like rubbing your tummy while patting your head, that not everyone can get the hang of. I wonder whether I will conquer or be conquered.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thing 27 - Portability

Several months ago I purchased a laptop. I debated long and hard about the purchase. I didn't really need it, but it sure would make life a lot more efficient. I finally took the plunge. My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1525 in purple with flowers. I love it. For a long time I didn't like laptops because I didn't like the way the keyboard felt. Either I have gotten used to it or they have vastly improved.

I have taken this laptop many places and logged many hours on it. It has helped me to accomplish more when waiting. It has made it possible for me to work more efficiently. It has enabled me to participate, remember and process more than ever before. Portibility means flexibility and a higher level of productivity for me.

So I am very excited for the opportunity to bring my laptop with me to the MSLA conference tomorrow and Monday and join in the blogging there. If you want to sign on and see what is happening you can check at the conference blog.

Thinking back to a year ago, it is amazing how much technology has become a normal part of my life.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Thing 26 - Technology on the Go

I experienced a powerful surge of technology melding this month as I debated what to do about my car. The poor car needed repairs which would cost more than it was worth. Faithful servant though it may have been, it was time to replace it. It will surprise no one this July that good gas mileage was high on the list of priorities. After consulting a stack of Consumer Reports I went to look at some of my top choices.

While I made my final selection based on reliability, excellent gas mileage, and service I found some perks which delighted me. All the cars I looked at were MP3 compatible. I merely needed to purchase a cord to hook my MP3 player into the car’s audio system. I can now listen to music or downloads through the speakers of my car. This opens up whole new worlds of commuting activities. I used to split my listening time between music and National Public Radio news. Sometimes I would secure a recorder to my safety belt and record lesson ideas as they came to me. These I would type at home. Now I also have the option of catching up on all of those podcasts which I subscribe to, but seldom have time to listen to in the evenings. More options. More decisions. Sometimes information overload overwhelms me, but the opportunities which MP3/car compatibility have opened up for me help to ease the strain.

In the process of getting myself ready, I had a funny encounter with a digital native. The necessary cord had to be purchased and I was directed to Circuit City. Looking around I was unable to locate the cord easily and decided it would be faster if I asked an employee. The young man I selected knew just what I was looking for. When I told him how excited I was to have this new capability he fixed that “Mom, you’re embarrassing me” look, rolled his eyes and said “It’s quite a common thing these days. Nothing special.” I walked away amused and awakened. Whenever I think I’m catching up, that I might even be on the cutting edge, something happens to awake me from my revere. So long as I don’t slip too far behind.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thing 25 - Seeing clearly

Back in April I had the good fortune to meet with three women I greatly admire and respect. All three of them are intelligent, vivacious, warm and powerful. All three of them have seen me through some tough times. I hadn't seen any of them in months. Imagine my surprise when I found that all three of them now sport purple specks! We decided that it must be a sisterhood of kindred spirits.

So what does that have to do with web 2.0? As it turns out, plenty. As I visited with these friends and shared what I had found through the course, I found myself thinking more and more about the end user. My friends reminded me that web 2.0 is just a set of tools to use. I spent the rest of the spring thinking about when to use one of these marvelous tools and when using the tool might mean loosing sight of the end user. This may be a simple, obvious thought, but one I have found worth revisiting as I become more accustomed to a wider variety of web 2.0 applications.

By the way, the picture above was taken at a museum using my cell phone. This represents a first for me. All three of the glasses are purple, but they are all different. This underscores for me the fact that even with our similarities we are all individuals. That's something I want to remember when thinking about web 2.0.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thing 24 - Cluster Maps

I decided to keep on counting. What better way to do that than add a Cluster Map to my blog? I've noticed those world maps on blogs which show how many people are viewing the blog and where in the world they are. Today when I pulled up a blog I noticed one and decided to look at it more closely. It said you could click on it to get one. Well, I'll be...

If you want one, go to and follow the directions. It was simple to apply for, easy to copy and paste the html and it showed up immediately. Now if only I can get people to view my blog! It will be fun to see where those dots will appear. So those of you who are traveling, I'd be much obliged if you would just look at my blog from a distant location. :-)

What a good reflection on this class it is that I would just figure it out and get one of my own. In the past I might have just wished for one. How empowering this web 2.0 has been.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week 9 Thing 23 - Copyright, Creative Commons and Congratulations

What a wonderful way to finish the class. I thought I knew what Creative Commons was, but my thoughts were somewhat warped. The tutorials, videos and links were all quite helpful to understand CC more clearly. Also the resources were quite timely as I am currently having multiple conversations about copyright and what fair use means. These resources help me to refine my own understanding, something I find I can never get complaisant about.

Now for the questions:
1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

Flickr, mashups,, wikis, zoho, library thing (and therefore Good Reads), YouTube, podcasts and Creative Commons are the objects.

A favorite discovery was how really able we are to use these resources, continue to learn and how in 9 short weeks these new technologies have become part of how I work and see the world. They do say that it takes 7 weeks to form a new habit. It appears that this habit has stuck with me. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

Lifelong learning means always being open to new things, taking an interest in the world around you and continually trying to improve yourself. At least that's what it means to me. This program has made it easier for me to learn about a number of things which I was very interested in, introduced me to things I knew nothing about and assisted me in going further than I had before or was likely to get on my own. Let's just say it was like the Triple A or Mapquest of Web2.0. You mapped out the route, but I drove there. And I didn't even have to pay for the gas. However it did take a toll on me... (couldn't resist.)

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? is a big grab bag treat. I find that I am starting to think about using it and am enjoying using it. While I still bookmark things using favorites, I find that I actually have started to use instead. That's a pretty big paradigm shift for me. Checking my RSS feeds regularly is also a big leap. Both have really changed the way I relate to my PC.

It must be said that with all these new ideas and technologies churning inside my head, I find myself being more open to new things around me. I was in Circuit City this evening and found myself playing with laptops. Usually I go for one thing and don't get distracted, but this evening I wandered around and learned a lot. This course has had a big impact.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

There were a couple of very interesting links which weren't hot. Fixing the links or finding other links to do the same thing would have been helpful.

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

Absolutely. Positively. Without a doubt.

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote CSLA learning activities?


Thanks to everyone who took the class for making it a richer experience and especially to the people who made taking this course possible. I enjoyed reading everyone's blogs and gaining further insight. It will now take several months to really go back and dig deeper into the material.

Week 9 Thing 21 - eBooks and Audio Books

My opinions about what constitues reading, how it should be done and "correct format" have gone through considerable transformation over the past 5 years or so. Purist might have been a kind term to refer to my thoughts before I began the journey.

Audio books have stolen my heart. I used to think that listening didn't count. One had to read a physical book for it to "count." The fact is, though, that I can never read as much as I want to, even if I had all day to do it. Audio books allow me to increase my cultural literacy in the time that I do have. Still, students should read, shouldn't they? Getting over this misconception took me a bit of time, but now that I realise that so much of preliteracy involves being exposed to language audio books have a great part in learning to read and improving fluency. Also reading along while listening is an excellent strategy. So audio books have a special, if hard won, spot in my heart.

The new hurdle for me is getting used to downloading the books myself, finding appropriate storage methods, adjusting to a new format and making it part of my work/life.

Personally, I still feel more comfortable reading a book made of pulp. The amount of online reading I do is substantial, but it can be hard on the eyes. When I'm going to focus on a full work, I'd prefer to have a physical copy. I also wonder about the advisability of the focus on making libraries digital in an age when our natural resources are dwindling. One wonders how much we should be relying on electronic versions of books which are energy efficient to use (not produce) in the long run. It may be a moot point, but one I wonder about from time to time.

Frankly, I never thought I'd want to read a book online and then someone told me about Daily Lit. The folks who created Daily Lit found that they didn't read as much as they wanted to because they had busy schedules. They realised that they were reading their emails every day, but not finding time for great books. What they decided to do was to serialize books and send them by installment via email. There is also an RSS option. Through daily lit I have revisited many old favorites and found it very manageable. You control how often you receive the installements. The homepage shows books for purchase right up front, but if you browse you will see that most of their offerings are free. In the past I have chosen to receive them via email. This morning I tried to add the RSS feed to Google Reader without success. Using the feed option on VISTA worked, but I prefer to check Google Reader so I will have to conquer that hurdle. Daily Lit has made it easier to be open to the ebook and reading literature online.

It is great to have so many resources available.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Week 9 Thing 21 - Podcasting

I have been looking forward to this "Thing" very much. It is easy to imagine how podcasting can be used to enhance our services, image and credibility. The creation of multimedia, the personal involvement, the authentic buy-in potential of this medium makes it a truly valuable tool for motivating students as well as learning. The project I just completed for Read Across America involved photographing students and recording their voices. It was amazing to see students who had only shown their retiring side, suddenly blossom before my eyes. It was very powerful and humbling to be a part of the growth which occurs when a student truly finds a voice. Literally. So personally, the part I am more interested in is the "how to" portion of the lesson. Reading the podcasting tutorials made me feel that I will be able to do this. I already have experience with Audacity.

Searching for podcasts was a somewhat frustrating experience. The tutorials merely took me to Yahoo's search page. In each case I was asked to download something in order to listen to a podcast which I wasn't sure I wanted to hear. At this point in this class, I don't mind signing up for more free accounts, but I'm not sure about the wisdom of downloading much more. I need to do some weeding first. Finally, I determined that I find podcasts fairly easily serendipitously, but I am glad I have the resource to look for podcasts should I have a particular need. The great part of this was that I would not have thought of subscribing to podcasts in my Google Reader page and I am finding this to be a great new possibility. I went to NPR and subscribed to a number of podcasts including Children's Literature with Daniel Pinkwater. I'm not sure when I'll get around to listening to them, but conceivably they could run while I am on the computer doing other tasks. It is likely that I will try it and then weed my feeds, as I did when I first started using Google Reader.

The fact that I didn't automatically make the jump from subscribing to RSS feeds for blogs to subscribing to podcasts makes me reflect. So many of the ideas are not inherently hard or technically difficult. It is more a problem of the difficulty of keeping up, learning to continue to explore a tool past the initial learning curve has us complaisant. I wonder why I never really learn the tools I am using thoroughly, why there always seems to be so many layers left to explore. I would like to blame it on the fact that there is always another thing to learn to keep abreast of the profession. There is too much to learn and too little time. Part of me realises, however that this is not an acceptable explanation. I am currently reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind and am very aware that it is important to make the connections between things. So subscribing to podcasts should have been a no-brainer. This will be another thing I will be striving to cultivate as I incorporate the web2.0 tools into my life.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Week 9 Thing 20 - YouTube

Everybody daydreams sometimes. At least, I hope they do. I dream of joining a Book Cart Drill Team and competing at the ALA conference. It's kind of like the librarian's answer to running away and joining the circus. The Book Divas have such energy, style and presence that I find them fun to watch. It doesn't hurt that their wigs and boas match my blog. In other clips that they have posted you can see their practice sessions. You can see how hard they work. My hat is off to the Book Divas.

I noticed that you are supposed to provide a link back to YouTube when you embed a video. I'm not sure how that works so I am providing the link here:

There are so many wonderful possibilities for using YouTube for the classroom. Unrestricted use is obviously frought with difficulties, but librarian/teacher selected videos could be used for the purpose of instruction, writing prompts, inspiration, etc. I'm glad we had this excercise to complete as I learned more from the searching than I have from receiving links to random clips.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Well, his birthday was yesterday, but many of us who celebrated Read Across America had our cake today. Today culminated a month-long reading program at our school. We read Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss to all classes. To celebrate we had an assembly. I used image generators to create a slideshow for the event. You will see some of the images here.

We have school-wide read alouds for which we create a list of words called "Wow!" words. We have focused on these words as a school for the past month. After taking a picture of Seuss stuffed toys, I Warholized them and then added our Wow! words in the center. (Sorry I couldn't post it here, but I couldn't figure out how to copy just the one power point page.) During the assembly we read the words through. Then the students were told to look and listen for the words throughout the rest of the slideshow. Staff members from all parts of the building were photographed reading or holding favorite books. I then used Big Huge Labs to create speech bubbles. I gave each staff member a reading slogan, trying to incorporate Wow! words into the bubbles. Students raised their hands whenever they heard a Wow! word and then identified which word it was. It was powerful for us to see how students throughout the school had internalized the Wow! words.

I Warholized, captionized and rethought my presentation. The result was gratifying. These tools have been so useful already. I'm sure there will be plenty of ways to use them.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Week 8 - Thing 19 Library Thing

Like many librarians, I love to read. Pre-MLS, I bought any book I thought I would ever want to read and hung on to it as if for dear life. Somehow learning about the interconnectivity of libraries today, experiencing the richness of possibility available through Inter Library Loan and moving several times without the benefit of much more space changed things. My library record has soared and my idea of fun is going to another town and checking out books there as well. I can get all sorts of things without having to take responsibility for the storage of them. I do still buy books, but I am more apt to borrow them or give them away.

Having said all that, my experience with Library Thing is mixed. I can see the beauty of it, the wonder of having this tool available to individuals as well as libraries. The ease of use, the MARC records, the interactivity of it. I did sign up and post my books to the blog. However, I think I may prefer Goodreads because it gives you the option of indicating if you have read, want to read, own or borrowed the book in question. With Library Thing I get the feeling that it is about books I possess. I suppose I possess the soul of the book if I have read it, but most of what I read has no physical presence in my home. Please correct me if I have missed something. Perhaps this is a perception problem on my part.

I will enjoy thinking more fully on the sites available and making use of the ones I think best suit my need. Meanwhile, I am getting plenty of great books suggestions and having a blast.

Week 5 - Thing 10 Image Generators Post #2

Here's to image generators! I just made this image to use along with our Read Across America program. It will be used in our culminating slide show as well as to motivate students to read after the week off.

It may not be the most witty commentary found in cartoon bubbles, but I'm sure the students will love it.

I used Big Huge Labs to make this image.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Week 8 - Thing 18 Zoho Writer

The potential of Zoho Writer is incredible. The fact that it is free software which fills the place of other desktop applications is good enough to recommend it for further study. (Especially for those of us who are in contact with patrons who have limited financial resources.) The thing which really recommends Zoho Writer to me, personally, is it's collaborative capability. The ability to start a document and be able to have others work on it is beautiful. The free platform for holding meetings online is a great resource.

In the library I can imagine that we might use it to have mini-meetings more often at the end of the day from the comfort of our own libraries. (No more searching for a parking spot, right Wanda Luv?) Our students might use it to work collaboratively on a research project, even when one of them is grounded. Of course, these tools would not work for my have to be 13 or older. While some of you have patrons old enough, there is still the issue of filtering.... Personally, I can immediately see the value of it for getting family members to hash out family gathering meal plans all at once, rather than the telephone tag which sometimes happens. The possibilities are endless.

I used the templates to create a certificate of membership in the Purple Glasses Club. It was a fun, though delightfully pointless, thing to try. Neccesity will provide for more relevant projects, but sometimes it's just fun to create. It is interesting to note that posting it to the blog did elongate the certificate which gave it a somewhat warped appearance. No matter, the original looks fine.

Purple Glasses Club

Membership Certificate

This certifies that

is a member of

The Purple Glasses Club

in good standing since

January 2008

with all rights and privileges pertaining thereof.

Set down and signed this 20th day of February 2008

__________________________________ _______________________________
President Secretary

Monday, February 18, 2008

Week 7 - Thing 17 Sandbox

I went to the sandbox and posted a comment about changes I have made to my program since learning about all these 2.0 tools. It was the first post to that category. It is so easy to post to a wiki. WandaLuv has told about the wiki I made after our conference, but she was rather nice to mention that we all added our notes. I have yet to finish adding mine. It was so time consuming to input the skeleton for the wiki (I choose a complicated format) and then something else came up. Next thing I knew we were taking this class. I still have hopes of finishing that wiki (just found the password last Friday) and starting the standards reference wiki for school librarians at the K-6 level in Massachusetts. They are next on my list. Wikis are something which I believe I will continue to use often.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week 7 - Thing 16 Wikis

It's pretty easy to imagine hundreds of uses for wikis. I can imagine being involved with wikis as 1. the person who assigns them for student editing 2. a tool for librarians in a district to work on district policies, documents, planning, etc. 3. tools for teachers to work in groups 4. a tool for going beyond parent communication to parent participation in the library's web presence. The provided links were thought provoking.

For some time I have wanted to start a wiki for elementary school librarians in Massachusetts to align print materials, web resources and lessons with standards. After I finish this class I am determined to start one and post it to this blog so that anyone may add to it. I think it would be profitable to all of us teaching any combination of these grades to pool our experiences in this way. I will post a link when I have it up and running.

Of the many things we have explored in this course, wikis may be one of the most useful to me. Along with determining to create one to my own specifications, I am also more aware that there may be some really good resources to search for information.

Week 6 Thing 15 - Future of Libraries

Having read all the articles listed, I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed. While I agree with others that Away from Iceburgs was quite thought provoking, the article which made the greatest impact on me was To a temporary place in time. Library 4.0??!! I'm still struggling with Library 2.0. I thought I was on the way to being relatively current. I didn't think about keeping up with the latest and greatest of technologies when I applied for graduate school and proclaimed libraries to be my life work. It came as rather a surprise as did the fact that I actually liked the challenge. The difficulty which nags at me is the ability for us to continue to adapt ourselves to current trends. Being relatively new to the field, I still find it stimulating and exciting. I wonder how that will be as the years go by and I have ridden wave after wave of innovation.

The other huge question which remains on my mind is the seemingly insurmountable gulf which separates the populations which are being discussed in these articles (a society which is web-saavy, connected and information literate) and the patrons that still make up significant part of school libraries (unconnected, impoverished, web-newbies or non-participants). Several years ago I read an article which quoted the percentage of school libraries which have yet to automate as being higher than 50%. If I remember correctly, it was significantly higher. If this be the case, we are not ready for the web-saavy, but our patrons may not be ready for more either. I have had the experience of being told not to use the latest innovations on the school website, rather I should use the simplest interfaces possible in order to reach the greatest numbers of families. There is a kind of sense to this which comes at the problem from a different direction and no less valid.

My conclusion:

Web 2.0 holds the possibility of unbelievable wealth of connectivity. Concurrently, web 2.o will be one of the greatest causes of widening the digital divide. The ability to keep up with the changes will be too great for the average person and nearly impossible for the person who does not own their own computer. Think of all those people who line up at the public library to wait for a turn to check their email. Where will they be when web 2.0 becomes the rule of the workplace rather than the innovation?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Week 6 Thing 14 - Tag! You're IT!

Exploring Technorati was a good thing to do. Good to know about the services and what it is capable. However, I restrained myself from signing up for yet another password and tagging my blog. Why? Well, at week 6 in this adventure I find that I have plenty of new toys to get used to using, thinking about and incorporating into my lifestyle. I'm not sure if I will continue my blog after this class is over or whether I will change to a different medium. Does this blog need to be found or is it really only relevant for those of us on this 9 week adventure? Will any of us continue these blogs? Develop other blogs? Continue to read these blogs? These are things I'm thinking about before I tag. Still, it's good to know about the capabilities should I want to tag in the future.

Tagging is in interesting concept - one which has really amazing potential to make things clearer, easier and more transparent and also has the power to confuse, hypnotise and trick us into thinking we are better at finding information than we really are. In I felt it gave me more power to make my favorites useful and saved me time in the doing. In technorati I felt I got a great number of useless hits. Trying both sites makes one think about whether all this self-centered tagging really lulls people into thinking that they are finding good information, true information and useful hits. Does this transfer to research and make us lazy and undisciplined? I can't believe I even asked the question. So the thing I am pondering is where can we draw the line between time saving, self determination and creativity and reliability, truth and fact. Interesting things to ponder in an election year on a night when it is snowing on and off.

So I feel as though I'm running all over the internet trying to tag pieces of information and make them my least on loan. Tag! You're IT!

Week 6 Thing 13 -

Delicious, delectable and treat for the senses...ah, but I get carried away. I have set up a account and though I've added just a fraction of my bookmarks it has changed the way I think about bookmarking. I love the fact that I can search my bookmarks, easily give multiple tags and don't have to sweat it too much. The fact that I so often don't even have to think of my own tags as suggestions pop up makes this really user friendly and cuts down on the time I will spend overthinking it. That could be bad in terms of quality control, but the way I see it, it can only help if it helps me to do an extra step without taking much added time.

One of the things which is interesting about is that it can serve as a search tool as well as a bookmarking tool. I have yet to look at the actual bookmarks of others, but I'm thinking that if I connected to the accounts of my library friends (that's all of you out there) I would be able to garner excellent resources without the time involved in searching myself.

I have added a badge to my blog, so peak at my bookmarks if you are interested.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Week 5 Thing 12 - Rollyo

The power of this tool is really an amazing boon to librarians and teachers. The ability to search preselected sources takes resource lists to a whole new level. The mind reels thinking about the possibilities. It makes one want to spend hours selecting sources for an array of topics to see how well it would work.

I thought my biggest dilemma in creating this search tool was deciding what topic to use. I love world geography, especially the Unesco World Heritage site, so world geography was it. It may not be the most useful search tool at the moment as it wasn't built in response to an actual project, but it is a test. Just a test. If it were a real search tool....

However, like others who have gone before me, inserting the search tool into this blog has proved to be much more tricky than anticipated. WandaLuv mentioned that the html isn't what it should be. I fiddled with the html for a while trying to get it right, but it is beyond my scope at the moment. Guess I'll have to break out my notes from the html course I took a few years ago, but haven't used much, and get to the root of the problem. Until then, I am impressed with the tool, but imagine that Rollyo's growth will be limited by the difficulty in making it work.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Week 5 Thing 11 - Web 2.0 Awards List

SEOmoz's Web 2.0 Awards site was interesting. I chose to look at a site from the "Philanthropy" heading. I choose to look at Be Green Now as it was the one which seemed most interesting to me. The idea that I could track my "carbon footprint" and then learn ways to offset my hazardous behavior seemed great. I was disappointed with the site as it seemed a little too simplistic, didn't seem individualized enough to be meaningful to me and the suggestions for off-setting my 20th century un-green activities seemed to boil down to "plant a tree" or "pay us to take care of it for you." I suppose that having them invest in wind, wave and solar power is a really powerful thing, but it felt like advertising. While I haven't planted a tree yet, my mind has been jogged to water my basil plant.

So I tried something else. I tried out both Library Thing and Reader2 (honorable mention) and Good Reads (recommended by someone in this class). All of them are variations on the theme of social networking about books. I liked them all and am now having the difficult decision about which one to really focus on. With all of the stuff that is out there, it is hard to think that I would actually do all three. It is easy to see the potential for using these tools in a library setting. What a great way for people to react to the books they have read and also to recommendations. One very intriguing post was the list of a 4th grader and the supportive comments she was receiving about her reading adventure.

Looking at Ning! was interesting, but I couldn't really figure out what to do with it. None of the groups had things going on which grabbed my attention. Maybe I've missed the whole point of the thing. It will be interesting to see what others post about it and see if some of the ideas make me view it in a different way. Any future thoughts about Ning will be posted separately.

The Travel IQ game was fun. Wish I could say I got to level 12, but in all honesty level 8 was the last finished. Funny, today students were really interested in the world map and got me sidetracked for a while discussing different parts of the world. This game would be a natural choice for student fun and learning. It did seem to be a quiz which you could get better at by paying attention to the mistakes made along the way. At least you could get in the right country, if not the region.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Random Technology Comment #3

Ok, so despite the fact that it was a crazy week, I did manage to read a couple of books this week. Don't even ask me how I fit that in. One of the books I wanted to share as it seems to go so well with thinking about web 2.0.

The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez by Judy Goldschmidt. The font size and the page spacing help make this an enjoyable, quick read. 12-year-old Raisin moves to Philadelphia from Berkeley, CA. She keeps a blog to keep her 2 best friends in Berkeley current on the ups and downs of her life. Naturally, chaos ensues. Won't tell you more - you'll want to read it yourself. Personally, I was a little confused about what grade level I would recommend this for. I'd love to know what other people think.

It made me think that it would be great to compile a list of fiction books which deal with technology and ethics, internet safety and technology in life for our digital natives. They may adapt quickly, but they still need so much time to think about the issues. Intellectual property and safety are the issues I'm most concerned our students are exposed to. Anyone have any suggestions. I'll post the list if there are enough comments.

Random Technology Comment #2

I've had a crazy week at work getting ready for Read Across America. When I did sit down at the end of the day, I found I was so busy catching up on everyone's blogs that I didn't too far ahead. Finally, I decided to take the good advice of others and add everyone's feeds to my reader. Well, who knew that would take so much time? Then I had to start reading the blogs all over again. I'm hoping it will save me time and allow me to continue to see everyone's posts. The one thing I worry about is that by getting just the most recent post I am not making the same kinds of connections. By going back to the original page I connect the posts to get an overall feeling about the person who posted them. I begin to see patterns. I start to get a sense of who each individual person is and what they value. By using feeds, the posts stand alone and unconnected. I may be able to keep up with the posts more effeciently, but I doubt they will do as much to build a community of us in Massachusetts who will then identify the blog with the person when we meet at MSLA events. Perhaps there is another forum for that, perhaps I could be more proactive about preventing that by clicking to the link and making the connections each time I see a new link. At least I would only be checking blogs which actually have been updated that way. It puts the responsibility back on me to make the connections. I find this thought provoking.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Week 5 Thing 10

I created this image using Although I have had a great deal of fun trying out the other image generators, I think I like this best. I used Ticker Factory to create the counter for our Dr. Seuss birthday celebration in March. This may be one of the tools I find myself using often.

I'll admit that I spent far too much time playing with the Lederhosen Dance Generator, the Nightingale Song Generator, and the R2D2 Translation Generator . There seems to be significant overlap in products. Like many other web related activities, these could really be time drainers. If I can make myself choose a background which is "good enough" rather than wondering if I can get one just a little bit better elsewhere, these products may be a real help to me. I think I will have to discipline myself to do just that.

Image generators which I thought would be really helpful include those which make posters, those which alter the image in some way to make it visually interesting (Sketch Generator, Photo Spread Effect Generator and Warhol Generator are some examples) and those which make cartoons. My mind is on overload thinking about all the ways that these tools could be used in our library. Posters to promote things we are learning, incentives for students (i.e. giveaways), ways to present the information gathered by students and writing prompts are some of the ideas which easily come to mind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Week 4 Thing 9 - Finding School Library Blogs and RSS Feeds

Exploring the many resources for this "thing" was interesting as I had never used them. In that sense it broadened my horizons. I'm glad to have a broader palette of tools to use when I need them.

The resource I found most interesting (though least helpful) was Blog Pulse. I can see why this would be useful, but I don't have any immediate need to use it.

In the end, however, I feel I will continue to add RSS feeds and find blogs in the same old way. There are enough blogs through professional organizations to which I belong that I struggle to keep up with the extracts from those. Then there are always the blogs which are listed in those blogs. I don't really feel much need to search for blogs. It's more a matter of continually weeding the list of RSS feeds to which I subscribe to make it more manageable. I don't really feel that RSS will ever make it take less time to look through my subscriptions. It's like what they say about houses - the stuff expands to fill the space. Well, my feeds will expand to fill my time. What it will do is allow me to do is to get more information for the time I invest.

Having said that, some of my favorite RSS feeds/blogs are unshelved, Chris Harris's infomancy, School Library Journal, The Hornbook Magazine blog,The Shifted Librarian, and Library Journal. I also subscribe to a number of Jane Austen feeds. These, too, I have pared down.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Purple Glasses which started it all

Originally uploaded by purple.glasses

These are the glasses which started it all. You can see them paired with two of my favorite Jane Austen novels: Pride & Prejudice and Persuation.

This completes the task I started several posts earlier. It was so easy to post this from flickr. Why didn't I get it right away?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Week 4 Thing 8 - RSS Feeds and Google Reader

I started using RSS feeds after our conference in November. I determined that I would go home and immediately try some of the things I learned in workshops before I got distracted by other responsibilities. I chose to start with what I learned about RSS feeds from the workshop by Chris Harris. Mr. Harris is always a pleasure to listen to and I always feel I get more ideas to ponder per minute than I have any right to expect. His combination of humor and thoughtfulness make him my speaker of choice every time.

I already had i-google on my computer, but was far from utilizing it's capabilities. Adding Google Reader was really productive. It's taken me a while to find the balance between adding anything and being rather spartan about additions. At first I added a large number of professional feeds and then got caught up in feeds for my other interests. Before long I realized that much of my "hobby" related feeds were really not something I was going to be interested in. As I dropped those things started to become more managable.

RSS certainly saves time by bringing the information to me. There is no doubt in my mind that RSS provides me with more pertinent information than I would be able to absorb by searching myself. The fact is that I often will look at an article because it is right in front of my nose and it looks enticing. I hadn't planned on reading articles, catching up or looking for information, but if it is front and center it gets my attention. That, I think, is the beauty of RSS. Bringing information to the reader without effort, without time outlay and making it easier to keep up to date without much outlay of time or effort.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week 3 Thing 7 - Random Technology comment

Maybe I'm stuck in a rut, but this course is really making me think about the time management skills required to use technology effeciently as well as effectively. It is all so interesting to me that I tend to get mesmorized by it.

I heard someone say the other day that old fashioned cameras were so much less work. You took a picture and developed it. You put the pictures in a box and that was it. Now you have to take them, upload them, choose which to print, print them, save them to another medium, share them online, crop them, rotate them, touch them up, etc., etc. Once all that is accomplished you have to delete them from your camera before you can take more. It is not a time saver. While I didn't agree completely with this opinion, there is something which resonates.

It reminds me of when scrapbooking made it's way into the craft scene. I was immediately attracted to it and at the same time I knew that starting was like playing with fire. Once you begin there are so many desires - photo albums, paper, special glue, special scissors, special punches, embellishments...the list is unending. Personally, I knew it was something I should run the other way from as I already had so many hobbies. The time, storage space, space in my brain and committment would have to vie with too many other things. So I have managed to escape without much more than a few cute hole punches and the occasional pretty piece of paper.

I am feeling much the same way now about technology. There are so many really fabulous applications which could be used to great advantage in the school library and personally. There will never be enough time to use them all well. Which will I choose? Which will I drop due to lack of the time/space continuum?

Technology which I especially want to use more or learn about:

podcasting (looking forward to week 9!)
wikis (week 7)
my new cell phone
mixing audio (I love Audacity)
recording audio

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Week 3 Thing 5 and Thing 6 - Flickr

I have had so much fun purusing flickr. There are so many possibilities for using flickr to enhance what we do in the school library. At our conference in November, I got a big dose of ideas for using flickr. Actually sitting down and doing it myself really brought home to me how much is out there in the etherscape waiting to be used and how little I ever have time to take advantage of. After we get through with the actual course I think I'll have to sign a contract with myself about using each technology in my school.

After hours of playing with flickr, I finally sat down to create a free account. I thought it would be fast and easy. After hours of getting familiar with what is available, how complicated could it be? Plenty complicated. It's not that I couldn't have done it the easy way, but I kept getting distracted. Finally, the new account was created, I chose the best of the mediocre photos I had taken last week and uploaded it. I can just hear the Staples commercial "That was easy." Then I tried to search for School Library learning2.0 to find my photo. While the photos which appeared in response to my search were inspirational (and so much nicer than the photo I submitted) I could not find my own photo this way. My photo is tagged and marked public, but, alas, it remains elusive. I'll try again tomorrow. Also, I couldn't figure out a way to make a link to this blog. So I will simply add the photo here. It is a photo of a story quilt we have hanging in our library.

The amount of time I spent on searching will be no surprise when you know that I had trouble passing by any of the mashups, special features, groups, extra. It is a whole new world for me and I felt like Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole.

I come away from this part of the course with two benefits. The first is a huge set of new tools and ideas for use in the library. The other is a new appreciation for what it means to be a young person today - the time involved in staying on top of things, for learning the things which make you stay current and in the loop, the enormity of learning it all, doing it all and making connections. I got lost in the geomap of noodles in Asia (highly recommended), I can't imagine how long I would have continued to search if other responsibilities had not called me away from my reverie. Wow!

What else did I think? I need to improve my photography skills. The vast numbers of breathtaking photos is really wonderful, but also somewhat oppresive for a beginner like myself.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Week 2 Thing 3 and 4

Create a Blog, Make an Avatar and Post it

This was a great exercise. Frankly, the most difficult thing about this was choosing a name for the blog. It's funny how it is not really the technology which makes creating web content difficult. It's more about the content. Mastering, or at least becoming familiar with the technology is actually much more finite than determining why do it in the first place.

Avatars are new to my experience. The experience was kind of addictive. Downloading it onto the blog was a mystery to me at first, so I was quite grateful for the information on the course site.

Week 1 Thing 2

7 1/2 Habits of Highly Successful Lifelong Learners

First, I have to admit that I was not able to access the attachments which accompanied this tutorial. Every time I clicked on one, it would start to come up and then disappear again. Finally I ran a double screen and typed the information I thought I would need into a Word document to work on it. I then created a Learning Contract Template for myself to use throughout this course and possibly into the future. The idea of signing a contract with myself regarding learning goals is a wonderful idea. It is likely to be an idea I continue to use in the future.

Easiest Skill:
Skill 4 Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.
I don't tend to think much about whether I can do something or not. I just dive into anything I am interested in. The exception to the rule is anything to do with a saw, hammer or nails.

Hardest Skill:
Skill 1 Begin with the end in mind.
I'm pretty good at beginning, but I don't always have a practical application in mind. That being the case, it is pretty easy to get distracted by all the other things which vie for attention and not really get comfortable with a skill.

Week 1 Thing 1

Reading through the School Library 2.0 website was really inspiring. I am really looking forward to learning more about each of the skills which are detailed in the schedule for the next 9 weeks. I know I'll mention this later in Thing 2, but one of the things which made this so attractive is that someone else organized it and created a plan. Many of the skills/technologies are things I have heard about and even dabbled in, but I look forward to exploring them in a structured way, with the added advantage of shared experience.

I am really looking forward to this experience.