Monday, March 31, 2008

Week 9, Thing #23

Copyright and Creative Commons
The School Library Learning 2.0 website does a great job of acknowledging the source and inspiration for this online course. It says so right on the blog: Learning 2.0 is a discovery learning program created by Helene Blowers. Content and style for School Library Learning 2.0 and Classroom Learning 2.0 have been borrowed and duplicated with permission, under a Creative Commons License.

Thoughts on this online course:

The many Web 2.0 features that have stuck with me and that I continue to use tell me that the course was of value. Some of these features I use because I simply enjoy them, and others have become part of my work routine.
Some of the highlights:
  1. I found out that I love to blog. And I have really learned how to set up a blog as a "one-stop shopping" site for myself by adding feeds and widgets. In addition to this blog I also have one that chronicles my Peruvian trip last summer: I will continue to use blogs to keep a record of my most memorable travels.
  2. Wikis are great for collaborative professional learning. Our LMT group in the district set up a wiki that compares library automation systems. We were all able to go to the wiki to try out the demo sites and to add to the comments on the features of each system. The Board of Education was very impressed by the process, and when we requested funds to pay for the automation conversion, they all voted in support of us!
  3. I use online word processing and other tools on a regular basis. My preferred online source for this is Google docs. I use their documents and calendar frequently and am starting to use the reader.
  4. I thoroughly enjoy "Library Thing". I have two accounts set up: one for my personal interest reading, and one for children's books. I used to write down every book I read in my pocket calendar, but now I just add the books in Library Thing. I was having trouble remembering what books I'd read and what they were about, but this tool is a big help.
  5. I haven't yet started using .nings or social bookmarking sites very much. The same can be said for Technorati and Rollyo. I enjoy using Flickr but haven't spent much time on it.

Many thanks to CSLA for setting up this online course. Nine weeks turned into over 6 months for me, but now I have indeed finished!!

I found out that the public librarians in our county and in a neighboring county have been doing "The 23 Things" as well - with their own online tutors and leaders. They were very happy and impressed when I told them that the school librarians in the area were on board as well.

Thanks to the School Library Learning 2.o team and to bibliofan for your encouraging comments throughout this course.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Week 9, Thing #22

E-books and audiobooks:

Project Gutenberg is an excellent resource for free e-books, especially if you're looking for a classic. I saw that you can even download some audio books as well, such as The Call of the Wild. And you can get some of the classics, such as Alice in Wonderland, in plain text, html, or pdf versions.
Our local public libraries give patrons the ability to check out either standard ebooks or audio ebooks. I tested this out with two local library systems. The larger system, serving a city of over 900,000, had far fewer audio ebooks than my local library system, that serves a community of under 200,000. Both systems use NetLibrary. The ebooks on NetLibrary are attractive - they are basically online views of the book, with the exact same formatting, photographs, and illustrations. My local library system has about 1,000 downloadable audio ebooks at this point, but none are available for download to ipods or Macintosh computers, though they are supported by a number of other devices.
We are using audiobooks on iPods rather successfully in our school library. A grandparent at our school repairs old iPods. He approached me several months ago with the suggestion of making audiobooks available to students on the iPods. Right now we have 8 iPods with about 15 fourth- and fifth-grade level novels on each of them. We use them to expose some of the students in Title I reading classes to literature their peers are enjoying, but that they cannot yet access independently. I've purchased multiple paperback copies of the titles we have available on the iPods, and have the students listen to the audiobooks while they follow along with the actual book. The students do this twice a week for 40-minute periods, and can come in to listen to the books any time during recesses. We also let them check out the iPod and book over the weekends and during school breaks. It's been a great success.
Here are a couple of our students enjoying The Series of Unfortunate Events and Loser by Jerry Spinelli on the library's iPods. 

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Week 9, Thing #21

I read in the instructions for this exercise that you don't need an ipod or mp3 player, and that's true. But, to really take advantage of podcasts, I think you'd want one. I don't have one yet, but am now thinking of getting one so I can listen to the podcasts that interest me without having to sit in front of my computer. I think of podcasts as a sort of "tivo" for computer users: you're able to automatically save programs that interest you and then listen to them/view them when you want. I used iTunes for my directory and for subscribing to podcasts. But, until I get an iPod or similar device, I'm resisting the urge to subscribe to all the programs I want to hear. I listened to an Amy Goodman "Democracy Now" program that I missed. However, I've only subscribed to one podcast - a French instructional podcast called "The French Podcast". I've been trying to teach myself French for ten years and have been somewhat successful up to a point. I completed a year-long video course and practice when I can, but I think that some of these podcasts can help me with vocabulary and keep me up-to-date on issues in French society and culture. Nous verrons.
There are so many options for the teacher who wants to use podcasts in her/his classes, if the technology is available. I think you can create podcasts directly from a Mac, if I'm not mistaken, using iMovie. A teacher could generate podcasts or have students create them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Week 9, Thing #20

If you've read any of the previous posts on this blog, you'll know that I took a trip to the incredible country of Peru last summer. I chose this video of the sunrise at Machu Picchu from YouTube. I've been a YouTube addict for a few months. I love to search concert clips from some of my favorite singers and musicians, or pieces of a stand-up routine of a favorite comic.
I have a number of saved clips of Rosemary Clooney on my playlist on YouTube. She was a great singer and I was lucky to have been able to see her live in concert a few times before she passed away in 2002.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Week 8, Thing #19

Library Thing
I feel that I've just skimmed the surface of this online tool. As an individual user, I enjoyed reading reviews from other users of books that I consider 5 stars. Looking at lists of other users who have similar tastes can lead you to some books that might be of interest. I'm not sure how "cataloging" functions as a help to librarians at this point. I've gone through the Library Thing tour, and the FAQs. I didn't run across any information on how to catalog a book and then download the information to your library automation software. But exploring tags is fun, and I'm impressed with the variety of ways you can search for and then import titles into your own library. I'd like to explore a bit more how public and school libraries are using Library Thing on their own websites. The widget for my "Library Thing" is at the lower right.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Week 8, Thing #18

Online Applications:
I've been using Google Docs for the past few months and have found it to be a very useful tool. First, I used it to create my weekly schedule. I then published the schedule and made it available for the staff to view by sending out a weekly e-mail with the link. It's been part of my effort to reduce paper and copying usage and be a little more "green". You can view a sample of the online schedule by clicking here.
I also use the same template that I created for the schedule to develop my lesson plans. However, I don't publish my lesson plans on the web. What I like about having my lesson plans accessible online is that I can adjust them easily as the week progresses. My schedule often changes and my lessons often need tweaking. Plus, I can place links right on my plans that lead me to online resources I might need for a given lesson.
My district library colleagues and I use Google Docs for collaborative documents. For example, we have been drafting a letter to the board of education regarding our need for a new library automation system. We find this an effective way to collaboratively draft a document, much better than sending and resending an attachment via e-mail.
I've also played around with the Google calendar. The calendar has a lot of great features. I especially like the way you're able to block time slots weekly, biweekly, or monthly for an extended period of time. It's also very easy to publish your calendar to a blog or website.