Thursday, March 18, 2010


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

  • Although I often WANT to learn about new tools and websites, my daily obligations usually take up my time and attention, and I keep putting off the shoulds of my own professional development. Having this extended structured time was very helpful in giving me the opportunity -- or the excuse -- to fulfill my goals. The role of a school library media specialist / instructional technology facilitator is to help teachers to learn and use new technologies and to embed them within their curricular practices. This program has helped me by allowing ME to learn new tools, as well as spreading the word that media specialists are available to help teachers who also want to learn and use new tools.

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

  • Not really. I expected to learn new things, and I did. I expected to find some wonderful new tools, and I did. I expected to be amazed at the things my colleagues created, and I was.

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

  • I can't think of a single improvement. It is portable, flexible, and incorporates a variety of TYPES of tools that can be used in a variety of instructional settings.

If we offered another Web 2.0 program like this in the future, would you encourage colleagues to participate? What would you tell them?

  • ABSOLUTELY! This is a wonderful format for learning new skills - especially those that center on web-based tools. Learning hands-on, with an eye towards implementing these tools in one's job, made this relevant and motivating. I could work on it at home or at school. I could do two lessons - or even three or four - at a sitting. I could fall behind, only to catch up when I had a chance. This really takes into account all the demands on a teacher's time and attention.

How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote the program in the future?

  • (Now, you KNOW I'm anything but concise!) But here goes . . . "17 Things is just the Thing to jump-start your energy and enthusiasm for teaching in a way that meets students where they live - and where they'll need to be able to work in their future."

Thank you for organizing this for us, Alicia! It has been really fun - AND educational, and collaborative, and all that web 2.0-type stuff!

Thing 17 - My Choice

I looked at about 9 different sites from the Webware 100 list, and I think I'll add Webware 100 to my Delicious account. This will be a great resource to return to if I want to "up my skills" in new technologies. The ones I chose to tell you all about are listed below, with brief descriptions:

  • Good Guide This site is a good one for consumers wanting to preview products in order to select items that are environmentally friendly, safe, and healthy. You can search for something, let's say a soup. The results will rank by rating in each category (Health, Environment, and Social), as well as an average rating on all three criteria. Then you can sort the results by price or by ranking -- and you can filter them by other criteria. For example, you might wish to see highly-ranked soups that are low in saturated fats, or low in salt. You might wish to see floor cleaners that are fragrance-free, or that weren't tested on animals. Reportedly this site will soon be available in an app for an iPhone -- irrelevant to me, but a great idea because of its portability.
  • Aviary I love this one -- it's a replacement for Adobe's expensive suite of programs like PhotoShop, Illustrator, etc. With this free web tool, people can not only edit photos, but also edit vector images, adjust colors, apply visual effects, and more. People can also collaborate on a project. I think that a background knowledge of what's possible to do with these tools would help -- or else plan on a steep learning curve and a significant amount of time devoted to learning how to use Aviary. But this is definitely one I plan to use - and would maybe offer a workshop on this in the future.
  • Hulu My son had already told me about this one, and I had a hard time imagining that producers of movies or TV shows would voluntarily post their products for people to watch on line -- for free! But here it is. When I learned that there is a valid business-plan reason for them to share their content, it made more sense. They believe that viewing shows boosts DVD sales -- and the stuff is only posted for a limited time online. So if people want to see a show, they'll need to buy it for future viewing. I can tell that this is true, because I looked for the last episode of "Monk," and all I could find were clips and interviews. Bah. -- But I COULD watch this week's episode of "NCIS." Yea!

And now, for the one I will promote, dig into more deeply, etc. etc.:

  • diigo This is a content sharing and bookmarking tool -- but I like its uses for research. In our big6 lessons we emphasize students' interactions with the written word -- the reading, paraphrasing, summarizing, synthesizing, etc. Students are taught how to identify the main idea(s) in an article, highlight (or underline) the main words, summarize them in an annotation along the side, and then paraphrase the idea or fact into their own words on a Notes Page graphic organizer. Diigo would help with the highlighting and annotating (they call this 'adding sticky notes') part of it, allowing students to save paper, to use a cool Web 2.0 tool, and yet still accomplish the goals of reading, writing, and thinking. (One reason we've focused on these skills is past observation of students doing too much copy-and-paste when "doing research." They would capture words without really reading or understanding them, and then would regurgitate them in some kind of pseudo-written product -- really more of a plagiarized collage of words taken from various articles they'd found online.
  • The bookmarking and tagging features are like Delicious (hey, does this mean I can eliminate ONE of the many useful sites on my list, to consolidate features under one useful window? Yea!)
  • One possible disadvantage to diigo is that you have to download a free toolbar -- which subsequently allows you to bookmark, highlight, save for later, send, or do other things with webpages that you're viewing. I was able to download the toolbar -- but haven't yet rebooted my computer to see if it's still there. On your home computer, this should not be any problem at all. And diigo is FREE!

Here is a video which shows what diigo is, and how to use it:

Diigo V4: Research ~ annotate, archive, organize from diigobuzz on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thing 16 - ScreenToaster

Since I couldn't get the embed thing to work, here's the URL for my ScreenToast:

I had a lot of trouble getting the audio to work, but after some superhuman rescue attempts by Deb Friedman, I was ready to go for my 5th attempt at recording the same no-script how-to video. (So if I made mistakes or repeated myself, blame the repeated efforts.) By and large, however, I like this THING a lot! Now that I've successfully completed it, I can imagine making many more instructional videos to post to our website for new staff, for mini-lessons (how to do a mail merge, for example), how to set up your library account so that you can track your circulation, how to use SWAN to find a book -- and then how to get the library to order it for you -- and so on , and so on, and so on.

For classroom teachers, this could be a great teaching tool -- but for students, what wonderful practice in oral expression. Good for learning how to deliver information verbally (a Speech component of the English curriculum?), and also good for information technology skills -- how to "do" technology language and literacy. If they can teach it, they will know it themselves. I would limit the length of a video presentation - to teach how to be concise, and also so that the "teachers" don't lose their audience. So pre-planning (storyboarding, practicing, etc.) are important.

All in all, a good thing!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thing 15 - Voicethread

Well, even though I'm commenting in my blog about Thing 15 in order, I actually made my Voicethread comments a couple of weeks ago, when Alicia posted this task. It IS cool. I experimented with commenting by drawing, typing, and "phoning in" my comments. It was fun to see what others did. It would be interesting to see whether this would actually be a good teaching (or learning) tool. Though it seems neat and collaborative, it seems there would be quicker ways to get fellow-learners to pool their knowledge. I liked the possibility for delivering a lesson online (as the art teacher did in the demo we watched), but a video might work just as well. It seems that Voicethread, just like Animoto, would be most effective if the content were minimized. Short and sweet and get to the point. Otherwise, even WITH the visuals and the audio, it seems to drag on too long without really GOING anywhere.

A tour of the library for new students might be nice -- to point out where they could go for different types of materials. We could add comments on how to find and use our catalog, where to find the biographies, where our "Book of the Day" and new books are displayed, and so on.

Seems to leave out the ELL students, unless you used a native language for the voiceover while typing the English -- or something like that. (too bad both modes of comments won't "play" at the same time!)

I will be fascinated to see if any teachers find a way to use this at RB -- please let me know if you do!

Thing 14: Wiki

Well, Alicia D., I think that (from looking at Welker's econ wiki) a wiki might offer more formatting opportunities than Google Docs. I think both equally invite collaborative content creation. I liked all the different ways that Mr. Welker set up his wiki -- he had obviously been AT it for a long time! and experimented with a variety of uses for his class. As you might recall, I thought that Weebly was somewhat limited in its layout options. It seems that wetpaint allows a lot of widgets, sharing among different sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, etc., and it INVITES viewers to participate in a way that a weebly website wouldn't. All in all, I think they are all more useful for teachers than our current Curriculum Page option, where the librarian usually sets up the page and posts it to the web. A wiki allows teachers to do their own updates regularly. And for organizing a course with student postings, chapter summaries and links to helpful resources, polling options, and so on, this wiki tool seems really helpful. I am going to set one up for our preparation for the School Board presentation. That way you, Susie, and I can all throw things into the mix and not lose ideas or actual paper in my mess of an office. -- Doreen F.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thing 13 - Animoto

I love the idea of Animoto, and found it not-too-hard to do. But then I realized that I hadn't used it to its full potential. I only included images, and didn't do some of the text- or video- options. I want to play with this some more. I love the examples by students, and could definitely see this as an option for students doing a presentation. Especially students trying to make an impression or catch one's attention. This kind of presentation doesn't allow for a lot of information content, but it sure would allow students to set the mood or make an emotional impact. Nice to allow students to use visuals, and to demonstrate their visual literacy, too.

Here is the video I created - no, it has nothing to do with school or education. But I had lots of pictures at home, and since Bob and I just celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary . . .

Create your own video slideshow at

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thing 12 - Creative Commons

This might not be as wonderful as I had hoped. Finding content in CC is not very easy - I searched for music that our TV kids could use to save us some software money currently used to purchase copyright-free music for their TV productions. But I got caught in a seemingly-neverending loop of assorted websites. Some linked to Myspace and other music-distribution websites. One that looked promising (royalty free music library) charged $79 per "album". So the ROYALTY was free, but not the music. Most of the websites that were in the list when I searched for "copyright free music" linked to sites that don't have a creative commons link. This might not be useful for me. Or else I have to spend a TON more time on here learning to use it -- and you KNOW that students won't want to go to that trouble.

I guess this goes against the grain of my librarian soul which wants to make information easily available to students. It might be nice for people trying to license their own productions, but not so much for people searching for licensed works to use.

Final grades (on a 1-5 scale, 1 being low) for:
Usefulness = 2
User-friendliness = 1
Organization = 1