Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm "under-optimized"

Here's an update to my blog so that Blogger, hopefully, will not bother me via email to update and optimize my blog.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thing 23

I have really enjoyed this online course. What I have learned is relevant to my job and will be useful in my teaching. I really enjoyed the way each lesson was presented. The how-to videos were wonderful, yours and those by the Common Craft. It was so productive to go out and do the work involved in each lesson, rather than just learning about it, but never doing it.

Even lessons that were on topics with which I was already familiar taught me nuances that were new to me. I became more comfortable with some topics and learned many, many new things on additional topics.

My favorite new topics were social bookmarking and wikis. I can really imagine a lot of uses for wikis and am eager to get started with a new project of some kind. My least favorite topic was the RSS feed. I don't want all that stuff I'm "supposed" to read coming at me day after day! However, it is good to know and understand the process.

This course has made me more aware of the possibilities of the digital world in teaching. There are so many ideas I would never have imagined before this class! It has also made me realize that students are learning in such a different world than I did. To meet their needs, educators need to embrace the digital world.

I will continue to learn about web 2.0 tools by continuing to use them. The more I use these tools, the better I will get with them. I also think that by showing colleagues some of these tools, they will become more ingrained in my work. I would definitely be interested in taking another 23 Things class, if a continuation were to be offered.

Thing 22

I added item #33 to the class wiki: A site to further explore a novel being studied in class, with additional information about places in the book, items talked about, etc. This was the idea from my favorite wiki I found in the previous thing, the Hanalee Book Wiki.

My wiki is located here: It was pretty easy to create the wiki and add items. I added a couple of books along with website links and videos and cover art. I checked out how to use the other widgets, but none of them seemed useful for my page. Making a wiki page about books is another addictive task for me. I could spend forever adding and searching for all of my favorite books and authors.

I enjoyed making the wiki more than blogging. I don't really like to write about myself, i.e. blogging. Making a wiki doesn't require that. It can be more factual. A blog is one person writing ideas, essays, thoughts, etc. Others can read the blog and write comments (if allowed), but that's it. A wiki can be used as a collaborative tool by many people. Everyone can contribute instead of the final result being the product of one person. A teacher could use a blog to post class notes, but a wiki could be used for students to share their class notes with each other; the teacher would not have to do anything. A person could blog about research they have completed. A group working on a research project together could create a wiki to share their results and finalize their project. The collaboration involved in a wiki makes it much more interesting to me for use in the education world.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thing 21

For an elementary school, which is the level at which I teach, I like the Hanalee Book Wiki. The information included on the different pages was useful, well-organized, and added more detail to the story.

For personal use, I think wikiHow is a lot of fun. There are all sorts of useful how-tos as well as some funny ones.

Having a wiki as a school website, like Arbor Heights Elementary School Wiki, is an intriguing idea. I am not our school webmaster, so making this switch would not be my decision.

Examples of Educaitonal Wikis is an interesting site for someone who is planning a wiki and needs ideas, but just having an alphabetical list of sites makes perusal difficult. The search function doesn't work to search for wikis on specific topics.

I would be most inspired to create my own wiki by the Hanalee Book Wiki. As a media specialist, I could see this wiki being created by a classroom under the guidance of their classroom teacher and me, the media specialist. I don't see the students for enough time to make it a project they would complete only with me. I have a fixed schedule in the media center, so I cannot schedule more time with a class or meet with them as needed. My schedule is booked with other classes. So, there's one hurdle. Another hurdle would be finding a teacher who is interested in collaborating on a wiki. Since I only meet with each class for 45 mintues a week, much of the work with the students would fall upon her. I could collaborate with her on our own time for planning and for technical know-how. Students could complete some work in the media center, but most of their computer time would have to be with their classroom teacher. I think a wiki on a book would be valuable to students and would be worth the fight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thing 20

Immediately upon opening the Education Podcast Network (EPN)(, I was put off by the appearance. The font is unappealing, and the amount of text is off-putting.

I listened to a few podcasts made by elementray students first. Some were enhanced podcasts; some were just audio. I was surprised by how many I found from Great Britain and Australia. Than I checked out some English/Language Arts podcasts. Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd was amusing. He plays recordings of jokes children have called in to his show. Book Voyages' description sounded good for my profession, but the podcasts didn't work. I tried many of the literature or book-related podcasts. So many didn't work. Others worked, but weren't interesting to me. My beloved Grammar Girl was here though! In the miscellaneous category, the One Minute How-To podcast was fun. There are a vast variety of categories: how to get rid of my clutter, how to wax cross-country skis, how to select a stock, and more!

EPN is small enough that it doesn't take too long to glance through all of the titles of the podcasts. Unfortunately, with many of the podcasts that I chose, I received various error messages and could not open the podcasts.

In Podcast Alley (, it's nice to be able to narrow the selection down by genre, but it needs more organization. For example, once in Education, there is just a random list of all 1,985 podcasts. This is not helpful for locating material. It is useful that clicking on a podcast title allows a short description of the podcast to pop up. To try to get a smaller group of podcasts, I searched "library" and got 163 results, many of which were specific to an individual library. The search function did not allow me to search for library in the education genre; it only searched the entire site. I listened to part of a few podcasts. Here's the problem: just like with blogs, there are a lot of people out there who think they have something interesting to say, but it's of no interest to me. With blogs, I can skim their posts and quickly ascertain the usefulness, or not. With podcasts, I have to listen to them blather on to see if they'll ever have anything of interest to say. Searching "children's literature" yielded 200 results, some of which seemed more promising, but how much time do I have to listen to all 200 of these? I listened to some of a few, but nothing inspired me.

Podcast Alley also contained podcasts that would not work. Some podcasts that are listed haven't had a new podcast for 3 or more years, so wouldn't be useful for subscriptions. Also, it would be nice if search results here could be limited to a chosen language.

I already had iTunes installed on my computer. The video showing how to search for podcasts on iTunes was not working. So, I poked around iTunes on my own and looked at available podcasts. Of course, I subscribed to Grammar Girl. I used iTunes to subscribe, rather than Bloglines. I visit iTunes regularly and can easily download the podcasts to my iPod.