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.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thing 19

I've listened and watched some podcasts in the past, but I was excited to learn more about them. One problem I've noticed with v-casts is sometimes they just don't come through smoothly. I have had trouble with the video portion freezing while the audio continues and with the audio and video not being in sync. I had some of these problems with the Wayne RESA podcasts as well. The podcast of part 1 even closed itself on me in the middle.

Exploring podcasts has to be one of the most time-consuming tasks we've had. Some podcasts take what seems like forever to load. Then, they are often quite long, so you have to listen for a long time to see if the podcasts are useful. Some that I tried to access wouldn't load at all by clicking on them. I think I would need to do the right click, "save as" method to open these podcasts.

I like StoryNory ( for a free way to listen to stories. However, the commercial that comes before the story is annoying and could be confusing for students who aren't good readers when they are trying to follow along with the words. I would like the format better if the story's words weren't in one long column. Maybe an enhanced podcast would be nicer, but probably more difficult to produce. Students who like pictures will probably complain about this site. I could see using this with my elementary-age students. I could show the site to students and add a link to it to our website and our computers' destops.

I also love Grammar Girl ( I am sometimes referred to as Grammar Queen, so listening to someone talk about grammar makes me smile all over. I also like how I can read the transcript of the podcasts here rather than listen to the audio. Reading is faster than listening, saving me time. Others may be auditory listeners and prefer to listen. It was difficult to tear myself away from this site. I could see Grammar Girl's podcasts being useful for reinforcing grammar rules for older students. Some of Grammar Girl's podcast also have commercials.

Nancy Keane's booktalks ( are interesting to me as a librarian. They are nice and short, but I wish she had them organized in some way, maybe by interest age. If they were organized, it would be a useful way for students to listen to booktalks when they need an idea of what to read next.

I like FirstBook also ( The author interviews would be a nice way to supplement an author study. There seem to be only a few author podcasts here though, so you'd have to get lucky to find one on the author you needed.

Thing 18

In Slideshare's ( most viewed presentations ("views"), many were in other languages, and some were wallpaper rather than slideshows. So, this is an interesting place to look, but not the most effective way to search. The same is true for "favorites" and "featured." There is a wide variety of topics that are covered here!

Choosing the "Education" link narrows things down a bit. I noticed that some presentations aren't really meant for us strangers to view and understand. I think some members of Slideshare have loaded presentations here that they will need at a future date. So, without their speaking while showing the slideshow, we don't really understand it. When I clicked on most viewed education videos of all time, I saw several on Web 2.0!

Searching can be time-consuming, but I noticed that when entering my own search term, I could choose the language for my results. I finally chose a narrow enough search that I found some useful results. I chose this presentation on the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDCS) that I could use with my students:

I liked this presentation because it was simple and could be used with young students. It covers pretty much exactly what I say when I teach the DDCS, but the added visuals are nice.

Slideshare is definitely useful if I am giving a presentation. I can save my slideshow and then just access it at the time and location of my presentation (assuming they have Internet access). In the classroom, I could use slideshows I find at Slideshare (like the one above) to enhance lessons I teach. I could also creat my own slideshows and save them to Slideshare. Also, when students are doing research, they could create slideshows as their presentation method and share them via Slideshare.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thing 17

I decided to explore Library Thing (, of course. Uh, librarian here. It's like cataloging all my bookmarks in Delicious; I could spend forever here listing all the books I've read! Anyway, I added a bunch of books. It's very easy to do. They come with pictures of the cover art...very nice. I rated them all, from 1 to 5 stars. I mostly stuck to books I've read or reread recently. There are so many more, but it would be an impossible task to make this a complete list. I think it's best just to add things as I read them.

I added children's books and adult books. I can add tags, like in Delicious, but I haven't yet. I guess it would help other people to search my library, but I don't care about that. Users can also write reviews for books (haven't done that either). Library Thing will make "clouds" of your authors and your tags. It's not very accurate for me because I randomly added some books from my favorite authors, but not all of their books. I wish in adding books I could select several at once from the results list, but it's a one-at-a-time deal. So, the back and forth limited how many I added.

Authors have libraries on Library Thing too. I chose a couple to add to my "favorite authors." There are too many favorites to choose from here too! For someone who loves to read, this could be a neverending task.

Library Thing will also show local bookstores and book events for you. However, Library Thing believes I live in Boston. I don't know where it got that idea. I perused my profile over and over and cannot find anything that specifies such a location.

In Library Thing, you can join groups. I joined a couple, but already have places online where I chat with people and don't really have time for more of that. Yet, the groups could be useful in the future if I need to pose a question to a specific group of readers.

Library Thing gives me recommendations of books to read. However, since I didn't take the time to add every single book by authors that I have read, the suggestions are mainly more books by authors that I have listed. I've already read the recommended books, I just didn't take the time to search them all out and add them.
I never have trouble finding new books to read. I actually get kind of annoyed when someone hands me a book to read that they own, so they want it back. So, I have to read it in a timely manner and return it to them and tell them what I think. I prefer to choose my own books. Most people who do this to me have taste that is very different from mine, and I don't enjoy what they hand me.

Library Thing could be a useful tool. I could keep an account with just children's books and my students could look to see what books I read and how I rated the books. I can't even imagine the amount of time it would take to set this up. Then students would need accounts too in order to look at mine. Oy. It would be more useful to me professionally for connecting with other children's librarians. However, I see myself using it more in my personal life.

Thing 16

I'd heard about Google Docs before, but forgot about it before I ever got around to using it. I can see myself using this tool a lot, even just between my home computer and my work computer. I often had to email myself documents back and forth from work and home so I could work on them in both locations. This is much nicer!

I noticed that I lost formatting when I imported documents though. Depending on the complexity of the formatting, this could be annoying. I also didn't like that with spreadsheet documents in Google Docs, the option for saving is "Save and close." What if I just want to save it so I don't lose my work, but I'm not ready to close it? Weird. Word processing documents in Google Docs allowed me to just "Save."

One of my documents would not import into Google Docs. The site gave me two options to try. The first was to save my documents as a webpage and then import it. I did, but it didn't work. The second option was to copy my entire document and paste it into a new document in Google Docs. This worked.

I uploaded some documents for myself to work on at home and work. I also uploaded a schedule from a previous year that other teachers and I make together. If I can get them on Google Docs, we will be able to work together on this document much more easily in the future years.

In using Google Docs with students, yes, they would all need email addresses. It could be useful for students working on reports. The teacher can monitor the student's progress on Google Docs and make suggestions for editing. The student can edit, and the teacher can easily see the updates. Students can also make use of Google Docs in the same way I would, by working on their documents at home and at school.