Sunday, August 9, 2009

Implementation Plan

I was unsure as to whether I was supposed to include the implementation plan on the blog or email it, but most seem to be doing it on the blog so I will follow suit. Actually, I am very glad that this is where they are because it is fun to read them.

I already have a wiki for NPHS library, but it is static and I would very much like to make it more evolving and interactive. In view of this it seemed most logical for my implementation plan to involve making some of these changes.

Just before I left school last spring I added a page for my student reading group, Patriot Readers (our school mascot is the Patriot), but did not really do anything with the page. I intend for it to name the book we are reading for the month, the date of our next meeting, and the reading list for this school year as well as past years. Then I want to create a blog for book discussion and link it to this page. I think I will have it only open to members of the reading group at first, which is usually from 10 - 14 students. I intend to make it available to more students later but don't know if it will ever be entirely open to the public--I have to see how it all goes. I would like this blog to include discussion on the book we are reading and whatever else students are reading. I will also use it to talk about good books I read and want to recommend or tell students about new books I just placed in the library. Students can also recommend books for the library or to read in Patriot Readers.

To make it even a bit more exciting, I think I will have students create an avatar to use in the blog, at least the Patriot Readers kids. I thought that activity was really fun and I bet they could come up with some really interesting ones when they aren't limited in any way but common decency!

The second thing I would like to attempt this year is a student book review using VoiceThread. I would have the student come to the library and facilitate their particular Thread, but have them all part of the one package. Then I would like to link this project to my library wiki and advertise in school that student book reviews are available if someone wants a recommendation from a peer. I would probably start this with my Patriot Readers students and students who regularly come to check out books. I think students would be more likely to listen to something like this than to read written reviews, and I think it could become very interesting and exciting. Reading advisory is one of the really fun connections with kids. I learn so much about them and what kids want to read. I will have to work with the kids so they can get across the gist of the book but not reveal the ending or important happenings in their reviews.

For my own personal use, I want to improve on and build up my Google Reader and my page so they are truly useful to me at school.

If I truly get all of that done this school year I will impress myself beyond words. I just think all of them would make my library a little closer to becoming a Library 2.o facility.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Week 9, Thing 23, Wrap It Up!!

I really enjoyed the copyright video and wonder if it would work for students. Or, knowing how Disney protects it copyright, would it just confuse the issue? Copyright is a huge issue in high school, especially with online information and resources. Part of the reason is just the ease of copying and part of it is ignorance of the topic. Students truly do thing that if it can be copied, it is OK to do so. There is a lot of education to do on this subject.

Creative Commons was fascinating. I really love the idea that creative people can share all or part of their creations. I think it really optimizes creativity when people can build on each others creations and add to it or alter it in some way. Really exciting stuff. Plus the peace of knowing what you are doing is legal. Copyright laws are not always real clear.

Raven About 2.0 was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to sample lots of online tools. Not all of it excites me, but plenty does lend itself to many possibilities in the library. Some of the online image generators are wonderful tools for someone who is basically not very creative to pretend to be somewhat creative. I know I can use some of them for posters, postcards, etc. I also really do want to try using VoiceThread to have students do oral book reviews or book talks. And I truly hope this is the year I can get a blog going off my library wiki.

The class took way more than the 32 hours we were required to put in to fulfill the credit--at least for me. Sometimes I was amazed at how long I had been online working for one of the Things. Others took less time, usually because I was familiar with the tool. A few of the links were broken so were dead ends. Overall, these criticisms are so minor comparing to the overall benefits of the class. I loved the format of working at my own speed and communicating with you, Ann, and the other students via the blog. I really enjoyed reading the other blogs--so much that I even read some of the older ones from former sessions. It is interesting that everyone reacts so uniquely to different tools, but that there were a lot of commonalities. Some tools, like VoiceThread and Flickr toys, are almost universally loved. The shear volume of available blogs was overwhelming to most Raven 2.o bloggers.

Thank you, Ann, for putting this class together. I learned a lot and now know that I don't have to be at all afraid of these tools. Most are easy and intuitive to use, and I now have the textbook (which I really enjoyed and have read from cover to cover) to use as a tutorial when I venture to use one. I feel less like a novice now that I at least know what someone is talking about when they mention a tool!

Chapter 2, Students and Learning

I chose this chapter because I feel so strongly that there are such major differences between the way my generation teaches and the way this generation of students learn and live. The internet is their primary social arena now as well as the place they go to do homework and absolutely the first place they go for information. I was interested to read that the fastest growing group to be online is preschool children. This means that these kids are going to be even more wired than high school kids are today.

Technology can no longer be an extra in schools, used to add a bit of pizazz to a lesson. It must become a tool like calculators and pencils have been for years. Students want to use technology to learn as well as socialize. The author states that students want adults to move beyond using the "Internet for Internet's sake." That is when the excitement can start. With all the tools available online, there is no end to the possibilities.

One of the first things schools need to do is equip every student with a laptop that they use in each class and take home. This would eliminate all the problems we have today with imcompatibility of programs between versions on home computers and those on the school computers. It would level the playing field for all students, and it would encourage the use of computers for communication between teachers and students. I think we need to start communicating via social networks and texting because this is the favored communication of this generation.

I loved the two Bloom's taxonomy charts showing the traditional next to the one revised for the influence of technology. Technology encourages a higher order of thinking that goes beyond evaluation into the realm of creating. We don't need to trash the old educational tools but combine them with technology to reach a more powerful level of learning. Technology also makes it easier for students to find and use the learning style of their preference. We, as educators, can more reliably meet the needs of each student and push them to meaningful learning.

I like the idea of learning as a continual process, leading to a variety of different careers or fields as we age. We no longer need to view education as a preparation for one job for our entire life, but know we can continuously learn and change our knowledge and do it in an informal, personal way rather than the formal education that we faced exclusively in past decades. It is all really exciting.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Week 9, Thing 22, Ebooks and Audio Ebooks

World Ebook Fair is an interesting site to play around with. Though I had used the Guttenberg Project in the past I had not used this site that incorporates Guttenberg along with so much else. If only the average high school student were more interested in the classics! I did have trouble locating much in the line of children's classics, for example the E.B. White books. They must not be public domain yet.

I listened to the video and it looks like a site that fits the description of making information available so that we can have buildingless schools. I then went to "Ebooks About Everything" and searched for Obama and found 42 titles. So there is already a great deal of information out there in ebook format.

Librivox is a great site to send students who want an Audiobook of a required classic when our library copy is already checked out. It was easy to search and, on my fast connection at home, the first chapter of Bleak House only took a minute to download and the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice only about 6 seconds. Some titles had more than one version so that if the listener didn't like a voice or accent, there were other options. The hits also gave a connection to the ebook on Guttenberg and referenced one or more wikipedia pages on authors, time periods, etc. I know I will refer students to this site. Unfortunately many of them probably do not have fast internet at home, and I know this would be unbelievably tedious on dialup connection. This is also the site where I made an RSS to a podcast so I should become very familiar with it in the future.

I had considered purchasing ebooks for school so had researched at that time. They have a nice, current collection and the prices are pretty reasonable. I checked for the Twilight series and they had the entire collection at around $40 each, not too steep for a massively popular title.

I don't do a lot with ebooks myself because I prefer to read with a book in hand. However, I am on the verge of ordering a Kindle so travel is lighter with such strict weight limits now. I do want to set myself up with whatever device I need or add-ons to my computer that allow me to use these online free audio-ebooks when I am on a driving trip!

Chapter 9, New Schools

I am so completely in agreement with this chapter. The sad thing is that the book is copyrighted 2007 and we still aren't even close to accomplishing the goals of School 2.0. Our students know how to use the tools, but we need to get the faculty up to their level and figure out how to implement the tools and completely alter teaching as we know it today. Some teachers and librarians, myself included, dabble in some of the Web 2.0 tools but more as a special interest or novelty and not as a crucial teaching tool or methodology.

It is so exciting to think that we already have the tools and potential to make offsite education a reality. Considering the cost of maintaining school buildings and providing student transportation, it is mind boggling to think of what uses all that money could be put in a School 2.0 world. It could probably bring the student body up to a level playing field technologically so that a remote school could work. We see the possibility and potential in the way the Raven About Web 2.0 is taught.

I appreciate the section that discisses the five elements of the video game experience that can have direct application to successful learning. I have a sort of snobbish disregard for video games as somewhat useless and as detractors from more worthwhile pursuits. This section made me look at my attitude a bit more critically. The education world could probably take pointers from the video game world and gain greater buy-in from our students. It is apparent that what we are doing in schools now is not stimulating students to invest the proper amount of time and energy in their education. We need to get on their level and not expect them to perform in our world that has so little bearing on the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week 9, Thing 21

Sometimes I felt like I was struggling through a maze in this exercise. I think I may have downloaded software I didn't even need, but that is no problem. I ended up using my Itunes and subscribed to three podcasts, one of which I added an RSS feed onto GoogleReader.

I tried to watch the Yahoo: What is a APodcast video but the link was a dead one. I then just went on to the Educational Podcast Directory and looked around a bit. I tried the Instructional Technology link but didn't find anything there to interest me. I then went under English Language Arts and found a fun one called Librivix, which is an audiobooks subscription. I subscribed to it and listened to part of one reading of a story in a beautiful British voice! This is the one to which I added an RSS feed on GoogleReader.

I then moved over to Podcast Alley and searched for book reviews--the list was heavy on comic book reviews. I tried a few of their top podcasts and subscribed to a couple that I may or may not keep--I just wanted to practice the subscribing. I did find a Twilight podcast that would be very interesting to a number of students at NPHS. The last two entries in it were a comparison of the movie and the book of Twilight and a preview of the New Moon movie. I will have to point that out to one particular student that we in the NPHS library call Amy Twilight because of her serious obsession with the series.

The whole podcast world is fascinating, if a person just had more time to listen to them! I think podcasts would a nice addition to my library wiki--another thing to explore in my days that are already to full at school.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week 9, Thing 20, TeacherTube

This was not the first time for me on TeacherTube. During one building inservice where staff chose one of six possible sessions, I manned a workshop on various online video resources including TeacherTube, Discovery Video, etc. One objection to TeacherTube is that it loads slowly. I find it more palatable if I start it downloading and then pause it until it is done buffering. When it is done I then play the video in its entirety. I really can't stand when it shows 30 seconds at a time and then stops to buffer the next 30 seconds.

A lot of the videos are truly amateurish, which is also true on YouTube. There is a great deal of variation in quality. If one perseveres, there is good stuff on TeacherTube. A lot of what is there would be a hard sell to students who usually are looking for something more entertaining and flashy.

I searched for "librarians" and found one that was entertaining called "What Do Librarians Look Like?" High school students are being asked that question and the answers are amazingly clueless--much of it involving glasses, old, gray hair in buns, and shhhh. I can hardly believe that image is still at the forefront--I don't think that is happening in our District HS libraries.

There is a lot of information on Web 2.0 that might be worth checking out. I found a couple of neat Twitter sites as I am interested in learning more about that since much of the political world is using it.

I attached a cute video where first graders are asking President Obama questions. One of my searches was "Obama" because I am a great fan and this was one of the few that was original and not just his inauguration or some other event.

On YouTube I really enjoyed the Library Dominos clip--actually there were several, but my favorite was the one where the books are falling down in lines running around the shelves. However Conan has been removed so that one remains a mystery to me. I have used YouTube to listen to political speeches that I missed, but find that most of them are done in sound bites of five minutes or less. I have now turned to MSNBC online for the full speech in one video.

YouTube is really fun to play with--I wish it was available at school, because it is a great way to show something when trying to explain an unknown to a student. Just as an aside: there is a YouTube video of my son-in-law playing the saz, entitled "Abbas playing the Azerbaijani saz.