Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thing #18 Online Productivity Tools

Well my first impression of Open Office is WHAT DO I DO WITH THAT BLANK PAGE? Even the "first time users" link didn't help me. I searched all around the different tabs and couldn't even find how to start a document. Maybe I'm blind! I also don't like the fact that I have to download it to my computer. I definitely won't use this product.

Google Docs is more user friendly. Since I already have a Google account I just clicked on the link and I was connected. Several advantages include: 1) it's free 2) you can access your files from any computer that has internet access 3)You can use their templates and choose from thousands. 4) You never have to create anything from scratch 5) You can upload your existing files. 6) You can collaborate on a shared document without having to email it back and forth.

However, since I'm not used to the format, it's easier when I'm in a hurry to create something from Microsoft Office because I'm familiar with it. I would like to spend more time getting familar with Google Docs because I see the advantages to having my documents available to me at work and at home.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thing #17 Rollyo

Rollyo is a great Web 2.0 tool that educators can use to create their own search engines for students, other teachers or personal use. Creating a searchroll for a specific subject with safe and relevant websites will save all users a lot of time and frustration.

I really liked the video created by Bruce Goodner. It was an excellent tutorial of how to create an account, set up your searchrolls but more importantly how to link it so that your students can use it as well. He's such a great example of how participating in 23 Things can help educators help their students and their peers with the knowledge gained.

I set up a library education search roll with links to websites that I've been using for our discussion questions and projects. I hope you have time to check it out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thing #16 Wikis

I like the fact that Wikis are quick and easy to set up and can be used in so many ways. In Kindergarten, we could use a wiki to create a grade level add on poem or story. We could also publish individual student poetry and make a page for each Kindergarten class. A grade level Earth Day project could involve setting up a wiki with 3 pages (reduce, recycle, reuse) and ideas for each could be added to the page. A wiki could also be set up to coordinate our grade level events such as our Kindergarten Rodeo Day. Supply lists, parent volunteers and station maps could all be coordinated and edited easily. We could also create a resource page for Literacy Station ideas and websites.

Wow! I better get to work on all these new ideas! :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thing #15 Web 2.0 and Library 2.0

The article "Away from the Iceburgs" talks about the need to move away from the proverbial iceburgs or practices and attitudes that could potentially lead to the downfall of libraries. While moving away from the old school of thought we should be moving towards making the user our number one priority. Our goal as librarians should be to meet the needs of our patrons by getting the information they need in their possession easily and quickly. Information should be available wherever the users are - at home, at work, at school. Ease of access and use are key.

The article "Into a New World of Librarianship" acknowledges the fact that embracing Web 2.0 tools is necessary to meet those needs. A librarian should become a "trendspotter" by reading about up and coming technology that will affect library services and the users and be ready to integrate new technologies into the ever growing and changing array of library services.

I think the bottom line is if a librarian always keeps in mind that we are serving the patrons and always searches for better ways to do so, the library (either physically or virtually) will never become obsolete but rather continue to be an institution of learning and growing.

Thing #14 Explore Technorati

I think there is great value in using Technorati over search engines like Google to find blog postings. I like the Key Word Feature better than the Blog Directory using tags because you can get most specific in your search. I tried several searches using both methods and came up with the same number of results. But when I searched in the Blog directory I had to click the "blog post" button to get more results which is an extra step over searching with the Key Word Feature.

What I found interesting about searching topics using Technorati is the vast array of conflicting opinions about the same subject. For example, I searched using the key word "Kindergarten" and found one post that suggested Full Day Kindergarten was more beneficial than Half Day Kindergarten. Then there was another post that said that Kindergarten was a waste of time.

I also did a search on my favorite American Idol contestant, Alex Lambert, that didn't make the top 12. My husband can't believe that I'm still lamenting over the fact that he was booted off before he even got started. I love his voice even if everyone says he's not a great performer. His tone is like a young Rod Stewart. And there's just a sweetness about him that's so endearing. If you haven't had a chance to hear him click here.

Oh yea, back to my assignment - tags are great!

Thing #13 Tagging and Delicious

I think social bookmarking is ingenious! I was just complaining to myself that my husband adds so many ridiculous websites to our favorites that I have to weed through his to find my important ones. Ha Ha! I was going to suggest setting up folders in our favorites but bookmarking is so much better because you have your important sites at your fingertips no matter what computer you're using. (We have 2 in our office)

Also, I can't tell you how many times someone in my school emails me a great website and I look at it but don't know what to do with it afterwards. I can see using this with my Kindergarten team by bookmarking sites for Literacy Station ideas and online literacy and math games for our students.

I can see using this as a librarian for sharing websites with other librarians on various topics and using it as a discussion forum. It's also a great tool for helping students with research by bookmarking safe sites for topics the teachers have assigned.

I can also see the benefit for the librarian student. Currently, I have a folder on my favorites entitled MLIS with websites I find that I want to refer back to regularly for research and general information.

I wonder which Social Bookmarking site is the best? I know my librarian uses DIIGO. I like the highlighting and post-it features but it seems a little more complicated than Delicious. Does anyone have an opinion about which site is the best and easiest to use?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thing #12 Creating Community through Commenting

Reading about how to create community through commenting was very inspiring. At first this journey was all about the assignment and learning Web 2.0 but now I'm beginning to buy into blogging, reading other's blogs and commenting in a meaningful way. I enjoyed reading Cool Cat Teacher's tips on How to Comment Like a King (or queen). I learned how much power and credibility a well thought out and meaningful comment can bring to a person's blog. I also learned that it can create credibility for you and draw others to your blog.

I thought it was interesting to read the comments on 10 Techniques to get more comments on your blog. When I came to a negative comment, I couldn't help think about the Darth Vader mentioned in Cool Cat Teacher's blog. Not only do comments like this tear down the blogger, they ruin it for everyone else who's enjoying the blog and has to read such negativity.

I enjoyed commenting on other blogs from our class. Books Are People Too had an excellent article in Newsweek about firing bad teachers. The article evolked some interesting emotions in me as I read the author's take on our current educational system. I hope others read it and comment as well.

I wanted to comment on blogs other than those about education so I spread my wings a little and "googled" blogs about faith. I came across the Women of Faith blog. It was so refreshing and made me laugh out loud. I commented on Patsy Clairmont's article entitled "Breathing Space". She says her biggest struggle is "how do I get away from me? I often get on my own nerves." I love it!!! Her ideas and other's comments are very practical and uplifting.

I also found Beth Moore's (Living Proof's Ministries) blog and not only commented but became a follower. I've been taking her Bible Studies for years and have grown in my faith by leaps and bounds.

I'm so glad we had this assignment!

Thing #11 Library Thing

I've really enjoyed exploring Library Thing. I added 26 books and rated each one. I'm always looking for good books and new authors to try so I really like the recommendation feature. It's just like getting recommendations from Netflix when you rate movies you've seen. Like Netflix, you can see the list of recommendations and the books that you've read that are similar. It gives me options I would have never chosen on my own.

I also like looking at the members that have a similar library to mine. I visit their site and see what books are the same as mine and what books they've recently added. It gives me new ideas for books I might like to read.

The review section is helpful too. I always like to know what other people think of a book before I read it. You just have to watch out for "spoilers".

I searched through different group options but didn't find any I would be interested in following. I like such a wide variety of books and it seems like most of the groups are focused on one author or genre.

Thing #10 Online Image Generators

How fun! The comic strip generator is so cute. Here's the image I created. I had to copy it and save it as a JPEG because the upload image feature didn't work.

The Custom Sign Generator had many fun options. I used Fake Magazine Covers to create this image. It was easy once I figured out how to download my picture. My niece Julie Stayton won the State Championship wrestling at 148lbs. It was so exciting so I decided to give her a magazine cover. She deserves it after the successful wrestling career she's had over the past 4 years. This was her final match after over 100 wins and setting a record at her school for the most wins. She's the one in the red from Katy High School. Maybe I'll post it on her Facebook page!

I really liked using the Word Mosaic tool in Image chef. I can see many uses in the classroom. I chose the "heart" image and used it to write a simile: "You are as sweet as a drop of honey". It also allowed me to add a "drop" image into the text. Way cool! You could also use it for displaying metaphors, onomatopoeias, rhyming words, alliteration etc.

Happy Face Generator has a great feature where you can create a free logo. I created this logo to represent my blog however I'm noticing that it's not very clear. That would be a problem if you actually wanted to use this for a business or a school project.

I created this image at Big Huge Labs at the FX tab. You can take a regular photograph and turn it into a piece of art.
I've really enjoyed this journey through all the online generators. You can be as creative as you want. What a great opportunity for our students to synthesize information and display it in a creative format!