Sunday, December 20, 2009

Official Google Blog: Tips and tricks for deploying Google Apps

Official Google Blog: Tips and tricks for deploying Google Apps
Going to share this with my tech people at my school, who have been contemplating apps (like contemplating your navel) for over a year now but have not moved on it... maybe this will get the fire lit again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Edublog Awards Homepage

The 2009 Edublog Awards

Wow! I was nominated for an Edublog Award! How exciting! Anyway, here are my nominations: Remember~

Nominations: Close Tuesday 8 December!
  • Voting: Ends Wednesday 16 December!
  • Award Ceremony: Friday 18 December!

Best individual blog: Wes Fryer- Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Best individual tweeter: @web20classroom
Best class blog: Adam Dugger, 4th Grade Class Blog, The House That Blogs Built
Best resource sharing blog: Steve Anderson -Blogging About the Web 2.0 Classroom

Most influential blog post: Neverending Search Blog/Joyce Valenza
My 2.0 day and the response/rant about our cover argument

Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion #edchat
Best teacher blog: Kevin Jarrett- NCS- Tech-
Best librarian / library blog: Unquiet Librarian, Buffy J. Hamilton
Best educational tech support blog: Sylvia Tolisano Langwitches Blog
Best educational use of video / visual Common Craft Show
Best educational wiki WebTools4U2Use
Best educational use of a social networking service -Classroom 2.0
Lifetime achievement: Will Richardson – Weblogg-ed

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cheering from the Sidelines

Those of you who know me are aware that I am on a medical leave right now from my job (due to a nasty torn tendon in my foot/ankle). I am about two weeks post op, pretty much confined to my bed. This is the first time in about 15 years that I have NOT worked, that I have been forced to slow down. It is the first time in 10 years that my mind will actually allow my body to sleep past 5 AM (sleeping til 7:30 AM now). It is the first time in the longest time that I am watching from the sidelines and not actively making things happen. I so needed this time to 'rest my bones' (literally!) and take care of myself; but I am not used to being outside the vortex and to actually having time to reflect on things happening in my profession. That being said, reading Joyce Valenza's blog post, My 2.0 day and the response/rant about our cover argument, (thanks to a heads up from Cathy Nelson), at long last broke through my mindless recuperating lifestyle, where everyday consists of sleeping, eating, and watching Barefoot Contessa, Say Yes to the Dress, House Hunters, The View, and various Judge shows!

I am surprised and not surprised by the responses to Joyce's article and responses Doug Johnson received in his Blue Skunk blog to their SLJ piece: Things That Keep Us Up at Night. I have posted a response to dialogue, which I am reprinting below:

From Beth...
As an example, the fact that these 2.0 tools are so often heralded as "free" is also interesting. To my knowledge, most of them require hardware, software, time to learn, electricity, support, connectivity, time to implement and so on. There is a lot of money and other resources spent before we get to "free." These are resources that many schools don't have right now. This is not always an excuse - in many cases it is a reason. This doesn't even touch issues of filtering, lack of administrative support, overwhelming attention to standardized tests, fixed scheduling and other elements that need to be addressed for learning 2.0 to happen.
My Response:

1. Most of the 2.0 tools do NOT require anything more than a computer with Internet access; in fact, the purpose of most of these tools is to create an even playing field, where users do NOT have to invest in expensive software (such as word processing, photo editing, telephone accounts; web hosting, etc).
2. The hardware required is a computer. Are there still schools without at least a few computers in the year 2009? Are there still librarians who do not have access to a computer to invest their own time in learning and staying current and informed about what is happening in our profession?
3. To bring up "electricity" as a roadblock to learning is ridiculous. No further comment required.
4. Support: never in our profession has there been more ideal time for getting support from your peers.
5. "Time to implement" - OK, where do I begin... we have to make time to implement, no one is going to hand it to us, i.e., "OK today you don't have to teach so you can implement a new learning tool." Ask Joyce, ask Cathy, ask Buffy, ask thousands of us, and we will tell you that we made the time, that we put in the time, that it was at 5 in the morning or at midnight, or all day Saturday, or whatever, we MADE THE TIME - we made the time to try something new, to reach out to others for help, to share what we learned, to network with experts and learners, to read and to write.
6. Getting around fixed schedules, state testing, etc., etc.... Sheesh, we all have to face these problems to some extent. We just have to find ways to make it work, And it can work, if we don't allow ourselves to drown in the negativity.

I agree that money has dried up for going to conferences for almost all of us. But because of Web 2.0, there are many, many FREE online webinars given by leaders in the field - for example, PBS Teachers® and Classroom 2.0. Most leaders in our field share their presentations online, in wikis, in nings, etc., so really, let's stop with the excuses! If you want to learn, if you want to grow, there is nothing to stop you but yourself.

The storycorps idea bothers me. Why do we need another platform for whining and complaining? Let's get with it, people. Put in the time and effort to stay relevant. Start slow, take baby steps, but get in the mix. Start by reading Joyce's blog, join the Teacher-Librarian Ning, read our prof. journals - all of these resources will get you started on your journey to being a 21st C librarian.

The comment, And we do that by not saying "I'm doing it right and you aren't so get out." We do it by asking "How can I help?", bothers me as well. I repeat, never in our profession has there been more help available. Never, to my knowledge, has there been more of us willing to help, to share, to put everything we know out there on the web for others. This is NOT AT ALL about "Look at me..." (and trust me, I despise ''Look at me" type people), it is about "get on the bus" and here is the road map that I want to share with you to guide you on your journey.

OK, enough said. What do you think?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finally - My Thoughts On NECC

So, this was my second NECC - the first one was in 2004 in New Orleans. I came away from Washington DC exhausted, but ultimately, exhilarated, although it took awhile to feel the exhilaration. I jumped right into teaching a graduate five day intensive course, and really did not have time to reflect on the conference until now.

The good (and often fabulous):

Library Tools Smackdown from abrusca on Comiqs
  • Meeting up with and enjoying time with some GCTs - got to say hi to Mark Wagner, enjoyed meeting Melanie Sutherland Holtsman, Martha Thornburgh and just loved hanging out with Rushton Hurley. Wish there were more GCTs at the Birds of a Feather!
  • David Loertscher's presentation at the SIGMedia Forum really got my wheels spinning about creating a Virtual Learning Commons. In a week or so, I am meeting up with my fellow district librarian (and good friend) Anne Brusca, to revamp our library sites and make one VLC for all of the elementary school libraries. I am very excited about this, I have been moving in that direction for awhile now, but I think now I am equipped to 'get it right'.
  • Steve Dembo's Favorite 10 Tools Session was also really good. I was starting to have the feeling at NECC that all of the sessions I went to were not telling me anything I didn't already know. Steve, however, always has something new and interesting to share - plus, he shares how to get use out of the tool. I've seen Steve a couple of times, he is always engaging to watch.
  • Meeting three new educators on the shuttle bus back to my hotel and having an impromptu dinner with them...the power of NECC.
  • Meeting and talking to Wesley Fryer, a person who initially influenced me to start digging into digital storytelling and who commented at length on my students' voicethread project.
  • Going to the keynote, receiving my award, but more than that, listening to a fascinating debate with Gary Stager about if schools need bricks and mortar.
  • Finally, getting to hang out with a great group of educators who were completing their masters degrees in educational technology. It was so much fun to be with them not as their professor, but as their friend. A lot of laughs and great discussions.
The Bad:
  • Walking out of at least 3 sessions (sorry!) because I already knew the stuff. I went to one which sounded promising, Electronic Constructivism, but when the presenter started explaining what a blog was, I had to shut my laptop and leave.
  • Speaking of laptops, I wish I had a netbook, my laptop weighed a ton!
  • Getting shut out of sessions because they were full. Missed a lot of good ones.
  • Not having enough money to get to DC early enough to go to Edubloggers or the Constructivist Consortium or to spend any time actually seeing Washington DC! This is the third time I have been to Washington without seeing anything but a hotel, some restaurants and a convention center!!
  • OK, on a personal note, and one you certainly could care less about, seeing my PR photos from NECC and realizing how much weight I have put on!! Ugh!
Best of all, I came away from NECC more invested in my librarian PLN, and with renewed enthusiasm to immerse myself in my field of study. I rejoined ALA and AASL and want to focus this coming school year on all things library. The past two years I was adjuncting in ed tech, which was fantastic, but now I (hope) I have more time to really invest my energy into my library media center and my library community.

The other thing I came away with is a lot of "been there, done that" feelings about the sessions I attended; it even made me wonder was it worth the huge expense to go to NECC and feel disappointed? I have read on other blogs that the best part of NECC is the discussions that go on when finally meeting your PLN face to face. And for the most part, I agree. On the other hand, I can talk to my PLN online whenever I want to through Twitter and Facebook and other Social Networking Tools.... so does it justify spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars to physically attend? I'm not particularly advocating for online conferences; I love the social interaction, I mostly enjoyed the keynotes, and I did enjoy listening to people like Bernie Dodge and getting to actually converse with him. The vendor area was eh, most of the sales hawks looked bored. But the cost to attend these things is high! I need to justify in my mind that is perfectly OK to spend upwards of $800 on a conference instead of putting it towards my kids' college tuition or other bills. I was lucky, I had some award money and district funding to defray the cost this time, but that is not going to happen in the future. Denver?? No way. Hey, ISTE, have you considered NYC for 2011?

Not sure what the answer is...what do YOU think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Keeping Up With PLNs - The Digest Version?

Here is some data:
  • I have over 1,000 items sitting in my Google Reader account that I haven't had time to read.
  • I belong to 6 educational/technology/library nings that all have messages I need to catch up on.
  • I am following 193 people on Twitter.
  • I have 60 friends on Facebook
  • I belong to the Google Certified Teachers Group
  • I belong to 5 Diigo groups
  • I subscribe to 5 professional library journals
  • I subscribe to about a dozen other educational or tech ed magazines
  • I belong to or own 60 wikis
  • I have 4 different email accounts
  • I am a member of Shelfari, LibraryThing, and GoodReads
  • I am a member of Edutopia
  • There's probably more groups, I just can't remember now...
  • Then there is instant messaging, gmail chat, text messages on my cell, skype conferences...
How in the world can I possibly keep up with all of this information? How can I not? What goes by the wayside? All of these sources of information are competing for my time and attention. So, here's the bottom line: I WANT to find time to read Will Richardson's, David Warlick's, Joyce Valenza's, CathyJo Nelson's, Doug Johnson's, Buffy Hamilton's, CoolCat Teacher's, etc., etc. blogposts...but there just isn't enough time in my day, and believe me, I am up at 5 a.m., on my laptop, trying to catch up!

So, I have to rely on the digest needs to be in 140 characters or less, because that is how fast the information is exploding around me, it is dizzying, like being on a roller coaster - exciting, fast, breathless. Now, I'm not saying that I am overwhelmed, because honestly, I don't feel that way. It's more like I am grabbing tidbits of info that capture my interest and those tidbits have to be quick and to the point, like a tiny url, simply because there is so much of it!

Which leads me to the idea of information fluency, that is, how do I teach my students to be information fluent, when there is SO much information bombarding them (albeit, they don't feel bombarded, this is just the way it is to them)? How do I teach them to skim, sort, sift, evaluate, process, contribute? As an elementary teacher-librarian, I recognize that these 21st C skills are now the core of what I teach. Once a classroom teacher said to me, "Just read to them, dear." Can you feel me cringing? Anyway, what should their ILN (Information Learning Network - just coined that) be? How do I facilitate that for them? Besides the books and the electronic databases? Some projects that I have done with my 4th/5th graders have incorporated wikis where they could start networking their information. That's a start. Some of the classes are blogging. Next year, hopefully, we are going Google, and that will help them to share information in a collaborative format. I just feel that I really need to rethink what I teach them; learning about tables of content and indexes just isn't enough; learning Internet safety and netiquette and the Big6 isn't enough, even at this young age. I feel like I have to take an entirely new approach next year, not throwing out the bath with the bath water, but I feel like I have to start from a different place.

After NECC and after finishing teaching a grad school class in July, I need some time to sort, sift, evaluate, process and create.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why DO We Need Libraries in Schools?

Doug Johnson asks, (and I agree here with David Warlick) "one of the most interesting questions in education today,"~ "Why do we need libraries when virtually all of the information we need on a daily basis is only a mouse-click away?" I'd like to pose another question: Why is it that school librarians have to constantly justify their importance? We don't ask, "Why do we need classrooms when virtually all of the information we need on a daily basis is only a mouse-click away?" I suppose the quick answer is that in many places librarians are not mandated by the state, so, we see ourselves as dispensable unless we constantly advocate for ourselves. I know that here in NY, we are not mandated at the elementary level. It's incredibly frustrating that we always have to prove our worth. It's incredibly frustrating that with budget cuts, librarians are often on the chopping block. What are administrators thinking??? Why is there STILL that perception that we are nothing more than babysitters? There was a second grade teacher who once said to me, "Just read books to them, dear, that's what they really want." (I still cringe when I think of that!). Not that books aren't important! But our main focus now is on teaching students how to participate (safely) in this remix culture we live in, where they can produce and reshape information in a myriad of ways. We are information specialists - whether that information originates in books or online in both textual and visual formats. I know that in my library media center, I am having a ball showing my students different ways to express what they learn using various web 2.0 tools, connecting them to other classrooms via skype, and (usually without them knowing it) teaching them the skills to find, sort, sift, remix, and express knowledge. As David and Doug both say, this is such an exciting time to be a librarian. I know I'm having a great time...and so are my students!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Freedom Writers, Literacies and Learning

Recently I attended a literacy conference sponsored by Nassau Tract with fellow library media specialist, Anne Brusca. The keynote speaker was Erin Gruwell, the teacher who was featured in the movie, Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank.

I have to say that Erin was absolutely one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever heard. There wasn't a dry eye in the place when she was done. Not to mention, she was one of the most accessible, warmest people I have ever met. From the Freedom Writers' Website:
The movement was born in 1994 from a teacher's simple notion - inspire young, underprivileged students to pick up pens instead of guns. Since then the Freedom Writers Foundation has evolved into a renowned charitable organization led by Erin Gruwell, with the unwavering support of the original Freedom Writers. The Foundation is dedicated to replicating the Freedom Writers' success in classrooms across the country by equipping teachers with the tools they need to reach and empower their students.

How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change
Themselves and the World Around Them
By The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

The Freedom Writers Diary
is the amazing true story of strength, courage, and achievement in the face of adversity. In the fall of 1994, in Room 203 at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, an idealistic twenty-four-year-old teacher named Erin Gruwell faced her first group of students, dubbed by the administration as "unteachable, at-risk" teenagers. This group was unlike any she had ever interacted with.

The kids took bets on how long their new teacher would last in their classroom. Then a pivotal event changed their lives forever: when a racial caricature of one of the African American students circulated the classroom, Erin angrily intercepted the drawing and compared it to a Nazi exaggeration of Jews during the Holocaust. To her amazement, the students responded with puzzled looks. Erin was appalled to discover that not one child in her class knew of the Holocaust and its unspeakable horrors. When asked how many had been shot at, however, all raised their hands, and a battle-scar show-and-tell began that shocked Erin even more.

Erin's message to us: Never give up. She was given the students that everyone had already given up on. She found a way to reach them, to make them writers, to transform their lives.

Later on Anne and I gave a 90 minute presentation on "Increasing Literacy Through Web 2.0". Take a look at it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Designing the Digital Experience: David Lee King Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Experience and design-what is it? "an approach to creating successful experiences for people in any medium.”

Ways to Go About It:
1. Structural path-create a better experience by improving ease of use. Navigation does not get in the way.
  • building experiences. Strategy->scope->structure->skeleton->surface
  • uncover (the customer need)->define the experience brief (what will the customer experience be?)->ideate (immerse yourself in the experience->then build and design it
  • getting real, by goal is speed and getting product out to public-->fine tuning should be done by customers--they say write a one page story about what your customers need to do on your site. Make it simple.
How does this work with the library website? His website-lots of focus groups and discussions first, trying to be fluid and get updates out there first. Fix it now and move on.

Look at your site with critical eyes think about the potholes (what makes people stumble and remove it) Big goal: Don't make me think. Customer doesn't want to think about how it functions, if they are forced to do it, you have failed.

2. Community Path: how does it provide positive experiences: a memorable experience created by online participation and community. Digital community experience- customer reviews and ability to rate those reviews. Amazon has done this, a digital community experience. There are five ways to do this:
  • real conversation is taking place-commenting on blogs, twitter, online forum, flickr --patrons holding conversations with us, allowing customers to connect with you the librarian and each other. Setting up book clubs on the blog.
  • invitation: passive and active. Active--asking questions--what's in your top five-you say yours and invite them to add theirs. Passive--content enablers making content compelling and displayed well, creating compelling content - making it interesting and web 2.0 enablers-allowing commenting and moderate promptly.
  • participation--other part of invitation point-if you have no participation you have no community online. Allow comments. Goal is to participate in the discussion. Share thoughts and opinions. I want you to add your thoughts, I want to hear what you are saying!
  • sense of familiarity--you feel like you know someone because you have 'befriended' them on blogs, twitter, flickr, etc. introduce patrons to library's 'personality'.
  • telling our stories--people want to know who you are as an individual as an organization, do you like using your library and what shortcuts you take when using it. People want to participate in the story --they want to feel like they are part of it. See that a lot in Second Life. You can do that online in social networks. For example, Katrina hurricane, people told their stories as it developed. Patrons want to do this. Library stories: what you've read, what you liked, what you are doing. Twitter for the library--
  • goal is to hold conversations and connect with community
  • focus on the customer path. - customer journey mapping

New Strategies for Digital Natives

Helene Blowers-Digital Strategy Director, Columbus Metropolitan Library
Joey is our new digital patron:

The big story in the election was the kid who helped Obama reach out to the digital natives.

We used to chase information, now it has flipped, information finds us. Still, studies show that RSS is kind of flat across all demographics; people still don’t know how to get info to find us. Good role for librarians.

digital native realities:
  1. Identity: digital natives: online identity is same as real identity. Idea of having one identity is intuitive to them. It is how they influence and assert themselves online, exchanging information, bantering that goes back in forth.

Top 5 Social Networks – jan 09
1. Facebook 1.19 billion monthy visits
2. Myspace 810 mill visits
3. Twitter 54 mil visits
4. Flixster 53 mil visits (movie reviews
5. Linkedin 43 million visits

These are where digital natives are leaving their footprints. The idea of social identity has become so important that we are graphing it. Linkedin based on the premise of who do you know to further your career. Average age of digital immigrants –42.

Social graphing:
6 degrees of separation
friendwheel on facebook

Renaissance Generation: Patricia Martin: Cultural consumers thrive on information and ideas to fuel their creative self-expression. Creativity very important to them.
  • 93% of teenagers are online and intensifying
  • Nearly 2/3 of online teens are content creators~Pew Study, Teens & Social Media, 12/07
Posting pictures, sharing artistic work, blogging, etc...creates their social identity.
  1. post messages
  2. download music
  3. download videos
  4. upload music
  5. update personal website or online profiles
  6. post photots
  7. blog
We are starting to see a shift from authoritative control to collaborative control of information. How do you influence people? By sharing information.
OCLC Study --number one resource of getting information online is friends. Libraries are down in the bottom.
In January 09 Encyclopedia Britannica added a wiki layer so that people could add to it. Collective control--->they realized there are advantages to this new form of gathering information. What info source do you trust the most for your company's purchasing decisions: user generated content (blogs, discussion groups, online comm, wikis, etc.) from a study, interesting to see--first hand experience that you get from blogs and rating sites are where people are looking for trusted information.

2. Digital Safety
--only .08% of all students say they've actually met someone in person from an online encounter without their parents' permission --national school board study July 2007.
Most teens ignore or delete stranger contact and are not bothered by it. (Pew Study).

3. Digital Opportunity
The world has become more accessible for digital natives. Every day the Internet becomes more and more important to society. There are no barriers, the playing field is leveled, you can mashup and mix up online, all you need is access (if you don't have access, library provides it), access is universal, connection is ubiquitous , it's all about me. Their sandbox is huge to play in, to assert their identity and creativity.

4. Digital Piracy
Digital piracy to them is digital sharing. File sharing has become the new normal for most. Copy, remix me. Fanfiction, music parodies, mashups, movie trailers, remix contents, remix fansites (Nine Inch Nails - encouraging fans to remix their content), creative commons (has spurred this whole rethought of copyright). Total Recut: video remix challenge.

In the past you were what you owned--now you are what you share. A collaborative remix culture. How do we respond to it as librarians?

5. Digital Privacy
82% send private messages
84% post messages to a friends page or wall

Idea of lifestreaming all these social networks can be aggregated and look at it as a lifestream. Digital natives can trace their lives online.

6. Digital Advocacy
The idea of what you do online actually makes a difference. Young people as networkers, organizers, promoters to create their leadership potential, saw it in the election.

What can libraries do?
  1. Idea of engagement to enable customers to connect with library staff, services and with each other in meaningful ways. Layering over OPAC with interactivity, twitter? Engagement is important because people want to feel connected. Patrons feel connected. Make the library a facilitators of connection.
  2. Enrich - to provide customers with a rich online experience that enhances their local branch experience and daily lives. Our digital space should enhance not be separate, active engagement. All libraries get their funding from somewhere, that funding should be valuing their lives in some way.
  3. Empower: to enable customers the ability to personalize and add value to the library experience and allow the community to celebrate themselves.

NYPL Paul Holdengraber

Today's keynote is an interview with Paul Holdengraber—he was brought in to ‘oxygenate’ the New York Public Library—"to make the lions roar in the front to make this heavy institution levitate. To make the building less formidable to make it sexy."

Paul Holdengraber:
Funny guy! He grew up in Belgium, born in Texas, went to Princeton, he taught at Princeton and other colleges, He was a fellow at Getty. Brooke Sheilds was one of his pupils.

Quotes: "52 million items in the library; at first you feel small, then it should empower you to want to learn, to grow, to discover, to get a tingle in the spine" He is interested in transforming things, in what happens in this public place where we go to do an activity that is extremely private. That relationship between public and private fascinates him. He had to make the library irresistible.

"If I knew where inspiration came from I would go there more often."

He institued “Live from the NYPL” --he’s had Bill Clinton, Martin Scorcese, Mario Balti, and many more. He invites people from all walks of life – his favorite moment Myra Kalman – illustrator –Illustrated the elements of style
“I never ask for permission, only for forgiveness.”

“When a great man dies, a library disappears with him.”

He changed the demographics of the audience that comes to a younger audience.

Talking about twitter and blogs: "Info has a life in haiku form on twitter. However we can’t ‘tickle ourselves’ still need to be together."

"Maybe a librarian needs to be a lifebrarian. We need humor in the library. People are bleak cause of the economic situation. We need humor. Create havoc in the library. The books on the shelf are there-what should we do about it—what is our role—take those books off the shelf and make people desire them deeply. Libraries are places of desire. We deeply believe in communicating and transmitting this experience that we probably had as children with a book…how can we imagine a world without books, would I rather have my library or kindles lying around everywhere."

"Digression is the sunshine of narrative."

What is the future of libraries? Fascinated by how libraries might be able to make us focus> in an age of utter distraction, we can go to a library where you learn things, a repository where you can learn things, a place to focus. Use these technology tools to focus on new discoveries. And a great place for opportunities, especially in these times. The reading room in the NYPL is packed…it’s a haven. Our job is a job of hospitality, make people feel at home, public programs is a beautiful way of welcoming others into the home you work in. We have Facebook but let’s get into the face to face encounters. Explode that home, a library without walls, a library that is everywhere, the gift of ubiquity.

Since we are near Washington DC, he wants to end with this anecdote. Here’s how Barack Obama found his community organizer job in Chicago: In 2005, Obama told American Library Magazine that people always mention libraries in terms of sources of reading and research, but he probably wouldn’t be in Chicago if it weren’t for the NYPL, because he was looking for a job as a community organizer in NY…the librarian helped him find these lists of organizations, one of them wound up being an organization in Chicago that he got a job with…..the rest is history….

If Paul doesn't make you feel good about being a librarian, I don't know what will!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Internet @Schools East Presentation

This is the presentation I gave yesterday at the Internet @Schools East Conference. There's a lot to digest here, including some tips from some of the gurus I respect and have learned from, including David Warlick, Joyce Valenza, Mark Wagner, and David Pogue. For those of you who attended the session yesterday, I hope this helps! Leave a comment and let me know what you thought about the presentation!

Computers in Libraries Conference -Day One

Opening Keynote: Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet and American Life Project

I am here in very windy Arlington, Virginia waiting for Lee Rainie to begin. The conference is at the Hyatt Regency, which is quite a nice hotel. Unfortunately for me, I was not able to get a room here so I did not know that they had a lovely free breakfast here for attendees and I paid $13.00 for an egg white omelet at my hotel.

I didn't realize what a big conference this is! There are librarians of all types here. -a lot of academic librarians. There are attendees here from 49 states, plus 18 countries outside of the U.S. I just might be one of the very few elementary school librarians here. There are over 2,000 attendees here.

"Information's pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience." -Clarence Day.

Lee is talking about Twitter. Only 5% of the people here know about or are using Twitter. Surprised.
Lee is talking about “Behold Homo Connectus”: We are a different species with a different sense of things:
1. Volume and variety of information has grown tremendously with millions of users creating content. People can screen out what they don’t want.
2. The speed of information speeds up—the way you find info now through social networks speeds things up. We can create our own playlists of media, in other words, there is a time shift and place shift in accessing media.
3. The relevance of information improves as the number of voices explodes. Voting and ventilating are enabled. We can explain what is going on in our world and there is ample opportunity for us to talk back to institutions.
4. Social networks are more vivid. We can fall back on our social networks for support.

So, how does this relate to the role of the librarian? Less says that personal activities and media have come together; institutions can be active in people’s networks like never before. Librarians can find ways to be reliable gatekeepers and sensemakers that people will appreciate.

Internet @Schools Sessions:
Finally got to meet David Hoffman, editor of Multimedia and Internet@ Schools Magazine. He has been extremely nice and helpful in getting me here to this conference within the conference, aimed specifically at school library media specialists. Our sessions are in another room (not the best venue - has huge columns that block your view of either the speaker or the screen). Due to a cancellation of one of the sessions, my session got moved up to right after lunch from the 4:15 slot (sigh of relief). There are approximately 50 LMS's attending these workshops. The first presenter is Sheila Gersh, from CCNY to talk about her project, CultureQuest.
I am going to connect Sheila with some people in TEAM. I have students creating a collaborative project called Cultureshare - this is a natural. CultureQuest started 5 years ago at CCNY: inquiry-based investigations of other peoples and cultures that are rooted in student questions and based upon student interests. Projects focus on literature, art, music, history, government, and more. Sheila talking about a model-->P is the problem-->E expert learners-->L learners, all working together to solve the problem. CultureQuest projects are based on this model. Talking about ePals for global collaboration.

Leap and the NETS Will Appear:
Next up is Johanna Riddle, who, unfortunately is having many technical problems in her presentation. One of the things she talked about is a project using the book Owen and Maze (love that book) as a jumping point for guided discussion, comparison and research. She is focusing alot on strategies for incorporating visual literacy into instruction with young students.

Using Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts to Promote Books and 21st C Skills:
This was a very informative session. Patrick Ledesma and Cecelia Carmenate from Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia are talking about using blogs to promote discussion. In their example, the librarian creates a blog in which she poses questions that students respond to. For incentives, they have "blogger of the month" in which they give rewards to the students who blog the most. The librarian posts questions, such as "can you judge a book by its cover?" This gives them the opportunity to engage in discussion. Librarian responds to the readers and comments. Can be used to tie in books with current events and books and their movie version. Important to add pictures and media. Blog like this shows that the library can also be a place for fun. You can embed the movie trailer into the blog.

Spotlighting Good Literature Through Technology: Video Book Talks:
Eloise Long and Eileen Kern from PA
They are discussing booktalks in the library - a booktalk is a structured mini-mystery with a cliffhanger ending. They are inspiring me to do this, but I would have my students do it. Some of the web 2.0 tools that they suggest for this are:
Also are recommending the book The Tech-Savy Booktalker: A guide for 21st Century Educators

General Comments About Day One:
I think that my session went very well, I got a lot of nice feedback. I also met Stephanie Rosalia, the librarian who was featured in the New York Times Article (Librarian Job Gets an Update) and had a nice conversation with her. Mostly, I came away from today realizing that I have come a long way as a school media specialist; I don't assume, but sort of expect, that most LMS will know about most of the tools that were presented here today by myself and others - but surprisingly, that is not the case. Many of the LMS here today have to deal with the fact that teachers have to spend so much time teaching to state tests that they don't have time to take their students to the library. My suggestion there was to tell them to let those teachers know that you can help them by creating research projects that deal with a part of the curriculum- take a little of the load off of them.

This was my first time presenting at a national conference that is geared strictly to librarians. I had an 'aha' moment, realizing that I have a lot to offer in the area of professional development to my colleagues. As a whole, school library media specialists are up against a lot~ in many states and districts we are not even mandated and are replaced by regular teachers; we are up against mandated testing, small budgets, lack of help, and often lack of support. This makes it imperative that we take read-write web by the horns and make ourselves indispensable! That was the theme of my presentation. We can make ourselves indispensable by not only being the experts, but also by modeling the use of web 2.0 tools in our library media centers. On top of that, we have to be the ones to lead in teaching digital and information literacy skills to students. That has to be our focus now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

David Pogue Part II: Extreme Googling

Google's motto: "Don't be evil" :)

By the way, David won an Emmy for a story about Google. How did Google come to be? Two guys from Stanford - came up with the idea of a search engine that searches how many other pages link to your page, rather than just look for the words you are searching for. They got to be rich and powerful through the ads. The ads are labeled sponsored links ~until that time, other search engines buried the ads in search results.

Google means 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The word 'google' itself is a misspelling, cause the two guys did not know how to spell it!

Other Tips from David:
  • "I'm feeling lucky" means just take me to the top search result - it will go right to the website.
  • Word order counts in composing a search...most important words should be first. Don't bother putting in little words.
  • Maximum number of words in a search is 10. Plurals matter.
  • You can type two dots to look for a range like miami 1985..2000.
  • If your result is a picture or a movie, it will show right in the result.
  • For some organizations, they give you a table of contents in the results. This is relatively new.
  • For some big sites, you even get a search box within (like the ny times).
  • The greatest google trick of all: every website such as Amazon, YouTube, etc. all have their own search boxes, but the google search box is better than theirs. For example, google is a better searcher of ebay than ebay is itself. You are better off putting the name of the site and the item that you are looking for and then click "I'm feeling lucky" it will take you right to the site. (e.g. amazon eat love pray)--click feeling lucky. You will go directly to the book on their website without any intermediate steps.
  • Asterisk is the wildcard - great for song lyrics that you can't understand (excuse me while I kiss the *)

Encyclopedia of life

  • The ''ooos" in Google at the bottom of the page over the page numbers are also pages to click on.
  • Doing a search for "showtimes and your zipcode" will give you a table of every movie playing in your areas with reviews by peopole.
  • You can type define: and a word and it will show you dictionary definition.
  • You can also type math calculations into the google search box; it is also a calculator.
  • Also a converter: inches in a mile.
  • Also currency converter = type in dollars in a euro. Weather plus city takes you to weather right there.
  • You can type in a barcode number and then look it up!
  • Can also type in a flight like 'united 22' and will give you the status of the flight.
  • Can type in a VIN number and find out the history of the car.
  • In preferences you can turn off porn filtering.
  • In google language translator you can type in the whole website address and it will translate the whole page.
  • iGoogle was created in someone's 20% time.
  • phonebook:name place - get someones phone number.
  • google maps for directions shows you traffic too and you can drag the route to another road; instantly recalculates directions. shows construction and accidents. Click on cameras next to directions to see street view. you can pan around too.

ASSET 2009: Keynote~David Pogue: "The Digital Generation Grows Up"

David Pogue: And He Sings, Too!

Live blogging, so excuse the typos! David Pogue is the technology writer for the New York Times and appears on CNBC and has written best-selling "how-to" books, including some of the "Dummy" books. He looks at new technologies coming down the pipe.

TREND 1: What happens when you merge cellphone and Internet?
Google Cellular (free) info is texted to you~google 411. (46645). Weather, flight info, stock quotes, movie showtimes, as well as:
  • Flight info (aa 152)
  • Movie showtimes (shrek plus zip code)
  • 800-GOOG-411 by voice dial from any phone, state the location and business type, and it connects to the business for free. You don't get the phone number, you don't need it, it just connects you. That's the beauty of it - like your own personal operator.
  • ChaCha (800-2CHACHA) will answer any questions. Anything you ask, they text you back the answer. They employ 10,000 people who sit in front of Google and are paid .20 an answer.
  • Voice to Text--get your voicemails converted into text for free, and the recording is actually in the email. Offered by phonetag, callwave, spinbox. Google entered this with Google Voice (wow this is great) - it comes to your phone or email for free you make up a number and then it reads all of your phones, one unified number and one unified email box. Turns text messages into first class communication. See David's video from last Sunday's online NY Times.
TREND 2: ONLINE 24/7 ~
David asks, "What's so hard about giving us wifi everywhere we want it?" Well, in reality, being online all the time and everywhere has snuck up on us with the changes in cellular - iPhone really started this.

Apple just released an iPod So Small Its Controls Are Found on the Cord

(Look for iPhone shuffle video on YouTube (a parody).)

Until the iPhone came along, cell phones developers would go to the carriers like Verizon with new ideas but the carrier was the gatekeeper. It was not a system conducive to innovation. Steve Jobs went to Verizon, Sprint, Cingular, AT&T bought Cingular, they all laughed him out of the idea of an Apple iPhone, except for Cingular. The amazing thing is when Apple opened up the apps store - the world changed from this! People spend more time on the apps then on making calls. Some cool apps (I wish I had an iPhone!!):
  • Pandora, free internet radio, type in the name of a song and and immediately plays the song you want. Immediately feeds you another song by another band that is similar, you give it thumbs up or down, gives you more songs, based on the feedback, eventually you create a radio station that you love.
  • Urbanspoon where you are standing when you are looking for a restaurant.
    Urbanspoon on the iPhone is part Magic 8 Ball, part slot machine. You shake your phone and it finds a good nearby restaurant for you. Keep shaking it until it comes back with something you want to try.
  • This is a whole new paradigm, selling $1 apps. See Davids article about Ocarina.
  • Verizon now will open up their network. Now Google has a phone (TMobile G1) has its own app store and the Android SDK provides the tools and APIs necessary to begin developing applications to run on Android-powered devices.

Trend #3: Web 2.0

So we know that Web 1.0 consisted of websites where we provide the material. Web 2.0 is radically different. Facebook is so hot. Microsoft bought 1.6% of Facebook for 240 million dollars.
( SubEthaEdit -everyone can collaborate on the same notes.)
According to David:
  • Craigslist -- it's killing the American newspaper. You'd be an idiot to pay for a classified ad in a newspaper.
  • YouTube-sold 1 year after creating it to Google for over a billion dollars!
  • you post your grudge work and people bid to get paid to do it.
  • goloco-you say where you going, other people ride with you, share rides
  • who is sick ok this one cracks me up and I know a lot of hypochondriacs that would like this site...

WHAT DOES THS ALL MEAN for next generation? Things splinter, things add on and become more things. Everything is in real time - kids insist on this - "nobody does email anymore" it has to be instant, text messaging, chat or twitter.
Privacy- nobody cares, they (this generation) advertise their personal stuff on Facebook, they want people to know --maybe they are the "Ego Generation" - how many friends do you have on facebook, twitter??

Speed+ego-privacy=twitter. Its like a big cocktail party but incredibly powerful.

Need an opinion??
  • IMDB (Internet Movie Database): collates opinions of 11 million people and they are never wrong! :)
  • angieslist Use when looking for service - consumer reviews
  • cnet Technology-related reviews

Everything is on demand - itunes store, hulu (free tv on demand) the last 4 episodes of every single network show is available for free. Internet is your tivo. Even on demand cable (not pay per view) watch it when you want. On demand movies from amazon (selection not good, quality is not good) When you rent a movie online you have 24 hrs. to watch it.

Tech Shifts-->Cultural shifts
Do you speak their language?

COPYRIGHT CHALLENGES - gray areas: - take the test..which one do you think is a copyright infringement??
  • I borrow a cd from the library
  • I own a cd but it got scratched and so I go to the library, borrow the cd and rip it to my pc
  • I have 200 vinyl records and I borrow them on cds and I rip those
  • I buy a dvd but I have a 3 yr old so I use an illegal prgram to make another copy in case the 3-yr-old ruins it.
  • I record a movie off of HBO using my dvd burner (legal)
  • I meant to do it, but I forgot, but my buddy recorded it and I copy his dvd
  • I recorded an HBO movie, but my dvd broke so I got the movie from blockbuster and copied that.
He did this with college students, no one thought any of these were illegal.
We have to teach privacy, permanence - chat rooms- teach credibility--power of web--i.e. think of Steve Jobs rumor--apple stock fell after that-- see - clearinghouse for stupid web rumors.

You can't predict the future of technology.
Oh, and did I mention, David Pogue sings, too? :) - clearinghouse for stupid web rumors.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Project-Based Learning: Notes and Quotes

Last week I asked students on TEAM to respond to some readings and videos on the topic of project-based learning. Some of the responses:
  • I watched the three videos from Edutopia, and the second one actually made me quite angry. In that video I saw something that I never see in my classroom; I saw students who cared about their work, students who cared about the world around them, cared about how others viewed them.
  • Though PBL is a great way to learn for students, it can be a difficult process for teachers and students to get used to. Teachers must be willing to spend the time to create PBLs and students must buy in to the process and work effectively to get the project done.
  • In the past, teachers just focused on the reproduction of information, but now teachers must make their students go deeper and work on meaningful issues and topics, where they find real solutions to real problems.
  • Ms. Friesen, seems to believe that "deep understanding" leads to a more profound level of "Inquiry". I find this a bit odd considering, when I have deep understanding of something, I no longer wish to inquire further about it. It is, as I have found to be true in teaching children, questions come forth most readily when "deep understanding" is NOT present.
  • My question is how do we completely follow the curriculum? Being a middle school teacher in NY I am responsible to prepare my students for Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies state exams. Test taking in a skill within itself. Realistically PBL would have to be coupled with orthodox means of teaching to prepare the students for what the state is asking.
  • I am however a little uneasy with the idea of shifting the control to the students.
  • PBL vs. traditional pedagogical regurgitation on tests seems a close cousin of the Internet vs. Web 2.0.
  • My only reservation about using inquiry is that it often takes a significantly greater amount of time.
  • Time is always the issue when speaking of this type of learning because in my school setting, I see my students for 42 minutes a day, have a strict and packed curriculum to fulfill, and have state tests to prepare for. It’s a little disheartening for me to learn about PBL because it is a way of learning that I believe would benefit my students for the future but at the same time, it is also a way of learning that I currently can not implement in my classroom because of New York State standards and the time constraints we have.
  • As a teacher with 43 minutes to teach a curriculum that ends in a state assessment or Advanced Placement exam, I know that I often ask this of my students and would love to change that. I often become frustrated with my students’ retention of material and I know that this could be improved if they were able to make more meaningful connections.
  • I think the best way for me to use PBL within my classroom would be to work with other teachers and have a combined effort. The teacher and I could come up with a project and work out the logistics.
  • However, there must be certain, institutional structures in place for it to be successfully implemented. Schedules must allow for curriculum design, professional development, teacher collaboration, and student participation.
  • Project based learning allows many students to shine who might struggle on typical assessments.
  • I want to make my instruction meaningful to my students, but I struggle to find those places where students find meaning.
  • I believe that students, especially young students need to have a firm foundation or basic set of skills before they are required to deal with abstract, intellectual tasks.
  • As a special educator, I feel that project based learning should be the core of most of the curriculum taught to student requiring alternate modes of education. When learning is engaging and has meaning to students, they grasp concepts much better than trying to visualize concepts from that which comes form a book. In addition this learning approach fosters the levels of thinking in Blooms taxonomy, even for those who's capabilities are compromised due to a disability.
  • Sharon (in the first video) wants us to change the type of work we ask students to do. Okay. I don’t ask them to regurgitate information. How does she want me to change the system? I can only influence what happens in my classroom with my students. She also wants the role of the teacher to change; I don’t think she realizes that the role of the student must change. Students have a perception of their responsibilities that doesn’t correlate with what she is asking them to do. She also does a great job dreaming about what we should be doing while ignoring curriculum requirements, state requirements, budgetary requirements, time restrictions, and students’ own perception of what school is.
  • I believe Project Based Learning should be a mandatory change in education. Life is all about choices and I think it is our responsibility as educators to change with the times in order to incorporate more PBL choices into our teaching. Once immersed in PBL, your job as a teacher changes and you become more of a planner and facilitator then a sage on the stage. I would I agree that my work as an educator has changed as I am forced to question, plan, schedule, monitor, assess and evaluate my students using a whole new mind set in order to achieve a PBL classroom. I love the authentic learning experiences that my students engage in when involved in PBL, but I need to be honest, it takes time to fully appreciate PBL because it sometimes takes longer for students to complete assignments and teachers to evaluate results.
  • When I first heard the term PBL (which was last week at TEAM), I immediately thought of WebQuests. WebQuests (for those who are not familiar) is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by the students is drawn from the Internet. I was involved with a number of WebQuests when I was teaching in the city. I loved the idea of working backwards, having an end goal, and carefully planning how kids would successfully reach their goal. I've even felt that, since teaching on LI, there hasn't been much of an urge to train teachers to teach/question using the inquiry-model. This new (not so new) concept of PBL would be a great way for teachers to promote the idea of inquiry---encouraging students to think (ha! what a concept!) .
  • The idea of a Project Base Learning model has always been intriguing yet mystifying at the same time. At first, I'm always inspired and wished the projects described in the articles and videos would one day be a reality in my classroom. Yet, it doesn't take long for questions and doubts to arise and ultimately quench the inspiration.
How do we balance state-mandated test prep with engaging, authentic learning?? I don't have the answer. I can't speak to the high school experience because I teach elementary; I am not a classroom teacher, so perhaps I have a little more freedom; I don't have to teach to a state test, but I do have skills and standards to meet. I can only say this: Whether it's one project a year or more, YOU have the ability to design a learning environment that will open up students' minds to a different kind of thinking. YOU have the ability to give your students a voice, to make them see that what they think counts. YOU have the ability to give them the opportunity to connect what they learn in your classroom to the bigger picture. BUT, it takes time and it takes effort beyond the hours of the school day, hours that are so hard to find when you are already putting in so many extra hours just to keep up!

  • Excitement is contagious.
  • PBL is not the be-all, end-all, but can be a component ~
If you are pressed for time and need to include many topics in your instruction during a year, you may want to think about the concept of "uncoverage." This means making a deliberate decision about topics that you want to teach in depth versus topics that can be simply "covered." What parts of your curriculum can be easily and successfully handled through lectures or textbook assignments? What parts require more depth? Identify those topics that reflect the most important ideas and concepts in your curriculum and incorporate those topics into projects. Those are the topics with which you want students to grapple. The remaining topics you can deal with through direct instruction
. ~Buck Institute for Education
  • Time is always an issue for teachers! We need to reach out to like-minded colleagues to plan together. We need to take advantage of what is already out there and available on the web. There are many websites that list projects that other teachers have developed. Projects that invite your participation.
  • Start small.
  • Be willing to change your mindset.
  • Be willing to hand over control.
  • Deep understanding will naturally lend itself to deeper questioning.
  • Use web 2.0 tools to extend the learning past the 42 minute period.
  • Use web 2.0 tools to extend YOUR learning via PLN's (professional learning networks) such as blogs and other social networking tools. Use them to make connections to other teachers who are looking for collaborators.