Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back into Reading

My focus this summer has certainly been the wonderful myriad of new tools available on the 2.0 web. But as I enter my final week before school resumes my thoughts turn to ways of inspiring kids to read.

One of the biggest challenges with high school kids is to get them to look beyond the cover. I always cringe when I see a student drop a book like a hot coal when one of their classmates gives them THE LOOK. You know, the one that says, "I wouldn't be caught dead reading that and you are such an idiot for even picking it up." A colleague passed on a great activity, a Book Pass, for helping students move beyond that. It's most effective with Gr.8/9s. Before the kids arrive in the library I set out a good variety of titles in groups of four on tables. The kids sit four per table and then are given 4-5 minutes to look at each of the books, passing the books around the table after each reading. They must try to learn as much about each book as they can in that time. At the end of the time they discuss which books interested them and vote on which one they would recommend to the rest of the class. This forces them beyond the cover and into the text where the really good decisions can be made.

Another favourite activity I play with them is good cover, bad cover. This works well when you have a title like Ender's Game which was re-issued with a cover more appealing to 10-year-olds than high school kids. I hold up the books and get them to vote on which book is more appealing. The re-issue always gets fewer votes. Then I tell them it's the same book and also one of my favourites of all time.

I challenge students to stand up for their reading rights and not let others make decisions for them.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Take a Note

I had some time this morning to play with Google's Notebook (works with Firefox) and was impressed with its ease of use. Notebook sits quietly at the bottom of the screen and with a click you can open it up, type in a note or take a clip from any web page you are on. With the clip you automatically get the URL reference in your quote. Notebook is a collaborative tool which you can make private or public and invite others to add notes or edit yours. Changing the background colour of notes might be a handy way to identify notes related to subtopics.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A few Drafts - Revitalized

I just noticed that I had several drafts sitting idle and so have decided to put the pertinent bits into one post.

What is Web 2.0 and how do you use it? In my readings lately I have come across a number of viewpoints describing in some detail what 'proper use' of Web 2.0 applications would consist of. I see things differently. The question that comes to my mind is: How can I use this technology in a meaningful way (for me or my students) and what is it's potential. I love to learn about all the wonderful things a new application can do for me but that doesn't mean I will use all those features. For instance, I use a wiki for the workshops I give. It's not a collaborative effort, just me posting useful videos, links and lesson ideas. I will be showing a teacher in my school how to use a wiki with her students next week. For her, the collaborative model will work well.

Be sure to check out:
The NY Times has published its
100 Notable Books of 2008 list.

Yalsa's Popular Paperbacks Lists for 2008 and 2007YALSA's Popular Paperbacks lists for 2007. They make great starting points for quick brochures or web lists.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Straight Up

Life's a learning curve and mine's been steep of late. I've been playing with Google's MyMaps and created a simple map of a kayak trip I took. It was easy to add markers (you can change these to a variety of different symbols) show the route, and add commentary. The part that eluded me was how to add a photo from Flickr's Creative Commons. I settled for adding a link to the Flickr page. Not as impressive but it will have to do for now. To see the map click here.


As I read other people's postings I find myself in a perpetual state of thankfulness. Today's big thank you goes to Josh Catone on Read/Write WEb who posted about Google's MyMaps. His thoughtful post gives a very clear description of how to use MyMaps and I immediately thought of several projects at school that would be a perfect fit. I increasingly see the potential of Web 2.0 apps for helping less able students to express themselves in exciting ways. Some of these might include:
* Mapping the setting of a novel (real or imagined) and illustrating it with images from the Creative Commons.
* Planning outdoor education trips - the kids could suggest activities and promote their ideas with images.
* Create a treasure hunt associated with a novel, theme or historical concept. (For example: explain why each marked location is significant/ if x had gone to point A instead of point B how would that have impacted them?/explain how the three marked points on the map have a connection etc.)
* Present a walking tour of any significant location complete with images and annotations.

I like the fact that students can choose to make their map creations public or private. Can't wait to show this to my staff next month. Thanks Josh!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Summer Reading


I started this summer feeling lost. My library is being automated and the presence of cataloguers had precluded my usual plan to lug home bags of books to read over the summer. However, it didn't take long to fill the coffee table with alternatives. Some came from a visit to my local discount bookstore, others from the recommendations of people in the Web 2.0 community and a few from friends. It's been a great summer for reading due to the unusual number of rainy days; we broke several longstanding records. Now with another full month of holiday ahead I think it's time for a visit to the local public library. Read any good books lately?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It's Elementary

In his post today, Rethinking 'Crossing the Chasm' Alex Iskold writes about the challenges facing those who market new technologies. I see a strong correlation with librarians who are trying to promote web 2.0 tools with their staffs. A common theme this summer in the Teacher-Librarian blogs I have been reading is "How do I get my staff enthused enough to get them to use these neat tools with their students?" When I saw the graph Technology Adoption Life Cycle I immediately saw my staff falling into the same categories. One tip that made sense to me was to use those 'early adaptors' as allies and co-trainers when it comes to staff ProD.
And thanks to Dave Warlick's Guilt 2.0 post for his suggestion to have local tech staff on board when presenting.
And thanks in general to all those tech gurus out there who take the big concepts and present them in small easy to chew bits for those of us who are just beginning to dip our toes in the waters of web 2.0!

Monday, August 6, 2007

I've Been Tagged

My cyber friend Jeri Hurd over at Bib 2.0 has tagged me for the 8 Random Facts Meme.
The Rules:

* Post these rules before you give your facts
* List 8 random facts about yourself
* At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
* Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

I'm feeling more than a little pressure after reading her own highly interesting random facts but I'm game to give it a try:

1) I love to kayak.
2) I once proposed to a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. (Mostly because he asked to speak to the man of the house rather than talk to me and I said that the position was vacant and would he care to apply? He didn't.)
3) Guilty secret: I often read the end of books before the beginning.
4) I am extremely flattered that Jeri listed me amongst her 8 great bloggers.
5) I'm a terrible photographer but love to keep trying.
6) I play a mean game of Mexican Train Dominoes.
7) I'm a confirmed techie but still love getting snail mail.
8) One of my dreams is to visit Peru.

Now, about the tagging, like Jeri I don't know many other people who blog, well, none really, except for the exalted gurus she mentioned, so I hope that anyone reading this posting might leave a comment and a link to their own blog.
The 2008 Yalsa Popular Paperback Nominations lists are now available online @ YALSA This year's topics include Sex is a Touchy Subject, Magic in the Real World, Get Your Game On and What Makes a Family.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Challenge Ahead - Week 3 - Thing 7

It's been exhilerating discovering neat 2.0 toys. If you've been following this blog you'll have noticed that I got seriously side-tracked as I set up RSS feeds and began reading all the wonderful things that various people have posted. Playing with MindMeister brought home the need for me to organize my thoughts and decide what and how I will present ideas to staff in September. Last year I tried to interest them in trying out a blog but there were no takers. I settled for offering a workshop on how to use Inspiration. This year I will have a much clearer understanding of how 2.0 tools can be used and can provide some good examples to draw staff in. And I'll work with kids in the library showing them how to enhance their research, sharing and information gathering by using some great tools. Then teachers will have some student experts in their classes to make the journey easier.

Motivator from Flickr Toys

Week 3 Thing 6

Playing with Flickr toys has given me lots of ideas for enhancing the school library web pages and promoting library services. Today I played with Motivator and created a simple poster using a photo taken of a group of us out workshopping around the province. Flickr has lots of other toys, some of which I have used and posted here (fortune cookie and badge) previously. I think these 'toys' also provide great opportunities for kids to express themselves creatively to make a point, summarize, demonstrate knowledge or pose questions.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


Here's a great collaborative mind mapping tool. MindMeister allows you to quickly create a mind map online. You can share it publicly or selectively invite others to view and collaborate. The history allows you to see when changes have been made. It comes with a quick tutorial. This app seems like another great way to have students who are unable to meet in real time find a way to collaborate.