Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prep Day

I've spent most of today prepping for a series of upcoming workshops on using web2.0 applications. Some of the invaluable tools I use every day and will talk about are: to bookmark sites for each workshop, to provide resource suggestions to students.

jing, skitch and kwout to mark up and annotate screenshots. I just discovered kwout and love the way it links back to the original page. I can see using this a lot when I put up information for students in the school blog. Here's an example:

I found that I had to pump up the size in the box at the left to full power or the quote was unreadably small.

Toondo is another favourite which the students love.
VoiceThread and of course Google Docs and Google Notebook.

My list of new applications to explore grows every time I check my RSS feed. For now, I'll stick to what I know and use and hope to get lots of other folks excited about using them too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Growing up Online

Frontline is running a program on Jan.22 called "Growing Up Online".
See the YouTube trailer.
Check out the Frontline website to read the press release or watch a preview.

YALSA has produced a great brochure "Social Networking: A Guide for Teens" and has it and other resources available on its site. NS Teens from Netsmartz has great teaching materials, videos and real-life stories about safety and social networking.

Our local paper ran this headline today: Man Accused of Luring Girl Online. A 12-year-old girl was lured away from her home through Internet contact by a 24-year-old man and his father. Are you teaching Internet safety to your children and students?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Good Old Days

Dy/Dan is revisiting his younger self in his blog this week. That got me thinking about my days as a young teacher. I was 21 and a very long way from home when I stepped into my first classroom of thirty-nine assorted Gr. 4 students. Of all the classes I have taught these are the kids who stick in my mind most clearly. My teaching job had taken me 700 odd miles north of the 49th to a small community supported by farming and the oil patch. My classroom was housed in a little red school house which had been trucked in from the boonies to serve as my portable.
I remember it snowed on Sept. 10th and didn't stop snowing until after the Easter break. The school had its own ice rink which the fire department came and flooded in early October. Mums drove their kids to school on snowmobiles and in trucks equipped with winches.
The school had no gym and no library. We went once a week to a neighbouring school for our P.E. class. It was held in a multi-purpose room that had poles running down the centre. The kids had to keep their eyes open.
I remember my first parent/teacher interviews when one of the mothers asked me if I thought she was doing a good job of parenting and wanted to know how she could improve. Can't remember what I said except to tell she was doing fine.
I remember taking the kids on field trips to the art gallery and the pool all on our bicycles. I remember catching strange creatures in a nearby ditch and bringing them back to the classroom. The principal couldn't contain his laughter as he explained to me that I had filled our classroom aquarium with mosquito larvae.
I remember making ice cream in a churn that one of the kids brought to school. It didn't set as we had forgotten about the salt so we hung the bucket outside the window where it kept beautifully frozen.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Alex Awards

The ALA award lists for 2008 have just been posted. Of interest to YA librarians will be the Alex Awards 2008 list which gives ten adult books with specific teen appeal. I have read five of the titles from the 2007 list and enjoyed all of them:

Black Swan Green by Mitchell
The Book of Lost Things by Connolly
Eagle Blue by D'Orso
The Thirteenth Tale by Setterfield
Water for Elephants by Gruen

Must get busy with some new orders now!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Online Learning Network

This year, most of my professional development and learning has occured online. It's easy to fit a few minutes throughout the day to check Google Reader or listen to a podcast. Sites like CommonCraft, TeacherTube and YouTube have wonderful tutorials that I can turn to when I get stuck implementing something new.

I also enjoy sites where I can ask a question or join in a discussion such as the Teacher-Librarian's Facebook Group I belong to.
Jeri Hurd over at Bib2.0 got me thinking about library orientation. This year I didn't do one and in a way it's helped me to see where orientations are valuable. At the start of the school year we were up to our necks in renovations and the installation of the new automated system. It's now January and I am thinking about doing some modified orientations with the new students.

Frequently Asked Questions: What the kids want to know.

Where is the pencil sharpener?

May I borrow scissors, tape, glue, a pencil/pen, coloured markers...? The list is endless. This year I decided to try a library dollar store and stock basic items which I sell for $2 or less. The money goes towards book purchases. Glue sticks and fine liners are the hottest selling items.

Can I rent a book? Love this one. I always ask them how much they think I should charge.

Computer questions mainly relating to searches, saving work and finding lost files.

Here's what I've tried in the past:

A treasure hunt using a map of the library and a list features. The kids have to match up the number on the map with the feature. At the end we discuss the answers and provide additional information about things like printing rules.

A Resource Hunt: I do this in Socials classes and give the kids a list of questions based on a topic they will later cover in class. Their job is not to answer the question but to prepare an annotated brochure giving the best resource for finding the answer. The questions are designed to lead them to resources such as historical atlases, dictionaries, encyclopedias and timelines. I also give them several websites and ask them which one is the best for their topic. This works well as the kids have a ready-made list of resources when they come back later to do a research assignment.

What I Do Now.
My focus has been shifting to include an introduction to some useful web 2.0 tools which I see as part of any students basic toolkit: I start out by getting them to create an account and then select some useful reference sites. They have to bookmark a dictionary, an encyclopedia and a thesaurus and then can add any other site they find useful.

Google Docs - How to avoid lost files and find time to collaborate on a project.

I think sites like VoiceThread and Animoto might also be worthwhile to include. I have started to search for other orientation ideas online and will post more later.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Taking a Break

A month has gone by since my last post. This gap was not entirely intentional although I tried very hard to take a real break over the Christmas holidays and am now playing catch-up. I came back to almost 500 new items in my RSS feed. I tend to believe that there will be one or two gems worth digging for so have dutifully scanned through the lot.

I have taken some time to reflect on the pros and cons of keeping this blog going.
Time of course is a big factor on the Con side. However there are a number of Pros:

- this blog serves as a record of where I have been
- it puts me in touch with like-minded colleagues
- it serves as a storage place for ideas
- it helps me sift through things and chart a course

Random Thoughts:

The most popular book in the library this week by a country mile is Rat Boy Lives! by David Perel & the Editors of the Weekly World News.

Favourite books read over the holiday: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. I think both will be snapped up by the film industry if the writer's ever get back to the job.

What I'm reading now: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. I hope the British vocab. won't put kids off as it is a wonderful read.

What the future holds: Lots of workshopping. I will be heading out to the wilds of B.C. again giving workshops on Information Literacy and promoting the Web in the Classroom book produced by North Vancouver School District. I'll be putting together some web2.0 sessions which I am very excited about.