Friday, October 31, 2008

Take a Poll

Gotta love things that work simply and efficiently.Vizu is polling tool that does just that. Please try out the poll below.

When you check your poll results Vizu includes a map showing where the votes have come from. Nice feature.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All the news ...

How do you like your news? Do you read your copy of The Globe and Mail or the local tab newspaper as you transit to work?

Or do you like viewing your news online using an archived broadcast like the ones on the Global TV site? Or do you download your news as a podcast?

Here’s a sampling of some of the varied ways you can have your news served up online:

Google News Alerts
Bring the news to you by asking Google News to send you an email alert for any topic you choose.

The Week in Rap
condenses the weeks news into a rap presentation. The lyrics are printed on the site with links to specific stories embedded.

uses Google News to visualize the daily news and arrange stories by popularity. The more items written about any story the more prominent it becomes. News can also be viewed by country which makes for interesting comparisons.

lets you create typographic maps of current news stories.


features a spinning globe that features news articles as popouts with audio and links to more in depth articles.

presents the news in timeline format.

Larry Ferlazzo has created a list of The Best Visually Engaging News Sites

I have my own list of interesting news sources saved in delicious.

Image:Kolk, Melinda. news.jpg. Oct-00. Pics4Learning. 29 Oct 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Search/Save/Share with MiddleSpot

Just exploring a new search engine called MiddleSpot which is a Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day.

MiddleSpot is a visual search engine that displays thumbnails of sites. The interesting feature for me is that it allows you to save a list of the sites you want (called a workpad) and share that list with others. lets you:
- see screenshots of your results that you zoom and pan like a map...
- save individual results to a personal workpad...
- share your workpad with friends, colleagues, and family...

I did a sample search for ‘personal learning networks’ and found four great blog posts on the subject that I embedded here:

I'd like to use this with student's by having them find the best sites for a research project and then post it to the class blog.

Check out the Tools tab for some great add-ons like the MiddleSpot Me bookmarklet. It also explains how you can add to your workpad straight from a Google Search.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tag, you're it.

Just watched Chris Betcher's engaging K12 Online Conference presentation “I Like Delicious Things: An Introduction to Tagging and Folksonomies”.

Chris has a way with words and presents flawlessly. He gives a great introduction to using Flickr and Delicious. He explains how tagging works and gives an interesting use of tag clouds using US presidential speeches which have been presented as tag clouds. I'd recommend this video to anyone new to the world of tagging.

When I introduce tagging to students I compare tags to the words you might use to look up information in an encyclopedia index. I ask them think of tags as keywords. What keywords would they use if they were searching for information on that idea or topic.

Image used under a Flickr Creative Commons Licence: Uploaded on June 23, 2008
by kenleyneufeld at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008 GGs

The Governor-General's Literacy Awards Shortlist is out.
They include:

For Fiction
- Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances
- Rawi Hage, Cockroach
- Nino Ricci, The Origin of Species
- David Adams Richards, The Lost Highway
- Fred Stenson, The Great Karoo

For Children's Literature
- Alma Fullerton, Libertad
- John Ibbitson, The Landing
- Dianne Linden, Shimmerdogs
- Shenaaz Nanji, Child of Dandelions
- Mariko Tamaki, Skim

For Non-Fiction
- Christie Blatchford, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army
- Douglas Hunter, God’s Mercies. Rivalry, Betrayal and the Dream of Discovery
- Sid Marty, The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek
- James Orbinski, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century
- Chris Turner, The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting Older = Getting Smarter

I heard about this on the tv news the other night. An article in the NY Times reports on a study that will bring joy to hearts of librarians everywhere. Surfing the Internet Boosts Aging Brains. The findings conclude that experienced web searchers stimulate their brains far more when searching the web than less able searchers. It's even more stimulating than reading a book. So, drop that book. Get Googling!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Playing with my iPod

I clearly remember the looks of envy I got as I walked through the school hallways carrying my, then new, turquoise blue clamshell iBook. I felt so cutting edge. Now I’m getting a similar response to my iPod Touch. This time it’s the kids giving me that So-You’re-Finally-With-It look.

I thought at first that my aging eyes would have a problem but that is definitely not the case. It’s wonderfully easy to use and I’ve had fun browsing through all the free apps in the iTunes store. Crazy Pumpkin will be just right for Halloween.

The whole purpose of acquiring the iPod has been to take part in a small focus group studying ways to use iPod Touch with students. We can see lots of potential for students using them on fieldtrips by downloading guides, questions etc. before they go; by taking notes or looking up information during; by tweeting about interesting things they notice along the way.

The Mobile Learner, a blog worth subscribing to, makes a case for using the iPod to save on the cost of photocopying.

So this is too cool. I started this post at work and am now finishing it at home on my iPod. First mobile post ever! Woot!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another reason to love Twitter

A post in Twitter put me onto a fabulous wiki, etoolbox. I saw some features there that were new to me so I contacted the wiki's creator through Twitter to ask her how she had created them. She replied almost immediately and soon had me adding a widget to my own wiki. Very cool. Very quick. Very easy! Thanks Dianne!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Here's my first glog. I'm hoping to embed it on the school's library web page.

Working with Glogster was fun and fairly easy. I kept losing my work at first as it doesn't seem to save changes automatically. I think you have to hit the save/publish button and then go back in to edit. It was a snap to import graphics, sounds and video.

I think students would love to use Glogster as a book report variation. I can see them finding links to author sites, interviews, choosing suitable graphics and music to reflect the mood and adding a personal reflection. There is a Glogster version for education.

They could create a glog to represent an historical event or time period or to explain concepts in math and science.

To the Brussels Sprout!

Eating Brussels Sprouts is a bit like Twittering to me. When I was a kid I used to avoid sprouts like the plague. But after trying them as an adult I have developed a fondness for them.

After avoiding Twitter for a very long time, I have been Twittering for about a week now and I am liking what I see. I wanted to know what the educational value would be. Keeping in touch with friends on a minute-by-minute is not high on my list of priorities. My cell phone mostly stays turned off on the kitchen counter. So what have I learned:

- it’s easy to build up a network of people to follow. Look on blogs, check to see the people others in your network are following.

- Twitter provides a sense of community. Being a librarian can be a lonely job in that there is only one of you in your school in most cases. In the past week I have felt a sense of connection, learned of some cool new sites and ideas, responded to other people’s requests for information.

It’s fall-off-a-log easy to learn the features of Twitter. Here’s a useful blog post for taking Twitter a step further and using it as a reminder service or conducting a poll.

And in the spirit of the day, Canadian Thanksgiving, here’s the only
Brussels sprout recipe my family will eat. And I give thanks to my friend Sandy for passing it along to me.

Divine Sprouts
1 lb. sprouts
¼ cup olive oil
4 thin slices of prosciutto, chopped
½ cup pine nuts
salt & pepper to taste

Cut the sprouts in half and remove the core. Slice thinly.
Heat oil and add the chopped prosciutto sautéing until crisp.
Add the sprouts and pine nuts and cook, stirring, for 3 min.
Cover and cook a further 2 min. or until sprouts are tender.

And if you don't tell them, they'll never know they're eating sprouts!

Photo Credit: by x-eyedblonde.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Playing with Digital Storytelling

I got an idea from Joyce Valenza's blog post about using GoAnimate and created the following animation to use as an example with students. The program is super easy to use and lets you upload your own graphics or use ones from their library. I based it on something that happened in my library a few years ago. It made me really understand how important it is to teach students how to become capable searchers.

If the embedded video is not working go to GoAnimate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 has changed, which I have always ranked as one of my top 3 search engines, has undergone some restructuring. Read Webware’s take on the changes.

As you type in your search terms, a list of search suggestions comes up. You can turn this feature off if you don’t like it.

A search for the French revolution turned up Ask Q&A with 777 questions about the revolution. A list of related searches included a timeline, summaries, cause and effects and more. Tabs across the top take you to Web sites, Images, News and a variety of other options like Recipes, which may not apply.

On the Image page you can further select by size, file type and b&w or colour images. It would have been beneficial to have a creative commons search feature on the image search page.

On the news page you can choose to search within categories of news such as politics, business or sports. You can also narrow your sources to certain geographical areas.

I do miss the expand your search/narrow your search features that helped kids think critically about search terms. So I’m not sure if I entirely like the new features. They seem less kid-friendly to me.

Finds of the Week

I loved the energy in Chris Lehmann’s presentation at IgnitePhilly. His passion for technology is inspirational and I wish he were working in my district.

Someone watching the video posted a question about not being able to see an image posted on the screen behind Chris as he was talking. If you look in the Slideshare below the video you can see the image there.

I’ve been exploring collaborative whiteboard apps. and previously wrote about Dabbleboard.
Today I looked at Scribblar and Twiddla. Twiddla was fun as I played with other guests in the sandbox as we tried out features. I was able to ask a question and have it answered on the spot by a guest who drew in a trail of arrows directing me to the tab I wanted. Very cool. Bringing in images, documents, email and even mathematical formulas is a snap. For teachers without whiteboards in their classes this could be a valuable tool. You can see my scratchings in the image above using Dabbleboard. The perfect oval for the head was done automatically by Dabbleboard, the rest is freehand. For my purposes I liked Dabbleboard and Twiddla best although they all have slightly different features which are useful.

Just watched part of Kristin Hokanson’s presentation to business educators. She does an amazing job and backs up her work with a wiki, The Connected Classroom. I learned about using Cover It Live which provides online chat for participants. I've used Chatzy in the past but you are limited in the amount of text you can record for free. Cover It Live is free.

Twitter at last!

I’ve finally taken the plunge and am Twittering. Don’t know what took me so long. I guess it was just one more thing. It was very easy to become involved and I have learned some interesting things already. I started out with a couple of colleagues as my twitter friends but have expanded to include 24 people to follow. On Twitter I am bookminder.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Giller Time

The 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists were announced today:
-Joseph Boyden for his novel Through Black Spruce Book Review
-Anthony De Sa for his collection of short stories Barnacle Love Book Review
-Marina Endicott for her novel Good to a Fault Book Review
-Rawi Hage for his novel Cockroach Book Review
-Mary Swan for her novel The Boys in the Trees Book Review

The winner will be announced at a gala in Toronto on Nov. 11.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Celebrating Book Month

The province has declared October 2008 to be Library Month here in B.C. I am celebrating by joining a book club. We have had our first meeting and established a club presence in Shelfari. Part of the fun for me has been introducing the non-tech literates in the group to this new-to-them application. They are loving it.

Image credit to Lesley Edwards