Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Develop Your PLN - Become a Winner

There are numerous benefits to developing and participating in you own personal learning network:

- the ability to poll a wide audience
- quick answers to questions
- sense of community
- great resources, tips and tricks

However one of the best may not be recognized by many people. When you take the time to post a useful link or help someone else out they will often reply with thanks or a compliment. This recognition makes you feel great and boosts your self-esteem. Being told that you are awesome or that you rock makes you want to involve yourself more with your network.

People who believe they can make a difference, that they have something of value to pass along begin to move from being tentative to confident. They are more likely to try new ways of doing things. I think they become better teachers. We often work to build our students' achievement by working on their self-esteem. Why not put those same techniques to work for yourself.

Get connected!

Image used under Flickr Creative Commons License by Man_Monkey at

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Online Library Community

There's a wonderful interconnectedness happening these days. My friend Hazel Clark posted a tweet about her visit to Ottawa and in it she quoted author John Ralston Saul.
"Saul says he can trace the literacy skills in an area to the elements of a library program in place in the school."

Her Tweet was picked up and posted in a newsletter which led me to two great sites for school librarians:

Schlib Tips and Tools
and ilibrarian

The value in being part of online communities like Twitter, of opening your personal learning network (PLN) to include online groups in your area of speciality lies in the richness of resources that will come your way.

Twitter is catching on in a big way. Do you use Twitter?
Have you started an RSS feed for the great blog posts by other librarians?

Have you formed an online community of practice with other librarians in your district? In today's interconnected world there is no reason for librarians to feel isolated geographically. There is no limit to the professional learning opportunities offered online for free.

Learning is social. Join in the conversation.

Image used under a Creative Commons license by ~Aphrodite at

Related Post:
Twitter: A Brief Beginner's Guide

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's A Wrap

We finished up the Animoto projects just before our spring break. The kids loved working with Animoto and were impressed with their results.

We learned a few things for next time and an updated student guide is available on the wiki. It is so important to have students do their storyboards first and have a very clear picture of what they are trying to say. When it comes to searching for images they have to be able to see how different images might be used to express one idea. They need to understand how a picture can be used as a metaphor.

Another problem area for students was in finding images with a creative commons license. Some chose to ignore our guidelines and when they downloaded non-CC images from Flickr they found them to be blank and given the file name" spaceball". So it was back to searching for them.

Some of the kids got way better text effects by creating text slides in PowerPoint and saving the slides as jpgs.

It was critical to have students sign up for Animoto using the coded URL provided when the teacher signs up for an educator's account. Some students signed up on their own not realizing they would be limited to 30-second projects. Animoto only permits one sign up per email address so a couple of students who only have one email address were unable to create second accounts with full access for themselves. I had them create their projects on my computer using my account - not an ideal situation.

When the students are ready to use Animoto they need to have saved their images and PowerPoint slides and have them available on their email, a flash drive or school server account. Some came to class ready to create their project but had all their materials stored on a computer at home.

I'm looking forward to trying out Animoto again. Next time we'll have some exemplars to show the kids for inspiration.
If you've taken a look at the class projects please leave a comment here. The kids would love the feedback!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Library in the Clouds

Yesterday, Joyce Valenza sent out a tweet directing readers to the
Unquiet Library. in her post on the School Library Journal blog. Then this morning I came across this article: Don’t Worry, Be Scrappy: Good, Cheap Tech for Schools, Cloud Computing and More by Jeffry Hastings.

Both of these articles got me thinking about using different applications to reach my high school student audience in ways that are more familiar to them and to save time and precious budget $$ by going to cloud computing.
As Joyce points out, the librarians at Creekview High School, Buffy Hamilton and Ruth Fleet, are making good use of cloud computing with:

a wiki





Joyce's post could not have come at a better time as I had recently made the decision to take my library 'into the clouds'. This site will serve as a great model. I've kicked things off by starting a delicious acct. and a wiki but now I have many more ideas to fly with. (Just noticed that abbreviated words are creeping into my writing, too much Twittering I suspect!)

Using a YouTube video player I can save author chats directly from YouTube to the library wiki. This is easily done by signing up for a YouTube account, creating a player, and saving videos to the playlist for that player as you come across them. You can create additional players for different purposes.

I have also been mulling over the merits of having one central page for resources that all the high school librarians in the district might contribute and link to. Is it better to collaborate or each create individual digital presences suited to our needs?
What are you doing in your school to create an online presence? How do you see this helping you to serve your patrons better?

Photo used under Creative Commons license from Robyn's Nest

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Animoto English Project

Image used under Creative Commons License by:
Uploaded on August 18, 2007 by Nicolai Kjærgaard

I started working with
one of the Gr. 11 English teachers on an Animoto project this week. It will be a few days before we actually get to Animoto as there is much prep work to do.

Ms. L. is just finishing up a unit of study on horror in literature and wants her students to express what they have learned about horror and the human psyche. I suggested they use Animoto and then link to their projects from the class wiki.

We talked about how their project will be similar to a 60-second commercial: great images, evocative music and a few choice words. We viewed Scary Mary, the Mary Poppins trailer remake, to give them some ideas.

We talked to them about only using images with a creative commons license and showed them flickr, compfight and behold. We talked about downloading images and how to cite them correctly. For this project they will create PowerPoint slides with their citations and save them as .jpg files so they can be added to the Animoto presentation. I didn’t know about this trick before and have @shannonwa in my Twitter network to thank for the idea.

The hardest part for many of the students seems to be in organizing their work: saving images to a file on the server and citing their sources. We have asked them to storyboard the project and given them the option of using pen/paper, Inspiration or Word. It surprises me how many have chosen the pen/paper option. The storyboarding is essential to get them to focus on their theme and to have a very clear idea about what they want to say. It's been a good exercise in brevity and capturing the essence of what they want to convey.