Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finds This Week

From Miss M some suggestions on inspiring ways to teach vocabulary in her Eternal Learning of the Open Mind blog.

From Silvia Tolisano's blog Langwitches a post about teaching students to use creative commons images from Wikipedia.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective 21st Century Teachers from Interface: the technology magazine for educators. This publication includes articles, lesson plans, examples of teacher blogs and an annotated list of tools/useful sites.

Pt. England School winner of the Computerworld Excellence Awards 2006, has an amazing collection of digital student work online. Their enthusiasm is infectious!

Reasons to RSS

Next week our district is going to introduce RSS feeds to a large number of teachers. We've booked four labs at one of the high schools and will divide the group for smaller hands-on sessions.

I started the ball rolling by tweeting out a request asking how/why people use RSS feeds and got the following replies:

To this I would add:
-Use news feeds to track current events.
-Use delicious feeds to have bookmarks with specific tags sent to you.
-Subscribe to photo feeds from flickr.
-And this comprehensive list - 100 Cool Things You Can do With RSS (NB not all of these suggestions may be suitable for school use.)

Some of the online resources we've found:

Commoncraft: RSS in Plain English
Commoncraft: Google Reader in Plain English

Google Reader for Beginners

We've come up with a list of suggested feeds in a variety of subject areas and grade levels.

And of course Will Richardson's definitive RSS Guide is posted on his blog.

Some of the better known feed aggregators are Google Reader, Netvibes and Pageflakes.

Why are we doing this? Our hope is to set teachers up with some good professional reading over the summer when they will have time to ponder and play.

Do you have blogs you would recommend? I'd be happy to add them to our list. Please add a comment.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My flock

I really do love Twitter. People who don't understand it's potential as a powerful network for learning are missing out on something wonderful. Twice this week I couldn't remember where to find a key piece of information and my Twitter network came through for me.

The focus of my network is shown in the graphic above. To see your own flock check out Twittersheep. If you are new to Twitter, take time to grow and cultivate your own PLN there. It will pay off over time.

Three for Saturday

Doug Johnson's post on parody at the Blue Skunk Blog makes a great read. Seems about right to me that we would lionize those among us who are visionary leaders and thinkers.

Thank you Keisa Williams (@monarchlibrary) for pointing me at 100 Awesome Youtube Vids for Librarians.

For all the Twitterers in the room I recommend Twitter Analyzer. It shows you how many readers have seen your tweet beyond those that subscribe to your posts and many other stats. There is much fascinating information here that may help you become a better tweeter. Simply enter your twitter name and then use the drop down menus to see the analysis.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What To Read Next

Thanks to Miss M. I now have a new tool to add to the list for promoting reading in the library. It's called 22 Books and allows you to create annotated book lists on any theme of your choice. The site provides code for you to embed the lists in a blog or wiki. However, I have chosen to simply link to the lists to save space on my wiki page.

If you visit Miss M's blog you'll see some suggestions for using 22 Books with students.

Encyclopedia Britannica is once again offering free use to regular blog writers. They say, "you can share any Britannica article with your readers simply by linking to it from your site as you would any other Web page. Readers who click on the link will get the article in its entirety even if they're not Britannica subscribers." Sign up on their Registration Page and they'll get back to you to let you know if you've been approved.

Photo used under a creative commons license by Rachel Sian

Sunday, April 19, 2009

For Want of a Better Topic

My Best of the Week includes:

Beyond Blocking: Embracing the Social Web Show this slideshare to your staff, your administrator, anyone who will listen.

Great Scavenger Hunt Contest For the TLs who read this blog. A wonderful contest for librarians in Canada and the U.S. Your students can win book prizes and so can you.

From Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog "Ban the Lectern" a tongue-in-cheek look at presenting.

And there you have it. Three sites that will inspire, engage and entertain.
What was your best find this week?
How about leaving it in a comment?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Using Google Docs

Google Docs has some new and interesting features. I’m putting together a workshop for teachers on using Google Docs in the classroom. The participants will have time to play with the various features during my presentation but I am putting together a list of resources will help them once they are back in the classroom.

Here are some of the resources I'll pass on to them:
Google Docs in Plain English gives a clear explanation to first time users.
The Google Docs Help Center provides getting started advice.
Using Google Docs in the classroom: Simple as ABC
Liz Davis' has shared a guide on How to Create and Share a Google Document.

For inspiration they can turn to the collaborative slideshare Seventeen Interesting Ways to Use Google Docs in the Classroom. I expect this collection of ideas will continue to grow. You may even want to add some yourself. The last slide explains how.

This handy screencast explains how to use templates in Google Docs.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick is a good example of how a template can be used in collaborative storytelling.

Please comment if you have other good examples or resources you'd be willing to share.

Image used under a creative commons license by lumaxart

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SpeedGeeking and Mouse Wrangling

A number of IT teacher specialist's blog posts and tweets lately have expressed the frustration that comes from trying to pass on all the wonderful technology ideas we come across on a daily basis. We've all had that 'bursting brain' feeling and the consequent let down that comes when those we share with don't drop everything and immediately take on what ever it is we've been hooting about.

But, I believe in serendipity and on Friday a friend sent me this: Are you going to finish strong? It made me stop feeling sorry for myself and want to dive back in.

Then Kim Cofino blogged about Speed Geeking. This was the second catalyst I needed to get myself going.

Here, in my school district, I have been working with a group of inspired and inspiring educators to host Learning at Night gatherings for a thousand or so teachers. Now before you get too excited, while we invite everyone, our attendance at the 4 sessions we've hosted so far has ranged from 40 to 80 people. We've shown them presentations from the k12 online conference, skyped in the presenters and had great discussions. While this has been fantastic Pro D. for our teachers we have all been wondering if there has been any real effect on their classroom teaching methods.

This is where Kim's post about a great idea comes into play. I won't try to encapsulate it here as her post says it all. It got me thinking. These are a few ideas I'll bring to the team to mull over for future LAN gatherings.

* Try our own version of SpeedGeeking.
* Try out an idea we saw at Northern Voice called Moose Wrangling. We may call ours Mouse Wrangling. We know that some teachers have tried out Animoto, Edmodo, blogging etc. Maybe we can convince them to give a 30 second pitch to the group and then move to a separate corner to have a discussion with those teachers who want to hear more.
* Send all May LAN participants away with an RSS feed and the names of a few good blog/nings/feeds to follow over the summer. I've started a list here. If you can suggest any others please add them as comments.

How do you inspire teachers to try new things? Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.