Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's New?

While catching up some of my RSS feeds I came across this post from Rodd Lucier on the Clever Sheep. He asked on Twitter, "What are you doing in your classroom today that wasn't possible 5 years ago?" and shares the answers in his post.

I am not sure what I am doing that wasn't possible 5 years ago but I do know what has become part of my daily practice. Here's the short list:

- Using Skype to plan, ask for help, explore new ideas.
- Writing this blog.
- Creating school accounts on Facebook, Delicious, Pageflakes, Wikispaces, Blogspot, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
- Using a flip camera to record students work, ideas in meetings, school events.
- Attending a number of presentations, discussions, workshops and conferences virtually.
- Using delicious as a search engine.
- Building a PLN on Twitter and through my RSS feeds.
- Reading blogs and news daily through my RSS feeds.
- Building library resource pages using wikispaces, pageflakes and delicious.
- Chatting online with colleagues in my district and around the world to share resources and collaborate.
- Collaborating using Google Docs.

I'm sure I've left something off the list because it has become so ingrained that I don't even notice I'm using it anymore.

What tools or practices have become an invaluable part of your work day? What one tool or idea would you pass on to someone else? Where might you be 5 years down the road?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Too Cool - Livescribe

I met with a couple of techie colleagues today and got to watch the livescribe system in action. It had me using words like amazing! and whoa! with all the restraint of a 13-year-old let loose with a bag of coins at the video arcade.

This amazing tool (I warned you) comes with an electronic pen and special notebook. It records the conversation as you take notes. When you plug the pen into your laptop it stores each page which then appears as if you had scanned it in. The notes are searchable and you can send a link to them to other people in an email. The file can be downloaded as a PDF, shared on Facebook or embedded on a web page. For a sneak peek at how it works look here.

It lets you take doodling at meetings to a whole new level as this Youtube video demonstrates. You can ask it the time or use it as a calculator with results displaying in a small screen on the side of the pen.

So now I am sitting at home listening to our meeting as I read over the notes taken during our session. This is one powerful system.

Dear Santa,
I've been a very good girl this year ...

Photo used under a Creative Commons License from cogdogblog
Thanks Alan!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Creating a web2.0 Library with Pageflakes

Inspired by The Unquiet Library's Pageflakes I spent some time today developing several pages for my high school library. Several weeks ago I staked our claim by setting up accounts on Twitter, Facebook and delicious in addition to the library wiki I set up some time ago. I am so very happy that The Unquiet Library has been generous enough to share their pages. It has given me a starting place that I can learn from and build on. I hope to encourage staff members to start their own pages which can be added as this resource grows.

This YouTube video gives a quick explanation on sharing options for your pages - Pageflakes: how to share your page.

One of my main reasons for taking the library online has been to encourage students to read using as many tools as possible. The Unquiet Library has some great ideas for feeds on their YA Lit 2.0 page. These include author interviews and book trailers from YouTube, author blogs and teen books review blogs.

A Teen Author Blog index can be found on the TeenLib Wiki. At the bottom of the list of authors are links to other lists of teen author blogs. I chose a couple of authors that are popular with our students as well as the fabulous Reading Rants blog.

Check your local public library for blog feeds. Ours is running a summer reading book club that I've added a feed for.

This will be a work in progress as I hope to:
- add pages for socials, science and english classes
- set up pages for specific large research projects
- add a flickr feed for images around a theme.
- create news feeds for events such as elections or the upcoming 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Are you using Pageflakes or an equivalent service like Netvibes? How do you envision it being used to serve a school library community? Please offer your comments!

Image credit to me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reflection and Planning

Every June I start my September file. As I tidy up my office I reflect on what was successful this past year and what I would like to focus on in the new school year.

When I still get requests from staff asking about a website I forwarded to them some time ago I know I need to revisit social bookmarking with them. The benefits of learning to use social bookmarking well are numerous. Socials, Science and English teachers in the district are banding together to build strong collections of material resources found online and have created delicious accounts for this purpose. I plan to teach my staff how to use delicious as a search engine to turn up useful sites.

When I read posts from powerhouse educators I know I can adapt their ideas to my situation.

Kim Cofino writes about the monthly coffee and technology sessions for parents held at her school. Our circumstances are different from those in an International School so mornings won't work for us. I plan to approach our Parent Advisory Council about doing a monthly tech evening.

Doug Johnson's post on the practice of "mini" research encapsulates the essence of good practice when it comes to teaching students how to become thoughful researchers. I plan to visit each department in September and start discussions around how to make research and problem solving an integral part of each day's lesson.

I try to use this time to create useful resources to add to the school websiste like some quick tips for using Google Docs. The more I use Google Docs the more I love it. Today I discovered that you can check the spelling of a word, look up synonyms or pull up an encyclopedia article on the word. I also discovered that you can insert bookmarks into a document that work as shortcuts to places within the document. This will be very useful for longer projects that require an index or table of contents.

What interesting projects are you considering for next year? Post a comment and tell us about them.

Image used under a Creative Commons license by Dominic's pics