Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My new Nano

View some of the choices I will have when I get my new Nano

Dancing librarians celebrate crossing "The Finish Line"

Watch Mesquite librarians dancing to music on their new Nanos

The Finish Line - Summary

Whew! What a trip! I've never taken a college class that was as interesting and informative as this was. I thouroughly enjoyed every step along the way.

Looking back on that cold, rainy day driving to McDonald Middle School, wishing that I didn't have to get out in that nasty weather and that I had so many things back at my school that I needed to do, I was not in a state of mind to tackle something new. To be honest, even when Mary and Debbie's opening presentation began, I found my mind wandering to other things. Once the large group broke up and we split off into small groups to begin tackling the first "Thing", I kind of panicked because everyone around me seemed to be having success right off the bat and I was struggling to get my brain wrapped around exactly what I was supposed to be doing and not knowing how to go about it. My lack of confidence was taking over but I was determined to figure that first "Thing" out. Little by little, each "Thing" was a little easier and before long, came along several of the "fun Things". With each new "Thing" my confidence grew and I became more excited, looking forward to the next "Thing". In fact, I almost became obssessed with it all and for periods of time, would neglect other facets of my life in order to tackle a new "Thing"

As far as lifelong learning goals, I would love to do some more of these types of staff development. I like the self-paced aspect of it and well as the fact that I didn't have to be at the PDC by 4:15 on "this" day of "this" week. What I really liked about it was that I didn't have to be in my "professional dress" in order to learn and share with others. I loved sitting in my pj's and slippers in my recliner with my laptop in my lap and sipping a good cup of coffee as I worked. I will be on the look-out for more opportunities like this one.

The only thing that I can think of that we could do differently to improve on the program's concept, would be to convince the district administrators to allow teachers to access all the different "Things" we did that threw up a wall (firewall that is.)
It would have been much easier and quicker to get around to different sites if we didn't have to by-pass the filter by going through all the steps involved in getting around the filter.

I most definitely would participate in any future discovery programs like the "23 Things, if any are offered.

I already have begun to practice what I have learned throughout this program. I know that if I don't use it, I'll lose it! Ha! For me, if I don't go straight home from a staff development and begin to practice and use what I have learned, it will go in a file folder in my desk and be forgotten for either a long time or even forever. My students are already enjoying using our school wiki for their reearch and are even more excited to participate in the research podcast that I have planned for the coming weeks.

One last "thing". For those of you who are still struggling to finish the "23 Things", don't get frustrated and give up. It's tough sometimes, but in the long run you will see that it's worth it when you have finally crossed "The Finish Line"! I'll be at the Finish Line, waiting for you and cheering you on to success and completion! Look for the checkered flag! Vrooooom!

Thing #23 Creative Commons

I had never heard of Creative Commons before we began the 23 "Things". It seems to go along with the concept of collaboration which is a big push not only in education but also the business world as well. For people who are not trying to "make a buck" on personal creations, this is the perfect way to work alongside others, helping each other out. Kind of like, "why re-invent the wheel?" Thank goodness the orginal "wheel" has been revised and improved on throughout history, so why not use the same concept when creating anything whether it is photos, music, written documents and many more things as well.

With Creative Commons people can easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want or if you want to look at it another way, with the restrictios they want to place upon it. I went to Flickr to look for some pictures with the Creative Commons license. I came across a group of pictures that had been entered into a contest to promote Creative Commons. All the pictures had the CC logo inserted into the picture. The picture that caught my eye was one of two small children in one sweatshirt, with both of their heads through the neck opening and one arm of each one coming out of each sleeve. On the front of the sweatshirt was the CC logo. What a creative picture to show what Creative Commons is all about.

I started looking at some of the comments about the picture and clicked on a link. It took me to a screencast of the mother of the 8-year old in the picture, walking through the steps he needed to follow in order to make a Powerpoint about his family. You could see him clicking on buttons as he created the Powerpoint. You could hear he and his mother talking about what he needed to do. She was questioning him about the picture he was inserting it into the Powerpoint and reminded him that he needed to include a portion of text next to the picture stating where he had found the picture. She proceeded to question him about Creative Commons and he explained clearly what it meant and why he needed to do it. If an 8-year old can understand and explain it, then I know that I should be able to grasp what it's all about!

As far as how librarians would use a Creative Commons License, anything you create and state conditions on how it can be used, could share pictures for research with students, collaborating on Powerpoints for teachers to edit in creating note-taking pages for research, webquests and much more. In fact, I created a webquest on exploring the on-line catalog for orientation this year. I guess I need to go back and apply for a CC license for that since it was posted on our library website. Also, I've already created a school wiki. Shoul I get a CC license for that and the handouts I've uploaded to the wiki? If anyone out there has any answers, I would appreciate any input.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thing #22 Animoto

Wow! This has been the most exciting, but with the least amount of effort "Thing" that I have done so far. Animoto is so easy to use. When I first created my account, I was ready for a long, detailed tutorial like so many of the other "Things" we have done. I'll have to admit I wasn't disappointed when there wasn't a tutorial. It was just kind of jump in and get your feet wet! Needless to say, I was ready to get on with this "Thing" being the next to the last one. I was already itching to get to Thing #23 to finish everything up.

However, I was in for a surprise. It was baaically 1.2.3 and you're through. They walked you through step by step and it was really very easy. I went to Flickr and found fifteen pictures of the iPod Nano. I saved them in my Flickr favorites and went back to Animoto. Then Animoto asked me if I wanted to get pictures from my computer or a website. I clicked a button, it let me choose Flickr, had me login to my Flickr account and voila! The pictures were downloaded in a matter of seconds. I had already previewed the songs available from Animoto and had decided from the Techno genre. Another click and my music was there. The last step was to simply click the 3rd button to let Animoto put my pictures into a multimedia slide show with music. They did all the hard work in the 10 minutes it took me to find a snack and finish it off. When I got back to my computer, there it was ready for me to play. One last step and it was uploaded to my blog. I didn't even have to copy an HTML code. And it automatically loads and plays when I go to my blog.

I already have plans to create a show with pictures of some of my research units and post it on my wiki. I also would like to create a show of the pictures from Chidren's Bood Week to post on our Library website. The wheels are spinning with lots of ideas for this awesome tool. I am going to check in to making a longer movie, just to see what the charges are. If it's not too expensive, it will be worth the money to be able to create some longer shows.

Thing #21 Podcasts: no iPod needed

I looked at all the podcast directories listed in the Discovery Resources. I didn't find any book reiew podcasts or library news podcasts. I did topic searches with the words elementary, library, librarian, books, etc. There were pages and pages of podcasts that I didn't have time to look at. For some of them, when you opened them, there was just a list of files with various podcasts. Some were descriptive enough to be able to figure out whether or not I wanted to listen to them or not. There were a few with details listed which gave me ideas about what was specifically in the podcast. When there are thousands of podcasts in any one category, it is helpful to be able to target what you are looking for in order to save time.

Some of the directories were easier to use because you could do a word search for whatever topic you were interested in. At least one of the directories had no searching capabilities at all. There was just an index of broad subject areas to choose from. I was looking for a directory that had some kind of advanced search where you could search by topic, but also by audience, such as elementary. I didn't come across those capabilities in any of the ones I looked at.

As far as podcasts useful for school, I thought the Educational Podcast Directory was the best because the content was directed at curriculum areas such as math, science, language arts, etc. I probably wouldn't promote the use of searching any of the other directories with my students because I did come across some objectionable podcasts on some of the other directories. For my own personal use, I will probably go back and spend some more time with those, just exploring what all is available.

I added several RSS feeds to my Bloglines account and to I-Tunes. In Bloglines I added podcasting consultant Jason Van Orden's commemtary, tips and resources feed. In I-Tunes, I added several good podcasts. They were:

Booktalks Quick and Simple
Storynory Audio Stories for Kids
SLJ's Podcasts : Tech Chickies and Test Drive
Promethean Plantet Active Tips with audio and video
SMART Board Lessons
Learning in Hand: I-Pods

I was very overwhelmed after going through Jason Van Orden's hour-long tutorial on how to podcast. This morning I was shelving a few books and Curtissa Greene, our tech facilitator came by to visit. She said she had seen my wiki. I told her that I wanted to figure out how to create a podcast on the Birth of American Democracy research wiki which my 5th grade students had finished last week. She showed me in less than 5 minutes how to use Garage Band to do it in just a few steps. I created a test podcast and posted it on my wiki. You can click on the pbwiki link on the sidebar of my blog if you are interested in how it "looks". Go to the podcast page of the wiki and click on the link to hear our "test". I plan on having some of my 5th graders share some of what they learned last week during research. I hope to have it posted by the 1st of Feburary, so check back then if you are interested.