Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thing # 23: Summary Thoughts About this Program

I'm a little brain dead at the moment. But, it's kind of like an ice cream brain freeze. It hurts a little, but you would do it again. I still have to finish uploading my Photostory for Thing # 21, but other than that. I'm done! I have to say I was very apprehensive when I started. But, only a few of the things really aggravated me. Other than that, I enjoyed learning about all of the things and I have learned a great deal. I am very proud of the knowledge I have acquired and I feel so much more competent saying I am a library media specialist, now.

Some of my favorite discovery excercises and journeys were making my blog, the mashups, and creating the avatar. I look at my blog when I open it up and I think to myself, "Did I do that?!" I can't believe it. It looks so beautiful, so professional. And I never would have thought in a million years that I would undertake such a project and complete it in a single class. I am stunned. It was all possible with all of those wonderful videos and much needed reading materials about each thing. It really made everything seem manageable. It still took a ton of time. But, I took it one step at a time, and gave each thing all the time necessary to finish it and understand it. And it, as a whole, was not as overwhelming an undertaking as I first thought. I always say that if one has the right teachers and help to do something, one can accomplish anything if the desire is there. And I had some great teachers to guide me in the Library2Play. I really appreciated the comments and the set-up. It obviously was extremely well thought out. Thanks!

This program has assisted and affected my lifelong learning goals by making me more brave with regard to technology. I love to be in the know about new technology. But, I always hate the feeling when it doesn't work the first time. I have learned that one has to go on to something else and come back to it. If one takes a "breather" and tries again later, somehow one's brain may have figured it out by then. So, I will remember this in the future when it doesn't work "the first time". So many things don't. It's important to remember that people we admire so many times had many more failures than successes. But, they kept at it, and that is what makes them great and memorable to us today.

There were some take-a-ways that surprised me. The Photostory was amazing. I made it and have had a little trouble loading it. But, I am sure they will be resolved. And, once I get it loaded, it will be the most awesome part of my blog. It's so amazing. I can't believe making such a great project is so easy with the software. I also was surprised at how easy it is to load a Teacher Tube or You Tube video on a blog. That is amazing, too. And it works! I can't believe I did that.

What I would do differently to improve upon this program's format or content is to put some more explanation in the Photostory part. Everything else I think was great. Not too hard, not too easy. But, I spent hours and hours on that Photostory, and I could not save it as an .mpv file. It wasn't even an option on the save screen- only the wp was an option. That's why I can't even get it loaded onto my blog. I looked at all the information that's offered in Thing # 21 and still can't figure that one out. Maybe it's just my computer. But, tomorrow, I will go to my friends' house and try theirs. Hopefully that will help. Like I said, nothing in all the things gave me as difficult a time as Thing # 21. So, I could use a little more info on that thing. Maybe it's just me. But, that is my only suggestion. I enjoyed everything else and was able to follow it more or less without major problems.

If, after I had already been a librarian a couple of years, and you offered a program like this to keep up with technology, I would love to participate. I think I need a couple of years to try the things I learned out in a real world environment, first. I say this so I don't forget what I have learned in this program. What you don't use, you lose. So, I'd like to use this stuff and then come back for more new stuff.

If I were to describe 23 Things in one word or sentence, I would say, "One of the memorable accomplishments of my life." I am not a technologically gifted person, in my opinion. But, I value technology, and this experience has taught me so much about something I feared. I think it is mainly due to impatience. But, I have learned from completing the 23 things that it requires patience to master new technological things. Young people master them because they have more free time than we adults have. So, we adults who want to master it must prioritize it and devote enough time to it so we may master it, just as young people do. That is the only difference between them and us with regard to technological ability.

I will come back once I have loaded my Photostory. Hopefully it will be very soon...

Thing # 22: Nings

Talk about save the best for last. I wish I had known about Nings for the past few years. It's amazing. The one I would have used is the TeacherLingo. It has blogs about different topics that are of interest to different professionals in education. All kinds of topics that one as a teacher might want to talk about, or even vent about. This part would be great to brainstorm with other teachers, too. And one can leave comments. It is kind of like a wiki, but the comments are separate. It's neat to see how many comments and views each blog has had.

The find teachers section is great, too. You can click on the kind of teacher you want to find to interact with. You can click elementary teacher, foreign language teacher, retired teacher, substitute teacher. I think this tool in particular is a little scary. If I were a parent and looked at some of these blogs, I would get the feeling a lot of teachers are not very content with their jobs. But, I wish law makers and Superintendents and such people would look at these blogs. The frustrations expressed by these teachers are real. They want to do a good job, but there is nothing more they can do. They just have to bear some things. I read one by a Spanish teacher about how she is so frustrated her students don't care about what she has to offer them. Another was by a 5th grade language arts teacher who has a disabled ESL student who knows his alphabet letters to F and his mother won't take him to the neurologist so he can be classified as 504 and put into special education, which will entitle him to more one-on-one help. It helps all of the teachers to know they are not alone. Like I said, I would have appreciated this Ning since I have been teaching. At least I can share it with the teachers on my campus, now.

This is one great section. You can find lesson plans for your area of teaching. I looked up Kindergarten Math and got a bunch of great lesson plan ideas to click on. What a useful tool. And some teachers who have used each lesson have left reviews with stars to show how good they are. I love that some of them are already tried and rated. I value that feedback a lot. It is so valuable to know about a lesson before you decide to get materials for it yourself and try it.

The message board is great. Again, people out there need advice. If you feel like it, you can read their problem and put your experiences and wisdom to good use. This is really a great opportunity for novices as well as for those with experience. Everyone can benefit from these interactions.

The feedback portion requires that you sign in. Apparently, you can let Teacher Lingo your suggestions and what you like about this Ning. This is always a good sign. It shows the Ning is trying to meet the needs of the users and to constantly improve the services it provides users.

Like I said, I will definitely mention this to the teachers on my campus. I think new and experienced teachers would enjoy participating in this Ning.

Thing # 21: Podcasts and Videocasts

This is definitely my least favorite thing. My computer keeps telling me there is a piece of equipment attached to my computer that, "a device attached to the system is not functioning." It won't let me play my Photostory. I will try to attach it here. Hopefully you all can try it at home and let me know if I was able to get the audio part attached to it. I used 2 different microphones and my computer still told me that same message. I recorded my story twice, too. If it doesn't sound, I will need to keep trying to add the sound later. Here goes...
Aparently, it won't load on here, either. It's telling me to contact support with all these long, long numbers. Great. Will come back to this. It already has taken hours.

I got the sound on there and I got it loaded, but for some reason now the thing won't play the sound recording! If anyone has any tips on why this is so, please let me know. I know the sound is saved on there because I played it back on another computer before I uploaded it on here. I just don't know how to get it to sound on here. I'm sure it's something small I need to adjust or something. Anybody?

Halleluja! Or however you spell it. After about 40 hours of trying different computers, different microphones, and making this same story at least 2 dozen times, it is loaded on here, and it works! I hope you all enjoy it, because it took A TON more work to get it to work than it looks like it did. This was one THING that took way more work than it looks like it took- the only thing like that, actually. But, I enjoyed it. And I love the podcast. Check it out!

Thing # 20: You Tube, Teacher Tube and Zamzar (Part B)

This is a great little video about recycling and its benefits for elementary and middle school students. I know the 3rd grade science TEKS include information about why recycling is so important. Students would enjoy watching this video and learning about recycling from it.

School 23 5th Grade Recycling Infomercials #1

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Thing # 20: You Tube, Teacher Tube and Zamzar (Part A)


Here is a great video about Library 2.0. It is by Meredith Farkas, a distance learning librarian at Norwich University. She spoke to faculty at UC Berkeley about Library 2.0. The video has received great reviews on You Tube. It is a little long, at about an hour. But, it has some great information in it.

I also included a video by a 5th grade class about the value of recycling in my next posting (also part of Thing # 20). That one is from Teacher Tube. I know the young students I've had would have enjoyed it a great deal.

The value in having access to all of these videos is that students can take advantage of being visusal and auditory learning at the same time. They can absorb ideas more quickly and then more quickly start on using knowledge to create their own ideas. It enables students to use higher order thinking to watch these videos because they facilitate the absorption of knowledge.
And they make learning so much more enjoyable for students. This also facilitates learning.

Thing # 19: Web 2.0 Awards Lists

I already know a few 1st place award winners from this list and have tried them out in this class: Flickr, Pbwiki, and Delicious. So, I figured I'd try You Tube.

What is special about this tool is that it is actual videos. From all of the "Things" for this class, the part that was always most helpful to me was viewing the videos. There is something about listening to a person and watching them or what they are demonstrating. It must have something to do with the brain. I know the videos really helped me to learn what I needed to do on these activities. I am sure my students would also appreciate them. I will want to make the teachers in my school aware of the fact that You Tube exists and it can be used in their classes in several ways to help students understand many different concepts.

Just like in Library2Play, videos were embedded in the blog. Teachers could do this with some videos. The safest thing to do is contact the creator and ask their permission to do so, stating the audience and purpose. Teachers could also just provide the You Tube video link to students and have them enter on their computers at home to view the video through the You Tube Web site.
I have had several professors do this in my classes, and I enjoyed watching those videos as well. It is such a great way to learn, and so enjoyable. It feels like you are almost doing something fun when you get to view a video about what you are learning in a university class. And usually, there are videos that fit whatever topic you are doing in a class. It is amazing how many topics there are.

In my own setting, which will soon be a library, I hope to use You Tube to teach teachers about the Web 2.0 tools they can use to plan their lessons and to teach their students. They could watch a video about Flickr, Pbwikis, or Delicious. I loved all of the "in plain English" videos we have gotten to watch in this Library2Play part of the class. They really helped me understand what each tool was about, and how to do it. I know teachers would enjoy learning about tools this way. It makes it so much less daunting. I look forward to trying these things out with my teachers. I know they will appreciate it. And if anything is going to open their minds up to using Web 2.0 tools, these You Tube and other videos will.

Thing # 18: On-line Productivity Tools

This was an interesting thing to do. I have been getting acquainted with Google and all it has to offer during the course of Library2Play. But, in this activity, I really saw how it is all tied together. It is pretty amazing. I was able to see that I could use Google for basically everything I do on my computer. I use Google for searches. I can make all kinds of documents using Google Documents: Powerpoints, Excel, plain text, etc. I can make calendars using Google Calendars. I can send and receive e-mails using Google Mail. I can have an on-line photo album and view others' albums and pictures using Google Photos. I can easily view the sites I look at the most using Google Reader. I can even make my very own Web site (I have got to do that one of these day!) using Google Sites. Currently, I use Yahoo for mail and Word for my document making. I have used Flickr for my on-line photo album. Each time I switch from one of these to another, I have to many times log in and out of each. And sometimes, I get logged out because while I was in another application, I took too long and the other program I had opened on my desktop logged me out. If I use Google for all of these things, I only have to log in one time. And I can only get logged out of one application. Once I log back in, I can switch back and forth to all of them easily without having to worry about being logged out and having to log back into each and every one. Also, I can view all of the different Google things in a nice menu that allows me to visually keep track of all my things. This is not the case with using various different programs as I am currently doing. I am seriously considering switching everything to Google. It really is convenient and a time saver. Why didn't any of the other companies think of this before?!

The only bad thing I can think of to using Google for everything is that I already have all of these accounts with things saved on them from years before. So, I would have to transfer everything over from all of my other programs and previous accounts. That is annoying. But, in the end, it really would make life simpler and more convenient. I could slowly do it, and then close out my accounts elsewhere. Or, I could simply start doing everything on Google and eventually not use the current accounts with the other companies. It is definitely doable, though. I think it is worth it in the end.