Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How blogs work

I am showing a teacher friend how to add a new post to my blog. It's just this easy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Week 9 / Thing 23: Copyright, Creative Commons & Congratulations

I loved the fair(y) use tale. Very creative. Wonder if the creator got permission! I've also explored creative commons before and need to spend more time there so I can steer teachers and students that direction.

Final Comments:
I feel like I've been on an internet marathon and instead of having tired legs, my brain is a little strained. I'm looking forward to sharing and exploring the use of these tools with students and teachers. Thanks Ann and Katie for making this class available to us.

What Worked
I liked the blog format. It was a good way to make comments as I explored. Often I had several tabs open at once and navigated between them looking at a tool, writing my blog, reading other participants' blogs all at once. I think the choices of "Things" was a nice mix and though I'd heard of or even played with some of them, it was good to take more time with those and fun to learn about those that were new to me.

I really liked reading other participants' post and seeing where their explorations led them. I often discovered something cool this way that I hadn't found on my own. I'm also looking forward to spending more time reading some of the curriculum suggestions on the wiki. I think this class has great possibilities for building connections.

Maybe we can create a place on the wiki and encourage participants to write about how we are using these tools in our schools. I want to know how others are applying web 2.0 in their libraries and classrooms so I can steal ('er borrow) ideas.
It would be nice to continue the collaborative, creative communication.

web 2.0: new tools, new schools Chapt. 5

I picked Chapter 5: Professional Development as my choice chapter because I think it is the essential and often missing piece in creating school 2.0 or library 2.0. The problem of inadequate professional development (pd) has been around as long as I've been an educator. In 1985, my school got its first computer lab: 10 apple 2e's (or whatever the latest version was back then). There was one copy of apple writer (I think that's what it was called). The computers were set up and that's it. We got fussed at our monthly faculty meetings for not using the lab. But gosh, most of us didn't know how to turn the things on, much less how to use 10 of them with a class of 35 high school students. Fast forward a few years and every teacher had to take a computer competency class: half day inservice that including using a mouse, saving a document and printing. There weren't enough computers in the lab so we had to share. My point in taking us down memory lane is that without good, appropriate pd that includes ongoing support and follow-up, technology doesn't get used to its full potential.

The authors recognize this and make some excellent suggestions for effective pd. One idea is the community of practice or learning community. I was excited to see designating a team librarian included in the list of strategies to support communities. Again, as in chapter 1, communication, connection, creativity and collaboration are key concepts. Many of the suggestions are common sense such as embed the tools in the PD; model and use the tools even as you are introducing teachers to them.

Alaska librarians are doing this. AkASL, ASD library curriculum (Ann M) and others use wikis and nings to engage us, present new material, archive documents, gather input and more. I'd like to explore some of the websites listed in this chapter. This is another chapter that I think would be beneficial for administrators to read.

web 2.0: new tools, new schools Chapt. 9

WOW. Is this the future? I'm overwhelmed. I love the idea of teachers being able to choose from an infinite selection of products and not be tied to approved text books. I actually see is heading that direction with curriculum tubs, supplementary lists, more choices.

I'm interested in learning more about the idea of an electronic personal education assistant (p179) that gives suggestions for chapters and lessons to read and even pairs the student with another student. Gosh, that sounds a lot like what good teachers do and how would this epea be programmed to know the students' learning styles, interest level, eagerness to collaborate, etc?

Love the what if list on p 182.
What if a file-sharing network emerged? I've been borrowing from and sharing with my fellow educators for years. In the early days I retyped my mentors mimeographed handouts -think blue fingers, sharp fumes, the frustration of trying to erase, ah the good ol days.

What if we stop buying textbooks and use the money to provide access? As an old English teacher who hated those big ol' anthologies that cost $60 in 1989 (what do they cost now?), I love the idea of spending the money on tools and books that support student needs.

Professional development is so essential for all of this. And a quickie one-day inservice doesn't cut it. We need on-going prof dev that builds on what we're doing in the classroom and library, that helps us tweak tools to fit our styles and our students' needs, that checks in with us to see how it's working. Hey, this could be done online with web 2.0!

I love thinking about all this. It's a wonderful dream and I hope we can get there. There are so many roadblocks and yeah-buts. It sure is fun watching it all unfold.

web 2.0: new tools, new schools Chapt. 7

OK, I just put on the blinders so that I can totally ignore that soap box with copyright written on it. I'll try not to rant or sound shrill.

Huge understatement on p. 139: "Copyright law is confusing." I think educators and students often try to sit under the umbrella of fair use, but forget that sources must be cited. For copyright to be taken seriously in the schools, it must come from administration. Librarians can preach until we are hoarse, but unless administration puts emphasis on ethical use of information, only those who want to will hear us. I can't tell you how many times I've refused to copy a video only to have the teacher just check out a VCR (wink, wink) or tell me just not to watch what they are doing.

Ethical behavior is one of the skills librarians try to teach our students and teachers, but it is so hard these day with the ease of copying and downloading. I like David Wallick's list on pp 147-148, but getting our patrons to read (or listen to) and apply these may not always be easy. OK, I'm preaching to choir I know.

I think Internet Safety is being addressed in ASD at the middle school with librarians
mostly leading and collaborating with teachers and other staff. At HS, it seems to be hit and miss.

I waver on blocking. I know that a determined student can get around the block. I know that good sites with valuable information get blocked and I know that much on the Internet can be distracting and inappropriate. I also know I don't have time to monitor students. I like the idea of a walled garden of safe web 2.0 tools.

I think our administrators need to read this chapter.

web 2.0: new tools, new schools Chapt. 1

While reading Chapter 1, these words kept jumping out at me: communication, connection, creativity and collaboration. I think this sums up web 2.0 pretty well. I bought right into their argument when the authors quoted both Daniel Pink and Thomas Friedman as well as several other forward thinking authors.

The bullets on page 18 highlight key points for me, particularly that we need to focus on more than content mastery and unless teachers are well-trained and supported, students will not master 21st Century skills. Our administrators must be on board with support and our teachers must be willing to learn new skills and how to apply them to their styles of teaching. After 20 plus years of teaching, I know change is difficult for many educators who see no reason to change the way they teach. I agree with David Jakes' list of how to make innovation "stick" (p. 22-23). I won't list them here, but so often in education we skip these steps and just wait for innovation to happen.

Literacy today has a very different meaning than literacy of the past centuries. We test on the old skills (and I'll try to ignore the soap box that just appeared with NCLB written on it) but our students need these new literacies to succeed in their futures.

Finally, I was taken by this quote on p. 19 from Learning for the 21st Century "Today's education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn." I think for many students we are already irrelevant. High achieving students "play the game" to reach their goals of graduation and higher education. Other students hide with their ipod buds under hoodies and tune us right out. I want to be relevant. I want to excite students and get them jazzed about learning. I think web 2.0 tools may be the vehicle for many of our students.

Week 9 / Thing 22: eBooks and Audio eBooks

I'll start by saying that I read really, really, really fast, and I love the feel of a new book, especially a quality trade paperback. I love to feel the cover, flip the pages, even smell the book. I don't love eBooks and audio books. . . yet.

When I lived in NC and SC and was driving back and forth on 3 hour trips, I often listened to a good audio book in the cassette player, and I loved the old NPR radio reader with Dick Estell (I just found out he's still reading --cool!). But at home, I read too fast. I've tried listening to CDs and Playaways, but find myself grabbing the book instead. Often this is because I'm trying to do something else while listening and my mind wanders to attend to the task and I tune out the reading.

That said, I think students enjoy listening to books. As an English teacher, I've read to kids of every age and ability. My AP kids in Charleston loved to be read to as much as my freshmen remedial classes. As for reading a book on the computer, sigh, I don't know. I don't enjoy reading more than a page or two. I try not to print out anything unless necessary, but I much prefer paper to electronic. Again, our students have grown up reading online and are much more used to it.

So I'm off to explore the world of audio and eBooks. My friend Teri Lesesne was on the Odyssey Award committee this past year and listens(ed) to a ton of books. She has many resources for audio books and more on her website, Professor Nana. I read her blog almost every day. It's listed on the side bar. Teri's powerpoint titled Why Listen, lists these reasons:
•Listening comprehension precedes reading comprehension
•Dialects are made easier
•Can help start the “movie” in the head
•Serves as model for oral fluency

She also lists some ways to use audio books:
•ESL/ELL students along with books in unabridged formats
•For reluctant readers paired or not but still unabridged
•For dyslexic or learning disabled readers paired with text
•For kids who are too busy to read
•For intergenerational use—family literacy
•For ADD and ADHD kids
•For adults, too

There's more if you're interested. It was good for me to review this ppt to remind myself of reasons and ways to use audio books. Teri backs up her assertions with research and anecdotal support.

As I browse the free ebook collections, I see that most of them are from the public domain which means for school purposes, they are mostly classics. This is good for those students who come wheeling in the library to check out a required book that's due tomorrow and all our copies are circulating. As I browsed, I see many of the titles that HS students often request. I downloaded the pdf of Walden just for fun and found myself wanting to either print it or go find my copy. By the way, I love Walden, so it wasn't because I was bored or not interested.

I also took a look at the ebooks available for sale. It seems that most titles are $9.99 for Kindle. Books for Sony's ebook reader cost more. Maybe I need to try an ebook reader, I like the idea of toting many books without all that bulk and heft! When I travel, I take lots of books (did I mention I read really fast?) and that can get quite heavy. I'm seriously thinking of purchasing a Kindle. Hmmnn.

I will promote both audio and ebooks to teachers and students. I think more and more titles including text books will be offered online and our students will be accessing text this way sooner than later.