Monday, July 28, 2008

Thing #14 - Technorati

This thing just didn't get me excited. I will say that I like the new layout of Technorati. When I visited earlier it was visually too busy and I just didn't want to deal with it. I'm a real sucker for a nice layout.

I did find a new blog that I had not found before, The "More" Child, so I appreciate that. I will visit periodically, but I'm having trouble coming up with ways to use it.

I like that Technorati has two-word tags unlike I have trouble getting it down to one word. I just need more practice with tags to improve my facilities in using them. It's a bit of a different way of thinking.

I am claiming my blog on Technorati:
Technorati Profile

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thing #13 - Tagging and

Well that took forever! But all my bookmarks from my desk computer are in my account. I'm not looking foward to entering the bookmarks from my laptop, but there are much fewer sites marked and some will be duplicates. It has always been annoying to go the bookmarks on my laptop, only to discover the sites I was looking for were marked on my desk computer! This will really help.

I don't seem to be able to get the code needed to put a link on the sidebar of this blog. When I go to the link rolls page, the code never comes up. I can choose some things at the bottom, but code never appears in the box. Since I couldn't figure out how to make that work, I decided to try just adding the network badge. I copied the code in the box, pasted it in the html/Java box in my blog layout page, but nothing showed up! If you look at my side bar, you'll see blank spot where it should be. Any suggestions?

I like the flexibility of the tagging and I love being able to see other people's tags. I think this could be a great resource. I finally understand how to interpret those clouds! For me, they are very busy and bit frenetic to view, but they make a lot more sense now!

Publishing a link roll on your blog would be an interesting way for parents or teachers to keep track of a kid's interests. Rather than doing an interest inventory, you could view a kid's link roll or tag roll and see what they're bookmarking and tagging most often. It would also be a good way to keep track of internet research that kids are doing. It could be part of an assessment of a product.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thing #12 - Commenting

Point 1 - Contribute to the discussion. When you read a post with which you connect, comment. I tend to be a lurker. I think it's because I'm nervous about making a comment that goes into the permanent public record. I started thinking about this when I was reading some of the comments made in Draper's Takes interaction included in my previous post today. Ryan Bretag commented

...participatory media does not allow K-12 students to make mistakes within a smaller culture.... The thing is that my mistakes, heated situations, odd conversations, etc. weren't there for the world to see. This mistake (not really the best description of the situation but stick with me) is now there for the world to see and is part of his virtual footprint.

I'm paranoid about even silly things like typos, let alone my post being misinterpreted. Of course, it goes deeper than that to my insecurities and vanity. How will this post make me appear to others? Needless to say, I have been very hesitant to comment.

Point 2 - Respond to comments and appropriately manage comments on your own blog. Not a big issue for me, so far, not many hits! (I do have one I need to get to immediately - sorry lauraann) But I have noticed that the few times I was moved to comment on someone else's blog, they came to mine and contacted me. It was very exciting to make that connection! It was a reward for being brave enough to risk making the comment.

I'm starting to think more about putting my name out there. Of course, it's accessible via the email I'm using. Still, I'd like to read more about the pros and cons of this.

When I've commented...
  • Creative doubt - My Google Alert picked up on Joylene Nowell Butler's post on Doubt, Self-Deprivation, and Creativity. I immediately connected to her comments and felt moved to respond. Maybe all creative women doubt their abilities. I think most gifted females feel like frauds - that any time now everyone will figure out I'm not as smart as they seem to think I am. Joylene responded to my comment by commenting on my Thing #3 post.
  • Asynchronous development - As I mentioned above and in previous post, I was terribly excited as I read the interaction on Drape's Takes. I was nervous about responding directly on that blog, though. I was concerned that my comment would start a totally different thread - though that might be a good thing. Instead, I commented on The Tempered Radical's post.

The suggested readings for this Thing were very helpful. I was losing my momentum in this learning experience, but am rejuvenated. I'm getting excited about the opportunity to connect with others and expand my opportunities for growth.

A real world example of Asynchronous Development

This is a non-thing post! My Google Reader alerted me to a fascinating discussion that was very current. I track The Tempered Reader who I find to provide wonderful thought provoking posts.

As a newbie, this post (The Price of Student 2.0?) got me more excited about the blogosphere than anything else I've encountered so far. The interaction at Drape's Takes resulted in such a varied and rich reaction. There are threads about social networking skills and communication skills, and many other technology threads. But my point-of-view is from gifted education and my knowledge of the 2.0 tools is quite limited. In the interaction, I saw the opportunity to discuss the needs and experiences of a gifted kid. As adults, we are not usually constantly barraged by people blatantly providing direct instruction. Kids are. As adults, we would get really tired of everyone acting like we're clueless about everything. To some degree, I think many kids start to feel this way as they enter adolescence. It’s part of growing up. But gifted kids feel this way much more often – and often they DO know more than the adults around them.

This interaction also exemplifies the asynchronous development of gifted kids. Most people have similar levels of development in their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical abilities. High achieving people are included – those darn folks who just seem a little better at everything! But gifted folks aren’t like that. They have some areas in which they are much more developed than others. The area(s) develop(s) more rapidly than the others. So in some areas they are much “older” than in others. They think at the level of an adult when it comes to content, but not when it comes to social interaction, for example.

Thank you to Arthus for allowing the discussion to continue. Thank you to the Tempered Radical for sharing it on his blog. I think this interaction contains lessons for all of us.

Thing #11 - LibraryThing

What a great tool! I love the community aspect of LibraryThing. It's like a huge book club with tons of little sub-groups. I can't wait to share this with my husband. He's a much more involved reader than I. He reads several book reviews and keeps a long on-going list of books he wants to read. LibraryThing can help him get other perspectives on the books and manage his lists.

I can really see teachers getting a lot out of this in preparing to teach novels. They can have a book discussion with others and benefit from the multiple points of view in preparing lessons. You can certainly connect with others who are teaching the novels and maybe share lessons that way.

I have a Caldecott collection. I now have all of the award winners and most of the honor books. It took me a long time to get Mei Li, as it is out of print and most who are willing to sell their copies wanted a fortune. It was really easy to put together a list in Amazon of Caldecott winners and then import the list into LibraryThing. I also entered some of my baby's favorite books. I couldn't believe how fast the process was once I found the import options. Now I'm anxious to get the rest of my picture book collection catalogued. This is exciting for the organizer in me!

I also added a LibraryThing widget and search widget to this blog. (Scroll down the side bar.) I'm really looking forward to joining some groups and finding good book recommendations for GT kids and my little one!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thing #10 - Image Generators

Fun, yet frustrating.

I had some trouble with the Custom Sign Generator tools. I couldn't manipulate the images quite like I wanted them. I may have had unrealistic expectations.

I love Image Chef! Easy to use, visually attractive site, great ideas! I used the Visual Poetry option to create the image of my baby in the heart. Image Chef has all kinds of great options in their catalog. I really like the capability of writing a message on a piece of toast! You could get a really high level of thinking out of kids if you pushed them. The symbolism that could be done is really cool. There are many opportunities for depth in putting text with images. Great point-of-view product, too.

The Templates for Kids were neat, also. It has great backgrounds on which younger students can put messages. (See my Etch-a-Sketch image.)

The Happy Face Generator was fun, playful, and easy to use. I think kids would enjoy it. You could have them do ads for books they enjoyed or summarize a community problem using these tools. I can also see fun additions to newsletters being created here. (See my Happy Face Comic.)

Similarly, the Comic Strip Generator was easy to use. It really takes a lot of thought (not saying mine did) to do a good job. It's an open-ended product to some degree because kids can take it to different levels of depth depending on their understanding of symbolism and their capacity for humor. I love Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is one of the most gifted kids in the press. I'm sure he'd be a ball in a GT classroom, though he might have trouble getting identified.

My second favorite, after Image Chef, is Wordle. It wasn't listed in our guide, but I saw one on a blog during an earlier "Thing". It may come up in future "Things". I think Wordle is a wonderful collage type product. Visual poetry for sure! The ability to manipulate the size of words by the frequency of occurrence is interesting. In looking through the Gallery, there is a lot of variety and seems to be just as much value in using a few words as in using many. One caution... there are a number of inappropriate Wordles for kids that appear in the Gallery. You might need to prepare elementary students not to react to body part words or avoid the Gallery with them. I also had some difficulty posting it to my blog. I had to save it as a PDF and then figure out how to get it into a different format to post here. That was tricky and the quality isn't so good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Thing # 9 - More RSS Feeds

Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?
Going through the Edublogs' award winners worked best for me. It gave me a place to start building my "Circle of the Wise", particularly those from outside my immediate field.

Which Search tool was the easiest for you?
I liked Google Blog Search the best; although, I had to be careful that I linked to the appropriate sites. It pulled up articles of interest, but linked to the broader publication which was WAY off topic. It is probably better to get the articles through Google Alerts rather than link to a feed that is usually not of interest.

Which was more confusing? had lots of errors on the page so that made it difficult to use. Probably our internal blocking mechanisms caused the problems. I also found Syndic8 to be overwhelming.

What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?
I am excited about some the parenting resources I found. There seem to be several blogs where parents share tips about everything under the sun. I also found some interesting resources from Prufrock for Gifted Education. I knew the publisher was forward thinking, and they have some good things posted. What I found most unusual was what I didn't find. I haven't found many feeds specific to Gifted Education. It may be my limited ability to do a thorough search, but I'm not confident of that. My colleagues and I should be out there, easy to find!

What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?
I don't have a good answer here. Ms. Whatsit recommended I look at feeds on various blogs that I find, so I'm taking that advice. It just takes time :)

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