Thursday, July 16, 2009

11.5: Thing #11.5 - Evaluation

What a spectacular learning experience! I can't give enough positive kuddos for this professional learning opportunity. Thank you, Lifeguards!

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I think I'll use the screencasting and slideshare tools to improve my communication with parents. I am really excited about those possibilities. Seeing really good PowerPoint presentations was inspiring and instructional. I have a lot of work to do in this area, but it's invigorating. I'm doing lots of pondering and mulling about it.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

I need to stay current in my specific field and in my instructional techniques. Though I'm not in a classroom in front of students, I advise teachers who are. I am often in a classroom in front of teachers, too. I know I need to model what I want them to do with their sudents. That means integrating technology into my teaching. That means being able to teach the teachers the necessary skills. This program has given me the support I need to do so.

I also really enjoy learning. Since I finished graduate school 2 years ago, I haven't been this excited about learning. It's been very refreshing :)

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

Sometimes a learner can't see the progress he or she has made. They don't remember what a struggle it was when they started. Or, in the case of gifted kids, they learned it so quickly it doesn't feel like they learned something new. I can see my progress. The blog is a great way to document your journey. This applies most to Twitter.

I like Twitter. In a very short time, I've come to find it quite useful professionally. Use it with kids? I don't know. Use it with teachers and others interested in gifted education (#gifted)? DEFINITELY! Tweets have notified me of actions that needed to be taken immediately (advocacy for Javits funding), of articles I haven't seen, of blog posts that are thought-provoking. It's an interesting place to post a question and get a variety of responses. I like that the responses have to be short and succint. I feel this way and I haven't found a third party app that I like to make Twitter easier! (Tweetdeck doesn't seem to work in the district. Twhirl requires a download.)

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

The one aspect that needs improvement is the interaction among the participants. I've made a point to comment on others' blogs, but not all of them. I've had very few comments from participants other than the Lifeguards.

I'm not sure how you'd encourage, monitor, prompt, require this other than what you're already doing. In the two blog formatted book studies I've done, this has been a problem. I require that participants comment on other participants' posts. Participants usually only do the minimum that I require for the first couple of postings, then it trails off. So this may be something that requires time and familiarity with the format.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

11.5: Thing #11 - Digital Citizenship

Oh the irony! Our district has a new internet content filter. It blocked all of the free screencasting tools posted in 11.5 Things. It blocked the web site of a highly respected psychologist who specializes in serving gifted kids. The list could continue (I've put in half a dozen or more requests for unblocking sites). Yet, I go to the Digital Citizenship Ning and there's a blog post for Herbal ___ enhancement. (Guys, if you haven't had enough offers in your email spam filter, here's another one!) I'm sure it's spam that's now showing up in nings.

That's why we need to teach digital citizenship.

Of course, I'm of the opinion that we should talk to kids about most everything. At their level, of course, but fairly openly. Kids don't educate each other accurately. So if an adult doesn't do the talking and the guiding, then you're leaving it up to their friends. Since our executive functioning doesn't fully develop until we're in our 20's, we're taking a pretty big risk in expecting they'll get a good education from their peers.

In reading a number of the posts, I inwardly shouted, "Amen!" I think we spend entirely too much time and effort blocking sites and policing for plagarism. (At the risk of sounding hypocrital, I do appreciate the spam filter. I read it daily since communication from parents and experts from other countries are often blocked, but I like it being in a separate folder.) Instead, we should be capitalizing on teachable moments and creating plagarim-proof assignments.

Most of the articles listed in 11.5 Thing #11 talked about modeling the thinking processes used to evaluate web resources and web tools. I think that's right on. Modeling is so key to good teaching. It's the same good strategy whether you're thinking through a math problem or trying to find information on the web. What would be a good tool to use to solve this problem? Why use this one? Now that I'm using it, how do I get the most out of it?

Certainly we don't have to think aloud all the time, but we do need to do it. It is worth the extra time! We need to address choosing the right tool, evaluating what we find, using the tool appropriately, etiquette, and safety. These can be integrated into most content learning experiences, we just have to make a point to do it.

5 things to tell my students
  • you gotta use the right tool for the job (It's pretty difficult to loosen a screw with a hammer.)
  • you can't believe everything you see or read (The sky is bright red. I wrote it - so look outside, is it suddenly true? I can edit a picture to make a sky bright red. You see an image of it, is it true?)
  • take pride in your work (It's usually faster to do a good job the first time than to do a lazy job and have to do it again.)
  • manners matter online, too (Poor manners can be forever saved electronically. Who wants that legacy?)
  • people aren't necessarily who they say they are online (Never get in a car with a stranger. Same rule applies here.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

11.5: Thing #10 - Virtual Worlds

I haven't felt this inept in a very long time. I had trouble customizing my avatar. I finally just accepted the default and entered. I ended up entering Second Life in New Berlin. Of course, it took a little while to figure out why everyone was speaking in German. Luckily, I've retained just enough of the 4 years of German I took to recognize when people were asking if they could help me. Very politely, in English, they told me to turn around and go to the tutorial. Problem was, I had a very hard time turning around!

The help desk person IM'd me, including explaining how to IM back, and gave me directions to get to the USA. Only, I couldn't quite figure out how to do that and didn't want to admit it. I did find the tutorial which was in English and German.

I play video games. I'm the best in my house at rhythm games and I'm pretty good at Ratchet and Clank. But I don't play first person shooter games or any other games from that perspective. I have trouble navigating them so I don't like them. Had the same feeling in Second Life.

In my second attempt, I tried from my home computer. Navigation is a bit easier, but I still look ridiculous and everything takes forever. I finally used the map to get to Campus 3D and quit.

I can't say that I'd recommend this to anyone. I need a teenager to walk me through it. My husband is convinced Second Life is on it's way out, but I'm sure some other virtual world will gain favor.

11.5 - Thing #9 Slideshare

In Olivia Mitchell’s post on 4 Multimedia Learning Principles…, she embedded this presentation on “Brain Rules for Presenters” by Garr Reynolds. It’s a wonderful presentation about avoiding “death by PowerPoint”.

In Dave Yewman’s tips, my biggest take-away was presenter view. Wow! I didn’t know how to set up multiple monitor views and I’ve been PowerPoint a VERY long time. This is very exciting! (When using presenter view, the projector shows the PowerPoint while your computer shows your notes, the slides coming up, and more!)

I am so excited. This is the tool I need. I'm going to do my "Should I Refer" presentation and embed it so parents can access it. This is the right tool for that issue. After looking at Slideshare and authorStream, I'm unsure which will work best for me. I'm going to try Slideshare first since it seems to have gotten the most "press". The audio and animation are key for me. So if those don't work well in Slideshare, I may work in authorStream more. Stay tuned for the presentation...

Of course kids should be doing this. I view this much like videos. It provides an authentic audience!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

11.5 Thing #8 - Screencasts

I found the link to Sue Waters blog on improving screencasts very helpful. There was link to a good video on how a teacher (Michael Meagher) uses Camtasia Studio to do his podcasts. After watching that and trying CamStudio, I'm ready for fork over the $300! I'm going to try a couple of other free ones before I go that far, though.

I found CamStudio limiting. Having to switch to Movie Maker to edit was a slow process so it's not very impressive. I tried the video annotating, but the quality was very poor. The voice and the screenshot don't quite match. I did it though. I'm excited about the possibility. I could use Camtasia to do the annual presentation on Should I Refer My Child for the GT Program (yucky title, but informative). Posting that on the net would be a huge plus!

This screencast is how to get to and edit the GTKidsBooks wiki.

Well... I can't seem to upload the video I did using Camstudio. It just won't upload. I had trouble getting the right file type from Movie Maker, too.

I was going to start over using one of the other screencasting tools but the district's new blocking system blocked all the free ones. I tried to download Jing, but don't have the administrative rights to do so. Agh!

Trust that I did one.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

11.5: Thing #7 - Video Resources

Here's a brief video from the Discovery Channel. It's from the Understanding the Brain series and addresses Genius. I found it using Hulu.

The National Archives Video Collection looks cool, but I couldn't get anything besides what was posted on the site - there were no more.

I couldn't any PBS video to actually play. It would let me email a link or buy a DVD, but it wouldn't actually play an videos. I wondered if this was an SBISD blocking issue.

I'm excited to check out Totlol at home since they are all YouTube links.

I love that NeoK12 has a section on biographies. These are really great for use with gifted kids. There are videos on Bill Gates and Steve Jobs - contemporary gifted folks. Of course, I couldn't get them to play in the district - argh! Here's a link to the one on Bill Gates - I'll have to watch it at home.

I really like Google videos to search. I just find it easier to navigate than Blinkx and easier to get the url I need to convert videos to something I can view and use.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

11.5: Thing #6 - iTouch Apps

Load apps...

I promise to load a couple of apps on my husband's iTouch. I'm going to load the Tangram puzzle game first. It's called Tanzen Lite.
UPDATE: Wow, once you have Apps app, loading new apps is really easy! Added iSign and Tanzen lite with a couple of touches! Tanzen lite is FUN! Certainly requires visual spacial skills. iSign was disappointing.

Ideas on using iTouch in the library...

I think the best uses for the iTouch in the library are for quick reference (internet searches) or educational games. There do seem to be apps for blogging, so that might be an option. I also think students could create podcasts with an attached microphone. I like the readers, too. For reluctant readers, it might be an incentive.

This is hard for me. I WANT to be in favor of the iTouch. I support the idea of technology integrated into the curriculum. I want kids using the tools of tomorrow today - and learning appropriate uses for them. I see the iTouch as an internet access tool and a gaming device. There were good educational games, lots of calculator and flash card type activities, too.

I think I'm more in favor of a netbook. I don't want to be, but that's where I am right now. It may be because of my experience and comfort level. I think a netbook has more flexible capabilities. I'm also a fan of the keyboard.

When I think about integrating technology into the classroom, I start with asking myself, "What do I use technology tools to do?" My computer is an essential part of what I do every day. I communicate with others, both professionally and personally; I gather information via the internet; I find experts via the internet; I do my banking online and track my district budgets in Excel and on MUNIS; I compile, analyze and report data; I create professional development using videos, audio clips, and PowerPoint. If virtually everything I do is done on the computer, then that's how the classroom should work. So if the trend is for this to be done on an iTouch or netbooks, that's where we should be in education.

By the way - I found a great ezine with an article on 100 apps for education. And an interesting initiative started by a teenager, Travis Allen, called iSchool. Here's a video in which Travis demostrates his favorite Apps for education. (Original video on YouTube.)

In the video below, Travis explains how using the iTouch can transform the educational system. He highlights currents Apps and proposes others that could easily be developed. He even includes a financial breakdown. Pretty impressive presentation by a 17 year-old! (YouTube original)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

11.5: Thing #5 - Microblogging

I have really gotten into a post about a student Twittering in a college class and the professor's reaction. What I've most enjoyed are the comments in reaction to the post. What a GREAT discussion! (I got there from the ...can I Twitter that post linked on the Thing #5 page.) The discussion/debate is really rich. I can see exactly the same thing happening in high school.

It's the idea of taking notes in a collaborative environment, of sharing the learning process, of the process being visible that I like. Backchanneling or live blogging or Twittering during the workshop, the lecture, the class means the student is engaged in the learning process. Isn't that a good thing? How could a teacher not like that?

I, personally, do not believe kids will be more off-task with technology than they are without it. I also believe that teachers must take responsibility for off-task behavior. Really good, engaging instruction solves the problem in many many many cases.

I got on FB because we were talking about it a lot in SBISD. I wanted to catch up. I also have a 13 year-old and needed to be an informed parent. It came in handy to prepare for my 20th HS reunion, as that's who the majority of my friends are. I'm still trying to work out how to use it professionally. I do have a colleague who tends to be more responsive to his FB inbox than his ISD in box!

I'm a definitive newbie. I'm atxteacher. I don't understand how to follow a thread of discussion. Or how to search. I'm not confident with re-tweeting, either. Twitter seems to have a whole unique language that I don't know. I'm sure it's like many other things, I just need to invest some time and practice. It may be that my network isn't large enough. I'm only following 13 folks, but I have 25 followers. Many of the followers I don't know, but maybe they're trying me out. It makes me feel like I should say really important things.

I've read about Tweetdeck and some other applications related to Twitter. I'm wondering if one of these could help me get more out of Twitter. I also think I'd get more out of it if I had a PDA to check and create updates. I've resisted the urge to get an iPhone - I just can't swallow the extra $30/month for data services.

I didn't know I that can Twitter by text message - even with a plain mobile phone. Here's how. That's something I might try out! I've set up my account so only the Tweets of a couple of the folks I follow will be sent to my phone. I can always go in and turn them off - even from my phone. I may get much better at texting with my plain old Nokia!

Following @joelmcintosh is helpful. He's the publisher of Prufrock Press and tweets about all kinds of things from Prufrock discounts and new web resources, to day-to-day experiences.

From a post by @RussGoerend, I found a wiki devoted to documenting what people have learned from Tweets. It's new and worth a glance.

I think there's real potential here. I introduced teachers to TodaysMeet in our June 11th professional development. It wasn't used a lot, but may grow with practice. I used two screens and two computers so the backchannel was visible to the whole group. I thought seeing it might help in the learning process. I'll definitely try it again. Here's a great blog post about using a backchannel with middle school students during a video presentation. Great idea!

11.5: Thing #4 Video Hosting

Since I'm working on my "things" while in the district, I elected to upload to Teacher Tube. I registered, created a profile, and uploaded the two Animoto videos I did for Great Book for Gifted Kids (younger readers, older readers). Now I'm waiting for Teacher Tube to approve and post them.

What would be some advantages of having teaching/learning videos available online at sites like these?
Using online videos makes them available to students 24/7. You can show them as a hook or part of the content of a lesson. If students want to review them again later, they can easily do so. Media adds a richness to lessons - it brings something outside the school in.

What about student created work -- would there be advantages to having it uploaded?
In gifted education we'ver been talking about authentic audiences for years (here's a great blog post on Authentic Audiences). GT students should be doing products/performances for real audiences, which are typically outside the school. That's been a bit challenging. The web makes more doable. Now students have a world-wide audience. They can get input from experts and peers. I've heard Alan November speak on a number of occasions (when I hear him I want to be back in the classroom trying out what he describes). Each time I hear him saying that kids put a lot more thought and energy into creating a good product when it's posted to the web - when it's broadcast to a larger, more meaningful audience than the class or teacher.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

11.5: Thing #3 - Skype

Have I started every post with, "I love ___" ? Even if I have, I love Skype!

I first learned about it from a family friend. For Christmas after my toddler was born, she gave my sister, my mom, and I web cams and a suggestion that we try Skype. I have an account that I use at home for friends and family. My toddler loves to call his Aunt Colee. They talk regularly. He hasn't enjoyed calling Mia and Papa Scott as much because they have a slow internet connection and the picture isn't very clear.

I then read about Skype in educational settings. I think it was a posting at Gifted Education 2.0 by Ginger Lewman. I saw a video of primary age kids using Skype and Google Docs to write collaboratively with kids from classrooms across the globe. So cool! The kids had meetings to discuss their ideas via Skype.

I loaded it onto my desktop, but have only called Ginger to make a connection when I first discovered Gifted Education 2.0. I've so wanted to try it, but don't have a good reason to do so. I'm going to think about ways to work it into my GT staff development so teachers will see the possibilities.

How could you do this in a classroom? Any project could be done collaboratively. Finding a classroom with which to partner seems to be the biggest hurdle. Maybe we should start within the district. I see the biggest potential in research - either collaborating on a joint project or for gathering data. Librarians fit into this research piece. I also love the idea of connecting with an author via Skype, but that might be tougher.

Once our budgets open up and I can get a new computer, I'll be open to Skyping with anyone who wants to try it!

Here's a great video by Cool Cat Teacher on getting started using Skype in the classroom:

Monday, June 22, 2009

11.5: Thing #2 - Image Generators

Wordle or Wordsift

I love Wordle. I just showed it to teachers in GT training on June 11th. There are so many terrific applications! For example, I created a Wordle from the text of the first chapter of No More Dead Dogs. I explained how the size of words in a word cloud are based on the frequency of words appearing in the text. Then I asked them to predict what the book was about. It was a great intro to the book. See:
Next, I put two Wordles side by side. The text comes from Dr. Bertie Kingore's article, "High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker." I took the list of characteristics of high achievers and created a Wordle, then did the same for gifted. I put the Wordles side by side and asked them to identify which was which and why. Great thinking!

Since I already know and love Wordle, I decided to try out Wordsift. Here's the Wordsift for gifted learners from Dr. Kingore's article.

As a visual person, I like Wordle much better. However, the links are interesting. I see it being helpful for vocabulary purposes, in particular.

Glogster or VoiceThread
I couldn't get the Glogster/edu tutorial to play. I may need to be out of the district to get it. Maybe seeing the tutorial would make me a fan. I've spent 45 minutes working on a Glog and got a title and 2 pictures loaded into it. Too much time! I think the idea is awesome. Some of the student examples were great, too. I like it better than Trading Cards.

When you do a physical poster, you have to think through the content, then plan the layout, maybe look for images to paste on or determine images to draw. You have to do all of those things for a Glog, but there are more steps involved: choosing the right background and graphics, determine the right keywords for a product image search, finding appropriate websites to link - or tacking them during your research. I can see parents getting irritated at the time it takes to do a Glog versus a regular poster. I'd make this a choice rather than a required product.

VoiceThread is neat! I looked around and found this great retelling of the Three Little Pigs. I love the commenting. Getting kids an authentic audience is difficult. This makes it easy in a somewhat protected environment. It's a great venue for research reports or original stories. It's also a great place to post questions kids have about something to collect opinions. I tried creating one, but got stuck. My current computer doesn't have a microphone, and then I had trouble adding text comments. I will definitely play with this one more, though!

Animoto or Voki

I'm already a fan of Animoto. I've posted several in the past. (See Great Books for Young Readers, Great Books for Older Readers, and my fabulous toddler.)

Voki is fun! I think folks would get a kick out of it at first. You'd have to change up the message or make sure the Voki spoke the message in an email for it to maintain it's interest.

Well here it is... hours later!

The examples in the archive were great. Good for a poem or short summary of information. Took forever, hard to find good pics - not one of my favorite activities.

11.5: Thing #1 - Registration

Great video in the CommonCraft style on the 21st century student and learning, The Networked Student.

The most significant section of the video for me was the discussion of the teacher's role. I loved all the descriptions of the teacher - "learning architect," "learning concierge," and "network sherpa." It's what the teacher's role was alwasy supposed to be. Guiding, facilitating, providing feedback and nudges. When the teacher fills this role, it gives the responsibility of learning over to the student.

When the teacher controls all the learning, all the activity, makes all the decisions, there is nothing of importance left for the student to control - for which to be responsible. We want kids to be responsible for their own learning. To do that we have to give them some control and decision making power. I think all of the discussion about building 21st century learners just highlights this!

I recently heard someone say that they think kids are getting bored with technology. That we adults think it's fun and motivating, but that the kids are over it. She gave an example of kids who were excited to be able to choose a non-technological product. I wondered if the excitement really stemmed from being given choices. I think maybe kids are over PowerPoint presentations or using technology exclusively for product development. But product development is integration of technology to my thinking.

Yippee for 11.5 Things

Spring Branch ISD's Library Information Services Department is truly acting on a vision of the future. I so admire the leadership of this department. They are "walking the walking" and inviting folks to join them on the journey of bringing education into the 21st century.

By creating an open blog site they are inviting everyone to join the professional development community. Don't know the first thing about web 2.0? That's okay. Work the 23 Things and you will! Not only will know you about it, you'll be able to apply that knowledge in your library, classroom, or any setting.

Before 23 Things, I knew what a blog was and used Google regularly to search. After 23 Things, I have 4 blogs on my dashboard, have a Google reader, have a ning, and used a wiki in a professional development! Am I an expert? No way! But I've started.

Now the journey continues with 11.5 More Things.

Working the things makes me want to return to the classroom and try it all out! I'd love to see the excitement on the kids' faces as we learn to manage these tools together. Now my forum is with teachers. The excitement isn't quite as evident, but the progress is there.

Stay tuned as I learn about 11.5 more things!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thing #23 - Summary

Yippee! I finally completed this segment. I'm excited about 11.5 Things to come!

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I have used Animoto more than any other application. Second to that would be Zamzar. These two tools are simple to use and have positively impacted my professional and personal work. I also really like Wordle. I'm thinking about how to use it in the professional development that's coming up next week and in August.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I grew up as computers grew up. My dad was big into computers so I had access that a lot of folks didn't. I was a big word processor and played games on the computer. The Apple IIe was the standard in my school experience. I took a computer to college with me with a dot matrix printer. I'm not a digital native, though.

L2P has prodded me to get more current with technology. In the work I do with teachers, I know I need to model good teaching. That means integrating technology at a significant, application level. I'm not there yet, but this has given me the tools to make progress.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Podcasting/vidcasting was surprisingly easy. I feel more confident about doing it. I was surprised to have progressed on my 23Things journey even when I wasn't working it. I stalled at Thing #15 and didn't work on them for months. But when I came back to it, I had already discovered several of the later "Things". So L2P started me on the journey, but I didn't have to be working the "Things" to continue benefitting - to stay on the journey.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
This was a wonderful introduction to online learning and Web2.0. Some of the "Things" took much longer than others. Part of it is how long you play and your level of comfort. It might be helpful to have a range of time that one could expect to spend on each "Thing". It would just help with time management.

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
23 Things was a professionally life-altering experience that gave me the tools I need to make learning and instruction meaningful to today's audience.

Thing #22 - Ning

One of the advantages of procrastinating on the completion of 23Things is that I've already interacted with several of the later "Things." I feel very proud to have not only found a Ning specific to gifted education prior to starting this "Thing" but to have created one, too! I'm so 21st Century!

Gifted Education 2.0 is a ning created specifically to connect those who care about gifted education. It's a network of teachers, administrators, parents, and advocates. There are rich discussions about resources, content, and issues. There is a great tech side to the ning, also. Many of the most active participants are very techno-saavy.

If you want to Skype with another classroom of GT kids, this is the place to find a partner! If you want to share lesson plans or get new ideas for the classroom, this is the place. It's terrific!

I created a pilot ning for for the Research Division of TAGT. It is not open to the public at this time. TAGT is working to develop a social networking component of their web site and I want to honor their work. I greatly value TAGT and the work they do to support gifted students and their parents & teachers.

The ning has multiple components. You can post videos, do a blog, have a discussion. I think that it has so many components. It's also visually very appealing and easy to use. A classroom ning is richer than a blog. It's great to connect people with a common topical interest.

Thing #21 - Podcasts and Videocasts

BTW - I love the CommonCraft videos. They are worth a million!

I knew when I saw the title to this "Thing" that I'd have to do a podcast! I was excited but worried about the time it would take. I've been thinking about developing some online GT courses and I know that vidcasting will be a big part of it.

It was easy! This isn't my best work, but probably only took 15 minutes since I already had the pics together for the Animoto I did.

Wow! This is a great tool! Book reports, research reports, daily class updates. There are so many possibilities!

Thing #20 - YouTube, TeacherTube and Zamzar

I love Zamzar. It has helped me get around YouTube when I'm developing a professional development session. I'd love to be able to preview the video before I send it for conversion, but it's worked well. I use the free service and get a pretty fast turn-around.

I'm working on adding some more media elements for a class I'm teaching on June 11th - Great Books for Gifted Kids. I've got 100 registered and a waiting list of 20, so the class needs to be really good. We'll be talking about books that are of interest and social/emotional benefit to gifted kids. One such book is The Mysterious Benedict Society. I found two videos by students on the book. The first is a teaser for the book. The second is a book report.

The Mysterious Benedict Society_Jackie, posted on TeacherTube by miskanicsphotoshop

This is a book report on YouTube. I used Zamzar to convert it. It's difficult to give appropriate credit for YouTube videos because you can't get to the site to get all the particulars.

Through Blinkx I found a spot on the Today Show on the book. It includes input from kids and the author, Trenton Lee Stewart!

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Video adds a whole new dimension to teaching. I primarily teach teachers. I've always been a very visual person and that means I'm also a very visual presenter. I love PowerPoint because I can provide visual prompts for my audience. (I'm registered for a FlipChart class this week.) I've always used a lot of graphics in my presentations. The ability to add other media elements is incredible! I can give my students a much more complex experience that addresses a more of their brains when I use rich media.

I rarely use YouTube outside of my professional life. However, I highly value the access it gives me to every day folks around the world.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thing #19 - Web 2.0 Awards List

Lulu - Wow! I could publish my dissertation this way! I wonder if publishing houses watch what's produced here. I searched "gifted" and found a book published by a 7th grade GT class: As Poe Would Tell It. It's students retelling of stories in Edgar Allen Poe style. I also found GATE Poems 2007, a collection of poems by an elementary GT class. This gives students a truly authentic audience. Part of the project could be using other Web 2.0 tools to market the book. It would also be interesting to get a couple of different books and have students compare them to traditionally published works. It's be a good analysis activity to get to the roots of quality writing.

Craigslist - Big fan! My back yard has 3 pieces of toddler play equipment that we purchased through Craigslist. All three were purchased for the price of 1 new. Two needed some cleaning, but the third was practically new. I'm addicted! I would have loved this kind of access when I was a teacher. I spent tons on manipulatives and thematic stuff for my elementary classroom. I could have saved big time using Craigslist. Also, my husband found an incredible math tutor in our area via Craigslist. My hubby did well in online college Algebra thanks to that tutor!

Wufoo - Interesting. I think a teacher could use this to collect data with his/her classroom, if the class has a blog or web site. Maybe they want to survey who is viewing the blog. Maybe they want ideas on a service project. A free account would probably be enough for the elementary level. Secondary teachers might need a bigger account. Being highly visual, I love the presentation of the web site and the forms it creates. I also love the ease and user-friendly tools. They sure have some big name clients!

Thing # 18 - Online Productivity Tools

I'm cheating on this one. I freely admit it. I already use Google Docs so I'm writing about it. One of the benefits is (since I don't have a Teacher Laptop) I don't have to download anything.

I've used Google Docs to collect data during GT professional development. We were brainstorming things that are "sticky" and I had multiple recorders who recorded the brainstormed answers into a spreadsheet. From there we could categorize them and manipulate them electronically instead of on butcher paper.

We're using Google Docs in the High Gifted Program Task Force. We're doing a book study on High IQ Kids. I created a book notes document so the group can create collaborated notes. Each person can edit the document an add the points they think are important. The document helps to structure the thinking a little bit. We're also using it to post information we're gathing about existing programs.

I'm thinking that a wiki might be useful because all of this could be housed in one place. But I like Google Docs for the book notes because we can print that and format it for printing a little easier than in a wiki.

I think Google Docs is awesome for kids. I wish I remembered where I saw it - probably in an earlier "Thing" or a link I navigated to having started from a "Thing" - but kids were collaboratively writing with buddy across the pond. They used Skype and web cams to do face to face discussion when they were all in the shared documents. They also updated the documents in turns. Each used a different color to track their contributions. It was a great. It was a video on the web somewhere. I'll have to look for it.

Thing #17 - Rollyo

I'm always looking for new sources of information, so I like searching the whole web. When I search, part of what I'm looking for is new resources. Maybe for a quick, what do the experts have on this, I could use a Rollyo that I created with my key sources.

I had trouble uploading my bookmarks so I entered some sites individually. I'll have to try uploading the bookmarks again. And maybe adding the Bookmarklet would make it easier for me. My Rollyo is called Gifted Ed Resources. I changed the name after I found TAGT had created one with the same title I originally used.

I definitely see how this would be VERY useful in the classroom. It would greatly narrow the results of searches and ensure the results were appropraite for the audience. A teacher could ensure that students would find the meatiest and most accurate resources. That would save a lot of time and create a safe environment.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thing #16 - Wikis

I love the AP World History wiki! But I haven't found wikis to be particularly useful to me. I think I'm coming to realize I've tried to use them for the wrong purposes. They are more like Google Docs, but with more depth. Everything can be put together in one place. Hmmmm... I've started using Google Docs with the Highly Gifted Program task force. Maybe a wiki would be more useful....

The wiki I did for the Houston Area Co-op is too static. It's a place where I posted a lot of documents. But that's not where the power of the wiki lies, I think.

Hmmm... I'm going to try to get the Google Docs into a Wiki. But my task force may need training.... Lots of wheels turning right now!

Of to the sandbox!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thing #15 - Library 2.0

I'm reading the OCLC link about Web 2.0 and libraries. Having just read The Width of the World blog post by Ira Socol, I'm already primed to think about Web 2.0.

I want to be current. It takes a lot of effort, probably like anything else really worth doing. I fall in and out of favor with Facebook. I'm not sure professionally how to utilize it - though I have one colleague who I can access almost immediately through FB when conventional email doesn't work. I'm really tired of the "Which __ are you most like?" "Five favorite ___". Enough! I don't really "get" Twitter. I'm on, but I don't Tweet much and I don't really understand how to follow folks. I need more instruction, I think. I see these as very social applications. Frankly, I'm not a very social person, so I'm not really surprised that the social part of it isn't incredibly appealing. My husband is very social and is constantly checking. He also has the appropriate tool - an iTouch.

I don't think the problem is inherent to the applications, though. I think the problem is in how I view it, my lack of experience, and my lack of effort in getting to know the applications. I have to have a pretty good understanding and comfort level with them to be able to apply them to my professional life. I'm not there yet.

How does this relate to libraries?

Rick Anderson's response on OCLC, Away from the "icebergs", mentions user education. Where can the average use learn more? Libraries have always been that place for adults. When we wanted to learn something or find out more about it, we went to the library to get a book on it. Now we search the internet. The library can still fill that need for adults. I can go to the library to search the internet. Rather than circulation specialists, the library needs web 2.0 specialists. They'll have to know more than how to Google!

His discussion of having a collection is interesting, too. I agree that libraries are no longer the "holder" of important information. For my M.Ed., I was at the U of H library all the time accessing the microfiche ERIC documents. For my Ph.D., I could get everything electronically from the TAMU library. Now I'm frustrated because I can't get good scholarly articles or research reports in my field. Without my TAMU library access, I can't get full articles. My local library could provide that to me, even for a small fee. (Of course, as an alum, I think TAMU should provide it to me - but I haven't asked, either.)

As a mom, though, I want the library to have books I can check out. Carter loves a book for a few days then is on to a new one. We can revisit some of his favorites, but I like to try before I buy. We found Gertie and Gossie that way.

In reading John Reimer's OCLC article, something he mentioned prompted me to think about how Library2Play is a perfect example of how libraries can use Web 2.0 to continue to meet their users needs. As I mentioned earlier, the library can still be the place people go (not necessarily literally) to learn. And to learn specifically about how to use new technology tools.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great Books for Older Readers

Please note some of the titles are adult books. Parents and teachers should always read a book before giving it to student or child to read. Some adult books contain adult subject matter that you may want to address - if that's the case, don't recommend that book to a student!

Great Books for Younger Readers

Music is "Please and Thank You" by Mr. Steve & Miss Katie available at Free Kids Music.

Great Books for Gifted Kids

I've put together a presentation on great books that can help parents and educators address the social emotional needs of gifted kids.

To enhance the presentation, I did two Animoto videos. The graphics aren't the best, but it's a great way to share information.

Here are some good places to get lists of books appropriate for GT readers:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back to the 23 Things

I'm anxious to get back to working the Library 2 Play 23 Things. As I'm thinking about it more and more, I thought I'd try embedding an Animoto I did some time back. I love Animoto.

We'll see how this goes. It's an Animoto of Carter's first year that I did for his first birthday. He's almost 2 now, so it's fun to look back.

If I can get this to work, I'll be ready to try it with professional content!

A note on an issue I had... I used my district email address for my main Google Account (an early step in the 23 Things). Animoto will embed video in your Blogger blog, but only if it's done through a Gmail account. Now that my Google Account is via a different email, I can't get my gmail address associated with my existing Google Account. Hence, no direct embedding. Instead, I downloaded my Animoto and then uploaded it to the blog.