August 7, 2008
August 8, 2008 makes it one week since I’ve moved to my own domain. If you are looking for my blog, try these feeds:
I have been asked more than once why I abandoned Edublogs. I don’t feel like I have in reality. I still have a school library blog that I will continue to use, and I have another teacher at my school asking about blogging with her students, so I will be showing her Edublogs too. I can attribute ALL my blogging skills to my time here at Edublogs, and will continue to plug it for those hunting for a user friendly platform. I have heard just today others plugging the use of Edublogs too. Bob Sprankle did in his BLC08 session which I listened to today. It’s a great platform that is easy, user friendly, and definitely worth promoting.
But please come on over to my new blog’s home! Update your feeds if you use an aggregator.
August 1, 2008
I have moved my blog to my own domain now. Growing pains will commence I’m sure, starting with my header that seems off kilter a little. I’ll work on that soon enough. Must figure out what else is slightly off. The new blog is located here and will look the same for a while, until I get settled and comfy. Thank you Edublogs for giving me a great start. I will forever recommend Edublogs for friends and colleagues asking for a place to start. A SPECIAL thank you to Chris Craft, my mentor in the blogosphere, who is holding my hand through the change. As you visit please consider wearing a hard hat. Who knows what will fall?
Update your feeds.
July 29, 2008
In lurking around the SLJ’s “All Together Now” Netvibes page, I’ve discovered many new blogs by school librarians to follow. Quite obviously some are rather experienced, but many others are very experienced. The new bloggers are using a variety of platforms to test the waters, and I’ve seen many Edublogs, WordPress, and Blogger blogs. I have always had a strong dislike to the Google Platform known as Blogger or Blogspot.
One reason for this dislike is of this particular platform is it seems to be blocked a lot by k12 schools, more than likely due to the bar that rides across the top and includes a link to the “next blog” which is randomly loaded. The issue here, I imagine, is the chance that the next blog will be significantly less than educational. I initially tried blogger, but when I decided it was risky due to that little feature, moved over to Edublogs, which I’ve grown quite comfortable with, and must say the behind the scenes helpers have been immensely nice and generously helpful with any issues I have had. (thanks Sue!!)
Another issue I had with Google’s Blogger platform was the feed. While it behaved like a blog, allowing comments and feed I could subscribe to in my reader, it lacked a feature I liked in WordPress and Edublogs–>a comment feed. The comments feed allows one to read blogs in their reader as if they are a conversation. When people asked me what platform they should try, I would suggest first Edublogs, then WordPress, and then strongly steer them away from Blogger, no matter how easy it was reported as being. Why? No comments feed available. Well, I guess Google got wind of this complaint (surely not from little ol’ unimportant me). They have made the fix and made it possible for Blogger users to add in their subscription feeds to their side bars–both for all posts and all comments. (How? Simply go into the dashboard, find layout, add a page element, and select subscription feeds.)
What does this mean? It means now I can subscribe to their posts and comments, and really feel a part of a conversation happening in a blog. As it was, if I followed a blogger user, I had to leave my aggregator to read comments. Now they will come to me in my reader. W00T.
No, I’m not going back to Blogger. But I will stop steering newbies away from it. I will recommend it AFTER Edublogs, and then only as a last resort. Sorry Google–lose the risky and totally unecessary “next blog” feature. Make that an optional feature instead.
July 29, 2008
The SLJ All Together Now version of 23 Things is now in its 2nd week, and “thing 3″ calls for us to subscribe to a podcast or two and tell why we like it. Yesterday I wrote about Bob Sprankle’s Bit by Bit. Today I thought I’d plug the upcoming K12 Online Conference, which starts its 3rd annual event October 13, 2008 (with an introductory keynote) followed by two weeks of forty presentations (October 20-31, 2008.) I have participated in the last two years, and plan to be there for the 3rd annual conference too. Best, it is ALL online, so I don’t have to go “anywhere” in particular, and even better, it’s totally FREE. It has been promoted as free, flexible and forward thinking. This is last year’s logo, but it really speaks to what the K12Online Conference is all about. Free is self explanatory–it doesn’t cost you a dime in travel, hotels, lodging or any of the other amenities we commonly associate with attending a typical conference. Flexible describes it well, because participants choose when and where they partake of “most” of the offerings–there are a few events that are live, but most of those are even archived. Forward Thinking (Progressive & Practical) is also used in describing the K12Online Conference too, as participants can capture a true vision for forward thinking from great presenters who share fabulous and usefull tried and true tips for engaging learners using 21st century skills. (Gee I sound like a commercial.) But its true! There is something for everyone here, from the true novice beginner to the professional keynoter who alredy knows it all. This year’s theme is “amplifying possibilities.”
I know I will blog about this again nearer to the actual dates of the conference, but for those out there who have decided to participate in “All Together Now” 23 Things, here is a wonderful podcast series that you can go ahead and take advantage of now. Subscribe to the K12 Online Conference and GRAB learning on the go that will NOT disappoint you. Yes, it will be last year’s content, but the content is still wonderful. I think this picture from a set in lynetter’s photostream says it all. This is true especially for podcasts, no matter when, where, or even how we consume them.
Where are the K12 Online feeds? Here
July 28, 2008
I’m sort of late–not really–in actuality I’m way ahead of the All Together Now School Library Journal’s 23 Things. I already have a blog and use an RSS feed aggregator, so I’ll just pick up in the game here. Today’s assignment is to pick a feed and add it to your aggregator or podcatcher like iTunes.
I will share a pod feed that is one of my absolute favorites and tell you why I like it so much!
Bob Sprankle, a Technology Integrator in Maine, has a blog/podcast that is titled “Bit by Bit.” The premise is that we learn new material, bit by bit. How often have you ever felt like you were on information overload? When you realize how broad the 21st Century skills are, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Many just opt out of the podcast material, thinking “I don’t own an ipod, and since there is so much more this can slide. Bob Sprankle’s “Bit by Bit” is a wonderful podcast series you will not want to miss.
Frequently his podcasts are recordings of workshops, sessions, or keynotes he has asked permission to capture and drop into a podcast feed. Only this week I am enjoying several podcasts he published from a wonderful conference, Alan November’s Building Learning Communities, which took place in the last ten days or so. I have not had the chance to attend this wonderful conference (actually it is a goal and a dream I have someday) but I can learn form the presenters there, all because Bob Sprankle. He generously requested permission to audio record, and then published sessions after the conference.
I am in the middle of listening to the BLC sessions and/or keynotes including:
- John Davitt’s Keynote at BLC08
“Setting Learning Free: The Difference Engine Runs Again”
- Dr. Joyce Valenza at BLC08
“Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency: Designing Projects for 21st Century Learners”
- Dr. Pedro Noguera’s Keynote at BLC08
“Changing the Culture of Schools: Creating Conditions that Promote Student Achievement”
- Clarence Fisher and Darren Kuropatwa at BLC08
“Everything New is Old Again
The feed updates each time I open my iTunes, so if I haven’t already listened to it, I have to go back and manually download. Arggg. So when I know a podcast series is going to be heavy in updating daily (like Sprankle releasing these podcasts over a four day period, or the K12Online Conference posts), and I know I do not have time to listen to each one, I create a play list, and add them there.
From iTunes, as I note a new podcast from Bit By Bit, I drag it to a “playlist” I created. The playlist feature is a great tool in iTunes, allowing you to put music or recordings for continuous play, either in exact order or random order. I created a playlist called “1daysdrive” to place podcasts like this. It is so named so that onmy iPod, I can click music–>playlists (which is automatically first)–>1daysdrive. It is the first playlist there because of the 1.
That playlist allows me to start it and listen continuously when I travel. I usually listen to the playlist on my way back and forth to work (roughly a 25 minute drive on good traffic days) or when I take longer trips. I even listen when I’m on vacation, like sitting out on the beach. (But do note that you can listen right from your computer–no iPod is really necessary.)
These snippets or bits that I listen to throughout a week feed my mind and give me the greatest professional development free! Best, I can stop, go back, relisten, and then even share with others, like my principal. I can burn a cd straight form my playlist to share with anyone I feel could benefit from it.
Don’t dismiss the power of learning and professional development you can get from podcasts. There are MANY out there available, and I’ve only highlighted one here.
I have blogged about other podcasts I like or have listened to here, here, and here (this last one titled “Favorite Podcasts”). These posts may also give you some podcasts to add to your feeds. Feel free to ask me anything–I will gladly help.
July 27, 2008
Sigh. Sorry to do this but I am. I’ve had a set back with my allergic reactions, and this week it has been back with a vengeance. I still do not know what is causing it. If you visit my photostream and look at the set called alergies, you can see a history there. Note the lines under my eyes in this photo. Those are not “wrinkles” from age, but rather wrinkles from where all the swelling went down. They are above the eyes too, and looking at the right eye in this photo, you can see my lid appears to be drooping. It is–when the swelling went down the skin sags. Maybe in the morning they will appear more normal.
(Oh the vertical line b/w my eyebrows–yep-that is a true wrinkle. Does that mean I frown a lot?)
What to do?
I called and the doctor who said I should make an appointment with an allergist. Upon making the appointment for an allergist back in April, I found out the cost for a new patient workup was a minimum $600 (to cover costs of tests, etc.) and then my first office visit was an additional $300. That is outrageous. I canceled the appointment then. I have my state health insurance, but I must pay a deductable up front of $500. While this may not be much for others, it is quite a hit for me. So now we are planning (isn’t that crazy) for this huge cost since the allergy seems to come and go now. Sigh. Wish over the counter drugs would keep it from coming back. Anyone know any herbal remedies that stave off allergies from an unknown source?
July 26, 2008
In my reader today I ran across Jim Gates‘ recommendation of a fun picture taking tool–all that is needed is a webcam. Check mine out! I’m going to find someway to use this app at school for sure. I think it could be a “fund raiser” in the library. What do you think? Shh I won’t say it’s a free online app!
All are from my flickrstream!
July 23, 2008
Dear Jane (and anyone else interested,)
My school email is wonky, not allowing me to “send” from it tonight, so I wanted to use my gmail account to reply. You say you read my blog, so hopefully you’ll read why I cannot respond with a personalized message tonight. But hello, and I miss very much working with you. I am still working in Horry County, but living at the beach during tourism season is, well, crowded. When I can eventualy use my email to send the private note, I will. But for now, this will have to do
Why can I not send you an email using my gmail account? Because your district does NOT seem to like gmail. Claims I am spam or something even more evil, and quite frankly, I am insulted. I want to ask your district what is so awful about gmail?
Gmail has the best spam filter I’ve ever seen–seems to catch everything spam wise. I’ve been using it for 2 years, and I have never had a message come to my inbox that was spam. Anything even remotely questionable (attachments included) go straight to the spam filter. I used to worry that something good would go and would daily check that spam folder. Now I rarely check it but usually empty it biweekly. I have really come to trust it.
Why discriminate against Google?
What about parents who use gmail? After all, it is a FREE account, and not every parent is fortunate enough to have an expensive email program like Microsoft Outlook or whatever the taxpayers are allowing the school district to purchase. This is the 21st Century people. It is higly unusual NOT to have an email account. Not only that, but employers are really cracking down on the use of email intended for use at work being used for any other purpose (i.e. bank accounts, paying bills online, ordering online, contacting friends, etc.) This I why I use a gmail account–to keep school business separate from friends, relatives, and other professional or personal purposes. I primarily use my gmail for anything that is not directly related to my job. I even use that gmail account for things like my professional organizations (i.e. ALA, AASL, SCASL, ISTE, SCAET, NCTE, etc, etc, etc, and these are all organizations I am a member of because I am an educator, more or less related to my profession–BUT not directly involved with my employment. Are gmail parents who try to email their children’s teachers also blocked? This to me is borderline discrimination of taxpayers.
Let’s Collaborate–how about it?
Did you know that having a Google account affords you many perks besides using gmail? I have had many opportunities to use Google Docs, which is Google’s open source word processing platform. It really helps me out in a bind, I use it to open attachments, and best, it has a collaborative feature so you can work together on a document with others. With the share feature a whole group can work on a single document–all they need is one in the group to use a Google account, and the others to have an email address that the gmail user can use to “invite” them–oh and also be online. I’m sure I’m not doing justice to the capabilities or possibilities of Google applications or even touching the possibilities. But I am extremely bothered by a decision on this district (and others) to block it. I even want to say in this day and age of 21st century learning using collaborative tools, it is pedagogical malpractice to block something like Google and gmail. (Thank you again Bud Hunt for giving me a new term to throw around.) Well maybe claiming pedagogical malpractice is strong. But, if nothing else, by blocking these tools, we are not doing our professional duty teaching students about collaborative tools it is safe to say many will be expected to comfortably use in the jobs they will take (most of which do not even exist today.)
Watch this video:
Sorry that this turned into a rant.
Attribution from FlickrCC:
July 19, 2008
About ten years ago (maybe more) the name of a school librarian changed to “media specialist” with a few variations to that. SC calls our certification media specialist. But with the name change came the impression that we were not educators, but rather support people. It didn’t change much for the elementary people, who despite the name change and its implication that the library media specialist could pull magic media tricks out of a hat, many continued to be a gate-keeper of books and a place to send a class so a teacher could have precious planning time. I would wage 65% of all elementary schools use their “media specialist” as a babysitter who keeps kids while teachers plan.
So what should we be called?
Names can have varying meanings and interpretations. Guru Dr. Joyce Valenza began marketing herself as a “teacher-librarian” a good while back. At first I was reluctant to call myself this. But when I realized the title media specialist did not denote that we were teachers BEFORE we were librarians, and it eliminated the mindset of school leaders that the position was potentially an educational leader in the building, I decided to adopt it to. Few realize that teacher librarians (especially now in my state) are certified only through a graduate level degree. (Note: there area still a few in SC who currently serve in this position that received their degree in an undergraduate program. The degree now, though, is only available as a graduate program.) Most are teachers well before they are teacher librarians.
Library Media Specialist? Teacher Librarian? 21st Century Learner?
Our state gives “teachers” a small stipend at the onset of school to purchase consumable supplies. After the first year of it, there was talk of NOT giving it to media specialists, guidance counselor, or speech therapists–as we were not considered “teachers” and shouldn’t have the same needs. There was a failure by some to recognize the contributions these people make to the school program. So I fully embraced the title teacher librarian then to make sure everyone perceived me first as an educator, then as a stakeholder in the school as a whole. Of course I feel we have to earn our merit in their positions, but embracing a title that helps everyone see us as an equal in the building goes a long way.
It’s funny to reflect here on this now, as I really want to be seen as a 21st Century Learner now. I’ve said this before (compliments of Liz Davis today), so sorry if I sound like a broken record, but the term “teacher” in today’s world has come to imply that the learning is done, and it is now someone else’s (students) turn to learn. I wholeheartedly believe it is (in the words of Bud the teacher) pedagogical malpractice to stop learning if you work with students. So now I have to rethink my title too. Hmmm, what shall we call ourselves?
July 17, 2008
Since we are talking about doing a SCASL 23 things and SLJ is launching theirs, I thought a post by Dean Shareski might be helpful for any considering a dive into blogging. It is a good read, and Dean offers some VERY GOOD tips. Better, he links out to some other resources you will find helpful. You do not have to dive right into blogging to benefit from reading. You could start by getting a reader and reading some. I personally think my blogroll located on the right of my blog is a fantastic start, and best, I’ve highlighted a few South Carolina bloggers to read. Of course, that is just my opinion, and “everybody has one.”
How to Dive In
Blogging is not for everyone, and I’ve had my own fair share of failures. Most new swimmers don’t dive until they can swim, and they must build up a comfort level to even consider the act of jumping in, and then only near the shallow end. So “diving in” may be a little extreme. However, blogging is a way to keep up with what’s hot and new, and it is an avenue you just can’t beat for networking with a whole different community, by and large virtual. I whole heartedly recommend reading through Dean Shareski’s helpful information, and then get a reader (Bloglines or Google Reader are easy, free and reliable) and subscribe to him. He is one of the most exciting “think out of the box” educators I know. He’s on my blogroll too. (…oh and pay no attention to his list of top commenters! It can’t possibly be me…) P.S. Congratulations to those who already have a reader! You can check off one of the 23 things!
Image Attributions (from Flickrcc):