Friday, December 18, 2009


I enjoyed the fairly straightforward texts we were assigned this semester. It was nice to read once and understand, rather than laboring each week to find even partial meaning to the texts.

I felt like the chapter on "professional development" in Jurkowski was very useful. I suppose it's a reflection of how much I am in the mindset of a classroom teacher rather than a librarian that I expected this chapter to discuss opportunities for my own professional development, rather than what I as a teacher-librarian can and should offer to my staff. I am used to being a passive participant in professional development, but thinking back over my years in education, the best school-sponsored sessions have been the one which my media specialist coordinated. I have learned as much from my current media specialist this school year as from my Clarion classes!

Also in Jurkowski, I enjoyed the chapter on "school library websites". I do not have vast programming knowledge, but I am slowly learning everything I can so that I can, one day when I leave the classroom in favor of a media center, create and maintain an effective and attractive website for my school. Last year, I dabbled with Dreamweaver and made some changes to the school media center website, but unfortunately I wasn't given network privileges and my changes were never posted. It was a great learning experience, however, one which I will refer to when I am once again in the stages of website creation.

After our Wimba presentations, I feel that I have added yet another technology to my tool box, in addition to those that I have acquired in the course of this class.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Assisstive Technology, Module 5

1. What one thing did you learn, and what will you do differently as a result?

My training has always focused on cognitive disabilities: this course helped open my eyes to the variety of other disabilities, and the countless possibilities for assistance that exist. I will strive to change my teaching style to be more inclusive: even though I do not currently have any students with physical disabilities, I need to reconsider things like classroom arrangement now.

Because of this class, I have begun looking for ways to incorporate literature about disabilities into my classroom. In January, my 7th graders will spend a month learning about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, reading "Miracle Worker", and practicing sign language.

I also want to incorporate the book list for my 8th graders, and have them read and respond to a text which presents a main character with a disability. I have to look more closely at my lesson plans to find a way this fits in, but I liked the "READ IT" lesson posted in this module.

All in all, this has been an eye opening, positive experience for me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Assistive Tech, Module Four

The links on netiquette this week were basically things that seemed like common sense to me, although I was surprised at the frequency of the recommendation to utilize smileys and emoticons. I guess it's because I view email on par with letter communication, and for me, internet correspondences are more formal and it would not be appropriate to use emoticons or abbreviations. I think I will share the information with my students, and when I am in a media center, netiquette will be the first thing I teach my student users.

As far as etiquette and awareness goes towards interacting with persons with disabilities, I feel fairly confident. I did well on the quiz, since the biggest thing to remember is the "person first" philosophy, which I try to apply in my interactions with all people. It was a bit of a wake up call to see the comment against distracting aide dogs without their owners' permission: that's not something I've thought about before, and I am one of those people who will coo over a cute dog when I encounter it on the street. I need to be more aware of this in general, I suppose, and check with the owners first (whether the owner has a disability or not!)

I wanted to mention a few of the websites I have found that deal with assistive tech:


This link has a really great visual (heart-shaped) for understanding assistive technology and the circular nature of advocacy and assistive tech.


This site provides a guide to families to help them understand and implement assistive technology for a loved one. While the site is mostly text based(making it hard to read for long stretches), there is a lot of information provided.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Assistive Tech, Module Three

I have been focusing my work on voice recognition software and hardware, and a thought just occurred to me. These tools would be doubly useful (and justifiable in purchasing) since they can aide students who are both permanently and temporarily disabled. What I mean is this: there are students who will constantly need the help that voice recognition software presents, and then there are students who may only need it once in their education, after breaking an arm. With athletics and just general kid-ness, many of my students come to school temporarily unable to write due to a fracture. As a Language Arts teacher, this can be frustrating, but if my school made the purchase of assistive tech such as voice recognition software, my students could utilize this when temporarily incapacitated.

EBooks are another great example of assistive tech that is not only useful to learners with some form of disability. Access to classic ebooks allows students to read via school computer, even if they do not have computer access at home. This is useful because an ebook can not be "Lost", so students will not have to remember to return library books, sometimes depriving their classmates of the same text. My students are about to read "A Christmas Carol", and I have found a full text eversion of the novel that I am going to ask that they read at home, to further enhance our in-class reading and discussions.

There are so many ways to apply assistive technology in ways that help all learners! It's really amazing what is available: such a far cry from my own childhood when the internet was still a novelty.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Assistive Tech, Module Two

The videos this week are really powerful. The graphic artist is particularly inspiring to me because it is so easy to get tunnel vision and view artists within the stereotype of standing at an easel, holding a paint brush in one hand and a paint pallet in another.

I also had no idea how many assistive tech hardware options there are out there! The foot controlled mouse is just one of many options.

In thinking about assistive tech in terms of my school library, I have been thinking most about a young man who is confined to a motorized wheelchair and has no body movement. I don't teach him, so I am not sure what his diagnosis is, but we exchange greetings in the hall just about every morning. To that end, I think I want to focus on voice recognition technology, and the piece of hardware that I have selected is this, the Cyber-Acoustics Speech Recognition Stereo Headset. To be used in conjunction with voice recognition software, this headset would enable the student at my school to compose works on the computer orally, since he does not have use of his hands.

My one complaint about all the amazing hardware available is the price. The headset alone costs anywhere from $26-$45, and this is very much the low end of the spectrum. How will school districts and public institutions which have already faced severe budget cuts in recent years afford the technology that would help make learning inclusive for all students? The expense should not be preventative, and the prices I have seen on enablemart make me think that may be the case.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Assistive Tech, Module One

In my educational training, the focus on students with disabilities was much more centered around cognitive impairments, so this week's module has opened some interesting areas for me. For example, I am intrigued by the "Braille is Beautiful" teaching resource sold by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). It would be really interesting to tie in a unit on Braille for my Language Arts students with the use of the play "The Miracle Worker." Currently, I do not have any students who are blind, but this would be a good awareness raising activity for all my students. Something to think about and ask my department head if there is money to purchase the kit!

In the broader world, I found JAN (the Job Accommodation Network)to be an amazing resource, one which I am surprised I have never heard of. JAN exists to help not only persons with disabilities but employers as well, and I was impressed with the training they could offer a potential employer to increase the hiring of people with disabilities. This would be a wonderful resource in high schools, for the guidance counselors to navigate and make available to any students they may serve who would benefit from it. This site would be useful for special education educators at all levels, as well.

I am excited about the AT modules, because I have felt a bit unstable in my training to serve my students with disabilities in the best way, so these modules should provide me with a better understanding and some ideas to incorporate into my classroom.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week Nine, Thing Twenty-Three

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I think my favorite discoveries during this program were wikis. I had been introduced to the idea of a sandbox wiki before, but the possible classroom applications really seem endless, and this experience made me start thinking about those options.
2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
My lifelong learning goals have expanded to include cutting edge technologies (such as the 2.0 options). Prior to this experience, I was solely focused on learning in the physical sense, through action and interaction, but these different 2.0 technologies can enhance that goal and are things I want to continue to learn and work with.
3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Honestly, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed blogging on an academic topic. Taking my MSLS online has been stressful for me, mainly because I have missed carrying on conversations with teachers and classmates, but blogging in this manner gave me a way to really reflect on my learning experience, and to see and respond to the experiences of my classmates.
4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I didn't have any difficulties with Classroom 2.0, and I really enjoyed this program.
5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? If so, check out Discovering Assistive Technology.
I think I would certainly make time to participate in something like this in the future.
6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote Classroom Learning 2.0 learning activities?
Unexpectedly easy!

Week Nine, Thing Twenty-Two

Ah, eBooks and audio books. I had the opportunity to catalog some eBooks that my school recieved free last year, and I am sure I made some mistakes in the process, but I love that some of the canonical classics are available for free and digitally, so that students don't have to purchase books that, let's face it, they would not likely read on their own. Hooray for eBooks!

I was disapointed that the time frame for the World eBook Fair has closed for 2009, so those resources are only available with a subscription until next July. Something to keep in mind as the date approaches, perhaps, and prepare to download whatever I want when the free window opens up again.

Audio books are also a wonderful resource. I have seen them used with great success for students struggling to read at grade level, and in those instances the audio books have opened countless literary doorways that reluctant or struggling readers might never have discovered if they were only provided with the print copy of the text. I try to incorporate audio books into my classroom when appropriate: in fact, when reading Poe's "Tell Tale Heart" just last month, I had my students follow along in the text while listening to a dramatized audio version of the story, complete with creepy music and sound effects. The story seemed to click with more of my students in this way, and the majority of them seemed to retain much more of the information from the story.

I love using audio books with students, and in my dream library I would love to stock the shelves with text and audio copies of some of the more popular and more challenging stories, to better serve the full school population, not just the avid readers. The only difficulty with such an ambition is the money it would cost to purchase audio books, and the expense if such materials were lost by students. Perhaps a PTA grant could fund this idea, and maybe loss could be cut down by teachers providing a few personal cd players so that students could listen to the books while at school.

Something to think about...

Week Nine, Thing Twenty-One

Podcasts. The term is not new to me, mainly due to my husband's obsession with the spoken word. He downloads certain NPR podcasts on a weekly basis and listens to them whenever he has time. The ease of being able to listen to a favorite radio broadcast in your own time, not tied to the radio schedule, is really nice.

I have utilized a few grammar-based podcasts in my classroom this year, thanks to the information shared by another Language Arts teacher, and it has been a nice way to mix up my lessons. For myself, however, podcasts do not really appeal.

I have never been much of a fan of audio books, and I have only recently begun to enjoy a very specific program that NPR puts out ("The World", if you're interested), so podcasts and the entire audio world does not hold much draw for me. Had I lived in the radio era, I would have been the black sheep of the family, preferring to read the text of a book rather than listen to the nightly broadcast.

I did explore some of the podcasts on the links provided at Classroom 2.0, but again, nothing jumped out at me: I thought perhaps a book review cast, but I realized I get distracted listening to a disembodied voice speak, and don't get as much out of the review as if I had read it myself.

My own learning style aside, I can see the use of podcasts in the classroom, both to listen and to create. I am open to integrating this technology into my work, but I doubt it will ever find a place in my personal life.

Week Nine, Thing Twenty

I have enjoyed Youtube for entertainment purposes through most of my undergraduate studies (I have a minor obsession with performers like Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, and Youtube is the place to find great footage!)

I really liked the "introducing the book" video, and the "librarian manifesto" made some very good statements, but the video I want to share today deals with freedom to read and Banned Books Week.
This is a GREAT video, and is something I could really use with my students, despite the fact that Banned Books Week has already passed this year.

The only difficulty with using Youtube at least in my school district is that the site is blocked district wide, and will not generally be unblocked on a teacher to teacher basis. (My district is huge) My librarian uses video clips from TeacherTube frequently, and there are some good ones on there, too, but I would love to be able to use Youtube in my school at some point in the future.

On a more personal note, I have found my brother on Youtube multiple times (high school marching band skits and silly films), and I found a video from the late 90's that was shown at my high school on the weekly news that I never thought I'd see again. The possibilities of video sharing are endless!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week Eight, Thing Ninteen

I was already a bit familiar with Library Thing, due to "Thing Eleven", but I did not create an account at that time, so this has been fun.

For my Library Thing list, I am still focusing on the Dust Bowl, but I picked a mixture of nonfiction and fiction because I feel that this will help me to reach more students. The books I have selected can be found here.
(You may have to click on the collection "Dust Bowl Webquest Support Texts" to see them)

Just for fun, I also made a list of some of my favorite books, some YA and some adult, a few poetry collections, but all wonderful. If you are interested, those can be found under "favorites" in my catalog.

This site is remarkably similar to one I discovered last year, I don't know if I can link the list that I created there, but I'll try (again, these are just books I have read/enjoy, not related in any way to my webquest).

Here are my GoodReads books.

Has anyone else used GoodReads? I think I prefer it to Library Thing, actually, and I can't believe I have forgotten about it all this time.

Week Eight, Thing Eighteen

Success!!! The post below is posted directly from my Zoho took some tweaking, but once I clicked the right place, it was really easy...

I feel very tech savvy at the moment. Go me!

blog post

Ok, so I am going to fiddle with this and attempt to post my week eight, thing eighteen blog here.

Zoho Writer seems really user-friendly, and the first thing I have noticed is how closely the toolbar mirrors the Microsoft office toolbar.  We had a training session on SMART boards and other technology at my school last week, and the trainer mentioned that a lot of the add on technology has modeled itself on the Office layout, since most users are more familiar with that.

I really like the templates available through Zoho, and I think those could come in handy in the future.

Overall, this is a fairly easy technology, and I can certainly see the value of being able to have a "living" document that is accessable to more than one user at a time: I can really see the application of this tool for businesses and corporate meetings.  Perhaps something like Zoho can be used in schools to facilitate team teaching between teachers of different subjects/grades, or even between teachers at different schools.  I think the online education program in my state could utilize this technology, so that all students taking an online high school course would have access to ALL the different teachers' works. try to post to my blog!

Week Eight, Thing Eighteen

Let's see if this works...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Week Seven, Thing Seventeen

Here's the link to a web quest I have just created which utilizes my Rollyo page...I may make modifications before I use it with my students. The research topic is the Dust Bowl.

EDIT: After checking the link, it appears that the most recent webquest is displayed there, not the one I created...

I am a bit confused how to make this work...any suggestions? I have saved the webquest as a file, but how can I attach it here?

I have posted the file for the webquest at in the "sandbox". Since I am struggling with attaching a file to my blog, that would be the best way to access my webquest.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Week Seven, Thing Sixteen

First, I have to say that I am a bit ashamed with myself that I never sat down and put two and two together...I have been aware of and using wikis since I started this degree last year, and yet it never clicked that this is what Wikipedia is. Despite my shame, I now have even better ammunition when I forbid my students from using Wikipedia to do research...

Ok, embarrassment aside, but still talking about Wikipedia. I was a bit turned off by the layout of the St. Joseph County Library page, since it so closely resembles Wikipedia. I think, for me at least, the similarity in lay out sends the message to me that this information may be as potentially inaccurate as that on Wikipedia. Even in a quick and easy Wiki, layout matters and visual appeal can go a long way to make a page work for users.

I LOVE the sample literary circle Wiki for 10th grade English students. In fact, before looking at this page, I had already begun to conceive of a very similar idea for my middle school students. I hadn't thought about quite how to structure such an assignment, but this site has given me some great ideas. Now I just need to decide how to implement this: in small groups as a project, or as the whole class during a certain novel/unit.

Out of the classroom and into the media center, I could also see a lot of use for Wikis. For example, there could be a book recommendation Wiki for a school library, where students and staff could edit and post their opinions about different materials found in the library. For a public school, the Wiki would need to be constantly moderated by either the librarian or another adult, to make sure the postings are appropriate for school and district policy (no foul language, etc).

Bottom line is: I love the idea of a public Wiki, and I WILL be utilizing this technology with my students this year and in the future.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week Six, Thing Fourteen and Fifteen

Technorati is an interesting tool. I certainly found more blogs covering a greater number of topics this way than my usual browsing technique, to click "next blog" at the top of my own blog page and scroll through random works rather aimlessly.

As far as tagging goes, it seems like a fairly positive thing. The only draw back I can see is that tags can be whatever the author thinks they should be: there is no shared vocabulary (or if there is, not one that is shared by everyone). It seems that for tagging to be most efficient, there should be set tag terms (much like the vocabulary for cataloging and searching) so that bloggers who choose to tag their work can maximize the effectiveness of the tag for other readers. I have absolutely no idea how such a list could be put into place, considering the global and relatively unmoderated nature of blogs and blogging, but if there were a way, it would be really useful.

It's funny, but as much as I have been hearing and using the term "libraries 2.0", I haven't really stopped to think about what this means. The term, to me, completely demonstrates the shift that not only libraries, but popular culture, have undergone in recent years. Libraries are no longer thought of solely as repositories of books under the care of matronly librarians: now, patrons expect to be greeted with technology such as internet use, tutorials, video presentations, and basic word processing. Gone are the days of a tangible card catalog, gone are the days on written records. The library holdings can be accessed via online databases, and the circulation desk uses programs such as Destiny and Athena to keep track of the materials in and out of the library.

The technologies that typify 2.0, however, are icing on the cake: library blogs maintained for the entertainment of others, or to provide readers' advisory services, tagging, bookmarks, and Flickr all being used to better serve the community in an unlimited variety of ways. Library 2.0 applications offer unlimited uses, and I am excited to be starting my library career at a time when these technologies are available and increasing constantly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week Six, Thing Thirteen

I can certainly see advantages to Just speaking for me as an individual, I have three computers that I regularly use: my desktop, my school desktop, and my laptop. Although all my personal bookmarks are on my home desktop, I utilize all three computers for lesson planning and assignment creation, and I am constantly confused as to which computer has which bookmarks saved. Up till now, the way I have worked around this has been to email useful links to myself, and then bookmark them on each of my three computers. There are MANY more useful things I could be doing with my time, so I think I may explore further, at least for my teaching-related bookmarks. I don't often bookmark things for my life outside the classroom, so I don't think I would see a use otherwise.

I am considering using this tool instead of the Rollyo search roll I created when my students conduct their might be easier to direct them to a set of bookmarks rather than a site-specific search engine...I have over a month until I had planned to implement the lesson, so I have some time to continue experimenting before I make my decision.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week Five, Thing Twelve

Rollyo is my new favorite technology tool. I love that I was able to create a list based around the Dust Bowl and link all the great resources to one place. My students will be reading "Out of the Dust" in a few weeks, and I created my search roll with the intention of designing a webquest around the links for my classes...hooray for killing two birds with one stone!

Here's the link to my search roll

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week Five, Thing Eleven

For this activity I explored an "honorable mention" in the category of books, found here

Oh. My. Goodness. If I had found this site (had it existed) when I was a small child, I would have been in heaven! I used to pretend I owned a library, and I frequently counted, categorized, and made lists of the titles and authors that I owned (I remember being particularly proud that I had over 500 books in elementary school). Library Thing allows users to catalog their own personal collections of books. It's instant (no typing in MARC records, hooray!) since it pulls cataloging information from publishers and libraries all over the world.

Once you have added books, you can share your lists and cross reference with other users, making this a book club and library system rolled in to one.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week Five, Thing Ten

I did enjoy playing with the image generators, and my playing led me to a few other sites that were linked through the Comic Strip generator (the tarot card is the result of that meander), but I wasn't feeling particularly pithy today, so I didn't really create any images that I am proud of. I've posted two examples here...

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This post feels very random...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week Four, Thing Nine

I browsed through the lists of "best blogs" on Edublogs, and really liked this one

I also find it kind of amusing that when using the Google Blog Search with the term "library learning 2.0" the first link I find is this article, which I thought would provide a direct link to the site we have been using in this class, but instead, it takes me to which looks only slightly different in layout from the classroomlearning2.blogspot blog that we have been working with (no avatar, for one).

Other than layout, these two blogs seem almost identical: the same person serves as a contact point for each, and I wonder why two such similar blogs exist, run by the same people. I prefer the layout to the classroomlearning blog, with the quick links on the right to each "thing", but it seems really redundant for the California School Library Association to maintain both tutorials instead of consolidating down into one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week Four, Thing Eight

I think the RSS feed is a really great idea. I like that I can have the content I want without ads or the hassle of going from site to site to read it. I am ashamed to admit this as a teacher and a librarian, but I have never been much of a fan of print news, or news in general. I have only recently begun listening to NPR in the afternoons (I like"The World"), so being up to date on news matters is relatively new for me. I don't honestly know if I will utilize my bloglines account, given how hard it is for me to fit additional items into my schedule, but I am going to try to read it at least twice a week.

I think this would be a great technology to push on high school students, teaching them how to set up an account and requiring that they utilize it over the course of a semester or year long technology or social studies class. The combination of internet and news sources may appeal to teens more than picking up an old-fashioned print newspaper.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Week Three, Thing Seven about technology...any technology...

First, I adore using blogs for education purposes. Last year as a media specialist, I had my students create blogs as part of the presentation of a research project: there were some kinks, but overall, it was an exciting medium for students to begin playing with, and an interesting way for them to present their research, in pieces as they went instead of a formal paper at the end. I don't know if I will be using blogging in the classroom this year, but I would like to work it back in again.

I have become so dependent on my computer, which amuses me since we didn't have a computer at home until I was in late elementary school. Now, I am always utilizing it: to send email, to write stories, to plan lessons, I even watch tv and movies on my computer! It's amazing how different this is from my childhood memories, playing computer games with crummy graphics and agonizingly slow speeds and occasionally using WordPerfect to write a report. As a kid, I actually preferred my mom's old electric typewriter!

It's also amazing to sit back and consider if technology has come so far in my short lifetime, how much further will it go over the course of the next 25 or even 50 years?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week Three, Thing Six

I played with the Flick mashup to make a mosaic at, and the end result wasn't what I was expecting. When I think of photo mosaics, I think of those huge images that make one composite picture out of many tiny different images. I have always thought those were so cool! The mosaic I created (using a random set of Flickr images that I found) was interesting, but not as impressive as the image I had in my mind.

I really like the ability to make real jigsaw puzzles, and I am trying to think of a friend or relative that would enjoy a gift like that just so I can have the excuse to make one!

I like all the functions Flickr offers, but as a whole when it comes to photographs, I am an old-fashioned girl: not only do I insist on printing images and storing them in tangible albums, but I still shoot with 35 mm film and prefer black and white film over color. Don't get me wrong: I love my digital camera, and it has made my trigger finger a lot less expensive than when I was a teen and I would get entire rolls of film printed that only had one or two worthwhile shots. I just enjoy the dark room manipulations for film more than I enjoy the digital tricks and manipulations.

Week Three, Thing Five

I want to talk briefly about this image. I found it by using the random function Flickr offers to look for "interesting" images that have been loaded within a week.

Rationally, I know that the circles of reflection are simply that: reflections. Irrationally, they remind me of orbs, the supposed manifestations of ghosts and spirits that are sometimes captured on film. I don't know if I believe in that, but the rare times when I see photos of my own with an unexplained circle, I have to stop and wonder.

In my imaginary world of this image, this woman is surrounded by orbs...perhaps she has lost many loved ones, or perhaps the dead find her fascinating. Or maybe they aren't orbs at all, but glimpses of the fairy folk...

My mind is ready to frolic and play this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Week Two, things three and four

Create a blog: check
create an avatar: check (isn't she cute?)
register the blog with check
Post link for blog with class: check

Week One, Things One and Two

So far, I have just begun to explore the "23 things" tutorial, including the 7 1/2 habits of lifelong learning.

Even before I understood the term “lifelong learner”, I think I always knew I was one. I read voraciously as a child (still do!) and would make up “home work” assignments for myself over the summers. I love exploring new things, and particularly enjoy art classes and dance and movement classes.

Looking at the 7 ½ habits of lifelong learning, it was really obvious to me which was easiest for me, and which one causes me the most difficulty. I ALWAYS begin with the end in mind, setting goals and finding ways to work towards that ultimate end result. Sometimes, however, this strength becomes a weakness, since I fixate on the future and the goal and forget to look up on the journey.

The item I have the most difficulty with is viewing problems as challenges. I treat any setback or issue, no matter how minor, as earth-shattering. I do not often find value in problems, even though I know that I can overcome whatever I face, and that I always end up smarter/happier/wiser/whatever-er after moving through a difficult situation. I am trying to work on keeping things in perspective, and using the glass-half-full approach of viewing problems as challenges.