Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Have you seen SMORE?

First of all, before I get going, I want to apologize to my readers for not posting something lately.  I have been so busy in the library and teaching that I had to readjust my priorities.  I am hoping after state reports are done and my assistant and I can get back into our daily grove, things will be back to normal and I have more time to write.

A colleague of mine posted a tweet with some information about digital learning day and her tweet reminded me of a site someone mentioned in a webinar last summer.  They briefly mentioned SMORE as a tool to design flyers and posters.  I have been trying to create some sort of tech or library lesson for our students to help them use the tools we gave them for more than just playing games and skyping in class. I decided to try Smore to do just that.   I was really pleased.

Smore is a little like glogster. I can't monitor a whole class with smore, but, I can ask them for the link and see the outcome.  I like how versatile and easy to use it is.   I am going to try it with my French class.

You start off selecting a template for whatever it is you are doing.   It has a lot of options.  After you pick a template, you just plug information into it. You can input a lot of different things: images, text, titles, video, etc.  It makes a really nice presentation.  I created one for our student body about using the card catalog.  I did screen captures, uploaded them to smore and voila, I ended up with a fantastic presentation in little or no time at all.   I copied my text from a doc file that had been formatted and the program let the format for the text carry over.  Gotta like that.

If you need a quick presentation for a class, need a project idea, look into this.  I can see it being used by several content areas.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The tedious task of fixing a card catalog.

So, amongt my many goals for the media center, we decided that one of them is to clean up our catalog.  When the catalog was switched from the standing cards to a digital format, some of the information about our books was missed.  We decided we are here for kids and our catalog needs to contain as much information as possible.  We are working diligently to get as much from the books as possible into our system.  It is a tedious process. We have started the process of typing the information from the index or table of context of our books and putting into the catalog.  We want kids to be able to type in the subject and see all of the books where it can be found, even if it is only one page.  Our hope is using less ILL and more of our own materials.  I have also started finding special links that relate as well and adding them to our catalog.  It is a long process, but we feel doing so will help our students with their various research needs, especially if they are required to get books.  Are we crazy for doing this?

Sorry for such a short post today, I am guessing most of the forthcoming will be a little shorter as I no longer have posts pre-written because this time of the year is crazy busy for me.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sharing what you find with others (visually) part 2

In my last post I talked about curating materials and sites that will auto curate for you.  I promised I would do something that visually curated next.  I think some people benefit from the visual aspect of curation.  I know I like seeing a graphic that relates to the article because I am an incredibly visual person. There are a few places I have found that visualize your bookmarks.  I don't know if I would necessarily call all of them curation, but I believe anytime you organize links and articles into a format that people can refer to, you are curating them.

Pinterest:  Can't go wrong here.  Pinning is easy as 1.2.3.  Find the website, copy the link and Pinterest searches the site for images that relate.  You select one, write a little information about it and voilà, all set.  I like the fact that you can make as many boards as you wish, follow other people like you can on twitter and be able to go back later and clean-up what you placed.  It helps me a lot experiment with new things, refer to articles from a while back, etc.  I am pleased with how it works.

educlipper:  A lot like pinterest, educlipper lets you "clip" sites.  There is a bookmarklet you can add to your browser and as you check out a site you can click it and it posts it to your educlipper clipboard.  When you first log in, it is set up a lot like pinterest where you see other people's pins/ clips.  I like this because it is very educationally based.  You aren't going to see recipes and exercise information, you are going to see topics that are educationally based.

Pearltrees:  Pearltrees is a curation site, but it is a little different.  I am not sure I would say it is incredibly visual except for the fact that it looks like a graphic organizer.  You create a board per se and add pearls.  you can branch out from there to other things that relate. One neat thing about this is the collaboration capabilities.  You can take other people's pearls as well as join them and add to their boards.  It is pretty functional and you can develop organizers that are pretty specific to your needs.  There is also an app for the iPad.

Overall, becoming a curator is something I am glad I considered.  I think organizing for others as well as myself will help my tech knowledge grow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sharing what you find with others... part 1

The internet has grown to include a plethora of sites to curate materials.  I have experimented with a few and have found some of them so easy to use that I am hooked.  I am a busy person.  I teach classes daily, I run a media center, I help with tech, sometimes, I don't have the time to read the links I find and share them with others.  To handle this, I started curating newspapers that self-build daily. Yes, they self-build daily. All I do is tweet the paper link (some are do it yourself!) and people do the rest. Life couldn't be simpler.  I do curate at a few places.  I am new to doing it, but I think with all of the tech things people ask me about, I need something to do.

First of all, I tried tweetedtimes.com.  I was doing a webinar recently and the presenter talked about using it to curate so I checked it out. It is easy.  It looks through your tweets, your friends and your favorites and assembles a paper based on what is there.  It then tweets it daily at a time you specify.  It also pulls the top stories from your friends and tweets it.  You can open each paper daily and peruse articles for later reference.  It curates quickly and assembles a vast array of information right at your fingertips.  Talk about a simple way to share information with people.

Secondly, I like to use paper.li as a newspaper builder.  I select the topics to search for and it assembles a paper daily with the specifics.  Example:  I could type in ipads, 1:1, etc and it will build a paper with articles around the web with those topics.  You can set it to tweet daily and you receive an email when the paper is complete so you can see what is coming.  I love it.

Something awesome about these curating sites is the fact that you can use them in your classroom.  They don't just have to be for your PLN, they can be for students. You can pull topics that you are covering in class and assemble real time papers about them.  Since you can choose news media, you can have students reading authentic materials in class. It's a great way to meet some of the common core standards we are all facing.

There are other ways to curate, we'll talk about the visual ones in the next post.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Some ways I plan to organize my tech life

With the dawn of the new year, I have been thinking hard about ways I can organize my technology life, my library life and my teacher life.   I think I will start with my technology life.  That seems to be the area where I find fantastic ideas but sometimes forget them.
Here is how I start things and what I need to do.   I tweet.  A lot.  I favorite tweets with links of interest and they send themselves magically each day to my diigo account. The problem is I forget to go to Diigo and sort them.  Mistake one.  I logged into Diigo today and there were close to 1000 tags I need to sort.   So, my tech goal is to do the following:   Each week, be it Sunday or Saturday I need to go through my new tags, check out the links and sort them. I need to post the most important links on pinterest. Why, you say?  On pinterest, I can see a visual.  Sometimes seeing a visual helps me remember more about the link. 
That's another thing I need to do.  Organize my pinterest.  When I started using it, I had a few boards for recipes, ideas and such but I have discovered after a year on the site, I need to reorganize.  I have a lot of jumbled boards that I need to re-define.  I think doing that will make my boards so much more orderly and easy to track things.
Using technology has so many benefits to teaching,  libraries,  and kids but,  to use it right it has to be orderly. That is my goal for this year.  Organize my tech life.  Perhaps I will come across some fantastic ideas I found years ago.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The importance of a (my) PLN

While I spent some time home with pneumonia (yes, that was the exciting experience of my vacation) I had the opportunity of listening to a few webinars about twitter, PLN and social media.  I must say, I took some time to think about my PLN and how much I have learned from my colleagues, many of whom I have never met.

I am a school librarian, but I am also a teacher.  I spend a little time each day on twitter, pinterest and facebook.  Sometimes, I am chatting with friends, sometimes I do discussions, sometimes I just stalk people and keep an eye on what they talk about.  Regardless of my motives, I am happy to say I am always learning something.

My webinar talked a bit about PLN not just being on twitter, and with so many new forms of social media, the PLN is a different concept than it was even 3 years ago.  My PLN is on Pinterest and twitter mostly, but, I have spent some time scanning scoop.it and some RSS feeds I get daily. It doesn't take a lot of my time but the things I learn from people are unreal.  I have no one at my school who teaches the same content I do so using a PLN is logic, at best.

Why do I have a PLN?  Several reasons.  For starters, I am the only French teacher at my school and in the northeast corner of Indiana, only two schools still offer French.  Who can I learn from?  I need to collaborate with people who teach French and are having good experiences with it.  Secondly, I am the only certified librarian in my school.  I often have questions, need suggestions or have personal ideas to share.  I find posting something on twitter gets me instant results and often more outside of the box ideas.  Why not work with other people?

I have decided that my PLN is like a free professional development.  Post a topic, get instant results.  I have close to 7000 tweets on twitter.  Many of them are retweets of people who I follow.  Sometimes they post something smart and useful.  I find myself going back often.

If you have not started developing a PLN, you should. You will find people all over who know stuff you need help with.