Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thing #23 - Summarizing My Thoughts

Sooo, the online survey is not responding; I'll go back to it tomorrow.
I finished - I can't believe it; it's been quite a ride and I look forward to continuing to hone my very remedial skills; on to better and smoother products!
My thoughts:
1. My favorite discovery - that I can actually do this and that at least one "thing" (podcasting) is something that my college aged daughter can't do! Score one for mom!!
2. Lifelong learning goals - What's not to continue? So much of this can be used personally and professionally, and think what new tools are coming along.
3. Unexpected outcomes - how easy some of these things are to use and, on the other hand, how important it is to write clear diections when explaining how to complete an activity ( I mean some of the vendors, not the 23 Things)
4. Improvement - maybe take a look at the 23 Things; some seem more geared toward library specialists than teachers; also assume that many people know nothing about these items; some of the directions seemed to assume some previous knowledge
5. Participation - I would consider another discovery program; it just depends on the topics; it's a great way to work at your own speed.
6. 23 Things is fun, thought provoking, frustrating, scary, but one of the best activities I've completed in a long time - all of those adjectives are what learning is all about - and the outcome is worth it.

I'm off to comment and start thinking about all of the places this can be used in schools.

Thing #21 Podcasts/Vidcasts

After much confusion, and several tries with the internal and an external microphone - here it is - my first podcast. Warning - they are vacation pictures! We met our daughter who had been in summer school at the University of Cadiz, then had ten wonderful days in the south of Spain. I hope it works, and I haven't given up on downloading YouTube, but it will have to wait, as some other things have crowded in on it. With more practice, this could be lots of fun for kids - and teachers, too!

I hope you enjoy Postcards from Spain.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thing #22 - Nings

I know I'm doing things out of order. After looking at Things #21, 22, I realized I don't have time to complete 21 before leaving on vacation - so it'll be done when I get back; maybe I'll bore everyone with vacation pictures on the podcast!
Nings were interesting; I spent most of my time on the Teacher Ning. There are lots of people who apparently spend lots of time on the computer! I think it could be a help when looking for lesson ideas or asking a question of the world "at large". I also think a Ning could be set up for a class or grade level. I'm not sure how much time I'd spend on an official site like Teacher Ning - I'm usually so far behind that I don't don't have too much time for blogging, etc. It would certainly be one of the tools I use, but there are a number of ways classes/kids/teachers can communicate as groups, so I'd pick the best one for whatever I was doing. I do see that it might work as a Facebook type of thing, but more specifically.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thing #20 - Adding Videos

Well, I'm giving up on this one. I've just spent two hours on a Saturday morning trying to upload videos from You Tube and Teacher Tube to my blog with no success, and they were two really good ones. I've copied down then names and if anyone can help me do this, I'll edit this post and add them. I need to move on to other things - I can't sit here all day on a Saturday - the rest of my life calls. This could be such a great resource for teachers and students, but at this point it's not working. I hope others are more successful. I'll try again at another point. Neither video would load. I've printed out the directions, copied, pasted, with no results. Frustrated hardly describes this!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thing #19 - Web Awards

I had scanned ahead on the 23 Things list a little bit, so I have been using one of the award sites on a personal level to help plan our vacation to Spain. I used the "travel" entry on the list, then found "gusto" - a great site for reviews of places by people who have recently been there. I even found a picture and a review of the hotel where we'll be staying in Seville; it was a bit older, but still gave us a good idea of the hotel. There are no comments on Cadiz, where we pick up our daughter and begin our trip, but who knows, we may the first to add a review for that city! The comments on Gibraltar and Marbella have been quite helpful in planning what we want to see/do and how to manage it. We plan to explore this site in the future.

Thing #18 - Productivity Tools

Open Office was very interesting and might be a good option. I liked it better than Google Docs. The advantage I see to these tools is that they might be a little easier than Microsoft, and they don't expire. The disadvantage is that it's almost assumed that everyone uses Microsoft, so you have to change over to another suite from what's installed on your computer. This one bears consideration; I think I need to play with Open Office more before I decide.

Thing #17 - Rollyo

This was not as easy as I first thought. I tried using it to organize information about our upcoming vacation, but I supposed I didn't understand all of the details -- I'll go back and try again. It did, however, give me lots of sites in a hurry. I think with practice, it could save time and be used by others in a group to quickly access information. On this one, I think the frustration is me, not the site. I'm not giving up. Here's my very short Rollyo creation; my next try will be to expand it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thing #16 - Wikis

Loved this! Wikis could be very useful in a classroom. Group projects could take on a whole new look, and class discussions/research could be lots of fun with this. I still need to work with it, but see lots of potential. The tutorials were very helpful; now it's up to me to have fun. I enjoyed adding a comment to the 23 Things sandbox.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thing #15

Fascinating insights on the library of the future. Will it even be called a library? Will there even be a building called a library? Our revamped Houston Public Library is certainly moving toward the new idea of a library, but I think there will be amazing changes in the physical aspect of them in the very near future.
The thought that creating large collections of books will be almost unnecessary is certainly an idea that will require some thought for one who loves libraries with all of that wonderful reading material that can be held in my hand - I do love the actual page turning. However, if we want students to have the best and most current information, a book published in 1995 that sits on a library shelf is hardly the best material available. What does Library 2.0 mean for all of us? A huge new world of infomation and as one of the essays said, "conversations". Then thinking ahead to the Library 3.0 --- endless opporutnities!

Thing #14 Technorati

Very interesting and overwhelming! I'm amazed at the number of people who must stay glued to their screens on a regular basis! I must have done something wrong - I did claim my blog and tried to paste into this one, but I can't see it; oh well, back to the drawing board (electronic, of course). Technorati is fascinating - what a way to find out what people think/know about almost any subject; it seems like a great way to find out what "real people" think/know, but I also see how it could really occupy loads of time. I do think it could be a great tool for kids and teachers.

Thing #13-Social Bookmarking

I liked the tutorials for all three social bookmarking sites. These have lots of potential for research, and as mentioned on the site, for teachers looking for resources. I think it could be a great tool for organizing and keeping up with almost any type of informtation. After giving it a try, it is a little intimidating at first, but, I think with practice, I'll be more comfortable using it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thing #12 - Communicating

It's fun to "talk" to others who are on this same technology journey. I found it interesting, and a little comforting, that I wasn't the only one who had difficulty with Syndica8. Reading other's comments helps me as I move through the 23 Things. I look forward to people commenting on my postings - it will improve my skills!
For my "outside the 23 Things" blogs, I went to a friend's blog who is on a trip, but writing a blog as she goes; her experiences are outstanding. My other comment was strictly for fun - a comment on a Texas Monthly blog -- about BBQ no less!

Thing #11

It was fairly easy to use Library Thing, and while it's a good way to share with others, much like an online bookclub, I probably won't use it except to check out new books or get ideas. I'd rather meet with others face to face to discuss books over coffee or a Coke, or spend the time reading!

Thing #10

I used Comic Strip Generator for this one; this is an example of a picture/poster that could be used with mythology. It was easy to use and there are so many cartoon, that you could create an entire series for almost any subject.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thing #9 - Adding RSS Feeds

RSS feeds will take some time for me - I like this tool, but am not good at it yet! I didn't see any difference between looking for the icon on a site I read regularly and checking sources such as the ones listed. Syndic8 was the most confusing of the ones listed; Google and Topix were the easiest fo me to use. Wetpaint seems like a great site for teachers; I plan to go back to it when I have more time; check Topix Offbeat for the weird and wacky. The good news is this really does open the world to anyone and could be a great resource for students; the bad news is, it can, as the narrator of the video in Thing #8 said, be addicitve. Everyone - students included - should look, read, then move on to something else; my concern is that people can find themselves spending too much time in front of the screen.

Thing #8 - RSS

I like the ability of an RSS to organize websites/blogs that I use regularly - it does save time. Personally I could use it to check family/work related sites to check informtation quickly, then move on to something else besides sitting in front of the computer! For students, this could be a great research tool - kids could organize their research and share it easily; it's a good way to build a body of sources - a little like electronic note cards. This can be a great resource for anyone. I need to continue working on my RSS to refine/expand it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thing #7

A mishmash of information at this point. I loved the Google tools - I've already used Google Earth numerous times, and was slightly familiar with Google calendar; what a great tool to keep any group organized and informed. I like the Google Notebook and think that could have real value for students. I plan to practice with it more to become more comfortable using it. I've been asked to post the mosaic I made, and here it is! It worked! I just browsed some photos we finally took out of the camera of our son; he doesn't yet know he's a blog star! I was also asked about the flute in my avatar. Music is my "other life." My primary instrument is piano, but I played flute/piccolo all the way through college marching band/concert, met my husband in college band (UT) and both kids have been/are part of their college marching/concert bands (one TTU, one UT), so we're all involved in music. Yes, I still play - but I play more keyboard (piano/organ) than flute. I'd like to go back to serious music study - either keyboard or flute - and have that on my agenda, maybe even starting this fall!! I miss the discipline of practice.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things #5,6

Flickr was a little confusing at first - and I did have trouble creating my mosaic and moving the pcitures where I wanted them, but what a great way to organize pictures! With more practice, this should be fun. I'm even encouraging my husband, the engineer who always takes pictures of projects, to use this in discussions/presentations in his work. And - my own kids are truly impressed that Mom's making all of this work! Onward and upward!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

After reading the section of the 23 Things... labele 7 1/2 Habits..., we're asked to comment on the easiest and the most difficult of the habits for us personally. For me, the easiest is to begin with the end in mind. I usually jump to the finished product, then work backwards and plan the steps to get to the end I want. The most difficult for me is to view problems as challenges rather than failures. I typically want everything to work the first time, and when a project doesn't, I become frustrated and generally have to walk away from it, then return after I've had time to mentally regroup. I keep working on that - and try to keep "the end" in mind - not just the steps involved to achieve it.
Well, I think I've done it - created a blog. After a few false starts, interruptions by phone calls, and general confusion, here it is. I think this will be fun, and I can see how it could be a great tool for the classroom - which is the original purpose of this activity. However, I also think I can have fun with it sending my own kids and friends notes and thoughts about life in general. Let's see how it goes.