Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thing #23 - Still "Getting Started"

I'm not going to say "I'm done" because I know I still have a lot to figure out and I need to go back to redo several of my postings once I better understand what I was supposed to be doing. I started this process with "very limited" technological skills and I'm exiting it with "limited" technological skills. Many of the things were too hard for me to figure out on my own which led to high levels of frustration for me. Several of them required hours of exploration time that were not readily available to me when I'm also teaching full-time during the day. It would have been better if I had done this over the summer months when I would have had more time and been less stressed when attempting to comprehend technologies new to me. Here are my responses to the questions posed in Thing #23:

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
Oddly enough, I think the things I had the most difficulty with are the ones I found most interesting and potentially useful. They include TeacherTube, Podcasts, Photo Stories and Image Generator. I am definately going to keep trying until I master them because I know they will add a lot to my effectiveness as a teacher/librarian.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I realize that I need to update my technology skills to remain competitive and relevant to students in this ever-changing world. Adding these 23 Things to my personal tool kit will make me more effective and efficient as a teacher and/or librarian.
3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
This program contained so many new concepts that I had never even heard of before. I was very impressed by the high level of computer literacy of the majority of my classmates. Unfortunately, that only made me feel all the more ignorant and inadequate.
4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
I think these 23 Things would make a great in-service training for all teachers if it could be spread out over an entire school year to allow more time to comprehend, practice and master/apply each thing before moving on to the next thing.
5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
I think I need to retake this first one before I attempt any others. But once I master 23 Things, I'll definately be back for more!
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?
Challenging but necessary!

Thing #22 - Nings

Already I like the part where it says "by appealing to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills." The posts on Texas School Librarian Ning and the Ning for Teachers seemed quite trivial to me and did not appear worthwhile. The Ning for Teachers had a promising tab for posting lesson plan ideas, but when I searched for 2nd grade lessons, there was only one lesson idea that had any potential. The format of the Teacher Librarian Ning looked like it could be worthwhile. Looking in the Elementary School Librarians Group, it appeared librarians were raising challenging questions and asking for feedback/advice from other experienced librarians (i.e. flexible vs. fixed scheduling). As long as reasonable responses are given, this would be the Ning I'd join over the other two.

Thing #21 - Podcasts and Audio Books

Well,mark me down for another failure. I thought I had downloaded PhotoStory and I printed out the instructions for "Create your first photo story", but now I can't even find the "Photo Story 3 for Windows" file on my computer. Based on my review of the background information on Podcasts and Photo Story, and in reading other teachers' postings on the subject, I can see that students would love using this technology (if only their teacher can figure out how to do it first!). These applications allow for creativity in student work and they complement diverse audio and visual learning styles. I will figure this out once I find someone to coach me through it and then I will come back and update these last lousy postings.

Thing #20 - YouTube and TeacherTube

I give up! I have explored both YouTube and TeacherTube and found lots of educational and entertaining videos but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to download them to my blog. The instructions given are like greek to me - nothing I have tried works. All I can do is copy and paste their URL's below. I think I need a private tutor to walk me through the process step-by-step so I can see it and feel it in action. Are there any volunteers out there??

p.s. As it turns out, my post would not even accept the urls I had pasted here so I had to delete them just to post this - arghhh!!!

Thing #19 - Web 2.0 Awards

I had a lot of fun looking through the videos on DailyMotion. I found a really cute one called "King Kong Suede" that has miniature downtown scene made out of cardboard boxes and toy cars and "King Kong" is a black cat that is walking through the city knocking over buildings and being shot at by toy soldiers. I have been trying to figure out how to copy it over to my blog for over an hour, obviously without success. Below is the link to it. That's the best I can do at this point. This process in not intuitive to me and I have no teenagers living with me to walk me through it. There were many videos that could stimulate student learning and creativity if they were to create their own videos on curriculum-related subjects (not King Kong - that one was just amusing to me!).

Thing #18 - Online Productivity Tools

After reading all about OpenOffice, I was very impressed and interested in trying it out. Unfortunately, after trying two times and tieing up my computer for hours on end, I still can't seem to get it to download properly. I'll try to find somebody who knows more about computers than I (i.e. anyone else on this planet)and keep trying. For the record, the features I found appealing include the fact that OpenOffice works off of both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac platforms, you can transfer existing files from Microsoft Office with little problem, it offers a total package of programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases, and it's free, so our students can take it home and work on projects from their own computers without having to invest money for licensing fees. I still don't understand how OpenOffice can offer all this for free. If I were Microsoft, I'd be looking over my shoulder right now!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thing # 17 - Wiki Sandbox

I posted my comment to the sandbox without any problem (maybe I'm finally getting the hang of all this!!). It was reassuring to read all the other comments that shared my feelings of being overwhelmed by so many new concepts. The PB Wiki Tours and Tips videos helped further clarifiy some wiki features for me. As I stated in my Post #16, I can see using wikis in my class, or as a librarian, to encourage an open sharing of ideas and information - whether it's with students or fellow teachers.