Monthly Archives: October 2008

Messy Learning

I’m an organized person.  That’s not to say that everything in my life is neat and tidy but librarians have to have a good sense of organization in order to provide access to the resources available in the library.  A lot of the stuff that we are talking about is messy.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I need to figure out how it’s going to work for me and for my students.  If we have things that we know they need to learn, standards say, then I can go from that starting point and work around that.  But if I have no base or starting point it’s very easy to get off-track.  We’ve all had teachers who we tried to get off-topic.  My concern is that I can be too easily distracted by Web 2.0 bells and whistles and loose site of the content objectives of the lesson.  One of the difficulties of information literacy instruction is that there is no curriculum.  What are the standards I should use for my base?  How am I going to find the time to develop my curriculum?  How can I embed this curriculum into the classroom curriculum since this is not a topic that can be effectively taught separate from the classroom?

Advertising Gimmicks

I have been collaborating with the Community Cultures teacher.  On Wednesdays we team-teach a session on Media Awareness.  The objective is for students to be more aware of the messages that they see around them.  So far this quarter we covered fact vs. opinion, the difference between celebrities and heroes, point of view, etc.  They looked at commercials for Froot Loops then did a blind taste test of Froot Loops and 2 similar generic cereals.

In our lesson this week we checked out a laptop cart with 24 computers.  With each class we discussed as a group different kinds of gimmicks companies use to sell products.  Then students were sent to the computers to play an online game that lets them decide what gimmicks they should use to sell the fictional Co-Co Crunch cereal.  This game is available on a Canadian site called Media Awareness Network.  The game can be found by clicking on “For Teachers”.  The title of the lesson for this activity is Co-Co’s Adversmarts.  We did this activity with students in grades k-5.

Evalutation:  This was the first time this year, other than MAP testing, that most of the students had used the computers.  In fact, when the first class came into the room they thought they were going to take a test!  It was a good thing there were two of us running the class because we were kept busy helping students with various technical issues.  There were only a couple things that were big problems (one computer made a very loud noise when it was closed without shutting down) so the problems were mostly minor but they kept us busy.  The kindergarten students and even some of the older students did not know how to do ctrl-alt-delete.  When students were done they could go back and do it again making different choices but they didn’t know how to get back.  These are easy to deal with but really keeps you moving.  It would have been a difficult class to teach with just one teacher.

Alphabetizing lesson plan

I have a variety of different worksheets that students have done in the past.  When they work on these they generally enjoy it because they get to choose which one(s) they want to do.  This time I wondered if there was something else that I could do.  I decided we would do our alphabetizing on the computers in the library.  On my website I have a page called K-1 Computer Links.  I used the links in the Alphabet column for students in grades 1-3.  They enjoyed the activity and teachers who walked through the library were interested in what was going on.

Evaluation:  The students had fun and it was good practice.  However, by the time I was done explaining what we were going to do they didn’t have a whole lot of time to do it.  Students had to pair up at desktop computers because we don’t have enough for each one to have their own.  One advantage to worksheets is that you have an assesment in hand.  I was able to do an informal assessment and noticed that some students just guessed instead of actually thinking about the correct answers.

The Gliffy thing

I thought it was cool to see the Gliffy images in a couple blogs but it’s not something I knew how to do so I thought I’d experiment.  The more transparent this kind of thing is the easier it is for those of us who are not techies.  I noticed that Gliffy has a button that says, “Blog this Diagram”.  What could be simpler?  Now let’s see if it works.

Well the first time it didn’t work.  I thought I needed to copy the code and paste it here but that just showed the code not the diagram.

Second try.  That didn’t work either.

Third try.  That didn’t work either.  Do I have to be working in HTML?  Let’s try that I guess.

Fourth try. Yay it worked but it’s way too big. I wonder how I make it smaller. I’ll look at those other links and see if I can figure it out.

Fifth try. Won’t this just show up as a link not actually be embedded? Well, let’s see.
Yup, that’s what it does.

Sixth try. Let’s try the code again but not all of it. — That didn’t work.

Seventh, eighth and ninth try. What if I change the code a little bit?
That gave me the little red X that shows that there’s a picture there but no one can see it.

Tenth try. I guess I don’t know enough to embed the diagram. Here’s the Gliffy diagram

This makes me sad. What could be simpler? Something that is probably very simple alludes me so I feel pretty stupid. There’s a huge temptation to just delete this post and pretend that it never happened. Hmm, I wonder if I should put this one in the rant category too.

Edit — Oh look I did it.  I guess you have to be stubborn to do technology.

Getting started

I am amazed at how frustrating this has been.  Signing up was the easy part.  Sometimes I can be fairly methodical so I thought I’d just go down through the welcome post and try all the things suggested. 

I got stuck right at the beginning trying to upload pictures for the two different avatars.  Now I’ve uploaded pictures to other sites and thought I knew how it was done.  Apparently I did not.  I was unable to crop the picture I wanted to use because the crop portion didn’t surround the picture.  It showed up way at the top of the page and didn’t crop anything.  I tried it several times with different sized pictures.  I looked around for help, such as size suggestions.  I didn’t find anything so finally in frustration I uploaded small anime avatars.  Those will be my icons until I can get more information.  Even though I did manage to get two different avatars uploaded I don’t see the user one anywhere on my page.

It took me another evening trying to figure out the difference between pages and categories.  I thought I wanted a page for rants like this one.  I don’t really want my rants to show up on my main page so I thought it should be a separate page.  But it looks like a page is like one thread that you keep adding comments to.  I didn’t think that’s what I had in mind so I created a category for rants.  However, it looks like this post shows up in rants AND on my main page, which is what I did not want.

All of this seems fairly petty but if we are really going to consider this as a viable option for teachers it just seems to me that it should be easier to use.  This is the third evening that I’ve worked on this blog.  Many people do not have the time, energy or interest to spend that much time getting something like this up and running.  I keep coming back to this because I want teachers to use technology.  I want them to be comfortable so they can help their students be prepared for the future.  All these little problems put up barriers to this dream.

Hello E2T2 class, colleagues, and friends

Here is the real opening post for my blog.  You can ignore the rant, although I’ll be glad to see comments on how to make it appear on the rants category page only and not on this page.  And, of course, comments on the rant itself are also welcome.

When I think about the various Web 2.0 things that we are exploring I get a little excited and a little scared.  Excited because, even though I rant, I have fun doing this.  Scared because I never feel like I really know what I’m doing.  That lack of control can be unnerving.  Do our students feel the same way or are they more comfortable jumping into the digital unknown?  Do other educators look at all this fancy internet stuff with at least a touch of skepticism?  How many are really ready to jump in the pool?

In many ways all this technology “stuff” reminds me of when I was a little girl about four years old.  That’s when we got a tv.  I can remember over the next few years that there were programs that we watched every single week.  That was our technology.  There were problems though.  It was not at all unusual to lose sound, picture or both.  The screen would say that the station was experiencing “technical difficulties, please stand by”.  It was so frustrating because in those days you couldn’t tape a show.  If you missed any part of it you just had to wait until the reruns aired.  These kinds of things seldom happen anymore, at least not for me.  Unfortunately, “technical difficulties” happen in the classroom, or just about anytime, often.  This, I think, is one of the biggest barriers to the integration of technology into classroom curriculum.  If the technology itself runs smoothly I think that all teachers would be much more willing to jump on the technology band wagon.