Monthly Archives: October 2009

Locked OUT

Even though I love it, I haven’t been on Twitter  much lately. There’s only so much multitasking I can do and all the things I’m trying to keep track of are getting the best of me. Maybe I’ve just been distracted by all the other things going on in my life right now.

So, I was amazed to get messages from twitter friends telling me that I was sending out weird spam messages. When I checked I was embarrassed to find that this was in fact the case. I wasn’t sure what to do at first but apparently changing the password works. I changed it twice and thought all was good. Then I got an email from those nice twitter folks warning me that I should change my password. I didn’t remember when I last changed it so now I wasn’t sure whether I still needed to change it or if I was ok.

I logged on successfully, looked at the Direct Messages I had sent and thought that now my account was probably ok. Unfortunately, I opened TweetDeck. Since it still thought I was using the old password I was now locked out of my account. Finally this morning I was able to log into twitter again but when I tried to log out, change the password on Tweetdeck and log in again it didn’t work. At least this time I could get back into my twitter account through the website.

Why am I letting my Twitter frustrations get to me? Deleting the account and starting over was tempting but I didn’t want to lose all the contacts I was following. I haven’t even been using it much in the last few months. Certainly part of the reason is just the hassle and time it has taken. I’m also worried now that if I try to use the twitter app here on Edublogs I’ll run into the same issues and get locked out again. What about my facebook account? Is there some link there I need to change? What’s worse is the concern about that particular password. Is it lost to me now? Should I rethink any other place where I might have used that password?

Why do people do these weird things? It wasn’t for money. The links posted through my account just went back to a twitter page. The only reasons I can think of are to annoy, to show that it can be done, maybe to scare someone. Obviously some people have way too much time on their hands.

Keyboarding

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I had planned on posting this earlier but have been unable to contact the presenter for permission or links to other work so I opted to summarize, leaving out specifics such as timings and a rubric that was presented. If I hear from Dr. Light I will pass on this information in a later post.

Dr. Gina Light presented a session at the recent MEMO conference entitled Keyboarding in Elementary Schools.  She has had considerable experience as a media specialist and has taught keyboarding.  However, she points out that according to Minnesota law keyboarding should be taught by a “Certified K-8 Business Teacher, certified classroom teacher for his/her own class, or a teacher with computer application endorsement.” I didn’t see media specialist anywhere in that list.  A district can get a variance for one year only.  According to Light, about 33 Minnesota districts have variances. Even though media specialists are not on the qualified list of instructors many of us to teach keyboarding. How many schools are ignoring this law?  Probably most of them.

Students need to be able to keyboard every day for about a quarter, specific instruction starting in 3rd or 4th grade.  Then they can practice the rest of the year using various applications. Teaching keyboarding means that something else has to not be taught.  What should a classroom teacher give up?  This is a decision an administrator has to make but in these days when more and more schools find themselves struggling with AYP the decision to teach keyboarding is easily sidelined.  Even if districts use free online apps, the real cost is time.

I know there’s some debate about the importance of keyboarding but I found Light’s reasons for students to learn keyboarding to be compelling. She points out that students show improvements in behavior, reading/writing skills, overall technology skills, and confidence.  They’re more willing to write because they get to do it on the computer, show more pride in their work, and ultimately enjoy school more. Even if handheld devices become more prevalent in education, some level of keyboarding is surely in order.

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Odds and Ends

Keyboarding post

I wanted to assure everyone that I am in fact working on a post about keyboarding at the elementary level.  However, I am waiting for a response from the original MEMO presenter in order to properly credit her work.  Keyboarding is difficult to fit into the elementary schedule so I wanted to see how others were doing it.  That information will be posted as soon as possible.

Short break

In Minnesota at this time of the year students have a couple days off so teachers can attend the teacher’s union conference. I don’t go. Since I went to the MEMO conference at the beginning of October, I don’t feel the need to go to another one so soon.  I’m busy trying to figure out how to apply the things I already learned.

Website woes

My website, Harambee Elementary School Media Center, is in desperate need of revamping.  I’m really embarrassed to even link to it but this blog is about how I’m experiencing and learning about technology. I enjoyed working on my website and can get caught up in it but now I’m wondering if that’s where I should spend my time.  I do use my site when teaching but finding the time to work on it is challenging. TeacherWeb is NOT a free service.  When I first joined the cost was a mere $25 a year which I paid out of my own pocket. The price has gone up to $39 a year. I guess that’s still pretty reasonable but I know there are free options out there. Free Technology for Teachers, has an excellent post entitled 8 Ways to Build Websites. I highly recommend this blog to any educator interested in exploring education related online options.

Technology plans for the quarter

The quarter is half over and I’m feeling like I haven’t done much with my students. The new interactive whiteboard has been fun and challenging. Students are enjoying it but they haven’t been on the computers yet. I’m collaborating with the Community Cultures teacher and the 4th and 5th grade teachers. I’m planning on using Voicethread for their folktale presentations and just started figuring out how I would do that. I’m really excited about it so look for more information after we start using it.

Meetings

Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent more time in meetings than actual teaching. However, these meetings have been worthwhile. I met with my principal recently. We decided that we should try to meet once a quarter. That gives me a chance to update her on what we’re doing in the library, both from the instructional end of things and the administrative end. Since my clerical support has been cut we are trying to work together to find solutions.

Professional development

Yesterday was a PD day in our district. The first half of the day was spent exploring ways to differentiate. I thought it was time well-spent and hope to incorporate some of the things I learned into my lesson plans. We spent the second half of the day doing some sort of technology training. Those of us who already have interactive whiteboards shared some of the things that we are doing with them. It was really very enlightening. We have some great teachers. Those teachers who did not yet have a new board went to a basic presentation on the boards. I heard that they are very interested and want to use the boards themselves. Hopefully we can share until next year when more will be installed. These teachers also learned how to use the new cameras they received while those with whiteboards learned about more advanced options for the boards.

The Challenge

When I look back over all the things listed here I realize that there are some exciting things happening in my school. In fact, I didn’t even list everything! It’s fun, exciting and very challenging. I need to remember this when I get discouraged. I’ve changed a lot and so has my school. Now we need to see if the abilities of our students reflect those changes in a positive way.

Conference Notes Day 2

Keynote — Anita Beaman and Amy Oberts: Reading 2.0

These two dynamic speakers arrived with a fun presentation that showed how librarians could mix technology and reading in very creative ways. These ides can be found on their Reading 2.0 wiki.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Look for interactive sites that are associated with books.  The example they used was the Elephant and Piggy dance game from Mo Willems’ site.
  • Create screen savers that represent books that students could read.  Instructions for how to do this appear here on the wiki.
  • Put a label in the back of nonfiction books with links to more information.
  • Wordle can be a new way to do a book report.
  • Movie-making isnot as hard as it looks.
  • Bookmark author sites on school library delicious account.

Session 5 — Change from the Radical Center — Presented by Doug Johnson

Doug opined that we can’t usually get much done when we’re polarized.  How do we bridge the gap between two extremes?  He discussed 10 ways to do this.  I’m hoping that his presentation will be uploaded to the ning.  My mind is like a sieve these days.

Session 6 — Keyboarding Issues in the Elementary — Presented by Gina Light

This was a very informative session describing what was required for keyboarding instruction, at what age, who should be instructing, etc.  I’ll be meeting with my principal in about a week and will give this information to her.

Overall Conference Impressions

I enjoyed the conference and, as expected, came away with good ideas that I can use back at school. In general it was a little depressing. The profession in Minnesota appears to have been decimated by recent budget cuts so the number attending was lower than in previous years. It probably didn’t help that it rained the entire time.  Fortunately we were able to get around through the skyway. The most uplifting part for me was seeing friends from grad school and other colleagues I’ve gotten to know. I also made a new friend in the Kahler Grand Hotel elevator. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Conference Notes

I’m not really a huge conference goer.  I should go to more because for there’s seldom much in the way of professional development at inservice days.  I try to get to the MEMO (Minnesota Educational Media Organization) conference that’s offered in the beginning of October every year.  I always take something back that I can use in the classroom and I always come away with something to think about.  It was sad to see that the number of attendees seemed to be lower that previous years.  Minnesota budgets have been hard on media specialists.

Keynote

The keynote speaker was Dr. Scott McLeod (Dangerously Irrelevant) who warned us that he might say things that we didn’t want to hear.  He challenged us to think about 12 questions we should be asking ourselves.

  1. Do I really understand the economic climate?
  2. How do I best support student acquisition of 21st century skills?
  3. Do I really understand how students are using social media?
  4. What did I do this month to support open access initiatives?
  5. What does it mean to be a “book” these days?
  6. What does it mean to be a “library” these days?
  7. Am I modeling for students and staff these new literacies?
  8. Am I teaching appropriate use or empowered use?
  9. What have I done this week to help my leaders?
  10. Do I truly “get it?”
  11. What percentage of my job requires me?
  12. Why am I here?

Not only are the questions thought provoking but we were given time to talk to our neighbors about how we felt.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a keynote that required audience participation.

Session 1 — Thinkfinity Curriculum Resources Overview — Presented by Cara Hagen

I’ve looked briefly at Thinkfinity.org before but thought I needed more information.  I think now that I need to look at it some more.  It has thousands of lesson plans, interactive resources and web links.  But I wonder… are the teachers at my school so locked into curriculum that they can’t use resources like this?

Session 2 — Graphic Novels in the Library and Classroom — Presented by Heidi Hammond

Having taken a children’s lit class from Heidi, I knew that this session would be interesting.  I liked the brief history of comics and graphic novels that she presented and her research.  This is an area I’m quite interested in expanding in my elementary level library.  I’ll be looking for her handouts on the MEMO ning.

Session 3 — Fast & Fun: Lightning Presentations on Library 2.0 Tools & Topics — Presented by Ann Walker Smalley

I haven’t really done much with Image generators because I’m not real artsy but my students might like to do more with this sort of application so I shouldn’t ignore it.  Why have I been ignoring Firefox Add-ons??  Easy Youtube Video downloader looks like it would be really useful.  PLN’s are vitally important.  One of my frustrations when I first started looking at blogs was how to find blogs that would meet my needs.  Now there’s 100 Best Blogs for School Librarians.

Session 4 — Web 2.0: Voice Thread, Screencast-o-matic, Moodle — Presented by Mary Litwinczuk

I haven’t done much with Moodle but I think there are people who really like it.  I’ll definitely go back to Mary’s Moodle course if I have questions about Voice Thread or screencasting.  I’m planning on using Voice Thread for 4th and 5th grade presentations this quarter but wasn’t sure just how to do it.  Now I think I see that it would work.  Very exciting!