Category Archives: Uncategorized

Elementary Wallpaper

Last year I had some students resetting the desktop wallpaper on some of the library computers. I don’t really mind that, as long as they are getting their work done before they start messing around with the wallpaper. However, there are a couple issues here. The first is copyright. Did they get permission from the artist or photographer? Of course not! The second issue is a little different. They had taken a picture of a student from our own school website and turned it into a desktop wallpaper. To be honest, it was a little creepy. We discussed that in class but that was last year and this year I decided to tackle the issue in a different way.

Our tech support often sends out links to things she thinks we can use in the classroom and one day she sent out a link to a blog post with the perfect solution. iLearn Technology is a fantastic blog. In it Kelly Tenkely provides information about ways to integrate various web 2.0 tools into the classroom. The post that caught my eye was the one about Bomomo. In this post she specifically mentions that here we can “allow students to create their own desktop images for classroom computers.” I didn’t read any further and went right to the site.


My modern art


I am one of the least artistic people in the world. However, even I can make a cool looking picture on Bomomo. I was instantly hooked and knew my students, whether they were accomplished artists or not, would enjoy this site. I showed them how to make their artwork the desktop image and many asked if they could do this at home. You can see their work in the art gallery on the Harambee Library Wiki.

Now I need to address the issue of copyright. We’ll work on that next quarter.

Don’t Pass Up the Opportunity

Welcome to any and all visitors from the 2011 Teaching and Technology Institute. I am glad to see that so many are taking advantage of this opportunity to learn more about technology integration into the classroom and hope you come away from today’s seminars with a host of new ideas floating around in your minds. Even if you take only one of those ideas back into your classroom, the time spent here will be well worth it.

I started this blog several years ago as the result of an assignment in the E2T2 class I was taking. If you go back and look at some of the earlier posts you’ll see that while I used technology myself, I didn’t use it so much in my instruction, and there was so much I didn’t know how to do. I fumbled through figuring out how to put a picture on my blog and how to size them or arrange them in the post. You can see how I tried things with my classes that were sometimes wonderful successes, other times failures, and more often than not, a mix of the two. However, no matter what I’ve done to integrate technology both into the classroom and into my own teacher prep toolbox, it has all been a success for my students.

The E2T2 classes I took changed not only the way I taught but even my view on what I should actually be teaching. I feel very strongly that my students are leaving elementary school better prepared to face middle school and life beyond because I was willing to take advantage of an opportunity to stretch beyond my own technology fears. Don’t pass up any opportunity to do some of this scary stuff. You will not regret it.

Prep Teacher Collaboration

For the first time since I became a media specialist, I am a prep provider, not for all grades, just for 4th and 5th grades. This quarter I was fortunate to be able to collaborate with the Community Cultures prep teacher who was using folktales to teach 4th and 5th grade students a variety of skills. The project we put together required students to complete the following:

  • Check out a folktale book and read it
  • Find out what country, continent, and hemispheres the story came from
  • Tell about the main character and setting
  • Record bibliographic information
  • Retell the story

This project tied into some of the regular classroom activities for 5th graders who were also studying characterization. Unfortunately we were only able to meet with one of the 4th grade teachers to discuss connections.

There are many connections to media literacy skills. We started out the quarter looking at the ten basic Dewey Decimal categories. Students found the Dewey number, 398.2, and browsed the shelves for a story they liked. They used the book itself to find the country of origin then used an atlas to find the continent and hemispheres. I had noticed the year before that students did not know how to find and record bibliographic data so this was good practice for them.

The Community Cultures teacher I worked with wanted to have some sort of showcase at the end of every quarter. We decided that VoiceThread would be a good way to showcase students retelling their folktales. This would expose students to a technological process, which is one of my goals to help my students be better prepared for any activities that the classroom teachers would plan.

The last week of the quarter starts tomorrow and students are still finishing up the project. My next post will take a look at what worked and what didn’t.

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.

Some Days are Like That

Some days it just seems like nothing goes like you plan.  Today I needed a sub since I had a half-day meeting.  Unfortunately, my media assistant was also absent so we had two substitutes running the library.  It’s ironic that so many people think that “all you have to do is check out books” but then subs have so much trouble.

When I got to the meeting no one else was there, even though I was already late.  Now I began to think that I had the wrong day and was wondering how I should spend that time.  One person had forgotten (fortunately they had arranged for a sub) and another arrived late so we were able to meet with a smaller than expected group.

I love GoogleDocs but copying and pasting can be a problem.  It seemed like we spent a lot of time fussing with format.  I’m a detail person so I can understand the desire to make it look right.  Maybe we need more people on this committee who are not so detail oriented.  At least we did end up with a draft document we could use.

In the middle of the meeting my tech person came in to get a password from me.  One of the subs had shut down circulation.  That was just while checking out to individual students, no classes had arrived yet.  That made me wonder what I’d find when I got back.

Fortunately, I got back to the media center in time to help with the class that was there.  I rushed to check in a couple boxes of books, check out the class, and try to get ready for the next two classes.  Just when I thought I was on top of things and could go to the bathroom, my next class arrived three minutes early.  By the time my last class arrived I’d misplaced my lessonplans.

Finally I was able to take a break and eat lunch at 3:00.  On the way back to the library I was button-holed by a teacher who needed to talk through an issue involving a book and a couple parental opinions.  I ran outside in time to deal with the end-of-the-day bus stress (missing person=more stress).

It wasn’t a disaster compared to most days but it wasn’t all that much fun either.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a little calmer.

The Wiki Way

I now have four wikis.  Why I can’t just do one thing at a time is beyond me.  Three of them are professional, and one is personal.  When I first started looking at these online tools I wasn’t sure how to use them in the classroom.  As I use them personally I become more proficient and therefore more comfortable with the thought of teaching them in the classroom.  Maybe, if teachers had time, this would be a good way to explore.

The first one I got involved with was on Wetpaint.  It was my first real introduction to wikis and it was started by my friend, colleague, and office mate, “haretek“.  The Harambee Tech Tips is a private site where we try to help teachers in our school use the technology available.  I think it’s really helpful.  Hopefully, as more teachers integrate technology into their lessons they will find this wiki useful.

The next two professional wikis were set up on the same day.  In June I will be a presenter in a workshop at Hamline University.  I’m still a little unsure as to what I’ll do but my original thought was to show how delicious and blogging could be tapped for personal professional development.  I thought that if I had a wiki it would be a place for participants to return to when they were home trying to remember what they’d learned after experiencing a day full of mind blowing ideas.  Blogging Educators is my least developed wiki since I haven’t had time to work on the presentation.  For this wiki and the next one I used wikispaces.

I’m very excited about the Harambee Library wiki.  I have 120 fourth and fifth grade students who will be posting book reviews this quarter.  This gives me a chance to teach students more processes so they will be ready for classroom teachers who start blogs or wikis.  More information on my hopes, plans, and lessons for the use of this wiki will follow.

And finally, my personal wiki, ghostlibrarian’s wiki that I set up on zoho.  Why set up a personal wiki?  In an effort to be more healthy by controling my weight and eating habits, I signed up on a site called  They have a lot of good information, exercise plans, a lot of different meal plans, etc.  My biggest complaint is that you can’t search the meal list when changing a menu item.  You have to browse through the list which is organized alphabetically by title.  On my wiki I can post my meal plans for the week in an abbreviated form.  I can link to recipes I want to use or copy/paste them into the wiki.  Those recipes are then indexed and I can easily search them.  I’m sure no one else is interested in my recipes and plans so I made it private.

Using a wiki as a meal planner is a long way from the classroom applications that I’ve been exploring but it gives me the opportunity to become more adept at using an online resource.  If teachers can personalize web applications, I believe that they will more readily find ways to integrate them into the classroom.

That’s my Wiki Way, what’s yours?  How many wikis do you have and how are you using them, professionally or personally?

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.

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.