Archive | March, 2011

Halfway through Spring Break, halfway around the world.

27 Mar

The blog has been slow lately, and by slow I mean non-existent. I’m in the middle of a vacation in Switzerland and Northern Ireland so the time I’ve spent with my computer has been minimal. I haven’t even read a book! But I am incredibly excited about the books over here. There are so many that we still have in hardcover that I can get here in paperback already (like The Help or Room). Forget the clothes, there may only be books coming back in my suitcase.

Our adopted dog for the time being.

Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Visiting friends in Switzerland.

One more week of holidays and then it will be back to the real world. Books, blogging and home.

 

Spring in the library

11 Mar

I figured that since I’m enjoying early spring flowers in my garden so much, we should have some to enjoy in the library as well. At Christmas we tried growing an amaryllis flower but all we got were some great amaryllis leaves. This time we got flowers that were already blooming. It was a much safer bet!

Outside.

Inside.

It’s almost the same.

Why can’t a library be fun?

11 Mar

The other day I (literally) woke up thinking about the next plan for the library window display. I want it to be fun. I want students to care. I want to get students into the library.

So I will bribe them with candy.

We have put up a Puzzle It Out display. There are 5 different puzzles and the students have one week to figure them out. On Wednesday next week any student who can tell me the answer to the question of my choice will get a 5 cent candy (Costco, here I come!). I’m interested to see how many kids we get in. I will keep you posted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QR Codes

10 Mar

Hmmm… this is what is percolating in my brain right now – QR codes. How can I take advantage of them in a realistic and sustainable way? Thinking, thinking, thinking. This video has some great ideas!

I’m sure I will wake up tomorrow with a few ideas of my own.

Wiki Me!

8 Mar

It’s like Will Richardson (2010) sneaked inside my head and is reading my mind! I laughed out loud when I read, “Now, I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of ‘Well, I can skip this chapter, ’cause this anyone-can-do-anything wiki thing will never work in my school.'” (p56). That was exactly what I was thinking! But he promised me that wikis are “amazing and versatile”, so, in my brain (which he can read anyways so we apparently we can communicate like this), I said, “Fine. Show me what you’ve got.”

My Wikipedia background is not extensive. I use the site to as a starting point to learn about topics that I have little or no knowledge about. The PSA that I work for has a wiki but I can’t stand using it because I feel that it is too messy for me to even look at. Other than that, I have little to do with wikis.

I tried searching for wikis in education and I ran into many of the same issues that I have had in the past – they are messy, messy, messy! To solve my problem and try to see the potential that Richardson (2010) promised to me, I defaulted to one of my personal favourite lists of teacher-created Web 2.0 materials – the Edublog Award List. One of the award categories last year was the Best Educational Wikis.

When I found Celebr8UandMeDigitally I finally saw the fabulous collaboration that Richardson swore I could experience. This wiki is a collection of student work across countries that explains how students across the world celebrate different holidays in their homeland. What a great idea! The students have submitted their work using Glogster, AnimateMe, GoAnimate, Vocaroo, YouTube, Wallwisher and Toondoo. Being a blogger who is sometimes frustrated by trying to ensure that every program I use is compatible with my blog, the freedom to share work created with so many different programs is like a breath of fresh air. This proves to me that wikis are something to seriously consider to encourage the inclusion of multiple intelligences in technology projects. Visual learners may choose to use Glogster, while kinesthetic learners may act out the holiday in a YouTube video. Auditory or musical learners could create a radio program or song to upload as an audio file. I love that this is a Web 2.0 tool that allows for all the different learning styles!

To learn how to use a wiki in teaching I used the wiki Technology4Kids (Terrell, 2010) as a resource. As an overview of setting up, maintaining, editing and using a wiki in education, I cannot recommend this resource enough. It is a perfect starting place for teachers who are looking for information about wikis in the classroom.

Finally, after a lot of reading, I was ready. I created my own wiki at aarneilllearning.wikispaces.com. Watching their Wiki Tour videos helped me learn a little bit about how to use my brand new wiki, but, of course, I actually learned far more from playing with my new wiki.

Since I’m not in a classroom right now and I want my wiki to be something that is actually beneficial, I decided to use the wiki as a platform to share some of the classroom resources that I have created. I’ve had some of these published in our PSA publication but I don’t necessarily want to put all of my hard work out on the internet for everyone to use. With an educational wiki not sharing my work with the world isn’t a problem since only people that I have invited can view and post on my wiki.

I think that the privacy of an educational wiki is one of the things that makes it a great Web 2.0 tool for the classroom! With a blog, once someone has the URL they are able to access it and view the work that is posted there. With an educational wiki, users need to be invited and login each time they want to view it and this could help to minimize privacy concerns.

One thing that I found easy to do with my wiki was delete things (oops!). This wasn`t necessarily a good thing as many of the items that I deleted should not have been. Apparently, my learning curve for using the wiki controls without deleting items is not steep because this happened over and over again. Thankfully, with a class wiki, the wiki controls allow the wiki page to be restored to an older form and deleted items magically reappear. As the moderator of a wiki, you can be alerted to changes and keep an eye on everything that is added (…or deleted) (Crane, 2009).  Richardson (2010) points out the importance of giving some of the moderator control and management to students as increased control is correlated with increased responsibility and ownership of a wiki’s contents. While a teacher may initially want to hold most of the control, as a wiki progresses control could slowly be given to the students. This is not unlike the way things naturally progress  throughout the year in a classroom anyways. Our goal is to always teach a skill, have the students practice the skill with our assistance, and then learn to use the skill themselves.

My favourite inspirational collection of ideas for wiki use is the teacher collaboration document titled 17 Interesting Ways to Use a Wiki in the Classroom. It had so many ideas that it got my mind spinning!. I could see myself using wikis as a way to show off student work as a class, create student learning portfolios, or share teaching techniques among the staff (Barrett, n.d.).

As with all Web 2.0 tools, one of the most important things is to continue to use a wiki in new and creative ways over an extended period of time. As Dossiers technopédagogiques (2005) outlines in their list of key wiki guidelines for teachers, there are ways to begin  and finish using a wiki.

“How to begin

  • Begin with a period of open use (i.e. a sandbox).
  • Use introductory activities (e.g. “who’s who”, movie reviews) and other not-required-but-useful activities to convince students of the utility of the exercise by generating discussions.
  • Get students to post questions and requests for other students to answer; people are happy to help when someone actually seems to want the help.
  • Plan what will be covered in future class meetings.

Where to end

  • Don’t.”

References

Barrett, T. (n.d.). 17 interesting ways to use wikis in the classroom. Retrieved on March 3, 2011 from https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_164hj4tw6gf.

Crane, B. E. (2009). Using Web 2.0 Tools in the K-12 Classroom. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc.

Dossiers technopédagogiques. (2005). Pedagogical potential. Retrieved on February 29, 2011 from http://www.profetic.org/dossiers/article.php3?id_article=970

Edublog. (2011). Celebrating blogging and social media in education: The Edublog 2010 awards. Retrieved on February 27, 2011 from http://edublogawards.com/.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Terrell, S. (2010). Technology4kids: Wikis. Retrieved on February 27, 2011 from http://technology4kids.pbworks.com/w/page/24645238/Wikis.


Spring has sprung

6 Mar

It has been a beautiful weekend around here and the promise of spring has made my garden start to grow. So far it is only mini irises and crocuses but it is still wonderful. I know this has nothing to do with the library but we all need our passions outside of work.

And there is still the promise of great things to come…

Where is my motivation?

5 Mar

I am currently enrolled in a Web 2.0 course and it is intense and tiring and exciting. I spend waaaaay too much time on my computer and waaaaay too little time reading, quilting and napping. Today my husband is away all day playing rugby so I am going to spend the time powering through a bunch of research for my course.

Of course this means that I’m already thinking about hopping on my bike or cleaning the kitchen or checking out what’s new on Facebook (probably nothing since I just checked a little bit ago). I am doing everything I can to keep myself anchored to the couch and my computer.

Lately, some of the sites that I read have been buzzing about the Pomodoro technique. It is an old technique but it is new to me. The basic premise is that you work for 25 minutes, record what you have done and take a 5 minute break. After 4 rounds of this you get a longer 20 minute break. So I’ve started to use http://www.focusboosterapp.com/live. It simply is a 25 minute timer on your computer. If it works for me, I will download the desktop version for my computer. It is nice to be able to look at the timer and know that there is a break coming (even though it may be 24 minutes and 37 seconds away).

I actually think that I was on to this technique when I was little and had to practice piano. I would put a pile of jellybeans on the side of the piano and every time I could make it to the end of a line without making a mistake I would pop a jellybean. It is a good thing that I wasn’t awesome at piano or I may have ended up obese practicing every day for almost an hour. How many people can say “I’m fat because I play piano too much” – not many, I’m sure.

So, on my next break, I will spend some time hurting my brain playing Interlocked, an addictive online puzzle. You should check it out on your next break!