Friday, August 21, 2009


This morning I joined a few hundred educators and community members to hear Ron Clark share his adventures about being a teacher. I have seen many of his videos showing him interacting with students and the Matthew Perry, as Ron Clark, TV movie. I was surprised to discover that he was actually quite a soft spoken, quiet man in person. I found it a bit amusing that he was hanging around the juice and coffee area standing alone. I suppose most people did not recognize him or were too shy to say hello. Not me! I went up, introduced myself, and shook his hand the way my daddy taught me to years ago. He was pleasantly conversational and asked about my job at the university. I was impressed by his thoughtful questioning that showed he was interested in hearing what I had to say. This is one very clear reason that Ron Clark is such a successful teacher-he demonstrates through his every day actions that he "walks the talk." It was a good thing I shook his hand because later on, he spoke on this very topic-the importance of teaching children a proper handshake. Learning something as simple as the proper way to shake a person's hand can make all the difference in the way other people perceive you. Too soft a hand shake might indicate a weak personality. Too firm might make others think you are trying too hard to impress. But, in Goldilocks fashion, a "just right" handshake, somewhat firm, but not painful, with fingers clasped over the other person's hand, and deliberate eye contact, sends the message that you are a person to be respected and that you respect the person you are greeting. These are life skills that are so often missing in young adults today. If someone does not teach them, how are they to learn them?

It's late for a Friday, and I am the only one left in the building again, so even though I would like to ramble on about these topics, I won't. One last thing, If you have never read any of Ron Clark's books, then I encourage you to check them out from your local library, or invest in a copy. The stories are hilarious and heart warming. You are sure to find a story that will remind you of a teacher from your past. More importantly, as he describes the qualities of a great teacher, you will see a bit of yourself. Best wishes on a new and successful school year to all educators. Let's make this the best year ever!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trying to score a ticket to the Ron Clark Communities in Schools Event

Bad luck for me. My school as just enough tickets for the regular classroom teachers to attend the 2nd Annual Champions of Children-Communities in Schools event in Corpus Christi. I suppose I am just a lowly certified teacher/librarian with a freaking masters degree in education. I actually own a Ron Clark book. Sounds like bitter grapes, I know, I know. Well, best wishes to those who get to go. I am pretty motivated about the upcoming school year already. I will be collaborating with some fellow elementary librarians who really know their stuff and are just as excited about being the best librarians any school district ever had.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Professional Development days.

Professional development season is here! Two days of dual language instruction under my belt and several more days to go. I look forward to the library refresher. I have been told my teacher tube Texas Bluebonnet Nominees video will be used at the Librarian development day. This will be our school's first year participating in the Bluebonnet voting. I want to make it fun, as well as, memorable for the kids. All suggestions for the best way to run the program are welcome. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

TIME OUT: I want to experiment with Apture

Thing 23: The end of the Yellow Brick Road

Thanks for the memories. I hate for it to end.

Please give specific answers for each question.

  • What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? The ease of RSS feeds really enlightened me, and I fell in love with the way I could take a quick glance at all the sites I follow. I can see who has updated their blogs, who hasn't, which new books have just hit the shelves, and so many more things I wanted to know, but never had time for before.
  • How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? This program was like oxygen to me. I completed my masters degree six months ago which left me in education withdrawal. I love taking classes and learning new and exciting or useful things. I would say that I will miss this discovery learning journey, but in truth, I have no plans to stop exploring the boundaries of technology. I will also work to bring fellow teachers into the fold, so they can see how incredibly easy technology is to incorporate into the learning environment. We have to speak through the varied sources of medium that students today are using and communicating through, lest we lose them.
  • Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? Not sure what you mean by take-a-ways. I am taking a way all the knowledge with me, and will definitely be incorporating about 80% of it. I will probably disable my avatar. It just wasn't me. Many of the tools will help to simplify my technology life and will make accessing the technology I need from any computer much easier than before.
  • What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? Hmmm. You have done a very nice job. There were many times that I had to come back to blog posts to remember how to work a particular tool. The podcast upload was a struggle, until I actually went back and slowly read through the instructions. The reminder tip from VWB was what did the trick for me. I would save my Photostory but then not proceed to finalize the video. Patience, patience, patience makes perfect. Or in my case...a completed project that is passable. (I hope).
  • If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? YES! Please put me on your "she will definitely do it" list.
  • 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? Discovery
  • Now go and comment on some of the other Players' blogs? OK! I will go forth and blogment.

Thing 22: Explore Nings

Nings are great, yet evil time suckers. I actually lost track of time as I explored the librarian nings.
I found the narrowed down and very specific categories were useful for aiding me in finding exactly what I needed to search for among the many posts. I really like the networking opportunities, to be able to connect specifically with people in your field, to compare ideas and suggestions. I, of course, immediately signed up for the librarian nings, and even posted my city pin in the map of Texas School librarians ning.

Thing 21: Find, create, and use Podcasts and Videocasts

I went and got myself in trouble. I became very distracted by all the new and exciting tech tools I have been experimenting with and ended up sidetracked by playing with Apture, creating a new wiki, and adding another blog called Texas Library Club.

On working on my Podcast, I was torn between two book topics for creating my podcast. I finally decided to set up a blog page about Someone Called Eva by Joan M. Wolf and build my podcast around The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Podcasts, videocasts, or booktrailers generate so much excitement for young readers, as well as, grown ups. I like to know why other people think particular books are good and this method really brings it to life.

The Graveyard Book Podcast-by Bookegg

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thing 20 3/7

Happiness is sipping chocolate milk through a straw.

Thing 20: Explore YouTube and TeacherTube



I like motivational messages. They really get me fired up. Here is a short, yet sweet one.

I like to learn new things!

This is how I learned, and had fun, making a Diaper Cake.


I created this one!

Please forgive me if I am not humble here. This is my first Teacher Tube video that I have submitted and I am feeling really good about having created it.
I will be using this to introduce the Texas Bluebonnet Nominees for 2009-2010 in conjunction with my kids-book-club wiki.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Click the above link to hear Suzanne reading an excerpt from chapter 11.

I pulled this clip from Scholastic's web site. I really liked this YA novel and am looking forward to the sequel which will be out September 1st. If you liked the Twilight Saga, you will find The Hunger Games fascinating.

And here is a YouTube video book report someone else created. This is one of the type of projects-video book talks-that I have planned for the upcoming school year.

Thing 19: Exploring Web 2.0 Awards list

In undertaking the "thing 19" discovery experience, I was prepared to depart on a new, and unfamiliar-to-me, technological journey to explore the award winning Web 2.0 sights feeling I would be seeing many futuristic type programs. What a pleasant surprise! I did not feel lost at all. I had seen, or experienced many of these programs.

First, I decided to look at the widgets, where I found this little gem: Online libraries Of course, I next went straight for the wikis. It is no secret that I am a wiki freak, because of the simple fact that they are technologically painless to use. They are practically dummy-proof. After exploring the wiki sites, I decided that my heart still belongs to wikispaces. After all, they take good care of me. If I have a question, they are quick to answer. If I want to learn how to stretch the boundaries of wikis, they are already prepared to show me how through their webinars. I have used my wikis in the past for conference presentations, but this year I will use one for my kids-book-club.

I see wikis as being one of the most useful tools in our educational arsenal for engaging students in a real collaborative learning experience. I have not been this positive about a technology tool since I heard about The Jason Project years ago. We have to learn to speak to our students in a language they relate to and understand. This is exactly why Web 2.0 tools are so important, because they are the language of the generation at hand.

Thing 18: Online Productivity Tools

Downloaded and explored Open Office. A lot of the same templates are available on Microsoft's template pages. My first question was "is it available for Macs?" It is, but now I wonder if I create documents on Open Office and send them to a PC user, will they be accessible to non-Open Office users? I have encountered such minor snags with Office 2007. I will have to give it a test run. Luckily, I have two separate computers on two separate networks within feet of each other. I simply have to glide across from my school district computer to my university computer.

I have been utilizing Google docs this past year on a project called Early Bird Readers. Each librarian in my school district has editorial rights to an EBR spreadsheet. We update our information when it becomes pertinent. This was at first awkward and we resented having to use a new method, but now I am accustom to it. I do like seeing how the other libraries' numbers change.

I would prefer, and would think a wiki page would work better. A wiki devoted to EBR with one page link set up for a spread sheet to update numbers. Numbers, alone, do not tell the whole story. We need a place to hold discussions and to share ideas. (To find out more about Early Bird Readers, click the pic)

In summary, I might use Open Office on my Mac at home, but will probably stick with what I am using at work. Google Docs has proven useful on many occasions, particularly with university groups and clubs.

Thing 17: Rollyo: My Librarian's Toolkit

Rollyo was a nice surprise. No longer will I have to continually create customized print outs of trusted research sites for elementary students, I can direct them to the site, or simply print out my Rollyo search engine list. My Rollyo is called: Librarian's Toolkit. I could not believe the name was available. I inserted several useful websites that I could remember, and within five minutes, I had my very own customized, julee murphy approved, search engine. The only snafu I ran into was trying to set it up on my Foxfire. I believe the answer can be found in the teacher tube video, but my Rollyo account also froze up when I tried to save some edits, so I will have to return to it later.

Did I ever say how much I am learning from the 23 things? So cool.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thing 16: I am a Wiki Freak

I am all into Wiki and subscribe to the free and ad-free educational wikis from wikispaces. They are incredibly easy to set up and manipulate. Wikispaces often offers free webinars in real time so you can ask and receive answers from its moderators. They have video tutorials that show step by step methods of creating wikis. The most recent webinar was a cultural education exchange webinar in which an American school collaborated with a school in Hati on a wiki. It was amazing-the learning and sharing that was taking place.

I first used wikispaces a year ago as a way to present at the ME(2) by the SEa Mathematics and Science Conference. I introduced useful mathematics web sites and online games that could serve to help strengthen students math skills by engaging them in fun, but helpful practice. My new wiki is now under construction-a Kids Book Club that I will be using to promoting book discussions, book clubs, book trailers, and book voting.

Wikis are so easy and the possibilities for their uses are practically endless. I am a such a wikifan.

Thing 15: Perspectives on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the Future of Libraries

A Vision of Students Today. It really hit the mark in a big way. This message was so much more powerful by its visual use of students presenting the message versus reading a long drawn out research journal article. This is what Library 2.0 is about-utilizing the most powerful methods of presenting data in a "receiver friendly" language and meeting the needs of the user.

My bedroom has a corner dedicated to housing stacks of textbooks that I decided to hold onto for reference rather than sell back for a tiny fraction of the cost, yet I rarely open them. I might just glue them together to make a nice nightstand. The very fact that so many of these students in the video are tuning out professors and tuning into facebook, myspace, or their Ipods is that they prefer to receive their information in a manner befitting their generation. It is up to us, the senders of information, to convey important and necessary data in a way that our learners can relate to the information. This is the essence of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0-meeting the needs of the learners. We, as well as our students, are the learners. We grow together in a collaborative way, sharing information, and adjusting our mindset. If we can't change, we can't grow, if we don't grow, we become stagnant, and worthless to our students.

I was particularly drawn to the section Expose, expand, extend matadata using Web 2.0. I often find myself in need of bibliographic data and have to seek out cataloging archives to baby step my way through troublesome cataloging. My school purchases large amounts of professional data without Marc records and I am left to bar code and shelf it. I am a careful cataloger and seek out sites to aid me through the process. I am highly in favor of systems of sharing bibliographic data.
Thing 14 Explore Technorati

I did some perusing around the web site and found an Eric Carle video The Very Hungry Caterpillar that I had seen before on Scholastic's web site. I even submitted a suggestion to Technorati for setting up a blog directory category for education. I had to search under Lifestyle>literature to find what I needed.

I claimed my blog and even uploaded my Bookegg profile photo. I will come back to Technorati and explore more in depth at another time. It seems to follow with the flow of social network tagging and readers. The hardest part right now is keeping up with all the new websites I have registered on and all the passwords.