Monday, June 30, 2008

Thing #11 - LibraryThing

Library Thing is a pretty neat tool, especially if you pony up for the full or lifetime membership so that you can enter more than 200 titles.

It could be especially cool if you access it from mobile phone - - no more buying/ checking out a copy of a book that you have at home waiting to be read!

And did you see that you can keep tabs on local bookstore's prices and availability of your books?

How about getting a :CueCat scanner so that you can add books quickly to your LibraryThing list by scanning their ISBNs?

No, I didn't check out any groups, nor recommendations from others - I have such a backlog of books that I already need to read for school and want to read for me that I surely don't need to add to the enormous mentally-held list of "next I will read this and this and this book." Sure to be a neat feature for those who do want some guidance on what to read next.

But I do plan to add my school library to LibraryThing, if possible, even though we don't currently have online collection searching capabilities (yes, we are working on it, but money talks, eh?).

Thing #10 - image generators

Oh, my! Now that you've shown me more image generators, I'll never get anything else done on my 23 Things, not anything at all!
I will just use Custom Sign Generator to for license plates

and blogheaders

and those hysterical not-so-motivational posters (as you rethink how we as teachers, as well as our administration/management folks, try to motivate students/teachers/principals extrinsically, read this at Marginal Things blog - I got this by RSS this weekend - I feel so smart sometimes....)

And now I know where to find tools to make my cute kitty pix into LOLCats photos. Of course, my cats are the funniest of all; I just am laughing too hard at them to get good snaps!

Since I've gotten tapped to lead training at my husband's job this summer,
this smiley made at Happy Face Generator says it all.

My students will be able to use these tools (probably from home, unless I can get them unblocked at school) to make philosophy magazine covers, trading cards for their musicians & artists project, and much more. I'll print from home color laser printer, since small classes.

I hope that I can get the trading cards as hands-on fact-intensifiers for science, Spanish, and social studies classes. We have only black and white printing in Library Computer Lab, but that should be okay for these purposes.

Thing #9 - Library-related Blogs & Newsfeeds

A weekend of RSS feeds to my Google Reader has exposed some feeds as "not worthy" of my continued patronage. One great post does not a great blog make, eh? So I've culled out some subscribed blogs, starred amazing posts from others (I do like the categorization that various Google tools give you), and am now searching out others.

I do love getting the "right then and there" reporting on ALA, EdubloggerCon Unconference, and NECC/ISTE from David Warlick (2cents), Judy O'Connell (heyjude), Doug Johnson (blue skunk), and our own dear Kickball Captain VWB through their blogs.

I will see some of these great online personas in the flesh at the IASL Conference in Oakland in early August - World Class Learning and Literacy through School Libraries - --- Yes, you should go! Meeting school librarians from other countries is amazing!

Since I StumbleUpon as a seredipitous exploration method of web perusal, now I can quickly add potentially-great blogs found through that avenue to my Google Reader, give them a few days to prove out, then either keep or kill. I really, really liked CoolCat's "circle of the wise" concept, and am striving to do this in my GReader setup, both for personal interest and library/education bits.

Being a good studenty-person too, I've tried some of the blog search tools listed in Thing#9.

Bloglines was easy to use; found some good things through that, and subscribed.
Then skipped down to Google Blogsearch since I use GR; found more good things, that linked to other good things. Took in some of their 'categories' as in groups of blogfeeds, dumped a few indiv blogs because of irrelevance of most posts, others because of sheer volume, kept some ... time flew by, then it was time to get back to Library2Play and get on task!

Tried SuprGlu - by the time I got to it, the blogs listed were all repeats found through earlier blogsearches.
Syndic8 - interface a little clunky, but interesting to see user-submitted choices, including a few goodies that may be keepers
Technorati - interface a little too slick, didn't pull up as many useful blogs as others, even including repeats. Probably won't go back to this, but will recognize the name as trend-watching site.

Best blogs found in this go-round:
- Oh, I can't wait for this fall's online conference! Distance with authority AND relevance! for FREEEEEE!!! -
Library Link of the Day -intl in scope, just the headline with link, quick & efficient -Teen Reads - my HS kids will be asking for these books when we get back in fall, so I need to be ready

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thing #8 - RSS feeds

OMG, you course designers are devious, devious people... not only is my summer getting eaten up by school-related pursuits, it's getting positively gluttonous on relevant info through interesting blogs that lead to >gasp< other interesting blogs with even more info, and on, and on!

I remember how excited I was in library school in the late 70's (back when computers filled entire rooms, we typed catalog cards, and Reader's Guide was everyone's research friend - yes, indeed, kiddies, some of us who remember such things are still working and ambulatory...) about the whole new concept of hyperlinks.

Suddenly reading was no longer completely linear (this predated Choose Your Own Adventure books by just a bit) - how on earth would we keep up with where we had been? Would we be lost in the digital woods forever (and never finish writing that paper about abstracts in PRECIS)?

Thankfully, the tech wizards who never sleep devised 'breadcrumbs' so we could find our way back to where we'd started on this serendipitous information search, and some less-romantic techie soul decided that back-arrowing would work too. 'sOkay...

Anywho, I have my Google Reader receiving some scrumptious cooking & baking feeds (try Homesick Texan and Baking Bites, from King Arthur Flour), 4 fun Geeky feeds (Make magazine is too fun), the biggies in Technology (Slashdot, Engadget, Wired, etc), and some more high-falutin' stuff in the Thinkers category (NPR, TED, even - Oh, yeah, baby! Give me more on Indo-European loanwords in Finnish! Really! I studied Indo-European in college linguistics classes... I'm not kidding! I love the esoteric language bits).

And, eventually, once I get caught up on the new feeds from these yummy, clever, tech-cool, intellectual blogs (so much, just since yesterday!), well, then, dear instructors, I mean, Kickball Captains, I will get a chance to see what wonders of the Library world I can add in... I wonder if Biblia, Warrior Librarian from the UK has a blog??? hmmmmmm

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thing #7 - Cool Google Tools

Yes, seriously cool! Once I make sure that we can get to Google Notebook at school (we cannot get to Gmail, sigh), that will be the vehicle of choice for all group projects running through the Library Computer Lab - so frustrating for teacher and other team members when the kid who was saving the ppt on his/her server-drive account is absent during research, ppt creation and/or in-class presentations!! The kids also go a little bonkers when the ppt version on one computer is older than on another so that their animations don't work right. Since too many times they concentrate on the appearance of the ppt without enough content, using GNotebook for presentations may just force them to put some thought into what they create...

I will also strongly promote Google Scholar for our advanced placement students, as well as teachers doing background research for lessons.

Personally, I've spent all day starting up my first Google Notebook as our vacation planner, so I can access everything from any computer - wowsers! And all our grown kiddos and other family will know when we are going to be where via Google Calendar (once I decide on it all) and see our routes on Google Maps. I already use Picasa to store pictures (and have bought an external hard drive to save them all - now I just have to do the backing up~)

Since it's summer and I'm on the job with my husband often, I set up a Google Alert for construction safety, astounding him pretty regularly with news of international mishaps that he hadn't heard of yet. I will be showing this tool to the safety dept this week.

As for school-relatedness,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thing #6 - Mashups

More fun! But I had a bit of trouble getting my trading card of an ancient Chinese village (Cuandixia - you've seen in "Crouching Tiger" and other films) onto the Flickr map, since there were few cities as landmarks in China there.

The trading cards could be super-fun in our GHS Library as students made promos for their favorite books, being careful not to give away the ending, of course. We could use these Top Titles trading cards as screensavers... hmmm... as long as I can get the Tech folks to allow access to Big Huge Labs. I know that we cannot access Flickr itself at school, so it may take some wizardry via saving files on home computer and then flashdriving the cards onto the school server. It's worth a try!

And making those inspirational poster (you know, the ones with black matting and white words) with fun/crazy quotes for my Humanities and Creative Problem Solving classes - oh, yeah!!

Wonder if we could do this for my husband's construction job? Trying to create community and increase safety awareness - could post some great stats regarding number of safe workdays/weeks/years, top safety tips, etc.... more hmmmm!!I know that I will be making trading cards of all the grandkids soon - everyone needs to get a lift now and then.

!! Just ran into a fav mashup again -Tunnel through the Earth! So you'd have to be shoveling in Argentina to "dig through the earth to China" - who knew? These clever critters did

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thing #5 - Flickr

Wow! Such fun looking at Flickr. This one will make a great opener for any presentation - online or not - that refers to our GHS Library.

I am still working out how the various components of CC license work -
for instance when just adding photo to instructional site rather than making giveaway bookmarks using the photo, etc.

In one way, searching Flickr is a lot like looking at vacation snapshot collection by a distant aunt - a good bit of self-congratulatory dreck to sort through in order to find the occasional gem, even when using the search box.

Why some Flickr photos have the tags they do - a complete mystery. At times, it seems like they're trying for every possible tag, like those rotten spammy sites that include the good search terms in their backgrounds so that the spiders find them and bring the crud into the stream of 'real' finds.

Thing #4 - Registered my Blog

Yay! The Kickball Captains have registered my blog, so now I'm official! On to exploring Flickr ... I may never emerge from the image search...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thing #3 - setting up my blog

Gracious sakes, that was easy! The most difficult part about setting up my blog was not the blog itself, but was remembering my Yahoo log-in... or maybe it was choosing hair for my avatar when there aren't any selections for brown-turning-gray.

As I was driving from school-hometown to summer-home, I was thinking about starting a blog about all the weird and wonderful road signs, road names, and just plain gosh-awful amateur signs that I see as we travel. I'll sure be ready after playing with these 23 things!!

I read lots of blog entries that I StumbleUpon, but haven't yet read any from this group. I was trying to get everything done so that I could get set up with the Kickball captains. But I promise I'll read and make cogent, witty comments when appropriate.

My least favorite part about reading blog comments are the doofus posters who just say "me too" or the like. I do understand that being the first to claim "it's photoshopped' in comments is just a "ha-ha, I'm first" thing and not actually accusing that the original poster manipulated the photos... shoot, sometimes there's not even a picture on the blog... it's just how some folks are. sigh.

Thing #2 - Easiest of the 7 1/2

Among the easiest of the 7 1/2 habits of effective lifelong learners for me is number 4: "Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner."

Learning is just what I do, all the time. I tell my students that if I haven't learned something new and interesting, then that day didn't even exist for me!

Teaching my Humanities class keeps me learning, since I must stay at least one step ahead of my students!

Thing #2 - Hardest of the 7 1/2

While none of the 7 1/2 habits of effective lifelong learners is very far out of my comfort zone, I guess that for me personally the hardest of these habits for lifelong learners is number 3: "View your problems as challenges."

Usually problems are just that - problems to conquer or get done with. Seems like the view here is that some folks view problems as obstacles, then stand around, worrying about the problems instead of doing something with them, to them, at them, whatever. But I don't often whine about problems or lollygag around while not doing anything about the problem.

So I suppose that I should sometimes just pause for a bit and see the different ways that a problem could be seen as challenging, instead of just tackling it by the first method that I come across.