Monday, May 30, 2016

Final Reflection

I wish that I had more time to devote to this program! When I initially signed up, I envisioned working on the "Things" during my lunch period, since I have a toddler at home which makes working pretty difficult. Unfortunately, since Cool Tools is hosted on a Word Press blog, my district's web filter blocks it. I was able to use my cell phone to read through some of the tasks over my pb & j sandwiches, and I spent a couple of late nights and afternoon naptimes working on the "Things" included in Track One. Despite the disappointment in my own time management skills, I can honestly say that I was introduced to some pretty cool tools (forgive the pun) through this program. I approached these assignments by looking for immediate ways I could apply the tools in my work, and for the most part, I was able to find tools that worked/would work for my students and I. I'm glad that I signed up, and I hope that in the future, I will be able to access the "things" when I have more time- I'd love to look at some of the tools included in the other tracks. I did peruse some already, I just didn't write blog posts about them. This is a great project- I would love it if my district adopted it for our staff development sessions, since the library department has such different needs from others. Thanks for the opportunity.

Thing Five: Curation

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, because it's simultaneously useful and addictive. Since I'm pretty well-versed in the world of Pinterest, I decided to try! and decided that it's not my "cup of tea". The layout is too busy, and when I searched, my results were much too sophisticated for the elementary school students that I teach. This would probably work better for high school students since there's no filter for reading level, etc. I also looked at EdShelf and Lesson Paths, and I felt the same way. In the past, I've used Delicious (does anyone still use that since Pinterest?) and Live Binders to curate resources. I had some success with Live Binders at the middle school level- I curated resources for students to use for a resource project. I think curation is extremely important- especially in the early grades. If I want students to research specific topics, it's great to have sites/resources curated rather than having them search the internet themselves. Until students can comprehend sophisticated text, it's pretty difficult for them to find information online that's appropriate and targeted to their needs. For my needs as an educator, the Pinterest add-on tool has been fabulous- anytime I come across something, I can organize it and save it for use later. If I had more devices, teaching students to curate in the upper elementary grades would be one of my goals. Our middle school and high school both have a one-to-one device program, so at those levels, it would be more feasible for instructors to use tools like! and Lesson Paths. For me, personally, curation is not something I teach to students at the elementary level, it's something I do FOR them, and in order to do that efficiently, I prefer an easy, quick tool like Pinterest during my initial unit-planning stages. Once I narrow down the resources there, I would most likely create a Live Binder for students to access what I've curated. Joyce Valenza included a ton of Live Binders on her library site many years ago, and I actually like the way you aren't limited in what you include- and also, that the resource is FREE!

Thing Four: Digital Storytelling

I've been looking for a way to create a "school story" for parents to view at Back to School Night this Fall.  My principal actually approached me and asked if I could create a video to be shown- this assignment was perfect! I played around with Adobe Spark, which I had never heard of, and fell in love with it. It's very easy to use, and I was quickly able to figure out how to add slides, photos and text. I even added to MP3 of the song I've chosen for back to school night.  While this isn't the "real" video, it enabled me to practice what I will eventually be creating for this fall.  I would definitely pre-pick photos and change the file names to make it easier to find the picture I'm looking for. This is a great tool for students as well- I'll have to check if it works on the ipads/if it's blocked on my school's network.  Unfortunately, our web filter is pretty tough- even the Cool Tools site is blocked!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thing 3: PLNs, or "Twitter Makes Me Dizzy"

So, I took a class years ago while earning my MLS and the professor was dynamic and ahead of the times with regards to technology.  She had us all sign up for Twitter accounts, and told us who to follow, and I was impressed by the information available on my feed just by following twenty or so leaders in education.  I never made it a habit to check Twitter, so when the semester ended I really never logged in.  Fast forward a few years- I logged in and was overwhelmed within two minutes!  I know that I need to learn how to use Twitter, and use it more regularly, and I've been telling myself this for quite some time.  In fact, I said it to my husband just last week after attending a Makerspaces meeting with other LI librarians.  It was "meant to be" that I spent some time reading the Twitter resources provided in Thing 3 tonight.  I breathed a little easier after I explored the hashtags suggested by Jennifer LeGarde's "Love Story..".  I was actually even more impressed with that professor I had, because her suggestions about who to follow in 2009 still held true.  I watched the videos about Tweetdeck, and was a bit overwhelmed by the look of the screen, but I think I will give it a shot so I can focus on specific hashtags related to my work.  I'm also going to work on my profile a bit, because I'm not sure a profile pic of my dog is appropriate, even though she is rather adorable.  I'm planning on completing a "20 day challenge" to get myself into the habit of logging in daily.  I'm very active on Facebook, which is of course, more aesthetically pleasing and user friendly, but the content is STALE and repetitive.  It's been time to move on for a while, so I'm glad that I can do that confidently, with some tools to help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thing Two: Photo Fun

I searched Pixabay, and my first search came up empty. I initially searched for "Ruby Bridges", which resulted in no results. I broadened my search to "Civil Rights" and I received more results. I chose this one, because it was bright and the message was clear. I like the idea that Pixabay results in images that are royalty free and licensed for reuse. My students tend to gravitate toward Google for image searches, so I have taught them how to set search parameters to narrow results to include images that are licenses for reuse. However, I get nervous about inappropriate images appearing in search results. I think I'll start to introduce Pixabay- especially since we have PSA project coming up and we'll need images for that. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Thing 1"

In my "past life" as a middle school teacher, I used blogging in my mathematics classroom, mainly for students to get excited about mandatory math journals. When I became the librarian in that school, my book club students blogged regularly and I used Edmodo with my research classes (which has elements similar to a class blog)  Last year, I changed districts and grade levels. I am now working with k-5 students, and I could not seem to wrap my head around how to apply these concepts with younger students. I loved the digital portfolio idea- that would be great to implement with kindergarten students and continue in following years. I am interested to see if any of the kid-centered platforms are blocked by our we filters, and if they are iPad friendly or require flash player. Now that I read through the information, I know where to start!