Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ooooohhh..this is cool. A few years ago I was looking for a similar software app, and it was several hundred bucks. This room designing software is pretty well-rounded and FREE!! Whee!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008


This is pretty nifty. I've often missed the good ol' Timeliner program. It was pretty quick and easy. I like this one because you can add multimedia files to it.


Of course, I found this on GoWeb2.0 - best site EVER.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Moving on

This is as good a place as any to add new things I've learned. I really like both of these sites. They're filled with how-to videos and step-by-steps. A number of 5th and 6th grade teachers require their students to create how-to speeches. I'm going to recommend these sites to them as a guide, or starting-off point:



I need to learn how to fix books, since I will lose my secretary next year. This is from Graspr:

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Thing 23 - The End!

This was a cool project. I had used many of the Things, but this project forced me to dig deeper. I am plannning on teaching a summer class (I think I'll call it 10 Things) for our staff. I'm going to use this as a guide.

I want to create more online access points for our students. I have the bones in place now. I'll just have to tweek and get these things publicized.

I have only learned to love blogging even more. I was thinking I'd delete this blog after the project, but now I'm excited to use it for teacher inservices and for teachers to use as a reference with students. My favorite Things would have to be the ELM resources,, all the image sites and the Zoho apps. I'm using all of these things quite a bit now.

I didn't connect with other 23 Thing folks as much as I would have liked. I put some calls out there on some sites, but didn't get any hits. I wish there were a requirement of some sort to start chatting with others!

I think my greatest "aha" came with the ELM resources. I'm still impressed that they are so full-featured and easy to use. I'm going to push them hard next year.

I mentioned previously that it would be nice to have some kind of required chatting place. It would have been cool to use a board for commenting, with a requirement to post.

I would certainly participate in a 23 Things program again.

Let's see, one sentence about my learning experience? Hmmm...Get Movin' on the Web? Or - Sucking your Time Dry Without Noticing the Time Fly By?

Thanks so much for those who put this program together. It was great!!

Thing 22 - Keeping Up!

So, committing to 15 minutes a day reading through blogs and watching videos to keep up? Not a problem (unfortunately??? Online Anonymous anyone? I find it highly ironic that there are so many online resources for online addiction...join their blog!!)

My issue would be actually signing up and trying the resources. I mentioned previously that I started to get "Register-Fever" after awhile. I've been monitoring my junk mail a lot during this project, and haven't noticed a larger influx of crud. That's a good sign. I also didn't take any of the surveys for cash in Second Life, either. That may be a wise move.

I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the accounts I have bookmarked, so I did do some major overhauling. I also put some links on I like using that service quite a bit. I've already referred back to a few articles, and they were easy to find.

I'm also going to commit to teaching a summer inservice for staff on many of these resources. That will challenge me to really understand their use and features.

I bookmarked several of the sites listed on the Think 22 assignment page. I also created an Open ID with a Firefox extension that allows me to sign into sites with one password. Very cool.

Here are a few more I found:

I know this one is listed but TOO COOL.

You Suck at Photoshop
Yes, probably a tad off-putting for school, but I have learned a TON about Photoshop from these tutorials.

Technorati Tech
The latest tech chatter, and hugely popular site which tracks millions of blogs.

Technology Review

Kind of heady stuff, but I added the IT section to my RSS feeder

Thing 21 - Social Networks II

Gather - I had joined Gather last year when I renewed my MPR membership, but I didn't really spend any time figuring it out. I went there and spent more time clicking around. It seems like it's mainly original content provided by members, and geared toward adults. I checked out the "articles" which seemed to be written about other articles found in mainstream media sites, or on blogs. I prefer going right to the sites on my aggregator. The comments are interesting, but I see the same types of conversations under the original article.

I did like the photography section, though. I accidentally posted a picture on there, thinking I was putting it up as my photo ID, but it went into the gallery. I was surprised to start getting nice comments almost immediately. I like the way the photos are categorized. I think I'd spend most of my time here on the Gather site.

Webjunction - Wowee. This is a gold mine and I'm really disappointed that I don't pay enough attention to sites like these. I was going through my personal bookmarks not too long ago and when I pulled Webjunction up I thought, "Gee, that's a pretty cool site!" I spent some time on and registered for the the site. This is going in my daily links. The courses are exactly what I have been looking for (I can't tell if you can get grad credit and/or CEUs for them - that would be handy). I didn't realize that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation played a big part in its creation. The discussions boards kept me going for quite awhile. I feel like I found "my people!"

View my page on 23 Things on a Stick

Ning - I'm about at the saturation point for signing up for sites and creating a profile, so I was glad that I could just be a member of a group on Ning and not have to search around for people. I added a short "hello" post and added a comment to a conversation on databases. I think Webjunction might be more up my alley, but I'll monitor this site occasionally.

The editing options were pretty cool on Ning. You can post something, and take about 15 minutes to edit the post. You edit the post by clicking on it, and it just opens up. That doesn't sound like much, but it was pretty nifty.

I'm LOVING the What's On My Bookshelf site. Yes, I did actually sign up for another site. I know I can just go to the library (as my sig other keeps telling me), but I will use this site to find books. I would LOVE to see my books being used and not just sitting on the shelf. I've added a few books, just to get a point. I'll update if I someone contacts me. My bookshelf is BURSTING at the moment, so I'm not going to order one until I'm caught up. Which may be never, but you never know!

Thing 20 - Social Networks I

I created profiles on both MySpace and Facebook. I had a "shell" of sorts on MySpace, just to be able to look at some MySpace profiles some friends have. I am going to keep the MySpace page as a more personal site, and my Facebook will be for professional work.

I noticed that many public libraries have MySpace pages for their teen departments. Lots of high school libraries. I got a kick out of the groups that were filled with self-identified study geeks. They love their MySpace library groups, almost to a fault. Typical geek behavior. I can say that because I am unabashedly geek.

It seems that many of the MySpace groups featured polls on books, announcements, and some random chatter about various topics. I am considering creating a MySpace for my school's library next year. I'm trying to create new ways of publicizing books for boys (that's my goal - although I'm not avoiding girls' interests. I'm just working on that particular focus area this year). MySpace is blocked by our district filter, so it would just be an outside source.

On Facebook, I joined the library groups recommended on the 23 Things blog (Librarians and Facebook and Libraries Using Facebook Pages). I found the discussion on Facebook Profile Policies quite intriguing. I agree that it feels odd to have a personal vs. professional online spot. I didn't include information I felt was too personal - especially in regards to politics and religious views. What made that interesting is that I have 2 friends who I know personally who have Facebook accounts. I played around with the security settings to block professional friends from seeing information that would be too personal. I do like the fact that you can tailor the settings.

It was very easy to find friends on Facebook. It searched all of my web-based email lists. Is it odd that I feel a little freaked out because these sites can access my email lists so easily? True, I did have to provide a password, but yikes. It was enjoyable to be able to search so easily by graduation places and dates. I found a few folks I haven't talked to in years.

I placed a Facebook badge in my sidebar, but it's been difficult to get people to participate with one another during the project.

Contrasting Facebook and MySpace

Right off the bat I noticed that you can't look at full profiles on Facebook. It seems more secure. You can look for friends by accessing your online email accounts. I was surprised by how many of my friends already had Facebook accounts. I didn't like the network item in Facebook - it didn't have my town so I had to look at nearby larger cities, which was a bit useless. You can't delete that item from the profile.

I like the ability to make design changes in MySpace, but it also leads to some horrid designs. I have a friend who has a site I can barely read. She's got good info on it, but I couldn't read the ornate font, or see through the black background.

I didn't like the way Facebook tracks your actions. I was able to turn that off (I think), but it felt like an intrusive option in the first place. I recall reading how that was an issue as it related to purchasing items.

The article about using Facebook for professional use was interesting. I know of a lot of organizations and political folks who use both Facebook and MySpace, so I know it's done. I guess I prefer the e-folio online resume, which gives me much greater control over who sees my information, and what I want on there.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Thing 19 - Podcasts

I subscribe to a number of podcasts in iTunes. I travel frequently, so my iPod has become a close friend. I sub to This American Life, Speaking of Faith and Fresh Air. Public radio junkie? I think so. I enjoyed listening to the media specialist's podcasts listed on the Memoirs for the School Library Media Specialists. I wouldn't mind joining them, or sharing a podcast.

I have a great show that I'd recommend - it's called Grammar Girl. I linked to her podcast on apostrophes. She explains those pesky grammar difficulties in clear, fun language. I think this would be great for middle school and high school English classes. Maybe those students could create their own "tutoring" podcasts!

This is my first attempt at a podcast. I made the podcast in the style of a program that MPR broadcasts, about sounds in our lives. I used Audacity to record it. It took me a few times to get through it because my bird is so ANNOYING when I talk into a phone or microphone!

I couldn't figure out how to mix the tracks, so I just cut and paste them. The podcast is pretty quiet; I'll have to either get a mic for my computer, or figure out how to work with the gain control in Audacity more effectively. Either way, this was pretty fun.

I searched around and found a free site called PodBean. It seems like a regular blog site, but it has space for uploading podcasts. It's really easy to navigate, and I like the clean interface. I missed the GCast link on the first pass through the reading. I'd like to try that site, too. Here's Tico:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thing 18 - Online Video

I went a little nuts with this Thing. I'm pretty familiar with Youtube and some other video sites. I decided to take on the challenge and upload a video I created. I would like to use TeacherTube because YouTube is blocked in our district.

Unfortunately, I fought with Teacher Tube for hours. I could not get the video to upload, no matter what I tried. I started with a large .avi file. It would load all the way until the finalization point, and then it stuck there for an hour. I canceled and tried an .mov, a .wmv, and various smaller file sizes. Same thing. It would get to the finalization point and hang. I also tried using Google Video, but I kept getting an internal server error. I had read that Google was having issues today, so it was probably tied to that. I'm really frustrated at this point, so I just uploaded it to this blog. I'll keep trying to get it on Teacher Tube, because I'd like to use it next year.

I created a short video on how to use the library at my school. Of course it took me hours and hours to edit (I use Premiere Elements), and it's just a short little video. I'm pretty excited to use it next year to intro the library to new 5th graders, and for new students to the school. I wish I had done this earlier, but I had sufficient inspiration to create it now because of the Thing project. The audio is really tinny here, but it's fine on my original. I'll fight with it later.

My friends and I had a weird Youtube-flurry earlier this year and dug through so many 1980s music videos and 1970s Saturday morning cartoon shows that I considered ratting my hair in solidarity. At one point, as we were trading memories (any of you "old folks" remember Underdog? My favorite) someone messaged, "What did we do before the Internet?" Well, actually she said Intertubes, but you get what she meant.

I love the link from the 23 Things site to the book dominoes video. It's interesting to note how many people viewed that one compared to most of the other library videos. What do you suppose that means about people looking for information about libraries? Heh heh...

I posted a Youtube video about library training "back in the day" in Thing 2. There is a treasure trove of mid-century training/educational videos online - and I think I saw some of them in elementary school! Not too long ago, our media folks were talking about subscribing to a service that would serve videos on demand. Those talks have stalled because, for the most part, the online video sites have what teachers want. This video has been used by our admins in several sessions when we talk about what our students need to survive and thrive when they graduate. Sobering and inspiring stuff:

I also discovered this one recently. It's also really thought-provoking, and worth showing to teachers (and the public!)

Online videos are an amazing resource. Youtube is blocked in our district, but TeacherTube isn't. We've had fairly good luck finding videos there. Most of the teachers who use online videos are savvy enough to pull them offline so they aren't sucking bandwidth. Unfortunately, sites such as don't let you pull the videos, so we have to chance our bandwidth availability sometimes. I can only see that online videos will become more and more vital to school curriculum.

This Youtube video of Jack Johnson singing Where Did All the Good People Go? is one I would love to show to a group of older students. It's probably more appropriate for high school, but what a great conversation starter:

Can't have a post about Youtube videos without posting the BEST video EVER.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thing 17 - ELM Resources

I'm kind of disappointed I can't add anything "sparkly" to up the interest level on this post (although my interest in it is quite high) so here's a cute picture to start us off.

I could kick myself every time I log into the ELM resources. I have them linked on our school website, but they aren’t being utilized like they should be. I blame that entirely on myself; I just don’t feel comfortable with this resource. I opted to complete all but one of the challenges (I’m not sharing a folder in NetLibrary yet), and am committing myself to teaching a course for teachers this summer on this resource. I couldn’t remember how to access ELM at home, but another media specialist filled me in on that password. It’s hard to keep on top of everything (obviously why this course is so valuable).

Next year, if our media specialists remain together for our peer learning groups, I’d love to be able to use NetLibrary to do a book study. Great way to further our studies, create shared notes and use a valuable resource. I really need to think of ways to get teachers excited about using the ELM resources with their kids. They are so stuck on googling everything. I’d like to roll the databases into a curriculum class so teachers get a chance to do some digging.

InfoTrack Student: I put the RSS feed about smoking in my Reader – that was pretty nifty. I can see teachers and students tracking info that way. I was disappointed that our district blocks the term “MySpace” because every article and other resources were blocked. I was able to get info using the search term “social networking” but the search hits included articles on Facebook and Bebo and other topics I didn’t want. It took a little digging to find the RSS feeds on NPR for Children’s Health, but once I found the News Feeds page, it was pretty slick. I chose to add the Politics & Society feed, rather than the Children’s Health feed.

I created a webpage in EBSCO Page Composer. I found it to be a bit persnickety. Setting up the page was SLO—OWW (I did get a message about some GALE issues during that time, so that might have been causing the speed problem). Editing is really limited, and I was disappointed that it doesn’t just send the info out to a blog, rather than create a webpage. I don’t have an official website anymore, now that our district has gone to a portal, using an html page is tricky. I also added a local image, which would not show up when I saved the picture in the same place as the html file, as the directions required. I edited the html file in Frontpage, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still a pain.

Oh my, do I love ProQuest. I created the webpage, which was emailed to me within seconds. It was easy to narrow my search. I did some searches and marked results as I went. It reminded me of tagging. Love this resource.

I’ll admit I heaved a large sigh as I looked through NetLibrary. I found quite a few resources on peer coaching and training – two areas I’m currently studying – and now I have MORE items on my reading list! I am impressed by the number of available books. I wish it were easier to download the books for offline viewing. I added notes to a number of books. I keep repeating myself, but these are amazing resources!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Thing 16 - Student 2.0 Tools

Great, great resources. I have been working on implementing a new research method in our district - the I-Search - with little success. Partially, I think it has to do with the fact that we are "dumping" the entire research process into the 6th grade, without the "dribbling" of skills in previous grades that the Research Calculator site recommends.

Our teachers are not accustomed to a true research process. They are inclined to assign a "hot topic" to students, and to accepting what is, in essence, just a regurgitation of previously written information. It's hard to push teachers into the messy world of true research with their students. I REALLY appreciate the teacher resources that accompany the Research Calculator. I noticed that there are references to the I-Search process and a few well-written documents that talk about how to avoid plagiarism.

Defining a question is probably the most difficult aspect of the research process, and the support materials do a great job of covering how to define a topic and create a specific question. It would be handy to have a Bloom's Taxonomy handout in there, too. What a great resource, though. I'd like to share this with our curriculum director the next time we meet on our research process.

I found one glitch: the definitions aren't anchored well and lead to the whole glossary list, rather than to the word I clicked on. Small issue, but annoying.

I played with the Assignment Calculator, too. I was impressed that the links changed, depending on the subject area. I'd like to try that site for the next graduate class I take. Quite impressive.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thing 15 - Online Games

I'm whiny. I'll admit it. I detest online games. I waste enough time online without getting sucked in by games. I'm not a total game Luddite - I've played Super Mario 3 quite a bit, spent more than enough time in the worlds of Myst and Riven, and will flip on DDR on my Playstation II (hey - it's exercise!). But generally, I avoid online games.

I did actually get a kick out of Second Life, although the whole money thing makes me suspicious. I wandered around a bit and chatted with some folks, and had a mentor show me how to change my appearance. It seems that hair is a big, darn deal in SL, so I may try to get my hands on some free hairstyle eventually. It reminded me of Myst/Riven a bit, but with no problem-solving tasks. It was weird to walk around, just for the sake of wandering around. I checked out Northern Illinois University (what a sad week it has been for them) because my dad went there when I was just a wee one, and I wanted to see what they were doing. I also stopped by some art galleries. It's amazing what creative things people are doing in that world.

From the reading, it's obvious that schools are finding success using this type of advertising and distance-learning opportunities, and it might be fun taking an online class in this manner - certainly more exciting than reading article after article and not meeting people face to face.

Took a screen shot, just for the heck of it. Gotta love the tie-dye. I'm KrisKros Smythe online. Maybe I'll see someone on there. Not that I'll spend a lot of time on here. No. No. No. Mustn't waste more time online.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thing 14 - LibraryThing

I discovered LibraryThing last summer when I was working on organizing my church library. I was starting from scratch, looking for cheap cataloging software, and the first link on Google was LibraryThing. I could hardly believe it. I have about 400 books in the church library (I've got 335 books cataloged).

I led an adult forum at my church on the library early this fall, and explained to the folks who came to the class that about 10 years ago, when our schools began automating, we paid almost $10,000 to use a Union Catalog, which had around a 80% hit rate. This summer, I paid $25 for the same kind of service - and have an almost perfect hit rate. It's rare when Amazon doesn't have a book entry, but having access to the Library of Congress has enabled me to find some really obscure titles. This really is an amazing service.

Tagging books on Library Thing can be challenging because it's wide-open for interpretation. I tend to use the subject guides on Amazon, and have had some luck with the CIP's in books. I opted to shelve books by topics, rather than by Dewey. It makes more sense for a church library, where people are usually looking for specific topics, and the Dewey range is pretty crowded around the 200s.

This summer, the LibraryThing crew was making some adjustments to their servers and the service would be slow or unavailable at times. I haven't had any problems with it for months and I've noticed many enhancements. I just can't say enough good things about LibraryThing. It's perfect for personal collections, and church libraries. I'd love to be able to use it to advertise new acquisitions at the school, but I haven't been able to figure out how to import lists from Follett yet.

The Brainerd UCC church's library widget:

And just because I love tag clouds:

Thing 13 - Organizational Tools

I spend a lot of mind-fixating, puppy-dog-ignoring, housekeeping-eschewing time on the Internet each day. I have to Make. Myself. Get. Away. From. The Darn. Machine. every now and then. I realize it’s probably an addiction, and one I’m not going to give up on soon. But, realizing that about myself, I have also tried to organize my surfing habits so I can access the information I am looking for quickly, so I’m not clicking all over the place and getting side-tracked. Sounds pathetic, but I have found some effective tools to help in my pursuit of Intertubing Moderation. My aggregator (Google Reader) and iGoogle are the most effective tools in my arsenal.

iGoogle is great because I’ve grouped the things I like to look at right on my homepage: weather, Reader link, a countdown to specific events, a to-do list, my gmail account, etc. Firefox also helps me keep organized with its very effective and user-friendly add-ons. I log on to all my email accounts and favorite blogs with one click. I use several Firefox add-ons: Clipmarks, Notebook, Foxmarks, Veoh Video Downloader, and IE Filter.

Google Reader helps me feed my geeky need for political information. I can whip through hundreds of news stories in (for me) a short amount of time. is going to be pretty handy because I can tag stories easily. I’m forever sifting through starred stories on Reader to find something I’m looking for (which, even though I know I can tag stories, is still easier on

Below is a shot of my iGoogle page. You’ll notice there are 29 days until spring break (come on…that’s important stuff!), it’s about -4ยบ, my to-do list is caught up, and I’ve answered all of my gmail. Time for mindless surfing.

Comments from the Thing 13 blog prompts

I like the online calendars that were linked from the 23 Things blog, but it's hard to beat a good ol' Exchange calendar, which syncs with my iPaq. If I were to pick an online shared calendar to use, though, it would probably be Google Calendar. It's got a clean design, and it's very user-friendly.

I have an online to-dolist on my iGoogle page, but I don't use it very often, unless I'm working on specific projects. The only list I usually make consistently is for groceries, and I still find it easier to use old technology (pencil and paper) and maintain the list on my refrigerator. I tend to use the online to-do list at the beginning of the school year when I'm swamped with things to remember.

Okay, Zamzar? Cool beans. I'm not stuck without a translator often, but I was last week, trying to get an Appleworks doc translated to MS Word. (Nuts - there is no translator for that one!) But, the fact that it includes a Works and Wordperfect translator, and you can convert to pdf, and all of the audio translators...this is really good stuff. I wish I had known about this site earlier. I have use CutePdf quite a bit, and have been happy with that. I've noticed that on occasion, the free pdf makers make smaller documents than Acrobat!

Backpack makes me jittery. I'm not obsessive about planning and listing, and it feels overwhelming, just going through the example pages. I do like the product comparison features with pictures. For those who need this much order in their lives, this site has it all. I'm afraid I'd get stressed out just trying to keep up...heh heh. I'm impressed that I am able to keep up with my calendar and iGoogle page.

I'm amazed by all the organizational tools available on the web. For those who live and breath by a schedule, these are some impressive resources.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thing 12 - Social Bookmarking II

I just moved this post up to keep things in order, so if you've been here in the last few days, you've already seen this one. I have an account on Digg, but I just reconfigged it to throw Digg blog entries to this 23 Things blog, rather than to my personal one. I love Digg - although I haven't tried any of the others mentioned in the Thing 12 overview.

The Newsvine site intrigues me and I added it to my Google Reader. I read RealClearPolitics every day (obsessively) and Newsvine reminds me of RCP in that it lists articles from a number of sources. Newsvine has a wider variety of topics than RCP, which is dedicated exclusively to political news. Newsvine seems kind of like the people's Huffington Post.

Digg cracks me up because they are just a tad sarcastic when you move around your settings pages. I appreciate a good snark. This is the Digg blog entry I posted today. I was the first one to add this to Digg.

Dan Brown: School-Level Cuts Hit New York City

I added this story to Digg today. Our district had drastic cuts due to a failed levy, and these stories catch me all the time. It's bad all over. I was most struck by this quote: "...they absolutely need a reduction of the standardized testing mania that has gripped city schools. No child's education will be hindered if he takes fewer high-stakes tests. Regrettably, Bloomberg's ill-considered budget cuts keep in place a draconian testing regime while ripping out many of the support struts that enable students to achieve on those tests--and in life.Someday, we will regret leaving millions of kids behind.

read more | digg story

Blog prompts:

  • How do you think you can use these tools in your library or at home?
I use Digg to catch what folks are reading the most. It's easy to categorize information and search by dates. I often star stories on Google Reader, but it's hard to categorize them (update: until I noticed you can tag stories!). I think this would be great for social studies teachers - especially those who pay attention to current events. Current events come right to you, and you can blog about what you read. I could see a class of kids, blogging on current events and reading each other's work.
  • Do these tools seem to be a productivity enhancer or a productivity detractor?
I like the fact that I can quickly get at the information that I like to focus on using these sites. It is driven by web-savvy folks, so it has a bent toward the young and politically motivated, but I don't mind that. I think it could detract if you start just "grazing", which is easy to do. If you are directed to look for specific topics, these are great tools.
  • Have you ever read a story/item as a result of seeing it on one of these sites?
I posted one Digg item I read at the top of this post. I don't use Digg as often as Google Reader, but when I do use it, I generally use it to post thoughts to my personal blog. Newsvine is now in my aggregator, so it'll be added to my daily news dump.

Thing 11 - Social Bookmarking

Tagging: I opted to tag my Flickr photos rather than the Blogger entries. Perhaps it’s because most of the posts are similar in nature, or perhaps it’s because my creative mind has not been activated by my Caribou Lite White Latte with a shot of raspberry. Either way, I was not inspired to tag those posts. If I do, they’ll all say TechStuff. Boring. I did tag my pictures in Flickr, because I use those pictures in a number of ways and it’s handy to be able to pull up the ones I need.

I use tags a LOT on a LibraryThing account I set up for my church library. In fact, the physical library is organized around the tags on that site. I believe this site will be featured in another Thing, so I’m not going to spend much time talking about it here, but the tagging function of LibraryThing is awesome. I love using the subject clouds.

I just have to pause a moment because I’m feeling a little fahrklempt (which is a much funnier word when you say it, rather than spell it). ROCKS!! I’ve been avoiding using it, even though I see it everywhere, because it’s “just one more thing to maintain.” I played with it for a few minutes and fell in love. I like the fact that the buttons are on the toolbar, and you can tag items immediately, rather than having to click through pages to use a site like Foxmarks. I won’t give up Foxmarks because I like having my personal bookmarks follow me around in a familiar interface, but I love the tagging feature on I star posts in Google Reader, but it just dumps everything in a pile. I went through all of my starred posts and added tags to them in (UPDATE: I LIED!!!! On a hunch, I searched the help files on Google Reader. Lo and behold, it lets you tag posts, and add them to Digg and Delicious. Whoopee!! Jumpin’ up and down. Now I’ll be off to tag my Reader posts for a bit).

The tag cloud in made me a little woozy – I found some really useful sites in there. This is site is going to be my new best friend. Typing that word over and over is annoying, though. I always forget where the periods go.

For students and teachers, I like Pagekeeper. It’s got a clean interface – is obviously a free-for-all and most teachers like a little quality control (at least at the elem-middle level). Our media specialists have been amassing lists of links for students, but there are so many more on Pagekeeper. I could see this - if not replacing - greatly enhancing the list of links. It’s also handy to be able to search other teacher’s sites for links, and see how many they have gathered. I, of course, added this to my bookmarks because it’s so FREAKING COOL. Sorry. Latte time.

I checked out FURL, and it has one feature that I really like – archiving tagged pages. I am debating whether to start an account on FURL, rather than, but I gave that one such high marks (note previous “FREAKING” tag) that I don’t really want to start over. FURL did lead me to Colbert’s Wikiality – The Truthiness Encyclopedia. That’s a big plus, for sure.

The social bookmarking .pdf was really valuable. The lack of oversight and possible political/personal slant of tags are certainly relevant issues in a library (and I’m thinking about the hours I pained over my graduate cataloging class). Without having used it with students, it’s hard to judge, but these sites seem to offer great productivity enhancement. Or yet another way of killing valuable time strapped obsessively to the intertubes. Whatever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thing 10 - Wikis

I have to admit that I am an unabashed user of Wikipedia. I know about the issues surrounding reliability and accuracy, but I have been impressed with the depth of information I've found. The occasional "interesting" edit makes me chuckle, and it's amazing how quickly bad/inappropriate edits are found and corrected. Wikipedia enthusiasts are RABID about the site. The beekeeping wiki shows one downfall or wikis - lack of participation means a dirth of information, and the site is disappointing without an active base of users.

I would discourage kids from using Wikipedia for most current events or controversial topic types of reports (unless the purpose is to analyze content for bias), but some of the old reliable stuff - animal reports, biographies - is covered well on this site. It was interesting to compare the Minnewiki information with the Wikipedia information on Bob Dylan. Wikipedia has much more in-depth information, many endnotes and more off-site links. It's a great catch to find a site about Minnesota musicians, though. I think we have to teach kids to be discerning consumers of information, and banning the use of Wikipedia seems pointless to me. A better practice might be to have students make comparisons of information to determine the reliability of the information they find there - which may be too much work so they would CHOOSE not to use it!

I love the concept of a wiki - open adding and editing of a document, exchanging ideas. It reminds me of being able to cooperatively edit Zoho/Google Docs documents. It seems that a few of the library wikis are more a collection of links in directories, which is fine for pointing out information for "tech-challenged" folks. The St. Joseph County Public Library system and Library Bloggers wikis fit that bill. I don't know if they would be any more beneficial than a good ol' Google search, but I haven't spoken with these folks to see if they value their wikis. The Webjunction article espouses the use of wikis for subject guides, and I have to admit that teachers (and our media specialists) have collections of links we use with kids. Using a wiki is much easier than having to update a website, so I can see how that is valuable. By the way, love that WebJunction site!

I'm much more enthused by the BookLoversWiki. It kind of reminds me of Book Crossing (although that site has a different purpose and is not a wiki) in that people can leave reviews of books. I would love to set up a book review site - in fact, I already know which teacher I want to talk to about it!

This is the wiki I started for favorite books. I still have to think through implementation. I haven't decided whether to just have staff add books, or to open it up to students. I have to think about posting issues. I really like the Zoho apps.

I do like the Library Success wiki because it supports library advocacy, which is an area that we began looking at last year. There's a lot of great stuff on there, and it would be nice to see the school information expanded. There's a blurb at the bottom that a Minnesota media specialist used to gather information, rather than offer information, but in there was a nifty site for teens reviewing books. Good example to start a new wiki from.

We've never been able to encourage media specialists in our district to engage in discussions on forums set up to share ideas. I like the wiki that the Albany staff uses. We have a portal, which seems to work in a similar manner, although it's a little less like a wiki, and more like a "library" in that you check out a document to edit and then check it back in. Still, it's nice to see documents and information listed in one place, rather than having to chase them down.

Last thought: I edited the 23 Things wiki - I added a bit about accessing images on the "Content" page. The red is me:
  • For the Flickr assignment, not everyone has a digital camera so some tips on how to use a scanner in a library or private resident would be appreicated - perhaps an overview of image search engines would be valuable also (including copyright issues)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thing 9 - Online Docs

I must be exuding bad karma. I created accounts on both Google Docs and Zoho, but I could not get Google Docs to post to this blog for love or screaming at my laptop. As you can see below, Zoho posted it with the original formatting. I'd have to say that I much prefer Zoho. There are a lot of handy tools, it's much more full-featured than Google Docs, and they have a database! I liked Zoho's export function also. It gave me more control over which blog I wanted to post to.

This is the link to the Google Doc. It's the same document as shown below. I do like the fact that both services export into a number of formats and programs. I'd recommend this for kids who don't have Word - or who have a Mac at home - but PCs at school.

Blogging question: What would the Founding Fathers think?

I think the Founding Fathers would be discouraged that our schools are being financially gutted. (Yep, I'm ona roll...) I would hope they would appreciate being able to hear from the people in such an immediate manner. I don’t know that our CURRENT legislators always appreciate that, but it’s empowering to know that often new technological tools have made a difference.

Posted to this blog from Zoho (not worth reading, unless you're trying to develop middle school library policy. I just think it's cool that Zoho tossed it into my blog):



Forestview Library/Media Center (LMC)

We welcome students who are respectful to people and property.

LIBRARY HOURS:7:40 AM 3:45 PM. The library is open before and after school for book checkout and independent reading.

AGENDA BOOK: Your agenda book is your pass to the library. You must bring it with you to be admitted to the library. You must sign IN and OUT at the circulation desk and keep the agenda book visible while you are in the library. Misbehavior may result in being sent back to class (teachers will be notified if a student is being sent back.)

BOOK/MAGAZINE CHECK OUT: You may check out up to two books and one magazine. If you have any overdue books, you will not be able to check out a magazine.

The “Don’t’ Do This!” List:

Game playing/IM/chat will not be allowed on any computer in the building.

Backpacks, coats and jackets are not allowed in the LMC.

Keep our computers and library clean! Food and drinks are not allowed in the LMC.

Library Media Center Staff

Ms. Kelly

Media Specialist

Mrs. Bruchhof

Media Secretary

Mrs. Wennerstrand

Media Assistant

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thing 8 - Communication Sites

These tools are addicting. I don't know that there's time enough in the day for anyone to get through all of the sites! Most of them are fairly user-friendly and link to many blog sites, which is handy. I could see kids using these sites to add flair to reports, or as a way of creating "yearbooks" or news sites. It does remind me of all the bells and whistles in the good ol' Hyperstudio program. You could hardly get the kids to enter text because they had to play with all the toys.

Most of the sites were pretty easy to navigate and understand, although the database gave me crashing headaches. I linked it, but Blogger wouldn't show the html code I added. It does show the database, but you have to guess where the code is.

I'd definitely recommend the Big Huge Labs site, Flickr, and Picture Trail. I'm a little iffy on the Zoho site, simply because it's dependent on Internet access. It's great for just adding a Powerpoint-like presentation to a blog or website, though.

The only other photo site I use consistently is Photobucket. It has some nice features - probably not as many as Flickr, though.

I tried out a number of sites for Thing 8. The database really irritated me because both of my browsers (Firefox and IE) kept crashing. These are the Things for Thing 8:

Originally uploaded by ckelly181

This mosaic is made from pictures of my school. I used the Mosaic Maker on Big Huge Labs. I posted it as a separate blog entry from Flickr and sent it to this blog.

Oh, how I love Flickr. The upload is fabulous. It lets you select a pile of photos, without having to grab each one, one at a time. Good stuff.

Zoho Slideshow: I created a short presentation for a session I do with new teachers. The text looks fine on the site, but it gets a bit askew when viewing from a blog, I've noticed. It's a nifty resource for people who don't have access to Powerpoint or Keynote. I'm not sure I would use it because it depends on having Internet access. That's not always feasible, depending on where one does presentations.

I would love to be able to add this Picture Trail flick to the school website, but we can't use scripting on our portal. Boo. It would be fun to change this every now and then. Perhaps it's too splashy for a front page, but kids would love to see this somewhere:

This is a database link I created for books for boys. I'm not really impressed with this service. It makes my browsers crash, the script doesn't show up on Blogger, and it's not as user-friendly as some other sites. I could see the benefit of an online database, though. I'm trying to amass a list of books that middle school boys enjoy. I'd like to be able to have an online site where boys could add information - as long as I can moderate it, of course. I couldn't do that on our local portal, unfortunately...again with the scripting issue...bleah.

UPDATE: I deleted the link to the database. It slows down my blog to an annoying level. If I can get the darn site to load, I'll just take a snapshot of the database. I don't like this site at all.

UPDATE2: Above is a snapshot of the datase that was on this blog.

I also created this resume on E-Folio. If I were looking for a job, I'd LOVE to be able to use this site. I'm keeping it up there just to have a resume available in case the powers-that-be decide to kill all public schools in the near future. Kidding. I'm a little disenchanted with our government at the moment.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thing 7 - Email/IM/Text Messaging

I'm pretty comfortable with most of the items listed in Thing 7. My first experience with IM was in 1994 when I joined AOL. I "met" a lot of people (and the rooms weren't full of trolls and spam at that time), but I had a really rude awakening.

At the time, I was just beginning to use an online service at my home, and AOL automatically set up my account. I was amazed by what the service had available. What I didn't realize was that there were no local access points; I was actually connecting to an access point 150 miles away. In other words, I was making a long-distance call every time I logged on.

My first phone bill was over $500! For a young teacher (with not a lot of fun-money), that was terribly shocking. I called my phone company, and the customer service rep didn't even know that a computer could make a long distance call. Times have changed!

I have used a number of IM services - ICQ, Trillian, and currently, MSN and Google Talk, when I have GMail open. Most of my family and friend communicate using IM. I generally leave MSN on and chat with people throughout the evenings.

I have used IM at school to conference with a number of colleagues on peer coaching issues. Our district bans chat for students, although we have done a few projects where students communicate with other students throughout the world. I like the idea of using an Instant Librarian (mentioned in the video), and that may come as more students take online courses during the day. If anyone doing the 23 Things Project wants to practicing IMing...I'd be glad to chat!

I was not impressed with the email tips offered on 43 Folders blog, but I also don't have problems with email taking up my time. I would have to say that I'm much more productive because of email. It helps me keep records of issues, communicate quickly and respond to requests as soon as I get one. If I set my email to check every hour, I'd actually fall behind! Of course that's the nature of my job. It is obviously different for others. Most of my friends and co-workers know that it's quicker to contact me by email than by phone!

I have 6 email accounts which are set up for different purposes: receiving political mail, responding from an anonymous account, family and friends, purchasing items, and work. It's really a good filing system. My accounts are on gmail, yahoomail, hotmail, inbox, my home ISP, and my work Exchange server.

In the middle school, students are banned from using personal email (they sneak it around, of course) but I have requested some students to use their accounts for school work, when appropriate. Our district has the capability for students to use the Exchange server, but it has not been enabled yet.

For teachers, I believe email has made a huge impact on productivity. I know that we rely on being able to communicate immediately by distribution lists. One of the issues I had always struggled with was how to make time to meet with teachers to plan lessons and projects. Email is now the preferred method for a majority of teachers. We can trade ideas and edit documents together without chasing each other down. Staff meetings can focus on curricular issues and not the nut-and-bolts information dumping that can be handled by email, rather than a face-to-face. District meetings can be scheduled and confirmed by email, rather than rely on interschool mailings. How did we survive without email? :)

Ah text messaging, the bane of the middle school teacher. Heheh. I could actually see this as a tool for teachers to remind students of assignments, or to help if students are struggling with homework - provided the teacher is agreeable to that. I personally don't like it for the simple reason that it TAKES FOREVER TO TYPE on that small keyboard! I'm impressed that kids are so fast. It just drives me nuts.

Webinar: I went through the "How to Create a Podcast" webinar. Great, great tool. We do use Atomic Learning in our district - especially the multimedia classes - but I love the additional pdf handouts. What a great resource. I'd like to advertise this for teachers.

I checked out Meebo and Twitter. I usually only use one IM service (MSN), but if I had more, MEEBO would be a great resource. When I did use a few services, I used Trillian, which is a stand-alone IM app. I preferred that to having to deal with many programs and their variety of "bip" sounds. It would be nifty if we were able to connect with other teachers and students and presenters using IM. I have noticed that more sales reps are using online tools like IM to present to districts. It has saved us money, and we are still able to get the information we need.

Twitter is a little anal for my tastes. I'm sure some folks like to be able to stay connected, and I can see this being a good resource for teens and their friends and parents. Perhaps it would work well for an admin or other employee who is on the run a lot.

I also joined the 23 Things Google group. It'll be nice to see other folks on there. I am a member of another Google group guessed it...dogs, so my icon is canine-related. Hope to see folks in the group!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Thing 6 - Image generators

This is so much fun. I'm brainstorming an inservice class for staff. I see the biggest issue dealing with the coding. Creating the graphics is so easy and fun.
This note I'll use to prompt kids to write the due date in their library books.

Many of our classes do a unit on Martin Luther King, Jr. I could see the kids using the trading cards to create short bios on other famous people.

Okay, this one is probably a little silly, but most of the people at work seem to know how to motivate me:

I tried using and ran into some difficulties. I use Firefox, which has some great add-ons. Fototrix, however, doesn't want to play nice with Firefox, even though it recommends the browser. I could not get Firefox to accept the pop-ups that fototrix requires. I used IE7 instead, and that worked fine.

Good thing to know, though. It probably won't be an issue at work, but I will need to go through each site to make sure it's not blocked. I've noticed that several linked photos I have on my blog are blocked at work.

Just for good measure, this is from the selections on fototrix:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Thing 5 - The addendum to Thing 4

Warhol Corgi

Okay, so I jumped ahead and did a little of Thing 5 in Thing 4's post. I worked on that post for FAR too long. Seriously - FA-AR too long. So, I'm not going to edit that post; I'm simply going to add Thing 5 as an addendum.

This is from the Spell with Flickr site:

Bead Letter C H R I S
I'm starting to get a hankering to get teachers using these tools. I can see fifth graders using this site to create Name Poems.

The motivational posters on the fd's Flickr Toys page reminds me of the fabulous Despair, Inc. posters. Might be fun to create some personalized posters for the library.

The BigHugeLabs page is kind of mind-numbing. I'm having to tear myself away from it. Must. Go. Shopping. Instead. Have to support the economy, you know.

Thing 4 - Image sites

Good grief! It's tough to start looking at picture sites and not eat up the entire day! I have accounts on Flickr, Photobucket and PictureTrail, none of which I've logged onto recently. I was AMAZED at the the changes and enhancements on these sites. It almost makes me feel giddy. I had a lot of fun with this thing. I'll figure out how to get these tools in the hands of teachers and students later. (Where are the emoticons on this blog?? I need a sticky-out tongue icon here.)

PictureTrail Cube (You may notice a theme with my pictures...heh heh).

I had an almost silly "aha" this year. One of our fifth grade students has a dad who is stationed in Iraq. His dad was on leave this fall, and I helped him set up a quick slideshow in Powerpoint to show the kids. It was an amazing and emotional show.

Later that year, the dad contacted me, wanting to email new pictures as he took them in Iraq. For the life of me, I couldn't get the pictures to pass through our school filter. I was getting to the point of telling him to snail mail a disk or something! Frustrating.

As it happened, I was working on a website I maintain for the local animal shelter. That was my "aha" moment; I think I even rolled my eyes and said "duh". I have a number of slideshows on the site, for which I use different picture sites to tag and organize the images. (There's that "lack of transfer" that I always get so worked up about when I deal with technology and students.) I worked with the dad to set up a Flickr account to share his images. The kids LOVE going to that site.

I spent some time looking at Flickr's enhancements. I am pretty impressed with Picnik. The tools are large and easy to use. The auto-fix made better fixes than Picture Manager. All I can say is Pretty Doggone Cool. The picture below shows the adjustments that Picnik made. The black is blacker and the red is fuller. This was using just the auto-fix option.
I added a Flickr badge of my dogs to the sidebar. The code wouldn't work in the body of this blog; I kept getting "tag is not closed" messages, which I couldn't fix. It worked fine in the sidebar, though. Who knows?

I spent some time tagging my Flickr pictures and added descriptions. I use tagging quite a bit on a LibraryThing account I set up for my church library, but it hadn't occurred to me to tag pictures. I appreciated the Commoncraft video information. Although I have my pictures in albums, tagging them makes it easier to sort and find. Again with the not making that transfer of information! This is good for me to remember.

Here's a link to another Flickr slideshow using Splashr - note the continued theme. What, more dogs?

I also logged into my Photobucket account, which I haven't done for a long while. It has changed radically! I like the fact that Photobucket has the links for embedding right on the main screen. I also created another avatar in Meez - another program associated with Photobucket.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
These toys, I'll tell you.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thing 3 - RSS

I have been using Google Reader for awhile, and I have to admit that I am totally addicted! My feeds are almost exclusively about politics (I'm a bit of a political junkie, and this is like Las Vegas to a gambler...heh heh).

I have a few library-related blogs in my aggregator:, Baby Boomer Librarian, and Worthingteens (I want to do this for my school someday).

And a few total random blogs, but worthy of The Onion:
I found a few sites that list library blogs and other resources - here, here, and especially here.

Thing 2 - The Library that Lets

After reading about Library 2.0, I wanted to find Library 0.3. I was successful:

Heh to the serious stuff...

Two ideas really resonated with me as I read the blogs and other site materials:

The Library that Lets. This sentence comes from the Wikipedia entry on Library 2.0. Wikipedia seems to me to be the very model of the Library 2.0 philosophy; it's wide open, changeable, and user-driven.

Rigidity breeds failure. I am often disappointed in the way my school library is run. It is so old-school; every kid walking in the door is grilled before admittance, only a few students at a time are allowed from every class, no more than one class is allowed in at a time, kids with overdue books can’t check anything out, etc. Because I am not free to do the day-to-day running (big school = big technical demands) it tends to be very rule-driven and somewhat oppressive. I blame myself for letting a problematic secretary have so much control. I walked into a situation which called for change, but I wanted to be the "nice" boss, rather than the "demanding" boss. Although I was able to loosen some of the policies (the whining was sometimes ear-splitting) I still struggle with my secretary’s tendency to say NO before she says YES.

The situation will right itself next year, and I am excited about being able to make some sweeping changes. I've only begun to consider some of the things I can do. The online articles are inspiring, but overwhelming, in some ways. The Library 2.0 feels like an Apple Store to me; wandering around and using all kinds of technology. If students and teachers could freely use everything in the library, and the library was well-supplied with useful technology, THAT would be Library 2.0-nirvana.

I rarely go to our local public library, but I would go there if I knew I didn't have to sign my life away to use a computer with rules posted all over it, or if I could edit a video, or access some copyright-free music, or checkout an e-book on a Kindle-like contraption. I imagine the disappointment I feel at the public library is similar to how our students feel in my school’s library. It’s difficult to change a paradigm but I want the library to be user-friendly, and not require a lot of training. This issue is at the forefront of my thinking when I am going through each of the 23 things. I’m finding that it’s not the technology that’s inspiring me as much as brainstorming about implementation, and what it will take to reach that “nirvana”. My school library currently teeters on the Rigidity breed failure edge. I'll hang onto The Library that Lets because that drives my thinking to possibilities.

Another library video, but definitely from Library 2.0:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I added the Sitemeter HTML to this site to check it out. I have been using Google Analytics and Stat Counter on 2 other blogs I maintain. I like Google Analytics, but it's slower than Stat Counter. It has easier to understand information, which is why I lean a bit toward Google. I'm also a Google fan, so that helps.

On first glance, I like the way Sitemeter displays the most pertinent and understandable information on the first page. I have to dig a bit on Google.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Freezing. How appropriate

Well well. I set up this blog and it's almost -40 degrees out. Thus the name. I heart Minnesota.

This is my 4th blog. I have an old one on Xanga that I let go (Xanga doesn't play well with Firefox. I try not to use IE because I don't like supporting the big behemoth more than I have to) and I have a personal blog on Blogger. I set up a church blog last November, and am still coaxing members to post. It's hard to get non-techie people to post on a blog. I vaguely remember being a little hesitant when I first added a comment on some random blog, so it's understandable. Understandable, but frustrating!

It'll be fun to meet other folks doing the 23 Things project!