Saturday, April 17, 2010


It's been a great journey through the world of "23 Things". Here are my thoughts on my experience.
Favorite Discovery?
I enjoyed looking at award winning blogs from educators and librarians from around the world. When I'm learning something new I always look for those people who are doing it well. I found a lot of great blogs to follow by looking at the award winning Edublogs.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I've always enjoyed learning about new technology but 23 Things has helped me learn how to apply it in the classroom to increase student achievement. I have a SMART Board and six student computers in my classroom and I have an obligation to my students to bring web 2.0 technology into the classroom. I am going to continue looking for ways to bring more and more technology into my classroom.

Unexpected Outcomes?
While I know I enjoy working on the computer I'm surprised how much I enjoyed sitting down to work on 23 Things and surprised how long it took me to complete some of the "things".
Improvements to 23 Things? How disappointing that we can't access Library2Play, our own blogs or many of the web 2.0 tools on our district computers. I can see that this group of future librarians is going to shake things up in the district as we advocate for our teachers and students.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? You bet!! We learned a little bit about a lot of things but I think next I'd like to learn a lot about a few things. I'd like to focus on 3-4 web 2.0 tools and really learn a variety of ways to apply them to classroom learning.

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?
23 Things opened my eyes to the power of web 2.0 tools for the classroom.

Thing #22 NING, no longer free

Just announced this week, Ning will no longer be free and they will be phasing out this option. Looks like teachers and librarians will need to find a new option. You can read about their rational here. Steve Hargadon, who created Classroom 2.0 Ning blogged about this on his blog about the changes to Ning including a link to a Google doc to post alternative networking options.

I took a close look at the Teacher Librarian Ning that was started by Joyce Valenza (who seems to be in the middle of all things library) Currently there are a lot of resources about the benefits of a well staffed library to student achievement including the video below.

Find more videos like this on TLNing

There are also a wide variety of examples of student work, a discussion boards to exchange ideas and a calendar of events throughout the country.

Thing #21 Podcasts and Video Casts

Creating podcasts and videocasts are a great way for students to demonstrate learning. Photostory is so simple to use and is accessible on our school network computers. I created this project in less than 15 minutes with great results. Because of its simplicity, Photostory can be used with younger students. Students need to be sure to use images and music that is not copyrighted. They can find images from Creative Commons and can choose music from Photostory to include with their project.

I have my iTunes account set to automatically download several podcasts onto my iPod including This American Life (from Chicago Public Radio) and The Moth. I love to listen to these in long car rides.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Free Stuff!

I just found this on the internet and thought I'd share it. The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book by Terry Freedman is a free ebook filled with a ton of ideas, information and projects that use web 2.0 technology!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thing #20 YouTube and TeacherTube

TeacherTube and YouTube are two video sharing sites that teachers can use to enhance instruction. TeacherTube was developed specifically for educational use that has video, audio, documents and photos and can be accessed in most districts. In my classroom I use videos from United Streaming. This year I have a SMART Board in my classroom and seeing the videos on a larger screen has made showing videos more effective and engaging. Teachers can also provide a link to the video on her class web page so that students can access the video outside the classroom for reinforcement or studying. This helps all the students in the class including English language learners or those students with special learning needs. I found this video about using technology in the classroom on TeacherTube.

Thing #19 I know what I'm doing for the rest of the night! :)

There's something about Awards lists and top 100 lists that makes me very happy. It's like being in a really good bookstore and sitting down and spending the afternoon browsing. Someone has already done the work for me and compiled a great list of web resources and websites. Here are some of the things from the Web 2.0 Awards I found that were interesting if not totally random:
  • A compilation of one sentence stories. A one sentence story is a great writing assignment however there is quite a mix of content with these stories.
  • My girls have been buying t-shirts from Threadless for years. It was great to see it as the top retailer in the Web Award list. Threadless is a "community based t-shirt company with an ongoing, open call for designs submissions" People submit t-shirt designs and visitors to the web site vote on the design. An art teacher could use this web site with students and students could create a design and submit it for consideration.
  • UrbanSpoon has restaurant listings with reviews and ratings from for restaurants in cities and towns around the world. I'm sure that there's an educational application but I also love websites like this because I'm frequently away for weekends away in different cities.
  • I was excited to take a look at Picnik, a photos and digital image website but ended up being disappointed. It was recently acquired by Google and it's well organized and easy to use however most of the really interesting editing features require a premium membership that you pay for. Disappointing. I still use Google's Picassa to organize and edit my photos and have been happy with it. It's fee,easy to use and well laid out, like most Google products.
  • is a network of library content and services from around the world. There are over 10,000 libraries currently connected to this web site.

Lots of great web sites to look at!

Thing #18 Google Docs

Guess what? There's a CommonCraft video for Google Docs that simply and clearly explains how Google Docs work and the advantages for using it.
I looked at both Open Office and Google Docs and prefer Google. I like the simplicity of the page and the fact that I don't have to down load anything.
As a special education teacher I am frequently working on paperwork, lessons, and curriculum materials on several different computers and often have a several different versions spread between three different computers, memory sticks and disks. With Google Docs I can access my work from any computer and always have the most current.
After learning about Google Docs I've had a real paradigm shift in how we work in collaborative groups and I'm planning on using Google Docs for my next group project for class.

Thing #17 Rollyo

Rollyo, such a simple concept. Why didn't I think of that?? Rollyo allows me to narrow down my search and only search web sites that I add to my "roll". This is a great tool to use in the classroom when you want students to search specific websites that you've preselected. This keeps some control over the quality of the content they're looking at. I personalized my search engines for recipes to include my favorite cooking websites to include our family's unique (translate-incredibly challenging) dietary needs.
As a librarian it would be important to let your teachers know about Rollyo and how it can be used in the classroom for research. The TeacherTube How to Video would be the perfect tool to use to show teachers how to get started.

Thing #16 Wiki Wiki

Although wiki's are probably the ugliest thing on the web there are an incredible amount of uses for them in the classroom and school library. Princeton Public Libraries have a great example of a book lovers' wiki that was developed as part of a summer library reading program. Looking at that wiki made me want to get to my library and check out some new titles. The interesting part of this wiki was the book reviews that were submitted by members of the summer reading program. I was interested to see that there were reading incentives in the form of a raffle tickets that can be earned by reading and participating in the monthly book clubs. Even adults need an extra incentive to get us to participate sometimes! You get to read and earn restaurant gift certificates...sounds good to me!
Thinking back to the first week of class I appreciated the class wiki and the opportunity to "meet" the other members of our class.
When I'm working as a librarian I would love to try to start a book club wiki with my students and have them write reviews of the books they've read.

#15- Learning 2.0

As a mom of a college sophomore, A Vision of Students Today, made me think how different learning today is compared to my college years. I love how the information was presented in the video however, the overall tone was that these college kids are powerless to make changes...I'd like to see a follow up video where the message focuses on the solutions and possibilities.

Great quote from The OCLC website by Rick Anderson and I couldn't agree with him more: "if our services can’t be used without training, then it’s the services that need to be fixed—not our patrons." As librarians we need to work hard to get our services and resources easily accessible for teachers and students. Michael Stephens discusses "technolust", that as librarians we need to be always mindful of what our mission and goals are to to be sure that the technology we're considering are meeting the needs of our patrons.
On Diane Chen's School Library Journal blog, Practically Paradise there has been a very emotional exchange of comments to her post "get out of my profession" in which Chen discusses her frustration with librarians who are afraid to try something new or embrace the possibility of change. Chen isn't saying that every librarian needs to be totally immersed in the web 2.0 world but that we need to be willing to look at new things, be open to possibilities and be willing to try. Complacency in any profession leads to stagnation.

Thing #14 Techno-tagging

Sounds like there is a little bit of a controversy between how tagging is used on the internet. The history of tagging was discussed in the Chicago Tribune article, Tag, you're it. Tagging was invented by programmer Joshua Schachter who went on to develop Tagging, as he sees it, is people driven. People decide what content they want to tag and what tags to use rather than having advertisers decide what/how to tag something. Schachter believes that this democratizes tagging because it keeps it "people powered".
I took a look at technorati and searched for blogs and posts about autism and found 721 blogs related to autsim and 183 posts. What I noticed after looking closely many of the blogs had very little to do with autism however "autism" was one of their tags. Of the top ten blogs listed four blogs were directly connected to autism. The other topics included a conservative commentary, gluten free cooking, parenting, grandparenting. The blog posts were more interesting although I like the articles I've been reading through my Google Alert better. I don't have to weed through so much.
I love looking at top 100 lists and enjoyed checking out some of the top blogs. I have some new news blogs to read during lunch this week including. Looking at some of these blog sites makes me realize that I can move past CNN and the network for my news and I think I'll find that I'm much more inflrmed about what's going on in the world.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thing #13 delicious tagging

Do you LOVE Common Craft as much as I do? The videos are so simple and clearly explain the current topic. Pure Genius!
Glad that someone thought up social bookmarking because my favorites folder is bursting at the seams. I have things printed out, saved under favorites, on my desk top and in my documents and now I can organize all this information from the web using Delicious. I can't wait to get started...only I've already run into a problem and I need some help from my fellow L2P bloggers. Did anyone else have trouble installing delicious buttons to your toolbar? When I right click I do not get the option to add links. Any ideas?

Thing #12 "comments anyone?"

Giving and receiving comments on blogs is a lot like being an active participant in class. Teaching a class during which no one asks questions, no one adds to the discussion and no one disagrees is a lonely business. In these situations it's easy to question whether your teaching is making a difference. Blogging is the same way. I hadn't really thought about how to encourage comments on my blog however the article 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog has some great suggestions including asking questions, asking for comments and responding to comments when someone writes one. Anyone tried these suggestions yet? Do they work?
I was always confused about what name to sue when I'm blogging or commenting but the article Blogging Basics 101 helped me understand that the different reasons to use your real name vs an alias. It's frustrating to me to see comment left by people who use an alias and leave really rude, or insensitive comments (I see that a lot on news web sites) Another blog I like to follow is Teaching All Students and left a comment there for the first time.

Thing #11

It's spring break and the weather has been glorious so I'm just now sitting down to look at my "things". I took a close look at "Library Thing" and decided very quickly that I'm not a fan of the web site. I realize after looking at so many different web applications with this assignments that there are features to some sites that I don't really care for. Library Thing has too much print on the home page (and the print is small), too many tabs, too much to look at. I like web pages that are clean and well organized. I did sign up and begin building my book shelf but soon turned to Shelfari. I checked out Shelfari after hearing good things about it from classmates and immediately got pulled in. I built a shelf and had fun adding books that I've read to it. I spent some time adding tags and rating books too although I'll have to go back and do that when I have more time (when will that be?). I joined two different groups; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and Libraries and Librarians. The Library group has a lot of interesting discussions including using Shelfari in the library, banned book week, book mold and what one book would you have in your library if you had to choose.
I'd like to continue using Shelfari personally to get recommendations for books to read and keep up with some of the groups there. I'd like to introduce my students to Shelfari this spring and then add it as an option to their summer reading assignment. I'm always looking for ways to encourage my students and their parents to read together at home and to really share positive reading experiences together. This would be a very motivating way to keep track of the books they read at home.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thing #10...I could do this all day

Trading Card Maker

okay....had a wordle but I hit a tab and it disappeared! Ahh the frustration of technology. I've gone back to the website to remake my wordle but the web page is down...won't make my collage. A good example of how a good activity can go bad. Same thing happened today during class when my Smartboard wouldn't work right before a lesson.

wordle - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I had a great time exploring all the image generators....I'm glad to have a reason to play around with all of this and learn how to use them. Most of these image generators are very easy to use and require just a few minutes and a little bit of creativity. The trading card generator was easy to use and has 100 applications in the classroom; any unit we study can be made into a trading card. Right now we are reading a story about life in a pond. My students could each choose an animal that lives in the pond and create a trading card. We can use Wordle as a prereading activity as we build our background knowledge. As a small group activity the students can brainstorm words that relate to the new topic and create a word cloud with their words. Image Chef is just plain fun!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thing #9....this took awhile!

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rhon

If that's true then building your "circle of the wise" can be an important way to manage the information that comes your way on the web and let's you know what the best in the field are thinking and talking about. I'm finding I like my blog dashboard better for keeping up with the blogs I'm following better than the the Google Reader. My blog dashboard is just simpler and cleaner.
I found a lot of interesting blogs to look atEdublog Awards found lots of blogs to add to my dashboard: Teaching All Students is a blog about the use of assistive technology in the special education classroom Free Technology for Teachers is a blog that reviews free technology and provides suggestion for integrating it into the classroom. John Spencer:Musings from a Not-So-Master Teacher has a funny post about his proposed "TAD Talks". Tad being Ted's (from Ted Talks) younger, underachieving brother. I appreciate his self deprecating sense of humor.

I like to use Technorati to search for new Blogs to read. I'm finding over and over that I prefer blogs, readers and websites that are well organized (no surprise), visually clean with columns clearly well defined and without an overwhelming amount of print or advertisements. The Top 100 list is especially helpful due to the tabs on the side indicating what blog's category (ie "top 100 political blog)

I don't like I'm sure if I were stuck in an airport with nothing but Syndic8 to search I could keep busy for hours (I'm a news junkie) but at first it didn't hold my interest.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

who needs sleep?

Oh no...just got my first Google Alert on "autism" with 15 links to current articles on the topic. I might not ever sleep again. So many interesting things to read and learn.
Just saw the Google ad during the Super creative and incredibly adorable. My older daughter is going to study abroad in Paris next year so it really made me smile. I love smart advertising.
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Thing #8 RSS Feeds

I LOVE . This website has the best short (3 minutes) videos simplifying complicated ideas in the areas of technology, finance, society and going green. The video on RSS feeds explained it beautifully. So simple and entertaining too. Makes me wish I'd thought of it. I set myself up with Google Reader and subscribe to some blogs including some fellow bloggers from class and some professional blogs. I like that I can go to one place to get caught up on the blogs I'm following. Having easy access to these blogs means I can use my time on the computer more efficiently and stay caught up. Google Reader is another tool to use to help organize your access to information on the web. With the overwhelming amount of information on the web students, teachers, librarians and administrators need to know what tools to use to organize access to it and to maximize their time spent.
K a Capital Letter T on Plywood (Takoma Park, MD) scrabble letter I letter E

Thing #7 Gotta Love Google!

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I added iGoogle as my homepage and customized it with news links, recipes, art, daily quotes, weather, a pet hamster :) and top rated YouTube videos. I already can see that having iGoogle as my home page will be both helpful and a distraction. When I sit down to work at my computer I usually check a few web sites and emails before I start working. Now my distractions are well organized. Interesting quote from quote of the day;
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." - Jim Rohn
I signed up for a Google Alert to receive relevant Google results about "autism". This will be helpful in keeping up with current information on topics of interest. I'll add other alerts if I like the results.
I've been using Google's Picasa ever since I've been taking digital pictures and appreciate the simplicity and ease of use. It's very intuitive and is visually well laid out and I'm able to do a lot of editing to my pictures there. I downloaded my first Picasa Web Album without too much difficulty and made a mosaic of some of my pictures.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thing #6 life is a mashup!

There are limitless possibilities when you start combining all the web has to offer. I enjoyed playing with Flickr Colr Pickr and playing with that mashup led me to discover this really fun creative mashup called Spell with Flickr. You type in any word and Flickr finds photos of the letters to spell your words. After looking at Bookr I can see how I could easily use this in my classroom or in library lessons. Students could use this application to create an end product for a lesson importing Flickr images or their own personal photos or images to create a book.
Recently, I was catching up on the news on the MSNBC website and came across a great interactive map of Haiti (couldn't access it at school) that combined a Google map with video, photos and articles. It really gave you a sense of where the news was coming from and when they were combined with images it provided comprehensive information.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thing #5

I spent quite a bit of time exploring the Flickr website. The Creative Commons was interesting and I'm sure we will be looking at these images when we work on our power point. My oldest daughter is studying art in college and I can see how this website would be a great tool to getting feedback on her work. I spent some time looking at the photos in The Commons including pictures from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and George Eastman House, some beautiful and interesting photographs.

Thing #4

My blog is officially registered and I'm ready to continue this 23 things journey. I'm learning that anytime I turn on my computer to do classwork I need to clear my schedule for three hours or more. There's so many interesting things to learn and before I know it hours have passed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thing #3

I'm an Avatar!! If it weren't so late I would have spent more time picking out an outfit but like usual I grabbed a t-shirt and a comfortable pair of jeans.
Setting up a blog was like every other thing I do these days with new technology. I'm not sure what I'm doing, I take it a step at a time, go back and read the directions if it's not working and then I surprise myself when it works out.

Thing #2

I've just finished viewing the 7 1/2 Habits Of Highly Successful Life Long Learners,

The habit that comes easiest for me is habit #2, Accept Responsibility for Your Own Learning. Whether it's at work or in my personal life I seek out ways to keep learning and become better at what I do. As my role as a special education teacher has changed over the years I have sought out ways to continue learning including seeking out staff development, learning from co-workers or observing successful classroom teachers.
I don't always "begin with the end in mind" (habit #1), and as a life long learner I don't alway think that is a bad thing. Some learning, like going back to school to get my library certification, has a very clear end in mind. For me, sometimes the end doesn't become clear until I've learned a little. Like the 23 Things. I have no idea what I'll be learning but somewhere along the end will become clear....I think.

Thing #1

"There's no use in trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I dare say you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." -Lewis Carroll

I have no idea what Web 2.0 is or even one of the "23 Things" but I'm ready for a new challenge.