Saturday, May 7, 2011

Top Ten Tech for Teachers

Top Ten Things Teachers Should Know about Technology

1. You can do it!  You’ll have to spend some time to learn new skills and technologies, but it’s worth the effort, both for student learning and your own efficiency and effectiveness.

2. Give yourself time to experiment and explore.  You’ll have a better chance of mastering the new technology if you’re not panic-stricken.

3. Check out the website “The 21 Things:  21 Things for the 21st Century Educator: Technology Every Educator Should Know.”  This website offers an organized approach for tackling the many resources and issues related to technology in education.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to learn 21 Things this year!

4. Try to practice what you’ve learned in PD sessions SOON after you’ve learned it, and, of course, save the handouts for guidance.

5. Ask for help.  Sometimes hours of confusion can be averted by getting the answer to one little question.

6. Explore the Cloud.  For instance, save important links and bookmarks on a site like delicious or Google docs so that they are accessible to you from any computer.  Use Picasa to store photos.  You’ll have much more flexibility in accessing your information.

7. Learn with the students.  Let them help you, and let them help each other.

8. Think of the purpose of your lesson and the outcome you’re hoping to achieve.  Being clear on the outcome will help you determine the best use of technology for the lesson.

9. “Use technology only when it makes rich, real, and relevant curriculum richer, more real, and more relevant.”  I liked this quote from the weblink since it reminds teachers that a technology-influenced lesson isn’t always necessary or even the best approach.

10. Make sure students understand that online research has to involve more than just cutting and pasting.

Final Thoughts

I kept my Top Ten list the same because it really covers the areas I want it to.  For me the most important thing I would want to tell anyone about technology is that they can do it!  Many of the points on my list are ideas on how to approach learning technology or little nudges toward really useful tools like Google Docs.  It's important for me to include "The 21 Things: 21 Things for the 21st Century Educator: Technology Every Educator Should Know" on the list because I think people need to have a sense of what the essential tools are, so they're not completely overwhelmed.  Of course, there are many other possible tools for teachers to learn, but these are very valuable in the classroom and are presented in a way that a teacher could learn them on his or her own.

I mentioned this in the discussion already, but learning all these new technologies has made me much more confident that I can master unfamiliar topics.  I just keep trying and testing and trying again, and after a while I understand.  I never approached technology this way before.  In the past I would get discouraged and give up.  Now I see other people panicking around computers, and I'm glad I don't feel that way anymore.  Oh yeah, and I try to help them if I can!

I think I need to push a little further now to master certain technologies so that I can effectively teach them to other people.  For instance, I have a general idea of how to put together a podcast, but I couldn't tell anyone else how to do it yet.  I also plan to do some modelling of cool technologies on my library website.  I plan to hook up a blog there, so teachers can see how it might work; I want to post some jings for using the catalog, both as lessons and to show teachers what a jing is.  And I'm going to put up some Animotos of new books to showcase the books and to introduce the technology.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Like Destiny!

Administrative Needs

In my school system we use Follett’s Destiny system in all the libraries.  For all my administrative needs, the program seems quite efficient.  I can create barcode and spine labels, I can do quick cataloging changes (maybe even complicated cataloging if I keep my cataloging book handy!), and I can easily add titles through Follett’s listing of book records on TitlePeek.  I can figure out library statistics, such as how many graphics were checked out in January or how many books have gone out since September—11,500!  I can keep track of patrons, add them, delete them, see what books they have out; I can generate a list of overdues for a whole class to give to a teacher, or I can print up individual notices to pass out to students.  Many of our older books still have cards in the pockets with students’ names written in and dates stamped, and I’m so happy not to have to worry about any of that. 

Book Orders

At some point I downloaded my book catalog with Follett, so now if I order books from them, I can see if I already have a copy in my collection.  When I do order books from Follett, it’s very easy to download the MARC records onto my system.  I haven’t ordered from another book company, but I think the downloads would still be effortless—other librarians in my district order books from Permabound and other companies without any problems. 

Technical Issues

When the system crashes, there’s an offline program, which I learned a while ago; I’ve never had to use it, but it seemed simple enough.  I’ve always gotten technical support on the phone without any problem at all.  I appreciate that the service people are always nice to me, even when I ask my completely clueless questions.

Student Users

As an online catalog, the Destiny system is easy for students to use.  There’s a friendly interface called Destiny Quest, which, unfortunately, my library computers can’t handle.  Destiny Quest seems very easy for young students to use, with lots of visuals like book covers and subject icons.  Also, there are easily accessible resource lists and top ten lists; in addition, students can log in and create their own lists of books they’d like to check out.  The non-Destiny Quest interface allows all these options for students but in a duller layout.  Features like the resource lists are hard to find and so are unlikely to be used except by the most motivated students.  But these limitations are school-based technology issues, not problems with Destiny itself.  In general, book searching yields good results for students, and the system indicates whether or not the book is already checked.  The librarian is able to set up searches to limit results by lexile numbers, which is helpful in guiding students to books at the right level.

Future Needs

I’m not sure if Destiny allows for cataloging websites.  Because of time limitations, I would not be able to do this anyway, and due to limited computers students wouldn’t be able to do website research in the library.  But I see that, for an additional fee, Destiny offers an interesting service called Webpath Express in which they link age-appropriate, educator-approved websites into the catalog.  It’s nice to know that Follett offers this service because as students get more and more used to accessing the library catalog at home, they could get a huge educational benefit from having pre-selected, appropriate websites available to them.  Though I would never be able to catalog websites myself, I don’t object to providing information to students in this way.  Another service that Follett offers, again at an additional charge, links books and websites to Standards.  Teachers would appreciate having this information available, especially since the Standards are set to change soon.  A final note on costs—I don’t know how much Destiny costs because our district pays for it.  I’ll try to find out.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Internet Safety Bibliography

Collier, Anne. "A Better Safety Net: It's Time to Get Smart About Online Safety." School Library Journal. 1 Nov. 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

Collier suggests that the focus on Internet safety education for young people needs to move into a new phase—Version 3.0.  Instead of focusing on dangers from online predators, schools and parents should emphasize the importance developing media literacy and digital citizenship.

This short but informative website offers suggestions for parents on how victims of cyberbullying can take action through private, school, or police interventions.  Also, the site helps parents in understanding how to prevent their own children from becoming bullies.

Hoffman, Jan. "As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up." The New York Times. 4 Dec. 2010. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

This New York Times article stresses the role parents must play in teaching their children about safe use of the Internet and Facebook and also their responsibility in monitoring that use.  The article cites several episodes of cyberbullying and the resolutions achieved.  For many young people, understanding the hurt their online actions can cause is a difficult lesson to process. 

"Internet Safety." The Official Website of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office. Berkshire District Attorney. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>
This Internet Safety section of the Official Website of the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office has detailed explanations of common applications parents should be familiar with, as well as related risks.  Parents who are not very tech-savvy will appreciate the list of Real Life Rules, such as “Come right home after school,” and their online counterparts. Home. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

This website is sponsored by a non-profit organization called Enough is Enough, which offers trainings and educational materials on Internet safety, with a heavy emphasis on stranger danger and online predators.  The site includes a section with 101 video clips relating to online dangers with real life testimonials and statements by law enforcement officials.
Staff. "Online Safety Tips for Kids Heading Back to School." School Library Journal. 13 Aug. 2010. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

This short article advocates for parents becoming well-informed about computers and about their children’s lives.  Includes a list of questions to ask teachers and schools about filtering software, cyberbullying policies, social networking between students and teachers, and other technology-related concerns.

The Door That's Not Locked. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>.

This website from Canada covers the topics of privacy, predators, and, to a lesser extent, bullying, and has sections for Parents, Teachers, and Everyone Else.  The site allows searching for information by age—5-7, 8-9, 10-12, and 13-15.  The section I looked at—Years 10-12—discusses child development as a way of giving parents a broader understanding of how their child understands the world and other people at this point in his or her life.  The site then offers suggestions to parents on how to talk to children this age about technology use.

Web Wise Kids. Web. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

Web Wise Kids is a national non-profit devoted to increasing kids’ knowledge of internet safety.  The resources on the website include Internet Safety Kits for K-3 and 4-6.  The Internet Safety Kit for 4-6 includes a helpful chart of 9 safety rules.  Each rule is expanded upon with a related activity, such as a maze going from a prize advertised online to a parent in the middle saying, “OK.”  The Resources section has thorough guides on topics such as Twitter, Facebook, and cell phone use.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Oh, my goodness, I finally figured out jing, and I think it is pretty cool! I made a number of jing videos for my PD presentation, and, though I don't think I'm the best jingster out there--uh, um, oops--I can see that it's really a wonderful way to convey information and to explain things while showing real-life, online examples. Here's my jing video on making an Animoto:

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Sunday, March 20, 2011


My husband got a Kindle this past Christmas after a couple years of back and forth on whether or not to get  one.  He likes it, but my observations have revealed that he only uses it to play a scrambled word game!  I hadn't really played with it for more than a couple of minutes until last night, and my verdict after about 45 minutes of looking through the how-to guide (well, I'm a digital immigrant!) and reading a chapter of Pride and Prejudice is----I like it.  Because I am pre-bifocal but moving quickly toward the reality of needing bifocals, readability is my primary concern.  I think the screen is too dim, but it seems like one of the attachable reading lights would take care of that problem.  I really liked that the Kindle allows me to increase the text size.  This is wonderful for my tired eyes!  From taking online classes, I've gotten used to reading online, so my reading experience was comfortable.  I didn't miss the actual experience of turning the pages, but I didn't like the placement of the page-turning buttons on the device.  It seems to me that they should have figured out where people's thumbs would rest and place the forward button there, but instead that's where the reverse button is.  I didn't get into learning how to highlight or any other fancy tricks, though I'm curious to learn more and see how adding notes to an ebook text compares to working with a paper text.

I have been looking forward to reading Jonathan Franzen's long and heavy book, Freedom, and I just might buy it for Kindle reading, if my husband is willing to share with me!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Module 2 Favorites

I really enjoyed exploring all these tech tools, some of them for the first time and some with more depth than I’d done before.  It was hard to pick 5 favorites, so I fudged things a bit to include one or two extras. 

Blogs and Wikis
Blogs and wikis seem like the most important tools to me.  Students, teachers, and others can use blogs and wikis to post or store information, and then those students, teachers, and others can comment and interact.  Wikis, of course, allow for more interaction but blogs are also great as a place where folks can gather to discuss topics.  In the classroom, use of blogs and wikis would encourage student writing, discussion, and thinking.  They also offer a potential opportunity to get quieter students to participate more fully.

Social Bookmarking
Why wasn’t I using Diigo and Delicious before!?  They’re amazing tools for keeping track of all the great resources I come across every day.  I don’t know if teachers at my school are aware of these sites, but I think everyone would find them extremely useful for organizing the barrage of information that they want to hang onto, but don’t manage to.

Flickr and Flickr Commons
For student multimedia projects, Flickr seems like an essential resource.  Not only can you organize your own photos, but you can also see other people’s images.  If you search through the Creative Commons, you can find photos that are available for use in educational or personal projects.  And Flickr Commons offers access to images and primary documents from dozens of museums, libraries, and historical societies.  I loved making a personal scrapbook of favorite photos I found at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the National Archives, and others. I loved this photo from NYPL.

Digital ID: 1260071. Mrs. Gus Wright, Farm Security Administration client with her canned goods, Oakland community, Greene County, Georgia, November 1941.. Delano, Jack -- Photographer. November 1941

Animoto was just a blast.  It was so easy to make a high quality video.  I know students would LOVE using this tool and would feel very proud of their products.  The directions were very simple—another plus for a tool that children will be using.  People in class mentioned using Animoto for book reports, and I saw that someone else had recapped a classroom biography project in her Animoto—both great ideas.  I keep saying this, but I plan to pay for the expanded service, so I can make longer videos for my personal use.

BigHugeLabs was another site that children would be crazy about.  There are many possible educational uses, most with the end result of helping students present their work in a polished and professional format.  Maybe BigHugeLabs is more fluff than substance, but anything that gets students to be more excited and proud of their work seems like a valuable addition to an educator’s toolkit.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trying to Figure Out How to Post a PDF file on Blogger

I saw a nice tutorial on various uses of Google on the site Free Technology for Teachers (written by Richard Byrne).  He allows posting of his tutorial on blogs, but it's in PDF format.  I thought it might be useful to learn how to put a PDF into a blog, so I am making an attempt now....

Well, that didn't work.  I tried to convert the PDF to an HTML file using Zamzar, but I get the feeling this is not the right approach.  I thought I would end up with some HTML code to embed, but I don't really know what I have!  It says .zip file.  I googled the question, and they suggested using Scribd first to publish the PDF and then link.  But when I tried to do this, I got the strong impression that I wasn't allowed to publish this work on Scribd because it didn't belong to me in the first place!  So, I gave up, for now.  But that nice tutorial is accessible, nonetheless, in the first line of this posting, and I think it will be handy to have it here so I can come back and study it now and again.