Thing 14: Social Reading & Book Stuff

Brooke, John Warwick. 'Good Friends' An Artillery driver and his horse enjoy a rest' [circa 1918]. [Official Photograph Taken on the British Western Front in France.] From the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928). First World War 'Official Photographs'. National Library of Scotland, no known copyright restrictions.

Brooke, John Warwick. ‘Good Friends’ An Artillery driver and his horse enjoy a rest’ [circa 1918]. [Official Photograph Taken on the British Western Front in France.] From the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig (1861-1928). First World War ‘Official Photographs’. National Library of Scotland, no known copyright restrictions.

This topic covers a lot of interesting items subjects, so for this activity I will focus on ‘Book Stuff’, my personal experiences with vendor ebooks and how these might be implemented in my school library.

I remember my first experience several years ago with borrowing audiobooks from the local public library. They had just implemented OverDrive for ebooks and audiobooks. Although I do own both an ebook reader and a tablet computer, I still find myself  purchasing print books. I guess I like the experience of wandering through the isles of the bookstores better than browsing online. I do, however, find myself regularly checking out audiobooks from the library so I was interested to explore what was available through OverDrive.

My initial findings were not very affirmative at that time. There were not many titles available in this collection that were iOS compatible and of those that were, they were not titles (or authors) that I was interested in reading. I did notice earlier this winter that more items were iOS compatible, and upon digging, I did notice some titles and authors that I might find of interest to me. I have since enjoyed titles like “Soon I Will Be Invincible” (Austin Grossman, 2007), “Gods Behaving Badly” (Marie Phillips, 2007), “The Diviners” (Libba Bray, 2012), and several Terry Pratchett novels.

I did notice again, that I could not find  several popular-press authors that I currently follow nor specific titles that one might consider as seminal works of science fiction. Perhaps this was because of a collection-development practices of either OverDrive or the library system, or maybe my tastes are ‘too eclectic’, I don’t know but I continue to monitor these holdings.

With this in mind, I think about the ebooks currently available in my library collection. As a result of being in the ‘right place at the right time’ last year, I have numerious nonfiction, reference, and literature titles to support the Common Core. These available from several different vendors. When I mention to others at school that we’ve got ebooks, the first thing they ask about are fiction titles for their ebook readers. So with this in mind, I am currently exploring collection development practices for fiction ebooks so that I can better meet this need.

As for OverDrive, I do have the app installed on my tablet computer right next to the Nook app. I am currently teaching an experimental elective for High School Students on using mobile technologies and we will be examining both how to access ebooks from the library and how to create ebooks. I’m looking forward to working with my students on this topic.


Thing 13: Media Skills

J.E. Williamson going down

J.E. Williamson going down. Bain News Service, publisher [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection. No known restrictions on publication.

This year at Dryden, we have two new things available to us. First, we have access to Google Apps for Education which allows us to easily create and share digital files with each other. It is available to both staff and students. In addition, we have technology mentors. This is a team of teachers, myself included, that are technology enthusiasts and that use educational technologies in our classrooms. We have a wide range of skills, abilities, and interests and one of our goals is to promote the use of educational technologies in our classrooms.

Earlier this past week, I received an email from one of my teachers asking for help. He said (and I paraphrase):

I’m working on a Google presentation that I am planning to show when I meet with a group of parents. Each slide contains a photograph and I would like it to loop when it gets to the end. I know how to do this in PowerPoint but I cannot figure it out in Google presentation. Any thoughts?

While I am not an expert (yet) with Google apps, the more I use it, the more I like it. I have also used PowerPoint to create looping slide shows of images, however, I have yet to play around with Google presentations. He had shared his presentation with me so I took a look at it. Sure enough, I could not find a loop option in Google presentation.

Upon doing a Google search for the puzzle, I discovered that first one creates their presentation, then one goes to Google sites to create a web page upon which one then inserts a file from Google Drive. When a presentation is chosen, one gets display options that includes loop. I just found another reason to like Google Apps.

My teacher was very happy to hear about my findings and he was then able to get his images to loop. I’m looking forward to touching base with him after he meets with his group of parents to see how it went.

Thing 12: Social Learning & Learning Management Systems

Lecture on steps

“Lecture on steps.” N.d. Photographs of Frank R. Snyder. Miami University Libraries- Digital Collections. No known copyright restrictions. URL:,2799

One of my early experiences with a Learning Management System (LMS) was in graduate school over 15 years ago. The professor taught his course using a bulletin board system (BBS). He did a lecture early in the week, then days later he would post his notes on his BBS along with questions for his students. About the same time, I witnessed several other things that appeared to be related. There were Freenets and the development of distance learning in higher education. These online technologies had a common goal, to bring people together for the exchange of ideas and information.

This was in the very early days of the Internet when the best access one had was via a 2400 baud modem using plain old telephone lines. Unless one happened to work the weekend shifts at a quiet library in the area. These were the days before streaming audio and video, before one could easily share files with others, and often when color output (monitors and printers) was a luxury. Things have certainly changed for the better.

One of the things I brought with me when I was hired as the school’s library media specialist was the desire to explore how the ideas behind LMS could be implemented in the Middle and High School levels to promote student learning. We have access to a system at BOCES as well as an internal ‘communication and content management’ system. While both of which are used, they did not meet easily meet the needs of teachers and students. I have used blogs, however, it was difficult to get this technology into the classroom. As I prepared to teach media literacy to 6th grade students this year, we decided to use Edmodo as a vehicle to teach students about (and for them to have structured experiences with) online communication behaviors. In addition to myself, a couple other teachers are using it and there are several others that are interested.

Generally speaking, we have had success using Edmodo. Students like because in many ways it looks like Facebook and teachers find it easy to use. We discovered before we started using it that we needed to get parents’ permissions first, otherwise we would have to differentiate the lessons for those without permissions. While this was doable, I would like to talk with Edmodo to see if we could instead use the computer use agreement forms that are signed each September. I would also like to explore Edmodo’s school and district network options.

I do look forward to further exploring how to use Edmodo with my 6th students and to sharing these experiences with others. I also like the idea of professional communities in Edmodo. This is an excellent resource for educational professionals. As I prepare to teach a High School elective on mobile technologies, we will probably use it in this class, too.

Exploring Digital Resources With Mobile Technologies

Journalist Lucy Morgan with video camera and phone. (ca. 1985). Donn Dughi collection. State Library and Archives of Florida,

Journalist Lucy Morgan with video camera and phone. (ca. 1985). Donn Dughi collection. State Library and Archives of Florida,

Attention Juniors and Seniors- New Pilot Course!

Are you planning to go on to college after graduating? Would you like to know how you could use iPads and other mobile devices in college? Join us as we explore how these digital devices can be used in higher education.

We will learn about (and use) blogs, wiki, RSS feeds, Google Apps, and social media services. We will investigate how to use media resources like podcasts and ebooks in school. Join us as we also examine issues related to the use of mobile devices in society like online communication, and cyberbullying, etc. Learn how to create and share meaningful information with others.

Be a step a head of your other classmates by learning how to use digital resources with mobile technologies.

This course will be taught by Mr. Dutcher this Spring in the library media center, period to be determined, and it will be graded as a pass/fail. Space is limited. See your guidance counselor for more information.

Thing 10: Productivity Tools

Civilian Conservation Corps Members Learning the Difference Between Fir and Pine Trees.

Norr, Roy. (1936). The Civilian Conservation Corps boys are being taught the difference between fir and pine trees on the Columbia National Forest, Washigton. USFS photo #340009. From the Gerald W. Williams Collection, OSU Special Collections & Archives: Commons. No known copyright restrictions.

When I initially saw that this lesson was productivity tools, my initial thought was ‘well, that’s rather subjective’ since many (most?, all?) the tools we’ve looked at during this online course could be used for productive purposes. So what exactly does productivity tools mean to me and to my students? I think it means collecting and organizing digital information for research projects and that means social bookmarking. For this final lesson I explored Evernote and Instapaper.

I remember seeing Evernote on many iPad advertisements before I bought mine. I was not sure what it was or what it did but it looked cool (hey, an elephant never forgets) and the app was free. Although I did download it, I did not have an opportunity to explore it, until now. I discovered that with an Evernote account, one could access items bookmarked through the web browser, a tablet computer, or a smart phone. It would also ‘remember’ photos and voice memos (at least on smartphones and tablets). Web pages could be  bookmarked and everything (web pages, voice memos, photos) could be annotated, tagged, and shared with others through email or some social networking services. This is indeed a cool tool.

Instapaper is a similar bookmarking tool which advertises itself  as “a simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” While the mobile app is available for purchase, I only explored the online version. This service only bookmarks web pages, these also can be annotated and shared through email. Users can also link and share through several different social networking services. In addition, many social networking services and newsreaders can send items to one’s Instapaper account for later reading (I did not investigate this feature).

I could see myself easily using both of these tools for different purposes. I could easily see myself using Evernote as a research tool because of its scope of media that can be saved and the ability to tag items. I could even see myself introducing this tool to High School students working on research projects. I see myself using Instapaper as a professional development tool. If the mobile app works as well as the online service, this would mean that I could easily bookmark articles and web pages of interest to be read later.

For me, social bookmarking tools are important productivity tools when one considers all of the online information that one is exposed to on a daily basis. As a teacher librarian, I feel that these are often under utilized. I see people bookmarking websites with their web browsers and many times sharing just URLs with others through email (hey, how about some metadata?) or through print with really long URLs that are difficult to retype. While well intended, this can be frustrating for the recipient. The other day I received an envelope at school through the interoffice mail. Our BOCES had recently invited Kathleen Odean to introduce educators in our area to the best new YA books for 2012. I was unable to attend this workshop and I heard that it was excellent. Inside this envelop was a copy of the resource book that Odean had shared during the workshop. As I opened the booklet and noticed a QR barcode inside which linked readers to her bookmarks on Diigo. It was a pleasure to see another person using a social bookmarking web site to share resources with others. I do, indeed, look forward to her next visit to our area.

Thing 9: Databases & Search Tools

Student Using the Card Catalogue in the Library, 1981. London School of Economics. No known copyright restrictions.

Student Using the Card Catalogue in the Library, 1981. London School of Economics. No known copyright restrictions.

At my library, we have access to the NOVEL NY databases, several encyclopedia and reference databases, and a set of streaming media databases. At last count, my students have access to 123 different research and periodical databases and periodical collections (subsets of periodical databases).

To make it easier for students to find the best databases to meet their needs, I organized these databases in a social bookmarking website. Together by using a combination of javascript and RSS feeds, I have been able to easily create and post specific sets of these databases onto my class project pages (web pages, wiki, blog, and now LibGuides) for specific classes and projects.

I have also explored numerous database widgets and I use several of these on my library webpage to provide my students with instant access to these resources. Several database publishers have also created apps for mobile devices and I use these with students in my library. My catalog also does federated searching, simultaneously allowing students to cross-searching most of our databases. As long as my teachers are willing, I have numerous different tools available to connect their students to high-quality database resources. However, connecting students to the library databases is just part of the educational picture.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a new representative from one of my database publishers. He wanted to introduce himself and to show us some of the special features and curriculum-related resources available on that particular vendor’s database. I was familiar with many of the resources found in that database since we subscribe to it, I really had not really explored these curriculum-related and information-literacy resources. I know that other publishers of K-12 library databases also have similar instructional resources available.

With this in mind, I plan to create a second set of bookmarks for these other supplemental resources for my classroom teachers. This will enable them to easily connect to high-quality instructional resources as they plan their CCLS lessons. This would also allow me share resources with school administrators, parents, and others when the topic of student instruction is discussed.

While the publishers write their supplemental instructional resources for their products, these could easily be used with other databases or instructional materials. By connecting my teachers to these instructional materials, we can more easily create rich, meaningful learning experiences for our students that use high-quality library resources that are designed to improve student learning.

Thing 8: Collaborating, Connecting, Sharing

Telephone Boxes

Some of the first telephone boxes to grace Dublin’s streets. Installation was in preparation for the thousands of people who descended on the capital from all over Ireland, and from all over the world, for the 31st International Eucharistic Congress in June 1932.
Telephone Boxes. Independent Newspapers PLC. [1912-1936]. The Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Collection, National Library of Ireland on The Commons.

The role of a school librarian continues to change. Long gone is the image of someone that just checks out books and shushes noisy students, although some people probably think that this is what I do all day. From my experience- collaborating, connecting, and sharing with teachers and students more accurately reflects my activities in the library. Two tools that I am currently exploring for this blog post are Google Docs and Skype.

In late January at the technology committee meeting, it was announced that Google Docs would soon be made available at in the district. The way that it is set up for us is that we have access to Google Docs with cloud computing and document sharing within our district yet we cannot share outside our school district. While I had heard of Google Docs years ago yet I had not yet explored it in any great detail. Until now. I did log in and explored some of the basic productivity tools (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.) and document filing. I also read about the ability to create and share editable documents with others, and I saw that blogging, photo sharing, and many other apps were available. This was going to be fun, however, it was going to be a learning and exploring process. While I am fine with this type of learning, I know that it drives others nuts.

This week I have had some interesting experiences with Google Docs at school. First, I was sent a copy of the minutes from a technology user group  meeting. The group met the previous day after school and one of the teachers took the minutes during the meeting to later share this document with group members shortly after the meeting, It was a pleasant surprise the next morning to see this document since I had not been able to attend this meeting. The next day I received calendar invitations from Google Calendar. These were from one of my Spanish teachers, we were planning for Foreign Language Week presentations next week and she was sending me the dates and times of the different presentations. Way cool, different aspects of Google Docs that were created and shared with me on two different collaborative projects. I am looking forward to learning how to create and share similar files and information with others at school.

The other tool I am currently exploring is Skype. Earlier during the winter holidays, I helped  my mother set up her Skype account so that she could easily communicate with her granddaughter. While she has not called me for technical support since then, so I really don’t know if it is working for her or if she has not yet used it. I have also played around a little bit with FaceTime, however since I don’t use either one my experience is minimal. Welcome back to Foreign Language Week preparations. Two of the presenters, and perhaps a third, are not local and these people asked if they could Skype into the library to meet with our students. Skype had been used a couple of times last year at our school and I heard stories of how difficult it was to use. While I am comfortable coordinating and supporting educational technologies in the classroom, I did not know what to expect on this topic. I am not sure what has changed, however when I asked, it appears that now Skype is something that can easily be done. While we still need to get the software installed and then tested before the presentation, I am excited to see this happen. I could easily see this technology being used for brining guests into the classroom, to meet with others that are unable to meet in at school, and to participate in webinars for professional development.

Other experiences with collaborating, connecting, and sharing include: curriculum writing with a business teacher using a wiki as a collaboration tool, using Dropbox to make my files available remotely on my mobile devices and to share with others; using Doodle to schedule meetings; using Survey Monkey to create online surveys to gather information from students or teachers; collaborating with another school librarian to create a LibGuide to share with other school librarians as part of a training on LibGuides; and exploring how students could use Diigo to collect and annotate resources for their research projects. There are a lot of neat, different tools that meet specific needs and sometimes this is just what is needed for the task at hand. In industry they talk about ‘just in time delivery’ of products and services. Tools like these allow school librarians to provide this same type of service with information and documents to further support classroom instruction and related programs and services in the school district. No longer is sophisticated informational technology relegated to just the computer technology department.