Thing 18- Digital Tattoo & Digital Citizenship

Last summer as we wrote curriculum for our new media literacy course for 6th grade students, we decided to that online behavior and online communication would be central themes in this course. Through out this school year, these two ideas were always in mind when I reflected upon what worked (or didn’t work) and when I developed my lessons for this class.

The other day, someone forwarded an article about something called “Digital Driver’s License” (DDL). It is an online tool for students designed to teach students, through case studies, about digital literacy and safety while encouraging them to become independent and cautious digital learners. One could access this information through the Internet or via an app.  It includes resources from Common Sense Media (I use many of their resources in my class) and others. It appears to be customizable.

This sounded interesting to me since it was similar to our guiding philosophy for our media literacy course. So I created an account in DDL to see how it worked and I took a look at one of the Middle School-level cases. It presented a really nice info graphic with a set of questions related to it. This info graphic was indeed information dense and came from an outside source. The attached questions required careful reading so that you could properly answer them. Probably best not attempted after a long day just before one goes home.

I did like what I saw in this case study. I believe that it might be a valuable addition to this course. If the other case studies are similar to the one I experienced, we would need to spend more time in class deliberately reading for understanding. I do need to further explore DDL to discover how I might use it with my students.


Thing 16: You Pick! Nearpod

The Fifties in 3D
“The Fifties in 3D.” 11th May 11, 1951.National Archives UK. No known copyright restrictions.

This has been an exciting year in my school district in regards to educational technology. During the summer we set up our technology mentor program. The tech mentors are a group of teachers from across the district that are technology enthusiasts, that use educational technologies with their students, and that are willing to support other teachers to use technologies in their classrooms. This year we also had iPads  available for student use in the classroom. One of the technologies we saw at our tech mentor training over the summer was something called Nearpod.

Nearpod is an online presentation tool and it does have an app for tablet devices and smartphones. Just imagine you are giving a lecture. You slides, instead of displaying on a large screen in front of the class, are on display on the students’ computers, tablet devices, or smartphones.  Preprogramed questions popup between the slides at critical points so that your students can submit responses to critical questions. You can instantly see the students responses to gage their understanding of the concepts of your lesson. Nearpod presentations are easy to create and easy to use, and you can also get reports of students’ responses. Nearpod allows you to turn your static slideshow into an interactive learning experience.

During this school year, I collaborated with another tech mentor (a High School science teacher) on a Nearpod presentation for our Board of Education to introduce some of these ‘new to our school district’ technologies for educational use. I have also demonstrated it at faculty meetings, and most recently at a BOCES SLS Council meeting, to discuss how this technology could be used for formative evaluation in the classroom. It is wildly popular in the Elementary and Middle Schools. Some of the interesting applications have included using Nearpod as a tool for reviewing materials and as an exit ticket tool. I find it to be a very versatile tool and I enjoy seeing how my teachers use it with their students.

Thing 15: App-palooza! The Snapguide App

As a school librarian, I know that learning comes in many different forms. Sometimes it is more formal, like when I’m delivering bibliographic instruction to a class, or more informal, like when a student has a ready reference question. Often I am readily available to assist my students face-to-face. Many times my students have real complex questions related to their research, and often they just need how-to directions to complete a task. Then there are times when I am not available in the library (e.g.: weekends, holidays, etc.),  learning is an asynchronous activity that may not follow a clock or a calendar. An app that I recently found that could address these needs for how-to directions is Snapguide.

I do not remember where I first saw this app, but it intrigued me. Here were how-to guides that people had created and posted. guides about crafts and recipes, how to fix a fence and make a martini. These contained step-by-step guides with pictures and text, complete with supply lists. These guides displayed nicely on smartphones, tablet devices, and computers. Like other forms of social media, these could be shared with other services and embedded on web pages and people could add comments. You could easily search Snapguide by keyword or category. While it does not have a section for education, it does have one for technology.

Creating a guide is easy. You need an idea, a collection of screenshots or photographs to illustrate your project, and text to describe the steps involved. I decided to build a guide about using library ebooks. We started developing our ebook collection last year and I need to find ways to better promote them. Perhaps this could be done with Snapguide. Using only an iPad, I took screenshots, annotated these images using A+ Signature, imputed these into a Snapguide, added directions and published my first guide. Later I shared this with my High School mobile tech students, made some quick edits, and re-posted my guide.

Thing I like about Snagguide includes:

  • Ease of Use. People can be used to easily find instructional information on a wide-variety of topics. Materials view well on any device.
  • Ease of Creation. The app on the iPad is fully functional, providing all of the options found on the web site
  • Flexible End-User Experiences. Several of the details of my images appeared at the edges off the screen. Clicking on the  image will display it full-size with these details now in view. Clicking on ‘print’  will display each slide with the text instructions, just like we often created for how-to instructions.

It would be nice if there was a Snapguide for education, this service does indeed have some interesting applications in a school library. Guides could easily be created for searching the library catalog and the various research databases. Guides could be created for providing instruction on information literacy and media literacy topics. Some of these may already exist in Snapguide. I’m going to enjoy finding ways to use Snapguide as part of my library and media-literacy instruction and as a vehicle to expand my library program. It is an excellent tool for use in both flipped classrooms and mobile technology friendly situations.

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 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 7: Podcasting and Screencasting

Several years ago I was first introduced to podcasting, or more accurately, I discovered a podcasting module in the online communication system used by the district. (This system also provides email, web page, file sharing services.) At that time, I had only heard of podcasting, so I took the opportunity to dig deeper to find out what this was all about. This was the start of my adventures with podcasting.

I created my first podcast recording using this online communication system. It allowed me to capture the spoken word and it put this recording onto a simple web page with an RSS script. It was a turnkey solution that created a very utilitarian, Spartan product that, while functional, sure was not very pretty. I knew that I could probably do a lot better. I soon found Audacity, open source sound recording software, and a cheap headset microphone. Shortly afterwards I discovered Apple’s GarageBand (with all kinds of filters and sound effects) and a program to create RSS feeds (FeedForAll). Together with my knowledge of web page design and some space on the web server, I had the tools to create some serious podcasts.

I picked up two books on podcasting (Secrets of Podcasting by Bart G. Farkas and Podcasting for Dummies by Tee Morris and Evo Terra) to learn about podcasting techniques. These resources described podcasts as collections of audio or video files, found on a web site with an RSS feed for delivery of the media files. I soon learned that an online podcast program could be either be designed as a serial or a monographic publications. Farkas also indicated that a podcast creator could use hyperlinks or other methods for sharing one’s recordings. Several other books (see below) describe podcasting in K12 as the creation of media files that could easily be put onto the Internet.

With these tools and this background knowledge, I pursued a two-pronged approach to podcasting at my school. I would produce a podcast program and I would demonstrate how podcasting could be integrated into the curriculum. My program is called the Visitor Showcase Podcast, and together with classroom teachers, we interview guests that are invited to our school to work with our students. This is the 6th year of this program and we have had a lot of fun with it. While primarily audio, I have done some video recordings as part of this program. This podcast can also be found on iTunes. In the classroom, we use either iPods with mics or pocket digital video cameras to capture audio or video recordings of students’ learnings. One of the Spanish teachers has her students use podcasting technologies to demonstrate their learnings. I was once told by her that sometimes students will re-record the same lesson several times because they were not satisfied with their initial recordings. We have also recorded student poetry as part of the creative writing class, creation stories as part of mythology class, and historical narratives as part of a social studies class.

Most recently, I have also learned about screencasting as an instructional tool. I use Camtasia 2 because it allows me to easily annotate my movie files and create captions. My screencasts can be found on YouTube.

People have responded enthusiastically when I describe how we use podcasting at my school. In addition to working with the students, I have lead workshops on podcasting through our Teachers Center and at the state-wide conference organized by the Section of School Librarians of the New York State Library Association. These podcasting technologies, techniques, and skills can easily be incorporated into other classes like physics, business communications, public speaking, music theory, media creation, and script writing. Podcasting can be lots of fun and I am enjoying this adventure in my library media center.

For additional information about how podcating and screencasting can be used in education, see:

Berger, Pam and Sally Trexler. Choosing Web 2.0 Tools for Learning and Teaching in a Digital World. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010.

Farkas, Bart G. Secrets of Podcasting: Audio Blogging for the Masses (2 ed.). Berkely, CA: Peachpit, 2006.

Morris, Tee and Evo Terra. Podcasting for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006.

Notess, Greg R. Screencasting for Libraries. Chicago: ALA TechSource, 2012.

Richardson, Will. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010.

Shamburg, Christopher. Student-Powered Podcasting: Teaching for 21st-Century Literacy. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2009.

Solomon, Gwen and Lynne Schrum. Web 2.0: How-to for Educators. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2010.

Solomon, Gwen and Lynne Schrum. Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007.

Verdi, Michael and Ryanne Hodson. Secrets of Videoblogging: Videoblogging for the Masses. Berkely, CA: Peachpit, 2006.

Thing 4: Photo Sharing, Part 3

Girl Taking Photo of Dog

N.d.; National Media Museum; Bradford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Whenever I explore a ‘new to  me’  Web 2.0 technology, or I revisit something neat that I have not used in a long while, I think about how I might use this at school. Could this be used in the classroom, or as way to promote a particular program. If I cannot answer these questions, I should move on to something else. While exploring Flickr, I walked away with some interesting ideas.

I like that people can post images with Creative Commons licensing and that you can search for images that have a Creative Commons license. This option is found on Flickr’s advanced search page. The challenges are that (1) the only link I have found to advanced search is at the top of a search results page, and (2) the options for Creative Commons are at the bottom of the advanced search page. I could see  myself using this with students to help them understand the difference between copyright and licensing. This discussion would be meaningful for high school students who would tend to be the creative types because they probably have things that they wish to share with others. This would also be valuable to students (and teachers) creating educational  resources.

I also like the idea of Flickr Commons, photographic archives from institutions around the world. Fortunately, you can get to this from the main page. These are historical photographs of people, places, and events. Metadata (e.g.: title, date, physical description, repository, etc.) is also readily available for these images. I now find myself regularly checking Flickr Commons (as well as the advanced search’s limit to Creative Commons) for images to be included as part of my blog postings or slide show presentations. I could see myself using Flickr Commons with social studies or other classes seeking historical photographs for their class projects. I could also see myself using it to talk with students about attribution and citing sources for their research projects.

I am glad that I revisited Flickr. This Web 2.0 tool has many neat characteristics that can easily be used with my Middle School and High School students to provide them with both a historical context for their lessons as well as a better understanding the need for attribution of other’s creative works.