Saturday, March 29, 2008

Teleconferencing: Social Networking/Social Tools

This week I forayed into the teleconferencing world for the first time. Well, not really for the first time - I've participated in them through the Education Institute - but this was my first experience in being the presenter. That I was considered a resource person for social networking is a little surprising since I don't social network all that much - I have a space on TeacherLibraian Ning , and I'm still trying to figure out Twitter for goodness sake - that's the extent of it.
I presented two teleconferences to Junior Achievement Canada - one to their regional presidents across Canada and one to their business advisory board members. They wanted to know how education is using social networking. The point I made was that we're really not using social networking in education, we're using social tools. Got you confused? Well you're not the only one. There is a debate going on about terminology and how we need to differentiate between social networking (My Space, Facebook) and social tools that are used for educational purposes(blogs, wikis, RSS and aggegators, podcasts, webcasts...). You can get more information from my wiki.
I created a resource wikipage for them to access with a variety of the resources that I used to help create the presentation. You can find it by clicking My Wikispaces on the left side of this blog and then going into the Teacher Librarian section (or looking to the contents section on the left of the wiki). I am going to create a podcast of the presentation and add that as well. That I'll do sometime next week - I forgot to bring my microphone home with me this weekend. When it's ready it'll be on the wiki.
My purpose in writing about this is not only to share that there are some more pages on the wiki, but to also reflect on the process that I went through to develop the presentation. The point of all this is how I see my process of researching evolving. I turned to 3 main sources: the online databases on our Student Reference Portal, my account and to my blog feeds. I don't believe I googled even once or even Wikipedia-ed (is that a verb?). I am finding that my account is becoming a very important personal resource - my personal digital library. As I read through my blogs and the other sites to which they connect, I collect information on a variety of topics. When I had to prepare for this presentation, low and behold, I already had lots of resources waiting for me. For more information on how others are seeing the use of RSS with library and research you can check out Hey Jude (a blog from a TL in Australia) here and here.

One last thing which is a geeky, techy thing that I have noticed in other blogs. I'll see how it works on this blog:

Introducing Snap Shots from

I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display online videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Catching Up

I have just spent the last 2 hours catching up reading my feeds - something that I haven't done since before March Break. My head is spinning with information right now - I finally just had to stop reading. I'm following about 30 blogs and feeds right now and that is probably my limit. David Warlick had a great post about keeping your PLN (Personal Learning Network) managable. You can check it out here - it has lots of tips to keep you going insane from info over-load.

Another interesting and disturbing post that I missed is: Cell phone cameras in the K-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student-citizen journalism? The gist is students with cell phones videotaped their teachers with cell phones and then posted the videos on You Tube. The videos are not pretty. And it is apparent that the viewer will certainly not know what came before the videos were filmed or under what context. The comments regarding the videos (these videos have been embedded in the post) are worth reading and really look at a variety of issues in education: student engagement, character education, use of technology in the classroom, class management, parental support, administrator support - I could go on. Cathy Nelson blogged about this as did Doug Johnson and you can read their comments here and here. What was amazing to me were the amount of comments regarding the use of corporal punishment against the students.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poetry For the Networked Generation

Here's a bit from School library Journal about a new poetry resource:

"This week, the Academy of American Poets announced the launch of a mobile poetry archive providing free access to a collection of more than 2,500 poems. For students in English courses, the site also provides such handy tools as biographies of poets and essays about their work. For secondary school educators, there's a curriculum section. Soon, poems posted on the site that are in the public domain will be available for downloading and printing."

So students can download poetry to their ipods or their cell phones and have poems avavilable on demand. The article further states:

"I have always believed that poetry has a necessary place in daily life," says Tree Swenson, the academy's executive director. "Now you can find poems while on the go, as easily as you can read the news, find a map, or check the weather report." Poems can be browsed on the site by author name, title, the "occasion" that the poem describes, the poetry form, or by keywords.

Ok so how do we tap into this with kids? An idea that come to mind is to have them create personal poetry play lists, share these lists on a blog or wiki and then reflect about why these poems were chosen for their personal list. This can be a lead-in to writing lessons on poetry for English classes that culminate in a 'poetry reading' event in the school library.

For more information, check out the Poem in Your Pocket section of

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Does a Study Group on Facebook Mean Cheating?

This is just a short post because I have to finish packing for my annual visit to my parents (who happen to be down in Florida right now so it's no great hardship!). One the feeds on my iGoogle page was the following article:

Ryerson Student Fighting Cheating Charges for Facebook Study Group

Here's the lead paragraph:
A first-year student at Ryerson University in Toronto who has been accused of cheating after helping run a Facebook study group could get expelled from school pending a hearing by a special committee.

Apparently, there were 146 members of the study group for a first year engineering course on chemistry - they were all helping each other with homework.

Here's my thoughts on this. There has been an increased amount of 'sharing' of assignments - that was one of the first things I noticed when my own children attended university. Everyone tried to get notes and assignments from people who took the course the previous year/semester. I really didn't quite understand this behavior. I always just did the work on my own and if I got stuck asked the TA or the prof. Sometimes, if the subject matter was difficult, we'd get together with a small group and work together. But it seems the reverse now. Nobody does work on their own, everything is done via group.
Now this is great for collaboration skills and discussions, etc BUT I am hearing far too many stories of students piggybacking their way to a degree with a minimal amount of individual effort.
But maybe it's the nature of the assignments. If homework can be shared and same assignments submitted, maybe, just maybe university professors need to redefine their assignments so that students can't copy and piggyback. Maybe it's time for universities to stop being money machines and to start educating again. Maybe it's time for universities to re-think how they assess and evaluate.


Saturday, March 1, 2008 Tags

I thought today that I would go through some of the stuff I've bookmarked on and share them. It's an eclectic bunch of sites, so here they are:

Arcademic Skill Builders - there's been a lot written lately about using video games for academic purposes. This site had a number of free games that develop a variety of skills in students and it allows the player to print off results. Fun homework assignment!

School Library Media - this is the website for a print magazine that is available through subscription. However, there is free stuff including some lesson ideas and a blog. It is written by TLs for TLs.

INTERNET PREDATOR' STEREOTYPES DEBUNKED IN NEW STUDY - This news article starts out with this lead: "Contrary to stereotype, most Internet sex offenders are not adults who target young children by posing as another youth, luring children to meetings, and then abducting or forcibly raping them, according to researchers who have studied the nature of Internet-initiated sex crimes." With all the media hype and horror, it's refreshing to have an actual study that gets out what is really happening. I think that the biggest issue is cyberbullying, not Internet predators.

Visible Thinking - Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based approach to integrating the development of students' thinking with content learning across subject matters. This comes out of Harvard. This resource could be used as a self-initiated PD module, or as part of a study module for a PLC interested in developing students thinking skills.

Here's a video brought to my attention from an elementary TL in my district. It's from Teacher Tube and it's called Pay Attention (about teachers needing to shift to 21st Century Literacies):

Teacher Pageflakes - You can create your own personal web page. Customize your page to have your teaching schedule, pictures, etc. Or you can create a library web page that's customized to your own school. It's easy to use and set up. There are lots of examples that you can check out to help you set things up.

21st Century Literacy Skills - This is a page from Noodletools that is full of resources for TLs to help teacher essential 21st century literacy skills. Great resource.