The Desk

The Desk
So many projects . . . so little time!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Not 2.0 but a great experience

When I began to plan what the library experience would be for my students this year so many (actually too many) ideas raced through my mind. I had signed up to be part of a district committee that was concerned with improving what we did with the arts in our schools. We had one meeting at the end of last year and will meet again soon. I really wanted to find a way to bring the arts into the library in a concrete manner.
So I decided that once a month I would introduce the students (through a mini lesson) to a famous artist, composer, musician, or performer. This past week was my first venture into this project. My choice to start.... Beethoven! And what serendipity that he made the news a couple of days into the week ( ).
I see all grade levels during the week from K to 5th and tailoring a lesson to appeal to that broad of an age group is not something I try too often. But I had committed to this project so I forged ahead. I started out by asking if they knew who Beethoven was. It was not surprising to get the following answer from almost every class, "Beethoven's a big slobbery dog." I shared some brief facts about Beethoven and then I played Beethoven's 5th Symphony and asked them if they recognized it. Most of them had heard it before (it's in Disney's Fantasia). We talked about how he could write music for so many different instruments. And then I played Moonlight Sonata (my favorite). I told them that I thought it was a very sad piece of music.
I finished up with the very funny "Beethoven's Wig" by Richard Perlmutter. If you have never heard or seen this book/cd, I highly recommend it. I ended the lesson by asking them what they thought of when I said Beethoven now and no one said a slobbery dog!
The best review of the week I got was an email from the mother of one of my third graders. "Yesterday Kent got home from school and could not stop talking about the music he heard in the library. Could you please let me know what you were playing so I can try to find it for him?"

Next month...Georgia O'Keefe!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Now what?

It was nice to get the congratulatory messages from the SLL2.0 cheerleader squad on finishing the course. I really have appreciated the encouraging words throughout the process.

But what now? Where do I go? It was nice to have some with the map in their hands, someone who could be the GPS voice telling me to turn here and that there's a rest stop there.

I decided to take a look at the folks who have also completed the experience to see what others have discovered along the way and what I can use.

My first stop was at . I was pleased to see an entry about Voice Thread. I have just heard about this tool through our district technology wizard who is holding a workshop on it this month. Of course I travelled to the Voice Thread site to explore ( ) and after spending some time there my mind started racing with ways I could use this in the library.

One of my challenges as the Library Media Technician is being in two places at once. I immediately thought that I could use this to create a lesson a teacher could use in the lab while I was in the library. It's the next best thing to cloning yourself!

I also thought about the research reports our fifth graders do each year. I have seen great students who are well prepared but, who fall apart when they do a power point presentation. Voice thread would allow them to record their presentation.

I have a child in kindergarten this year. What could his teacher do with voice thread? Well, they have been studying sunflowers and painting beautiful pictures of them. (This is the one he brought home today!) She could scan the paintings and then record the children telling about sunflowers.

First graders at my school learn a poem a week. Take a picture of a different child each week and have him/her recite the poem. It would make an amazing Open House presentation.

In the library I can invite students to create digital book reviews and use them as commercials when classes visit.

Now I can hardly wait for the Voice Thread inservice. My mind is still racing. Thank you, Slim Library ( ) for this find!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Week 9 Thing #23!!!!!!!

I made it! September 1st is still a couple of days away and I have finished this journey. I started back on May 11th after the CCCOE training on 2.0 and that motivated me to take on this task. It has not been without the bumps in the road, the potholes and the detours. Like so many women today, I'm a working mom with a busy life outside of school. I work at a year round school in a twelve month position so my "summer" break was three days at the Fourth of July. To say that I feel a great sense of accomplishment for finishing on time is an understatement.

I have enjoyed this experience and reccommended it to those I work with. I have introduced several of the tools to others on my school's staff and plan to continue to do so. I've used the things I learned both professionally and personally to enhance projects that I'm working on.

My favorites? has made my life so much easier. And I even got my family hooked on using it. Now, no matter what computer I'm using, I have access to my favorite sites with ease. Flickr and the image generators have been so much fun and a very easy way to share pictures. Zoho will also be something I take to the teaches as an option for students.

I liked the format that CSLA used for this "course". I think for me, dividing it up into 10 or 12 weeks would have made it seem less rushed but I did take a few weeks off here or there. I think one of the big plusses for me was the work at your own speed format.

I'm going to keep my blog going. One of the benefits for me personally has been to remind me how much I enjoy the writing process. It has been fun reading the comments left by others too.

I would definately "sign up" again if you offered a second trip down the 2.0 road.

My one word summation ... it was a "trip"!

Week 9 #22 ebooks and Audio Books

I like audio books. The same desire to read just one more page before I turn off the light is what makes me take a little longer to find a parking spot while I listen to the rest of a chapter in the car.

My family used to camp a lot. My dad, a fan of the old time radio broadcast, would bring along a cassette recorder and we would sit around the campfire or in the tent and listen to "The Shadow" and "Mystery Theater." I loved them. Audio books are reminiscent of those old broadcasts. And, depending on the skill of the narrator, they can be just as theatrical.

They are also a great resource for that reluctant reader, the ELL student, and the struggling child. An audio book reveals the magic of J.K. Rowling and Cornelia Funke to the 5th grader who is still at a third grade reading level. It lures a child who only checks out Goosebumps books to the worlds of Poppy & Rye and Henry & Ribsy. And once you've got've got them!

eBooks are another story. I checked several different eBook sites. I noticed The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards on and it made me a little sad. This was a book I truly devoured and I thought how much I enjoyed turning those pages, carrying the book around with me and passing it along to a friend that I thought might also enjoy it.

You trade that away with an ebook, I think. I want to feel the cover in my hands, see it sitting on the table silently urging me to finish the task at hand so that I can pick it up and see what's going to happen next. I found one of my childhood favorites at Project Gutenberg, Five Little Peppers Grown Up. ( ). The good thing I can say about an ebook is that you very well might find a book that is out of print. But still, I'd rather find it in a used book store or on ebay.

So if I was casting a vote, audio books would be the hands down winner. (I know there are eBook fans out there...I'm just not one of them.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Week 9 Thing 21 Podcasts

That's Little Lightning visiting the Matterhorn in Switzerland!

Podcasts are an useful tool in the classroom and the library. It opens up the world to students. A podcast can bring an author into the library when the budget can't.

I found a storyteller named Mr. Howerton who tells Kipling's Just So Stories. He has a great voice. As I listened I instantly thought of one of our third grade teachers who uses fables and trickster tales throughout the year. I will be sharing Mr. Howerton's site with her soon. I subscribed to the RSS feed for this site. It's located at . This was found in the Educational Podcast Directory. In Podcast Alley I found Learn Out Loud which has Aesop Fables podcasts. The site for this is .

Even though Itunes has been around for a while, I think the use of podcasts in the classroom and library is still in its toddler stage. There is a great potential here for distance learning. I think the classroom experience for students who are homebound or hospitalized could be enhanced through a podcast.

On a more personal level, what a great way for grandparents who live far away to read a nightly bedtime story. Or for a parent who is out of town to share that favorite book with a child.

Week 9 Thing 20 You Tube

I am not a You Tube newbie. I have explored it before. One of my favorite finds was a video of Kristin Chenoweth singing "For Good" from the Broadway production of Wicked. I love the variety you can find on You Tube and I have even thought once or twice about posting my own video contribution, but I haven't been brave enough to follow up on the thought yet.

One of my favorite components of You Tube is the "Related" side bar that leads you to other videos on a particular subject.

I chose this video from an old (vintage?) Reading Rainbow episode. Aside from the obvious dated styles it is fun and offers a great message. Hit play and "check it out".

I enjoyed the "Grand March of the Librarians" more than "March of the Librarians" but I am going on an intense exercise program before the CSLA conference in November. Are we all really that physically out of shape? I definately want to be one of the "hipsters" and not a "tote puller".

Week 8 Thing 19 Library Thing

I enjoyed Library Thing. It wasn't my first visit there but I had not established an account before. It's a little like snooping around someone else's bookshelf. You always discover some treasure hidden away between a classic and a biography.

I chose to list the 9 books that were left off my last Follett shipment for whatever reason. Some were out of stock and some were not yet published. I thought it would be interesting to see what others thought of those books. I found that all 9 of them were on the book lists of others, although, only one had a discussion attached to it.

I did think of a couple of possible uses by the staff at my school. Teachers always have their favorite books for certain units. Library Thing might be a good way for them to organize and share their lists with each other and with their students.

This is one of those tools that I think takes a good deal of exploring to discover all of the education connections attached to it.

Here's another picture of Little Lightning. This was on this summer's visit to France (We have a very well travelled staff!)

Week 8 Thing 18

What a great tool! Often I will work on a document at school and need to continue at home. I am hesitant to trust the durability of a flash drive and find myself emailing the document as an attachment instead. Zoho eliminates that. I was also impressed with how easy it was to use. I used it to work on this year's library handbook. This is something that I give to teachers at the beginning of each year. I have included a link to that document in the title of this entry. Just click on "Week 8 Thing 18".

I immediately saw the benefit to students. This year we asked that all fourth and fifth grade students have a flash drive to use. This way they could carry information from the classroom computer to the lab to home. Great idea in theory....not as great in practice. Since each student purchased his/her own, there were many different brands. Some loaded easy. Some were a nightmare. Also, having a 10 or 11 year old having to be responsible for this item's care has already proved hazardous. They are kids and kids play hard. The chance for a damaged flash drive is imminent. We have also already experienced documents that are created on word processing programs not compatible with our school computers. Let's face it, not every home computer has been updated! The result is a frustrated student who worked very hard on a report that can't be opened.

Enter Zoho! A student could work at home. Save the document and open it from any online computer .... the one in the lab, the classroom, home, daycare, or wherever. This would be a lifesaver for those students who shuffle back and forth between divorced parents.

Yes, Zoho is a definite find. I will be demonstrating this at the next teacher inservice. Thanks!
By the way, here is the latest picture of Little Lightning, our school mascot who is travelling around the world with staff members. This time he is enjoying watching the gondolas load in Venice.