Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thing 21

Thing 21 was all about making a videocast or podcast. I was supposed to use Photostory but since I am using a macintosh and Photostory is a windows software, I had to be creative. I decided to make a video with my camera and import it to my blog. It's a video of the quilt I made for my brother Daniel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thing 20

YouTube and TeacherTube are two resources we can use to find videos on the internet. YouTube is often blocked by school filters, so TeacherTube was created to fill that gap and also to focus the videos more.

I saw an interesting video on YouTube about Educational Technology and what we are to be teaching our students. It was very thought-provoking. I also found Mr. Bean in the Library which was hilarious, and a commercial about a blonde entering a library (which was a blonde joke in video form).

These two websites are very helpful for times when it would be good to have an educational video available, and when one doesn't have time to produce one. I love to see how many people see life and produce art. I can easily see using many of these in the classroom.

Here's the educational reform video:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thing 17

Rollyo is a website that lets you make customized search engines based on sites you trust and already know. I made a search engine for kid-friendly animal research websites.

It took me a few minutes to understand what was going on and how to use it, but after making my first "searchroll" I think I get the idea.

I was a little disappointed that there are sponsored results mixed in with the real results, and that they are not very differentiated. This would make it difficult for younger students to understand. I realize that the site has to make money somehow but I would first start by teaching the kids not to click on the light blue boxed links.

Other than that I could see many applications: recipes, lesson plan sites, research sites, etc.

Thing 16

Turns out wikipedia is not the only collaborative website tool out there. I learned all about "wikis" and how teachers can use them in the classroom. I would definitely use it as a tool for my classroom as well as my personal life. One way I can see a good use for it would be for pooling physical resources between a team of teachers or a team of students. Everyone would add to the document the things they are bringing to the table, and over the course of a few days an exhaustive list would be made.

I also like the idea of having students use this resource as a way to do a collaborative project. Rather than writing it all down on paper, the students would do their research and write it all together, and edit it online.

I already made a wiki page for a camping trip we went on this weekend. I shared it with my husband and the family we were going with. We were able to use it as a way to know who was bringing what.

I used as my wiki site.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This week Linda came home from the hospital. She's in her apartment, recuperating from surgery.

This week the kids finished their summer's swim lessons. They did a great job although for some reason they still swim terribly for me. It's probably my fault.

This week it did NOT rain even though the weather seemed promising. We need the rain desperately.

This week I am planning a camping trip to the beach. I've been in TX since 1997 and never been to the coast. I hear camping on the beach is a blast. Except for all the sand.

This week I got a small tummy bug but I think I'm mostly over it. I managed to eat some food today and clean most of my house.

This week I did not get much professional development completed, but hope to in the next week.

This week I got to go to a baby shower for a good friend who is expecting her first baby. We enjoyed laughing and chatting; the two hours went by very quickly.

This week is my only brother's birthday. Daniel is 23 this year. His quilt is not quite finished. I'm hoping to take it to him when we go to CA in a couple weeks.

This week I am thankful for my wonderful husband and kids who were supremely understanding while I was sick. I am also thankful for my normal good health.

This week I was reminded that God is in control and that His promises endure, even past death.

What things did you learn this week?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thing 13

Wow! Social bookmarking is a whole new world for me. I had heard of delicious and digg, but didn't ever understand what all was going on there. I love the idea of saving my bookmarks so I can access them any time, but I didn't realize about the social aspect.

I think it's neat that I can go look for a tag such as "organize", and see what other people have tagged with the same tag. This has great potential for teachers looking for good teaching sites, or for teachers in the same school to pool their common resources.

I'd like to look around some more and see if there's a way to share certain tags with certain people, or if it's an all-or-nothing type of deal.

I imported all my bookmarks from my browser and had more than I thought. Turns out I usually bookmark things and then never think about them again because the browser bookmark tool isn't very good. It will take me a while to sort through and properly tag all 100 of my bookmarks.

If you want to see my bookmarks on delicious, visit my page through this link.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Some pictures to make you smile

Summer Chaos

In the midst of all this brain-bending professional development I've been deluging the blog with, I have also had a lot of issues in my personal life.

Swim lessons are this week and next, and I of course planned them right in the same week as Linda's surgery (more details to follow) and right in the middle of the day.

The kids are enjoying the lessons, so I hear. They've been three days. I've only been to one of those days. It's sad because I really enjoy watching them learn and grow.

I'm trying to lose weight again. I've gained back 12-15 pounds and am now trying to track my eating on SparkPeople and drink much more water.

Linda, Joel's mom, had a partial hip replacement this week, the third one in 5 years. The first two were total replacements, and her left side one was never very strong. Sure enough they had to go back and replace the socket and ball, but thank God she didn't have any infection, and they didn't have to replace the rod (which is inserted into the femur by an uncomfortable process).

I wanted to really show her support through this time so over the last two days my kids have been with 4 different families and I have only seen them 5 hours total. The rest of the time I've been up at the hospital. Most of the time I feel useless. I was able to get some professional development done on the computer, but overall there's a lot of sitting. There have been a couple times when I was really glad I was there. Today her IV "infiltrated" her hand, which basically means the vein broke and started leaking fluid into her hand. It got really tight and her fingers started turning purple from lack of circulation. She was so heavily medicated that when she called the nurse on her phone she was unable to fully communicate the urgency of the situation. I was able to run out into the hall and grab someone.

I am so thankful for my friends who have really stepped up here and helped with the kids. I feel like a sorta bad mom right now but Linda needs me, and that makes me a good daughter-in-law, I guess. We are praying that she will be accepted into a rehab hospital for a few days because recovery is so much easier there. We are also praying that this recovery is overall easier because they didn't have to replace the rod.

I have been able to do some housework and laundry but have basically handed food over to the processed kind. My kids are taking lunchables and pre-packaged fruit everywhere. We pick up kolaches for breakfast and tonight we ate Taco Cabana (which is a better choice than some fast foods).

I honestly don't know how in the world people can handle long term illness or especially NICU. It must be just like this only 500 times more emotionally stressful and chaotic. If this is as bad as it gets I am grateful.

Well I'm off to take a bath and try to relax. Have a blessed and grateful evening. God is good all the time.

technorati asks me to do this


Thing 19

I explored the web 2.0 awards from 2008 and found a lot of interesting sites. Probably the one I liked the most was called, and it has lots of infographics. Infographics is a term for imparting information to people through pictures. Think bar graphs, etc. But takes really good ones and posts them. You can quickly learn something new, because a picture is like a thousand words.

This is highly applicable in education settings. Not only can you search for information on a topic you're teaching, but you can show students so many new ways of charting their information and discuss the pros and cons of each method. You can also discuss why charting and accuracy is so important. This website really makes me want to write a lesson plan or share the ideas with my kids.

Thing 14

Side note: this is my 900th post! Pretty exciting!

Technorati is something I've heard about but never used myself. When I searched for School Library Learning 2.0 I got some surprising results. I think I was supposed to use quotation marks because the blog posts results were mostly just about education in general and not this program I'm involved in. Once I searched in tags however I found some that looked familiar. I couldn't figure out how to search the blog directory, only browsing it through the topic headings.

I was surprised that "olympics" was in the top 15 searches, since it's not an olympic year. Most of the other popular ones were not too surprising, mostly celebrity stuff which is not really my gig.

I can totally see using technorati as another tool to find blog posts on topics that interest me. I plan to take a little more time to publish info about my blogs and see who else has tagged their blogs in similar ways.

The more I learn about tagging the more I realize that it is just another way of organizing info. Different people categorize things in different ways, so it's nice to be able to personally choose my categories. I also like the fact that the more people tag something, the more info the computer has to make generalizations about people.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Thing 18

I have used both OpenOffice and Google Docs for quite some time. They are both open platforms for word processing as alternatives to Microsoft Office. For a long time I preferred OpenOffice, because the program emulates Microsoft Office so well. You can basically do anything you used to do in Microsoft Office. They are so similar that you hardly have to do any learning of new processes.

The only problem is that since we use a mac we have to have another program to run OpenOffice, and that program has not been working on our computer for a while. Joel does a great job at keeping our home computers working but we never seem to communicate properly about OpenOffice so we've not gotten that fixed.

So currently I use Google Docs. It's fabulous. It is so much better than mac's version of word processing, and the best part is that if you have the internet, you have your documents. You can keep them private or share them with others.

Since we are on a mac I cannot even tell you how long it's been since I used Microsoft Office.

Thing 15

I know I'm going out of order but my computer won't watch videos today so I'm limited to those that don't require video.

One point made in this article that really hit me was that libraries really need to continue to grow and change. I still use our local library pretty extensively, mostly because they've made some awesome upgrades that I really appreciate. When I hear about a book I want to read I can immediately go to my library's website, search for it, and request it to be sent to the branch closest to my house. They email me when it arrives, they email me when my books are almost due, and they email me when my books are overdue. I think that's great.

I take my kids to the library but sometimes it's more like "what one could do" rather than "what we need to do". I can see in the near future when they will read me out of house and home but we're not quite there yet.

Another post I read talked about the frustration in talking or thinking about education reform, and how in his mind the important piece of the puzzle is assessment. Almost every teacher I talk to right now is tired. They are tired of the endless assessment. They are tired of not being able to use their creativity.

I liken it to a pendulum. I feel that right now we are at the very top of a pendulum swing with assessment. I do not see how it could possibly get any more intense for teachers, and I really hope it starts to swing in the other direction soon.

There were a lot of good discussions about how to take education and change it to follow the times.

Thing 12 Part 2

The previous post was getting too long so I decided to continue it to another post.

Today I used google blog search to try to find some blogs/posts about really high quality children's literature. I'm constantly searching for good books for Emmy to read, and since she's above grade level in abililty that makes the problem harder. I don't want her to read about 10 year old problems even though she probably could comprehend the words. Make sense?

At any rate I found a post by Scott Goodson that listed his favorite books. I don't know who he is, but I will check his other blog to see whether I like it or not.

I also found a blog that reviews Christian Children's Literature, which sounds perfect. I appreciate their reviews so much. I subscribed to that one and will be reading it.

I still don't feel that I fully understand google blog search. Perhaps my search terms are off. I never find what I expect to.

Thing 12

This post is all about commenting. The first thing I read was from Drape's Takes.

This made me think about my commenting "policy." Currently on blogger I don't respond to each comment, mainly because blogger makes it so difficult for people to receive your comments from the blog. You have to actively select each conversation that you want to receive notification on, and then go back to the blog to check it. So if I leave a question on bob's blog, I have to actively return to his blog to see his answer. I just don't have time for that. I used to, back in the day when I only read a few blogs, go back and check everyone's, but that got old fairly quickly. My new policy, such as it is, is to respond personally via email if I know the person's email, or if the comment is something I really feel needs to be responded to publicly, I will do that.

I do read every comment and appreciate them greatly. But since my blog is such a small one, and mostly for my friends, I feel that I interact with people in other ways as well.

What do you think about this? Am I stifling discussion by not responding? Do you want me to respond to your comments?

Another post I read was about aliases vs. real names. I usually post on blogger with the name Sarah, but on wordpress (which remembers my fields) I use Sarah S. Chicken. There really aren't that many Sarah S Chickens in the world, so I use it to be unique. Since blogger links to my blog from my comment I am confident people know who I am. I also have an avatar on blogger.

Since I've been blogging for so long, I am comfortable with the number of comments I get. It's somewhat about community for me but also just a way to remember what I've been thinking. I'm on Facebook now, not to mention all the people I interact with in real life, so overall I just view this as part of a whole big section of my life. I comment on others' blogs once in a while, if something is really important to me, but I don't comment on everything anymore. One thought is that this really is a discussion community. Am I just jaded from doing this so long? Or is it like any other fad, where people are really enthusiastic for a while and then they go on with life?

I don't know. I guess my priorities have changed. I hope that others know that I do read their blogs even though their stat counters may not show it, and even though I don't comment. Maybe I should be commenting more.

One of the techniques I use from 10 Techniques to get more comments is to make it easy to comment. I used to use word verification but as I got tired of using it on others' blogs I took it off mine too. I really don't receive any spam or mean comments. Of course that's probably also because I don't have very many readers at all anymore :)

The last post I read was how to comment like a king or queen. I didn't get much out of this one except the idea that some people do need to be taught how to comment. I think I've been doing this for so long that I forgot that some people don't know how. I would say "being nice" is an important thing. Some commenters use blogs as a way to hide and state things they wouldn't in real life.

What do you think about this? Am I stifling discussion by not responding? Do you want me to respond to your comments?

Thing 11

Library Thing is a way to catalog your home collection of books and discuss them with others. There are lots of features including many ways to search for books and sort them, and tags you can add. I was impressed with how quickly I could add books.

The interesting thing to me is that Joel started a website a long time ago that had a similar idea, but it didn't get off the ground. Just reminds me that there's nothing new under the sun. Maybe some day my husband will be the owner of a great website like this one.

Here is my catalog; I plan to add more sometime.

I don't know if I would use this in a classroom but it would certainly be nice, especially if I could use Joel's phone to just scan the barcodes of my books and enter them that way. Very fast and quick.

It would be neat to compare my library with some other users and see if I could find some people with similar interests. I think that would be a good way to find new books to read.

Thing 10

As I type this Joel's mom Linda is in surgery for a hip replacement and I am in the waiting room. Therefore I thought this sign was appropriate.

After a couple busy weeks I was finally able to take a look at some image generator sites. I wasn't overly impressed with most of them, but the most user-friendly one to me was Smiley Face Generator. You take the happy faces and insert the text you want to use.

I can see that many people would like these because it's an easy way to make customized images, but I am not overly fond of comics as a rule and prefer real-life images.

It was interesting to go look at the various options.