Sunday, August 30, 2009

5 Reasons why you should be gaming in your Library

This blog post about why gaming should be allowed comes from the blog "Library Garden" at Cape May County Library, New Jersey. Chicago's Shifted Librarian, Jenny Levine, has long been an advocate of gaming in libraries as a way to fill the needs of teens and young adults.

The five reasons are summarized here:
1) Video games help people learn how to solve problems, develop hand/eye coordination, and now with games such as Wii Fit, provide exercise. Video games are a relevant source of information and media.
2) Gaming builds community.
3) Reach out to patrons you would otherwise never see.
4) Gets teens involved in the library; watch your circulation climb.
5) The cost involved is worth it because you are creating life long library users.

View the winning video of New Jersey State Library’s video contest “Solving Life’s Problems.” Watch Get Your Game on at the Library:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Better editing checks for Wikipedia?

I was intrigued by the article about Wikipedia in today's Tribune, noting that Wikipedia "is looking to impose discipline with new restrictions on the editing of articles" as it "tries to balance credibility and a desire for openness." Yet another chapter in Wikipedia's fascinating evolution.

Wikipedia Testing New Method To Curb False Information

Summer Reading and Summer Thinking

Since we have been gathering assigned Summer Reading books this week, I was intrigued by a blog post from Daniel Pink (author of A Whole New Mind).

On August 15th, he wrote: "While I’m absolutely, positively in favor of colleges that assign their incoming freshman class one book to read, I’m intrigued by what the University of Pennsylvania is doing this year.

As Real Clear Arts reports, 'Instead of reading a common book, to be discussed on campus, freshmen have been asked to study and be ready to discuss a painting, The Gross Clinic, by Thomas Eakins.'

The goal, according to Penn’s site, is to 'introduce students from the start to the critical skill of interpreting visual material. This choice also reflects a celebration of art in Philadelphia and cultural activism on the part of our citizens, and underscores the importance of the arts in civic life.'

As students and teachers turn to more visual resources, it be interesting to see more assignments like this. Several colleagues at New Trier are already creating assignments using PhotoStory, Weeblies, and Blogs. Often Junior Theme teachers ask that a relevant piece of art be integrated, too. I noticed that Penn's site included links to background information on the art and the artist -- think how we, as librarians, could continue to help inform these discussions by identifying relevant materials and resources.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who is or is not behind the tweet?

There is no doubt that social media tools such as Blogger, Twitter, and You Tube are changing the communication landscape. They have a significant role to play in student research. As a librarian/teacher I have long been aware of the importance of helping students learn how to discern what is credible - reliable information. However, I had not thought about helping students, until reading the attached article, become aware of just who has access to the tools and who is the voice behind the media. An interesting dialogue to be had around this for sure!

Is Twitter Really a Tool for Democracy?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blogs, Wikis, Docs: Which is right for your lesson?

Today I discovered this comparison chart for why, how and when to use blogs, wikis, or Google docs. They are compared by nature of the tool, who authors, how collaboration works, organization, updates, benefits, and drawbacks with many links to examples of each.

I see this as a valuable tool for project design in all areas of the curriculum and something to keep in your back pocket as you collaborate with teachers on lessons and project design.

Save and Print! Blogs, Wikis, Docs: Which is right for your lesson?: A Comparison Chart

I use Diigo for my bookmarking tool and received this as part of the weekly newsletter from Clif's Notes on EdTech Group at
Diigo has much more functionality than Del.ic.ious Give it a try! Click here to view my 600+ bookmarks. The awesome feature I like is that you can create "lists" for topic areas; an automatic slideshow from those lists is only a mouse-click away. This slideshow can easily be linked to a class links pathfinder. I have used this feature as a opening slideshow when a class comes into the library and are logging in to their computers. See an example with this Modern World History pathfinder of primary sources. At the top right see a small green arrow & "Webslides". Click on this to view the bookmarked websites as an automatic slideshow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

You know you are a 21st century school librarian if you . . .

Listened to Librarian Joyce Valenza's Manifesto today on a 2007 NECC Podcast. Click on SIGMS Forum at NECC. Wondering how it missed it since I am such an avid fan. She turned it into a wiki which seems to be her collaborative way of doing things lately.

* Make sure your learners and teachers can (physically & intellectually) access developmentally appropriate databases, portals, and websites in multiple media.

* Organize the Web for learners. You have the skills to create a blog or website or wiki to pull together resources to meet the information needs of your learning community. That presence reflects your personal voice. It includes your advice as well as your links.

* Make learning an engaging and colorful hybrid experience. You intervene in the research process online while respecting young people’s need for independence.

* Think outside the box about the concept of “collection.” That collection might include: ebooks, audiobooks, open source software, streaming media, flash sticks, digital video cameras, and much more! You lend this stuff.

* Think of your web presence as a knowledge management for your school. This is collection too, and it includes student-produced learning objects, handouts, policies, and collaborative wiki pathfinders to support learning and research in all learning arenas.

* Think Web 2.0. You know the potential new technologies offer for interaction–learners as both information consumers and producers.

* Are thinking interactive service: materials suggestion forms, book review blogs, surveys, online calendars, etc.

* Know your physical space is about way more than books. Your space is a libratory. You welcome media production—podcasting, video editing. You welcome telecommunications events and group gathering for planning and research and social networking.

* Include, and collaborate with, the learner. You let them in. You fill your physical and virtual space with student work, student contributions—their video productions, their original music, their art.

* Expand your notion of searching. You work with learners to set up RSS feeds and tag clouds for research.

* Are concerned that when it matters, your students move beyond information satisficing. They make solid information decisions.

* Are concerned about a new digital divide. Those who can find quality information in all media formats effectively, and those who cannot.

* Consider new interactive and engaging communication tools for student projects--digital storytelling, wikis, podcasts, streaming video as possibilities beyond the mortal powers of PowerPoint. (And you are rethinking what PowerPoint, what presentations should or could be!)

* Consider just-in-time, just-for-me learning as your responsibility and are proud that you own the real estate of one desktop window on your students’ home computers 24/7. (My own website is used as much after school as it is during.)

Try adding your 2 cents to the wiki.

Consider following Joyce Valenza on Twitter. I am always learning from her expertise.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Story Videos

David Warlick has collected may YouTube videos which "inspire new thinking and new stories about teaching, learning, and classrooms today". Access them on Warlick's CoLearners wiki.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Steve Dembo recently blogged about his top 10 free favorite Web 2.0 tools at the NECC Conference. One that I find that would be particularly useful for group projects at New Trier is Its online collaboration and file sharing service that would provide our students with a simple, real time and private way to chat and share images, video, audio, documents and other digital content through sharing points called 'drops.'

Each 'drop' is non-searchable, non-networked, does not require any type of account registration and can be password-protected and set to expire after a period of time after the project is completed.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Love Looking at Visual Tools

Check out Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary which looks up words and clarifies definitions.

This free resource allows uses Princeton University’s WordNet, an opensource database built by University students and language researchers. Useful for writers,journalists, students and teachers.

Local presentation on The Global Achievement Gap

From the New Trier Parents' Association News Update: Thursday, August 20, The Global Achievement Gap, 7:00 PM, Glenbrook North High School, 2300 Shermer Rd., Northbrook, 60062.

Tony Wagner, Ph.D., has served as Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group (CLG) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since its inception in 2000. An initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CLG is an "R & D" center that helps teams to be effective change leaders in schools and districts. Dr. Wagner will discuss his new book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need--And What We Can Do About It. The book outlines a bold new plan to teach and test the competencies that matter most for the 21st Century and to motivate the Net Generation to excellence.

This book and related titles such as Disrupting Class (Christensen), A Whole New Mind (Pink), Outliers (Gladwell), and The Six Secrets of Change (Fullan) are available this Fall through New Trier's Library -- check out the new look for our catalog here.

When YouTube is blocked ( 14 ways around it!)

Back in December, 2008, librarian Joyce Valenza wrote in School Library Journal's Never Ending Search blog about 8 ways to bypass the commonplace YouTube blocking at schools. This post has been the most frequently commented upon of all her blog posts and now she has added 6 more tools to accomplish the bypass.

I think that speaks to value of allowing students access to YouTube at school. At New Trier, the good news is that teachers are not blocked but the bad news is that students are still prohibited from searching YouTube. This is basically nonsensical since our students have found work arounds not only to access YouTube blocking but also to get to social networking sites such as Facebook. Is anyone paying attention?
Educators need to learn about and spend time teaching students appropriate use of social networking tools. Let's not waste time blocking access. No one can keep up with all the wonderful tools available. Not even me:) Not even during summer vacation!

Flickriver: A New Way to View Flickr Images

Flickriver is a new web-based image viewer which supplies the viewer with images from Flickr as a new way to explore photographs which are displayed as one continuous stream without requiring the viewer to click 'next'. This "infinite scroll" shows today's most interesting photos. It is searchable by tag and allows shortcut keyboard navigation to the original flickr page by hitting the V key.

Creative Commons image from EssjayNZ's photostream

Flickriver follows the Flickr guidelines because the photo must link back to its original Flickr page so that the user knows the image origin, author or copyright. Your own Flickr photos and profile can be hidden from Flickriver if you use settings to opt out of third party sites.

I love the black background which makes for a better viewing experience. There are cool tool options for embedding photos to your website or blog; the site also allows you to create a dynamic Flickriver badge to post on your profile, group, blog or website.

Another Flickr API in beta is using the black background as well. See the blog post about Flickroom.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Online Tools for Launching Surveys and Polls

The tools just keep getting better. Here is an amazing array of tools to survey or poll your audience. It's worth looking at 30 Sites to Build and Launch a Survey. Many free widgets to set up, customize and use! I'm liking OpenJason, Open Source Specialist almost as much as Mashable.

What if kids could learn the way they want to learn?

I learned about this video from a Twitter group I recently joined: "WeAreTeachers". Watch Vision for Technology in K-12 Education

Friday, August 07, 2009

Google quadruples archives of news articles

About one year ago, Google launched an initiative to digitize newspapers and make them accessible and searchable online.

Now they have updated their news index with 4 times the number of articles included in News Archive Search. In addition, articles from more publications have been added, including the Halifax Gazette, Sydney Morning Herald, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Village Voice.

Explore this newly available primary source material by searching on Google News Archive Search or by using the timeline feature after searching on Google News. Many articles with free abstracts require a subscription or a fee per article. A handy feature of the advanced search shows links to related web information.