Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gallery Night

Fall Gallery Night is fast approaching, and I am incredibly excited. This will be the first exhibit of my artwork! I'm going to be showing a selection from my photography series tentatively titled "Nixed Messages." Plus the people I'm showing with are ridiculously talented, and I'm eager to see what they've got cooked up! So come on out for margaritas, hors d'oeuvres, and...ART!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Review: Mad Hot Ballroom

This weekend, I finally watched Mad Hot Ballroom. Released in May of 2005, it was one of many on my shamefully-long list of "movies I've been meaning to see." It is a documentary following New York City fifth-graders as they learn ballroom dancing, and prepare for a city-wide competition. I couldn't find a video to embed, watch the trailer here.

Ballroom was funny, sweet, and inspiring. Lil Bear watched it with me, and we both enjoyed it. The kids' perspectives are the best. They discuss everything from who they like best to dance with, to not wanting to be like the drug dealers they see in their neighborhood. They were infinitely more street smart than this suburbanite was in fifth grade!

Through learning dance steps and accompanying etiquette, the students learned much more. Many of the teachers reported positive changes in the behavior of "problem" kids, along with an increased sense of self-confidence.

Mad Hot Ballroom was a touching reinforcement of what I've always felt: the arts should be made accessible to everyone- young and old, urban and rural, rich and poor, black, white, brown, yellow... The fine arts exist as a means of expression, and edification, for ALL people. Two thumbs up!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

FUNemployment Project #1,000,000: Headbands!

The job search is not going so hot. I am getting discouraged. In attempt to distract myself/boost my spirits, I made these feathery headbands yesterday. The supplies were uber-cheap. (Dollar Tree, anyone?) There's a brown one...

And a black one!

Here they are together.

Ta-da! What are your summer projects???

I woke up with this song in my head...

...Does that ever happen to you? My favorite line: "Is it something so good, just can't function no more..."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top Ten Things from Your 20s You'll Regret When You're 40

From COED Magazine, check out the article here.
I definitely get these. I am grateful to have made it to 26 with nary a tattoo or divorce!
40-somethings and above, what would you add to this list?
20-somethings, do you agree/disagree with these?
(PS- I don't know who these girls are. They popped up in a Google Image search for "tramp stamp.")

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thing #23: Stick a fork in me, I'm done!

  1. What were your favorite exercises/discoveries on this learning journey? I really enjoyed setting up, and posting to my blog. It provided such a great avenue for using/describing what I learned in each subsequent Thing, and comments from others were helpful and interesting!
  2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? It has encouraged me to never stop learning, one of my ideals anyway, but expanded my scope of how to accomplish that beyond books or classes.
  3. Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? Overall, just how easy it is to locate, learn, share, and create amazing things with the applications we used!
  4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program's format or concept? Nothing comes to mind! As I mentioned, I love the blog-based format. And, each exercise was useful, interesting, and fun.
  5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? Yes!
  6. How would you describe your learning experience in one word or one sentence? Illuminating!

Thing #22

Ning! This Thing is about Ning. A Ning Thing! I used Ning last summer, as my mom was doing L2P. She created a Ning for our family, "Family Files." We could post events and activities, share photos and video, and write blogs. I recall describing it as "like Facebook or Myspace, without all the shady people."

The idea of using a Ning for a specific topic (besides family, that is) was new to me. I explored the Future of Education Ning for a bit. It seems like an excellent venue for the exchange of ideas related to, well, the future of education! This Ning features a podcast interview series, discussion forums (fora?)

I think it would be cool for all the faculty and staff in a school (or maybe a district, depending upon the size) to be in a Ning together. They could have individual profiles, important dates on a single calendar, and memos could be posted school- or district-wide quickly. I guess the only drawback would be getting personnel into the habit of checking it regularly. Hmmm...

Thing #21: Parents and Ranger Danger

Alas, I am technically unable complete this Thing. I am working from a Mac, and so cannot download Photostory. However, as a substitute, I present two snippets from my life.

The first features my dad, a burly 6'7", picking up my mom, a delicate 5'4". I think they are so cute!

The second is my aunt's puppy, Ranger. I took this clip the week that I puppy-sat for him.

No s**t?!

Watch CBS Videos Online

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thing #20

Here is my embedded video, found on Teacher Tube. This was an interesting, fun, and short clip- perfect to spark an in-class discussion, and inspire students to post videos of their own discoveries!

I think they would really get excited about the idea of making a YouTube video of their science experiments. We could view, discuss, and critique them as a class. It could be used for group or individual projects!

Thing #19

I stopped in the midst of a free trial language lesson (Portuguese for English-speakers) to write this entry. It is online, at Mango Languages. SO FUN!!! This site is listed on the 2008 Web 2.0 Awards under the education category.

I think Mango would be a great tool for schools. Its front page touts that, through libraries, ML is available to 30 million residents in the US and Canada. I love learning languages. I think it is absolutely essential for surviving in a global economy and community!

As I am going through my lesson, I can repeat slides as often as I like. I see the parts of a sentence broken down, pronounced, and translated literally. I am quizzed on the whole sentence, as well as individual words. Rolling the mouse over words shows you pronunciation hints. And, repetition, repetition, repetition! It's a fantastic application. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it should be the entirety of a foreign language course, but certainly a useful tool for learning and practice. My trial lesson has 3 tabs: the lesson, a vocabulary review, and a phrasebook review! Try it and tell me what you think.

Thing #18

This Thing is all about online productivity tools, such as Open Office. This is a really cool idea! You can create and edit documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, graphics, and databases-all using the free OO software. And, you can save them in different file formats! Plus, the software is free to download, and works on any operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc.). It has all the features that I regularly use on Microsoft Office. Apart from making the transition from other software to OO, I really don't see many disadvantages! I wish I'd learned about this before buying Office for my Mac...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thing #17: Rollyo

Rollyo...think of it as a very choosy Google, one in which you set the parameters. For my custom Rollyo, I created one called "Shopping." Then I entered all the websites that I know that have really cute stuff. I decided to test it out by running a search for "Sunglasses". And presto! A host of sunglasses from a variety of online shops I know were now at my fingertips. The fruit of my labors (found at Plasticland):

Thing #16: Here, Wiki, Wiki, Wiki!

WOW! Wikis are yet another genius Web 2.0 tool. I think the Common Craft video simply explains the greatness that is the Wiki.

As I mentioned on the SBISD Library Wiki, I think a parent- and teacher-used Wiki would be great for planning field trips. Times, dates, supplies, and parent chaperones could all be coordinated on one page, for all the users to see.

Also, a student-centered Wiki would be great for test preparation. Students could post about concepts they weren't quite clear on, and other students could explain it in their posts. I think the online medium for this would give both those who are struggling, and those who are excelling, a little more confidence to admit it. It would also foster a sense of community among classmates, since they'd be helping each other out, and learning from each other.

Just for fun....

I am trying to get this darn thing finished by August 10th. I admit, I slacked off some during my teacher training classes. I've done 2 "Thing #..." postings today. If I stick with my plan, I need to do 2 more. I've also had this stuck in my head off and on for a few weeks. Wanted to post it because it tickles me, like most silly things. Enjoy!

Thing #15: The Future of Libraries

The above video I watched for the beginning of Thing #15 brought to mind a quote I read recently. Unfortunately I can't locate it, or its author, at the moment! The gist of it is that schools were designed (centuries ago) for students who were experience-rich and information-poor, but that students now are the opposite: experience-poor, and information-rich.

With both an inexplicable affinity for the printed word, and an eagerness to share knowledge with my students through relevant channels, I went into this Thing a bit undecidedly. First off, the notion that the nature of life, learning, and even information have changed drastically just within the last decade demands acknowledgement. The library is no exception.

I read two articles with different approaches, but like-minded perspectives.

The first, Away from the "Icebergs", details three separate "icebergs" that will surely spell disaster for librarians rowing their way into modernity. I think the author, Rick Anderson, makes a strong final point: that libraries must not be opposed to change, but they must also avoid discarding their basic principles and values for the sake of our culture's shifting ideas of novel technology.

The same point is made in the second article I read, Into a New World of Librarianship. Here the author, Michael Stephens, details the things that libraries must do to remain relevant. He says that technological changes in the library must be tempered by asking the following:
  • "Does it meet the user's need in a new or improved way?"
  • "Does it create a useful service for putting users together with the information and experience they seek?"

I must say that I was impressed with the overall progressive tone of these 2 articles! Shamefully, I admit that I generalized librarians as guardians of dusty tomes, card catalogues, and "inside voices." This whole workshop, and this exercise in particular, have changed my opinion. Librarians are gatekeepers of knowledge! They are now faced with the great challenge of remaining relevant to users, but seem to be eager to accept this challenge.

Thing #14: Technorati

Technorati strikes me as another one of those "Man, wish I'd thought of that!" ideas. It's filtering the blogosphere through tags, popularity, and authority.

After watching this video, I understood it more fully. I realized just how important the blogosphere has become in recent years with regards to news, technology, and popular culture. A popular blog or tag, as the Technorati staffers explain, indicates that those with "real world perspectives" think it is important, aka worth blogging about.

The authority concept is important. It's interesting how a blog's level of authority is determined on Technorati: the more people who link to your blog, the more authority it has.

In searching "School Library Learning 2.0" in blog posts, I got 0 results. This same search in the blog directory gave me lots of results. And, interestingly enough, this same search in tags turned up lots of Library 2 Play blogs!

I think that the tagging concept combined with authority make the blogosphere very classroom-relevant. Like one of the staffers in the video said, you'll be able to read about events that would never appear on the evening news. How awesome would it be to enlighten young minds with some of these discoveries?! I was encouraged to see that the top searches included "news" and "environment" (albeit being accompanied by "Paris Hilton" and "Vanessa Minnillo").

I can't get over that the top tags included "blog", "blogging", and "weblog". Please explain...is the blogosphere that self-absorbed (and blogging about blogging), or are blog posts by default receiving these tags?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thing #13: Tag, you're it!

This thing was all about using the social bookmarking site delicious.  First I checked out the CommonCraft video, which made it all clear.  Then I watched the 8-minute podcast by a monotone Learning 2.0 narrator.  It provided more in-depth info, but I found myself frequently checking to see how much time was left!

Then came visiting the site itself.  It is amazingly easy to use.  Its front page features the most recently bookmarked sites.  I could see how these would be a potential time waster/distraction from your original focus!  I already clicked on an article about the Marines starting a one-year ban of social networking sites (e.g. Twitter and Facebook), and one about the pardon of 2 American journalists in North Korea!

Every tag you choose or think up is like a differently-shaped funnel through which you can filter the internet's myriad websites.  Not only that, you can see how many users chose the same tag for a certain website, who they are, and what other tags they chose for that site!  And, on top of that, you can see all the other sites that they bookmarked. (This last feature would make me cautious of what I bookmarked on delicious and what I just bookmarked on my own computer!)  

The networking feature is really cool.  I can see it being useful in a class, maybe for a group project.  However, I don't know that finding sites containing a particular tag and bookmarking them demonstrates an in-depth knowledge of a certain topic...but maybe you could then discuss the class network's findings together, and get the kids talking about why they chose this or that site, something new they learned on it, etc.?  Or maybe the class network could be the first step for an individual research project?  Like, you all find resources, discuss and choose the best sites, and then the kids proceed on their own from there?  Hmmm... let me know if you have other ideas for classroom application!