Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 1: Dropbox for Beginners

I love iPad apps!
I found Dropbox and downloaded the free app in seconds. I have positioned it in my six "always there" apps at the bottom of the screen and I have installed Dropbox on my PC. A Dropbox icon is in the task bar and start menu as well as in my Favourites.
Signing up for an account requires an email address and password. A passcode can be added to sign in on the iPad.

My free account has up to 18 GB storage and an additional 2 GB + 500 MB per referral. You will see my invitation through Dropbox on Twitter and Facebook. You can refer through your Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc accounts as well. I have sent a few direct email invitations to my admin. 

Additional storage can be purchased at a rate starting at $9.99/ month or $100.00/year.
Team Dropbox accounts are high priced and will not be an appropriate use of school funds. Five accounts start at $795.00. I will recommend teachers and students register for the free account. Teachers may want to create a school work email account to accommodate student sharing.

The checklist takes you through an orientation to Dropbox including:
Dropbox tour

Install Dropbox on your computer

Put files in your Dropbox folder

Install Dropbox on other computers you use

Share a folder with friends or colleagues

Invite some friends to join Dropbox

Install Dropbox on your mobile device 

When Dropbox has been installed three files are available; Photos, Public and Getting Started. The Getting Stared File gives quick directions for this relatively intuitive program.
"Drag and drop" files to the Dropbox icon to save to your account. Double clicking on the icon opens your Dropbox.

The Dropbox help page is easy to access and the information is clear and presented well.

Why Dropbox?

Library netbook cart
Our school has just purchased and introduced 20 iPads for each of our three grade levels. The iPads are stored with the netbooks on a cart which can be used by teachers in their classrooms. Each cart has wireless capabilities and the netbooks are networked to the school board intranet.

We have always had issues with students either emailing through hotmail accounts or using USB drives (I have a collection of unclaimed drives in my office) to transfer work between home and school. Now with the introduction of iPads (not networked) there is a need to find a way to share finished or in progress work.

Recent fundraising and my request for iPads in the library has promised me four devices for library use. I have been frustrated by a lack of networking; our first five netbooks were not networked or imaged by the board so there is no connection to student files and without "protection" on these netbooks I hesitate to allow hotmail use and USB drives get lost.

I have an Evernote account and have been trying to use it more often for personal file sharing between home and work but have yet to benefit as much as I had expected. Dropbox has come up in discussions with others introducing technology in their schools and from limited understanding I think this tool is worth investigating.
-ease of access by invitation
-app available FREE on iPads and downloadable on school computers
-capability of emailing files to teacher
-some colleagues with experience

HERE I come!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Using Technology to Create a Reading Culture

It is imperative that we as educators instil a love of reading in our students. By building a culture of reading in our classrooms, libraries and schools we just might achieve this goal.

This link will take you to Using Technology to Build a Reading Culture from an online professional development workshop created by my team in the U of Alberta TLDL course, Contemporary Literacies.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Digital Kids Digital Readers


As part of the TLDL EDES543 course Contemporary Literacies we were required to create a professional development online workshop for teachers and/or teacher librarians. The link above is to a very thorough online presentation for those interested in introducing and managing eBooks in schools. Many thanks to my classmates April, Cherie, Katie, Laurie and Lissa.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Memes in the Classroom

 WIKIPEDIA defines an Internet meme as: 
an idea that is propagated through the World Wide Web. The idea may take the form of a hyperlink, video, picture, website, hashtag, or just a word or phrase. The meme may spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, news sources, or other web-based services. An Internet meme may stay the same or may evolve over time, by chance or through commentary, imitations, parody, or by incorporating news accounts about itself. Internet memes can evolve and spread extremely rapidly, sometimes reaching world-wide popularity within a few days.
In order to better prepare our students for their digital citizenship, access to and understanding of internet culture is imperative. 
Internet Memes are the sharing of popular culture. Every student with internet, cell phone, or iPad access will know which are the popular and current memes. Memes might have more place in middle or senior schools than in younger grades.  In my role as a teacher librarian and literacy leader in a middle school I can offer an introduction to memes as part of the media curriculum. Until we educate our students about the basics of meme-ing we can't expect to have discussions about ethics or social action.

MEME Basics
-define meme
-identify currently popular memes
-learn to recognize memes vs. truth (critical thinking piece)
-define the audience ("remixers, "sharers") for a particular meme
-how was this meme spread?
-why did this meme spread?
-how was the meme created (skills required)?
-how was the meme remixed?
-recognize the collaborative, modification and sharing nature of memes
-identify counter memes
-create a remix of a favourite meme or create a counter meme

Memes are engaging, motivating and relevant. I might even suggest memes be included as part of our media or technology classes. 
One issue which will continue to create discussion amoung educators is where will we access engaging and more importantly appropriate meme content.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inanimate Alice: Your Episode

Image: 'Animoto on the iPhone - start'
Using Animoto create your own original Episode #5

Teacher demonstration of features of Animoto video creation tool.
Episode 5: ?  YOU are the author!
1. Select one of the countries Alice's classmates came from.Pakistan

Review features of story included in Inanimate Alice Episodes.

2. Create your digital narrative using a video editing tool.
Write a story to continue Alice's adventures in her new home.  Include the following:
How old is Alice now?
A map to locate the country
A plan or picture of her home
Pictures to let us know what the setting is like
Make sure you have a problem and solution
Something about her friends (home schooling or in a "regular" school.)
What about Brad?
Optional: You might try to include a game.
Create a storyboard to help organize your video. Find a downloadable Storyboard on the internet. Here is one you might try. Xinsight
3. You must use photos, effects, sound, music, and words to tell the story.Select photos from flickrcc or Google Advanced Image Search labeled for reuse and modification.

Use the edit feature on flickrcc or another photo editing tool to change the look of the photos.

Add sound effects and music  using links found on the Lougheed sqworl pathfinder. These MUST be public domain.

Inanimate Alice Episode 4: Hometown

Students independently work to:
Locate England on Google maps.Find pictures of canals in England using Flickrcc and Google Images.
Read Episode # 4 in pairs
From the teacher website:
Post # 1 POSTER
Put yourself in Alice's shoes. What advice could she give us about her experiences in Episode 4?
Create a poster to display Alice's best advice.

You might choose a poster using  Big Huge Labs
or search for "online poster creator".  BE SURE it is free!

Post # 2  FeelingsCreate a digital display to show what feelings were evoked by the music and sounds.orCreate a digital display to show what feelings were evoked by the images.
Create a digital display to show what feelings were evoked by the words.

Post # 3
AuthorYou have read four episodes by the same author. Use a digital creation to show what the author thinks about kids? about parents?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Inanimate Alice: Episode 3: Russia

Image: 'Matrioska eyes'
From our Lesson: Students were shown the instructions found on the teacher's website.

First Steps!

1. Use Google  Maps to find out about:
     Moscow, Russia
     Siberia, Russia
Use the person icon to find images:

2. Use Google Images or Flickrcc to search:
     Russia, oil rig

3. What does contamination mean?

4. Read Episode # 3: Russia
The introduction and reading of this episode took most of two classes. Students each had a netbook for reading but gravitated into small groups to share the experience.
From the teachers website:
POST 1: Episode 3: Russia Blog
Read Episode # 3: Russia again. Focus on one of the following:
A)  Music and Sounds
B)  Visuals
C)  Words

Which of the three above formats did you select? Why?

How does your choice help you understand the story?

How does the reading of this narrative compare to the last book you read?

Answer at least one of the following:

What part of episode #3 annoyed you? Why?

What part of episode # 3 frightened you? Why?

What part of episode # 3 pleased you? Why?

What part of episode # 3 puzzled you? Why?

What part of episode # 3 interested you? Why?

POST 3:Create an image to show the part of episode # 3 that seemed familiar to you?
Create an image to show the part of episode # 3 that seemed weird to you?
You may want to reread the episode again.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Inanimate Alice: Episode 2: Italy

From our lesson: Students were encouraged to use Google maps and flickrcc to independently search for the following: Italy, Italian alps, Saudi Arabia, chalet and Snowcat. Some students used Google Images and successfully identified a Snowcat as a machine.

Students read Episode #2: Italy in pairs using library netbooks. Many groups reread and replayed the games.

A demonstration of the Weebly site slide show application was followed by instructions for posting.

From the teacher web site:                   Episode # 2: Italy

Post # 3: Story

Watch Episode # 2: Italy.
Tell the story using ten (10) events only.
Create a slide show using the 10 events and pictures to represent the events in the story.

Post #4: Reflection

Reflect on Episode # 2
What was the best part of this episode? Why?
What was your least favourite part? Why?
What would you change if you could? Why?

Post #5: Emotion

Create a picture that shows one of Alice's emotions during this episode.
Finish the following sentence.
Alice felt........                        when...

Inanimate Alice Episode 1: China

From the teacher website:

Your new website is about reading. Create a Home page which reflects your understanding about reading and your interest in reading.
Include words and images.

Keep up with your assignments.
From our lesson: We began our exploration of Alice by talking about narrative and the elements of story. We predicted what a digital narrative found on the web might include.
Our next step was to use Google maps to investigate what the setting would look like. I dragged the "street view" icon to some of the blue dots and we looked at the desert areas in northern China.
Our first reading was teacher led. It was followed by a discussion of the features of the text using an adaptation of the Inanimate Alice teacher education package (must subscribe to access)
Students reread the episode using library netbooks in pairs and at their own speed. The students were asked to create the following two posts for their blogs.

From the teacher website:

Episode 1: China

Post #1
Your entry should tell us about how you read Episode # 1. Use digital features to help explain your answers.

What did you do?
What did you enjoy?
What did you find difficult?
What really worked?
Complete the following:  Next time I will....

Post # 2

Describe story elements clearly. Use digital features to help explain.

Children's Literature on the Web
Using Jog the Web I created a pathfinder and guide to web based sources of Geronimo Stilton books, videos, merchandise and information. School libraries and teachers might use any of the links to entice readers to investigate Geronimo Stilton further and extend their enjoyment of the series.

Note: Jog the Web claims to allow embedding of html code in the blog but unfortunately I am only able to link the Jog to this page.

I remember when a book was just that, a book. In my reading life as a child there were no spinoffs, no television shows or movies; advertising was not aimed at children and the sale of merchandise related to literature was rare if it existed at all. In truth children`s literature was sadly lacking in appeal and rarely offered formats other than the printed page. I remember reading a comic based on a tale I had read but my reading experience of literature stopped there. We can fast forward to the reading experience of a child in 2012.
The Process
I could not have imagined the extent of the opportunities for children to access their favourite books, series, and literary characters on the web. Booth (2011) notes “the importance of recognizing student choice and popular culture in the lives of our students” (p.22). My exploration clearly exemplifies the opportunity for and connections between popular culture and children’s literature. Oddly when students in my library were asked about their web experience with Geronimo Stilton many responded with shrugged shoulders and head shakes.  This exploration began simply by using Google to search for ‘Geronimo Stilton’ leading to results including: the official Geronimo Stilton site, the Geronimo Stilton News site, the North American publisher site, Google images, Amazon booksellers and Wikipedia. I saved the links on Diigo and visited each site exploring further and attempting to organize the results in some sort of clear and deliberate manner. I needed a place to start and found on copies of both a paperback novel and a graphic novel, web site addresses for Scholastic Book and Papercutz graphic novel publishers, and the International Geronimo Stilton World site. This is where I would begin my experience in the expansive electronic world of Geronimo Stilton.
I was surprised that more of my student Stilton fans did not know about the web presence of this character but was not surprised when my niece led me to a few gems through her digital literacy expertise. She took me through Google images to online colouring sites, introduced me to Google translator for the Italian language pages of the Stilton site and reminded me of her passion for Revisiting Google Books after attending a professional development workshop featuring Google apps I located previews of a number of Geronimo Stilton titles as well as Kingdom of Fantasy and Thea Stilton spinoff titles. The opportunities are endless allowing readers to preview titles before buying or borrowing a book, and to experience online worlds full of information and story. O’Connell (2011) states that students “need a range of literature and information options, delivered to them via a variety of physical and virtual means, from books to all manner of media and digital objects, via a plethora of digital devices” (para.12) and the contemporary reading experience of a child fulfills this need.
Surprises and Reflections
I have witnessed the popularity of this series of books through the constant requests for copies at my library. My students may be older than the targeted audience but some have become fans of the television cartoons. The wide range of Geronimo Stilton merchandise available for purchase including: books, audio and e-books; soap bubbles, chocolate eggs and playsets with buildings and figures; DVD’s and video games surprised me. I was even more surprised that the merchandising of Geronimo Stilton has yet to reach the same extent in North America as it has in Europe. It seems in Europe Geronimo Stilton is so popular that “live” appearances are common, a Geronimo Stilton Musical has been staged and Geronimo Stilton is the centre of a public service campaign for internet safety. I wonder if North American readers might engage with this character based series in the same way?
I have always thought of libraries as being equalizers for students from environments lacking in literature but what if the internet also leads to recognition of the importance of literature by providing all readers with access to alternate forms which “bring children and books together” (Chambers, 1985, p. 11) encouraging readers to continue reading even when they are not at school. Access to web sites based on Geronimo Stilton books offers readers text in many formats, at any time, in any location with internet access, and with the increased use of mobile devices experiences are unlimited.
The ever-present availability of the internet requires that users be educated about the many aspects of consuming media, especially when targeted by children`s advertising. Geronimo Stilton fans search online for sites providing entertainment and information with no regard to source or authorship. Readers are then linked via search results to the sale of merchandise including television and book spinoffs, games, and toys connected with the selected popular literature. Being a wise consumer of merchandise and media is essential and the application of critical thinking skills related to popular culture depends on reading with an eye to analyzing and understanding point of view, audience, author motivation, manipulation and exploitation. Our role as teachers of media, of reading, and of thinking includes preparing students to question the culture of the internet and to become aware of more than the face of the product and interpret deeper messages. Student participation in this type of web search or experience can also lead to critical thinking that reflects an understanding of online authenticity, validity and usefulness as an authentic part of learning.
By encouraging and supporting our students in the exploration of literature I feel we are providing “the materials for motivation, differentiation, collaboration and connections necessary for 21st  century learning” (O'Connell, 2012, para 10). The experiences of motivated children accessing popular literature and associated links online will undoubtedly lead to a greater understanding of the online environment and possibly extend to improved information literacy in classroom tasks. With teacher facilitators in the form of teacher librarians creating opportunities to explore and experience the internet through links to literature and information we are preparing our students for their future: a future that includes instant access to an increasing variety of sources of information and knowledge that we are obliged to teach students how to understand and use. I have always felt my role as an educator has been to teach my students how to think, not how to remember. Warlick also questions our role as educators when he asks, “Is it just what students can recall at the end of the year or the course? or is it what they can do and whom they will be 20 years later” (Warlick, 2012, para 8)?

Future Practice
Consolidating an understanding of the availability and of the vast array of sites linked to the Geronimo Stilton titles and using to present the results of my exploration has motivated me to introduce and share my children`s reading experience and this web 2.0 tool with staff and students at my school. I hope teachers will be interested in collaborating in the library to develop lessons using internet reading experiences or the sharing of connected links. The following are possible opportunities for use:
  • Use jog the web as a model for an alternative to a book report
  • Student research of a novel and demonstration of their personal reading experience
  • Students can create jogs independently and write annotations to demonstrate synthesis and understanding of course content
  • Create a jog for research and annotate websites with selection criteria 
  • Teachers create a jog to ask questions
  • Create a jog to answer questions posed by the teacher
  •  Students make connections to and explore the effects of their reading
  • Student created jogs in content areas will serve as a bibliography providing annotations reflecting authenticity or credibility
  • Teacher created jogs provide links to appropriate sites for exploration of authenticity or understanding of content
  • Teacher created literature jogs provide access to sources of background information
  •  Introduction of school-wide shared reading of a novel with links to student centred sites will encourage readers to explore literature beyond the text itself
  • Investigation of popular culture and consumerism through links to sites and media
  • Investigate the Geronimo Stilton jog and critically assess the sites 
  • Critical interpretation of the motivation for website creation and intended audience
Moving my library and my students and colleagues into the 21st century depends on the introduction of skills leading to increased understanding of digital and media literacy. My school library is a place where we can facilitate the learning of “the intricacies of media literacy in today's information-rich world” (McCrae, 2012, para 5). I am committed to this learning and will attempt to convince my peers of the value of expanding children’s reading experiences. My role as the teacher librarian is to open the doors daily to an “active place(s) where students go to create and consult with information experts” (Johnson, 2012, para 3). I feel the introduction of jogs and online reading experiences will enhance student learning and encourage authentic and productive learning through exploration.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Inanimate Alice: Lesson 1

Using the resources provided when we subscribed to the Inanimate Alice project, we developed this introduction.
1.    Introduction: What is a narrative?
If a narrative was on the internet, what would you expect it to look like? What would it include?  Elements (MODES) of representation
-images, sound, video, animations, text, links
2. LCD - Background Knowledge:  China
·         Google maps
·         Flickrcc
·         Flickr
3.    Inanimate Alice Episode 1: China  use LCD
4.    Students navigate the story: Students work in pairs (promotes dialogue)
5.    Class discussion: Explore sensory input-sounds image text of this episode.
1.    Screen 3
a.     Music begins here- Why?
b.    TURN off sound –look at screen 3 how does the music affect the tone of the screen?  Urgency?
2.    Screen 6
a.    Arrows appear near the road...Why do you think they are placed there?
–not the same as previous screens
3.    Screen 7
a.    Sound is very different? (almost Silent) What can you hear? ??
b.    What does this suggest to you about her home at the base?
4.    Screen 8
a.    You can move through this screen quickly if you like. If you wait what happens?
b.    What is it the painting that you see? What do you notice about the colours of the layers of the painting as they appear?
5.    1/2 way through (Pictures of flowers)
a.    When you read the story for the first time did you know you had to take pictures or did you think it was just for Alice?
b.    How many flowers did you see?
c.    Was Alice’s mom driving too quickly for you to take photos of all 4 flowers?
d.    Did the music help you concentrate?
6.     Alice writes her list of things she’d rather be doing
a.    Does her list sound like an 8 year old?
b.    Is there a hint that helps us think she is only 8? (font)
7.    Final 2 screens
a.    How did you know this is the end of the story (doesn’t say the end)? (various modes)
                                                          Sounds, Jeep drives off screen, Darkening sky

6.    Blogging introduction: Brainpop and commoncraft video
7.    Snowball activity  (See Kist)
                        -develop class blogging guidelines

8.   Episode 1: China Blogging : What I did?
What I enjoyed?
What I found difficult?
What really worked?
Next time I will...