Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roll-yo Lesson

Each semester I work with 9th graders to research a natural disaster of their choosing. The students use print and non-print sources to locate details such as: causes, effects, benefits, safety precautions and other scientific facts. Typically I provide a pathfinder for the students which includes some recommended web sites. I like the idea of using Roll-yo to provide a one stop shop experience for using web resources. I especially like that you can create a search widget. This is very handy if you want to embed your search bar into a wiki or website.

Unfortunately, I was not completely satisfied with Roll-yo. It was far too slow to do any function, particularly the search. I can't imagine teenagers waiting as long as I did for searchroll to conduct a simple search. I consider myself patient person, but the length of time it took to do anything was a bit ridiculus.

In the past I have used Google's Custom Search to create searchrolls and I've been very satisfied and it didn't take nearly as long to accomplish the task!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Week #5 - Image Generators

Image and word generators are a lot of fun! There is plenty of room for creativity. I can think of lots of applications for these tools in the classroom. Teachers can use these tools to convey the themes contained in what they are teaching, no matter the subject. Using images and colors students can also create representations of characters within books or history. I also like the idea of using these tools, like the comic strip, to express their understanding of anything from a vocabulary word to a scientific principle. Being creative with a concrete or abstract idea is a way for teachers to require students to use higher level thinking. One small problem I do foresee is students spending too much time collecting and laying out images. Students are much more visual, selective and particular nowadays when it comes to how things look, but, I guess, this is a good problem to have in the classroom. It means the students are fully engaged in what they are doing.

I tried using Image Chef, FD Toys and ended up creating my project in Mosiac Maker. They were all relatively easy to use, but I like Mosiac Maker, because I had a little more creative control and I was happier with the templates offered. Once again I themed my project for the week on the book I am reading. I am currently reading Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson and decided to do a montage of images that relate to this novel.

Throughout this process I learned a bit more about Flickr and how well integrated it is into all of these image generators. It is forcing me to become more comfortable using Flickr, so that's good. More and more of the tools we are exploring really require that you have an e-mail account of some kind (ie: yahoo, google) and I fear many schools block e-mail sites. This may be an obstacle in using some of these sites within the classroom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week #4 - RSS Feeds

I too am amiss on what "thing" I am on. It's week four so I will stick with "thing 4".

Anyways, on to RSS feeds. The concept and implementation of RSS feeds is something I am very familiar with, but not something I have integrated into my daily life. I have a Google account and so therefore had a Google Reader that was going unused. Once I took the time to check it out I realized all the blogs I have been following for this class were already loaded in the reader. Google never ceases to amaze me. It was much easier to keep up with the blogs via the reader, but I felt that it was a little less personal since it was in the plain text format. I do enjoy interacting within each individual's blog. Within the reader I also felt less compelled to reply to each of the bloggers. Again, it seemed less personal. Although, I enjoy the ease and one stop shop quality of the reader I am not overly eager to begin using it in an everyday fashion, but I will try.

In an effort to collect some feeds, I located . I can't imagine you wouldn't find a feed that would interest in you. I selected a feed on parenting, my favorite sports team and a bunch on libraries. I began looking for library feeds on School Library Journal and was overwhelmed by how many feeds they have. Tons and tons! (in case you are still looking for professional feeds)

Whew! I hope RSS's streamline the information I need and doesn't cause information overload!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Had to try it

After today's Tapped In session I had to give SmileBox a try especially because I am completely obsessed with taking pics of my new baby boy.

SmileBox was easy to use and the basic membership allowed for all that I needed to create a slideshow. I could have spent hours, but was able to create a nice product very easily and quickly. I was a little disappointed to not be able to import my pics from Shutterfly where I have a photo library. I am beginning to see that Shutterfly is not as accessible as say Flickr when it comes to photo sharing. Shutterfly was not even included in the top 10 evaluated photo share sites in the link we had to read. Perhaps I should consider another photo storage site if I plan on doing more mashups like this one. Which may be the case, because it's so easy and fun.

Here's a looksee at my little guy.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Tommy Boy
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week #3 - Mashups

This week I was glad to finally learn about mashups. I have heard of the term, but never knew exactly what it was until now. I explored a few examples of mashups mainly via Flickr and all its services. I have used Flickr for photo sharing, but more recently switched to Shutterfly. Revisiting Flickr enabled me to see all its capabilities ie: photostream, the commons, picture links and much more. It's use of tags is much like Delicious and is a very user friendly system for organization and retrieval.

I attempted to apply my new understanding of mashups by creating a trading card. I met a library from Penn State who had an awesome superhero-like trading card and thought it would be fun to generate one for myself. Unfortunately the layout was too simple for my taste and didn't seem jazzy enough to intrique a teenager.

So I went to plan B. I created a movie poster of a book I recently read for this summer's Teen Lit course. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers was a realistic portrayal of an African American young man in Vietnam during the war. Myers's story was stirring and vivid. Making the movie poster was easy, fun and I thought a new way of getting students to share reading experiences with classmates. Technically speaking making the poster was easy. The trickiest part was locating and finalizing an image. I did this by doing a tag search of Flickr's common. I saved the image I liked and added it to my photostream. This took a little trial and error,but now that I know the path it will be easy to repeat. Mashups are not that complex after all!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My First Avatar

In the spirit of 23 things and doing something new, I have created my first avatar. It was fun! I could have spent hours tweeking it to be just right, but new mommies need to manage their time more wisely. This process was very similar to creating Wii Miis on the Wii gaming system I have. My husband and I have a habit of creating a Mii for everyone who visits our how. Yes, we started this practice long before our son arrived. We can kinda be big kids ourselves sometimes. Hey, technology is fun, especially when you can make likenesses of yourselves.

Week #2 - Blogging

Here goes. I have started many a blog for my classroom before with lofty ideas of how to incorporate this technology into the curriculum. I was only brave enough to follow through once. It was a learning experience to say the least. I hope my experience with 23 Things will give me the courage and the edge I need to successfully use blogging in the in a meaningful way in the classroom.