Thursday, December 10, 2009

AT Module #5

I found the link to the list of books that feature characters with disabilities to be helpful, although I wish they listed more that focused on books for younger grades, since that is my area. It is important to realize that in addition to providing those with disabilities educational opportunities, those apparently without disabilities need to be educated about their classmates too.

I did not find this online learning program to be as helpful as the previous one. I thought it was too condensed. I got a little confused trying to digest all the information, although the interactivity provided in these modules is very helpful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

AT Module #4

It is sometimes difficult to know how to commmunicate with people with disabilities without feeling awkward. For a period of time I drove a blind social worker around to her appointments and I learned a lot from that experience. People would sometimes try to address me instead of her, like if we were ordering at a fast food restaurant. She said, "I'm blind, not deaf!" She helped me understand that it was ok if I sometimes did not use the politically correct terminology (like saying "visually impaired" instead of "blind") She was not sensitive because she knew I was being respectful. I think that is the key--just acting natural and treating a disabled person like they were anyone else, and through your interactions you will gradually learn how to communicate better.

I think another key reaction mentioned in the module is to always ask them if they need help instead of assuming it. One of my coworkers with a walking impairment fell one day and another coworker tried to assist him. He protested against any kind of help very vehemently. It is a natural reaction for most of us to want to help, but many disabled people have worked hard to reach their level of independence and don't want to "regress".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

AT Module #2

For my needs assessment, I chose a group of 3 special education students, two with cerebral palsy and one with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I chose these students because they are nonverbal and it is difficult for them to participate in story time in the library. For my hardware I chose a device called a "Big Talk", into which the teacher or librarian can record a word or phrase. The student can then participate in story time by pressing the big button and having the voice speak back to them. It works best with repetitive stories.

If I faced a situation in the library with a student who was visually impaired, some modifications made to technology could include larger font size and a keyboard with bigger keys on the computer. The print materials could include larger print books and magazines. If the student was hearing impaired, perhaps I could learn sign language to complement the reading.

Friday, November 13, 2009

AT Module #1

It is difficult for me to even realize what it would mean to have a blind child in class. This is my first year teaching library K-6; I have students in wheelchairs and others diagnosed with autism or mental retardation, as well as others who have various learning disabilities. I would be lost without the teacher's assistants who work with these kids every day and can help me figure out the best practices.

I would emphasize Braille as a fundamental key to literacy for a visually impaired person, just as reading and writing manually is fundamental for a sighted person. I know there is some controversy in the blind community over the value of learning Braille; some think that assistive technology has become so sophisticated that Braille is unnecessary. However, my view is that knowing Braille is a necessary skill for the visually impaired.

I really liked the idea of a school-wide Braille skills competition. Everyone could get involved and learn the value of a new form of communication while working toward a prize. There are often units done on learning sign language, but I have never heard of a unit on Braille. Hopefully the school would be equipped with proper Braille signage.

Two websites I found useful were the What Works Clearinghouse, and Doing What Works, which helps implement the findings on the What Works site. They cover topic on common school challenges such as behavior problems, dropout prevention, and encouraging girls in math and science.

THING #23 (Week 9)

My apologies, I thought the last thing was Week 10, so I am posting late.

I think my very favorite discovery was LibraryThing. It is probably not the most useful Web tool, but it is a lot of fun. One thing I've taken away from this experience is the realization that learning will not stop once I've earned my degree, and that it cannot stop if I am to be successful in this profession. It is necessary to continue to absorb all you can about the ever-changing Web environment.

It was surprising to learn that sites you usually associate with personal enjoyment, like Facebook or Flickr, can actually be used to good purpose in an educational setting. I would absolutely participate in another online learning system because it was PRACTICAL. Practical is the one word I've used to sum up this experience because it seems so often in college you learn things that you can't really figure out how to apply in real-life situations--but this wasn't the case here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

THING #22 (Week 9)

I think the digitization of books is really amazing. It's something I wish was around when I was a kid. You can explore so many titles without having to go to different physical locations. I am not a big fan of reading books on the computer, but it's still a great way to check something out you might be interested in reading.

Audiobooks are great for many besides the visually impaired. They're ideal for road trips or someone who has a long way to drive or ride to work. It's also interesting to listen to the reader's interpretation. Sometimes you can grasp the meaning of something better when you hear how someone else is using their tone and inflection.

I found the Blackmask site, linked to from the World eBook Fair Collection, to be a very simple and comprehensive list of tons of world classics.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

THING #21 (Week 9)

I think out of all the "things" we have learned about, podcasts are the things I knew the least about. I always associated them with iPods and I didn't realize that a podcast could be supported without one. I realize now that the main differences from streaming video are the method of delivery (through RSS) and that podcasts are episodic in nature. I subscribed to CNN News Update through Bloglines.

I like the idea of using a podcast as a daily news show for the school. A great project for any class would be to have the students create their own.

THING #20 (Week 9)

I have posted a YouTube video on my sidebar which I think is appropriate and humorous, and should bring back good memories for many of us! I changed my template to try to give some width to the sidebar, because as you can see many of the things I have embedded have been cut off. This new template helps only a little. Does anyone know of any way to resize the page elements?

I can understand why YouTube is blocked in many schools because it is quite easy to come across things that are inappropriate. I like the rating system; I think it is a pretty accurate way to quickly judge which clips are worth your while.

I think an orientation video on a library website would be helpful, especially for a large public library. Many people are apprehensive about going to new places unless they know where they're going--they don't want to look foolish. A video clip to show them around the library first might help actually get them there. A library could also add clips to promote upcoming events, such as a book talk or book signing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

THING #17 (Week 7)

I have posted my WebQuest lesson in the California Classroom Curriculum Connections wiki. Here is the link:

I have to admit I found the wiki a little confusing and had some moments of panic as I tried to figure out how to upload my WebQuest file, but it worked out in the end. I guess it is just like everything have to get used to the layout and how to navigate through the site.

I can imagine that a wiki page would be useful to communicate with teachers from other schools. I am wondering if the regional school library system in my area has a would be so much more useful than just a website. It could be one-stop shopping for anyone with questions or concerns and might help with listserv over-use.

THING #16 (Week 7)

I have so far enjoyed using wikis since I was introduced to them last year. They are easy to use and extremely practical for people separated by distance. It is nice for collaboration because you can contribute to the wiki on your own time; you don't have to agree to meet at a certain time with your collaborators and work around busy schedules.

I enjoyed exploring the wiki on "Library Success". It has everything you need to know and what's best is you know it's created by people with experience in the library field who know what they're talking about.

I use Wikipedia a lot as a reference tool and I don't think any encyclopedia has it beat. It may seem dangerous to let just anyone edit content, but I think that for every crackpot out there who tries to vandalize a wiki, there are professionals who can step in and correct it. I think it evens out in the end.

The idea of using a wiki for collaborative note-taking in the classroom is interesting...maybe after using it awhile students could get a clearer idea of how to take better notes. Hopefully it would also foster the idea of teamwork.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

THING #15 (Week 6)

I learned a lot about copyright, fair use, and the public domain by reading the comic book written by the students at Duke University Law School. Although it focused specifically on making documentaries, the examples were applicable to any materials. It really drove the point home that a balance has to be struck between protecting the copyright holder and the creator of new works who wants to build on others' ideas. As secretary to the teachers at my old job I did all the copying, and in several situations questioned if what I was doing was indeed within the realm of fair use.

As for the concept of Library 2.0, I agree with the point made in the #15 Post, that libraries have almost always displayed the attributes that Library 2.0 is supposed to promulgate. Sometimes I think there's a lot of pressure on all of us to use these new tools simply because they're available. What we need to do, and what we are learning from this online course, is how to enrich our curriculum and facilitate learning through new technology.

THING #14 (Week 6)

If you're crazy about blogs, Technorati is the way to go. It organizes blogs by broad topics and you can also search for items within the blogs.

I think tagging is an inevitable result of regular users sharing their information globally. Many may welcome tags as a "common sense" approach to searching. Others may be frustrated because "common sense" is, after all, not universal. And there is also the confusion that can result from not having an authoritative tag for something like "pool", which could signify a swimming pool or the billiards game. I think tags are a great way to find something informally, especially if you're navigating in a context that's familiar.

Technorati could be used as a way to introduce students to blogs. They could follow one they find interesting and keep a journal on it in preparation for writing their own.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

THING #13 (Week 6) is more valuable than an ordinary bookmarking site because it includes the social component as well. When I thought of "social" bookmarking I thought it would be something similar to Facebook, but it's not like that at all. It's really just a way to see which way the wind is blowing on certain topics and issues.

Those doing research could also be led to important sources by exploring the tags. I like the idea of searching the tags to find links for student assignments. I searched the tags and found a link to a library curriculum website that seems like it will be valuable to me. However, I don't think I would personally use for bookmarking. I am used to having my bookmarks in my computer (not on the Web). It takes getting used to the idea of being mobile and having access to all your own information from a computer that's not yours.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

THING #12 (Week 5)

I created a searchroll in RollYo using websites related to the mystery genre, geared toward 7th through 12th graders. It was kind of generic but I'm not a teacher and I don't have much experience in creating lessons.

This is a really valuable tool for kids doing research on any topic. It's also a timesaver for both teachers and can be frustrating having to search multiple websites over and over again, especially for those who aren't computer literate. It's also easier to monitor which sites kids are supposed to be going on instead of having them wander vaguely around the Web.

I picked some sites that I thought would be good for students doing research on a particular author or work in the mystery genre and some information on the genre itself, leading up to composing their own short mystery story. I am concerned about the searchability of the websites I's tricky to pick something relevant that can be searched easily! The searchbox is at the bottom of my blog page.

Monday, October 5, 2009

THING #11 (Week 5)

A couple of the award-winning Web 2.0 sites I explored were Wufoo and Mango. I can see Wufoo being very useful for creating library websites. You could make forms available online for patron requests, reconsideration requests, mailing lists, or surveys, all without having to write any HTML code, as the website points out. For non-library-related reasons I found Mango interesting because I am a long-term sub candidate for teaching Russian at my school and I need to brush up on the grammar and vocab. But I think it would be cool to have a subscription to Mango available on library computers to help bolster the foreign language curriculum.

I had heard of Ning before but I didn't know that you could create your very own social circle. It would be ideal for a book club or any after-school club. Just for fun I joined "Hair Metal Generation".

THING #10 (Week 5)

I have added a very corny image of myself created in Image Chef to my sidebar. This tool could be used in lots of fun ways in the school library. For instance, you could create a "Reader of the Month" display using the student's photo in some kind of wacky template, using different themes each month. The comic strip generator could be used after reading a book with the class; students could create scenes from the book in comic-strip form.

Here is the link to Image Chef:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

THING #7 (Week 3)

It is actually Week 4, but I mistakenly thought this post was to be for this week. Oops. Anyway, I think I will talk about things like cell phones and Facebook.

I am always slow to tumble to new things because I am just naturally suspicious about anything that bucks tradition. I first got a cell phone because I went away to college and it was a 4 hour drive. I rarely used it because I did not not want to be one of those people walking around with a cell phone glued to their ear. I did not like to text message because I did not want to be one of those people staring at their phone, their fingers flying, oblivious to their surroundings. I did not want to sign up for Facebook because I didn't want to be one of those people who display their personal lives for all to see and add people that they barely know as friends.

Needless to say...I am one of those people! My point is that I think preconceived notions about technology contribute a lot to digital illiteracy. My 67-year-old father won't touch a computer because he simply assumes that it can contribute nothing to his life. I think many of us believe that by clinging to tradition we will stop the world from changing so bewilderingly. Maybe he's right...but I daresay if he learned to browse the Web he would find something to pique his interest.

I'll be damned, though, if I ever become one of those people who use Twitter!

THING #9 (Week 4)

I added 3 new feeds to my Bloglines page: a New York Times feed featuring articles about libraries and librarians, a Library Journal feed about library management, and comments on the "Speak Quietly" blog about libraries featured on Blogspot. I searched for these using Bloglines, because it was the most convenient to find and then add. I tried using Syndic8, but I thought it was awkward. Feedster doesn't seem to exist anymore. was an interesting discovery. It was a little confusing...I didn't see where you could add actual feeds to something like Bloglines. However, it's a really interesting site because you get feeds pertaining to local issues that local people comment on...and comment they do, oh my! I hope I am never featured in an article posted to Topix any time soon.

THING #8 (Week 4)

I'm glad that I finally know what RSS feeds are and what their purpose is. I always had that uncomfortable feeling that I should know what they are and be using them for some mysterious purpose. I actually managed to include the 5 feeds I subscribed to on my blog page on the right hand side toward the middle. I chose CNN, Word of the Day from, Librarian's Internet Index, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Book Review.

This is a great way to stay on top of technology-type stuff, especially since it all changes so rapidly. You can be notified of the latest developments without even having to try to remember which webpages to visit or cluttering up your Favorites list. Any professional should use RSS feeds to stay on top of current issues in their field. I can see these feeds being of particular value to any classroom teacher who is looking to incorporate current events in their curriculum to make a connection with students.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

THING #6 (Week 3)

I discovered more about mashups from looking at the Library Trading Cards on Flickr and then attempting to make my own using Big Huge Labs. I did make the card but had some trouble trying to post it to the blog. Here is the link:

I get how mashups are really useful because you can use a variety of different applications and build them on top of each other, but I got frustrated because I had to be redirected several times and sign in using various usernames that mostly I had forgotten. Then when I tried to post the card on my blog it told me I couldn't connect but didn't say why. Maybe I will try again later.

THING #5 (Week 3)

I found some cool photos on Flickr which I have shared in the three previous blog posts. I searched the geotags to find photos taken either near me or by people who live near me. I think it's wonderful how technology like this makes the world smaller and brings people together by common interests, people who would normally never cross paths.

I had previously set up a Flickr account with the intent to post some old-timey photos of grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Unfortunately my old scanner which has been in the attic for years will not work without the software installed, and who knows where that is? But hopefully I will be able to post them soon...perhaps strangers who view them can identify some of the "mystery" people in my photographs.

PA-NY line

PA-NY line
Originally uploaded by bear.bonnell
I had to include this too, because it's so beautiful. I love where I live!

The Showdown: Acoustic vs. Electric

Another cool photo taken not far from where I live.


Originally uploaded by Shaun Hannah
This cute photo was taken by someone who lives not far from me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

THING #4 (Week 2)

I have successfully registered my blog with Classroom Learning.

I was checking out some of the other blogs listed in this task, especially Joyce Valenza's "Neverending Search". She has SO much information in her seems like so much work! I also read her post on blogging the research process. It makes sense for everyone, not just high school students. Maybe if I tried doing something like that my big projects would be more successful!

I really like the idea of using blogs in the classroom and for library instruction, but I'm not so sure a general blog for the library would work so well...I just don't think the kids would be interested, although some parents might. Now, what if school administrators managed a blog for issues like discipline procedures or budgeting plans...that would generate some interest! That would be a great and probably controversial way to encourage debate.

THING #3 (Week 2)

Creating this blog wasn't hard at all, thanks to the specific directions in Classroom Learning. You can really spend a lot of time messing with the layout and choosing an avatar. It's amazing how professional you can make it look even without graphic design skills. However, I am having trouble viewing my avatar...I exported it from Yahoo! and I saw it once but now it won't show up.

I know some English teachers who have used blogs in classroom assignments and the kids really seem to take to it. I would like to try it in some aspect in the library. I think a blog is a great way for the kids who otherwise wouldn't particpate. For instance, in school I never raised my hand or spoke up in discussion because I was extremely shy and socially anxious. Something like this would give a student sufficient anonymity and time to really think about his or her contributions, and hopefully feel less self-conscious as a result.

THING #2 (Week 2)

I think the easiest habit for me out of the "7 1/2 Habits of Successful Learners" is, of course, number 7 1/2: Play!

The most difficult for me to achieve will be Habit #3: learning to view problems as challenges. I get frustrated easily and tend to fret if something unexpected happens, or if something I thought would be easy turns out to be hard. Things that I know will be hard I face with extreme procrastination!

This also ties in with having confidence...I believe that by gaining more confidence I will be able to view myself as capable of surmounting challenges.

THING #1 (Week 1)

Welcome fellow LS 589ers from Clarion University, who are probably going to be the only ones in the world interested in reading my blog! I am happy to participate in Classroom Learning 2.0 as part of my coursework. I think I will really enjoy learning how to do these new things in an interactive way.

Many of you were probably like me last year, totally ignorant of tools such as blogs, wikis and social networking...look how far we've come! I feel much more comfortable using these tools and look forward to exploring them further. I am especially looking forward to learning how to harness these tools for the classroom.