Friday, June 26, 2009

Thing #11 LibraryThing

Wow! That was fun! I really like LibraryThing. I sat down in front of my bookcases, set up an account and added 25 books. Some of them are history books I've read for classes I currently teach or have taught in the past. I added all of my John Wayne books (but one that must be in a box I haven't unpacked yet). I put a few books I learned about/found while living overseas.

I looked at some of the features of LibraryThing. When I clicked on "groups", I found a group called History: on learning from and writing history. I read some of their posts. It was really interesting because there was a series of posts discussing the issue of how/why groups of people get their own countries, such as Jews, but others do not, such as Kurds or Palestinians. One of the posts discussed Wilson's 14 Points and the countries set up at the end of WW I. The person mentioned reading Paris 1919. I had just come across that book when doing Thing #7 and using Google Advanced Search.

This could be really useful. Reading ideas about historical topics and finding books others have read and their comments about them would also be useful. I spend time in used book stores looking for books to put on my shelves for my students to read. Being able to read reveiws and comments about books would help me know whether a book would be interesting or as useful as I hope for my students.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thing #10 Playing around with images

My first choice was Wordle. I used a James Taylor song (the bottom Wordle). Next, I took a document segment from an IB History DBQ (the top Wordle). It is from an assignment about Mao Zedong and the Chinese Civil War. Perhaps students could take documents we use, put them in Wordle and comment about the words that appear larger and the relationship of those words to the questions in the DBQ. They could perhaps share their Wordle and their thoughts about the document to the rest of the class.

I liked doing the Wordles.

I looked at Glogster. Creating a poster sounded neat, but some of the examples they showed made me uncomfortable about sending students there. I would consider some of the samples not at all appropriate. Same thing with Custom Sign Generator.

Then I went to Comic Strip Generator. That was neat. I looked through their images of famous people... no John Wayne :-( I did find Pierce Brosnan and created a sign for AP Macroeconomics. As I add pictures, they are added to the beginning of the post. I can't seem to get them to come with the paragraph that discusses the particular picture.
I know that I am more conservative than many people... I think it is important to look at image sites before telling students what to use... same as with anything we do... we have to be careful about what we select and make sure it is appropriate for the assignment and for students.
Also, I think time is a big factor. If I give students specific sites to go to, it will help reduce the time students need to do an assignment. They can spend more time on the assignment itself rather than spending lots of time looking around at many sites.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thing #9 Blogs & News Feeds

My biggest passions are my students and my daughter. I looked at the Cool Cat Teacher Blog and read the article about creating a circle of the wise. What she had to say about choosing what to read and who to listen to was very true... your friends and those you associate with have an influence on you as well as you having an influence on them. Choosing those who are a positive influence and with whom you can learn and grow as a person is very important.

I tried Edublogs' Award Winners, Technorati and School Library Blogs on Suprglu. I was trying to find sites or blogs about European History. It actually did not work out so well. When I did a search on Technorati for teaching history, I got too many choices. I tried to narrow it by putting in European History; then I got a lot of choices that had nothing to do with history. Some were about Father's Day or other topics.

Edublogs' Award Winners was interesting. I found a blog called Creative Teaching. It sounds like the author home schools. There were sites attached that will be good for my daughter... math, science, spelling... information and games. I added Creative Teaching to my Reader.

Another blog on Edublogs' was about a class blog from a teacher in Australia. That was interesting. I read a couple of the entries... it was almost the end of school and told about a question the students had to answer. The last post was a list of awards the teacher gave students for their work on the class blog during the year.

None of the search tools were confusing. The problem is how to word a search in a way so that what you are looking for comes up. There doesn't seem to be too many history blogs.

While looking at the different blogs at Technorati, I saw one about someone's travels and that sent me looking for Rick Steve's blog. I LOVE to travel and enjoy his show on PBS very much. So I have added his blog to my Reader.

I think the biggest obstacle to finding things is time. There is so much on the web, it takes time to sift through it to find what is useful.

Thing #8 RSS Feeds/Reader

I like the Google Reader. Having various websites I like to look at all in one place is really convenient and time saving. I think those are the two best things about having a Google Reader. The drawback is that I couldn't put some websites on my Reader that I wanted to add. One I wanted to put on is I did add

I do have five sites on my Reader. All are school related in some way. Two of them I get in my e-mail each day. Two more are helpful for my Model UN club and the fifth is one I found through the Google Alert I set up in a previous lesson. I chose it because it will help me with Economics curriculum writing I have been asked to do this summer.

I can use the Reader to keep up with information important to specific subjects I teach. I'm not sure right now how else I can use this technology in school. It seems the only way to share what I have on my Reader is to choose articles I see and put in e-mail addresses for those people I want to share with. That seems like a lot of work. For example, if I see an article about an issue we are researching in Model UN, I would have to type in all the students' e-mail addresses to share the article with them. That's a lot of students.

Right now, the best thing I can see about Google Reader is that it makes it easier for me to browse through information and choose what is most relevant... making me a more informed teacher for my students.

I'm not sure how libraries/teachers/administrators can use Readers other than gathering information in one place and allowing them to share a particularly interesting or important article with others.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thing #7 Google

I have always been curious about why the Google Search Engine/web company took the name "Google." In math, a google is an extremely big number... a 1 followed by 100 zeros. There is a book called "G is for google." I thought maybe the company used "Google" to signify the amount of information you can find on the web... not just thousands of sites, but a google (1 followed by 100 zeros) of sites.

I focused mostly on Google Alert, Google Advanced Search and Google Scholar.

Google Alert... I think that would be really neat for the Model UN group. Students could create alerts for their country and their issue, since they need the most up to date information in their research. I started off with two items in my Google Alert. I chose Bulgaria and comprehensive to see what an MUN student could get if he/she used it as part of their country research. I also chose my favorite baseball team and news, just for fun.

Google Scholar was interesting. I put in League of Nations. I have always taught a unit about the League as part of the 12th grade IB curriculum. Starting next year, the League will be an even bigger topic, because it will be part of the Document Based Question, so I wanted to see what I could find on the web. Google Scholar gave me a long list of books about the League. I never thought there was so much information. But, I didn't really want a huge list of books. There were very few articles in Google Scholar. The few I saw were mostly on Jstor, so I could not access them from home. I did find an article about a documentary. I'm going to look up the documentary... it sounded pretty interesting.

Better that Google Scholar was Google Advanced Search. I have been using Dogpile as my primary search engine for years, because it gives information from a combination of search engines, not just one. I have never used Google Advanced Search before, but it will now replace Dogpile when I am looking for sites for students to use in assignments or when I'm looking for information for my own research. They had over 10 pages of sites for the League of Nations. It was so amazing! Many were university .edu sites and they were so neat. I made a list of some of the sites and a description of the information on the sites to have for the fall.

I also started thinking of an assignment I could have the students do using Google Advanced Search. I'm working on it!

Another tool on Google is the Google Docs. I would like to learn more about that. Two of my students last year created one of their assignments using Google Docs.

fd's Flickr Toys: Do fun stuff with your photos

fd's Flickr Toys: Do fun stuff with your photos

Posted using ShareThis

fd's Flickr Toys: Do fun stuff with your photos

fd's Flickr Toys: Do fun stuff with your photos

Posted using ShareThis

Thing #6 Mashups

I have never heard of mashups before. It sounds like a really neat idea... taking information from several different sources and creating a totally new product. That would be a neat project to create for students to do that. Several concerns come to mind. One is copyright issues, depending on where students get their information. Second, some of what I read about mashups sounded so technical... I'm not sure I could actually create one as a model for students to see and reference in creating their own.

The most common examples I saw used Google Maps. There are several units in history that students could take a map of Europe or a map of Africa and combine that with information from other sources to create a mashup of colonization statistics/information or a mashup of Revolutions of 1848 or a mashup of WW II battles/information.

I created both a trading card and a mosaic. I used Louis XVI for the trading card, because I was thinking about a similar assignment I have my 12th grade do. I created the mosaic, thinking about my Model United Nations students. Groups of students research a country. They could create a mosaic showing aspects of their country and give a presentation to the rest of the group, discussing their countries through the pictures they chose for their mosaic. I hope the students think that is as cool as I think it is!

I am able to "share" the trading card and mosaic by posting it to my blog, but I was unable to get it on this specific post. For each product, I clicked on "share", then "share this". I don't know how to get it on this specific post. I tried saving both images to my desktop on my computer, then I was going to copy and paste, but that option did not work. There is more to learn!
Vaughn, thanks for the tip. As you can see, it worked!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thing #5 Flickr Pictures

I have traveled a lot and have a TON of pictures--most of them in albums--on my shelves at home. It would be neat to share them with other people who are interested in seeing different places.

I already knew about Flickr, but only thought of it as a place to find a picture to add interest or illustrate something in one of my lessons. I did not realize that I could scan my pictures and load them onto Flickr for others to see. That would be better than having them just sit on the shelf.

I looked for pictures of Sevastopol, Crimea in the Ukraine. That is one of the places where the Crimean War (1853-1856) was fought. Most students don't know much about that war, but it had big effects on European history and diplomacy and is a topic I cover in class. It was interesting looking at the pictures of Sevastopol. I knew it was a port on the Black Sea, but did not know what the town looked like. There were 129 pictures of Sevastopol and the surrounding area on Attribution part of Flickr. There were street scenes, monuments, a few of battle places... I think they were from the Crimean War. It is neat to have an idea of what the place I teach about actually looks like. I think the students would like it, too.

Balaklava Bay, Crimea

Sevastopol, Crimea
There are some drawbacks to using Flickr. Not all pictures are labeled as to what they are. I wouldn't want to use something without knowing for sure the name of what I was looking for. I also looked at pictures of Vienna, Austria. There were a TON of them, many not labeled. It could be really time consuming if one were looking for a specific site among all of the pictures.
My last problem is getting the picture where I want it in the document! I was hoping the Balaklava Bay and Sevastopol pictures could be side by side, but that did not work out well. The label for Sevastopol is not with its picture and I don't know how to get it to stay where I typed it. That would drive me nuts, because if I am going to create something to use in class, I want it to look good. I don't want to distract from my purpose by having a product with mistakes or editing problems.
In spite of the problems, there are some neat things I could do with Flickr in my history class.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thing #4 Register Blog

I have added information for my profile... yippee! I've sent the e-mail registering my blog, so now I am "official." I can't wait to try out the next lesson.

Thing #3 Creating Blog & Avatar

I don't feel like I know what I'm doing! But, I have the blog and I managed to export my Avatar to my blog. I couldn't tell whether the avatar was actually exporting, so I ended up with three copies on my blog! Getting rid of two of them was pretty easy.

Creating the Avatar was fun. It was like playing dress up doll. I was looking for an outfit that expressed some aspect of my life or personality. When I saw the Japanese kimono, I thought it would be neat if they also had a Korean hanbok. I would have chosen that, because I lived in Seoul, South Korea for 5 years, teaching at Seoul International School. But, no hanbok. So, I chose the Elizabethan dress, since Queen Elizabeth I is my most favorite person ever. Too bad I don't get to teach about her in my IB History classes :-(

I'm going to try to add information about myself to the blog and see if that will be successful. The learning curve is going in a positive direction!

Thing #2 Learning for Life

As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to make my classes interesting for the students. So, I signed up for this online class to learn about technology tools I can use. That is a weak spot for me. I know there is a lot out there that I can use, but I need to take the time to learn about the new technology and take time to explore what I can do with it and what I can create for my classes.

I have read both the "7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners" and the article about Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I love learning and would be happy as a clam if I could be a "professional student." However, that is not possible, so I need to expand my "learning toolbox" to include more than books and classes.

The easiest of the 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners for me is to "begin with the end in mind." As a student in college, I had a goal and reason for the particular degree I earned. With the classes I teach, I also have goals and reasons for units I include and for the activities I choose.

The hardest of the 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners is to "use technology to your advantage." It has seemed to me that learning new technology would be very time consuming, because there is so much out there. I am a confident learner in many areas, just not with technology.

So, I'm hoping this course will help change that for me.