The Learning Librarian

Learning Log-Wiki

My Wikispaces Page

I recently created my own wikispaces page for a class project. I turned to the web for some inspiration. There, I found three wiki pages that are worth mentioning. The first is eSandbox. The name alone suggests a fun place for educators to meet and discuss ideas. The eSandbox wiki has quite a bit of information with three pages that especially caught my attention. They provided information about Web 2.0, digital storytelling, and PLNs. These are some of the major concepts of my graduate course and they were being discussed by professionals in the teaching field. The digital storytelling page has information on how to start a digital story, as well as a sample for viewing. Personally, I think knowing where to begin can be a challenge, so I appreciated this information. There are also “sandbox” sessions for educators on copyright laws, google maps, and web 2. tools.

Mrs. Lawson’s professional wiki page for RMS Staff Development is a wiki created by a school media specialist. This wiki houses information for her school’s professional development. Some of the development offered to the staff has been on copyright laws and acceptable use and Wordle. It is a convenient site for teachers to access information when they are planning to use it in their classrooms. I also found information for staff about the tool Animoto, which is a free tool to make videos. This was a tool that I utilized in a prior project. I felt that it would be good to use in a middle school, as did Mrs. Lawson. They are hosting a summer institute with information about how to make a wiki page and engage students. Having just created my own class wiki, I feel this would be a valuable course for any teacher to attend.

Lastly, I stumbled upon HMSD Media Specialists Wiki. This is a wiki for all of the media specialists in the school district to use. It is an innovative way to connect the school media specialists and allow the easy flow of information and ideas. According to the wiki space it is a “space to be used to share our files, images, lessons, handouts, rubrics, presentations, online resources, etc.. in a common area.” This is a great example of media specialists engaging in 21st century learning skills. There are great resource pages for Internet safety and copyright laws. I also enjoyed finding information on webquests, unfortunately, the link was inactive. I could tell that this is  district who is addressing the needs of today’s learners because there was a section dedicated to mobile learning, specifically involving iPads and iPods for the classroom.

Whatever your need, there is probably a wikispace for it, if not, go to wiki spaces and create your own free page today!

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Social and Collaborative Media

Social and Collaborative Media

Please view my VoiceThread on 21st Century social media tools in the classroom. I’m exploring how to use Twitter, wiki pages, and blogs in the classroom. I’ve used information gathered from other educators to find ways to incorporate social media into learning activities. I’d love to have some feedback!

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Exploring Good Reads, My Bookshelf of Award Winners Share book reviews and ratings with Rebecca, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

” title=”Exploring Good Reads, My Bookshelf of Award Winners”>Exploring Good Reads, My Bookshelf of Award Winners

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Learning Log-iGoogle




iGoogle supports teaching by keeping teachers organized. Now a teacher’s computer screen is a one-stop shop. iGoogle is a customizable homepage where teachers can post reminders, videos, articles, and more. It is very convenient if teachers are screen sharing with a class or a group of colleagues because all of the resources are readily available. It is also a nice alternative to keeping heavily accessed favorite sites from getting lost among hundreds of other “favorite” sites in a folder.

Students can also benefit from iGoogle because they can access it on any computer just by signing into Gmail. Students are able to set up daily reminders and calendars to help keep track of assignments. It helps students become familiar with utilizing online tools to become organized versus more outdated methods like agendas.

In a media setting, iGoogle could be used to keep everything a student needs for each upcoming assignment in one place. If there is one major project due, such as a senior English paper, they could customize their settings for one particular subject. This is worthwhile tool that all media specialists can share with students to prepare them to be more organized, and independent learners.


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Animoto Video on Book Censorship and Bans

I created a video using Animoto to gain student interest in the topics of censorship and book bans. I would like to show this video as an introduction and then hear student reactions to the images. This video aligns with Howard County Standard 6.0. Students will be able to demonstrate an appreciation of literature and multimedia as a reflection of human experience and the inquiry process for life-long learning. Specifically, I want students to be able to defend literature and multimedia choices and explain why intellectual freedom is important and how it can be preserved. Students are familiar with the Suzanne Collins series, The Hunger Games and J.K. Rowling’s books. They should be able to add personal experiences and perhaps spark a debate on the topic of censorship and challenged books.


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Flickr Slide Show


Sources, a set on Flickr.

This week I’ve created a slide show of information sources to address Howard County Library Media Standard 2.0 for grades 6-8. These pictures will introduce students to ways to locate and evaluate resources and sources. Students will view the slideshow and we will discuss ways that one can locate sources. After viewing the pictures, students can add other ways of finding information such as radio, verbal communication, and photographs. Once students have brainstormed ways of locating information sources, they will participate in a guided discussion to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each source. Students should be considering the availability of the source, the reliability of the source, and possible biases.

The following publications were used in my photographs:

Better Homes and Gardens, July 2012

Field & Stream, June 2012

Men’s Health, July/August 2012

Parenting, July 2012

The Daily Times, December 23, 2011.

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Flickr Galleries

Rainbow over Alaska, mountains in Denali National ParkWhite Luxury Mansion HomeRelaxing on the beachBoatsCastleLanna abandoned house
Elephant Paradecity of seattleFrosty Footpath - winter snowCornfieldrainforest pavilionChurch Street Market

Settings, a gallery on Flickr.

Inspire children’s imaginations with these settings for a short story activity. These Flickr images are provided by photographers who have set up a Creative Commons license and allow their work to be shared. As teachers, we can use these images in our classroom to invite a discussion about the importance of the setting of a story. Students will select which picture they would like to use as a setting in a short story they will write. The students will provide their own characters and plot to accompany the scene.

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Life long learners, educators who blog

Today I’d like to share some blogs of educators who are opening up and sharing their professional experiences with the online blogging community.

The first blog that I decided to review is called From the Desk of Mr. Foteah: inspiration from inside the classroom . Initially, I think his blog struck me because his voice is so different from the three blogs that I reviewed in my previous post. Mr. Foteah’s posts are at times blunt and he has a dry sense of humor. He even has a portion of his blog devoted to satirical post regarding an alien and the U.S. Education system. Mr. Foteah is a pen name that he uses in order to protect his identity and those of his special education students at his elementary school. Mr. Foteah’s posts range from academic challenges his students face, successes they have in the classroom, and the use of technology in the classroom.

The particular post that I enjoyed is titled “10 Reasons Your Students Should be Blogging.” It was almost as if he knew I was creating a blog about the educational value of blogging. I was already developing some ideas as to why blogging is a great educational tool. After reading his post, I have many more reasons to try student, teacher, and classroom blogs. Mr. Foteah felt his students are benefiting from blogging for reasons like students who normally aren’t considered traditionally good at writing can be successful bloggers. It also helps to refine writing skills by practicing in a more fun manner, while building a personal writing portfolio. He also feels that blogging is a good confidence builder because students can see their work published online and receive comments on their blog. Mr. Foteah stresses the importance of digital citizenship and the positive online experiences gained by each student.

The next blog I really enjoyed reading was created by Abby Bozman, a first grade teacher. Her blog is titled The Wizard of Boz. Her blog is really visually attractive. I can just imagine how some students would initially be drawn to creating a blog just for a creative outlet. I’m certain some of the more artistic students would spend just as much time selecting a theme and an appearance as they would  creating entries. This  just solidifies Mr. Foteah’s theory that blogging creates instant engagement and is fun for students at all academic levels. Abby Bozman’s blog has great activities for everyday lessons. She writes about how she can modify lessons to work for students who need a little bit more or a little less of a challenge. She is a big fan of Pinterest and has a lot of links to activities that she has found online. A sample of her posts include activities for the last 15 days of school, ideas for classroom writing centers, and word problem Wednesdays. The majority of her posts are great for reading and language teachers. She includes a lot of freebies that teacher’s can download. I just love seeing other teachers sharing their clever creations.

There are two posts that I really enjoyed. The first is called “Slinky Sentences Freebie.” After a student suggested she add a new writing center to the room, Ms. Bozman choose to have students practice stretching sentences with descriptive words, like one would stretch a slinky. Her post includes a page of directions to print for a make your own center and the picture cards for getting the sentences started. It’s helpful that she has included the materials so that any teacher can print and use them. The other post is called “Scrabble Spelling.” She utilized a special Scrabble Junior edition box of crackers and custom recording sheets. It gave students a fun way to improve their vocabulary and spelling. The bonus was that their letters were edible at the end of class!

My final review is of the Cool Cat Teacher Blog. This blog was created by Vicki Davis, a secondary education teacher. She began blogging after learning about them at a educational technology conference. She has been on a roll ever since. Vicki Davis is a teacher, author, and speaker. Her work has led her to speak at various conferences for companies like Google and the Discovery Channel. She blogs because she wants to connect with other educators and create a global learning community. She is a forward thinker as is evident with her post “Wiki Wiki Teaching-the Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach.” Vicki Davis worked with her class of computer science students to create wiki pages. One of the coolest parts of this project is how they were able to use it as a tool to prepare for assessments in other subjects. The students took their experience with creating a wiki pages and extended it to other subject matters. In fact, this project was so successful that Vicki Davis was asked to show other teachers how to create wiki pages at an  in-service day.

These three teachers have reached a wide audience of educators by sharing their classroom experiences in their blogs. It can be said that the only educators they are reaching are those that are already in tune with blogging or at least following blogs. So how do we reach a larger audience? I think Mr. Foteah and Vicki Davis are on the right track. They are generating a buzz with the students and it is reaching the teachers.  Sometimes the excitement of the students, as in the case with the wiki pages, is enough to get the teachers’ attention. Mr. Foteah has his special education students blogging. If he is able to be successful with a group of elementary school students then certainly elementary school teachers can blog as well. Personally, I think a school blog might be the way to go in order to gain school-wide interest. Team leaders would be responsible for posting monthly updates and there could be student contributors as well. This way, teachers would be modeling good use of technology and students and parents could benefit from their information. Once people become comfortable with maintaining a school blog, they may feel more comfortable keeping a personal teaching blog. I also think keeping an educator blog is useful because it is a way of sharing what has worked in your classroom as well as reflecting on lessons that could be improved upon. The best educators are the ones who never stop learning. As for the teachers who are feeling more reluctant to embrace blogging, I would recommend a few teacher blogs that I think may appeal to them. Personally, once I started reading blogs I was hooked. It is great to feel a sense of community with other teachers and share in their experiences.


Lending Librarians..a look into library blogs

For my first post, I scoured through a lot of library blogs. The ones below were three of my favorite sites. They each encompassed something that I would like to incorporate into my own blog as well as practices I would like to follow in my own library.

The first blog that caught my attention was Cathy Nelson’s. Her blog is titled Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts. The purpose of Cathy Nelson’s blog is to offer ideas to teachers and librarians looking for meaningful ways to incorporate technology into instruction. Her blog has entries that explore technology in education, her thoughts on activities going on in her library and school, as well as links to professional development material. Cathy Nelson is an advocate for school media, a keynote speaker at lectures, and a host of webinars. The material from her presentations is available on her blog. Some of her most recent blog posts include finishing up the school year, censorship, and a collaborative project she shared with her school art teacher in which students recycled old books and created art in a “Weeds to Wonders” project.

The blog post that I found most fascinating was posted on April, 03, 2012, titled “What End of the Spectrum Are You On?”  In this entry, Cathy Nelson responds to an article published in School Library Journal (April 2012).  The article is about a former librarian turned technology coordinator. The article describes how some librarians are leaving the library in order to become technology coordinators. Cathy Nelson feels that the 21st century librarian should already be wearing the title of technology coordinator as one of many hats. Her entry poses the question “What end of the spectrum are you on?” She acknowledges that some librarians are content being a specials teacher and merely check out books while other librarians are embracing 21st century learning and adhering to the AASL standards.

Her belief is that due to some librarians not adapting to the technology that rules the world of the typical student, libraries everywhere are suffering severe budget cuts. Meanwhile some librarians are leaving the library and taking jobs as technology coordinators. Cathy Nelson believes that 21st century librarians should not have to leave the library in order to bring technology to teachers and students.  The technology coordinator interviewed in the journal is working with teachers and students to create blogs, improve presentations, and introduce new technologies such as Voice Thread, and Glogster. Cathy Nelson’s belief is these are things that all librarians can and should be doing in order to be aligned with the most recent standards.

While reading this blog post, one is faced with some tough questions regarding one’s current place on the spectrum and reflecting upon what one can do to improve. Cathy Nelson believes that only by improving and adapting to meet the changing needs of learners will libraries begin to thrive and the worry about being replaced by paraprofessionals will subside.This entry was particularly powerful because the author forced the reader to self-reflect and make an honest evaluation of their effectiveness as a librarian.

Another blog written by a librarian that I enjoyed was TLC=Tech +Library+Classroom by Tara Ethridge. I read this blog after reading Cathy Nelson’s. At first glance the short posts seemed lacking content after the longer posts I was accustomed to reading on Cathy Nelson’s blog. Upon further examination, I found I really enjoyed the shorter posts and was able to get a lot of great ideas for projects. I thought the blog title was catchy, but it actually sums up the work of the author perfectly. Her posts include Skype chats with some of her students’ favorite authors, a mom/daughter and a dad/son book club, and the importance of students using technology responsibly.  The post that captured my interest was published on April 6, 2012 called “Glogster Late Adopter” .

Tara Ethridge openly admits that she had shied away from Glogster because it wasn’t as intuitive as some technologies. I couldn’t help but think while reading this post, that certainly other students and teachers may have shared the same thought. Personally, this post appealed to me because I kept coming across the word Glogster and was not familiar with it. It was addressed in Cathy Nelson’s blog as well. Since I’m now trying my hand at blogging, it seemed like the perfect time to learn about Glogster. If Tara Ethridge could, why not me? I found that Glogster is similar to Pinterest. I could certainly see how this would be appealing to students. It gives users a way to create posters and online boards of personal interests. In a school setting, it could be used to find information related to a specific assignment or project.

Tara joked that she found Glogster to be easy because she had someone beside her to guide her through the steps. In reality, isn’t that what we all need in order to become comfortable with the latest and greatest in technology? I like to believe that most teachers who choose not to incorporate technology do so because they are intimidated or they simply do not know how. As school librarians, we can use opportunities like this to hold lunch time or after school seminars to introduce teachers to relevant tools for their classrooms. In this case, she chose to use it as a way to generate interest in a visiting author. I absolutely love how Tara Ethridge is using technology such as Skype and Glogster to connect her students to their favorite authors.

My third and final pick was a blog titled The Book Bug” by an elementary school librarian named Jo Nase. Initially, this blog appealed to me because she blogs about her first year as a school library media specialist. It was really fascinating to read blog posts about her first time experiences with book fairs, library organization, and collaboration with classroom teachers. She also includes a list of books she is currently reading, as well as, posts about the most popular titles at her school library. One of her last posts of the school year was a reflection on what she has accomplished during her first year and what she hopes in accomplish the next year. It is evident that she uses her blog to journal her experiences and improve as an educator.

Jo Nase’s February 5, 2012 post was titled “Techy Talk Live Binder.”  In this post, she describes how she hosts a monthly class for teachers at her school. In each class she shows them a technology tip that they can use in their classrooms. This type of collaboration is exactly what Cathy Nelson describes in her blog. In the January session of Techy Talk, she showed teachers 20 useful classroom websites. I browsed through the list and found a few interesting ones that I checked out, including bitly, lino, and weblist.

After reading about all of the fabulous happenings at each of these ladies’ libraries, I couldn’t help but think about how I want to incorporate blogging into my library. I’m sold on the idea of keeping a personal blog to chronicle my experiences as a librarian when that day comes. By doing so, I hope to join this community of librarians and share ideas. Jo Nase gave kudos to some colleagues for giving her ideas to build upon and Cathy Nelson’s posts were often directly related to blogs that she was following. Blogging is a great way to start building my digital footprint. At most schools there are only one or two librarians. By branching out and encouraging librarians at other schools to blog, it would begin to make the media center feel like less of an island. I would hope that by sharing my blog with other librarians in the county, they may be inspired to create their own.

I also like the idea of getting students involved. One obvious way is to hold sessions to show teachers how to set up classroom blogs for themselves and their students. I also saw examples of two libraries in different schools and countries sharing a blog. I think this is a great way for students to connect and become global learners. When I begin teaching, I would like to set up a library blog and have special guest bloggers from each grade write a weekly post. This way, I could get a lot of students from each grade level actively blogging throughout the year. Plus, the school library blog would have posts that would interest each grade level. Another idea would be to form a library book club and allow the members to create a blog and write about the latest book they’re reading.

Braun, Linda. “Next Year’s Model,” School Library Journal (April 2, 2012)


Hello world!

Hello! I started this blog for a graduate course that I am taking at McDaniel College to earn my graduate degree in School Library Media. This is my first try at blogging, so I hope to improve with each new post. Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions.


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