Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thing # 8

RSS feeds were totally new to me but I agree with the statement that they simplify things. I like the fact that things I have always kept in Favorites are now available on my Google I page. It does save time. I subscribed to several of the recommended blogs, a couple of the Google favorites and two newspapers. The latter will have to go I think; too many things pop up. I saved the folder task for later. That is my achilles heel! I would like to use RSS feeds to keep up with information on at risk kids, human development and general education topics. Is there a way to put in certain search terms and only pull up things related to them?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thing #7

I am woefully behind on this training activity. Who writes and rewrites a blog? Who checks out the precscribed sites and then checks them out again and again? Me.

These comments will be brief. I assumed Google alerts were like the NPR news alerts that I prefer to receive. However, I like the idea that I could enter terms like education or human development and be notified of news relating to those things. I will give that a try. I took the Google calendar off my iGoogle page because I could never figure out to make it work. I have the same problem with the calendar in Outlook. I love my iGoogle page; I have customized it with so many things I like (NPR Topics and Google News, Google Translator, Dictionary, You Tube and Spanish Word A Day). I imagine Picassa is great; I didn't even look. Between my exhautive study of Flickr, ordering pictures on Shutterfly and perusing photos on Mobile Me and Voo, I've had enough photo sharing experiences. Google Scholar seems to be for, as it says, scholarly people. It would not work well for my students. There are too many entries on a page, the print is too small and the materials referenced have high readability levels. I tried entering the term "racial profiling" in both Scholar and Ask kids and the results reinforced my belief that these sites and this topic would provide a frustrating search effort for average and lower level kids. What I did like about Scholar, though, is the fact that power point presentations on a topic like similes are listed.

A final comment about Google search. I came late to surfing the net. Now I can't stop but I rarely use Google. I have always found that the search results on (formerly, seem more pertinent to my topic. I am too impatient to go through entry after entry and page after page. And I know my kids are too.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thing #6

What I liked best about mashups was that I was able to have a great conversation with my son, Chris, about the way web mashups can work. I learned that a combination of Google maps and a restaurant website will produce a map to the restaurant. Map Quest and Yahoo Maps work this way too. It's possible to do this because Google openned the programming so others could use it. Many sites do. So, I thought, is Google making money from this? Turns out they do when they place advertising on different mashups. It was fun to look at another mashup called Big Huge Labs that uses flickr programming. I had been wanting to find the site where I could make a photo of myself look like the Obama Andy Warhol poster. Amazingly, the program is one of the 'toys' on the Big Huge Labs site. As Chris and I talked more, I also learned that the term mash up eminated from the music industy and is still used there. By happenstance, I found an article about a mashup artist named Kutiman who created a terrific music video where multiple musicians mash up to produce a piece called "thru you". Follow this link if you want to hear the result: and follow this link if you want to read the article about Kutiman. ml?ref=dining

The fact that mashups on the Web involve something more than maps made me more interested in them. Something thing that I learned about the word mashup is that it is being used everywhere. The term mashup is being used to talk about combinations of famous literary novels, combinations of media companies (NPR and NY Times), and even in recipes. See if you like the combo of greens and potatoes mentioned in a food blog called bitten,
I think the term is becoming part of the vernacular. As I tell my students, I am an English teacher because I love words so I am happy to have learned a new one. I loved learning about all the different kinds of mashups.

Thing #5

Fooling around with flickr was fun! First, I became reacquainted with pictures I had posted and then I looked at photos my son had posted. The tags could be Willa or love or family. If the pictures are of me, the tag could be smiling. When I'm around this little girl, I just smile and smile and smile. I knew nothing about tags but now I know I can search for pictures by topic. I love photographs and there are some great ones on this site (not mine!). I found a gorgeous picture of a single daisy in an empty soy sauce bottle by mb grigsby. It's called "Saved". That made me think of a new website called Voo (in the interests of full disclosure I am the mother of one of its creators): One creative aspect of the site is a photo sharing component and it just happen that one of the current shares is titled "Bottles". The picture I found would be a great addition. To check this out, click on the link and then click "What's going on at Voo? Have a look yourself".

One more thing and it is a question (you were wondering when I would be getting back to that, I bet). I am wondering if the comments marked with pro are made by professional photographers.

Thing #4

The registration process was easy enough; I do mean naming it, using my existing gmail account, and arranging for inclusion into Registering within SBISD has been another story. I have tried a number of times and sometimes I can't get into PDLC at all (you are not authorized to view this page) and sometimes I get to the point of entering the course number. For a moment then, I see a list of course participants and the info that VB is the contact person. Following that, nothing. So, it is July 17, 2009 and I am still not registered. To be frank, I hate the PDLC process. During the year, I barely have time to sign up for trainings and now that I have the time, I can't do it. When I came back to public school teaching after 40 years, I was stunned by the number of administrative tasks that have become the responsibility of teachers. I realized quickly that administrative help is a thing of the past. I think you've heard enough from me. Don't get me started!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thing # 3

Setting up this blog has been a slow process for me. I am not completely there yet; I still need to move the avatar from Yahoo. I would much prefer a picture.

Last year I had one student who began blogging on a computer program my school has just begun to use. The program is called ANGEL (and lucky for them, they have recently been purchased!). My hope is to have all my students blog on a nightly basis; that is, if they can keyboard. I have been surprised at the number who are not comfortable with key strokes. For them I might try some sort of keyboarding program for 10-15 minutes or so and then ask for a sentence or two.

My kids, with the occasional exception, think that they cannot write. My theory is practice, practice, practice with a good dose of positive feedback. I think blogging could help this and I know they would love creating an avatar. I have to find out if we can create an avatar in Yahoo or somewhere else and then move it to ANGEL. I like the fact that Yahoo avatars are culturally diverse. The whole process will, I think, be great for "grabbing" kids.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thing #2 -- Curious

If you know me, you are used to my questions about everything under the sun. If you don't, I may take some getting used to. Whatever work I am doing, I have to learn as much as possible about the subject. So, I have learned about dyslexia, remedial and developmental reading, structurally unemployed women, non-traditional careers for women, banker education, books and stationery, real estate finance and loan documentation, adult education,current trends in reading education, techniques for educating boys and so on. Lately, my life long learning task is twofold: researching material relating to "at risk" students and their parents as well as (here's the question) how do I become more computer literate?

It is exciting for me to learn in all types of contexts. I saw a made for TV movie and found out about the "Great American Teacher's Club," Ron Clark's program in Atlanta (http://http// I read a newspaper article about monetary rewards for students and determined that there is money out there for incentives. I become aware that a non-profit called "Children At Risk" located in Houston, TX has a program that may work for my students. I attended professional development trainings and learned about real world ways to teach inferences. I could go on and on. For me then, the more variety in learning sources, the better I like it.

The hardest habit for me presently is using technology to my advantage.