Module 8 Task – Reflect and Plan

Favorite/Most Enjoyable Module

I think the module I enjoyed the most was Module 4 where we embedded 3 different types of tools into our blog. I’m especially excited about the interactive media abilities of Thinglink (I was also able to figure out how to create and upload a sound-bite using my iPod!) and am exploring ideas to use it for lessons. While not a huge fan of Slideshare, I recently learned about “Slidedocs” (thank you Meg Hunter)—making book-type documents with presentation software like how Jennifer created our Teachers Guide—and am excited to explore the possibilities and make them available through Slideshare.

Most Challenging Module & What I Learned from the Experience

I think a few other folks will agree with me that setting up and working with WordPress in Module 3 was the most challenging tool to learn—and I’m still learning! As a long-time Webpage creator (I started back when it was still text-based!) I’ve used nearly every Website creation tool, both desktop and online, so I was filled with, what I can only describe as, CONSTERNATION when I experienced such difficulty with WordPress.

I think my problem was that WordPress offers so many ways to access and accomplish some tasks—with different landing pages that were initially confusing—yet other tasks have only one avenue for entry. Textual and video tutorials were helpful, but not as comprehensive as I needed, so finally I just opened new browser tabs to probe the features of each pageview, then put screenshots into a document with notes in order to sort out how WordPress works. I’ve used this learning process before and I shared my docs through our FB page file upload to help others learn from my experience.

2 Tools to Use Right Away for Teaching

I haven’t had regular, direct contact with students since I retired, but I’m hoping to rectify that by registering as a substitute teacher for this school year. I probably won’t be able to teach the tools I learned in this course, but my former school district (where I’ll sub) has Interactive Whiteboards in every classroom, so I want to learn more about those so I can be a more valuable substitute.

The tool I see myself using the most is Twitter—I never realized how valuable it is for getting ideas and information! Many of the teachers and staff at my former school use Twitter during the day, and I want to find (or build) a network of substitute teachers to call on when needed. I can use Twitter to ask for assistance in the classroom, and get guidance between class periods to solve a problem I’m having with a classroom assignment or ideas to fill time (teachers never seem to leave enough “stuff” to keep kids busy).

New Tools I Want to Learn

As a retired School Librarian I want to share my knowledge base, so I want to create an Information Literacy curriculum guide with interactive lessons for other librarians to use. I’m not sure about the difference between Flipped Learning tools and Learning Management Systems, and which would be better for what I want to do, so I will be investigating both of those in the coming months. Also, I began doing analog Video Production many years ago and even created a whole learning site for students through Moodle, but it’s outdated with all the new digital and online tools available. I want to explore Magisto and PowToon and over the next year create a new site for video production that will be more technologically engaging for students.

Concrete, Measurable Tech Goals with Target Dates

Being retired affords me a chance to “catch up” on some of the projects I’ve wanted to do for awhile:

  1. Right now I’m writing a book on Library Lessons and, rather than typing in those goofy URLs, I want to use QR codes to display links to online resources I’m sharing with readers. I’m hoping to submit my book in the fall, so I’m setting a date of September 1st to accomplish this goal.
  2. An important job for a School Librarian is teaching students how to take proper notes from research sources. Now that most research is done through online sources, it makes sense to takes notes the same way. I want to explore various Note-taking tools and create screen-casts for my Info-Lit curriculum to teach students how to use them properly. I’m allowing myself plenty of time for creating the curriculum, but since I already have the content for note-taking and just need to explore the tools, I’m setting myself a date of December 1st to accomplish this goal.
  3. For many, many years I maintained a website called DeweyLinks that collected useful websites specifically focused on supporting secondary curricula. While I retired the DeweyLinks site when I did, I want to update and republish it as part of my Info-Lit curriculum. I believe one of the Content Curation tools, such as Symbaloo, will be perfect for this, and I set myself the date of March 1st to accomplish this goal.

Most Important Take-away and Most Important Lesson

My first “COOL” moment was reading how to add the “Previous Page” icon to Acrobat Reader—I can’t tell you how much time that has saved me this month for more than just this course! I was also very interested when Jennifer explained how she used PPT to create our coursebook, so I explored that more, discovering “Slidedocs” through Nancy Duarte, which has opened up many possibilities for sharing knowledge and information with others.

However, my biggest takeaway from this course has been the journey itself, and the guidance we received through the JumpStart concept and the Facebook group. I’ve tried several other online guides for expanding my tech abilities, but this course offered such specific and purposeful ways to apply tools to our classroom (and library) environment; and it’s given me the confidence to learn many other tools in the Tech Guide. Another wonderful  part of the journey is the extraordinary networking with other teachers around the world. I will continue reading posts and blog entries from participants, gathering new ideas for engaging students and helping them toward high achievement.

The most important lesson I learned from this course is, with the proper structure, we “old dogs” are NEVER too old to learn something new!

Module 7 Task – Video Tutorial with Screencast-O-Matic

Well, this has been an interesting experience. I’m a little late getting to this module due to some health issues, and when I finally did I discovered that my old Logitech Mic/Headphones won’t work with my new Windows 10 computer. I had to quickly get a new set through Amazon. (I love free next-day delivery!)

I’ve done screen-casting in the past and find it a valuable teaching method for showing students and teachers how to use various types of software, both desktop and online. I also used it quite a lot to produce narrated videos of my animated PowerPoint presentations for Library Lessons. (Once MS upgraded Office with the ability to send a PPT directly to video, I didn’t have to do that anymore.) There is a distinct advantage to engaging students with a narrated, animated PPT video rather than a static presentation through something like SlideShare. Although I’m retired I plan to produce some online lessons and will again be using screen-casting software of some kind for teaching both concepts and technology.

In the past I used Jing for screen-casting but don’t have it on my new computer yet, so thought I’d go ahead and give Screencast-O-Matic a try. Before I had a chance, I saw a post about using Screencastify with Google Chrome and decided to try that to just record the tabbed window I wanted to use. When I viewed the results it was excellent quality, but didn’t show the entire browser window—which I needed for my instructions—so had to go with Screencast-O-Matic after all. I used the quick online version, but I’m not terribly impressed with the visual quality. I may download the desktop version to see if it improves the visual quality; if not, I’ll go ahead and download Jing.

For the specific tech skill I chose to demonstrate, I decided that because a few folks in our course had had some trouble with WordPress, I’d show a couple quick ways to log in and access the utilities of the site. I hope it will help future classes. You can see it embedded below.

(I also finally finished the “Working with WordPress #2” PDF guide and uploaded it to the JumpStart files page. I hope it helps folks better understand the way Pages and Menus/Categories are set up for this course.)

Module Task 6 – Please take my online Survey about School Libraries!

Decisions, decisions; which tool to choose?

As a former science and social studies teacher I can appreciate the value of flashcards. I’ve always believed that the best flashcards are the ones students create because their creation reinforces the concepts on the cards. I do see the value in online flashcards because students with a smart phone could review while waiting for something, like mom to pick them up from school or an activity. As a school librarian, though, I can’t think of much use for flashcards.

I’ve used mindmaps for more than 20 years, both as a teacher and as a librarian, however, I’m not impressed with the online versions—they’re basically the same as an outline or organization chart, whereas a true mindmap is a reflection of a student’s understanding, containing random and unique images, text, and connections. (The latest catchphrase is “sketchnoting” but it’s the same thing as a mindmap). Consequently, the online mindmaps seem to me more useful for a teacher to prepare for students, rather than for students to generate as they are taking notes. As far as a digital mindmap tool for students, I’ve used “Inspiration” very successfully with students.

So, that leaves the survey tools. We Librarians LOVE surveys—we can get valuable feedback on a myriad of topics from students, teachers, other librarians, and the community, in order to be sure we are serving the needs of our patrons. I’ve had a Survey Monkey account for many years, but I was very impressed with all three of the tools we were presented, especially Typeform for student engagement. I chose, however, to use PollDaddy since it’s coordinated with WordPress, and will be a valuable addition for both my blogs.

I find the most difficult part of a survey is coming up with good questions. Knowing what you need and deriving questions that will get that the most accurate information which will display as data is the real challenge. In this case, I wanted something that would get a broad spectrum of responses from our class participants regarding their knowledge about school libraries, and I used some research studies as my guide for the questions.

Having created online surveys, it wasn’t at all hard to create my PollDaddy survey. I misunderstood the “3 different question types” so I had to quickly add the third ‘text’ response at the end. I’d have liked to include, instead, a matrix set of questions, but my brain is taxed enough lately!

I invite you to CLICK HERE to take my “DO YOU KNOW? School Library Survey.”
Below is a preview of the first 2 questions to entice you!


Module 5 Task – Social media

Obviously I’m on Facebook already and use it every day. (I had a Facebook page for my library, too.) You will NEVER see me on Instagram or SnapChat, not even for this Module. (I’m not photogenic—somehow a camera captures my worst features glaringly well.) However, I can see wonderful benefits of using Instagram and/or SnapChat for the library to promote reading and record student activities. (In fact, if I’d had a smartphone back then, I’d have taken a lot more library pics than I did!) So that means I chose Twitter for this Module’s task.

I’ve had a Twitter account for a couple years but never did anything with it. Honestly, I just didn’t “get it.” To explore it for this Module, I used Jennifer’s “Twitter for Teachers and Students” course in Blended Education that I’d purchased for my summer learning before I found out about this course. It sure was valuable for this module, and I now see the advantages of Twitter.

I’ve already benefited from using Twitter by discovering and following many education- and library-related Tweeters, including those whose blogs I already subscribe to—they tweet great ideas and websites not in their blogs. I really like the currency of Twitter, especially tweets when an educational conference is happening!

One of Jennifer’s comments in the Teacher’s Guide really stuck with me, about using social media “to make relevant curricular connections. Any time you can connect your content to social media concepts, you’re helping students learn it better.” (p184) Many of our students are more adept at typing on phones than on keyboards, so for over-age-13 students, Twitter would be a great way to have them respond to lessons and assignments, especially through a chat. I appreciated Jenn’s suggestion to use TweetChat which would make responses move more quickly. (I’ve tried to follow my Texas librarians Twitter chats in the past with little success and this tool will make it so much easier for me to be involved.)

I look forward to hearing what the rest of my JumpStart classmates have to say about using social media tools in the classroom, although as a middle school librarian I’d probably only be able to use them with 8th graders. (When I was still working, my school district had a wonderful email & social media service to use with under-age-13 students in grades K-7; just before I retired they’d adapted it to iPads, so I wonder if now they’ve added phone apps for their Twitter-like tools.)

Twitter is very seductive and I let it consume way too much of my time—like it’s taken 4 hours just to write these paragraphs because I kept switching over to Twitter to see what was happening and then got distracted reading the tweet recommendations!

The link to my Twitter page is and below are screenshots of what I practiced.

An original tweet from me.


Retweeting someone else’s content.


Replying to someone’s tweet.

The tweet window.

The view in my Tweets and Replies tab.

I decided to set up a new Twitter account just for educational uses and keep barupatx for personal use. My new Twitter page—which I’m just starting to develop—is

Module 4 Task – SlideShare embed

SlideShare is an online tool that allows you to upload slide presentations, infographics, documents, and videos to share so others can view your work. I’ve actually had a SlideShare account for quite awhile, but hadn’t uploaded anything because my slideshow presentations are full of animations, media, and narration which don’t work with the SlideShow tool.

I hate long slideshows! If a slideshow has more than about 20 slides, I won’t even look at it—and I sure won’t subject kids to it—so when I couldn’t find a decent SlideShare slideshow to embed, I decided to modify one of my own—one of the few that’s not animated—and upload it to my Slideshare account under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

Content Reading in Middle School Social Studies” slideshow highlights the Special Collections I created in my Library to support the Content Area Reading Initiative begun by our district’s Social Studies department a few years ago. The slideshow  introduces the program, shows images of stickers that identify books in the collections, and how students can record the books, and suggested supplemental magazines, they read. At each library visit I show the Learning Target slide, the Benefits slide, and then only the program slides pertaining to that particular grade level—3 more for 6g, 4 for 7g, and 5 for 8g—so each slideshow is less than 10 slides, giving students plenty of time to browse for and check out books.

I think SlideShow is OK for static slide or document presentations, and it does provide an online storage platform for videos, to which I could convert my animated slideshows; however, it doesn’t seem to me to have enough interactivity to make it a very engaging teaching tool. I can see how it would be a good beginning experience for students in online sharing of simple documents they create.

Module 4 Task – embed Vimeo video

Vimeo is an ad-free source of videos to view, share, or download, and a storage platform to upload your own videos. The account is free and accommodates a number of video formats (converted online at upload), but limits uploads to 500mb/wk and 25gb/yr, which seems like quite a bit unless you’re planning to use it to share/store a lot of student-created videos, each of which could be 25-50mb for a 2-5 minute video!

DPR_19 My School Library from Mackin Educational Resources on Vimeo.

“My School Library” is a 1-minute excerpt of a longer (30-min) interview with author Matt de la Pena and illustrator Christian Robinson about their picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, winner of the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Honor, and the Corette Scott King Honor. Creator of this video is Mackin Educational Resources, a major vendor of school library materials, and this video is one of many on their Vimeo channel. They allow the viewer to download the video, as well as share and add it to their own collections.

I decided to go ahead and join Vimeo with a Basic membership to have a platform for my self-created school library instructional videos in addition to YouTube, so my videos are available to librarians whose schools block YouTube. I uploaded 2 previously created videos: “How to Choose a Book” (also used for my ThingLink task) and “Sight-Site-Cite” which I decided to embed here in addition to the one above. I like that Vimeo includes the citation information as part of the embed code.

Sight-Site-Cite from barupa on Vimeo.

One of the things I like about Vimeo is the high quality of the video, the fact that there is no advertising—making this a better vehicle for school use than YouTube—and the ability to create a collection of other people’s videos as valuable additions to the lessons I will share.

Module 4– ThingLink Interactive Infographic

ThingLink is an online app that allows you to upload an image and then add clickable icons in various locations on the image for text, image, audio, and video comments. The great part of this service is that, even though I’m retired, I could still get the educator’s account for a mere $35/year! The bonuses are worth it.

As I prepared for this post I thought, ‘Why use someone else’s ThingLink image when I can create one for myself?’ so that’s what I did. I uploaded a graphic map of my school library that I’d personally created (with Inspiration), then added icon links to give students text or photo info about that section. I even added a video link to help students learn how to choose a good book and also a SoundCloud link to an image with my voice about checking out their materials!

Creating the Our School Library” ThingLink Interactive Image was a great learning experience for me!

I can see multiple uses in the library for this type of tool. It’s a great way to promote books: take a picture of a group of books, add a clickable icon on each book to a podcast or book trailer about it, then upload the ThingLink image to the school library homepage. It would also be good for introducing an online library resource: upload a screenshot of the online service’s homepage, add clickable icons for various menu items with incorporated text excerpts, images, and links to pages related to the class assignment, do a quick show & tell for students, then add it to the lesson library in our student learning system so students could access it as a WebQuest during the class.

Module 3 Reflection

Talk about the process of starting your portfolio blog, what challenges you faced, and what you learned.

I started a blog on WordPress years ago, but deleted it because I had created blogs on much more user-friendly sites—BrP Bytes on Blogger and Looking Backwards on Edublogs. I couldn’t reactivate my old blog name on WordPress, but was able to add a new blog name under my already-existing account. It’s taken a few days, but I believe I’ve finally gotten it set up according to the criteria of the assignment. WordPress seems very difficult to change once you’ve set things up a certain way: I really had to play with the “My Site” drop-downs and do a lot of Refreshing before I could get the pages, categories, tags, and menus set up the way it was asked for in the assignment. On the other hand, now that I’ve gotten familiar with it, I don’t think it will be hard to add things properly (at least I hope not).

I would never use WordPress to teach a student how to set up a blog—I still think Blogger and Edublogs are easier for beginners. Now that I’ve worked through the WordPress setup, I can see it has quite a bit more functionality for someone who wants to have a more robust personal site than that offered by Blogger; however, for a teacher to set up for classroom use, Edublogs (which actually is a WordPress platform) is still a better site—they’ve customized it for educational needs and it’s very easy to add and manage whole classes of student blogs.

Once I finished everything else for the assignment, I added the second widget: I chose a countdown for the JumpStart course, to keep me positive about accomplishing my goal to increase my technological skills and learn tools that will increase student engagement and achievement.

When finished with this course, I will probably go back to my BrP Bytes site on Blogger for writing about technology, but if I’m ever wanting a very professional blogging presence, I’ll definitely be going with WordPress.

Module 2 Reflection

Describe the tools you chose for this module (backchannel & bin), talk about what it was like to learn them, and then share a direct link to the Module 1 response document in your bin.

I must admit I was a bit skeptical about Voxer, but now that our team has formed and begun using it, I like it. It brings in the best of email, chat, and discussion forum to create a unique conversation tool. It wasn’t hard to install on both my phone and my desktop, and one glitch I had was instantly solved by a team member. After many online courses, it’s nice to actually hear the voices of those with whom I’m taking a class! I’m looking forward to using it more in this class, and I think it will also make a great tool for helping students and teachers remotely (one of the things I wrote as a concern in Module 1).

The bin was a piece of cake. I already had a Google Drive so I created and shared out a folder for JumpStart. Then our team leader created a Google Drive bin for all of us to share, so I moved my Module 1 document into that and deleted my personal one. It’s so handy to have the documents together there and to be able to add comments to the documents as I read them—it’s especially nice when others respond back. I’ve used other cloud storage tools, but Google is my favorite because it also has the document creation tools I often use and it works pretty seamlessly with Microsoft Office tools as well.

All in all, the first 2 “assignments” were pretty easy and enjoyable—a good beginning for a technology course. My Module 1 Task document is shared at this link:

Module 1 Task

1. As the school librarian I was usually the most techno-literate person in the school, but since I’m no longer actually working—I retired for health reasons—my biggest concern is that I don’t know much about all the new apps for portable and mobile devices that have become more popular since I retired. I still want to benefit other librarians and students, so I’m hoping to find a vehicle/tool with which to do this through new library lessons that use the new apps in support of classroom learning.

2. The two most relevant reasons for me to use technology are to increase student engagement, thereby increasing student achievement, and to prepare students for their future in school or career where technology skills will be a necessity.
Too often students aren’t given good assignment direction when they need to use library resources, so they struggle; I want to develop brief, scaffolded lessons to give students easy strategies for using this new technology with their library resources.
Library-related assignments are typically longer projects that relate to the “real world” so it’s critical that my lessons give the students a library experience that promotes creativity and prepares them to use those real world technology tools they’ll encounter later on.

3. I’m drawn to Tim’s use of eduCanon. I try to create as many short instructional videos for library lessons as possible, so students can refer to them whenever they need a refresher, and I also use a number of infographics and graphic organizers for library lessons. A flipped learning tool would provide an online location to store these documents, especially since I no longer have a specific library Website to use.
I’m also interested in Denise’s use of Evernote. So much of library use is about taking notes from resources so giving students guidelines for an online “note-taking” tool will be valuable for library lessons.

4. As a school librarian I’ve followed those tips for implementing technology on desktop and laptop computers, but since I retired before mobile tools were much used, I need to find video tutorials to learn about each tool before I can determine its best use.
Since I’m retired, I will also need to find an audience to do test runs with the apps I’m wanting to integrate into lessons. I do have 2 teachers at my former school—an ESL and a SpEd—whose students had often been my “guinea pigs” for new technology, and I’m sure they would be delighted to have me stop by in the fall to work with their kids on some new tools.

5. I believe learning to better use Twitter and Google+ will allow me to publish my lessons to a wider audience, and learning about the “chat” tools will enable me to remotely collaborate with both teachers and students.

6. In addition to the tools I’ve already mentioned, the 2 categories of tools most interest me and that might best serve my needs are Live Streaming for interacting with students directly and Screencasting which can help me better introduce the new tools I’m learning about to others.