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 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.