Sunday, April 1, 2012

Imagining the future

Imagining the future
“A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.”  The library is “a place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together” (Godin, 2011).
Seth Godin clearly sees the crucial role librarians play as our world and education changes along with the rapid changes in technology. As I look to the future I know that my learning journey will continue. With the daily creation of new and creative Web 2.0 applications, there is always something new to play and learn with. As the meaning of literacy has changed and we now talk about “new literacies,” I will be in a central position as educators guide our students into the 21st century, allowing them to use, understand and create using these new technologies (Kist, 2010; Media Awareness Network, 2010). The above video demonstrates some examples of technology integrated in learning in Singapore.

The future will see my PLN grow as I continue to participate on Twitter and Facebook. My PLN will be integral in keeping current on technology and learning. Facebook will continue to be a central means of keeping in touch with my family and friends. I will hang onto Diigo as a bookmarking tool for myself, but continue to search for something to use with students. Perhaps Jog the Web will be suitable for younger grades, I will assess it as the Grade 3 students complete their research project. I will keep looking, though, for something to use with intermediate students as they need to be able to interact with the platform to add their own links and annotations. I will keep working with Storybird, allowing students create and collaborate on real books. It is my hope that I will have all students from Grades 2 through 6 create a Storybird this year. I have started a blog for one teacher to use with her class, but have not succeeded in getting her students blogging yet. I will continue to work with the teacher and her students to get these blogs up and running. One place to start will be to embed their Storybirds onto their blogs. Next school year, I want to get all of the intermediate students blogging. I would like to give Voki and Voicethread a try with at least one class this school year.

What about my friend, the spider? This blog was a lot of fun and it may in fact continue, though in a slightly different form. I have enjoyed becoming a real blogger and may take it a step further, tweeting about my posts to get the word out there and really join the conversation (Kist, 2010; Richardson, 2010). This will allow me to be a real participant in my PLN rather than just gathering ideas from others. This will also ensure that I am continuing to learn and grow as a professional even if I am not taking courses. I will explore more Web 2.0 applications and try them out with the students at my school.

In the future, I would also like to explore the area of games and gaming in learning, an area in which I have little experience or knowledge but I see great potential. Gaming can present opportunities for individualized learning, communication, collaboration and problem solving in addition to developing a sense of community (Hilton, 2006). Gaming engages students and therefore presents an opportunity for educators as “whenever one plays a game, and whatever game one plays, learning happens constantly” (Prensky, 2002). Libraries and teacher-librarians are in a perfect position to tap into this learning and have a good opportunity to tap into this form of learning (Kist, 2010; Ward-Crixel, 2006). 

Final Word

LIBE 477 has really opened the door wide open for my use of technology, both personally and professionally. My learning and exploration will continue as I share my learning with the students and teachers at my school, enriching their learning experiences as well.
“My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It s the letter I use to spell yuzz a ma tuzz. You ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond Z and start poking around ” (Seuss, 1963).


Godin, S. (2011, May 16).  The future of the library [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Hilton, R. (2006). Gaming as an educational tool. Young Consumers, 7(2), 14-19.

Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom: Teaching in the new media age. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Media Awareness Network. (2010). What is digital literacy and why is it important? Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2002). What kids learn that’s POSITIVE from playing video games. Retrieved from

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Seuss, Dr. (1963). Dr. Seuss’s ABC. New York: Beginner Books.

Ward-Crixel, K. (2006). Gaming advocacy. School Library Journal, 53(9), 36.

The end is here!

This is it, my friend, the final post.
Thanks for helping, you mean the most.
The things I have learned from the great big web,
The good, the bad, continue to ebb.
This isn't good-bye but so long for now,
I will see you on the web, somewhere, somehow!

While I continue on my learning journey as a teacher-librarian, I have embraced my inner geek as technology becomes an integral part of the learning process for teachers and students alike. As the definition of “21st century learning” continues to shift and change, I know that I need to be a leader in understanding and adopting new technologies to guide teachers and students along this new educational path (Naslund, 2008; Valenza, 2010). LIBE 477 is therefore, perhaps the most relevant course I have taken thus far at UBC.
The inquiry project for LIBE 477 has been a challenging yet fun journey. I began the journey with great gusto, stumbled around a bit in the middle and finished with a flourish. At the start of this project, I classified myself as an “intermediate” technology user. With the inquiry project, I was hoping to advance my level of technology use and understanding. Specifically, I was looking to:
  • try out some Web 2.0 tools I have not used before
  • discover some Web 2.0 tools that would be appropriate to use with elementary aged students
  • use a Web 2.0 tool with a group students in the library
  • better manage online information flow

I have investigated a number of Web 2.0 tools including: Facebook, Twitter/TweetDeck, Diigo, Pinterest, Kidblog, Blogmeister, Voki, Glogster, VoiceThread and Storybird. I have used these tools personally and evaluated them for use with students and teachers at my school. I have been working with students and teachers to incorporate Web 2.0 tools into their learning. I have also developed a better system for managing online information flow.

Where was I and where am I now?
I began this project as an intermediate technology user and have definitely moved forward and advanced my level of technology use and understanding. Although I was comfortable using technology when I started, I was mostly a consumer of this technology. I am now an active participant who is comfortable using social media and online platforms for myself. I am also continually looking for ways to guide teachers and students, allowing them to take advantage and learn with these technologies as well. While the Web 2.0 tools available for online learning will continue to change, I feel I now have a solid foundation to move forward with. Of course, as much as I learn and become comfortable with these technologies, I will always remain a “digital immigrant” (Prensky, 2001). I will therefore never become an “expert” technology user, even though my level understanding and use has progressed immensely.

Some highlights
☆  “the blog”
Part of the inquiry process was the creation of a blog. I saw this blog as a journal of sorts, chronicling my journey in Web 2.0 as I have chronicled things for other library courses. It was not until I received feedback from my instructor that I understood the real task at hand - I was to become a blogger. The blog was not to just keep track of what I was doing and keep my own personal comments on things, I was to create a blog that might actually be interesting to others! After about a week of pondering came the change in my blog; I needed a catchy title and some kind of theme to run through the blog. Titles need to be interesting and so do the first few sentences if people are to read any further. I then went back and revamped my whole blog so that it became the type of blog that I would want to follow. Richardson (2010) says “we (teachers) must become connected and engaged in learning in these new ways if we are to fully understand the pedagogies of using these tools with our students” (p. x). It is through the creation of my own blog that I was able to experience this change. Of course, I could have pushed the experience farther by tweeting my blog posts, but I am not quite there yet. Alas, perhaps the biggest learning experience came from where I least expected it; I did not realize that the blog creating was part of my inquiry!

☆  Facebook
It is kind of ironic that Facebook is one of the tools I chose to investigate for this inquiry project. Facebook, the social media phenomenon that everyone uses - except me! How could I be so technologically adept yet shun Facebook? I think it might be because of the timing of it; Facebook came out in 2004 when I was home with a three year old and a one year old. I was not spending a lot of time in front of the computer, but was hearing the horror stories of photos posted by “friends” and slandering reputations. My administrator husband kept me aware of the problems students were getting into using Facebook. It sounded like your whole life was, well, an open book! Most of my friends embraced Facebook, though I continued to avoid it, even as I begun my foray into online learning and my technology integration skyrocketed.
A huge part Web 2.0 learning involves the social aspect of online applications. Richardson (2010) claims that it is “the conversations, the links, and the networks” that come out of using Web 2.0 tools “that really show us the profound implications for lifelong learning” (p. 9). As of 2011, there were 500,000,000 active Facebook users (Hepburn, 2011). I am now one of those active users. I am will continue to use Facebook to connect with friends, near and far. Sharing day to day events as well as larger moments with friends who I may not talk to each day is enjoyable and social.  As I am sitting by myself on my couch trying to finish my course work, I can still feel a part of the world!

☆   TweetDeck
Using Twitter for the past year, I realize its value in developing my PLN, but have frequently overwhelmed with the amount of information coming in (Pearse, 2011; Smith, 2009). TweetDeck has really improved my use of Twitter. Having columns with different subject/hashtag feeds makes it much easier to keep track of the latest information coming in. During the BCTF annual general meeting, I added a column with the hashtag #bctfagm so I could keep up to date on what was happening and kept it on my opening page. I have since removed that column as the AGM has finished. It is also very convenient that TweetDeck is just a tab away in my Chrome browser and also contains my Facebook feed.

☆   Voki
Although I had seen Vokis in the past, I had never ventured to the website or tried to make one before this inquiry project. I was interested in Voki particularly because of the ability to use it with my students in French or English. It was really easy to use and it is also fun! Because students can record their own voice, without typing or spelling,  Voki can be used in many different ways for various aged students, also allowing for differentiation based on learning styles and abilities (Huebner, 2010). The students love the crazy guy with the pink hair that welcomes them to the library website and are really hoping that they will get to make their own. Right now, I am still working out the logistics of having 24 students talking into their computers at the same time.

☆  Storybird
I think Storybird is my favourite web application that I explored for this inquiry project. I was able to create a free account that can host up to 75 students without email addresses, it is very simple to use, can be used in any language and the results are beautiful. Just this week, I have introduced two classes to Storybird. It was fairly straightforward to get the students going with the platform and they were very excited as they began to create. Some students went home and created numerous stories on their own and I hear feedback from parents about how excited their child was to create their own story. Being able to produce a quality book, published online is very empowering (Richardson, 2011). Storybird also presents the opportunity to collaborate in the creation of books, something we will try once students have mastered the application.

⬇  Social Bookmarking
My exploration into social bookmarking was really frustrating. Although I use Diigo to keep track of things for myself, I really wanted to find something that I could use for students in the library. I was very disappointed to find the settings in the Diigo Educator’s Account inadequate for our needs at an elementary school. The access students had to other individuals and bookmarks was far too “open” for our elementary students. While I suppose this is part of the “social” aspect of social bookmarking, a “closed” social network consisting of only the students would be more appropriate (Kist, 2011).

Pinterest was another disappointment. While I like the visual nature of Pinterest and think this would be particularly useful with students, the copyright issues are downright scary (Shontell, 2012). As a teacher-librarian, teaching students and teachers about fair use and copyright is important (Valenza, 2010). I just do no not see how I can use Pinterest right now.  As the issues surrounding Pinterest and copyright are worked out over the coming months, perhaps I will feel ready to give it another try.

How will I share my new learning?
I am constantly sharing my new learning with others. I send the teachers at my school emails with links to interesting ideas and information. I have my own two sons create their work using Web 2.0 tools and submit them to their teachers; this gives their teachers and the other students a taste of what is out there that is interesting and fun. For example, one son did a Prezi for his presentation on resources while the other submitted a Storybird as his writing. I create things for teachers to show them what can be done. For example, I just created a Jog the Web for the Grade 3 students who will be studying planets in the coming weeks; perhaps this will become the bookmarking platform I am looking for. I created a screencast for the teachers at the school to show them how to sign out library books for themselves if I am not there. The library website I created is full of fun links and tools. I use various Web 2.0 tools to illustrate school events on the website; I have created Animoto videos, a Glogster poster, a Prezi and Voki, to name a few. I have had all the students from Grade 2 up create DoppleMe avatars to use as their image as we venture into using Web 2.0 tools. 
I also share my learning with my friends. I post samples of my children’s work on Facebook. Just last night, I was showing my friends at Book Club how to make a Storybird and we also had a discussion about Facebook use by teenagers. I introduced my mother-in-law to file sharing site so she could send us over some videos.


Hepburn, A. (2011, Jan. 18). Facebook statistics, stats & facts for 2011 [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Heubner, T.A. (2010). Differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 67(5), 79-81.

Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom: Teaching in the new media age. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Naslund, J. (2008). Towards school library 2.0: An introduction to social software tools for teacher librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 14(2), 55-67.

Pearse, F. (2011, March 7). The power of the PLN [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. Retrieved from,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Smith, K. (2009, May 5). PLN: Your personal learning network made easy [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2010, October). Manifesto for 21st century school librarians. Voice of Youth Advocates. Retrieved from

Monday, March 26, 2012

The end is near

Well little spider, the end is near,
Though I will continue to explore the web from here.
Your web is a small one, my dear little friend,
But mine keeps expanding - it never will end.
I have learned so much, yet there is so much more.
My travels continue, I've just opened the door.

I have now finished my Web 2.0 inquiry project. I have learned so much from this process and have morphed from a technology user to a creator. I have achieved some "ah ha" moments that will serve me well as I move forward as a teacher-librarian in the 21st century, working to engage the digital natives (Prensky, 2001) of today.

I have explored numerous Web 2.0 applications, some that I will continue to use on a daily basis, some that I will use with students this week and others that I may not look at again. However, each has provided me with skills to take forward as I continue to explore Web 2.0 personally and professionally.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.


A story for me, a story for you,
Storybird is fun, through and through.
Spidey likes it and so do I,
Write a story, no need to be shy.

I think Storybird is my favourite web application from those I have investigated for this course. It is so simple, yet it creates really impressive results. It is such a great resource for students to get them writing.

Over Spring Break, my 8 year old had the task of writing a short story (really a paragraph). He always struggles with generating ideas for his writing, so I got him to try a Storybird instead. By choosing some fun images, he was able to create a story to flow with it. Voila!

George le scientiste fâcher by bjdoyle on Storybird
Of course, one of the advantages of Storybird is that the stories can be created in French, a bonus at my French Immersion School. In fact, here is a page of Storybirds en Français. These would be great for students to read for inspiration.
Erin Klein has some good tips in her blog post A Reflection on Storybird:
  • write a Storybird as a class first - this is a great idea and could be done on the SmartBoard
  • offer choice - Klein found that the boys more frequently gravitated to Web 2.0 applications that involved multi-media like Glogster or VoiceThread
Storybird is an excellent way to get students involved in digital storytelling and collaboration. It is accessible to young students as long as they have the ability to write. 

As we head back to school after our Spring Break, this is one tool that I will be looking to implement with students soon.

A thread of voices

Conversations in the cloud
Shouts VoiceThread out loud.
So easy and fun,
Students young and old can take it for a run!

VoiceThread is a really neat online application. After uploading some images, students can add their comments/narration using text, voiceover or video. Some of the real power in VoiceThread comes in the ability of students to comment and interact with the VoiceThread; this, of course, is the power of many web applications (Richardson, 2010).

View more PowerPoint from guestf48b0c

The flexibility of VoiceThread allows it to be used with the whole class, in small groups or independently and across all curricular areas (Brunvand & Byrd, 2011). Additionally, "VoiceThread enables teachers to capitalize on student learning strengths and preferred learning modalities by encouraging active participation in the learning process" (Brunvand & Byrd, 2011, p. 33). Brunvand and Byrd (2011) found that VoiceThread allowed at-risk students
and students with disabilities to achieve greater success by focussing on individual strengths.

Luke Rodesiler (2010) suggests the following uses for VoiceThread:
  • deconstructing images, advertisements and other print texts
  • analyzing moving images
  • composing digital stories
  • revising and reflecting
The possibilities are really endless. VoiceThread is a fun and easy platform that I am will be using with our Grade 3 students soon!

Brunvand, S. & Byrd, S. (2011). Using VoiceThread to promote learning engagement and success for all students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(4), 28-37.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Rodesiler, L. (2010). Voices in action: The potential of VoiceThread in the media classroom. Screen Education, 59, (72-74).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Glug, glug, glug, glog

Glug, glug, glug, glog
Don't get stuck in a bog.
A poster, dear spider, is so passé.
Try Glogster, I say, it is here to stay!

So what do I think about Glogster? I really enjoy the look of Glogster and the ability to embed multimedia within the glogs. I think it is a great alternative to paper posters that are destined only for the recycling bin.

View more PowerPoint from pinctripod
Jamie Renton, librarian at Harvest Park Middle School, suggests that Glogster allows students to:
  • demonstrate mastery of technology tools
  • collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding
  • use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information
  • use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings
  • participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners
  • use technology tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and access
Glogster can be used to represent learning in all areas of the curriculum and is fun to use. 

Here is an example of an English assignment:  
Here is an example of a science Glog:  

Carroll and Edwards (2012) used Glogster to explore poetry with a reluctant group of 12 and 13 year old boys. 
"The engagement with multimedia to explore this element of poetry was as enjoyable and interesting to the boys as it was to us as teachers. . . Using Glogs has expanded our understanding, added to our teaching practice and given our students the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and understanding to an aspect of poetry they did not value at first." (p. 18).
In my practice as teacher-librarian at an elementary school, I will not be looking to use Glogster in the near future. It is a fairly complex endeavour that would be difficult for the students at my school right now. However, as I am working more and more with the students at my school using Web 2.0 applications, perhaps this year's Grade 1's will be ready for Glogster when they reach Grade 6!

Carroll, J. and Edwards, B. (2012). Boys, ballads and Glogster: Techno-poetry in Year 7. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 20(1), 16-19.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vokis are fun!

Voki is a very simple platform for creating talking avatars. Voki Classroom has additional features that make it appealing to teachers - no email required for students, lessons can be set to private, teacher management of classes, no ads, etc. Supporting over 25 languages, Voki is a natural fit for my French Immersion school.

Michael Gorman presents 20 Ways to Use Talking Avatars including:

  • book talks
  • persuasive speech
  • testing
  • class announcements
  • poetry
  • news stories
  • test review

In Voki for the Classroom, José Picardo points out that:
"teachers quickly realize that Voki allows students to express themselves on the internet in safety and confidently, as their real identities are hidden behind the avatar.  As far as teaching languages is concerned . . . Voki helps my students improve their oral proficiency in the target language"
William Kist (2010) talks about "new literacies" that feature "work in multiple forms of representation" and "places of student engagement in which students report achieving a "flow" state" (p. 8). Using Voki in with students allows them to represent their learning in a very unique way. For many students, this will be a very comfortable way of presenting, rather than having to stand in front of their class themselves. By putting Vokis on websites and blogs, students are actively participating and publishing on the read/write web. Richardson (2010) says that students must be literate in the ways of publishing if they are to truly take advantage of the power of the read/write web (p. 149). Voki is a simple and fun way to have students enter the realm of publishing.

Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom: Teaching in the new media age. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.