Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Online Professional Development

"Time well spent," is how I would respond if asked what I thought about this foray into this summer professional development course.  I learned so much and feel I have the tools necessary to enhance the educational experience of my students.  RSS feeds, blogging, diigo, glogster, animoto, wordle, and others will find their way into my classroom this year.  This course has given me a great introduction to these sites and now I feel comfortable enough to investigate them further and incorporate them into my program.  Amy and Diane, you pulled information from the vast world of technology and fed it to us in a digestible format.  Thank you.

For this latest assignment, I watched the tutorial for  Though familiar with the site, I did not know all of its features.  I think it is a great site to use with students at all grade levels, particularly the ones I see each week in grades K through 6.

It is a very busy time of year being back to work as you are all aware and so I have not had a tremendous amount of time to delve too deeply into all of the suggestions that were made for this assignment.  When things quiet down, I will look more closely at the offerings.  It is doubtful that I would twitter myself as I do not see how it is appropriate for the age group that I work with though I do follow some "tweeters" and can see how a media specialist at the middle school or high school might find it beneficial.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vitals #3 Cool Tools

I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed by all the new sites, tools and trends that exist within the world of the Internet!  Whew!  I broke down the list of items that Amy posted on the Virtual PLC and looked at a few each day.  I am disappointed that some charge a fee and that some, like Animoto, give a trial period for six months and only allow subscriptions for 50 students.  This presents a bit of a problem for me because I have approximately 80 sixth graders and as many 5th graders.  Nonetheless, I think that I will figure out a creative way to make this work.  Perhaps I can have sixth graders work in pairs to create book trailers.

I like the idea of edmodo, a "social networking site" for students and teachers.  I thought it might be a great way for my students and I to connect -- create a wall where students can feel free to post comments about books they've read, questions about research projects, etc.  I signed up for an account but then read the terms of agreement and I would have to get parental permission for my students to sign up for an account.  Makes me wonder if I can have the district's technology team create some sort of library social networking site exclusive to our district where I would approve all comments before they were posted. 

I am thinking of doing a research project with my fifth graders this year where they have to investigate their names.  Find out the origins, interview their parents to find out why they were given their chosen name, find out how popular it is in the US, etc.  I was thinking Glogster might be the perfect site for them to create a poster containing all the information that they learned.  In addition, students could create a Wordle using words that describe themselves.

Despite being a little overwhelmed, I think that I will go back and look at most again.  I will play around and try to make a connection between some of the sites and lessons that I am preparing.  Regardless, it is important for me as a librarian to be aware of these sites so that I am knowledgeable and perhaps make recommendations to staff and students for use in specific applications.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

RSS Feeds

Well, well, well... I have learned something new today!  I have learned all about RSS Feeds.  Who knew how wonderful this new (to me) feature could be and how much time I will save on a day to day basis! 

I have subscribed to several sites that will enable me to keep up with what is new in children's literature and read book reviews.  In addition, I have found sites that will keep me apprised of all the changing technologies within the library community to help keep me current.  A few hours of research today will help me when ordering books, book talking to students and make me well versed on the changing technologies within my district.  Moreover I found a blog on New York State's Common Core Standards...  certainly some food for thought.

Summer reading with some hiking thrown in...

I love summer for so many reasons -- the extra time I get to spend with my children ages 11 and 8, the beautiful weather, hiking in the Adirondacks and catching up on all my reading! While I make a point of keeping up with what's new and exciting in children's lit -- (or stuff I never had time to read...) I also love to read adult literature. 

If you like thrillers, I would highly recommend two books by British author, Tom Rob Smith.  Child 44 is the story of Leo Demidov, an MGB agent in 1940's Russia.  Though there "is no crime" in Stalinist Russia, Leo is on the trail of a serial killer who is murdering children throughout this vast nation.  In a follow-up, Tom Rob Smith continues Leo Demidov's story in the book The Secret Speech.  Both books were tough to put down and do not disappoint.  A third book in the series, Agent 6, already published in Great Britain, is due out on January 5, 2012 in the US.  Can't wait!


As I was driving through Keene Valley last week on my way to hike to the Gulf Brook Lean-to and Lost Pond, I was overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded me.  Though I have travelled to many places both within the United States and Europe, I would be hard pressed to find a region more beautiful than what is in my own backyard.

While I can understand the desire to hike the high peaks that many people have, my children and I have taken shorter trails this summer and have found great scenery, solitude and satisfaction.  We have gone swimming in brooks, ponds and waterfalls, climbed up rock flumes and bushwacked through overgrown trails and over downed trees.  We have met people from all over the world including Vietnam and Germany and a legally blind gentleman who led his party to the top of Coon Mountain.  What adventure!

Some trails that we have loved:

Tenant Creek Falls -- a hike that included three waterfalls and swimming holes at the bottom of each.

Gulf Brook Lean-to and Lost Pond

Augur Falls

Coon Mountain

Silver Lake Bog

Owen and Copperas Ponds

Mt Severance

With a few more weeks left of summer, we are sure to add a few more to our list!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Virtual Vitals: Blogging

What a wonderful way to learn about blogging!  I am Katrina Williams, Greenwich Elementary School Librarian and have held my position within the district for the past fifteen years.  I cannot believe how much my position has changed during that time period.  In 1996 I was just learning how to use the Internet and had never imagined that one day I would become a blogger.

I am excited to learn how to use this new tool and am looking forward to showcasing my students' work throughout the school year.  In addition, I began a staff discussion group within my district last spring, and would like to incorporate some of our discussions and topics within this forum.  Moreover, I am eager to use this as a way to highlight all of the things that are happening in my school libraries as a way to promote my program to parents, students, colleagues and administrators.

Looking forward to reading all of your blogs and learning from your ideas and experiences.