Saturday, November 22, 2008

Graphic Novels - EDCO

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I'd like to suggest a few immersion adjectives: soaked, poached, saturated, brined, pickled, marinated, stuffed - any one of them will do. Or, maybe some super-hero vocabulary like Yowzah!, Bam! Kapow! would be more appropriate. This one day class on graphic novels and comics was really intense, and really fun. The presenters were passionate, knowledgeable, and skilled at sharing their expertise.

The use of graphic novels, manga, and comics is compelling. Building visual skills into reading and writing instruction is a powerful way to engage those students who do best with a more hands-on or visual learning style. There is no doubt that they love the stuff.

True story. Last summer we invested in a large starter collection of manga and graphic novels. The books flew off the shelves. We had waiting lists and were ordering additional requests through inter-library loan. When we reviewed our circulation statistics for the month of September 08 and compared them to September 07, the results were astounding. Stats indicated that students were checking out the new books at an astronomical rate, but our fiction circulation was also up 75%! Overall circulation was up 94%! The data clearly shows they came and checked out graphic materials, but we had clear evidence that they were suddenly migrating to other material, and were checking out fiction for pleasure reading in startling numbers. Do graphic novels contribute to learning? Should they be part of every library collection? Do they build reading and comprehension skills? Yes.

This post has links to other blogs and resources. It is going to take me awhile to process this new information. Grant funding for an expanded graphic novel collection is definitely on the horizon, and there are certainly more than enough suggested titles!

Robin Brenner, Brookline Public Library
Notes from MSLA Conference, Oct. 2008
Getting Graphic in School: Graphic Novels, comics, and manga in education

Metrowest Regional Library System - Resources - very good!
Sarah Sogigian
Material from multiple presentations
Introduction to Manga, Anime, and Graphic Novels
Japanese Manga for Libraries

Excellent Listserve - good for info,questions, and welcoming to newcomersGraphic Novels in Libraries Listserv

Andrew Wales
Comics are great for the struggling reader. Light reading leads to heavier reading. Comics are a conduit to other forms of reading.

Tim Callahan
Research and Literacy organization - scholarly approach to graphic format material
Comic Book Resources - a lot of fluff, but also good content columns, super-hero central!
Matt Madden, 99 Ways to Tell a Story

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reflections on MassCue - the Gleam of Engagement

MassCue 2008

Saturated. Overwhelmed. Engaged. Challenged. Intimidated. Excited. Tired. Stressed. Euphoric!

This is amazing. Conferences like these charge my creative batteries and make me want to shout from the rooftop! I can't wait to play with all these new tools and ideas, and see which ones will gain traction and work with students. I have to be prepared to fail, be prepared for frustration, but what if it works? What if students have that gleam of engagement as a result of incorporating some of these strategies? Actually, strategies isn't really right. It is more a philosophy of presenting content and sharing control.

I need to process this experience with colleagues who are as jazzed as I am. My beloved RSS feed is good because it feeds me, but I need to interact and bounce ideas around. Twitter may be useful in creating a community of like-minded souls to more actively share thoughts and process.

As much as I love this, I am going to leave early. I am worried about the library, about the library staff, and about what I am missing. Short-sighted, perhaps, but is always a balancing act. I am just so grateful to be working in education, and for a school district that supports my professional development.

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Google Earth

MassCue - Google Earth
Notes from two presentations

Awesome Integration of Google Earth

Kevin McGonegal, Tech Specialist, Cambridge Public Schools

Google Earth - Makes a World of Difference in Your Classroom
Carol LaRow, Google Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator

I went to two presentations because I really want to get some vision about what is possible, and some depth in the range of this application. How are teachers and students using this? Google Earth, Google Sky, Lit Trips, layers, this thing is like Aladdin's Cave! I want to show it to Foreign Language, English, Social Studies, Earth Science - this is so far beyond enhancement. This is transformative.

Google Earth is a geographic information system. Google's goal is to make information universally acceptable and useful. Over half of the world's population can see their home!
Google Earth Pro - free to educators, but you have to go through an application process. Can get a lab license to install on every computer. Benefit is there is a dedicated Google server so it is a little faster and can embed extra media.
Can use any embedable code.

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Revenge of the Digital Immigrants

MassCue - Hall Davidson, Director of Discovery Education Network
Revenge of the Digital Immigrants:
Teaching with Media Technology

Discovery Education

Conference materials:

View of digital native classroom with full technology and global perspective. Goggle Earth featured in this classroom. The whole class is multi-tasking, teaching and working simultaneously. Compared to immigrant classroom - static, fixed seats, teachers at front of room delivering information.

The way students think has changed, the the babysitter is to blame. Who is the babysitter? The television set. Who is turning the TV on? Changes in attention. Data on how media affects brain function and attention skills aka attention problems. However, children don't struggle to pay attention to media, like games. They have a "new brain". and need new ways of teaching them. We have the technology to teach them faster and better. Their brains have extra levels of potential, and learn in more fluid ways.
Studies show students spend 2 seconds on a site before deciding to stay with it or move on. They are processing very quickly, with good results. Short length video bursts to focus lessons are more effective. The day of 20 minute videos has passed. Plug for Discovery Streaming video with demo of 1.5 minute clip on earthquakes. 10 years ago this wasn't possible.
Value of making media/video with kids; the make more meaningful connections to the content.

Student learning has fundamentally changed. Childhood obesity has risen. What happens in utero affects morphology of children. Infant bodies are hardwired to store fat based on maternal nutrition - study came from Canada. Diet has changed children, and their minds have changed too.

Age compression - "I like to think of kids as the Chief Technology Officers of their families." We should use the technology to teach them. Adobe Premier Elements - video photoshop with green screen capability. Cool tricks with Photobooth on macs. Can drop in backdrops. It is the kids who learn the content when they engage in media presentations. They are engaged, invested.

Apps to Engage via Cellphones audio upload from cell phones to a website - very cool
YouTube media preset so you can upload video straight from cell to site - very cool
live polls utilizing cellphones, many class uses, free for educators - very cool

Figuring out how to build cellphone use into teaching/practice is one of the most captivating ideas I am taking away from this conference. Why not have students text writing via cell to teachers? Live polls - cool way for quick assessments. I'm going to set up an account on PollEverywhere and try this.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twitter and Plurk

MassCue - All a' Twitter about Twitter
Beth Knittle - K12 IT Specialist, Barnstable
MassCue Conference Handouts

Twitter - What is Twitter? Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Micro-blogging in a professional networking tool. We network because we are social beings, and we need to connect. Twitter helps foster connections, and keep us networked to learn. There are many lurkers in a network, but everyone can contribute through sharing and collaboration. For the "older" getworking is still the best done face-to-face, with body language and tone of voice. These cues aren't as necessary for the next generation.

Wes Fryer contributes that these new tools need to be personally integrated by teachers, before they can successfully be integrated into classroom practice. These social networking tools also help us continue professional growth as educators. When we come to teach students about these connectivity tools we can do it with authentic voice. We are receivers as well as contributors on this type of network.

Following - let people know you are a teacher. Include blog link in your profile and let people follow you. It's up to you how much information you choose to disclose.

How do you find people to follow? When you create an account fill out your profile. When people search or link to you, they will see this page. There are privacy settings and you can protect your updates. Then people have to request for you to accept them as a follower. Getting started can be a challenge, and is best done at conferences when you meet people face-to-face. You can block and/or ban people.

A Twitter portal for teachers -
Tweeter Directory - Just Tweet It

Plurk - A Social Journal for Your Life
A variation of Twitter. Different feel.

A walled garden version of Twitter. A "sandbox" in which students can practice these tools. A safety net for educators as well. The world isn't looking here.

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Media to Enhance Traditional Methods

New Media for New Minds:

Audio, Video, and Web Production to Enhance Traditional Methods
Vera Ventura - Watertown, Media and Production Instruction

Web 2.0 and free Google apps address equity and access issues for students. Student presentations for synthesis of content are important, and these tools are available via Google Docs. This allows sharing via email or collaboration options. Can download as powerpoint or pdf. FreeFreeFreeFree!

It is OK for students to be ahead of teachers on mastering the nuts and bolts of technology and applications. Let the students teach you, learn together. Use students as a resource. Bridging the new media ind and the old educational mind is the challenge.

iTunes University
There is a little video tour embedded in the top right corner.

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MassCue Keynote '08

Keynote: Wesley Fryer
Creating and Collaborating: The Keys to 21st Century Literacy
How much faster does the brain process images over text? More than 60,000 times. In the context of literacy and learning, if we are not using images, are we really trying to communicate?
When do students in our school get to touch technology, and what do they do when they get to use it? The old model of learning focuses on the teacher presentation of learning. Boredom is a by-product of this model.
Preaching to the choir. Create, Communicate, Collaborate.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

iGoogle and Gadgets

Add gadgets to your homepage

I don't buy shoes compulsively. I have never impulse shopped in my life. Well, I have been known to buy books on impulse. On a recent visit to the AWESOME Apple Store on Boylston Street, in Boston (my personal Mecca) I was queried by the funky welcoming-person, "Can I help you today?" My response was "No, I'm just here to play." I got a very enthusiastic and heartwarming high-five, along with a "Welcome, Sistah! That's the best answer I've had all day!" So, what is my pecadillo? My Achilles' heel? My guilty secret? Google apps. I love 'em. Can't get enough of 'em. This is my most recent acquisition. " Google Book Search". I already have an accounts with LibraryThing and Shelfari.

My iGoogle page is my personal portal to the world. Gmail, BBC News, Drudge Report, Artist of the Day, Literary Quote of the Day, and my beloved RSS feed. Aaaah. I can't help myself. Like some women buy shoes, I subscribe to free online apps.

If you don't have an RSS feed, you should get one today. Better than 3 inch heels.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Historic Tale Construction Kit

Historic Tale Construction Kit
This is the coolest site I have seen in awhile. It makes me want to re-read The Canterbury Tales. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, you can create your own, embroidered, medieval legend. It has great music, too. What a wonderful way to create alternate assessments or review elements of character or plot. You can save your historic tale, add panels, email it to someone, or upload it. It is fun, easy to use, and free.

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Innovate or Wither

Innovate or Wither - Personal Strategy For Times of Change :: The Education Business Blog
Not too long ago people were quipping about libraries and books becoming obsolete with "everything" available on the "information superhighway". How the conversation has changed. Yes, more and more content is available in digital format, but this transition hasn't been the death-knell of books or libraries. Far from it. We have entered an incredibly exciting time where before our eyes the delivery of information is changing, enabling more and more people access in increasingly diverse ways. Graphic novels are opening a world of books to teens who never considered themselves readers, and we see them crossing over to novels for additional reading. E-books, MP3 format books, digital texts, all of these are breaking down barriers caused by learning issues and/or financial hardship. These are equity technologies, and they are fueling learning. Where are the libraries in this time of change? Smack dab in the middle of the action. School libraries are uniquely positioned to see the changes coming, and get them established into curriculum planning and school culture. What does it take to reach these lofty goals? Continual outreach, teacher professional development, and publicity. Oh, and a huge amount of bravery.

As the linked article Innovate or Wither, from the Education Business Blog, so concisely puts it, we must be willing to take risks to keep moving forward, because forward is the only way to go. We can't serve our students by falling back, because then we truly are obsolete to learning. Integrating new technologies can be frustrating and time consuming. However, not moving ahead and learning about these alternate technologies will ultimately be more costly to the education of our students.

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