Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Novel Use for Cell Phones (get it?)

86 percent of Japanese high school students read Mobile Phone Novels. Think about it. Cell phone are the leading outlet for new novel publications (Cell Phones Put to Novel Use). New novels are being written especially with this format in mind. Are people reading less, or more? Or are they just reading differently?

My experience with Kindle profoundly changed how I define "reading". Truly, I couldn't get the concept of digital paper and electronic reading devices. Then I read The Tale of Edgar Sawtelle on my new Kindle, and found myself disappearing into the text. Shockingly, I found I preferred reading on the Kindle. It was lighter, easier to angle, and more intimate than the bulky hardcover. So, yeah, I am totally open to the idea of reading a novel on a cell phone.

Here's a shout out to Daniel Pink's blog for getting me thinking about this.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I still don't really get Twitter

I've tried. I still don't get Twitter. I think it is one of those things where you need critical mass. I follow people who seem to have this critical mass, because they are twittering and tweeting back and forth with a vast group of people. In the morning before school I run on the treadmill and watch CNN. Don Lemon twitters, and asks people watching to tweet comments and he posts some of them. I also follow people who travel and present at conferences around the world. They tweet about getting stuck in airports, not being able to connect to the wireless at their conference, meeting up for coffee - mostly I feel like a creepy stalker. There are people out there who can pack a lot of content into 140 characters.

This video clip from the BBC is from Stephen Fry, who really embraces Twitter.
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Stephen Fry on joys of Twitter

I'll hang in there, but it is starting to feel less and less click-worthy.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

10 Days, 8 Teachers: An Educational Journey to Japan

The town of Concord has a Japanese sister, and her name is Nanae. I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit Nanae with a delegation of Concord Public K-5 and CCHS teachers last June, and join the ranks of previous delegations and student trips to Japan. This relationship is known as the Concord - Nanae Network.
Thanks to the generosity of the Ruettgers Family endowement, I was able to share this experience with colleagues and students in a lecture of my trip. The challenge lay in that I wasn't just telling my story, but that of the rich sister-city relationship, and the journey I shared with my colleagues.
As an educator this was a transformational experience. I was totally dependent, unable to read, write, speak or navigate on my own on this new culture. The gift of travelling with colleagues and talk about learning, while I was learning new things every minute of every day, was amazing. Our conversationsons during the bus rides were challenging and deeply instructional.
The bigger issue was the importance of our trip. What does global education look like, and what is global citizenship? How can technology help us bridge the hurdles?
The following 5 minute video starts with Mr. David Nurenberg talking about the value of these exchanges, with his wonderful eloquent vision. Bobby Kargulla, Concord's most recent appointee to Nanae, is formally hired as Coordinator of International Relations (CIR) and accepts his new position. Seeing the Nanae delegation teach 200+ people how to do the Ika (Squid) Dance is an opportunity not to be missed. The video concludes with the unique Concord - Nanae parting ceremony.
Arigato gozaimas!

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Social media - a military flow chart

Web Ink Now: The US Air Force: Armed with social media

Even the military is using social media!

"What was most interesting is that with Capt. Faggard leading the way, the Air Force employs 330,000 communicators! Their mission is to use current and developing Web 2.0 applications as a way to actively engage conversations between Airmen and the general public. Yes, that’s right, the goal of the program is that every single Airman is an on-line communicator."

photo credit:

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration in the Library

It was a real privilege to share the Inauguration of our 44th President with students and staff in the CCHS Library. The auditorium, cafeteria, and many classrooms held gatherings of people witnessing this historic event. Watching CNN cut away to Times Square, Los Angeles, and other locations here and abroad really heightened the sense that this was a moment of global significance. It was really fun when, during his Inaugural Address, PRESIDENT Obama :) made reference to Concord. There was a moment of silence, and then a group response of "Hey! That's us!"

The government belongs to the people, and part of the mission of public education is that of creating an informed electorate. This peaceful transfer of power has to be one of the most profound moments of our system, and it is the duty of the people to bear witness. The joy of the moment was truly sweet.

By the way, the video was shot with one of our little hand-held digital Flip cameras. They are available to students for check out with class projects.

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Another plug for Wordle

Wordle is one of those cool little applications that is fun to play with, fun to browse, and is perfect for looking at things a little differently (and it is free!).

"Wordle is a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends."

Obama's Inaugural Address is a great example. The optimism, inclusiveness and and seriousness of purpose are very apparent. I used it to analyze my tags from LibraryThing and it clearly showed my preference for YA fiction and coming-of-age stories. How else can it be used to look at data that doesn't always lend itself to analysis?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

This is the funniest, sweetest 42 minute Internet musical you will ever want to see. Dr. Horrible (Neal Patrick Harris) wants to join the Evil League of Evil. As an aspiring super-villain, be battles his nemesis Captain Hammer (who is a little too awesome for words) to win the heart of Penny, the girl of his dreams. One of his buddies (who, alas, will probably never get further than henchman status) is known as Moist. His power is to dampen things slightly. You can't help but root for Dr. Horrible. My daughter sent me the YouTube link via Facebook, where you can see the whole thing in little installments. I also found it on both Vimeo and Hulu, where I can watch it without interruptions. There is a short commercial break in Hulu, but I can live with this as small cost for free access. So, why blog about this oddly appealing video musical? Because I can access it quickly, for free, pass it along, and add it the list of tools for teachers and students to find and share media content. It is also a great little musical! Visit the fan site!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music

Pandora Radio - Listen to Free Internet Radio, Find New Music

I really love music, and feel starved for fresh artists and new songs. I'm just starting to figure out Pandora, but this looks like an amazing interface for personal music mixes. Like many, I rely on radio during my (blessedly short) commute each day, and am feeling like my exposure to new stuff is getting increasingly narrow and shallow. I want more than the latest top 10, as chosen by media conglomerates and anonymous buying patterns. The Music Genome Project (creators of Pandora) seems to understand my needs. Best of all, it is free!

"Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like."
Tim Westergren, Founder, The Music Genome Project

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Ten Trends and Technologies for 2009

Ten Trends and Technologies for 2009

This post comes courtesy of Michael Stephens, author of the blog Tame the Web: Libraries, Technology and People. Michael's post is scholarly and filled with data, links, and academic sources. Borrowing his 10 descriptors, this is my version, viewed through the lens of the CCHS Library.
  1. The Ubiquity of the Cloud - Clouds provide a powerful alternate way to present data. It is hard to find opportunities to use data with students to evaluate things that aren't intrinsically empirical. An example is writing. A student can copy and paste a paper into something like Wordle and see the resulting word cloud. If there are repetitive words it shows up immediately. Tag clouds are becoming increasingly important to search functions, especially with social networking sites. Understanding a cloud is an important emerging literacy.
  2. The Value of the Commons - A rich, collaborative space for people to create is the heart of this idea, covering everything from Creative Commons licensing to a Media Commons model for the library. Learning by doing, literacy beyond text, global connections - these are all elements that resonate with me. A Commons philosophy is welcoming, creative, fosters connections, and puts students at the center.
  3. The Changing Role of IT - Everyone needs to be an IT Specialist now. Period. We all must accept the responsibility basic trouble shooting. While we don't all need to know html or network configuration, we all need to be competent end-users, confident to try things, click buttons, roll our sleeves up and dig into an application. Comfort with various media files, uploading, downloading, embedable code, wikis, Nings and blogs are all core competentices for life in Web 2.0 and the 21st Century. How else will we be ready for Web 3.0?
  4. The Care & Nurturing of the Tribe - Teenagers need their tribe. They need to belong to a social group, thus the incredible popularity of Facebook. They also need nurturing and guidance as they learn to navigate the halls of their real world, and pixels of their digital lives. Both are real, both are valuable, and both are relevant.
  5. Encourage the Heart - How can we make authentic human connections with each other? Be the Change has played an important role in fostering connection and caring at CCHS. Can we capitalize on this and expand those connections to a global awareness? Really, it is about encouraging intellectual curiosity and caring.
  6. The Triumph of the Portable Device - iPhones are like lightning bolts of connectivity, and in a perfect world I would put one in the hands of every student. Connectivity is the air they breathe, and we should harness is and use it as an integral part of the educational process.
  7. The Importance of Personalization - At CCHS every student has a network account, and as they log in each day I can see how they personalize their desktop, their preferences, their interface with the world. Each student is different and while they often dress, talk and behave like each other, online they are far freer to be themselves. It is a joy to see how diverse they are in the freedom of their digital environment.
  8. The Impact of Localization - Our local resources are rich and varied, and sometimes this can get lost in the rush to push global awareness. Yet we have CCTV, our local cable access station, where I can tune into channel 10 and see what media is being produced and shared by our students. I can tune into WIQH 88.3FM and hear the local sports and weather forecast by students, listen to their music, and their political views. Kids are creating local content, and finding ways to share it with their communities. We need to continue to find ways to facilitate this local exchange.
  9. The Evolution of the Digital Lifestyle - Put an "i" in front of it, and it connects to everything in your life, or at least that what it feels like. Seamless, fluid, we are approaching a time when our digital interface will be a fully networked archive of our experience and work. The tricky bit is the blurring of traditional lines. In social networks who should we be friends with, and who should we not be friends with? Teachers? Professional colleagues? Bosses? The Digital Lifestyle demands that we review our social traditions, mores and policies.
  10. The Shift Toward Open Thinking - We need to be more open to creativity and finding alternative ways of demonstrating what we know. We need to be more lenient of technical failure, and give credit for trying. Allowing students to access learning in different ways, and providing alternate formats to access content has to be a priority.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Evidence-Based Practice in the CCHS Library

I recently had an intense discussion with a colleague about evidence-based practice. It got me thinking.

Dr. Ross Todd (director of Rutgers University’s Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries) says "you will know that you have achieved evidence-based practice when you are able to provide convincing evidence that answers these questions:
  • What differences do my school library and its learning initiatives make to student learning outcomes?
  • What are the differences, the tangible learning outcomes and learning benefits, of my school library?"
How do I achieve this? Using Todd's guidelines I conducted a quick self-survey:
  • Lesson plans tied to state standards and outcomes - OK, got that
  • Benchmarks - how do I create ways to assess whether or not students are hitting benchmarks? Do I have a firm handle on what my benchmarks should be? Hmm.
  • Accountability - collaboration, examination of progress and practice - am working hard on this
  • Documentation / multiple data points - circulation stats, patron stats, collection development stats, lesson database, comprehensive end-of-year report - got this
Where I trip up is in developing effective student assessments that can be conducted without adding paper or requiring anything from the class teacher. In a perfect world I would be collaborating on final assessments, but we aren't there yet. I am toying with trying out for quick, dip stick style assessments after a class completes a session in the library. I saw Hall Davidson, Director of Discovery Education Network, demonstrate this at the most recent MassCue Conference. This is a free web-app that allows you to create a poll and have respondents participate with their cell phones. I believe students would get a bang out of this, but will this yield the type of data I need?

The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians
Ross Todd, School Library Journal, 4/1/2008

What is Evidence-Based Practice?
Ohio Education Library Media Association, 7/7/2006

A True Assessment of Your Program's Value
David Loertscher, Blanche Woolls - Learning Quarterly, 6/2/2003

photo credit Flickr Creative Commons: Data transfer by Mary_Grace

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Stop the reading madness!

This is getting ridiculous. How many reading applications does anyone really need? Every time a I finish a book I have to log it into three different sites. It's enough to make me turn on the television.

I joined LibraryThing first and really got into entering books I was reading, and drilling into the social network to read other people's reviews. It got discouraging when I realized how "into it" other people seemed to be, and I just couldn't compete. Also, people from all over would connect, and that sounds great, but I didn't want a LibraryThing penpal from New Zealand, or to join virtual book group recommended based on my profile. Who has the time? Now I just keep adding books, mostly because this site now has my reading history for the last few years,

Shelfari was cool because I could add it to my Facebook page. Then Facebook re-formatted their interface and it got relegated to a "box" and didn't appear on the main page anymore. I added it to this blog because it works so well with Blogger. I just update it whenever I finish a book and enjoy watching my virtual shelf fill up. Little bit of reader vanity there.

I just added Goodreads because some of my favorite teachers in the English Department are using it. The best part is that I get little feed alerts whenever someone posts a comment, a review, or even what page they are on at the moment. It really feels very dynamic in a way the other two haven't because it uses the social network of the people you know, and expands out from there. Very Facebook. Goodreads also embeds easily, so maybe I'll drop Shelfari.

In a way, this is the most authentic experience with social networking I have ever had.

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