Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Summing up for Now

I tried a little movie expressing some of my feelings about this class. However I have not been able to upload it. I've even contacted Blogger help and they said they would try to fix the problem but nothing has happened so far. If it does upload at some point I will share it. I am very grateful to Donna and Carlene for offering this course and sharing their wealth of knowledge! I've learned so many new things and tried so many things I was afraid to try before. My biggest drawback has been finding time to play with all these new toys!!! I am looking forward to learning lots more in the future!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Incorporating Technology Into My Teaching

I too have been trying to think of ways of incorporating some of this technology into my practice. I have started a Best Books blog at one of my schools but so far have only shown it to one class. Tomorrow I'll introduce it to another grade 8 class. At my other school where far fewer students have access to computers I'm going to try a blog for staff members. I'll talk about new resources and books in the library and show them some of the tools I learned about in this course to see if there is more interest out there. Also at this school I am currently working on a Holocaust unit with the grade 7/8 teacher. I am working with three groups and the teacher is working with three groups. Two of my groups are doing lit circles, one with the novel Daniel's Story by Carol Matas and the other with the novel Clara's War by Kathy Kacer. The third group is doing a mini-research project on a Holocaust hero. One example is Oscar Schindler. They need to answer the question "Was my person a good citizen?" They have to base their answer on criteria they came up with as to what constitutes a 'good citizen'. Then using the knowledge from their research on their person they are going to conduct interviews of each other. They need to come up with some good interview questions, practise interviewing each other and then hopefully we will videotape them and put the videos on the blog I have set up for student work. (Taking a page from Jane's workwith the video camera!). I did show them how to cite their books using Ottobib. For the other two groups, I'm going to have them use two of the tools I learned about in week 3 and 4. The students doing Daniel's Story are going to use Slide Share (or an equivalent, we have it on our school's computers but I can't remember which it is and I'm at home right now) to create what the book said to them, meant to them, what they learned from it or something similar. They might choose one character and think back to their lit circles roles and come up with a slide for each role that pertains to their character. Or using some of the image sites that are copyright friendly they might synthesize their learning. They will be expected to cite their images. The possibilities are endless as to what they can do. I thought the Slideshare might be particularly good because Daniel's Story is all about the photos/memories Daniel kept from the Holocaust. For the group doing Clara's War I am going to have them use PhotoStory 3 to create what the book meant to them. (This is also on our computers at school). They too will have to cite where they found their images/music etc. So that's the plan! One group is almot finished reading Clara's War so I think they may get started this week on Photostory 3. The other two groups still have a ways to go before we're ready for the technology. I'm really looking forward to the students work and their reaction to the technology part! I hope they will post comments/critiques on the blog as well.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Safety and Web 2.0

I think I agree with Doug Johnson's statement about what students put on the internet can be more dangerous than what they see. After reading the articles you can see how publishing photos, personal videos or words can do so much damage. This brings to mind my biggest question about this whole course: What can we ask students to share in order to use tools like BibMe? I had to give my e-mail address to register to save my bib. (I mentioned this in my post to Jane). Does this pose any kind of risk for the student? I'm fairly comfortable with having the students post to my blog because as administrator I am the only one seeing their e-mail addresses. I found some discomfort in giving out my e-mail address to the many things I subscribed to during this course just because it's been drilled into me about the dangers of having your personal information on-line. So I guess that's my question: Can anyone tell me how safe it is for students to use their e-mail addresses in this age of Web 2.0? Or are my fears unjustified?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Copyright and the Internet

For me the biggest issue surrounding the use of the web is the proper way to cite items, whether it is images, info, music or other. There still are gray areas for me and I think I'm going to just have to educate myself so that I know better how to teach my students. Thank you to Tanya for her post on this topic. While visiting the Copyright Matters site I found a link that outlines some answers as to citing web material. I know I will be referring to it alot. I'm on a listserv and this evening there was a post about 'free' clipart. (It has some great stuff for literary characters). On their license at the bottom of the page it explains very clearly how and why to cite their material. I wish all sites had something similar. In this age of technology my way of teaching referencing is definitely changing as more and more I'm able to show students how to reference using computer citation tools. I think students need to know as well that their own work is copyrighted but they can grant usage to others through things like the Creative Commons license. Students also need to know about Creative Commons Media Search and similar tools and how to use them. They need to be taught that things like wikipedia can be edited by anyone and they must bear that in mind when searching for information there. Students need to be taught more, now than ever that, to look at sites critically.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Succes With the Feed Link!

Donna helped me get the feed link to work! Please see my first post about RSS and Feed Link and read the comments if you had trouble using the Feed Link.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rss Feeds and Frustrated by Feed Link

I too have had a Google rss feed since the IT summit but I rarely have time to even look at it! I've never been great at organizing my info into folders and I think this is my downfall. The start pages look wonderful and I'm truly inspired by Tanya's! I'm hoping when I have time I can go back to this, do a start page and make it so well organized that I will use it! I have to admit defeat on trying to get a colleague's delicious page on my blog. I can do it as a link but I cannot do it as a Feed Link. Everytime I try I get the message "invalid feed url". I've been to the help site and am still clueless.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Summary of Some Search Tools

I chose to do a search using "grief " and "children's literature" since I've been focusing on the novel After by Francis Chalifour. I found the 'Narrow Your Search' aspect at to be much better than what Google came up with. I think younger students would be fascinated with Quintura for Kids. I really liked Kartoo and Search Crystal. Kartoo's connections I think would help kids visualize this process and lead them in directions they may not have thought of themselves. I liked how Search Crytal categorized its hits and at a glance you can tell which returns are the best . I will definitely have students try these two search tools out.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Mind Map

This is my attempt at a mind map. It's from Gliffy. It took a very long time for me to figure out how to use it and I still don't have all the wrinkles ironed out. Maybe one of the other ones is easier. You will need to click on it to see it better. I'm not sure why my picture of Death did not upload.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

My Second Book Trailer

I have redone the first trailer I did but this time used pictures from Wikipedia that I cited. As far as I know this should cover any copyright issues.

Friday, October 5, 2007

My Attempt at a Book Trailer

I decided to take my book trailer off the blog because of concerns about breaking copyright. If you missed it I had used PhotoStory 3. I also used JakesOnline Tutorials (on the Meet the Stars wiki) which I found very helpful. I used the "Add video" button on the "Create a Post" page and had no trouble uploading from the video file where it was saved. I will try this again at some point when I find pictures that don't have the copyright concern.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Poster

A Second Flickr Try

I've had lots of trouble trying to get everything centered the way I want it. Here goes...

Travel the hot sands of Palestine
in Arthur Slade's WWI
novel Megiddo's Shadow!
It's a real page turner!

Using My Flickr Photos

with Kenneth Oppel's Skybreaker!

My flickr photos link is now on the right. The slideshow link is just some scenes I thought might help me promote Skybreaker or Megiddo's Shadow. I discovered only one photo will fit per post. I'll put the second one on a post by itself.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Diamond Willow Nominee

Click on this box to discover what Marty and Remi find sprayed on the vandalized shed behind their school.

The Mystery of the Grafitti Ghoul
by Marty Chan
Who is behind the graffiti found on school property? Join Marty in a fun-filled adventure as he tries along with his friends to solve the mystery of the graffiti ghoul.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Could I Pick a Favorite?

As I stated in my first posting I thought the 2007 list of nominees for the Snow Willow Awards was great! If I were voting, could I pick a winner? I think my favorite character and setting would be Wild Orchid by Beverly Brenna. I could really see the world through Taylor's eyes and the beautiful setting of Waskesiu made me feel like I was there. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt was a great romance with a different twist and I Am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis drew me into Diego's world in Bolivia. If you read my Science Fiction/Fantasy blog you'll know that I enjoyed both Skybreaker and The Aquanauts. Despite Bernice's pent-up anger, I liked Out of Focus and how it dealt with alcoholism. Megiddo's Shadow was also a treat. Most of the literature I've read about war has dealt with World War II, and I found it refreshing to read of Edward's experience in World War I particularly his posting in Palestine. However, I think I would have to choose After as my favorite simply because I can relate personally to much of what Francis went through. I don't think this book will be the students' favorite but it will be very interesting to see which book does win out in the spring simply because the nominees were so good!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Snow Willows Continued

Continuing in my category vein I would pair Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel and The Aquanauts by John Lunn in my Science Fantasy/Science Fiction category. I thoroughly enjoyed both! Skybreaker continues the airship adventures of Matt Cruse and Kate De Vries, this time on a search for a ghost ship. In the Aquanauts, sixteen year old Greta Kovachi, tries to find her scientist father after an accident has separated them in time on the ocean floor. Both these novels have well drawn characters, although Oppel's are much more developed. I have to admit I didn't completely understand all the time anomalies in The Aquanauts but I did like the real use of scientific theory. Skybreaker wins by a hair or two. Speaking of science fiction/science fantasy I came across this website tonight that includes reviews of both categories.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reflection on the Snow Willow Nominees

This year I just love the nominees for the Snow Willow Awards! The choices are thought- provoking, appeal to both genders, and are well-written. Once some of the grade 7s and 8s have read some of the choices, I would like to have them categorize the list of nominees and see what they can come up with. They may do it by genre, male/female lead characters, life's problems , book covers, or anything else they can think of. For me, my biggest category would be Responding to Life's Problems. I would group Wild Orchid, (autism), Out of Focus, (alcoholism) After (death), I Am a Taxi, (drug involvement), Sun Signs (cancer), Shattered (genocide) and Megiddo's Shadow (war) in this category. One of my favorites in this category is After by Francis Chalifour. His personal experience comes through very clearly and as a teen who also lost a parent suddenly I could relate to much of what Francis was going through. The book really spoke volumes to me! Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade also had a personal connection for me. My father was a young Saskatchewan farm boy who lied about his age to get into the war (in his case WWII). Megiddo's Shadow brought to mind B for Buster by Iain Lawrence where another young Canadian boy lies to get into the war and finds he is way out of his depth.
How about you? What categories might you use to group the nominees? Is there one or more books that really stood out for you?

Snow Willow Nominees

I decided to set up a new blog for this assignment specifically because I want to comment on the Snow Willow Nominees and do not want to influence my students' choices before they have read the books. That being said, I hope I clicked on all the right things when I set up the account so that people will be able to respond! I look forward to hearing from you!