Sunday, November 21, 2010

Check Out My Dewey Decimal Glog

As mentioned in an earlier post, I just discovered Glogging (yes, with a G).  What a fun tool...and a great alternative for student projects.  I can envision so many uses for this.  This one's still a work in progress (need to add more links), but check it out...

Wrapping Up the Web 2.0 Class

Well, it's 8:45 on a Sunday evening, and I've just finished the last of the assignments for my Web 2.0 class.  Yay, no work at all this week...I can sleep in tomorrow morning.  However, my sincere apology to my class leader who has to work tomorrow grading the projects I (and others, I suspect) didn't finish until the last minute.  I owe you one, Johnnie!

During these two weeks (or was it three), I created this blog, a wiki, a Glog (yes, you heard right), a Library Orientation video using Photo Story 3, and even subscribed to Google Reader.  I also was introduced to and created a website for my school library including an embedded Google Calendar.  So, yes, I was VERY busy, but the knowledge I gained and the tools I now have at my disposal are invaluable.

I'm very much an "as-needed" opposed to "just in case."  So, this class was a godsend.  I'd been meaning to try out all of these new social networking tools and create a website, but without this class and its strict deadlines, I might not have gotten to it for a long time.  Now, I have so many things to add to my resume/portfolio and a whole new arsenal of tools for communicating, teaching, networking, etc.

I plan on using the blog frequently (and creating at least one more for my online business).  I've already sent the link to my Lang Library website to all of the Lang MS staff, and have eliminated the paper schedule in favor of the online one.  If need be, I'll be dragging some teachers into the 21st century!!!  I plan on introducing the Glog format to teachers as an alternative for student projects.  I think the kids would love it, and I'll have fun teaching them how to use it.  I'll be expanding and refining the Library Orientation video, will use it each year...and will add it to my website.  However, the jury is still out on the Wiki.  I find it difficult to use and not nearly as useful as the blog format.  If I need to do a group project with others in separate places, though, I might consider it.  We'll see.

So, enough for now.  I might be more tech-literature than 2 weeks ago, but I'm also bone-tired.  Night all!

Haves and Have-Nots

I haven't posted this past week because I was busy running my school's book fair.  With the elevator out of order and the library on the 3rd floor, it was doubly difficult to get the whole thing organized.  Now that we've finished up, I have some observations and comparisons to fairs I've held in other schools.  Thus the title of this post.

When I lived in West Hartford, CT, I worked as a parent volunteer at my children's elementary school.  We consistently sold around $10,000 worth of books, etc.  thanks to the fact that parents valued reading and had money to spend on books.  In 2001-2003, I worked at an inner-city school in Hartford, CT, where the demographics were 100% Hispanic (primarily Puerto Rican), 100% poverty-level, 65% special ed, and 50% bilingual.  Not surprisingly, our Book Fair proceeds were below $1500.  It didn't help that most parents (generally teen or early 20s) had bad school experiences and were uncomfortable being at their children's school.  They also had little to no money to spend on books, even if they did value them (which didn't seem to be the case).

Fast forward to the latter half of the decade, and I was now librarian in an elementary school in West Plano,  TX.  Thanks to a very active PTA, high socio-economic status, and a clear understanding of the value of reading, we sold no less than $22,000 (yes, 3 zeros) each fair.  So, you can well imagine how I felt when this year's sale (in an inner-city Dallas middle school) was considered successful with sales of only $2400.  All I could think of was how hard my student volunteers and I had worked to run the fair and how little return for our time we realized. 

I had much time to think about this while I manned the cash register this week, and it just saddens me to think of how the schools in wealthier neighborhoods are raking in the money (so they can buy even more new books for their already well-stocked libraries) while the schools in poorer neighborhoods raise next to nothing.  There has to be a better solution, but I've yet to come up with one.  While in Plano, we donated a 3rd of our proceeds to a sister school on the east side of the city, but I don't think that's an option in Dallas.  Wouldn't it be great if Scholastic (since they make so much on these sales) would spearhead a program whereby schools with high-grossing fairs could designate a "sister" school in another district (or their own) to automatically receive matching funds?  Nice dream for now, but it could be a reality someday.  I'll have to think about it...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review of Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey

I read Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey a couple of years ago, but it has stuck with me because it is one of the best books I've read dealing with the death of a child and the resultant grieving process.  Will North and his little sister, Wenny, are hit by a truck on their way to the store.  When Will wakes up in the hospital, he remembers that both he and Wenny started flying "towards the light" but that he pulled back because he didn't want his parents to be left alone.  The author guides us on Will's (and his parents') journey of recovery through a series of letters Will writes to Wenny. 
He's Wenny for leaving, his parents for being so lost in their grief, and himself for letting Wenny accompany him to the store that day and for not being able to save her.  His parents are incapable of helping him, so it is a youth minister who finally suggests that Will start writing letters to God.  Instead, he chooses to write to Wenny. 
This story is a tear-jerker, but it's also a message of hope and redemption.  I recommend that librarians and counselors read it, and add it to their bibliotherapy toolbox.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blog vs. Wiki

I've created both a blog and a wiki this past week for my Web 2.0 class, and part of the 1st assignment is to compare the two methods of online communication.  In my opinion, a blog is individual and personal.  It's used by the blogger to share messages, opinions, recipes, crafts, photographs, and anything else that is of interest to her.

On the other hand, I see a wiki as more of a tool to use by a group (e.g., a class, a team, a company dept., etc.) to share useful information of interest to all members of said group.  As such, it is more objective, less emotional, and much less fun than a blog.  In a nutshell - blog=fun, wiki=function!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Welcome to My New Blog!

I have created this blog as part of a Web 2.0 class I am taking with Dallas ISD.  My initial reason for signing up for the course was to meet Professional Development requirements so I could have the entire Thanksgiving week off!  However, now that I see how useful blogs and wikis can be, I'm excited to learn more and apply what I learn both to my job as a school librarian and my avocation as an online reseller (just eBay right now). 

As a teenager, I kept a daily journal, but since graduating from college (oh, so many years ago), I haven't kept it up.  I think blogging is a great opportunity to share what you know and love with other like-minded people.  It also helps you reflect on how you're currently spending your time and consider ways to enrich your life.  I look forward to the journey, and hope you'll join me now and then.