Apr 30

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Apr 23

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Apr 16

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Apr 12

Rethinking Library Spaces

Libraries are changing, we all know that. My elementary school library is evolving and we are looking for ideas to transform the space. Many school libraries are going through similar changes and it’s great to see. At the ICE Conference in February, I attended a session that shared a complete renovation of a school library and it looks amazing. Here is the slide show shared during the presentation.

Recently, I participated in #tlchat, a Twitter chat for teacher-librarians and the topic was Rethinking Library Spaces and Learning Space Design. It was a great discussion and many people shared great ideas about what they have done or are looking to do in their libraries. If you missed out on the chat, here’s the transcript.

The discussion got me thinking. There should be a place where teacher-librarians can share images of their library spaces, especially updates and new designs. It should be simple for people to upload pictures and easy for people to view. It doesn’t appear that this type of virtual photo album exists so I decided to create one. I went through a few ideas, checking with others to see what would work best and finally decided on a shared Google Drive folder. I hope this folder can be an inspiration to others looking to make any changes, big or small, to their library space. We can never have enough good ideas so please share share share!

To view the images in the folder, go to http://tiny.cc/schoollibrarypics

To add your own images, go to http://tiny.cc/schoollibrarypics and click on “Add to Drive” in the upper right-hand corner. From that point, upload any images to the folder as you would any other Google folder.

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Mar 19

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Mar 15

5 Very Useful Chrome Extensions

If you’re a Google Chrome user, you’re well aware of the incredible benefits of extensions. These extensions are little programs that enhance the use of the Chrome browser. There are so many available from the Chrome Web Store that your head will spin, but choosing the ones that will make your life easier on a daily basis is a little more tricky. Below are 5 extensions that I use on a regular basis and I think you should too.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 10.21.03 AMGoogle URL Shortener – I am often copying and pasting links to share with others. In many cases, the links I’m sharing are extremely long and while pasting a long link into an email might be fine with others, I prefer to share a link that doesn’t take up two lines of the message window. That’s where Google URL Shortener comes in. Click on the extension and it will automatically create a short URL. You can copy the link easily and if you need a QR code for the URL, the extension creates one as well. (Right)

Buffer – If you share URL’s via social media, Buffer is the extension for you. While there are other extensions that can share to various social media sites, I like Buffer because you can schedule what you share. I use it almost exclusively with Twitter and instead of sharing a bunch of articles in a short period of time, I schedule the tweets so they go out every couple of hours. You can also check the results of what you’ve shared.

quickcreateGoogle Docs Quick Create – If you’re a Google Docs/Sheets/Forms/Slides user, this extension will help you create new Google Docs faster than anything else. Simply click on the extension and choose the type of Google Doc you want (right) and you’ll get be on your way. You no longer need to go to the Apps page or to docs.google.com. This extension makes creating a new Google Doc quick and easy.

TechSmith Snagit – I’m often taking screen shots and finding myself creating short screencasts. To handle these tasks, I head to the Snagit extension. You can take a screenshot of the entire screen or just a section of your choice. Use the annotation tools to add arrows or text and then download or get a link to the image. If you need to create a screencast, this is a great extension for that as well.

Tab Scissors – Do you often find yourself flipping back and forth between two tabs? Do you create two separate browser windows and resize them side by side? If so, Tab Scissors will handle this for you. When you click the extension, the tab you’re working in, and any tabs to the right will be in one window and the tabs to the left will be in another. You don’t have to do any resizing yourself, it will be done for you with this extension.

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Mar 12

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Mar 06

Kids Like Views and Likes, and So Do I

We started the Ixonia News at my school this year. It’s a student newscast where we share what’s happening in our school. It’s been a blast making these videos with the students and as soon as we put the first video on our YouTube channel, I kept getting one question from the students, “How many views did we get?” They were so excited that their work was being seen by others. Our first video currently has over 300 views.

I do believe students care about viewership because they want people seeing their work. They want the positive feedback that can come with putting work online, but I wonder if it’s motivation to create better projects. Do they think that higher quality work could get more views? Do they care about the quality or just the number of views? I’m going to have a conversation with the students to find out the answer to this, I’ll share what I find out.

My own kids are Instagram users, along with just about every other teen alive. They post pictures and are constantly checking to see how many “Likes” they get. They’ll occasionally tell me to go Like their picture, which I will do, if I actually like it. Do you see this with kids you know who are social media users? Are they concerned with the number of views and likes?

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 9.01.19 AMThis brings me to an email I received about a week ago. I attended the Waukegan Google ‘N More conference and went to a session on Google Cardboard. I knew what it was, but didn’t know a ton and hadn’t played around with it that much because I didn’t have one of the viewers. Thanks to the presenter, Beth Pollock-Burke, I came away with not only my own cardboard viewer, but a great site with resources. For the next several days, I did a lot of playing around. I downloaded apps, visited different resource sites, and posted a few thoughts on Twitter. As I was exploring VR images online, I found one created by Jim Sill. I met Jim at a conference in Anchorage several years ago and had a great time learning from him. I told him via Twitter that I saw his image online and wondered how he made it. Jim got back to me quicker than I expected and shared the camera he uses, the Ricoh Theta, and how to make the VR images. He also sent a link to other VR images he’s created. I’m pretty sure I’ll be reaching out to him for other tips down the road, he’s my resident expert.

I wasn’t going to get approval from the family CFO to purchase one of those cameras, but since I could create a VR image using my iPhone and the Google Street View app, thanks again for the tip Jim, I figured I’d give it a try. I went down to the village area of where I live, found a good location near bars and restaurants, and started taking the pictures. The process was surprisingly simple The picture is okay, not great. It’s obvious that a high-quality camera produces better images, but for starters, it’s good to know you can use your current device. This also makes it pretty easy for students to create VR images as well. When you create pictures using the Street View app, you can post them to Google Maps for anyone to see, which I did. I never considered not sharing the picture, mostly because I thought it turned out okay. If it would have been terrible, I would have taken a new one. When I went to school a few days later, I created another from the school parking lot. Again, ok, but not great.

I had no idea how many people, if any, would discovery my VR images. It came as a shock when I received an email on February 29, from Google, telling me that my images had been viewed over 3,000 times. To me, this was pretty cool. It certainly made me want to take more of these VR pictures and share them. I will be working on my VR image skills quite a bit before an upcoming family trip that hopefully will produce some pretty awesome pictures. As of right now the first image has been viewed over 14,000 times! To me, like many kids, this is exciting. I wonder how Jim feels that the number of views his photos are getting is approaching a million! I guess I care about views more than I thought.

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Mar 05

Twitter Favorites (weekly)

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Feb 27

ICE Conference Reflection

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