Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thing 27: Power Up Your Browser

Add-Ons and Extensions for browsers are handy tools to have on your bookmarks bar, but I have not taken advantage of them as I should.  In Google, I had added dropbox, email templates, Flash clipper, Google Hangouts, and Grammarly.  With the exception of Grammarly, which functions automatically, I have not used them much (highly recommended).  So, I added some more extensions to my Google Chrome browser that looked liked like easy and helpful tools.  I am now trying out the Bookmark Sidebar which this pops up whenever my cursor moves to the left side of the screen.  I bookmark a lot of sites so this should be a good one for me.  I also added Google Keep, which is an app on my phone that I rarely use, but I might use it more for remembering things if I noticed the icon on my bookmarks bar.  Similar to Google Keep, I added Sticky Notes as I like to keep lists of things I need to do.  I already have this on my laptop at work and have recommended it to one of my colleagues.

I added the Print Friendly & PDF extension, which will allow me to print only the essential parts of an article.  I can remove ads and images that I don't need, saving on ink and paper. I can also change the size of the text and convert the document to a PDF file.  For saving images and text, I have added Awesome Screen Shot and Google Drive.  I played around with Awesome SS and liked the added tools that allow you to add text, blur images that need to be private & save or share the image.  I also created a "project" or collection of images - this is a great feature, but you can only create one project on a free account.  My sample screen shot from this site is below - note the blurred face on the left, the added text, and I did crop the image as well.

For my Firefox browser, I added some fun extensions like the Emoji Keyboard and for wallpaper background, Japanese Tattoo (very pretty).  Some practical added extensions were Ad Block Plus and UBlock Origin and No Script Security Suite.  They all had excellent reviews and will increase my security in ways that I may not detect.  Ads drive me crazy and can be sources for online viruses, so eliminating their presence with Ad Block Plus and UBlock Origin is very helpful.  I tried NoScript for a week, but it was blocking every site that I normally visit, so I disabled it.

I added Reader to my Firefox browser.  This can change the text size, font, background color and read the text to me.  Some of these features are not really necessary for me, but I will try it out a few more times to see if I like it.  It is very easy to use.

Chrome Web store has so many extensions and apps that it can be overwhelming.  The same can be said about Google Drive add-ons and apps for your mobile phone.  I appreciate the suggestions offered by Polly and hope to be able to advise my colleagues and friends on the best ones to add to their browsers for web-based services, online security & creation, collaboration/connection with the digital community.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thing 18: Student Assessment & Feedback Tools

For student assessment, I checked out a couple of very good tools: Kahoot and Padlet.  I was introduced to Kahoot by a colleague a few months ago.  She showed me a quiz that she had created and I thought it worked well, but really didn't get how super fun and easy this site was for students & teachers.  It works almost like the clickers that teachers use to get classroom feedback, except the students can use their phones, iPads, or chrome books to answer the questions presented.  When the class is working on a quiz together, with a time limit for each question, it can seem like a competitive game - which is a very engaging & motivating way to capture student attention.  It could also be a little discouraging to struggling learners (slow readers or those with a processing delay), so I would give students slightly more time than needed to accommodate everyone.  Fortunately, Kahoot lets you choose how long they have before the option to answer is gone.  I like that flexibility.

Creating a quiz, jumble, survey or discussion in Kahoot is really easy, especially if you are able to find one that has already been created by another user.  You are able to duplicate that Kahoot and then edit it to fit your students.  As a librarian, I like to create quizzes based on books that we read in book club.  Kahoot had a quiz for just about every popular book I looked up, even the most recent one, Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone!  So, I duplicated it and made some edits so that we can use it for our next club meeting.  With the Kahoot jumble, you can create a puzzle that asks the student to put the events of the story into sequential order - something I would really like to use for historical fiction.  I could also recommend it for our social studies teachers.

Kahoot allows the use to upload pictures & videos to make the quiz or lesson more more engaging to students.  Participants get to choose a fun username and results to each question are revealed as the game is played with the top three winners depicted graphically by podium levels.  Cool huh!

The other assessment tool that I think students & teachers would love is Padlet.  It looks a lot like a white board with post-it notes stuck all over it, except we don't use any paper or ink.  The teacher can ask the class to add comments on a question posed above the "pad" and each student logs in and adds a comment, question, or response to someone else's post.  This could allow everyone to get in a comment, even the quiet/shy students.  Students could also post a comment anonymously, which could bring more in-depth questioning to the table.  I could see students using padlet for brainstorming ideas, planning an event, sharing questions about a lesson as a ticket-out-the-door, etc.  Padlet allows the users to post multimedia, making the resulting board visually appealing.  For our book club, I could have my students use Padlet to post questions, comments, and favorite lines from the books we read and when the group meets, we can read and discuss what was shared.

Lastly, I belong to a bicycling club that needed a new name, so I created a survey in Google forms.  It was easy to set up and the graphic designs were perfect for this subject.  I also liked the pie chart that showed the results of the participants.  My only concern was whether the survey could be opened by someone who did not have a google account.  The answer is "yes" anyone can open the survey, even without the Google connection.  I would recommend this platform for anyone that needs a free survey for educational or recreational purposes.  Below is a link to my survey:

Survey: Bike Group Name

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thing 17: Digital Tattoo & Digital Citizenship (Take 2)

Hello Readers,

I am revisiting the topic of Digital Citizenship for 2 reasons: I am creating lessons on the topic for 9th & 10th graders, and because there is so much information out there that additional resources can now be added to my dossier.

First, I checked out an article link in on the 9 elements/themes of digital citizenship (DC).  I liked it because it was a simple breakdown of the critical areas that educators & parents need to focus on.

The author of this article wrote a book on these 9 themes titled: Digital Citizenship in Schools & he is the creator of the website  His credentials are perfect for teaching this topic and the book is promoted through International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Going back to the original article, I found another excellent website on the topic of DC -  This site posted an article on Digital Relationships & Teen Dating Apps.  I don't know why I hadn't come across this type of information before, but it makes sense that teens would have their own version of online dating...but of course the dangers to teens for such services is serious.  In fact, the article wrote about 3 separate cases of sexual assault in 2012 from one of the teen dating sites (Skout).  These dating apps provide teens with the freedom to take some risks, push boundaries, flirt and make contacts with strangers, try out a more mature dating platform, share personal information as well as their locations.  Teens that try out these apps are not thinking about the consequences of sharing this information or the dangers of meeting strangers who are often older men (predators).  I was surprised just how many dating apps were out there for 13 to 19 year old teens.  For most sites, they did not verify the age of the users.  One of the sites, "Hot Or Not" gives teens the message that dating is all about beauty, to teens who are already self-conscious about their body image.  Another site called "Meet Me" shared racy photos and mature content. "MYLOL" was rated as "Not Safe" by Common Sense Media.  Fortunately, there is parental monitoring software that can block the use of these apps and the amount of time that teens are on their devices (Surfie).  The link for this article is below.  I intend to include these dating apps in my discussions/lessons on internet safety. was also a good site for other articles, videos and resources that educators and parents can use on the topic of DC.  The tab for Cyber Civics for schools and parents was especially good for downloadable lessons & resources.  You can follow them on FB or Twitter too - very interesting posts from my short exploration!

Lastly, teachers can always go to BrainPop for videos and short activities on the topic of DC.  Our district pays for this database, so usage counts and I think the students like it, even in high school.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thing 35: Web Presence

I recently became the website administrator for my school and have been asked by the principal to make the website more attractive and engaging.  I am working with the districts technology staff to do this, but as long as I am focused on "web presence", I thought this Cool Tools lesson would be helpful.  I am limited to the School Wires website program, but I could ad links to other websites or blogs for teachers that are a bit more fun to work with.  The school website is not used often and many of the teachers are now using Google Classroom to post information for the students.  I have heard them comment that they don't need their teacher webpage anymore.  I hope to change some of those opinions with some examples of creative webpages with nice graphics, widgets, interactive forms, etc.

My favorite example of an excellent a blog/webpage is the Plymouth Regional High School Library, which is done on WordPress.  I must have spent over an hour just checking out all the neat features powered by all sorts of online technology.  I even learned something meant for students, such as the MLA template that is available in Google Docs; I will be directing my students to use this feature and will post this information on my own library webpage.  

The PRHS Library site is full of interesting and relevant information for reading and research, but the page is NOT crowded or wordy.  I think the librarian has managed this by using symbols in place of text with links to all the resources.  The webpage is also updated at least once or twice per week with fun facts or school news presented in a fun way with plenty of graphics and/or videos.  This is a nice way to keep your patrons coming back for new information.  Some other nice features are in presented in separate boxes with simple logos titled: Recommend A Book, Review A Book, Overdrive (eBooks), Kindle Collection (a Kindle account for the school), The Book Seer (awesome book title generator that I will add to my website), Your Next Read, and the amazing Book Club Website (Weebly webpage - nicely done), and PRHS Recommended Reading (every teacher posts their recommended book).  The banner by Library Thing with book covers was engaging and I liked the "Meet the Staff" pages - after reading about them, I would LOVE to meet them!!  If I created a page like this for myself, maybe some of the rest of the staff in my building would share a little more on their webpages!

Here is my About Me page that I just created; kinda simple at this point, but it does connect to my LinkedIn profile page:

On the PRHS Library Website, there is a tab for research pages.  This section features a changing banner of beautiful book covers compliments of Library Thing.  I am not sure why this is on the research section, but it is attractive.  What I really like about this section, is the library calendar which uses a Google Form to get the details needed for teachers reserving space:

 Teachers can also see what is already schedule on the calendar.  Great tool for any library!

Lastly, I really like the 48 LibGuides that were created for the Research Pages.  The Libguides Home page is nicely organized with four main subject areas (Math, ELA, Social Studies, and Technology).  The Libguides themselves are easy to navigate with just the right amount of information.  I love creating Libguides and plan to create some new ones that are designed as simply as those on the PRHS site.

I did check out the Google Sites to see if I might want to try creating one, but I didn't see too many examples that I really liked.  The Staples Library was one of the best with visually attractive images/photos/vidoes, a few symbaloo charts (always fun), and a "New Fiction" gadget that I liked.  I thought the images and videos on some of the Google Sites took too long to load - some didn't load at all, so I guess I was not impressed.

I save the Free Technology for Teachers webpage to my technology bookmarks - looks like a useful source.    

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Thing 14: News Literacy

News literacy is, by far, the most important topic to me right now! The false information proliferated before and after the 2016 election in the U.S. has highlighted the need for every citizen to know fact from fiction.  One has to ask why people believe so much of this obvious least it seems obvious to me.  I listen to public radio and read trustworthy news articles from major newspapers, like the NY Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, etc.  Of course there still could have been some bias from these organizations too, but from my long experience reading, listening, and viewing the news (self-confessed news junkie), I believe I am using reliable resources.

This topic is also quite timely for me as teachers and librarians are being asked by the school superintendent to teach digital citizenship for "Safer Internet Day" on February 7th.  The Center for Missing and Exploited Children has already visited our school to talk about digital footprints, cyber-bullying, online privacy and other online behaviors, so the topic of news literacy still needs attention.  This topic may not seem as relevant at first, but when you think about the fact that everyone adds content to the internet, it is important to know if the information is real, before using or sharing it.  My news literacy lesson will be for a Politics in Government - Economics class.

Thing 14 had so much interesting content; it could take me the rest of the week to explore all the articles, videos, lessons, and related links.  The first great resource that read and plan to use was the Stanford History Education Group Report on evaluating information with middle school, high school and college level students.  The report revealed a serious lack of awareness and ability to distinguish fake or biased information over objective verifiable information.  This report had a few lessons in it that I plan to use with my students as they were simple, but not easy - even my colleagues were duped.  

A quote from the Stanford report stated: 

Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will make us
smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded will depend on our                       awareness of this problem and our educational response to it.  At present, we worry that         democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to               spread and flourish.

This is a bold, but true statement on the importance of students and citizens everywhere to understand how to evaluate the information that they find online and be able to use critical thinking skills to determine a balanced accurate perspective on important issues.

I hope to make this easier by posting the list of fact-checking websites by Daryl Paranada on my library catalog home page.  I direct students to this page for databases and other important links for research, so I hope they will remember to use these sites when needed.  I knew of and, but I added 4 more.  I may also create a lesson with real and fake news reports that can be verified using these sites.  

I really like the TedEd video titled "How to Choose Your News" by Damon Brown.  This could be shown to students at the beginning of the lesson for some background on news literacy.

The Center for News Literacy provides several lesson templates although some of the news and YouTube links did not work.

I read numerous articles that helped me to understand the more subtle ways that misinformation is proliferating and why.  Such as the article from Newsela titled Websites that Publish Fake News Make Money and Suffer No Consequences" by Los Angeles Times.  Fake news put out by ad networks makes money that helps support websites.  Viewers are much more likely to click on an item that catches their attention with crazy headlines and exciting images.  There is no regulation on this type of advertising, but recently Google and Facebook have banned some fake news sites.  Still, not all will be stopped.

Lastly, I don't think I found this article in CoolTools, but I will share it.  It is from EasyBib Blog and it's titled "10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article" by Michele Kirschenbaum:

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thing 5: Curation Tools

I have never considered myself a curator until now.  It makes sense that as a librarian, I am collecting information, not just in print materials, and cataloging it into different subject areas.  I have bookmarked many great resources in Google Chrome by hitting the star on the toolbar and saving them into private folders, but I have not considered the value of sharing my digital collections.  Social networking allows us to share all sorts of great information, so why not curate my collections with sharing in mind.  Social bookmarking allows us to expand our knowledge and resources through a variety of bookmarking sites such as Diigo, Delicious and Pinterest.  Assigning tags to our content lets anyone using these sites find resources by the subject(s) tags.  The tags also help us organize and find our own resources.  We also are likely to find other librarians and educational colleagues through this online community, so that's an added bonus.  Lastly, my cloud-based bookmarks can be accessed anywhere, which is pretty handy!

So, I set up an account with Diigo a long time ago, but haven't made much use of it, despite the occasional email with from the Diigo in Education group.  I think I needed to have a few groups that fit my needs, like Teacher-librarians!!!  If Joyce Valenza is posting, it will be very useful!  In addition, I joined the Cool Tools for Schools & Google in Education groups  I also went ahead and added Heather, Buffy and Shannon to people I follow, so I think Diigo will be a good source for me now.  I added the bookmarklet to my toolbar, so I can quickly put useful digital content in to my Diigo library.

Flipboard is not new to me but I love it and use it often on my iPhone, so I added the examples that Polly posted to explore at my leisure.

Pinterest is GREAT and I have used it many times for library displays, storytime lessons and related crafts, library skills lessons, etc.  Here is a collection of pins that I put together to help librarians promote Banned Book Week:  Banned Book Week Pinterest Board 

Since I needed to explore a new curation tool, I have created an account with Symbaloo and currently have a board that will be added to my school library website for digital resources.  I believe the graphic symbols on a webpage will be much more inviting and user-friendly to my students.  It is not easy to get them to bypass a quick Google search for information, but if they can access all the best sites on a single page, it is more likely to be used.  They will also see other resources that will help them find related subjects of interest.  The link to my new Symbaloo Webmix is:  SWW Library Resources

Thanks for the great curation resources and the inspiration to revisit forgotten curation tools. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thing 16: Digital Tattoo & Digital Citizenship

Getting started on this subject was difficult with all the information I read and reviewed!  I like the way Thing 16 starts with the "Mind Reader" - a great video that features gullible young people from different backgrounds in an exotic foreign location (Brussels) that have plenty of personal information online, but don't realize it.  It would be a fun way to start a lesson with students on digital footprints.  Thing 16 also provided a plethora of lessons on the subject of digital literacy (citizenship, footprints).  I found myself bookmarking EVERYTHING into a folder on my computer for this subject. I was not aware that there was a week designated for awareness on the topic in October  (Digital Citizenship Week).  With lessons/videos from Common Sense Media - Education, iKeep Safe/Google, Cyberwise, (InCtrl), Digizen, and the Teaching Channel, it would be easy to put some lessons together to raise awareness of the issue and teach digital literacy during Digital Citizens Week.  I could also find posters to display through some of these sites or Pinterest (I now have a DC board on my account).  Really, ideas are everywhere; thanks to Cool Tools for Schools, I have a wonderful set of resources to start with & will likely find many more.

Digital citizenship, copyright, plagarism, etc, can be had topics to get students excited about.  I have heard numerous times how dry the topics can be.  Students think they know how to behave on their "digital playground", but until they witness a hurtful or punishing consequence, they will ignore this topic.  This is where I plan to have multimedia lessons that are interactive.  One lesson that I watched through Teaching Channel could help engage students with a hands-on lesson Understanding the Impact of Digital Footprints. First the students go online and google the classroom teacher, who maintains a professional digital footprint as a good example. Then students are asked to investigate two people online for a job position and determine which one was honest and more reliable.  They need to make inferences to decide some factors, but collect evidence to back up why they chose one candidate over another based on profiles found on the internet.  This type of lesson could be very interesting and make a lasting impact on students.

One of the sources highlighted a book that may be useful to have on the shelves of the school library: lol...OMG by Matt Ivester.  This book is in our public library and I will check it out in the future as well as others that may be a little more up-to-date.

Lastly, I was interested in the article on sexism in the gaming industry with bullying or "doxxing" of female game designers who comment on the industry.  The term doxxing means to expose someone's true identity online (full name and address).  Most people do not want to have personal information online for safety reasons.  If you want to have your background information removed from the general public, you can contact various databrokers such as Pipl, Spokeo, Whitepages, etc.  Time-consuming, but likely worth it!

PS.  I did google myself and fortunately, I am not concerned about my own digital footprint - probably because I do make the effort to remain positive and professional with posts, pictures and personal information.