Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Take the Load off Benny...

An Article from Moving at the Speed of Light makes a case for digital curriculum, being...WEIGHT. Yes..weight! You can balance an entire load of cyber books on your finger tips. Flashback to my first day at University buying textbooks. The English 101 books were enough to put your back out. We have a whole generation of kids with one shoulder higher than the other. Perhaps corrective shoulder pads are in order..."Hey Working Girl, I'm talking to YOU." But seriously who wants our students carrying so many books that they end up like this baker.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fact: If You Use TweetDeck Too Long Your Eyes Will Stick (Post 8: Twitter)

Marty Feldman Pictures, Images and Photos
This is me after an intense month of twitter. Enough said.
Tweet, Tweet, Twiddle, Twiddle (Learning the Tool)

Captain's Log: February 27, 2010

What I know about Twitter?

ŸIt's about posting in 140 characters or less.
ŸAshton Kutcher likes it
Questions I Still Have About Twitter?
ŸWhat does it mean to follow? Is there a Pied piper?
ŸIs there a benefit to having a whole bunch of followers?
ŸIs it complicated?
ŸIs it time consuming?
ŸWhat benefits does it provide that outweigh not doing it all?
Twitter, where do I start? I have to admit. I gave this posting week the evil eye. "Oh no Twitter, I will not like you and the cute bird, doesn't fool me."

MasterMaq's Getting Started with Twitter
  1. Pick a Good User Name (My name…Is that good? I was born with it, named after a barmaid, I was…I really was…)
  2. Change Your Profile Pic (Check)
  3. Keep Your Tweets Public (Check)
  4. Enter your website URL (Check)
  5. Set your location (Apparently Earth is too vague…)
  6. Post a Few Updates (Felt like a fraud)
  7. Resist the temptation to follow everyone. (Initially, I tried to follow journalists and athletes at the Olympics but the updates were not frequent, or interesting. Now I check out profiles before I follow.)
  8. Tweets, Replies, Retweets, Hashtags, Twooshes, Direct Messages, Tweetups (I have achieved everything except a tweetup.)
Then I pulled a David Copperfield and disappeared.
Suddenly a kick came from cybersphere, professor said,
 "You better use that tool because I am watching."

I looked up from my computer, where was she hiding? I was overwhelmed with Twitter. How do you deal with the POWER of NOW?
I got a TweetDeck. I would open it and then look across the columns. Then shut it down. I had no idea, no kidding, that you had to leave it on. "Think McFly, think?"

By the grace of god, I left it on a few weeks ago and suddenly…I saw the tweets roll in.

But this alone, wasn't enough. Off to the library I went. I looked up every Twitter book I could find and reviewed the class trailfire. Armed with several books, including one that was called, "Go Tweet Yourself!",I made myself A Twitter Tool To Do List.

The first thing I did was create a short URL. I used But if you work within TweetDeck, URLs are shortened automatically when you post.
Then I created lists of my users. I grouped my classmates into one list under our course title and some others I grouped under media.

Then I went to listeria….no wait that is bacteria…. I went to Listorious and searched for lists of tweeters I might like.
Then I checked out the trends. This column is found on the left side of the Twitter homepage. You can change the settings to be a certain location.
This led to #yeg. Wait that's on my luggage! Are Hashtags a secret Mayan translation? No, but darn close, here are some secrets about hashtags. I clicked on Open City and there was a
live broadcast
, in my own city, talking about stuff that kinda made sense. Fortunately I discovered that Foursquare did not refer to a show on Treehouse.

I was able to embed the broadcast on my blog, tweeted that I had embedded the broadcast and followed the live chat and discussion. It was fascinating! Clearly there was a relationship between the panel and some of the tweeters. The discussion was professional and very supportive, informative, no egos to be found. I noticed the professor was also on. The thing is, I just happened to be online and figure this all out. This was a spontaneous event. Is THIS how this works? A family outing pulled me away, but later a tweet friend asked why I stopped tweeting about the event…Yay someone cares!
After that encouraging adventure, I didn't sneer at my TweetDeck as much. In fact I left it on. Can you say distracting? Reminds me of Up


And the noise…co-workers asked…"What is that?" "Oh that's my tweetdeck!" crickets…deer in headlights. I coughed and moved on.

I think it's called Twitter because it makes you nervous all the time. It's like trying to watch kids on a field trip…one eye on the task the other looking off to the corner. It is the child of Red Bull and a big cup of Joe.

So how was I going to learn more? I experimented with @ and retweeting. I felt like a fraud. But that was okay…
I had created a hashtag column sometime, don't recall when or how. But I decided to follow a hashtag #edchat. I clicked on it to discover the meaning behind it and lo and behold there was a weekly chat. Guess what? A chat was starting in 10 minutes. Okay buckle your tweetbelt!

So basically a question is posted. This week was "How do we get more great teacher/leaders in to the education field?" Then you are expected to respond, retweet, add etc. I watched the discussion, finding a place to jump in, kinda of like double dutch. Finally I mustered the courage and jumped right into the fray. It was like an instant messaging/party phone. Incredible, the amount of discussion was evolving right before my eyes. People retweeted me!

Here is the archived summary. Imagine all this discussion in an hour and I was only on for 20 minutes.
After the fact, I looked and discovered I had gained 5 followers in 20 minutes. Is that how this works? Pick me! Pick me! I also chose people to follow during the chat. I was finding like minds, some were local and others were as far away as Germany.
I got it! Cue the huge light bulb. Now I understood the power of Twitter first hand.


What Did I Learn?
ŸI learned that Twitter isn't something that you can check into once a day, unless you are a passive user or perhaps on life support.
ŸThe key to Twitter is to know your purpose.
If it is a general purpose then leave it on, check it etc.
If you have a question, post it and attach a #hashtag in order to track it. Sometimes people will directly message you the answer.
If you want a fast moving discussion join a tweet event, block off the time and follow a discussion. The experience of a discussion got rid of that Twitter feeling where you feel like you are alone. "Bueller…Bueller."
ŸI have learned not to judge a Twit by its cover. (Tweeters are people too.)
ŸI have learned that I can talk in 140 characters or less.
ŸLanguage separates Twitter from the rest of the tools. (Lots of terms to know, you need to look them up!)
ŸTwitter cannot be archived. (Unlike, Blogs that have threads you can follow.)
ŸTwitter can isolate you among your regular 'friends'. But I think developing a PLN means that just because your 'friend' jumps off the bridge, you don't have too… but you can tweet about it.

The Answer My Friend is Tweeting In the Wind, the Answer is Tweeting in the Wind (Personal and Social Uses)

In regards to Web 2.0, Clay Shirky states "[tools] don't get socially interesting until they get technically boring" Twitter is one such example. When you get beyond the bird, the tweeting, the funny marks, the 'following', the tiny urls and all the luggage plus carry on, the tool becomes an amazing social experience. If I had not been pushed, prodded and threatened I would have not tried Twitter. It just held no perceived relevance at the time. But when the tool became routine, I could enjoy the scenery. I could feel what was happening.

" What is Twitter for?"

As with any social network, the answer is the same: whatever you make of it?" It's hard to differentiate personal from the professional uses of Twitter. When logged in, the tweets can tap into all of your networks. It's quite interesting how that is. But when you think about it, with one platform to rule them all, all interests have to be in the same location, unlike blogs, wikis and facebook where you might set them up for different audiences. I suppose some friends might ask, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?" This is where hashtags come in and let your followers know when you are talking to them.
Keys for Success
Ÿ Have an open mind. Following and retweeting on Twitter means being open to new ideas. Mack Male (2009) mentions in his eluminate session, don't get caught up in an 'echo chamber'. Basically staying too close to like minded people and not seeking out other perspectives. None of my friends are on Twitter so I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, but this has worked to my advantage. Burgess (2009) adds, "It is important for women to close the social capital gap by seeking and profiting from new relationships that serve as conduits of new information" (p.64).
ŸBe curious and willing to experiment. Initially I did not want to try hashtags or create messages. But twitters are very supportive and it feels safe to try things out.
ŸAsk questions and share your insights with others. I would like to pursue this area more in my personal interest of writing. I think my advance in this area has stalled because I was working in isolation and not in an established community again due to the fact that my friends are not writers.
ŸClearly define your Twitter goal, and make your Twitter-related decisions support your goal. Currently my goals are course related. After the course I plan to create a plan for making the most of my PLN as related to my personal goals. Like all things, I don't get to work on my personal goals very often.
ŸBe real and honest, and show your personality. This has been blessing. Breaking free of academic constraints my 'natural' voice comes out, pop culture references and all.
ŸEngage others in conversations around topics that are important to them. I don't consider myself political but I have enjoyed engaging in social issues related to education.
ŸReply to interesting tweets. This helps build your followers and creates discussion.
ŸRetweet helpful information and insights, giving other people the credit for their contributions. I have been thanked for retweeting and have been retweeted as well.
ŸConsider your community and share information that your community finds useful and helpful. I am trying to share useful info using #yeg. Mack Male (2009) suggests that following local people leads to timely information such as this:
RT @CityofEdmonton Trains Start to Test South LRT Extension Tracks #yeg #yegtransit

ŸProvide accurate and complete profile information so people can learn about you. I am feeling more comfortable with this and I understand how this promotes professional networking.
ŸThe quality of your Twitter experience depends on whom you follow. If you don't like your experience, follow different people. So true and there are so many choices. Breeding (2009) adds."Effective use of Twitter involves shaping a body of profiles that you follow that result in a stream of information
you find interesting and useful" (p.30).

Personally, I have used twitter to tweet with my husband. He has been privy to my Web 2.0 journey and we have been discussing the possibilities of Twitter for social use such as:
  1. Networking, finding a new job or other professional opportunities.
  2. Following late breaking news. Edmonton's elusive peahen captured! #yeg
  3. Entering contests
  4. New Book announcements
  5. Helping others, like my mom, establish her own PLN. This is would be a huge undertaking! Huge undertaking!

I Twittered Through the Grapevine (Educational Uses)


"…real communities are based on communication, participation and relationships and these kinds of communities take time to activate." (p.3). (Newcomb, 2010)
Twitter has the potential of connecting communities in real time.
Messner (2009) took advantage of twitter for her writing classroom. She facilitated an online discussion with author Sarah Lewis Holmes about revision. It was noted that this activity took 15 minutes. "That's generally how our classroom Twitter account works. It's a tool that we take advantage of when it fits our teaching and learning needs and when special opportunities arise" (p.45). Here is a plethora of Twitter feeds that support the writing process and links to YA authors on twitter. Pascopella & Richardson (2009) suggest that writing with Web 2.0 tools provides an evolving platform for writing, not just an endpoint or published piece.
This article found at changED suggests a handy tool to help facilitate student discussion. Students need modeling of communication techniques this is an important precursor to all Web 2.0 tools. In addition, Burgess (2009) suggests that, "Students can self-survey and participate in reflective activities designed for them to identify their own areas where they might need social and professional support" (p.67).

Twitter has the ability to bring together a large community. Here is a video, highlighting how Twitter can engage a class size of 90.

Why Else Should Teacher's Use Twitter?

  1. Networking globally and locally. But for me mostly globally.
  2. Professional development. I can't believe the discussion, powerful stuff! I spent two hours following #edchat on Saturday night. Thank goodness everyone lived back east and went to bed. I felt guilty leaving.
  3. Finding answers to questions. Check and see what others think. Currently there are huge discussions on teacher leadership. It's interesting to see the perspectives of people across the country.

Twitter is sort of a reference library. Check in and see what's hot? What's the current trend? Depending on who you are following, is the information you get. Twitter search also provides a way to find out what everyone is talking about. Just type something into the search. You can set up a feed to follow this query which parlays well into research. You can also tweet these results to others. I have recently subscribed to the feed of #edchat. I can follow the discussion thread in Google Reader and it keeps me in the loop when I am not active on twitter.


Implications of Twitter in Education


There are risks, Pascopella & Richardson (2009) state "…as with any interaction online, there is always a chance for an inappropriate response or a connection with someone who may not be who he seems" (p.49). Pascopella & Richardson (2009) go on to state that teachers need to be prepared, able to plan for possibilities that may arise and setting clear internet policies at school with parents signing permission. As with all Web 2.0 tools, it seems that the benefits, outweigh the risks. Twitter is not an add on, but rather a necessary tool for out 21st Century classrooms.
"In short, the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it's doing to us. It's what we're doing to it."

Ok. So this Twitter thing has grown on me.
Don't tell my mom.
I am not sure if good girls tweet.
But I guess you have to be a rebel sometime.


Until next time,
Lit Maven…Out!    
Remember…We're All in This Together- Ben Lee

Non Linked Resources
Breeding, M. (2009). Social networking strategies for professionals. Computers in Libraries, 29(9), 29-31. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Burgess, K. (2009). Social networking technologies as vehicles of support for women in learning communities. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (122), 63-71. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Mach, M. (2009) Mack Male Eluminate Session
Messner, K. (2009). Pleased to tweet you: Making a case for twitter in the classroom. School Library Journal, 55(12), 44-47. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Newcomb, M. (Ed.). (2010) Sam's teach yourself twitter in 10 minutes. Indianapolis, IN: Pearson Education Inc.
Pascopella, A., & Richardson, W. (2009). The new writing pedagogy. District Administration, 4544-56,. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How to You Manage Your PLN?

This Web 2.0 thing is here to stay. It should be making my life easier but I have had to adjustments to my "usual" life to fit it all in. At first I though it was because I was new. But after reading this article Redrawing by Chris Brogan, I realized it only gets worse. Managing these Web 2.0 tools are a job in itself. SO what do you do? Essentially some things have to change. Being accessible might need to change. At work we have a 24hr rule on the turn around of e-mails. I have decided this year, it does not mean the weekends. What a difference this had made! People can get use to new "cyber" office hours and learn to respect them.

"we must all process, reconsider, rethink, and redraw the way we do what we do. What got us here won’t always get us there." Chris Brogan

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are We in the Business of Sorting or Educating?

How do we group our students? In the article I Got Grouped, by Cris Tovani, she speaks of her foray into learning about technology. Often, especially in reading, we group students according to ability. How can we learn if we are surrounded by those all at the same level? She ends with this quote:
Being grouped refocused my attention on what matters most. I must make sure that my instructional practices match my beliefs about students' abilities. I must make available to students the tools, strategies, and experts that will enhance their learning. With scaffolded instruction, choice that drives engagement, and time to practice, our belief in our students' abilities can become their reality.-Cris Tovani

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can I Work with a Partner?

I remember that this question used to make teachers cringe. I think they thought,"Oh great, now I can't take this in for marks." Hopefully, learning is finally being viewed as a social activity. Imagine that!

"In a national survey that reveals K-12 students’ use of technology at home and at school, students overwhelmingly agreed that access to digital media tools and the ability to collaborate with peers both inside and outside of school can greatly enhance education"-Laura Devaney


Monday, March 22, 2010

Could You Be Mine, Won’t You Be Mine, Please Add Me to Your Facebook -Post 7 Social Networking

Who didn't love Mr. Rogers? Those cardigans are all the rage now. Who would have thought he was a trendsetter?

Needless to say, Mr. Rogers was on the forefront of social media. He met up with many "experts" in the neighborhood providing 'blog-like' info. He video shared through a picture frame in his living room. The-neighborhood-of-make-believe were his Facebook friends, all providing status updates. Amazing how All You Really Needed to Know You Learned in Kindergarten.

Jesse's Got a Friend, You Know She's Been a Good Friend of Mine, But Lately Facebooks Changed, Getting Hard to Define…Jesse's Got Himself a Friend and I Want to Make Her Mine

Where I started?

In previous weeks where learning the tool was difficult, I pleasantly found social networks to be a mixture of the other Web 2.0 tools. Social networks are a platform for exchanging ideas that are fueled more through interaction, rather than say… podcasts, photo and video sharing. The latter tools are more products of celebration--- take it or leave it! Facebook and Ning do not move forward without an exchange of ideas and building contacts. These networks need constant watering, weeding and attention…did I say attention?


My journey into social networks started long ago. I have been a member of She Knows starting in 2002 and then on to a private discussion board in 2005. I found value in the supportive moms, discussing topics that were not shared with family or 'other' offline friends. As the years have gone on, I have learned a lot about American Health care and elections. I also discovered how much we are the same.


One afternoon, in 2006, a teacher said to me "Have you seen this Facebook thing?"

"Face-what?" Lit Maven said unjamming the photocopier.

"It's addictive" she said levitating above her desk and quietly floating out the window.

I can't remember who my first 'Facebook' friends were but I remember that initially I rarely used it. As more friends joined, the moms and I would share pictures. The learning curve on Facebook is not steep. I think that you do need to realize that posting on people's walls and updates are public. Perhaps that should be in bold for some people. There is a private mail feature. I don't use this as much as my regular e-mail. Instant chatting is fun, but I don't tend to communicate much this way.

Top 10 List of My Facebook Journey

  1. My posts are created for entertaining purposes. I want my friends to have a laugh for the day. If my posts are not responded to, I try harder.
  2. I will drop you if you add students as friends. (That's just weird!)
  3. I will drop you if you never update. (cue Every Breath You Take.)
  4. I will "hide you" if you obsessively update about Farmville
    Mafia Wars. (Really…if that's how you want to spend your time…)
  5. I am turned off by those who try to sell things on Facebook and then send out e-vites where you feel forced to respond. (It's called Facebook not Back-Friends-into-a-Corner-Book)
  6. I have deactivated myself, but I couldn't stay that way for long. (The software gets upset when you deactivate, "Why are you leaving me?"…creepy)
  7. To my chagrin, my immediate family members are not on Facebook. Life would be easier if they were. Perhaps a cyber Christmas…kidding….
  8. Having all my friends, from various places, on one application must be the same experience as a wake – minus the unfortunate demise.
  9. I wish there was a "dislike" button. Not to be mean but to dislike when people say stuff like, my baby doesn't sleep…yah I "dislike" that too.
  10. Wonder what junior high would have been like with Facebook. Would people's perms and "mean" backcombs actually fit in those profile boxes?

What I learned?


This course has been a cyber eye-opener. Did you know there are many social networking sites? Along with NIng, Shelfari and LibraryThing
were also on the list. That's nice Lit Maven but tell us more about Ning. Well…Bradley (2008) states "What sets Ning apart from other social networking sites is that it is actually a platform for creating social networks and not necessarily a social network itself" (p.46). This is something new I have learned in this course. I had thought Ning was another Facebook. I didn't realize it was describing a tool that could be found under many different subjects in completely separate locations.

I signed up for NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English Ning) ,
Classroom Web 2.0. and Making Curriculum POP. NIngs have an immediate professional learning and educational appeal. I was surprised to discover so many features: discussion boards, user blogs, podcasts, videos, images and easy navigation through the use of subjects or tags. You can also set up a connection to tweet from your personalized Ning Page.

I must admit that it is still hard to comment on threads. This is the frustrating part: either the answer is already there or I can't think of one. I did join in on a few conversations. I joined groups but I feel guilty since I haven't said much. But even without reposting there is a wealth of information reading over posts. Classroom Web 2.0 has heavy traffic. I subscribed to the NutShell Mail that delivers new discussion board updates at specific delivery times that you set. Not sure that I enjoy the frequent updates. It's kind of stressful to realize how far you are behind and how much you need to catch up on.

NIngs have excellent professional development activities. Classroom 2.0 sends e-mail reminders for e-luminate sessions featuring high quality educational leaders. These can be accessed live or later prerecorded. I listened to e-luminate sessions with Clay Shirky and Daniel Pink. With both I was penciling furiously in my notebook, lots of nuggets of truth and intrigue. Clay Shirky stated, "The target of education is a set of individual minds." The functions of Nings are based on collective minds. Little wonder education is having trouble reconciling with social networks.

Nings vary in regards to topic, but also in regards to size and activity. The benefit of Classroom 2.0 is that it has a lot of activity and a large pool of resources. But you can get lost in the shuffle, so it's important to join groups within in a NIng or create your own. "Nings are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get."

Where I Am Now?

I will continue to navigate through my Nings and perhaps try to find a way to organize all my activity. I get overwhelmed with all of the groups, the e-mail member updates, discussion thread updates. How can I develop my PLN to be more user-friendly and less, bookmark, bookmark, bookmark and leave for dead on the side of the cyber road? I think I have just touched the surface in my NIng activity. How can develop my brand or presence online?

Lean on Me, When Your Not Strong and I'll Join Your Ning, I'll Help You Carry On (Personal and Social Implications)

As mentioned, I use Facebook and will continue to do so. I find that the connections are too valuable to cyber-sever. How can I use Facebook more? I don't know if I really want to go deeper with Facebook. There are many games, apps, quizzes. In fact you can poke people and send them gifts. One thing I am not sure of is using Facebook as a forum for expressing condolences. I am not sure if it's appropriate. Many Facebook pages are set up as remembrance sites and they tend to become inactive after awhile.

I don't see Facebook as a place for sharing professional information. It's much more like phoning friends, chatting over coffee. But on that note it is a place where awkward things occur. Never leave your page logged in an unattended. This has happened to friends of mine with embarrassing results. Also when you update your profile, remember it is public. I recently updated my 'married to..status', thirteen years after the fact. Well…that did NOT go unnoticed by my wedding party.

Five Uses for Facebook (personally and socially)

  1. To update my daily status
  2. To share pictures of the family
  3. To keep in touch with relatives and old friends
  4. To check out the friends on your other friend's list. (Some acquaintances' do not age gracefully makes you feel better about yourself for two minutes.)
  5. To find out the "six degrees of separation" that exists between you and your friends. (I have added people who knew people that I didn't know they knew.)

My personal and social interests are reading and writing. Cue the snoring….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. I know! I know! Shelfari is a great social networking site. Once you are signed up, you can find groups based on "those like you" (scary) groups that are active and/or groups by category. I chose category and discovered that there are many for writing. You do have to be selective. Anyone can make a group. The books are organized by a tagging feature. I found many 'next reads' that gave recommendations for books, like the book, I just read.

Uses for

  1. To keep track of books already read
  2. To keep track of "next read" books (Before I used to write them on scrap papers or loose leaf…and lose the leaf..I did!)
  3. To read "real" reviews
  4. To start a discussion thread
  5. To navigate through the tags and learn more about current topics in literacy
  6. To find books that might interest my children.
  7. To join groups that fosters my love of writing.
  8. Enables my purchasing through their direct links to Amazon. (Note: a dangerous feature)
  9. To actually write reviews and recommendations.
  10. Connect with others who share similar interests.
  11. Show off your shelf and look really smart! (Note: cyber books collect no dust.)

I think that there is so much left to uncover…get it book, uncover…. The social networking sites are plentiful; try them out, see what fits your style.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Facebook (Educational Implications)

Does Facebook have a place in the classroom?

This link provides many ways to use it. I don't think the question is how can you use it but rather does it serve a purpose in the classroom? There is no question that social networking is a requirement for our 21st century learners. But is Facebook the place for teachers and students to interact? Mack Male (2009) said that while he doesn't expect teachers to use all these Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, teachers need to know how they work and what students use it for. Sometimes I think we are invading too many of their 'spaces'. Do we need to be their "friends" or their teachers? John Bowman (2009) in his article, Facebook In the Classroom, Bad Idea? , extended this discussion by bringing in other experts such as Tim Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University who stated, " Facebook is like taking a person with a gambling problem to Vegas. It's just too easy to get doing other things rather than the hard work of intellectual work." Then goes on to state that there is other software that serve the same purpose that aren't as distracting. In referring to the use of Facebook for librarians, Breeding (2009) states, "While Facebook continues to gain an ever wider and more diffused audience, I see quite a diminishment in the professional content exchanged in this medium" (p.29). I have to agree. Facebook is my 'guilty pleasure' tool. Even though there are many apps and ways to add professional conversation, I don't really want to go there.


Then there is the issue of teachers being friends with students on Facebook. We need to educate the whole child, but I don't think that means we hang out with them. Perhaps realizing that there are private spaces and public spaces and we don't have students hanging out in our staffrooms, probably for that reason. However, Richardson (2008) states, "these new realities demand that we prepare students to be educated, sophisticated owners of online spaces" (p.19). Bob SprankIe (2007) adds in his Classroom 2.0 web post, that social networks need to be introduced early when teachers can help them negotiate the process. Such as learning how to:

Ÿuse respectable language

Ÿhow to comment

Ÿdefining a friend, contact?

Ÿdealing with peer pressure (
A recent story
highlighted the death of a student due to bullying on Facebook.)


Students often go between street language and school language. They need freedom to be themselves but at the same time need to realize that what is said is left in cyberspace forever. Pre-service teachers also need to make decisions about their continued participation on social networking sites. Kist (2008) mentions the rising fear factor of Web 2.0 tools and possible ramifications for their online 'social' behavior. Recently a middle school teacher was suspended over Facebook comments directed at her students. Perhaps this is an extreme example but this reminds us that teachers are teachers 24/7.


But like with all things, labels do not mean anything without planning and setting a purpose. Ganis (2009) states "the term 'social learning' should not be used to describe learning platforms which simply include social media capabilities "(p.7). Teachers need to remember that introducing networks is valuable but the process should be supported and linked to learning outcomes. Moorman (2009) made an interesting comment that teachers need to check the perceptions of their students in regards to writing on the internet. Many are most familiar with Facebook and view the internet as a social writing tool rather than an academic one. Perhaps we assume too much about our students' academic experiences with Web 2.0 tools.

As a language arts consultant, my role is to demonstrate for teachers how a Ning can benefit them professionally with colleagues and then at the classroom level. Our district has a portal with social networking potential, closed to the public. Unfortunately attempts to move forward with total utilization have been met with limitations on permissions ie. Who can post content? Who can read the content? There many people making decisions on access, format, and delegation of responsibilities. Several questions sprang forth, Why are we trying to create a space (Ning) that is already out there and being used by people on a global level? Must networks be closed to so few people? What is the goal of these spaces? Can they operate in a private network? Should they operate in a private network? Bradley (2009) interviewed Ning creator Gina Bianchini who stated, "In the time the company has had meetings, interviewed stakeholders, hired enterprise software companies to build them out this 'special thing,' they could have been up and running with a social network on NIng" (p.49).


Nings have many advantages for teachers and teacher leaders. Teachers truly are islands and thrive when discussing ideas with other teachers.

The opportunity to create access to experts in the field is a new way of professional development. As soon as I joined the Ning, I began listening to the prerecorded podcasts on e-luminate. There are benefits of being able to:

Ÿput a voice to the name of some of these great books (And not only that, but to hear updated information, even more recent than their published book.)

Ÿfeel involved, within a discussion (Asking questions through the chat thread or having access to the microphone.)

Ÿpull educators together in one cyber room (Many educators are from around the world, not just North America)

Ÿspread around the knowledge (As the conversation evolved the speaker would express new insights.)

Nings have a Facebook-ish component within them, in addition to discussion boards and multimedia such as podcasts. Nings are a ready to use platform and easy to navigate. However, Violino (2009) states that time is needed to maintain these networks. That is a huge issue in schools, finding the time to learn about these tools and use them regularly. Perhaps if I created my own Literacy NIng and referred teachers back to it, the process would grow slowly.


I will leave you with this last quote…


"Social learning thrives in a culture of service and wonder. It is inspired by leaders, enabled by technology and ignited by opportunities that have only recently unfolded."-
Marcia Conner and Steve LeBlanc


Social networking is here to stay. Thank you for being a friend. Lit Maven…OUT!


NonLinked Resources

Bradley, B.L. (2008) Web heroes. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing Inc.

Breeding, M. (2009). Social networking strategies for professionals. Computers in Libraries, 29(9), 29-31. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Ganis, F. (2009). Social learning" buzz masks deeper dimensions: Mitigating the confusion surrounding "social learning. Online Submission, Retrieved from ERIC database.

Kist, W. (2008). "I gave up myspace for lent": New teachers and social networking sites. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(3), 245-247. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Mack, M. (2009) Mack Male Elluminate Session

Moorman, H. (2009). Adventures in web 2.0: Introducing social networking into my teaching. Horace, 25(1), Retrieved from ERIC database.

Violino, B. (2009). The buzz on campus: Social networking takes hold. Community College Journal, 79(6), 28-30. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 16-19. Retrieved from ERIC database.





Video Writing Prompts

Looking for a way to motivate and engage your students with writing. I found this gem in my inbox today, check it out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Don't Mess with My Homepage

Today my district decided to mess with my homepage. I get it...we need to use our website. But our website is not a search engine. I went into tools, internet options and the homepage "adjustment" feature is blocked...blocked!I frantically typed Google into the browser. In my despair and my new found tech courage, I right clicked on the google webpage. Oooooooooh what's that..."create a shortcut to desktop" BINGO!!!!!! I did just that. Do not, I repeat do not, mess with my homepage. Isn't anything in this life sacred?

Until next time...
Lit Maven OUT!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Twitter Trend Tuesday- Canadian Edition

Here are today's trends. I am always amazed at the pop culture content of Twitter trends. Does this give an indication of the age, of the majority of Twitter-ers? Or is it just a select few who use Twitters for professional development?

Twitter / Home: "Trending: Canada
Piano Improv
Chat Roulette
Corey Haim
Tim Hortons"

Until next time...Lit Maven OUT!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Grand-Daddy of all Mashers…MacGyver (Post 6: Multimedia Sharing/Mashups)

How to create a mash up circa 1996? (True story. Friday night. No Money.)

  1. Rent the VHS version of The Wizard of Oz …please stay with me here. (Note: Beta is fine.)
  2. Locate a tape of Darkside of the Moon by a Pink Floyd. (Note: 8 track or reel to reel is fine)
  3. Put in the movie. REWIND. If you do not know what this means you must have had a microwave since birth.
  4. After the MGM lion roars three times, press play on the tape. (Rewind the tape first!)
  5. VOILA!!!! Mash up…. Watch in amazement as Pink Floyd provides an uncanny accompaniment to the Wizard of OZ!

When Dorothy enters Oz,
plays…can you say conspiracy theory. Mel …Mel …are you on this?

Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake, Masher Man, Make me a Mashup as Fast as You Can…(Learning the Tool)

What is a Mashup? Schrum and Levin (2009) define Mashups as,"…new applications or new content created by two or more different data sources to yield new integrated, enhanced application or content" (p. 179). I must admit the definition helps but was not exactly 'chrysto' clear. I searched the net. I found several examples that provided pure entertainment value. Check out the Keyboard Cat!

I was excited for multimedia sharing week. Manipulating audio and visuals has been a great reflective tool in this course. I went into this week unsure of the scope of mashups. I had gone ahead of myself earlier in the term by doing an Animoto (see post #2 Video sharing). The professor, minus Mary Ann, had also suggested VoiceThreads. So in addition to that my dream has been to do a book trailer. Please note that my dreams are truly that boring.

Michelle Schusterman provided some great advice in her article "How to Make a Book Trailer: Video Trailers Can Help Promote a Novel"

Step One: Watch Book Trailers

The first time I heard about book trailers I was a little surprised, books are promoted in words not film. Imagine my surprise to find out on Wikipedia that book trailers have been around since 2002-2003 and now there are book trailer awards. D'you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds? So how hard could this be? Do you remember my 3 Hour Tour (see post 4), this was more of a three day cruise? I hope you are wearing life jackets, 'cause you are going to need it.

When you search out exemplars, you expect that you could at least compete with students. Yah!…NO! Here is a sample of the Book Thief. Sadly humiliated, I lowered my bar.

Step Two: Write a Short Blurb About the Novel

I decided on The Book of Negroes
by Lawrence Hill. The official website had a pertinent excerpt.

Step Three: Find Pictures that Represent the Story

This took forever! While there is a plethora of free image sites, finding images to represent a book about slavery and the Black Loyalists was challenging, say like finding a phone booth in Edmonton. I went to Flickr first. Then OpenPhoto… Then Photo Rogue.

Step Four: Create a Book Trailer Slideshow
My original plan was to use PowerPoint. I knew that manipulating pictures, transitions and text would be possible. You know when something is too good to be true…it is! Okay so imagine…"Whoo Hoo! Look at me Miss Ahead of the Game". (Keep this in your mind…)

Step Five: Add Music (Share to the World)

The PowerPoint was done. I spent all of Wednesday evening. I looped it. I added fading. I found a cool sound sample on Microsoft clipart. Then I went to upload… Well to convert PowerPoint to YouTube, you need to BUY a converter for $50.00. Okay, so short term solution, I posted uploaded it to my Wikipedia as an attachment. That was not my original intention.

So I registered for SlideShare. I figured, "Yah Lit Maven…Load it up. Same deal." "No…Lit Maven…you are sadly mistaken." I loaded it up. No sound. No transitions. No noise but crickets. So fine, apparently I could make a slide cast. I could find a new song using the free music sites. Must I remind you of the sensitive subject matter. Reggae…not so good. Hip Hop…… Electronica..really? Finally I googled sad music and I got Beethoven's Midnight Sonata. Not my favorite choice. All of sudden I was faced with a timeline and I had to match the music. I tried. I really did. Finally I pressed divide song evenly among slides. It was four minutes long. The slides moved mercifully slow. " Lit Maven you need a new song." I finally found a gospel tune. By the miracles of miracles, it was only a minute and a half. I selected the divide the song evenly among the slides button. Five hours later… I e-mailed the SlideCast to hubby. Hubby replies, "You need more ellipses. Fix this.." THUNK my head hit the keyboard but then maturity set in. I fixed it and reposted. YAY!

Here are the fruits of my labor.
I posted both formats of the book trailer on my Wiki. Please check out both.

Step Six: Rest, Reflect

What did I learn? Read the syllabus thoroughly next time and wait to do the Animoto!! But seriously, the experience was worthwhile and now I know how to prepare students and teachers with the challenge. All schools have PowerPoint so it is a viable alternative for making book trailers. However other platforms make it a lot easier to share on the net. While the Animoto looks the most professional, I found the text manipulation limited in terms of size, font and number of characters allowed. However, choosing applications that involve more choice ultimately enhance the feeling of ownership.

I was disappointed that my text transitions and music did not translate from my PowerPoint to SlideShare. I preferred them to the result on the Slidecast. I think that PowerPoint offers more animation techniques. I did sign up for SlideRoll as well. This does offer more panning etc. Perhaps I will work with this one in the future.

Trying Another Tool: Pipes

I never thought I would ever make a pipe. Let's face it, I never thought I would do most things in this course. I discovered pipes in this scribd article. What are pipes? O'Reilly (2007) explains:

'Using the Pipes editor, you can fetch any data source via its RSS, Atom or other XML feed, extract the data you want, combine it with data from another source, apply various built-in filters (sort, unique (with the "ue" this time:-), count, truncate, union, join, as well as user-defined filters), and apply simple programming tools like for loops are filters created by a user, with different types of user data to find specific information.'

Please watch the tutorial before you attempt this at home! I created a pipe by limiting Flickr data to pictures of the Northern Lights near Canada. This type of pipe is of value for personal interest and to show my kids. Here is my
. You can choose to view it by map, image or list. There are many possibilities of modifying this pipe with an infinite amount of data. The best part, I made it myself. I made another basic pipe, searching using Yahoo as data source for mashups. I have included both pipes as widgets on my blog. I think MacGyver would really like this tool.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You take them Both and There You have the Mash of Life… The Mash of Life (Personal and Social Implications of the Tool)

The trailfire and readings really helped clarify what mashups were and what I had already been using. Isn't it funny when you find labels for things you already do? I must admit that I found the information on mashups to be plentiful, check out the Programmable Web, but not as clear. The online dictionary was a handy companion. After deciphering the language and viewing examples, I thoroughly relieved that many mashups have been incorporated into my life already.

Enjoy exploring your city without wasting any gas…save for the natural kind that comes from the burrito you are eating as you type at your computer. Have I got a tool for you!

Google Maps

  1. Click the tab Google maps on the Google homepage.
  2. Enter an address. The address will be indicated by an arrow.

Google Maps first entered my life through the Real Estate website. A few years ago when house fever hit, my husband and I would drag the kids along to various open houses in the city. Knowing where houses are located visually in relation to other streets and avenues, helps know in advance that the house backs on fifteen major roads. Okay that was an exaggeration but you can imagine how helpful that is. also combines the Google mapping feature in addition to images of the houses and in combination with a search criteria, looking for a house is adventure that you can have without leaving your house.


So your friend just moved into a new swanky abode. Afraid to be caught doing a drive-by? Here is the solution for you!

Google Street View

  1. Click the tab Google maps on the Google homepage.
  2. Enter an address. The address will be indicated by an arrow.
  3. Near the zoom feature, is a little orange man. Click the orange man and drag and drop him at the arrow.
  4. Voila. Now you can cruise down the streets of your city without having to leave your house.

When I first heard about this mashup, I wasn't really keen on the idea that people, anywhere could see my house. Not only that, but the pictures are taken randomly throughout the year. The photo of our house was taken in the early ugly days of spring, not exactly when out house looks it best.

Both of these features assist with trip planning. Now you can find the location of the best hotels and resorts. In addition you can walk down the streets to make sure that your ideal vacation getaway is not located next to a volcano. Again exaggeration, but a bad holiday destination can make some people erupt in anger. Can you say Grizzwolds?


Do you have no shame? Are you more a zoom in than zoom out kind of person? Do I have the Christmas app for you!

Elf Yourself

Making and sending holiday greetings is no longer a chore with the advantageous Elf Yourself application. I have received these two years in a row. Unfortunately it is down until next season but what it does, is allow you to upload family photos onto the bodies of dancing elves. You can post it on Facebook and include your relatives and pets. Do be kind…this can be passed around like a Christmas fruitcake.


I was first introduced to Voicethreads ,in a grad course, a year ago. This mashup is a great way to document memories for your children and receive feedback from friends and relatives. Here is the voicethread that I created using my children's artwork. Picture uploading offered three choices, computer file, URL and media sites (Flick and Facebook). Truly the process was user friendly. I chose not to create fancy avatars to protect privacy.

The whole family had fun with the process.


  1. My daughter self initiated revisions."Mom, can I do that again? I think I had too many 'okays'."
  2. Reinforcing self expression with a wider audience.
  3. Enjoyment of hearing feedback from family and friends.
  4. Reflecting on the artistic process and what her creations meant to her.
  5. I was surprised at her detail and her awareness that others would hear it. This increased her motivation and sense of purpose.


1 five year old boy!!!!!


Animoto is an excellent presentation tool. Children could upload photos of their artwork and accomplishments. Perhaps even creating their own music accompaniment. For those of you entering the wedding season, Animotos can replace the outdated PowerPoint. Speaking of family, Animotos can also be created for the next family reunion. Do I hear Family Tree Animoto contest? I think I do!

There is so much to discover and explore with Mash Ups you will wonder how you ever survived without them.

It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right…It Takes Two to Mash it Outta Sight (Educational Implications of the Tool)

When I think back to my years in school, the closest thing to a mashup was a collage, and some might debate the food we made in Home Ec. We all dragged in magazines from home. National Geographic was always risky. Those tribal women believed less was more. The rest of the magazines were limited to images of celebrities, advertisements etc. BOP, Teen Beat, Seventeen
16 cost a week's allowance, and there was no way that anyone was cutting those up. Save perhaps for the MONKEES…why were these old men in teen mags anyway? Needless to say our "Mashups" were limited to the sources we had and our resulting collages represented this grim reality.

Flash forward to March 2010, the issue over access to sources has changed again. Mashups while abundant on the World Wide Web, little documentation exists about their use in education. Perhaps it's the nature of a mashup. With the filters and protection on the import of audio and video, there is a lot of rigmarole to get through. There is some debate over the difference between a remix and a true mashup. Lamb (2007) "Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix" mentions in his article that some cause for concern among educators is deciding whether a students' work is original. Indeed what is the definition of original? Walling (2009) adds, "Teachers need to discuss the fine line between inspiration and plagiarism so that students understand that networking is intended to spark personal innovation" (p.23).


The biggest issue with mashups in education is the need for openness among sources of data. My school district blocks images, video and at times audio. Lamb (2007) emphasizes the importance of openness in three particular ways: Open and discoverable resources, open and transparent licensing and open and remixable formats. He adds," more reuse means that more dynamic content is being produced more economically, even if the reuse happens only within an organization. And when remixing happens in a social context on the open web, people learn from each other's process." Also the supportive tutorials and student examples on the web make mashup processes differentiated and accessible to most students.

Mashups place an emphasis on creativity, the ability to find unrelated sources of information and combine them for a different purpose. Students have been doing this for years. Web 2.0 tools have highlighted a new platform for these processes to be pushed to a new level. Soule (2008) expresses the importance of matching, "the
vehicle, audience, and message" (p.14). Here is a list of some uses for mashups in education.



    1. An educator can create several avatars under the same under one account. This allows for total control over content and easier management due to a single login.
    2. Students' identities can be hidden by using drawings of themselves, instead of photographs for their avatars.
    3. They provide a forum where students can receive feedback from students in their schools, in addition to relatives and friends outside school. Comments can be left in these formats: mp3 audio file, text, webcam, drawing and telephone. It is important that teachers model for students how to make appropriate comments.
    4. It partners well with the new Social Studies Curriculum in Alberta that emphasizes studies of the past, especially images. Here is an example of what this would look like with pictures depicting an Acadian community. (Grade 2 social studies)
    5. Storytelling can be supported by students contributing their talents to a group story as seen here, Mini Legends Choose Your Own Adventure.
    6. Teachers could also set up a VoiceThread of a class theme or book for students to provide a reader response.
    7. Here are several more ideas from the VoiceThread library.
    8. Here is another example of a VoiceThread being used by educators to discuss their PLN's. Scroll down to the twelveth response for the Voicethread.
    9. They process provides opportunities for differentiation. With the feeback possibilities, there is always an option for a student to use their strongest modality.


  2. Pipes

    Lamb (2007) states that you can create a pipe that "… can create a filtered search of trusted domains that are relevant to a particular course, and the filtered search will adjust automatically as new links are added to the course materials." The benefit to ongoing data specifically tailored to a course is invaluable. I can imagine all the different pipes that students can configure to support their learning in all subjects.


    Here is an example of a pipe that was created to aggregate all the blogs in a particular class at Cornell University.


  3. Animoto


    1. Storytelling: Here is a current example of Animoto's being used for storytelling.
    2. Creating a Movie Trailer
    3. Creating a
      Book Trailer.
      (Scroll down to the third Animoto example.)
    4. Creating Instructional Videos
    5. Demonstrating vocabulary knowledge. A math teacher in our district had students create an Animoto to demonstrate knowledge of mean, median and mode. In particular, this was to support the Knowledge and Employability Alberta Program of Studies in Math. The other teachers at the session were amazed at the quality and the implications for motivation and purposeful learning.
    6. Introducing a new subject. (Scroll down to the fourth Animoto video).
    7. Public Service AnnouncmentsCreated on the issue of homelessness, authored by a grade seven student.

Solomon G. & Schrum, L. (2007) highlight some other contributions for mashups in the classroom.

Flash Earth
– This is amazing! This is my first time viewing this site. There are obvious connections to social studies but the artistry is breathtaking. My husband used the words 'frightening' to describe the incredible detail. I sure hope there is not a picture of me getting the morning paper.

– Students will enjoy adding bubbles and text from their own or borrowed pictures on Flickr. This example demonstrates the possibilities of students highlighting their knowledge of science topics in a fun and engaging way.

Who are these students in our classrooms? They are a new generation of students that have not known life without a computer, it is their desktop. As a consultant, it is my job to model how mashups can be used to extend students' understanding. The representing strand of the Alberta English Language Arts Curriculum is a sure fit for mashups. Underwood (2007) adds that schools provide a safe environment to work with these tools under the guidance of educators.

Of course, like with all Web 2.0 tools it's necessary to weigh the benefits for using them in the classroom. O'Brien & Scharber (2008) stated, "the use of digital technologies

in schools should be driven by educational purposes rather than social ones"(p.67). The issues surrounding access to open sources will threaten the establishments in their efforts to control information. Indeed as Palfrey & Gasser (2008) state "The hardest question we will ever have to answer is whether we will attempt to thwart this burgeoning online activity in Digital Natives in the name of protecting crumbling institutions, or foster it and the participatory culture it can lead us to"(p.129). I am hoping for the latter.


So my week of using my inner MacGyver has been fruitful. I have learned how to entertain the masses or at least subject them to my experiments.

Until next time…Lit Maven OUT!



Nonlinked Resources

O'Brien, D., & Scharber, C. (2008). Digital literacies go to school: Potholes and possibilities. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1), 66-68. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. Philadelphia, PA.: Basic Books.

Solomon G. & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.    

Soule, H. (2008). Transforming School Communities: Creating Dialogue Using Web 2.0 Tools. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(1), 12-15. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Underwood, L. (2009). 21st-Century learning blocked: What is a school librarian to do?. School Library Monthly, 26(1), 14-16. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Walling, D. (2009). Idea networking and creative sharing. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 53(6), 22-23. Retrieved from ERIC database.















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