Monday, April 6, 2015

Locating Primary Sources Part 1

One of the goals of both teachers and school library media specialists is to help students locate sources for papers and primary sources are one of the best to offer a researcher.

There are several digital tools out there that help. 

First of all, the Library of Congress.  This site has an abundance of information about everything.  It is the largest online collection of everything from documents to images.  It is totally free and covers just about every subject you look for.  There are also external links to other sites controlled by the government, including the Library of Congress Card Catalog, The US Copyright office and the US Congress.  Because it's so large, you may find it a bit overwhelming to investigate, but, you will find primary sources to use for any paper or research you are doing.  The fact that it is free makes it all the while.

Second and Third, the National Archives and it's counterpart, DocsTeach. 

The National Archives features documents, genealogy and veteran's service records.  It is geared toward older students, perhaps grades 6 and up, but if students are working on a paper about genealogy, military history, and a focus on specific documents, this is the place to go.  Users can use an online database as well as research ancestory.  The site offers users a series of explanations about using the Archives and how to do research.  

DocsTeach features tools for teachers to provide students to encourage critical thinking and advanced research skills.  Both sites are free to use.  If you are in a district that is migrating away from textbook adoption and relying on personal creation of materials, this is a great place to go and find the materials you need.   The activities can be a bit more challenging.  Students younger than middle school will probably find it impossible to use. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Personalized PD: Finding Webinars

As I spend a little time talking about personalized PD, it is only appropriate to share the concept of the webinar as a way to grow professionally.  Over the past few years, webinars have become one of the fastest ways of learning material and personalizing what is learned.  There is a lot of picking and choosing and a lot of options for many different content areas, grades and educators.

I have found several fantastic sites that offer PD webinars.  Some sites charge a fee to be a member, but they have free sessions from time to time. I do those free days like they are going out of style. My kids make fun of me because I am doing another webinar.  But, some of them are outstanding.   I have found a lot of good tools on the simplek12 website as well as   Both do webinars often and all of them have been great quality.  I have learned a lot of new things through both.  

I have also found several archived unconferences with webinars too. (An unconference is a virtual conference where people all over the globe get together and go over various topics.  I have seen some through teacher2.0 and library2.0.  A few conferences have been archived, you just have to search for them.  They are all over the internet.

I recommend looking into these free webinars if you want to personalize PD for yourself.  It is very possible to customize what you want to learn.  I do a lot over the summer so when I go back to school I am fresh and ready to go.  I have taken a lot of information from these webinars and used them in my classroom, library and with colleagues.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Personalized PD: Google+

If you are interested in personalizing your PD, an easy way to do that is to create an account on Google+ and start joining communities.   Google+ has been around for awhile, but, of late it has become a really strong support system for educators.  It isn't as focused on the family, social and fun stuff people post on Facebook, but more of a professional based setup.   I decided recently that I was going to separate my Facebook for my professional life and focus on Google+ as my professional platform.

Here is what you need to do to use it for your own PD.

1.  Create a google account. (Gmail account holders already have Google+, so just login.)
2.  After you create your google account, you can go to the search bar and type and it will open your Google+ platform.   Under the Home tab, you can find communities and people who meet your needs.   Some communities let you join immediately, some ask you to request to join and they add you.  You need to make sure you have a profile

I have learned a lot of great tips and techniques from people on Google+, but like twitter, it can be a little overwhelming. Find some people on Google+ who you follow on twitter and add them to circles. (Circles are the "groups" people belong to.  For example, I have a circle called Hoosier Educators, another one called Library People, and one called Edtech People.  Some people are in more than one.  It is an organizational method.)

It seems to me that Google+ is less social and used more by the masses for things like personalized PD. It is a great way to see what is going on in other school districts around the US and elsewhere.   It is truly a great way to start developing your own personalized PD.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Personalized PD: Pt. 1- Twitter

Often as educators, we are called to a staff development and hear about the newest trend, data that pertains to a small group of people and very irrelevant to others.  Yes, learning about math data is important to the staff as a whole, but, if there was a way as a teacher we could grow personally and develop our own PD, I think we as a whole can become better educators.

There are many ways, as educators, we can personalize our staff development and these are the ways you can do it:

If you are not on twitter, you should be.  Twitter is by far one of the most powerful ways to learn and grow as a professional.  If you spend 10 minutes from time to time glancing and reading what people post, you will learn something new.  I had a teacher ask me for some insight to a topic.  I went to my twitter, posted a quick question and in a matter of five minutes, I had close to 10 responses with suggestions.   WOW!  Who would have thought five years ago that something that powerful would be available at our fingertips.  (For more information about personalizing PD with twitter, please check this link and read this material.)  Select a few hashtags (#) and watch them from time to time.  There are a lot of programs that allow you to follow the chat, some even allow for an archive so you can go back and see it later.

Here are some fantastic education chats and links to places you should visit to learn more about twitter for education:
The Cybraryman:   This site is a plethora of information for everyone in education.  The link here is for Twitter and it includes a lot of informational pieces for you.  He has established a schedule of all of the education chats out there and the times. (PLEASE DON'T BE OVERWHELMED) There are many of them, but only a few may pertain to your needs.

Here are the ones I personally attend from time to time:
#edchat  (Tuesdays at 7pm)  Lots of fantastic ed topics.
#INeLearn (Thursdays at 8pm)  Directed by IN-DOE department of eLearning.  Excellent source of information.  Topics vary weekly.
#edtechchat (Mondays at 8pm) Focus on educational technology.

Are you looking for some people to follow?  Everyone listed here are a good start of who should  be followed on Twitter.  As you follow these folks' posts, you will see more people to follow.  If you are looking for content specific people, ask:
Jerry Blumengarten                                   
ISTE                                                                 Kimberly Munoz
Edtechtalk                                                         Sara Hunter
Angela Maiers                                                   Larry Ferlazzo
Matt Miller                                                     
Michelle Green
George Couros
Chris Casal
Connected Educators Project
Shelly Terrell
Will Richardson
Kathy Schrock
Adam Bellow
Pam Moran
Richard Byrne
Erin Klein
Vicki Davis

Enabling PopUps in Chrome

Since we have encouraged all of you to migrate to Chrome or Firefox, here is a short video to help you enable popups so you can do SDS.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Transferring Bookmarks from Explorer to Chrome

Since the Department of Homeland Security is warning people to avoid using Internet Explorer as their web browser.  Several of our staff members use Explorer for their primary web browser, so, I have developed a quick tutorial video about exporting your Explorer bookmarks into Chrome.