Saturday, December 22, 2007

Digital Storytelling

Following on from my previous post, this blog entry by Dean Sharski is all about digital storytelling.

He talks about the need to have expectations of quality with podcasts, and not just get excited about the wow factor. There is a link to a couple of exemplars, and a YouTube video which is an excellent movie trailer made by a student (his son) for the book Life of Pi.

An interesting idea - making a movie trailer about a book.

Things I'm Learning about Tagging on Delicious

My delicious bookmarks are at

Think a bit about the tags you want to use so that they are consistent.
A tag can only have 1 word - no spaces. Can use underscores and dashes to seperate words.
You shouldn't use commas between tags, as it treats a comma as a tag!
Putting your tags in a list (rather than cloud) seems the must useful.
You can edit your bookmarks, and change the tags.

Pretty basic, but I'm learning from trial and error.

Here's a good recent link, from a blog "Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech": as the precursor to Twitter

Dean Sharski feels that many people like the links posted on twitter. Delicious has been showing other people's links for some time. The post discusses the value of using networks on Delicious, and how Dean Sharski subscribes to his delicious network, and receives updates of their new bookmarks.

One commentor makes the point that it is "Great to get the pulse of what the edublogosphere is up to" by using this networking component 0f delicious.

Here's Dean's tutorial showing how this works.

Here's another tutorial, From David Truss (a Powerpoint presentation) introducing delicious, including this networking feature.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Replies about 21st century readers

Some lovely replies to my blogpost over on Create Readers about reading in the 21st century.

Principal Tom Sheehan, from St Matthew's, Marton replied, saying "Thanks for asking the question. Not many people really get it - literacy in the digital age means so much more than it used to mean. Our children need to know so much more !"

He left the address of his school blog which is here. Well worth a look, particularly at the children's pages.

Jody Hayes, teacher of this lovely class also replied, and has even mentioned us on her Year 1 class blog, here!

This has taken me on a wee voyage, and I have found some other great classroom blogs:

Rachel Boyd's Room 9, Nelson Central School (Y2-3)

Janet Blaauw's class at Te Ranga Primary School, Te Puke

Room 18, Meadowbank School (Year 2)

Room One Korokoro School, Wellington

Room 3, Te Awamutu Intermediate

Room 18 Writers Blog Taradale Intermediate School

Here's a great ICTPD cluster blog, from Lorraine Watchorn
Following on from this, here's Lorraine and her friends' wiki,
"ICT Infused Inquiry" Learning Community

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Report - To Read or Not To Read

National Endowment for the Arts, November 2007 report
To Read or Not To Read
A Question of National Consequence

This report contains disturbing conclusions about a general decline in reading amongst Americans, and particularly in teenagers. It also shows some clear links between reading for pleasure and reading proficiency, and between reading proficiency and success in life.

Below are some parts of the executive summary. I have concentrated on the sections which have international implications, rather than the specifics of American statistics.

From the executive summary:

Reading for pleasure correlates strongly with academic achievement.
• Voluntary readers are better readers and writers than non-readers.
• Children and teenagers who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score
better on reading tests than infrequent readers.
• Frequent readers also score better on writing tests than non-readers or
infrequent readers.
(Executive summary, p. 12)

Good readers generally have more financially rewarding jobs.
•More than 60% of employed Proficient readers have jobs in management, or in
the business, financial, professional, and related sectors.
• Only 18% of Basic readers are employed in those fields.
• Proficient readers are 2.5 times as likely as Basic readers to be earning $850 or
more a week. (executive summary, p. 15)

Good readers play a crucial role in enriching our cultural and civic life.
• Literary readers are more than 3 times as likely as non-readers to visit
museums, attend plays or concerts, and create artworks of their own.
•They are also more likely to play sports, attend sporting events, or do outdoor
• 18- to 34-year-olds, whose reading rates are the lowest for any adult age group
under 65, show declines in cultural and civic participation. (executive summary, p. 16)

Deficient readers are far more likely than skilled readers to be high school
• Half of America’s Below-Basic readers failed to complete high school—a
percentage gain of 5 points since 1992.
• One-third of readers at the Basic level dropped out of high school. (executive summary, p. 17)

Deficient readers are more likely than skilled readers to be out of the workforce.
•More than half of Below-Basic readers are not in the workforce.
• 44% of Basic readers lack a full-time or part-time job—twice the percentage of
Proficient readers in that category. (executive summary, p. 18)

Poor reading skills are endemic in the prison population.
• 56% of adult prisoners read at or below the Basic level.
• Adult prisoners have an average prose reading score of 257—18 points lower
than non-prisoners.
• Only 3% of adult prisoners read at a Proficient level.
• Low reading scores persist in prisoners nearing the end of their term, when
they are expected to return to family, society, and a more productive life.xii
(executive summary, p. 18)

Self-reported data on individual behavioral patterns, combined with national test scores from the Department of Education and other sources, suggest three distinct trends: a historical decline in voluntary reading rates among teenagers and young adults; a gradual worsening of reading skills among older teens; and declining proficiency in adult readers. ie Department of Education’s extensive data on voluntary reading patterns and prose reading scores yield a fourth observation: frequency of reading for pleasure correlates strongly with better test scores in reading and writing. Frequent readers are thus more likely than infrequent or non-readers to demonstrate academic achievement in those subjects.
(executive summary, p. 19)

From the Prefix

"When one assembles data from disparate sources, the results often present contradictions. This is not the case with To Read or Not To Read. Here the results are startling in their consistency. All of the data combine to tell the same story about American reading. The story the data tell is simple, consistent, and alarming. Although there has been measurable progress in recent years in reading ability at the elementary school level, all progress appears to halt as children enter their teenage years. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans. Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates. These negative trends have more than literary importance. As this report makes clear, the declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications.

How does one summarize this disturbing story? As Americans, especially younger Americans, read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they have lower levels of academic achievement. (The shameful fact that nearly one-third of American teenagers drop out of school is deeply connected to declining literacy and reading comprehension.) With lower levels of reading and writing ability, people do less well in the job market. Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement. Significantly worse reading skills are found among prisoners than in the general adult population. And deficient readers are less likely to become active in civic and cultural life, most notably in volunteerism and voting.

The habit of daily reading overwhelmingly correlates with better reading skills and higher academic achievement. On the other hand, poor reading skills correlate with lower levels of financial and job success. At the risk of being criticized by social scientists, I suggest that since all the data demonstrate consistent and mostly linear relationships between reading and these positive results — and between poor reading and negative results — reading has played a decisive factor. Whether or not people read, and indeed how much and how often they read, affects their lives in crucial ways.

All of the data suggest how powerfully reading transforms the lives of individuals — whatever their social circumstances. Regular reading not only boosts the likelihood of an individual’s academic and economic success—facts that are not especially surprising—but it also seems to awaken a person’s social and civic sense. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed. It is reassuring, though hardly amazing, that readers attend more concerts and theater than non-readers, but it is surprising that they exercise more and play more sports — no matter what their educational level. ie cold statistics confirm something that most readers know but have mostly been reluctant to declare as fact—
books change lives for the better."
from Prefix, p 3-4, by Dana Gioia, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Monday, December 17, 2007

David Warlick

Blog - 2 cents worth


Reading in the 21st century

Thoughts about creating readers and web 2.0...

What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century?

What reading "counts"?

Boys who read comics, non-fiction and computer game instruction manuals and cheat sheets?

Here's a quote, from the blurb of the book Classroom Blogging, by David Warlick.

"Weblogs are about reading and writing. Literacy is about reading and writing. Blogging equals literacy. How rarely does an aspect of how we live and work plug so perfectly into how we teach and learn?"

Thousands of kiwis have (or have at least started) their own blog. This can, and often is done on many web 2.0 sites, including social networking sites.

Even some year 1 classes are starting to use blogs to develop their literacy.
Mrs Cassidy's Classroom Blog
Voyagers - NZ Year 1 Blog

How can we use blogs as a tool to develop literacy?

Online reading - does reading social networking sites like bebo count? These are currently the some of the most visited internet sites by kiwis. They're all about reading and writing. How can young people's passion for these sites be harnessed to help build literacy? One idea is to create your own network for your book group, using goodreads or ning. Put your favourite books on bebo, myspace or facebook?

What about online games, such as Runescape? Just getting through the tutorial takes a lot of reading. Need to be good at map-reading, and using North, South, East and West for directional skills. Then, any "conversation" between players is in the form of text. Quests within Runescape need a lot of reading. If you don't have a reasonable reading level you can't play this popular game. Opportunity to learn some things - what is tin made out of? Could be followed-up in the classroom. Is being immersed in the world of Runescape the same as being immersed in a good book?

Here's an example of 21st century literacy in action, using digital storytelling. Work out what is special about where you live. Write a script. Think about visual representation of your story. Then, turn this into a wonderful digital story.
Here's the Life Round Here stories from Te Awamutu Intermediate. And here are the ones from Taradale Intermediate School.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here's an article from Library Journal online about why we blog. Includes examples of quite a few library blogs.

Friday, December 14, 2007

David Lee King

David Lee King is a librarian in the States, at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. He has a blog here where " I create, write, think, and speak about library websites and emerging digital technology."

Here are a few interesting sites his blog has pointed me to.

Twtter Explained for Librarians, or 10 ways to use Twitter

The above post has drawn many comments. He looks at what Twitter might be useful for libraries, and sees it as an emerging social tool that he wants to watch.

Here's a PDF keynote presentation (71 slides) from David, at the Salt Lake City Public Library Staff Day. He talks about library 2.0, and how libraries can use some of the 2.0 tools and sites.

One thing he refers to is this:
What if Barbie had a book group? This is an interesting idea for a book review, on YouTube. The review comes from the Topeka and Shawnee Public libraries, on their blog, Papercuts.

See his blogpost here for further links and another presentation from that day.

In this presentation, David concentrates on
  1. blogs, explaining term and showing some library blogs
  2. social networking sites and what you can do with them in a library
    - including flickr, YouTube,, MySpace, LibraryThing, twitter
  3. Bookmark managers, and what you can do with them -, furl. blinklist, (don't know the last two)
  4. wikis, with examples, and what you can do with them
  5. Internet Messaging, including meebo, and what you can do with them. David has also blogged about using meebo as a link from an unsuccessful catalogue search - the patron is offered a real librarian to talk to via IM about their enquiry
  6. podcasting or videocasting, with great examples, eg of booktalks, (this is where the barbie review comes in)
  7. and Amazon v OPACs, with some examples of OPACs moving more towards Amazon.
Lots to learn about here !

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Technospud projects

Would you like your students to have the opportunity of joining in with a fun, colloborative international project to help create readers? Have a look at Technospud.

The current project is Salute to Suess.
This wiki is currently a finalist in the edublog awards. Here is the summary from the Edublogs site:
The “SALUTE TO SEUSS” wiki (hosted by Jennifer Wagner) is an online project for the teacher (who is teaching 4 to 13 year olds) to use within their classroom. Each teacher is encouraged to showcase their students’ participation by using a Web 2.0 tool — such as wiki, blog, photoshare, podcast, or more. For many of these teachers — this is their first time using these tools both for themselves and with their students!! There are 214 teachers from 45 U.S. States, 3 Canadian Provinces, and New Zealand participating. The final date of the project is not until mid-December — so the pages change daily as teachers post their projects. 2007 is the 50th Anniversary of the writing of “The Cat In The Hat” written by Dr. Seuss. To celebrate this milestone, this project also had many websites to visit, worksheets, standards, and activities to expand the project even more as the teacher wishes."

The worksheets, resources and weblinks themselves are amazing. Its also great to see Kiwi participation: see Puahue School powerpoint presentations.

A similar project took place earlier in the year about Charlotte's Web. The site contains some great ideas of activities for the book, as well as the contributions made by each participating school.

And coming up next year, will be a collaborative project on Prince Caspian. With the great interest in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the Prince Caspian movie due out next year, this could be a great opportunity to create readers using the web, in collaboration with classes around the world.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Create a Profile of a Book Character on MySpace

Here's a great idea for making use of teens' interest in social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo, Facebook etc

This idea came from a discussion about your best 2.0 project on the TeacherLibrarian Network on Ning.

" English class had a fine time making MySpace profiles. The assignment for these Juniors was to create a myspace page for a character from Gatsby. This includes completing a profile, an "about me," blog entries, and commenting on their "friends'" pages in character.
In the words of the teacher, "They ran with it in excitingly creative ways, including songs and photos (that was actually the first thing they did)."

Have just had a look at the myspace site - it is great! Love the soundtrack and friends' photos.

Here they are - copyright friendly images!

I have been seeing some lovely powerpoint presentations, using photos to illustrate a concept, with each photo being attributed underneath to its source, often flickr.

Here, from the lovely Joyce Valenza is an extensive list of:

Copyright-Friendly and Copyleft Images and Sound (Mostly!)
for Use in Media Projects and Web Pages, Blogs, Wikis, etc.

Joyce says:
"Most of the media in these collections are in the public domain or are attached to generous copyright licensing. Though you may not need to ask permission to use them when publishing on the Web for educational purposes, you should cite or attribute these images to their creators unless otherwise notified! If you see any copyright notices on these pages, read them for further instructions.
Note: always check individual licensing notices before publishing on the Web or broadcasting!"

Most useful web 2.0 tools

The web 2.0 world seems pretty daunting at times, with so many different accronyms, and cute little names that I haven't heard of. So I was interested to come across a presentation which focused on a handful of web 2.0 tools - the ones deemed the most important for school administrators:

Il2007 Librarian 2.0:
Supporting Administrators with Web 2.0 Tools

The presentation is by Carolyn Foote, a librarian at a large public suburban high school, Westlake High School, in Austin, Texas. She blogs at
Not So Distant Future
technology, libraries, and schools

Here are some ideas for the most essential web 2.0 tools, sent to Carolyn via Twitter:
  • Google Docs, RSS, Blogger, Twitter
  • Blogs, RSS, wikis, twitter, Google Docs
  • wikis, igoogle, google calendar, zoho docs
  • moodle, google docs, wikis
Carolyn's presentation focused on:
  • Blogs, mentioning edublogs
  • podcasts, discussing tools for these
  • wikis, mentioning pbwikis and wikispaces, and showing an example of creating a calandar on a wiki (from a connectedlibraries wiki)
  • other tools - including google alerts, google docs, google calendar, (technolibrary bookmarks), jott, bloglines, pageflakes, bloglines (rss agregrator),
  • finishing with the connected libraries wiki, which contains a collection of instructions for using different web 2.0 tools in schools
I have bolded the ones I have absolutely no idea about!

Ninging in the rain

Actually the rain seems to have stopped, but its quite cold and grey outside.

I'm discovering Ning.

"Ning is the only online service where you can create, customize, and share your own Social Network for free in seconds."

So, its a bit like the biggies - Bebo, Facebook, Myspace, but can be set up for your own network of shared interests.

Here's a Ning network called Library 2.0. Well, I've logged in, answered a few questions about myself, now what?

Library 2.0 has some videos which could be interesting to watch, a forum, various interest groups, and invites you to add your own photos, and a blog.

There's also a Ning network for itsig the LIANZA (NZ Library and Information Association) special interest group relating to IT. I've asked to join, but need to be approved.

I guess a Ning network could be set up for regional groups of library staff, or for a particular purpose, like organising a conference.

Aah, here's an interesting network, Classroom 2.0. This looks very well set out with interesting content, and I see its a finalist in the EduBlog awards 2007. Lots of things to learn about here! The section on English looks interesting.

Here's Classroom 2.0's summary of their network for the Edublog Awards:
"Classroom 2.0 was created to provide an easy starting place for educators to be introduced to the tools of Web 2.0, and to encourage them to be part of the online dialog. With over 4,000 registered users, and growing over 100 per week, Classroom 2.0 has become a spawning ground for many other wonderful educational social networks based on the Ning platform, and has also hopefully shown the positive potential for social networking in education at a time when concerns about MySpace and Facebook overshadowed the technology’s pedagogical potential. Steve Hargadon in California, USA."

Looks like there are lots of educational networks here. Ning in Education is all about setting up Ning classroom networks (add free for Grades 7-12). Then theres School2.0, which is deals with broader issues than the more practical Classroom2.0. Look at this post about Social Cataloguing, about LibraryThing.

Another current post on School2.0 takes you to this wiki, which provides web 2 tutorials for educators. This looks really useful, and covers
Social bookmarks
Links and Resources

And there seem to be a variety of reading groups and book clubs.
The Sword and Laser - for sci fi and fantasy fans
LITeracy and Technology - putting the IT into Literacy

Here's Kingswear School network, which is also a finalist in the EduBlogs awards.

And finally (for now), a very useful-looking Teacher Librarian network, here.

I'm beginning to like this Ning. But why do I have a headache? Time for lunch.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

NZ has great readers, but "long tail"still evident - OECD Report

New Zealand 15 year old students have scored 5th out of 57 countries for reading in the just published 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report from the OECD. Kiwi students ranked 2nd in terms of the numbers of students reading at the highest level, but the overall rank dropped to 5th because of the relatively large number of students (15%) reading at the lowest level. New Zealand's mean score has not changed significantly since the previous PISA report from 2003.

Although showing that the "long tail" is still evident in NZ students' reading levels, this is a very impressive result. Among the 52 countries ranked below New Zealand were relatively wealthy, well-resourced countries like Australia, Great Britain, France and Germany.

Kiwi kids also did well in Maths and Science.

See NZ Herald story here.
See the Press article here.
And the Dominion one is here.

Read the OECD Executive Summary here.
Go here to look at the full report, downloadable in two volumes. The report focuses on science, and also discusses maths and reading.

BOOKS TOOLBOX: 50+ Sites for Book Lovers

After reading Joyce Valenza's article on blogging your research process, I want to blog my learning journey about finding out great web 2.0 sites to help "create readers."

Here's the first:

BOOKS TOOLBOX: 50+ Sites for Book Lovers

There's an awful lot of these!