Sunday, January 27, 2013

Just Wanderful! Living Books Are Back!

Brøderbund's Living Books Are Back for 
the iPad & iPhone Thanks to Wanderful Books!

On Friday I was looking pensively at my boxed sets of the Living Books CD-ROM collection in my school library.

I have resisted for YEARS (ok, like 10+) to weed them knowing how AMAZING & special these interactive stories can be for ESOL or special ed kiddos but alas - the sad weeding day has finally come.  Year after year when weeding time came around my sainted and patient assistant Robin Black (this is our 21st year together!) would take them off the shelf & and add them to the weeding book cart.  I then would go behind her with a furtive grin & and put them back on the shelf. But this year I tested them and they do NOT work on ANY of my computers. Not any of our iBooks, MacBook Pros, eMacs (2003), or brand spanking new iMacs.  We run an OSX school & these old CD-ROM's only run on classic. Noooooo!
[shakes fist in air in mock fury]
So, sniffing a bit with nostalgic ennui, I Googled them and EUREKA! I found a recent TUAW article about how these classic CD-Rom books have now been made into iPad Apps! Woohoo! I am so glad though that that kind of creativity and artistry has come back to the consumer...the student, and the school library!
When I first started teaching with these CD's in elementary school they were a wonderment! I would ask the kids to gather around the APPLE LC III and we would listen and watch each page - then using their best sentences they were to describe what they wanted me to click on to see if there was a hidden interactive pop up there! For example, "Please click on the hare's blue tree house door"
I gave out "smarties" for the best sentences and if they found one I didn't know about (there are like a gajillion!) We also did extended activities with vocabulary or even writing letters such as: "Dear Broderbund, for your next book please include...(insert creative interaction animation idea here)....with sometimes a kid drawing!

The new apps have updated teacher activities you can download as PFD's - Here's an example:

Right away, I was really tempted to spend $4.99 of my own $ to try it out before I recommended it on this blog or to my colleagues...but guess what? There's a FREE Sampler! I wondered if it would just be a washed out version of the classic? No! I also wondered if all the cute hidden animations (remember the Tortoise toilet flushing when touching that blue tree house door? That always got a giggle!) will they still be there?  I am so happy to report a resounding YES! Oh and Wanderful Books? You can quote me! 
"Living books are back and they're better than ever! Engaging stories, fun interactive animations, enriching activities, and classroom activities featuring the Common Core state standards are at your fingertip with this amazing app for the iPhone and iPad!" 
Follow @WanderfulBooks on Twitter! I am!
Check out the video below to see Wanderful Books experience!

Now....what about HyperStudio & Hollywood High!?? What are your favourite storybook apps? What nostalgic software would you like to see come back? As always, I adore your comments!
Brøderbund's Living Books return for iPad via Wanderful
Thank you SO much @miketrose for reporting about the APP!
App Images & screenshot Attribution:

Shout Out: 
 A huge warm welcome to our newest and youngest blog fan....Miss Lyric of AZ! (Critter Sharpes' human sis!) My dear GCT friend Ms. Mensing's latest pride & joy! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: A True Servant Leader

As an educator I was touched by this timeless Huffington Post article from Mr. James Perry, once mayoral candidate and the the Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center:
"Among the most important lessons I've learned from Dr. King is the example of servant leadership. A servant leader is one who offers an inclusive vision; listens carefully to others; persuades through reason; and heals divisions while building community.
It is easy to spot servant leaders. In a room where others are jockeying for attention, they are the ones listening to someone others might consider unimportant. When faced with a problem, they look for solutions that benefit everyone. When something goes wrong, they take the blame. When things go well, they share the credit. They tell everyone the same story, even when it is inconvenient or difficult. They know that they don't have all the answers, so they seek advice from others. They work hard and inspire others to do the same.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is an example of a servant leader. His life shows the extraordinary power of servant leadership to radically transform a nation.
Our communities and our country need servant leadership more than ever. Deepening economic woes threaten the American dream for far too many working people. Racial divisions are embarrassingly persistent in too many aspects of our economic and social lives. Political despair is battering the uniquely American optimism that has made us a great nation.
There are precious few servant leaders in our current political environment. Many elected officials are more interested in personal power, individual legacy, and financial gain than in the sacrifice and commitment that servant leadership requires."

Powerful words.

As educators, we have the honor to teach the next generation of servant leaders. It is our job, duty, and privilege to instill in them the passion to effect change and the empathy to think outside themselves.  To inspire them to think not of "me" but of "we."  We also must model these values and these practices for our students.
All educators, indeed, all school staff, must work together to model and teach teens that taking responsibility for our lives gives us total power in creating the kind of life we want for ourselves. Taking personal responsibility and thinking of the community. Over the years I've seen our students rally to raise funds for the Hurricane Katrina victims, Haiti relief,  and yearly for the underprivileged in our community. I am proud of our kiddos, we've done well...but we can always do better!
Which brings me back full circle as to why I posted the words from page 333 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on our library wall this year:

"It is our choice...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" ~ Albus Dumbledore

More inspiring words on responsibility:
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”
Albert Einstein

“It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.”

“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.”
Denis Waitley
from 7 Timeless Thoughts on Taking Responsibility for Your Life

Thank you for being an educator. Thank you for following your passion and commitment to making a difference in your school and community. For working every day to effect real change in our most precious of customers - our kids. Let's be inspired by the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr not just on his birthday - but every day - throughout the year! 

(Originally posted on the MHMS Media Blog: Martin Luther King, Jr: A True Servant Leader  Jan 18, 2010)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Infographics and The Library of Congress:
A Colossal Collection of Resource Riches

I forget sometimes how lucky I am that I grew up in the Washington DC metro area and have within 25 min of my front doorstep (ok, maybe not 25 with DC traffic, right!?) but close by is one of the largest collections of rich resources in the world - the United States Library of Congress. But don't fret, you don't need to travel to DC to enjoy the FREE and open globally to everyone in the world the resources, lesson plans, and primary source documents  through their amazingly extensive online website for teachers.  In these tough economic times when districts are discontinuing paying for online research databases this is a goldmine of FREE resources. (Have I said FREE enough? LOL) Oh and you can tell from the title of this post that I love me some alliterative action! But why not?

"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man"

Use the Creative Commons infographic below to "sell' all the great stuff that's available AND FREE from the Library of Congress to your teachers of all subjects doing research. Especially our Social Studies partners! (See exciting Social Studies Chat announcement below!) I've added the infographic below AND links to the teachers resources as a link from our Research Resources Wikipage!  

(Click HERE for the FULL Size of this infographic)

(Full size of the graphic above)

Easily the latest, greatest thing to visual learning is the Infographic. But, Infographics themselves are not so easy to create. Enter the free and still in beta site which pretty much lives up to its name! With a few slick template choices, text, objects, and shapes to add anyone can create a slick looking free Infographic that adds interest, meaning, and comprehension to text-heavy content. WARNING: But please don't become an Info-doofus - just because it's in an Infographic does NOT mean it's true...or relevant. Of course if you don't want to use this FREE site you can always pay upwards of $299 for a customized Infographic from 99Designs! (But why would you?)
(Photo from Patent Nonsense)

Back story: I regularly get emails with unsolicited suggestions for blog topics - it's sometimes truly flattering & informative and sometimes (usually) annoying. My blog fodder ain't for sale peeps! I blog about what I wanna blog about and I'm oppositional to boot so unless you're part of my Personal Learning Network (that's you dear reader not those company marketers or people sellin stuff) making suggestions --I'm not gonna bite. Harumph!

But sometimes I get stuff that even though it's promoting or created by a commercial venture it's really so cool I gotta share it. This is one of those times! So, thanks BestCollegesOnline! But other marketers? Don't hold your breath - I can't be bought - I can be rented by inviting me to speak at your conference or consult with you...but not umm bought. (Rent? Eep! OK, somehow that sounded better in my head!)

Social Studies Chat & The TL Virtual Cafe
Social Studies teachers + Teacher Librarians = A winning combination!
Join us at the TL Virtual Cafe for a FREE webinar on February 4th for a #SSChat & #TLChat collaboration with Ron Peck!

Below are pictures I took back in 2005 when our district Library Media Specialists went on a "field trip" to the Library of Congress! It was AWESOME!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

10 Super Geeky Tips for the New Year 2013

I was going to update this post from last year & add some new stuffs for 2013 because this IS the time of year that I do try to do my Geeky housecleaning. But dag...this post holds up! So..being sorta lazy anyway I'm going to re-post it with new commentary!

(click above for a larger size or download PDF it here)
1. Change your passwords. Yes, ALL of them. 
According to CNN Tech an 8 digit password can be hacked in 2 hours but a 12 character password would take 17 years. Use this handy Comic Tutorial to create a really super new password for every website....don't worry, there's a trick!  You don't have to go to every site you use right away - just make a commitment that when you do go to a site that requires your password you take the extra 5 min to change your password - maybe using the suggestions in my Comic Tutorial.
Basically, have a root password, a varying numeric addition (not the year or your B-DAY!) and add an ending that has something to do with the site. EX: for Huffington Post  ---> H@PPyZ0mbiesEat24HuffPo.  Twitter would be H@PPyZ0mbiesEat25TWEET etc. 
Oh and in the small print of my comic I said 3 important things - Change your passwords twice a year, have a different password for Facebook because FB's security is notoriously craptastic, and a diff password from ANYwhere else for your bank that is randomly generated. Oh and here's my Disclaimer - I'm not a security expert and nothing is foolproof. And geeks all over have different opinions about passwords - these are just mine.

2. Dump your cache, cookies, & clear history
At least once a year (I try quarterly) go around to every computer you use public & private -and dump the cache, clear your cookies, & browsing history.

3. Consolidate your Flashdrives
We all have a gajillion flashdrives floating around from 128mg's to 16gb's. Lazy Way: Gather them all up and create a folder on your external HD called flashdrive backups (or one folder per flashdrive) and drag all the stuff in there. Smart Way: Go through all those flashdrives & trash anything you really don't need & save only the archive worthy stuff. While you're at it - are those drives named? Do you have an .RTF doc on it that says "If found, Please Read" with your contact information? This might be a good time to get those on there. I give every new teacher & secretary to my school a new 4G flashdrive and yeah, sometimes they lose them (I'm looking at you Sue! LOL) So, even though it's super easy to carry around & save stuff in a pinch, you wanna give yourself a chance to get it back if lost. Now... throw some of those old flashdrives away & go on to the next tip.
dropbox.JPG4. Forget the flashdrive try the cloud!
Now that you've backed up your flash drives consider using Dropbox, Amazon Prime storage, iCloud, or Google drive to save your stuff! I've blogged about Dropbox before, but this past year after getting 3 new computers & a new mini iPad proves to me how vital having Dropbox is. When I go to each device I don't have to transfer my documents because they are already there once I install the Dropbox! Boom!  Don't have Dropbox or joined & never DOWNLOADED it on your computer? Get it by using THIS SPECIAL SECRET SQUIRREL LINK to register for dropbox & use your school email account and you'll get EXTRA FREE SPACE! (it's a total geeky pyramid scheme but SO worth it!)  Dropbox allows you store your files online, easily share files with others, and sync your documents with multiple computers and mobile devices once you Download Dropbox. I have it on my iPad and all my Macs both home and at school! This is a must have tool for educators! It's Free, Convenient, and Saves Time! And you can increase your space for FREE if you Tweet about it & do a few other tasks (or blog about it using your referral link - wink wink) Seriously, it's just downright awesome.Want to read more? My fav Auntie & blogging mentee Life With Lynn has written a new post Feelin' (and sharin'!) the DROPBOX Looove! about how she uses Dropbox.
5. Edit your privacy settings & friendships
Facebook is notoriously changing their privacy settings (that's why I've had an on again and off again relationship with FB right now we're broken up)- Google "latest facebook privacy settings" to read blogs with advice to double check that you're sharing what you want to share. Consider what you share and who you share it with. Also, look at your friends - are you really friends with them? Do they add to the conversation? Have they contributed lately? " While considering what's private and public, take time to evaluate what a "friend," "contact" or "follower" means to you and what types of information you share with different groups." (Quoted from the super AWEsome )

6. Be Transparent
I've said it all year, but Transparent is the New Black! If you haven't done it already, go for it! Though some still consider it a big leap for an educator on the intarwebs, I think that horse has already left the barn. I went transparent in 2009 after being inspired at NECC-DC. Sure, it's a little scary but worth it if you're building a PLN and wanting to make a "name" for yourself out there. And really? Our names are already "out there" best to craft how it shows up yourself & be a good role model for creating your own positive digital footprint. (Search this blog "digital footprint" to read more) So yeah, now I'm Gwyneth Jones here and on the Twitters in addition to my electronic portfolio and on my wikis.

7. Buy your name.
For $10 bucks a year you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don't want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, considered it back in the late 90's - went with Angelfire instead. That was stooopid. Wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh Opera singer & the Sci Fi YA Author! Ahh well! Now I have 2 domains! for this blog and for my electronic portfolio.
8. Get Wikified
Sure there are LibGuides & LiveBinders out there but nothing is so easy to use, flexible, FREE, & just a joy as a Wikispaces! So, if you're not ready to buy a domain but don't just want a school based web page? Create a FREE K-12 Wikispaces. Learn from my mistakes, when you sign up for the first time, use your own name or a variation thereof! I made the mistake back in 06 when I joined wikispaces of making it under my school name because my intention was for it to be a prof dev wiki... so I named it mhmsmedia for my wiki account -I've since changed it to (Thanks Wikispaces!)

9.Build your PLN
Build your PLN! Today, having a Personal Learning Network is essential to stay in tune with the trends and what's going on. So whether you join a Ning or Twitter (even just for conferences!) Here's a getting started Twitter 101  Flickr gallery so you can start talking to other excited educators about new ideas...crowdsource! Got a question? Pose it to the PLN and you'll be amazed at the answers you get! See a question someone else is asking that you can help with? Contribute! (I try to give 95% and only ask for help 5%) GIVE, give, and give some more! Share shamelesly! Whatever you create think of your other educators out there who might benefit from it. Add it to your blog, wiki or slideshare! No one likes to re-create the wheel. Give your greatest works to our profession - it's good ed tech karma! PS. Always give attribution! I know professional teacher thieving is par for the course, heck I do it all the time, but I ask permission whenever possible and link back and ALWAYS give attribution!

10. Back up your data.
"Hacks and hardware failures happen. Before this year gets going, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected. From bookmakrs, calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects, more and more of us are relying on networks of servers and startups to keep us running.  Save anything that's valuable to you and portable. Get a big external HD but also burn to CD or DVD the really important stuff because I've had externals die on me. And yeah, the cloud is awesome, but I'm not ready to give over yet completely! LOL "Think of it this way: You - or at least parts of you - live in the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?" (Quoted, inspired & adapted from the super AWEsome )

So, Ok...some of these things are stuff I preach about ALL the time... like a flippin broken record when it comes to shameless sharing I'm that passionate about it....but what did I forget?

What are the geeky things that you do that we can learn from?

Please comment your suggestions, corrections, & additions! Thank you dear readers! Muuuwa! And......Happy New Year!

--Credits & Resources
Creating and Remembering Complex Passwords by Alex Jones (not my nephew!)
Suggested alternative expert comic - Thanks, Colin!
(click above for full size on XKCD!)
The Ultimate Guide for Creating Strong Passwords - Some of these suggestions seem impossible but I got great ideas here.
The top 50 passwords you should never use | Naked Security
8 Things Every Geek Needs to Do Before 2010
Five New Years Resolution Suggestions.

Baby Cthulhu Squishable a gift from my dear friend Dr. Gelving Obolensky of New Babbage. Thanks darlin! He, I will NEVER Prune from my PLN tree!
Flashdrive pic from: bamalibrarylady Tamara Evans


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