Welcome to Exploring Elementary 2.0, Self-Paced Professional Development

**Updated for Summer 2008! ***

Welcome to Exploring Elementary 2.0, a project designed to help elementary educators become familiar with Web 2.0 tools and examine how they might be used to enrich their personal lives, professional practice, or as a tool to improve student learning.  You’ll hear the words student learning over and over in this project because we want to focus on results, not just add fun tech toys into the classroom.

Many blogs and articles focus on Web 2.0 integration at the secondary level, but our elementary learners have different needs when we consider meaningful instructional design.  This project helps us work together to explore and discuss which 2.0 tools offer the most promise to our young learners, who are just learning to keyboard, lack knowledge and experience about Web safety, and are developmentally at a more concrete level of thinking.  The tools you choose to embrace and use with students will depend on your learners and the school and neighborhood culture in which you work.

What is this project about? How is it organized?
This independent learning project is divided into 17 steps (we call them “Explorations”) to help you experiment and experience a variety of Web 2.0 tools that you might adopt to improve student learning.  You will track your progress by setting up a blog (Exploration 3) and posting your reflections.  You are encouraged to visit the blogs of other participants (listed in the blogroll in the right-hand column) to view their perspectives.  Go ahead — leave them a comment of support or encouragement!  This journey is based on the past experiences of hundreds of prior participants in similar library-initiated projects. All participants are welcome, but to help us keep track of you, we ask that you register through your school library media specialist, who can also provide personalized support and guidance to you.  You’ll learn more about registration as you start engaging in the Explorations.

What is the timeline?
You have until June 1, 2008, to complete this project (unless your school library media specialist sets another deadline for you) and note your progress on the blog.  While you can work at any speed, we’ve divided the journey into weekly components to help with pacing.  Try not to save the activities until the last week so that you have time to reflect on a tool before rushing off to the next.

Can I get credit or PD hours for this?
Check with your media specialist, who may be able to arrange professional development hours for you, depending on your district.   BPS employees may register for 10 hours on KALPA.

How do I navigate the project?
You can click on the links below to get to the directions for each step, or click on the Exploration number under the categories list in the near-right column.

Will there be face-to-face instruction? What about tech support?
This is a self-paced independent study course runing on volunteer manpower.  However, your school library media specialist is available to help you if you run into a snag.  Sorry, but we can’t help you with home computers.  Keep in mind that every school district has a different filtering policy.  If you find any blocked sites at school, you can contact your district’s Tech Support or substitute an alternate site.

Where did this idea come from? Who is behind the scenes!
This project was inspired by Helene Blowers and her Learning 2.0 project, portions of which are replicated here under a Creative Commons license.  The project was adapted by Kristin Fontichiaro of the Birmingham (Michigan) Public Schools and School Library 2.0 blogger for School Library Media Activities Monthly, with input and leadership provided by other school library media specialists.  While we customized this program to focus on the unique needs of elementary student learning, anyone is welcome to participate.  To be a part of our project, please register through your school library media specialist so he or she can track your progress.  If your school does not have a school librarian, please contact Kristin at slmamblog[at]gmail.com to register directly.

What are my responsibilities as a school librarian if I’d like to invite the staff of my school to participate?

1.  Email Kristin at slmamblog[at]gmail.com letting her know that your school plans to participate.

2.  Inspire your colleagues at the building level.

3.  Collect your colleague’s blog URLs and send them to Kristin so they can be included in the blogroll.

4.  Track your colleagues’ individual progress (try adding your colleagues’ feeds into your Bloglines account – see Exploration 7), give them a nudge if they get behind, and do any necessary professional development paperwork required by your district.

5.  Have fun!

What are the 17 Explorations?
Click on the links to be taken to more detailed information about each Exploration.  Beginning with Exploration 3 you will note your reflections and observations in your blog.

Week 1: Getting Started (July 14 – July 20)
1.  Read through this project home page to learn about the program. That’s it for this one!
2.  Read about Web 2.0 and become familiar with its major concepts.
3.  Set up your own blog, write a few practice posts, and register your blog.

Week 2: Photos & Images (July 21 – July 28)
4.  Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image hosting site.
5.  Have some Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & 3rd party sites.
6.  Play around with an online image generator.

Week 3: Managing What’s On the Web (July 29  – August 4)
7.  Learn about RSS feeds and set up your own Bloglines newsreader account.
8.  Locate a few useful education-related blogs and/or news feeds.
9.  Organize your favorite and bookmarked Web sites with Del.icio.us

Week 4: Play Week (August 11 – 17)
10. Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.
11. Create a custom Google search engine for students

Week 5: Collaborative Writing (August 18 – 24)
12. Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that educators are using them.
13. Take your documents online with Google Docs.
14. Organize your thoughts with Gliffy.

Week 6: Video & Podcasts (August 25 – 29)
15. Discover Teacher Tube, a site for sharing educational videos.
16. Make a podcast with your phone.
17. Summarize your thoughts, lessons learned, and/or ideas for the future on your blog.

Next Steps
Now that you’ve read through this page, you’ve completed Exploration 1.  Let’s go on to Exploration 2 and learn about Web 2.0.

Exploration 2: What Is Web 2.0

Here are some resources that give some basic information about Web 2.0.  Browse through them.  There is no “homework” or blog posting required for this exploration.

The first two posts come from Kristin’s blog and discuss Web 2.0 from a school library perspective:

Here are some additional resources:

Go back to the project home page >>

Go on to Exploration 3: Blogs>>

Exploration 3: Setting Up a Blog

A blog is a kind of online journal or diary hosted on the Web.  You don’t need to own your own Web site or any special technology to blog.  Olive, a 108 year-old Australian, blogs!  Millions of bloggers use Blogger, WordPress, or Edublogs to create free blogs.  Your entries are time and date stamped, and the newest information is always on top.  Unlike a Web page, where you delete outdated content to make room for new content, a blog automatically archives older posts, so you can always access what has been written before.  Later, in Week 3, you’ll learn about RSS feeds, which let people subscribe to many blogs and have the blogs’ content delivered right to their account.

Blogs can serve lots of purposes in an elementary school.  Here are a few ways in which they’re being used:

  • Principals post their newsletters or principal letters onto a blog.
  • Teachers use blogs to post daily homework, class photos, or student work.
  • School librarians use blogs to post book reviews, update parents on programs, share student work, or distribute tech tips to teachers.
  • Blogs can last for years or focus on a single, short-term project (such as a series of photos to document the plant growth unit, a blog that tracks weather patterns, or a student research blog). 

To complete Exploration 3:

1.  Register for a blog at one of the sites listed above.  (Kristin likes Edublogs best for school and Blogger best for personal use.  You can find detailed instructions for both on this site and via the online tutorials at each site.)  If you already have a blog, consider setting up a separate blog just for this project.

2.  Choose a template (a background design) for your blog.

3.  Create an introductory blog post.   To help us keep track of you, use, “Exploration 3: Blog Introduction” in the subject line.  You can be as personal or as anonymous as you like.

4.  Create a second blog post that reflects on the potential relevance of blogs to your personal life, professional life, and student learning.  Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to consider before embarking on a blogging project?

5.  Send an email to your school library media specialist with the following information.  He or she will forward your blog URL to Kristin so it can be listed on the blogroll (the list of blogs) on the home page of this project.

6.  Leave a comment on someone else’s blog.  The following may be useful guidelines if you choose to have students leave comments for one another in the future:

    • Be constructive.
    • Be kind.
    • Be supportive.

Important note for you: You can choose to blog with your own name, with a nickname (“Liberry Lady”), or anonymously.  The kinds of information you share are up to you. 

Important note for working with students: If we were working with students, we would recommend no last names and no personal details (school or church, friends’ names, teacher’s name, address/phone, etc.) to protect their privacy. 

This exploration is adapted from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project (under a Creative Commons license).

Go back to the home page of this project>>
Go on to Exploration 4>>

Exploration 4: Exploring Flickr

Flickr is an online site that lets you upload your photos, sort them, label them with key words (known as “tagging”), and share them.  Photos can be marked public or private, so you can choose who sees what.

For this exploration:

1.  To get started exploring Flickr, watch Common Craft’s common sense introduction to Flickr and photosharing.

2.  Go to Flickr and open an account.  Flickr is now owned by Yahoo, so you will need a Yahoo email account to do that.  If you don’t have a Yahoo email account, you can get one here.

3.  Click the “Take the Tour” button on Flickr’s home page.

4.  Type in some keywords to see the kinds of photos you can find.  Once you leave the home page, the Search box has three tabs.  Click “Groups” to see places where people have collaboratively shared photographs on a single topic: crafts made from a single book, Mustangs, etc.

5.  If you like, upload a few photos to Flickr and experiment with tagging them and making them public/private.

6.  Use Flickr’s blogging service to select a photo to put into your blog.  See etiquette notice below!  Then reflect on the potential relevance of photosharing sites to your personal life, professional life, and student learning. Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to conisder?

Important Privacy Note (quoted from Helene Blowers’ project): “When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors) is it advisable to get the person’s permission before posting their photo in a publicly accessible place like Flickr. Never upload pictures that weren’t taken by you (unless you have the photographer’s consent) and always give credit when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog.”

Optional: to hear the podcast about Flickr that Helene Blowers recorded for the first Learning 2.0 project, click here.

This exploration is adapted from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project (under a Creative Commons license).

Go back to the home page of this project>>
Go on to Exploration 5>>

Exploration 5: Fun with Flickr Mashups and Third Party Sites

Like many web 2.0 sites, Flickr has encouraged other people to build their own online applications using images found on the site. Through the use of APIs (application programming interfaces), many people have created third party tools and mashups* that use Flickr images. Here are just a sampling of a few …

  • Mappr – allows you to take Flickr images and paste them on a map
  • Flickr Color Pickr – lets you find public photos in Flickr that match a specific color.
  • Montagr – create a photo mosaic from photos found on Flickr.
  • Big Huge Labs – make your own ID cards, magazine covers, motivational posters, photo cubes, puzzles, and more.
  • Spell with Flickr
  • Make your own trading cards!

For this exploration:

  1. Explore some of the fun Flickr mashups and 3rd party tools that are out there.  You can choose from the ones above or explore more mashups, web apps, and Flickr tools.
  2. Reflect on the potential relevance of photosharing sites to your personal life, professional life, and student learning.   Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to conisder?  Use “Exploration 5: Fun with Flickr” as your subject heading.

* Mashup Note: Wikipedia offers some great articles that explain mashups. Basically they are hybrid web applications that take features from one application (like Flickr) and mash it up with another (like a map). In this example, you get Mappr.

This exploration is adapted from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project (under a Creative Commons license).  This Exploration was updated July 16, 2008.

Go back to the home page of this project>>
Go on to Exploration 6>>

Exploration 6: Online Image Generators

Have you ever wished you were on the cover of a magazine? That you could crack open a fortune cookie and find exactly the fortune you want? That you’d see your name on a theatre marquee? Well, we can’t make you famous, but we can introduce you to online image generators.  There are a bunch of sites online that let you either edit existing images and overlay your own text (example: they provide a photo of a fortune cookie, and you add the fortune) or let you upload your images and use them in intriguing ways.

Here are some samples (click on them to see them up close):

For this exploration:

1.  Have fun.

2.  Find a few fun image or text generators to play around with.  Try these:

3.  If the site allows it (some don’t and would rather have you link to it on your blog), right-click on the image to save it to your computer.  Upload one of your creations to your blog.  Then reflect on the potential relevance of photosharing sites to your personal life, professional life, and student learning. Use “Reflection 6: Online Image Generators” as your subject line.  Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to conisder?

Note: Often adding the image you generated to your blog is as simple as copying and pasting code that the page provides. (To access the code, look for a tab or phrase labeled “edit HTML” or “edit code.”  If not, you may just need to right click on the image and then save it to your hard drive before using your blog’s image upload feature to add it to the blog. 

This post is adapted from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project under a Creative Commons license.  Some new image generators were added in July 2008.

Go back to the home page of this project>>
Go on to Exploration 7>>

Exploration 7: RSS Feeds and Bloglines

You’ve heard of RSS? You’ve seen those small funny orange squares on websites? You’ve heard co-workers and acquaintances swear by it, but still have no idea what RSS is? It’s simpler than it seems.  In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionalizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a means for delivering regularly updated information over the web.  The information that comes to you is called a “feed.”

Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit every day. It takes time to visit those sites and scour the ad-filled and image-heavy pages for just the text you want to read, doesn’t it? And isn’t it disappointing when you don’t find anything new waiting for you? 

Now imagine if you could visit all those information sources and web pages in just one place and all at the same time … without being bombarded with advertising… without having to search for new information on the page you’d already seen or read before… and without having to consume a lot of time visiting each site individually. Would that be valuable to you? Would you like New York Times articles to show up in the same place as your favorite cooking blog?

It’s as easy as setting up an RSS aggregator, which is a fancy way of saying, “An online place that collects all of your favorite stuff and dumps it in one place.” 

For this exploration:

1.  Watch the Common Craft video about RSS.  It makes RSS easy!

2.  Sign up for an account with a news aggregator.  Some people like Google Reader (shown in the Common Craft video), and some like Bloglines.  Kristin uses Bloglines.  You can find a Bloglines setup tutorial here.

3.  Add a few blogs to Bloglines by clicking “Add” under the Feeds tab and pasting the URL into the box.  You can find a list of some of your librarians’ favorite library and educational technology blogs here.

4.  Write a blog entry titled “Exploration 7: RSS Feeds” about your experience.  Then reflect on the potential relevance of RSS to your personal life, professional life, and students’ learning. Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to consider?

This post is adapted from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project under a Creative Commons license.

Go back to the home page of this project>>
Go on to Exploration 8>>

Exploration 8: Locating Useful Blogs and Feeds

Now that you have a Bloglines or Google Reader account, you can begin adding other newsfeeds and blogs that interest you. There are blogs out there for everything from Project Runway to vacations, politics to patchwork, bird-watching to school funding. 

There are several ways you can locate newsfeeds:

  • When visiting your favorite websites, look for RSS or news feed icons that indicate the website provides it. Often a feed icon will be displayed somewhere in the navigation bar of the site. (Here’s an image that contains a sampling of several feed icons).
  • Use Bloglines’ Search tool – Bloglines’ search tool lets you search for news feeds in addition to posts, citations and the web. Use the Search for Feeds option to locate RSS feeds you might be interested in.
  • Try a blog finder like Technorati to help you search for blogs.   See what happens if you type in the names of people you know!  If you want to steer extra attention to your blog (if yours is a student blog, think carefully about this), you can try this Technorati Tutorial on finding and adding your blog.

For this exploration:

1.  Explore some of the search tools noted above that can help you locate some feeds.  Add them to your account.

2.  Create a blog post about your experience titled “Exploration 8: Locating Useful Blogs and Feeds.”  Then reflect on the potential relevance of RSS to your personal life, professional life, or students’ learning.  Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to consider?

This post comes from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project under a Creative Commons license.

Go back to the home page of this project>>
Go on to Exploration 9>>

Exploration 9: Getting Organized with Del.icio.us

Most of us know how to use Favorites (in Internet Explorer) or Bookmarks (in Mozilla Firefox) to save our favorite Web sites.  But what happens when you’re at home, and your Favorites are on your school computer? Or, worse, what happens when your computer crashes or gets reimaged, and all of your Favorites are wiped out? Or what if you have a whole bunch of favorite Web sites and wish it were easier to keep track of them?

Those are all key reasons  why using a social bookmarking tool like Del.icio.us can add so much to productivity.

Del.icio.us does so much more than that, though.  It not only saves the Web address or URL for the sites you like.  It allows you to save a snippet of that page’s text and to label it with tags.  Tagging is an open and informal method of categorizing that allows users to associate keywords with online content (webpages, pictures & posts). Tagging is completely unstructured and freeform, allowing users to create connections between data anyway they want.  (The opposite of tagging is “controlled vocabulary,” like the subject headings that lovely library cataloguers use.) 

You’ve already encountered tagging in exploring Flickr, and you’ll also see tags next week, when you look at LibraryThing. 
Many users find that the real power of Del.icio.us is in the social network aspect, which allows you to see how other users have tagged similar links and also discover other websites that may be of interest to you. You can think of it as peering into another users’ filing cabinet, but with this powerful bookmarking tool each user’s filing cabinet helps to build an expansive knowledge network.  (And if you’re a private person, you can keep things private, too.)

For this exploration:

1.  Watch Common Craft’s excellent video introduction to Del.icio.us and social bookmarking.

2.  View the 8 minute Del.icio.us tutorial to get a good overview of its features.

3.  Create a Del.icio.us account for yourself and discover how this useful bookmarking tool can replace your traditional browser bookmark list.

4.  Create a blog post about your experience titled “Exploration 9: Delicious.”  Reflect on the potential relevance of Web-based, social bookmarking to your personal life, professional life, and students’ learning.  Are there any particular safety or privacy issues to conisder?

Note: If you do setup a Del.icio.us account, here’s a quick word about the Del.icio.us Buttons. On PCs that have the toolbars locked down, these will install as options in your browser bookmarks. Use the “Post to my Del.icio.us” link to add the current webpage to your account (you may need to log in). Use the “My Del.icio.us” link to view your online account.

This post is adapted from Helene Blowers’ original Learning 2.0 project under a Creative Commons license.

Go back to the home page of this project>>

Go on to Exploration 10>>