Monthly Archives: October 2010

Wiking our way into the 21st Century

As we move into the global society of the 21st century, collaboration is a key skill required by students to be successful. Previous to the development of Web 2.0 tools, collaboration was limited by proximity, time, and the abundance or scarcity of tools. In other words, you needed to be in the same room, at the same time, and have more than one paper/pen to take notes for your poster or Powerpoint. The advent of wikis has changed all that. You can be on different continents, in different time zones, and both be able to access the same document, adding, uploading and organizing content easily and efficiently. Using a wiki, I have collaborated with a group of teachers who lived China, British Columbia, Alberta, and the United States. (See that wiki here) Wikis allow us to truly synergize, to create something more powerful together than we could have created alone.

What are wikis? The word ‘ wiki’ comes from Hawaii, and means ‘fast’. A wiki is a website that is simple and easy to create, using a wiki hosting service. All you need is the internet, a computer and a keyboard. That’s it. No programming skills, no HTML. The most famous wiki and the granddaddy of them all, Wikipedia, is currently the largest and most used reference in the world, with 16 million articles that have been written by people from all over the world (Wikipedia, nd). A true Web 2.0 tool, wikis allow for creation of content rather than just viewing content (Lamb & Johnson, 2007). Wikis allow for the ability to upload links, images and files easily. Within a very short space of time, I can create a website for teachers or students to use to share their ideas and thoughts. In effect, if I invite all users as editors, we will be co-creating a website together. Worrying about someone completely messing up a page? Clicking on ‘Page history’ gives you a complete breakdown of each revision, and it is quick and easy to restore a page to an earlier version. Trying to find out who did the most work on the page? Again, clicking on ‘Page history’ tells you who has revised the page and when.

How to set up  a wiki:

1. Find and choose a wiki-hosting site: wikispaces, pbworks, or wetpaint

2. Set up a free account with your email address. (You can upgrade for a few more perks for a fee)

3. Name your wiki.

4. Add a page

5. Add your collaborators

Commoncraft has an excellent overview of what a wiki is here.

Personal Learning about the tool


Learning about Wikis

Last year was my year of the Wiki. I can’t remember who introduced me to the idea of using it in my inquiry teaching, but once I looked at it, I loved it. Creating one using was quick and easy. I created an account, and created my first webpage! As I explored it, I learned to not only type in information, but how to create hyperlinks and upload pictures and videos. Why PBworks and not Wikispaces? Simply because PBworks was the first one that I was introduced to, and I became comfortable with its use.  What was more difficult was organizing how to use wikis effectively, and thinking about how to teach students how to use it. Often, we have a misconception that children, as ‘digital natives’, will learn technology on their own, without any direction. While I have definitely found students are more prone to explore, click and try technology, I have also found that they require instruction to be truly successful in USING the technology effectively.

My first use of a wiki was with a grade 6 class. (See the wiki here) Our inquiry was researching an issue currently in the news, taking a stance, and creating a Glogster poster to portray those views. The  wiki was used so that students could work collaboratively in pairs, storing information, video, and weblinks on the wiki. Once they had collected their information, teams used their wiki page to collaboratively write paragraphs for the Glogster. Students were taught how to upload information, how to ‘steal the lock’ and how to create citations for information discovered. Generally, this class succeeded in using wiki as a collaborative tool. The teacher I was working with was one who struggles with using technology, yet she was able to easily navigate the wiki with only moderate instruction. One function of the wiki that she found very useful was the ability to track who added information, and view previous versions. This gave her valuable information as to the ability of students to work collaboratively create content (excellent for report cards!).

After this experience, I used the same format with a grade 5 class. (See the wiki here.) Again, we were using the wiki as a storage and collaborative writing tool for students as they prepared photostories of famous canadians. This section was not as successful. Students had had little previous preparation from the classroom teacher, and expectations were not clearly laid out. The level of writing was far lower on this project.

Simultaneously I was working with a grade 5 strategies class. (See their wiki here.) We were to use the wiki as a note taking device as individual students created Smartboard Notebook presentations. The wiki worked well for them when they were using print material for their projects, however students struggled to transfer between windows to write ideas from websites to the wiki. There was no collaboration involved in this project and they used the wiki for short scrappy notes. We eventually abandoned the wiki and moved back to using pen and paper. In retrospect, a wiki was not the right tool for the project as envisioned by the classroom teacher.

As I moved to the younger grades, and after the difficulties with the other classes, the teachers of one grade 2/3 class and I chose to use the wiki as a pathfinder. (See the pathfinder wiki here.) Joyce Valenza (2007)  in her article,” Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki‘ discusses how wikis allow you to link, not only to websites, but to your media, databases, handouts, graphic organizers and more. Not being sure how grade 2/3’s would navigate the wiki, I chose to limit it to a search engine for specific animals. I had envisioned it becoming a collaborative space for myself and the other teachers to work together to find and annotate sites. Unfortunately, the other teachers involved were, as all teachers are, extremely busy and felt that it was my task as the teacher-librarian to do so. I agreed, however, did not find the time to do as good a job as I would like. Students did find the wiki helpful. Having only one log in to find information helped them to be focused on their task. I struggled with not teaching them proper search skills, and with finding websites that were at their reading level. We do have Read Please downloaded onto our computers to assist students with reading higher level websites, but the teachers were reluctant to take the time to teach students how to use Read Please. In retrospect, I would have liked to spend more time discovering and annotating sites, and perhaps putting up the print graphic organizer we used and a rubric for students.

For the other grade 2/3 class, the project moved from research to Language Arts. This teacher was interested in exploring alternate versions of Cinderella stories. (See the Cinderella wiki here.) After reading Harvey and Daniels’ (2009) Comprehension and Collaboration, I was aware that inquiry could take the form of exploration in Language Arts as well as  Science and Social, and was keen to try some of their ideas. We decided that the wiki would take the form of a collaborative narrative writing project, as pairs of students wrote their own Cinderella story after being presented with different versions and comparing and contrasting them. Loudermilk -Garzia and Hern (2006) suggest that when using wikis as a collaborative writing tool, students will learn to deal effectively with conflict and learn negotiation skills. They also state that students will develop a willingness to share with and be edited by peers. Both of these became evident in this classroom. Pairs had been assigned randomly, so some conflicts were inevitable. Students had to decide on an outline for their story, and when writing, as only one student was able to add content at a time, they had to negotiate who was going to type and what content to add. Students were taught about appropriate commenting as they looked at others’ stories. While they did not develop the ability to truly give effective feedback, comments were, for the most part, appropriate. The first time someone wrote a (mildly) inappropriate comment, I happened to have my Blackberry with me and received the email notification of the comment moments after it was posted. I went to the classroom and called out, “Hey, S., thanks for telling us that you want to get finished and go out for recess, but next time, don’t do it on the wiki!”. The vision of Big Brother silenced any other silly comments. 🙂 The teacher used the comment feature  as well to give constructive feedback to students and students seemed comfortable having this feedback shared with all readers.

My other uses of wikis have come through my Master’s courses. When creating a wiki for my Personal Inquiry question, I learned that I could put pages into folders, and I made a ‘Holding Tank’ for information that I did not need to have marked by my professor, but that would keep articles where I could get to them (almost like Evernote J ). The Global Lives Inquiry Project wiki done for my Inquiry course is the most complex wiki I have created so far, including pages for parents, for students, and for staff. I have not yet had the opportunity to ‘test drive’ this wiki yet, and am looking forward to seeing what works and what needs to be adapted as we use it with grade threes this coming January.

Professional and personal use

I believe that, for a collaborative learning tool, wikis are invaluable. While Google docs allow multiple users to work on a document simultaneously, and wikis allow for only one user to work on it at a time, wikis are useful when you want to create a complete website with many pages that is easy to access. (See this site for a comparison of wikis and Google docs.) As stated previously, I can see wikis being applied within a staff for collaborative work around a topic such as assessment, or for specific departments to collectively create courses, pathfinders, or resources for their subjects. Boeninger (2007) also refers to wikis as useful for internal communication, like  ‘a meeting without a meeting’. I can also see wikis being used within districts. For example, the K-12 Literacy plan was released last year within my districts for comments. Using a wiki, the plan could have been developed within consulting services, and then it could have been delivered to all stakeholders within a wiki, so comments could have been tracked…or if they were brave enough, the district could have opened the document for revision! 🙂 Even beyond a district, wikis allow for national and international collaboration. The Elementary Library Routines wiki is open for all teacher librarians to add their ideas and links in order to create one resource for elementary librarians everywhere. As teachers, who are constantly being asked to do more, collaboration using wikis makes so much sense. Why are we all reinventing the wheel? Harry Wong (2004) says beginning teachers should ‘steal, steal, steal’. I say we should share, share, share using wikis as a tool. What about using wikis for Professional development? Joyce Valenza’s New Tools Workshop is an example of a collaboratively built wiki being used as an anytime, anywhere access workshop, with information for teachers about Web 2.0 tools and how to use them.  However, it is not a case of ‘if we build it, they will come’. When I tried using wikis with my staff as a tool to collaborate, store and hold information, ideas, links, websites and images, I had envisioned Division 1 and 2 Social and Science wikis, LA wikis, etc. Unfortunately, others do not always share the same ideas. Although my staff is very collaborative and mostly technology savvy, there were two competing pressures which did not support the use of wikis as a collaborative tool at this time: the expectation that staff would use our districts ‘Share’ site, a firewalled network within the school, for collaborative work and documents, and the ever present struggle for teachers, finding the time to learn and use new technology, even something as easy to use as a wiki, and the time to upload content. Sheehy (2009), in his post The wiki as a knowledge repository, talks about the obstacles he faced when persuading teachers to use a wiki for his high school department as a knowledge repository. Teachers needed to have the basis of trust in their colleagues, be taught how to use the wiki, they need to be convinced of the usefulness of the wiki, they need to have the time to post to the wiki, and, most telling of all, they need to see that their contributions are valuable.  It may require much ‘nudging’ on the part of the teacher librarian to help teachers discover and use the true potential of wikis.

Use with Students

So far, I have used wikis in the classroom for collaborative research, collaborative writing, as a storage tool for notes, and as a pathfinder. Lamb  and Johnson (2007) also suggest using wikis for collaborative problem solving, as a journal, an electronic portfolio, a virtual conference, and as a study guide. This last idea was interesting to me as one of my teachers recently had her students prepare Notebook presentations on different planets. She told me that it would be invaluable to have these as study guides for the Provincial Achievement Tests. My thought was, how much better would this have been as a wiki? Instead of listening to each presentation, students would have the ability to access each other’s pages and have anytime, anywhere access to their study guides. Vicki Davis (2007) uses wikis for lesson summaries, notes collaboration, exploratory projects, learn/shares, assessments, rewards and classroom organization (slide 31). How about using a wiki to design a class website? One of my favorites is Mr. Smith’s class page. He uses this page in addition to his class website. Others use it as the their only website.  In the video below, one teacher has put her entire Language Arts course on a wiki. Students are using the wiki as they share their thoughts about a poem their teacher has posted on one page. Note how the student talks about how her learning is extended by the collaborative aspects of the comments.

The students in this video are busy using Diigo to add comments, however, there is a comment device within the wiki that could also be used.

Benefits of using Wikis in the classroom

In the wiki article Wiki as a collaborative tool , Loudermilk-Garzia and Hern (2006) suggest that wikis help support the collaborative writing process by having student set norms set up early on: ie what to call it, etc.They see the ability of users to share work and see it revised and edited by others as a way to build on collaborative aspects of the classroom. “Wiki technology not only supports these practices but might also contribute to the kind of community ethos that can lead to such sharing.  ” (para 14).

Boston College’s e-Teaching services (nd) suggest that the benefits of using a wiki in the classroom are:

  • Students seeing others’ work learn from each other
  • Seeing other students’ work as exemplars could help students to increase their writing skills, or encourage them to add more information to their work
  • Students can develop critical thinking skills by critiquing others work and defending their own.
  • Students build their negotiation and collaborative skills
  • Leads to building a more cooperative classroom community
  • Students help to create class content/discussions
  • Allowing for students to have access to content outside of class time

Vicki Davis (2007), in the Slideshare presentation below, talks about how wikis raise the level of involvement of students, increasing their retention of material.

In the video below, Jeff Utecht (2009) states that using a wiki helps students to understand that ideas can belong to more than one person. Chris Betcher (2009), in the same conversation, says, “Wikis are symbolic of the change that’s taking place in society…moving to a more integrated method of doing stuff. It’s not about one person going off and making something and then coming back and saying, ‘Ta-da! Look what I’ve done!” It’s about groups of people working on things and then having that back and forth iteration. Collaboration is about working together to build a better project.”

Joyce Valenza (2007) says that wikis can be collaborative built by “classes across the country or across the world” (p. 131). Why not try to use a wiki? After all, isn’t sharing and collaboration one way to build a better planet?


Boeninger, C.  (2007). The wonderful world of wikis: Applications for libraries. In Library 2.0 and Beyond. Westport: Conn. Libraries Unlimited.

Boston College (nd) Retrieved from

HarveyD., & Daniels, S. (2009) Comprehension and collaboration. Heinemann Educational Publishing.

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2007). InfoTech: An info-skills workout: Wikis and c0llaborative writing. In Rosenfeld, E. & Loertscher, D. (Eds.) Toward a 21st Century School Library Media Program. Lanham:MA, Hi Willow Research and Publishing.

Loudermilk-Garzia, s. & Hern, T. (2006) Retrieved from

Sheehy, G. (2009) Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2007). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. School Library Journal Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2007). Something wiki this way comes…are you ready?. In Rosenfeld, E. & Loertscher, D. (Eds.) Toward a 21st Century School Library Media Program. Lanham:MA, Hi Willow Research and Publishing.



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Podcasting: Hark, what voice through yonder computer breaks?

Podcasting reminds me of radio. I listen to podcasts of favourite shows like ‘The Vinyl Café’ on iTunes and on CBC radio online. Still, I had never considered making my own podcasts until reading Will Richardson (2009). Hey, I LOVE the sound of my own voice (say my kids), so this will be great! Podcasting…this should be easy! Will Richardson says so! Is he right? Check out my podcasts below…

As much as I admire and respect you, Will, I have to say that, once again, YouTube tutorials saved my ***. How about you? Are you trying to use Audacity? Have a look at these two:


I had trouble downloading the LAME software so I could export it to an MP3 file. Once again YouTube came to my rescue. A young (really young) man provided step by step instructions.

Finally, the software was saved to my computer. Then came the difficulty of loading the podcast to my WordPress blog. Now, if you want to upgrade for a minimum of $19.95, no problemo. However, if you want to do it for free, you need to host your podcast onto a web server. By this time, I was seriously considering getting out my credit card and going for it. However, I stopped to think about using this in a school district. Free is always better in our school! So, I searched and found A free account and easy upload made this a great choice. It loaded up on the WordPress blog, however, I just got a link to Podcastmachine, not the actual podcast. Remembering Joanne de Groot’s Trailfire, I decided to try Audioboo. Once again, a free account and easy upload. I was able to record directly onto Audioboo and skip the Audacity step. Hey, I found out I can even use Audioboo with my iPhone and iPad!

Remember, though, that Audioboo is like live radio. You get to record podcasts, but there’s no editing. Audacity will work better if you and your students want to work on those cool effects Will Richardson (2009) talks about.

Screencasting is one step up from podcasting. In screencasting, you can use Jing, a free program, to voiceover an image on the computer screen, save it as a video to and upload it to a blog or access it on your Smartboard or projector directly from Screencast. Will Richardson (2009) suggests using it to explain to students how to do something on the computer (see my explanation of Diigo in the previous post) or for students to share their work. See a demo here.

Personal life:

I love radio. Certain announcers have me hooked just by the sound of their voice. Jurgen Goth and Tom Allen on CBC are two of my absolute favourites. I would smile just by hearing their voice. Stuart MacLean and The Vinyl Café kept my kids from killing each other in the back seat on long road trips. How fantastic that I can download podcasts of their shows and listen to them on my computer or my iPod. Driving to work in the morning has been less relaxing now that CBC has moved to a more mainstream style of music. Now I can listen to podcasts in my car during my daily drive. I can listen to drama, comedy, book reviews, interviews, how-to shows and more, all on demand.

Professional life


To use with students:

Lamb and Johnson (2007) talk about downloading podcasts to the library. I had never really thought about it. Talk about being stuck in the 20thy century vision of a library. I did go out and buy 4 iTouches for our library, how about downloading podcasts as resources? Off I went to iTunes and looked at ‘education’ and wow, what a treasure trove of resources. I always think of those students whose reading skills are far below their ability to understand concepts. Even finding websites and online encyclopedias for them to use is difficult, due to their low reading level. I have the free version of ‘ReadPlease’ on our laptops for them to use, but what about a podcast? ELL students could benefit from podcasts available for them on sites like Podcasts in English,  Many Things,  or how about English Banana?  I also love the idea of linking podcast book review sites like Just One More Book to a school or library blog for students to access and listen to book reviews. What about listening to stories on sites like this one?


Chris Kretz ( 2007) suggests that librarians can create their own booktalks on Podcasts. Check out this booktalk I created using Audacity:

Amulet Booktalk

Compare it to the one I made using Audioboo.

Which is your preference? On the other hand, never mind me creating booktalks, I think that students should be creating their own booktalk podcasts. (Whoever is doing, is learningJ )

Common Craft, in their video, Podcasts in Plain English, say, “Everyone can have a voice that shows their true colours.” Students can use their voice to show their learning, share their work with other students, classes, parents and the world. Students could create a podcast as an assessment of learning at the end of a unit, or as an assessment for learning activity in the middle of one. Why not have students podcast picture books for younger students? It would help older students develop their reading fluency and would create a listening center for younger students using any book in the library. Students can be creating screencasts of stories they have written using pictures they have created or found on the web or podcasts to share their poetry. Consider how it feels to listen to an author read from their own work. Maya Angelou says “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”
Students who have the opportunity to write and create podcasts on a variety of topics are learning to write, to listen, to collaborate, to share and to use technology to express themselves. Garner Campbell (2005) states that ‘there is magic in the human voice, the magic of shared awareness…voice can create a theatre of the mind (and) can connect with the listener on a profound level.” (p. 5). In a world where we worry about people becoming isolated, podcasting offers students that opportunity…to create magic and to connect with others on a personal level.


Angelou, Maya. Retrieved from on October 15, 2010.

Campbell, G. (2005). There’s something in the air: Podcasting in education. Retrieved from

Kretz, C. (2007). Podcasting in libraries. In Courtney, N. (Ed.),  Library 2.0 and beyond (pg. 35-47). Westport, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Lamb, A. & Johnson, L. (2007) Infotech: Podcasting in the library, part 1: Integrating podcasts and vodcasts into teaching and learning. In Rosenfeld, E. & Loertscher, D. (Ed.), Toward a 21st century school library media program (p. 163-170). Lanham, MA: Scarecrow Press.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.


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From Transformers to Sauerkraut

In my grade 1/2 class, the current rage is tiny transformers that turn from balls to robots. Both boys and girls are collecting, trading and sharing them. In my kindergarten, it is leaves. We went on a fall walk and collected some for our seasonal changes unit, and somehow, my students got hooked on leaves, collecting, organizing, trading and sharing them. When my own children were younger, it was Pokemon cards. They were so excited to get a new one, and more than happy to share their ‘doubles’ with friends to help them increase their collections. As an adult, I collect and share information, rather than things. Recipes, reviews of restaurants, tips for everything from staying organized 🙂 to how to get pine sap off of hands. We are a society of collectors, and in the 21st century, we have access to and are collecting massive amounts of information. How can we best store and retrieve the information we collect?


Think of a library. In our libraries, we store print information on our shelves, in rows organized by the great god of Dewey.( Think of Dewey like a secret code. Once you know the secret code, you can find the same information in any library, anywhere.) Now think of how many websites you have stored on your bookmarks in your computer.You create folders, place your bookmark in a folder, and then, IF you can remember what folder it is in, you have access to that website any time you are at your computer. Oh, oh! You are at a friend’s house, and you want to show her the fabulous sauerkraut website you found last week that had a recipe just like grandma’s on it. It’s stored in your bookmarkson your computer in your  sauerkraut folder, but you really don’t want to run home and write it down. You promise to email it to her and hope you will remember. You might even carry sticky notes in your purse and write one to remind you to do it.

Fast forward to cloud computing. With social bookmarking websites, you can access your bookmarks from any computer. There are many social bookmarking sites you can use, most of them free. Web Tools4u2use has a comprehensive list. Once you have signed up, you can start bookmarking sites and organize them through tagging.

Tagging is like putting your bookmarks in a folder, but the beauty of it is that you can choose more than one tag. If, for example, I have a great site that has my grandma’s sauerkraut recipe, I can tag it ‘recipes’ and ‘sauerkraut’ and ‘grandma’. This gives me multiple ways to remember how I bookmarked the site. Tagging is a type of folksonomy, a user based organizational system. Now, even better, I can share this bookmark with my friend by creating a ‘sauerkraut’ group in my social bookmarking site. I can manage my group to be private, with only those I invite, or I can allow everyone in the group to invite others, or I can make it a public group anyone can join. In a few minutes, the website with my grandma’s sauerkraut recipe could go global! Social bookmarking allows us to create a library of web resources similar to our libraries of books, but with one major difference. With our libraries, once a book is out, it’s out. With social bookmarking, we get to have our cake and eat it, too! When we share sites and ideas, we keep the original, and often receive back more information to add onto what we already have. Our resources and the ideas about how to use them can morph and grow and expand into something beyond what we could have imagined on our own.

Personal uses of social bookmarking

In my Inquiry course taken this summer, I had briefly overviewed Diigo and Evernote in order to decide which one would be the best for me to use. Diigo won me over by the simplicity of its use and design. For this post on social bookmarking, I decided to go deeper into Diigo and Evernote as opposed to trying one of the many  other sites such as delicious.


Diigo not only gives me a way to store my bookmarks in the cloud, but gives me the freedom to tag it in multiple ways, using whatever tags I wish.  Not only does Diigo keep track of the site, it takes a snapshot, so that even if the site is taken down, I am able to access an archive of the site and the information remains at my fingertips. I talk about some other options Diigo gives me in the post below this one.

In addition to the annotation, highlights, stickynote and sharing aspects of Diigo, I like the ability to create RSS feeds of tags, so when someone else tags a site with one of my RSS tags, I have access to that information as well. I could have the biggest and best collection of sauerkraut recipes all through harnessing the global efforts of others!


Evernote was a little trickier to delve into. I had to spend more time exploring the site to find out its uses. Feeling a bit frustrated, I went to YouTube and searched for Evernote Tutorials and found one that was very helpful.

I really liked the way Evernote organized my webclippings into Notebooks. I created a Notebook for this course, one for teaching Kindergarten, one for teaching Grade 1/2, one for Library ideas, and one for personal use. Like Diigo, Evernote takes a picture of the website, clipping both screenshot and the url. I also liked the features of being able to take pictures with your camera/phone and post them into Evernote. An advantage of Evernote is the ability to search not only sites and notes in notebooks, but within the text of pictures and snapshots. As well as organizing bookmarks into notebooks, Evernote, like Diigo, also allows the user to create tags.  One other feature of Evernote that I love is the ability to write text notes in Evernote.

I have Evernote downloaded to my iPad and to my computer at work. Once I have a mobile phone that supports web browsing, I will download it to my phone. In that way, I can take notes wherever I am and have them stored on one site that I can access anytime, anywhere, as long as I have Internet access. I hoped this would be easier than writing in Word and then emailing it to myself in case I worked on it on another computer. To test this feature out, I tried to write this post in Evernote, but found it awkward to switch back and forth between my saved websites and the note. I decided to write my post in Word, and then to copy it to my note in Evernote whenever I saved it. This way, I would still have access as well as the ease of writing in Word. Saving documents would have been helpful for me this week, as I cannot remember where I put my notes on using Diigo from my last course, and I’m sure I had a website on there I wanted to check out again….

Using the notes feature in Evernote would also be great in keeping track of ideas, or lists. The first tutorial on Evernote shows ‘Jack’ who is a ‘sticky monster’. I fully appreciate the sticky monster, as my life is ruled by stickies.

Using Evernote (if I am at a computer) would be much better than stickies, which (often) get lost or misplaced, leaving me with the knowledge that there is something I am forgetting…, so I have created a notebook marked “To do” to keep all of the information I currently have on my sticky notes.

Sharing in Evernote is a matter of inviting people to share your notebooks. It seems more awkward to share in Evernote than in Diigo.

Overall, I feel that Diigo is the best social bookmarking tool for me to share websites with colleagues, students and friends, using the Group feature as a tool, as well as following others with the same interests as me. Evernote is a great bookmarking tool for me to store websites and information for me personally. For now, I am bookmarking most sites to Diigo, and using Evernote to bookmark sites connected to the notebooks I have created.

Professional Use

Alan November (notes from presentation, October 4, 2010) suggests that each school should have a shared social bookmarking site. Staff and students should be taught how to create appropriate tags for the learning needs of students and staff. Both Alan November and Beth Kanter say a shared tagging system or policy within the school is essential, leading to the most efficient use of the bookmarking site. November suggests that it is best if the teacher librarian, in consultation with a few key staff, creates one, remembering that tagging is a folksonomy as opposed to a formal taxonomy such as Dewey. The advantage to tagging is that it is user-created system of organizing and managing information, however, it is often not consistent. Will Richardson (2009) states that the best way for folksonomies to become valuable is to have more people contribute to their creation. Ella Kroski (2007) also agrees that folksonomies are more valuable as they are added to by users. She states that some of the advantages of folksonomies are their currency, inclusiveness, and their usability. Creating a tagging system within your school will allow teachers to collaborate and pool information with the click of a mouse. Berger and Trexler suggest that the tag pattern, or cloud that emerges after users have tagged a site, allows searches to quickly identify whether a particular site is valuable for them or not. Teaching students how to tag is important, as “It may become less important to know and remember where information was found and more important to know how to retrieve it using a framework created by and shared with peers and colleagues.” (Educase, 2005, pg. 2)

I have created a Diigo group called Minchau for my staff, and will be showing them how they can add bookmarks to it for all of the teachers to use. I am hoping that my staff will be see the value of using Diggo and of working as a group. I have often heard them say how annoyed they are that they can’t remember where they bookmarked a site that they want to use tomorrow!

Diigo also has the option for teachers to open an education account, where they can create student accounts for their classes, and students are set up as a group. Privacy options ensure that students can only communicate with each other and their teacher. Students can then work together to create bookmarks of sites that would be useful for their particular class, topic, or research assignment. Joyce Valenza (2009) suggests that teachers could create a group and share it with students to use as a pathfinder for assignments. For an example, this pathfinder from Buffy Hamilton uses delicious

Older students as well as teachers, could benefit from using Evernote to store, track and manage their research. Andrew Marcinek (2009) suggests that using Evernote can lead to a paperless classroom, where both teacher and students are keeping their notes in Evernote. Evernote can be used as an organizational tool for the teacher as in this plan:

When using Evernote, citations and bibliographies become much easier to track for students, as the website address is clipped right in their notes. Buffy Hamilton has created a video showing students discussing the advantages of using both Diigo and Evernote:

Why use social bookmarking with students? Berger and Trexler suggest that in doing so, we are getting students to collaborate, use technology, share, and make their own meaning of information, all of which are essential 21stcentury skills. This is also an opportunity to teach students evaluation skills, so necessary in a world of unregulated information such as the Internet.

As we move from a society of experts to a society that has information on everything from Transformers to sauerkraut at their fingertips, social bookmarking offers us a way to globally collaborate, share and manage the ever-expanding universe of information.


Berger, P. & Trexler, S. (2010).  Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Sanata Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Educase, (2007) Seven things you should know about social bookmarking. Retrieved from

Kanter, B. (2007, February 13). Shoulder-to-shoulder instructional media: my tagging screencast at NTEN! [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kroski, E. (2007). Folksonomies and user-based tagging. In Courtney, N. (Ed.),  Library 2.0 and beyond (pg.91 -103). Westport, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Marcinek, A. (2009,  April 29). Evernote will organize your life! [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Valenza, J. (2009, September 24)  6 ways K-12 librarians can teach social media [Web article]. Retrieved from

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This is an overview of Diigo that I created
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Andy Warhol was right…the future is here

15 minutes of fame…

Andy Warhol was right! Everyone can have their 15 minutes of fame on YouTube. An exponentially growing social networking phenomenon, people everywhere are filming themselves getting married, giving birth, and dying. Not only filming it, but putting it out there for everyone to see. YouTube contains more than 2 billion videos and is growing daily with a wide variety of  subjects. While many videos on YouTube are personal, many are videos created to promote and to share ideas and information. Entering the term “marriage” brought up 354 000 videos. In the first 10 videos, there were clips about traditional marriage, gay marriage, arranged marriages, a Sesame Street trailer, the marriage scene from the Princess Bride movie, and one of a marriage proposal.

Big Brother is watching YouTube!

YouTube is blocked in most school districts, due to the lack of censorship of the site. Anyone is allowed to upload videos to YouTube, and the only monitors of videos that may be offensive or inappropriate are the users themselves. Users are allowed to flag videos and they are then reviewed by YouTube staff, using their Community Guidelines . Many educators who would love to use the site for educational purposes become frustrated when having to deal with their inability to present great videos for learning to their students.

Teacher Tube is a safe alternative that is usually not blocked by school servers. It’s a site that is run by and for, educators. It is often available when YouTube is blocked. It currently has about 200 000 videos, as opposed to YouTube’s two billion. On Teacher Tube, teachers upload a variety of videos:

While TeacherTube is a safe alternative, I believe that YouTube is the best choice, simply from the sheer amount of material that is available. For example, typing in ‘Volcano Eruption” brings up 5, 320 hits, most of which are dramatic views of volcanic eruptions. TeacherTube, on the other hand, brings up 13 hits, almost half of which are making a volcanic eruption in science class.

I am fortunate that my school only blocks YouTube for students. As a teacher, I am able to enter my username and password and bypass the restrictions. However, students remain blocked. Will Richardson suggests that, instead of blocking YouTube, we should teach students to be aware of and use critical thinking skills to deal with inappropriate content. This is imperative when we consider 21st century learners. They will be able to access massive amounts of information, and it is critical that we teach them the skills to select and evaluate which information is appropriate. And, after all, once they get home, they are able to watch whatever YouTube video they wish. The American Library Association says “YouTube is a social software application that could radically change how we look at library instruction and training . . . if we let it.” I would state that YouTube is a social software that could radically change all instruction, if we let it. After all, we know that today’s students are far more visual than the previous generation, and are connected to a wired world.

Learning about videosharing

As a mother of older teenagers, I have been familiar with YouTube for some time. Two years ago, when our school received projectors in every classroom, I began using YouTube, along with United Streaming (for which our district has a license) for a variety of subjects. The powerful images that were available were invaluable, especially in science and in health. Social was a bit more complicated, as most of the content is American. (I recommend using the Historica Minutes for Canadian content)

Searching for videos is one thing, creating them is another. Last year I took over our live broadcasting studio, MTV (Minchau TV).  We have our morning announcements broadcast live from our TV studio every morning. My responsibility is to train announcers and technicians to man the station. Does this mean I am super-techie? No…I recruited students from our leadership team to be ‘station managers’ and THEY trained other students. Students write and produce videos for O Canada, fitness and character education, tape assemblies, and announce activities and special events. I oversee and, when there is trouble, I turn the computer on and off 🙂 . I am able to operate our videocams only because students have led me through the process.

A new technology I began using last year was the Flip video camera. Inspired by Kathy Cassidy’s blog, I was able to purchase four Flips which are available to be used by teachers. So far, we have taped Reader’s Theater, instructional videos, and storytelling. (Unfortunately, I am unable to share those videos due to FOIP restrictions.) Flip video cameras are simple to use, for grade one students, and even for me! This year, I am looking forward to using them for retelling favourite stories in kindergarten. As well, I discovered the ‘One Minute Critic’ on YouTube and am going to videotape some ‘One Minute Critic’ booktalks for our MTV broadcasts.

One new site I have played a bit with is Vodpod. Vodpod searches all video sharing sites for you using your criteria and allows you to upload, tag, share and store videos. It’s like your very own video channel. You can also create a group to share videos with, and post your videos to your blog. For example, I have shared some weather videos on my blog through the Vodpod widget, and I could share them with the grade five teachers in my school for an inquiry unit based on weather. I am still learning about Vodpod, so do not have too many videos in my collection yet. I see it as a tool I would use only when I need it for a specific unit, as in this case, creating a file of weather videos.

Videosharing in my own personal life and learning

Once again, my family has led the way for me in learning and using videosharing. I regularly watch video clips of my young nieces and nephews sent to me by my sisters-in-law. My children yell at me to come and watch this or that cool video clip. Will I videotape myself and others? Usually my videotaping is on par with my photo taking (see above post). Well, I did create a great video for Read-in this week, in which I interview ‘Fred’ from our ‘Fit with Fred’ DVDs we show at school (it’s not really Fred, but an actor friend of mine). Unfortunately, I was unable to load it today, as I forgot the wire thingy that connects it to the computer (note the highly technical language :)). So, I’ll have to take it to school and get one of my student technicians to load it for me.

Videosharing in teaching and learning

Using videosharing in the classroom is essential for our digital, 21st century learners. From the days of the filmstrip to video to DVD to YouTube, instructional videos help students visualize, see and understand the wider world. However, like teaching, videosharing can go beyond the ‘sit and get’ syndrome. Some educators are using vodcasting to create new instructional models. Aaron Samms and Jonathon Bergman, high school science teachers found a way to increase their time working with students on hands on activities. They prerecorded their daily lectures and assigned them as homework the night before. In this way, most of the learning time in class is focused on helping students with labs. They say students are learning more, and doing better.

Another way to use videosharing is to create videos that help students use assessment for learning. Our grade three students are taping themselves doing their Reader’s Theatre and then critiquing their own performance in order to improve. I regularly tape our MTV shows and we review them to see where we can get better.

Teachers can also create videos for exemplars. Here is a video of Kathy Cassidy’s grade one class demonstrating an exemplar of ‘Read to Self’ from The Daily Five.

However, I believe that the most powerful learning comes when we put the tools in the hands of students. Check out this story created by students.

Students can create and share: booktalks, digital stories, social studies projects, math tutorials, science experiments, and more. When they create and share their learning with their classmates and the world, it opens up many new possibilities for engaging, authentic teaching and learning.


Kist, W. (2010). The Socially Networked Classroom: Teaching in the New Media Age. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Corwin.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Corwin

Schaffhauser, D. (2009). The vod couple. THE Journal. Retrieved from

Webb, P. (2007). YouTube and libraries: It could be a beautiful relationship. C&RL News, Vol. 68, No. 6. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2010). YouTube. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2010). YouTube. Retrieved from

YouTube. (2010). Retrieved from

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