Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thing 13: Media Skills

This was a very interesting assignment, and one that I'm going to have to play with a lot more!  Initially, I wanted to work with the photo editing tools, because I recently acquired the ALA READ poster graphics software and I do not have access to PhotoShop, but then I became sidetracked with screen capture videos instead.

Now I already knew how to take a one-frame screenshot, but I did not know how to make one of those super cool screen capture demo videos, and this was something I wanted to do to add to my Library Classroom Web Page.  This assignment gave me the perfect opportunity to look into the process and to actually make a couple videos.  On one hand, I was delighted to discover that the process itself is not overly complicated, although I did find it to be extremely time consuming.

I started my research by doing a couple basic Google searches for screen capture videos, and ended up finding a great 6 minute video on YouTube that went through the basic process.  I watched it all the way through once and then went back step by step so I could recreate the necessary environment.  First I had to download Microsoft Expression 4 (free) and Microsoft MovieMaker (also free).  Expression includes a very user friendly screen capture component in addition to an encoder component.  MovieMaker is what you use to publish the encoded video.

So, I chose my topics and went through a couple dry runs first to make sure my demo would successfully show all the features I wanted to present.  Once I had a mental plan for my demo, I was ready to record!  My first video is a demo of how to search using our online catalog, OPALS.  For you and I, this is very easy.  For my teachers at school, this apparently is like learning Greek :-)

My second video demonstrates how to use the various search features of one of our Gale databases, Kids InfoBits.

The OPALS video was just over 5 minutes long and the Kids InfoBits video was just over 7 minutes.  It easily took twice that long to encode each of them, and probably closer to 45 minutes each to prep the videos for publication.  Again, I would like to point out that the process itself was not difficult - just time consuming.

So while my videos were encoding, I opened a new tab and made a YouTube account so I would have somewhere to publish my videos when I loaded them into MovieMaker.  And here are the results:


Monday, December 16, 2013

Thing 12: Social Learning & Learning Management Systems

This was a really great, and a really timely assignment for me.  I had set up an Edmodo account last Spring to use with my 6th grade classes, but never found the time to follow through.  This assignment came last month just as I was wrapping up a long "Library Passports" unit with 6th grade (I ended it was a trip around the world via the all new Google Maps!!).  Our next unit includes nonfiction text skills in preparation for short research assignments.  I quickly realized Edmodo would be the ideal tool to use to launch this unit and to track the students progress.

So I went in and explored my teacher account in greater depth, and then made a test student so I could see what it would look like from both ends.  I created a group, and just last week got all my 6th grade students signed up.  They LOVED that it looks a lot like FaceBook and seemed to enjoy the first assignment I posted for them.  It's definitely a learning experience for me, though - and I suspect I will end up learning as much from the kids as they do from me!

As for the rest of this Thing 12 assignment, I did check out a number of the other links and videos.  I noticed that a lot of the content was more geared towards High School applications than Elementary, though, which I suppose is to be expected.  That said, I found Common Sense Media ( on TeacherLibrarianNing, which does have excellent K-6 resources that I know I will use.  

I also explored several Edutopia groups, especially one devoted to differentiated instruction and classroom management - both areas I'm quite interested in.  There, I found some interesting advice and tips that I'm in the process of experimenting with.  Furthermore, I just visted Edutopia again this morning and noticed a new group on Project Based Learning, which is something that I delved heavily into last year with training from Tech Valley.  I think I'll join that discussion and see what other's experiences were like.  My Middle School teachers did not care for it, but I found parts of it valuable, and would like to try it again this year, even if we have to modify it to better fit our traditional classroom structure.

All in all, I had fun with the assignment, and as usual, I learned A LOT!  I'm glad I have been able to take content from both of these first two assignments, and right away put it into use with my 6th grade classes.  It's good to have guinea pigs readily available :-)

Happy holidays!